Author Archive | Ariel

The Summer Reading Lists of Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Today’s post by nationally bestselling authors Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza | @Lucy_Sykes and @JoPiazza

We’re thrilled to have Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza with us today as they share their summer reading lists. Lucy and Jo and the co-authors of the nationally bestselling novel, THE KNOCKOFF, now available in paperback. Let us know what you’ll be reading this summer in the comments below!

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Lucy Collage

Lucy Sykes’s Summer Reading picks

Sh*tty Mom For All Seasons by Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner

You’ll laugh out loud at this wildly funny take on how most of us parent—imperfectly. This one is a mom’s summer must.

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

Finally a book that gives us permission to stop spending time with the people we don’t like spending time with or doing all of those things we don’t want to do. Sarah Knight gives us a cool and hilarious way of not giving an F, without a shred of arrogance. She’s become my new Oprah.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

This heart-breaking and emotional love story between a mother and a daughter will have you reaching for the phone to ring your own mum.

Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry

This sharp and cunning take on what it takes to be a woman working on Wall Street will have you longing for the days when Dolly Parton was singing 9-5. Those girls had it much easier than Sherry’s protagonist who, even in this day and age, is still slaving away to compete in a man’s world.

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

This might be Jane Green’s most emotional work yet. Former party girl Cat returns to Nantucket to make up for lost time with her daughter and confront a past that refuses to stop haunting her.

The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz

Set at the Passover Seder to end all Passover Seder’s Janowitz manages to turn dysfunctional family dynamics into the kind of book you never want to end. Despite their quirks and their flaws you’ll fall in love with and root for every character in this must-read novel.

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Jo Collage

Jo Piazza’s Summer Reading picks:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld – I got my hands on an early copy of the Prep author’s modern take on Pride and Prejudice where Liz Bennet writes at a lady magazine, Jane teaches yoga and Darcy is naturally a Midwestern neurosurgeon. I just can’t stop thinking about whether or not Colin Firth is too old to play Mark Darcy when they make this into a movie. Because I need him to. Badly.

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister – I was feeling a little ashamed I didn’t start this sooner, but I’d been waiting for a good bit of down time to really dig into Traister’s brilliant book on the unmarried women who made and make the world go round and the evolution of the independent woman through American history. It’s even better with a little Beyonce on in the background.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney – Everyone is talking about this delicious debut about a dysfunctional family quarreling over family money. I devoured it on a single flight from San Francisco to New Delhi. Sweeney paints a delicious portrait of all of the things that go wrong with families through characters that you’ll love and hate in equal parts throughout the book.

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane Rosen – How does one dress change the lives of nine women? You’ll want to find out in this highly anticipated fiction debut by Jane Rosen as she chronicles the movements of a single little black dress and how it changes the lives of everyone it touches.

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri – I will read any words written by Jhumpa Lahiri, the incredible fiction writer behind Interpreter of Maladies. In this memoir this master of the English language takes the reader through her journey to truly immerse herself in Italian, a language which causes her to stumble and question how we create our own identities with words. I recommend it with a fine chianti and a gelato.

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The KnockoffAn outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, The Knockoff is the story of Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, who finds her twentysomething former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app.

When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired “the gray hairs,” put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can’t tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve’s reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop—hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and “fun” means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to Beyoncé. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice—pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.

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Lucy and JoLucy Sykes has worked in the fashion world as a stylist, fashion editor, and fashion director. For six years Lucy was the fashion director at Marie Claire magazine, and was most recently fashion director for Rent the Runway. Her own children’s clothing line, Lucy Sykes New York, was sold in more than a hundred department stores worldwide, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and Nordstrom. Together with her twin sister Plum, Lucy moved from London to New York City in 1997, where she now lives with her husband and two children.

Jo Piazza is the managing editor of Yahoo Travel and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal.  Her work has appeared in The New York TimesNew York magazine, GlamourGotham, the Daily Beast, and Slate. She is the author of Celebrity, Inc.: How Famous People Make Money and a novel, Love Rehab: A Novel in 12 Steps and If Nuns Ruled the World: Ten Sisters on a Mission. She lives in New York City with her giant dog.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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A Room Of Their Own: The Writing Spaces Of Our Spring Authors

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon

Yes, we’re nosy. This comes as no surprise, really. But we do love to get a glimpse into the writing spaces of our favorite authors. There’s something about it that helps the story make sense to us. A tone perhaps? Personality? It’s all a bit clearer when we see where the story was created. That said, we thought you might get a kick out of seeing where J.T. Ellison, Jennifer Weiner, and Bridget Asher wrote our spring book club picks.

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JT's Office Circa 2015

J.T. Ellison goes for a traditional office much of the time but I (Ariel) have been to her house often enough to know that there are also two beautiful cats, a couple of comfy chairs, and a rather impressive fireplace involved in her writing rituals as well.

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jen office closet

Jennifer Weiner has the impressive distinction of being the only author we know who writes in her closet. In a way this makes perfect sense to us. We’re moms. We get it. Marybeth and I have hidden in our closets for a few minutes of peace and quiet more times than we can count. Write on, Jen!

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As a prolific note-taken, planner, researcher, and plotter myself, I absolutely love that Bridget Asher wrote her first round of notes for ALL OF US AND EVERYTHING on the back of Christmas wrapping paper. You’d be surprised how often a book looks like a scene from A Beautiful Mind before it resembles anything like a novel.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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He Reads Too You Know

Many of the novels we get are unapologetically marketed to women so it always fascinates me when we get one marketed to the general male reader. And it got me thinking that we don’t offer enough reading suggestions for the men in our lives. So here are a few that have landed on the doorstep recently and caught my husband’s eye (he does wander through my office occasionally). So if the man in your life is looking for a good read perhaps he’ll like one of these as well.

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The Good LiarTHE GOOD LIAR by Nicholas Searle

Spinning a page-turning story of literary suspense that begins in the present and unwinds back more than half a century, this unforgettable debut channels the haunting allure of Atonement as its masterfully woven web of lies, secrets, and betrayals unravels to a shocking conclusion.

Veteran con artist Roy spots an obvious easy mark when he meets Betty, a wealthy widow, online. In no time at all, he’s moved into Betty’s lovely cottage and is preparing to accompany her on a romantic trip to Europe. Betty’s grandson disapproves of their blossoming relationship, but Roy is sure this scheme will be a success. He knows what he’s doing.

As this remarkable feat of storytelling weaves together Roy’s and Betty’s futures, it also unwinds their pasts. Dancing across almost a century, decades that encompass unthinkable cruelty, extraordinary resilience, and remarkable kindness, The Good Liar is an epic narrative of sin, salvation, and survival—and for Roy and Betty, there is a reckoning to be made when the endgame of Roy’s crooked plot plays out.

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The DescentDESCENT by Tim Johnston (now out in paperback!)

The Rocky Mountains have cast their spell over the Courtlands, a young family from the plains taking a last summer vacation before their daughter begins college. For eighteen-year-old Caitlin, the mountains loom as the ultimate test of her runner’s heart, while her parents hope that so much beauty, so much grandeur, will somehow repair a damaged marriage. But when Caitlin and her younger brother, Sean, go out for an early morning run and only Sean returns, the mountains become as terrifying as they are majestic, as suddenly this family find themselves living the kind of nightmare they’ve only read about in headlines or seen on TV.

As their world comes undone, the Courtlands are drawn into a vortex of dread and recrimination. Why weren’t they more careful? What has happened to their daughter? Is she alive? Will they ever know?Caitlin’s disappearance, all the more devastating for its mystery, is the beginning of the family’s harrowing journey down increasingly divergent and solitary paths until all that continues to bind them together are the questions they can never bring themselves to ask: At what point does a family stop searching? At what point will a girl stop fighting for her life?

Written with a precision that captures every emotion, every moment of fear, as each member of the family searches for answers, Descent is a perfectly crafted thriller that races like an avalanche toward its heart-pounding conclusion, and heralds the arrival of a master storyteller.

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No Shred of EvidenceNO SHRED OF EVIDENCE by Charles Todd

In this absorbing new entry in the acclaimed New York Times bestselling series, Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge is caught up in a twisted web of vengeance and murder.

On the north coast of Cornwall, an apparent act of mercy is repaid by an arrest for murder. Four young women have been accused of the crime. A shocked father calls in a favor at the Home Office. Scotland Yard is asked to review the case.

However, Inspector Ian Rutledge is not the first Inspector to reach the village. Following in the shoes of a dead man, he is told the case is all but closed. Even as it takes an unexpected personal turn, Rutledge will require all his skill to deal with the incensed families of the accused, the grieving parents of the victim, and local police eager to see these four women sent to the infamous Bodmin Gaol. Then why hasn’t the killing stopped?

With no shred of evidence to clear the accused, Rutledge must plunge deep into the darkest secrets of a wild, beautiful and dangerous place if he is to find a killer who may—or may not—hold the key to their fate.

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John HartREDEMPTION ROAD by John Hart

Since his debut bestseller, The King of Lies, reviewers across the country have heaped praise on John Hart, comparing his writing to that of Pat Conroy, Cormac McCarthy and Scott Turow. Each novel has taken Hart higher on the New York Times Bestseller list as his masterful writing and assured evocation of place have won readers around the world and earned history’s only consecutive Edgar Awards for Best Novel with Down River and The Last Child. Now, Hart delivers his most powerful story yet.
Imagine:

A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free as deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen…

This is a town on the brink.

This is Redemption Road.

Brimming with tension, secrets, and betrayal, Redemption Road proves again that John Hart is a master of the literary thriller.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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YA Book Review: Geek Girl

Today’s post by Melissa Carpenter | @MelissaCarp

Geek GirlI’m a real fan of British entertainment. With shows like Sherlock and The IT Crowd, there’s little the BBC can do that I won’t watch. The same tends to go for a lot of British YA, my love of which started several years ago with Louise Rennison’s hilarious and wonderful Georgia Nicholson series (for more info on that series, see this post on my website: the funniest books I’ve ever read).

Now, new-ish to the United States is GEEK GIRL, the first in a series of books from acclaimed British author Holly Smale. GEEK GIRL has been a bestseller in the UK for a few years, but the first book was just released in the US in 2015, and it’s fabulous. I. Love. It.

In GEEK GIRL, we get to know Harriet Manners, a self-proclaimed geek and anti-fashionista, who avoids everything having to do with your typical teenage girl trappings of clothes, makeup, and shopping. Instead, she tends to run into things (total lack of coordination), get picked on relentlessly, and spout off random tidbits of knowledge (like when she fell and caught herself by grabbing the leg of her chief tormentor: “there are approximately 13,914,291,404 legs in the world – over half of them in trousers – and I had to grab this one?”). She has a best friend, Nat, who’s beautiful in a Barbie sort of way, so Harriet’s shocked when SHE – not Nat – sort of accidentally gets “discovered” by a major modeling agency on a school field trip. What follows is a series of laugh out loud funny incidents, a photoshoot adventure in Russia, and lots of swoony moments with an internationally loved male model. My favorite thing about it, though, is the lessons Harriet learns about herself, her family, and her friends throughout this smartly written romantic comedy.

The second book in the series, GEEK GIRL: MODEL MISFITS, and the third, GEEK GIRL: PICTURE PERFECT, are also out in the US now and are equally as good as the first book. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series, which will be six books in total. These are perfect for a chilly day when you just want to curl up with something light and fun. Hope you enjoy!

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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Bridget Asher on the Perils of Drawing Inspiration From Real Life

Today post by Bridget Asher | @JCBaggot

Bridget Asher

Bridget Asher

On the eve of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, a massive snowstorm hit DC. No one could get to the galas and balls. The venues opened their doors and invited people in off the streets – food, drink, live bands. My father, a young patent attorney, was stuck on a bus going nowhere. People had abandoned their cars on the streets. He eventually got off the bus and started walking – for miles. He saw a motorcade cut across Ellipse Park, a wild thing of beauty.

I wrote a short essay about it for Southwest Airlines, and always thought it’d be a great scene for two people –trapped on a bus – to fall in love. This story is woven into ALL OF US & EVERYTHING.  My parents have always been happy when I’ve used parts of their experiences and have written them into the lives of my characters.

This is how my process works. First, I collect. Many bits of my own life go into every novel (even when I’m writing a post-apocalyptic thriller like the Pure Trilogy in a completely imagined landscape). I arrange and rearrange the details of my own life, the stories others have handed down to me and add large doses of the imagination. Hopefully, the characters take on lives of their own and I dutifully follow.

For ALL OF US & EVERYTHING, I moved into a territory that I’d cordoned off long ago – sisterhood. I’ve published over twenty novels under my pen name Bridget Asher, my own name Julianna Baggott, and a kid-book persona N.E. Bode. But the vast majority of my main characters were only children. I have two sisters and a brother. I have four children myself. I see the world in terms how larger families operate. So why didn’t it come out in my fiction?

My mother gave me permission to write about my parents,  but warned that I should tread lightly with my siblings. I was the monster my parents created, but my siblings were innocent (well, more or less) bystanders. I heeded her warning and veered from siblinghood, even in fiction.

But it made no logical sense. As many true bits from my own life fall into my work, I don’t write about people I know. I can’t. They don’t fit into the stories I need to tell. I decided it was time to take down the walls and see what I would find. The past few years mark the first time in my career that I’ve really tried to head into the wild terrain of sisterhood. It’s not simple landscape with well trimmed paths. It’s wild and thorny and I had a fantastic time. I adore writing the layered, intimate, intense, hilarious conversations between sisters and mothers and best friends and nieces and aunts, all of those conversations women have with other women, those they love and sometimes hate and then love again.

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All of Us and EverythingFor fans of the quirky, heartfelt fiction of Nick Hornby and Eleanor Brown comes a smart, wry, and poignant novel about reconciliation between fathers and daughters, between spouses; the deep ties between sisters; and the kind of forgiveness that can change a person’s life in unexpected and extraordinary ways.

The Rockwell women are nothing if not . . . Well, it’s complicated. When the sisters—Esme, Liv, and Ru—were young, their eccentric mother, Augusta, silenced all talk of their absent father with the wild story that he was an international spy, always away on top-secret missions. But the consequences of such an unconventional upbringing are neither small nor subtle: Esme is navigating a failing marriage while trying to keep her precocious fifteen-year-old daughter from live-tweeting every detail. Liv finds herself in between relationships and rehabs, and Ru has run away from enough people and problems to earn her frequent flier miles. So when a hurricane hits the family home on the Jersey Shore, the Rockwells reunite to assess the damage—only to discover that the storm has unearthed a long-buried box. In a candid moment, Augusta reveals a startling secret that will blow the sisters’ concept of family to smithereens—and send them on an adventure to reconnect with a lost past . . . and one another.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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Four Novels That Will Suppy Your Thriller Fix

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Just because it’s spring doesn’t mean we don’t want the occasional chill. So we found four novels that will get your blood pumping as we head into warmer months.

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The PassengerThe Passenger by Lisa Lutz

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it…

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

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What Remains of MeWhat Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin

Nobody’s perfect. Everybody’s got a drawer somewhere with something hidden in it.

On June 28, 1980—the hottest night of the year—Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home. . . . And instantly becomes a media sensation, her chilling smile fodder for national nightmares. For years, speculation swirls over the enigmatic seventeen-year-old’s motives, information she’s refused to share. Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom—but keeps her secrets to herself.

Thirty years later—and five years after her release from prison—the past has come back to haunt Kelly. Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills—dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.

Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high profile murder. But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent—of both killings—and want to help her clear her name. But is she?

Written with masterful precision and control, What Remains of Me brilliantly moves forward and back in time, playing out the murders side by side—interweaving subtle connections and peeling away layers of events to reveal the shocking truth.

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Missing PiecesMissing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.

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The WidowThe Widow by Fiona Barton

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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Book, Meet Book

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Today we’re introducing two books to one other– and to you– because they’re both modern retellings of books we know and love. If you adore Pride and Prejudice and/or Jane Eyre (because who doesn’t?), sit tight and hear what these clever authors have done with two beloved novels.

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EligibleELIGIBLE by Curtis Sittenfeld

From the “wickedly entertaining” (USA Today) Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife, comes a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Equal parts homage to Jane Austen and bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible both honors and updates Austen’s beloved tale. Tackling gender, class, courtship, and family, Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.

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Jane SteeleJANE STEELE by Lyndsay Faye

“Reader, I murdered him.”

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?

A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies, by a writer who Matthew Pearl calls “superstar-caliber” and whose previous works Gillian Flynn declared “spectacular,” Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing book inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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What To Do When You Want To Read Everything

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

One of my (Marybeth’s) favorite bands is The Blue Nile, and a line from one of their songs says “She saw the world and she wanted it all.” I think we’ve all had that feeling before– that “I want it all, I want everything,” moment. Today we’ve rounded up some stories that focus on that feeling of wanting more. Whether it’s more answers, more freedom, more love, more time, we know why the word “everything” is so evocative. And so do the characters from today’s roundup.

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All of Us and EverythingAll of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher

For fans of the quirky, heartfelt fiction of Nick Hornby and Eleanor Brown comes a smart, wry, and poignant novel about reconciliation between fathers and daughters, between spouses; the deep ties between sisters; and the kind of forgiveness that can change a person’s life in unexpected and extraordinary ways.

The Rockwell women are nothing if not . . . Well, it’s complicated. When the sisters—Esme, Liv, and Ru—were young, their eccentric mother, Augusta, silenced all talk of their absent father with the wild story that he was an international spy, always away on top-secret missions. But the consequences of such an unconventional upbringing are neither small nor subtle: Esme is navigating a failing marriage while trying to keep her precocious fifteen-year-old daughter from live-tweeting every detail. Liv finds herself in between relationships and rehabs, and Ru has run away from enough people and problems to earn her frequent flier miles. So when a hurricane hits the family home on the Jersey Shore, the Rockwells reunite to assess the damage—only to discover that the storm has unearthed a long-buried box. In a candid moment, Augusta reveals a startling secret that will blow the sisters’ concept of family to smithereens—and send them on an adventure to reconnect with a lost past . . . and one another.

Note: we HIGHLY recommend this novel. It’s one of our spring book club selections and one that I (Marybeth) inhaled when I read it last fall and still rave about.

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Everything We KeepEverything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever.

A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss and the euphoria of finding love again.

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Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.”

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

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Everything EverythingEverything Everything by Nicola Yoon

If you love Eleanor and Park, Hazel and Augustus, and Mia and Adam, you’ll love the story of Maddy, a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly, the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken. This innovative and heartfelt debut novel unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, illustrations, and more.

“My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

“But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

“Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.”

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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How Jennifer Weiner’s New Novel Was Inspired By Her Own Life

Today’s post by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner | @JenniferWeiner

Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner

Every creative writing student in the world hears, “Write what you know” — that your life, as you’ve lived it, can be the raw material from which you can build beautiful fiction. What they don’t tell you is that, if your life is anything close to typical, it’s so mundane and repetitive and boring that not even your own mother would want to hear about it.

Fiction’s less about committing the specifics of your day-to-day existence to the page, and more about finding those moments and using them as jumping-off points, or inspiration. What if it had happened this way? What if I’d made a different choice?

At least, that’s been true for most of what I’ve written. But WHO DO YOU LOVE is about second chances, and it really is one of those rare ripped-from-the-headline stories where the raw material of real life got repurposed as fiction.

Once upon a time, I met a guy. I was a young reporter working at my very first newspaper job; he was a recent journalism-school graduate looking for his first job, and he came to interview at my paper. After a day of meetings and writing sample stories, he got to go out to dinner with one of the staff writers (taking prospective hires out was a plum assignment, because the paper gave you fifty bucks to spend on dinner). I remember this very tall, extremely skinny guy wandering over to my desk and asking, in a deep voice, if I was done yet. I remember snapping, “No, still working!” But then we went to dinner, and we talked and talked and talked — about writing, and our families, and our favorite books and our friends.

He came to work at the paper. We dated for two years. We were madly in love. I desperately wanted to get married. And he…wasn’t ready.

Time went by. We got better jobs at bigger papers. In our late 20’s, when he was in New York and I was in Philadelphia, we dated again. I still loved him. I still wanted to get married. And he..still wasn’t ready.

More time went on. 9-11 happened and, like everyone else in the world who knew someone in New York City, I frantically tried to call him, until he called me (he was in San Francisco, and fine). I met another guy, and married him, and had two beautiful girls. The marriage ended. My father died. Then my dog died. For some reason, I’d kept it together after my father’s death, but when I lost Wendell, who’d been my constant companion for seventeen years, through jobs and breakups and marriage and childbirth, I was completely undone.

I didn’t want to be one of those pathetic women who stalk their exes on Facebook. I was, however, willing to be one of those pathetic women who attempt to contact exes using AOL email addresses that are probably no longer in service. I sent Bill an email with the memo line IS THIS STILL YOU? Thirty seconds later, he’d written back. It was still him. Five years after that, we got married.

It’s one of the rare cases where truth might be stranger than fiction, one of the few times where you can put real life on a page and have people who aren’t your relatives or your therapist want to read it. So I took the bones of our story — two people who love each other but just can’t quite get it right, two people who are in and out of each other’s lives over a span of twenty years — and turned it into WHO DO YOU LOVE.

I hope you like reading it as much as I loved writing it — and living it.

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Who Do You Love“PURE ROMANCE… READERS WILL FIND THEMSELVES LAUGHING, CRYING, AND HOPING.” —BOOKLIST STARRED REVIEW

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenial heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who  shows up alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to a doctor and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Yet, over the next three decades, Andy and Rachel will meet again and again— linked by chance, history, and the memory of the first time they met, a night that changed both of their lives.

A sweeping, warmhearted, and intimate tale. Who Do You Love is an extraordinary novel about the passage of time, the way people change and change each other, and how the measure of a life is who you love.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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When Several Minds Are Better Than One

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Sometimes authors collaborate on projects, combining their best efforts–and their audiences–for a book that will captivate and enchant. Today we’re sharing several books that brought authors–and now readers–together!

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fall of poppiesFALL OF POPPIES by an impressive lineup of talented historical novelists

Top voices in historical fiction deliver an unforgettable collection of short stories set in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving anthology, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

Featuring: Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Heather Webb.

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the year we turned fortyTHE YEAR WE TURNED FORTY by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future.

Jessie loves her son Lucas more than anything, but it tears her up inside that he was conceived in an affair that ended her marriage to a man she still loves, a man who just told her he’s getting remarried. This time around, she’s determined to bury the secret of Lucas’ paternity, and to repair the fissures that sent her wandering the first time.

Gabriela regrets that she wasted her most fertile years in hot pursuit of a publishing career. Yes, she’s one of the biggest authors in the world, but maybe what she really wanted to create was a family. With a chance to do it again, she’s focused on convincing her husband, Colin, to give her the baby she desires.

Claire is the only one who has made peace with her past: her twenty-two year old daughter, Emily, is finally on track after the turmoil of adolescence, and she’s recently gotten engaged, with the two carat diamond on her finger to prove it. But if she’s being honest, Claire still fantasizes about her own missed opportunities: a chance to bond with her mother before it was too late, and the possibility of preventing her daughter from years of anguish. Plus, there’s the man who got away—the man who may have been her one true love.

But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all…

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the forgotten roomTHE FORGOTTEN ROOM by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate?  And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother?  In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).

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