British author Stephen Lloyd Jones is making waves with his debut novel, The String Diaries.
Our reviewer, Elizabeth Davis, hails Jones for his winning combination of "a refreshing villain and a thrilling narrative laced with the Gothic: a woman being chased by a tyrannical male of supernatural ability in uninhabited places."
Amidst a literary landscape filled to the brim with zombies, vampires and werewolves, Jones offers an incredibly haunting new menace inspired by Hungarian folklore: The hosszú életek, or "long lived" ones, can take on the appearance and mannerisms of any person at any time.
When Hannah Wilde discovers that the women in her family have been plagued by a particularly twisted hosszú életek named Jakab with an intense romantic obsession, she must rely on her ancestor's string-bound diaries for guidance and survival.
When Jakab takes on the appearances of those she loves most, will Hannah be able to make the right decision? And if it comes down to it, will she be able to run?
Watch the trailer below and prepare your nerves for this engrossing read:
What do you think? Interested in picking up a copy?
There aren't many things that spark as much excitement at a movie theater as the film adaptation of a popular book. (Except maybe the popcorn.) With the success of films like Divergent and the Harry Potter series, it’s no wonder movie producers often look to books for their next project. Go beyond The Hunger Games, and discover other fabulous books with this guide! The upcoming months are jam-packed with book-to-film crossovers, so if you’re a book lover with a penchant for films, you’re in luck!
Audience favorites Tina Fey and Jason Bateman star in this hilariously poignant look at the absurdity and chaos of family, coming to theaters on September 19.
Judd Foxman's father's dying wish was that his estranged family would come together under one roof to observe shiva. That means seven days and nights together, and as you can imagine, longstanding issues are brought up.
Based on the acclaimed first book of the Child 44 trilogy, the movie version, starring the swoon-worthy Tom Hardy, is set to be a chilling, suspense-filled blockbuster. War hero Leo Demidov is introduced as an obedient government worker in Soviet Russia. Without question, he carries out the cruelest of deeds in service to his country. However, things begin to change for Leo as he realizes there's a serial killer targeting children in a world where crime, on the record, doesn't exist. As he attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding the murder, it becomes clear that if he continues to search for the killer, his world will be ripped apart. The trailer has yet to be released, but we have it on good word that the movie will be coming out in October!
Two years after its release, readers are still buzzing about this dark psychological thriller. And with the much-hyped movie starring Ben Affleck hitting theaters on October 3, it looks like this girl is far from gone.
After his wife goes missing, Nick's picture-perfect life begins to fall apart under scrutiny. Is his role as grieving husband just an act? Was their marriage happy? Or did something dark and bitter grow between husband and wife that led to sinister deeds? A sharp, gripping mystery filled with chilling revelations, it's no wonder this book was such a hit. From the looks of the trailer, the movie will be just as disturbing.
With its beautiful, colorful settings of Mumbai and the French countryside and mouth-watering descriptions of dishes, this book was basically begging to be made into a movie. And this movie's got star power, too: Oprah and Steven Spielberg are listed as producers, and the inimitable Helen Mirren plays the snobby French chef. Following the Haji family as they cope with tragedy and find success, all with the help of culinary traditions both old and new, the film adaptation will be in theaters August 8.
This movie, coming out this August, is bound to be a hit, because if there's one thing teens love it's sobbing in movie theaters. (Or during movie trailers. No shame.) Mia's life is pretty fabulous. She's about to get into Julliard thanks to her incredible musical talent, and she's got a lovely boyfriend. But tragedy arrives in the form of a car accident, and her world is obliterated. She lands in a coma, and she is faced with the choice of waking up to a world she doesn't recognize, or leaving it forever.
The trailer for this movie, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth and set for a September 12, gave me chills! If you put Gone Girl and Memento into a blender, Before I Go to Sleep might be the result. Christine wakes up every morning with no memory. Apparently, she's married, and a doctor has been trying to solve the mystery of her amnesia. But beyond that, she knows nothing. Christine begins to gather clues about her life on the sly, and as strange things begin to come to light about the people surrounding her, she grows more confused, and everything begins to take on a sinister sheen. Only one thing is clear to Christine: Trust no one. But can she even trust herself?
Angelina Jolie directs the film adaptation of Hillenbrand’s 2010 bestseller, the remarkable true story of one of the Greatest Generation’s greatest heroes. Louis Zamperini was already an Olympic track star when the journey that would reshape his life began. Zamperini's hopes of breaking a four-minute mile are put on hold when he is drafted into the Army Air Corps during WWII, and in 1943, his plane goes down, leaving him stranded in the middle of the ocean with very little hope of survival. But rescue arrives, paradoxically, in the form of the enemy. Zamperini is taken to a Japanese POW camp, where he is treated with abject cruelty by captors that hope to destroy him. Ultimately, Zamperini's life is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit and the overwhelming drive to survive. Set for a Christmas Day release, the film is a fitting tribute to Zamperini, who recently passed away at the age of 97.
The movie adaptation of this darkly humorous novel, now in theaters, follows four people who meet by chance on a rooftop, intent on offing themselves. With characteristic Hornby style, sure to be reflected in the movie, he takes what could very easily be quite tragic and turns the tale on its head. As an unlikely bond forms between the four radically different characters, they must each face their own demons and decide, ultimately, if they're worth living with.
Sometimes, in order to recover from the grief of loss, it's best to get away. Very, vary far away if you're Cheryl Strayed. Starring Reese Witherspoon as Strayed, the film adaptation of her memoir is set for a December 5 opening.
Reeling from the death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage, Strayed decided to hike more than 1,000 miles, through Oregon and California, by herself. With no training for such an endeavor, the start of the journey is pretty bumpy. But the more she experiences, the more she learns, and by the end of trail, she is stronger, wiser and far more capable.
If you enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love (both the book and movie version), you'll be sure to enjoy this film. An exploration of true happiness, the movie, set for a late September release, stars the ever-charming Simon Pegg. But what, really, is happiness, anyway? One psychiatrist, depressed by his own patients' depression, wants to find out, and travels the world in search of the true source of happiness.
So moviegoers and book lovers, which film are you most excited about seeing?
Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Prize-winning author, has passed away at age 90. Brilliant, prolific and unafraid of controversy, Gordimer was a champion of civil rights during the South African era of apartheid. With a deep and empathetic understanding of South African culture and politics, Gordimer fought tirelessly for the persecuted and oppressed.
In an interview with BookPage’s Alden Mudge in 2007, Gordimer spoke of the deep influence reading had on her life. "I began to write very, very young in the small gold-mining town in South Africa where I was born…. By the time I was 12, the librarian at this local library, who was also a friend of my mother's, allowed me the freedom of the library. I wasn't confined to the children's section. I read everything from D.H. Lawrence to Thucydides. Nobody was guiding me. I was like a pig in clover and I found what I wanted and what was nourishing to me. The local library was unbelievably important to me. It was my real education."
A literary giant and champion of equality, Gordimer will be keenly missed. You can read our full interview with Gordimer here.
Before Sookie Stackhouse and Harper Connelly, there was Aurora Teagarden—the star of Charlaine Harris' very first mystery series. These small-town Georgia stories, which star librarian Aurora as an amateur sleuth, are now being adapted to air as films on the Hallmark network.
"Full House" star Candace Cameron has been cast as Aurora, but no other cast announcements have been made.
It remains to be seen whether this cozy series, which was launched in 1990 with the Agatha Award-winning Real Murders, will appeal to those who came to Harris' work through the steamy and blood-drenched "True Blood"—but it's a second chance for a second of Harris' series to get a TV makeover, after the Harper Connelly adaptation was scrapped by both CBS and Syfy.
Will you watch?
In Abroad, Katie Crouch's latest novel, things spiral out of control for a group of girls on their semester abroad. Freed from their parents' supervision and eager to redefine themselves amidst the beauty of Italy, the bad choices pile up and lead to horrible consequences. Our reviewer says that Abroad is "gorgeously written, with a steady drumbeat of dread infusing every page." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Crouch has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
I’m at the beach right now with my family. I rip through books when I’m here, mostly because every two minutes some child wants to bury me in sand, so I’ve got to move fast. I like a tasty plot, but the writing has to be excellent, or I pass it on to my mother. (No offense, Mom.) Also, the book can’t be too lengthy, because undoubtedly someone will drop my novel into a bucket if I have it for too long. Two-three days, that’s about how long I have with it. A short, furious affair.
The Painted Veil
By Somerset Maugham
This week I started with The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham. It’s so wonderful and nasty. It’s 1925, and Kitty Garstin has married a lowly doctor because she’s twenty-five and running out of time. He takes her to Hong Kong, where she embarks on an affair that her husband soon discovers. Kitty is so wonderfully self-absorbed and silly. As they travel through China, her husband attempting to contain a cholera epidemic, she looks “unseeingly” at the presumably stunning landscape. The game changes once they get to the interior; but what I love about Kitty is that she transforms—but not enough to be unbelievable. And the setting is so seductive.
You Are One of Them
By Elliott Holt
This novel has become a bit of a cult hit among my friends. One of the main characters, Jennifer Jones, is based loosely on Samantha Smith, the young peace activist who wrote a letter to Yuri Andopov. She paid an official visit to the Kremlin in 1982, only to die in a plane crash in 1985. In the novel, our protagonist, Sarah, is best friends with Jennifer, and as Jennifer’s good fortune rises, so does Sarah’s jealousy. But then, in the middle, the book takes a wonderfully unexpected twist into intrigue and espionage. An unsettling, extremely satisfying read.
The Woman in Black
By Susan Hill
This is a creepy ghost story that is just beautifully written and not too over-the-top in terms of horror. It’s reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw, but creepier. At the beginning, a young lawyer has been charged with going through the papers of a dead client in an old, spooky house. Naturally, he unearths horrible, deadly secrets. The novel is written in a Gothic style that was enough to give me nightmares. A wonderful lesson for writers in taking your time when exploring what might be behind that doorway down the dark hall.
Thanks, Katie! Will you be reading Abroad or any of the books on this list?
Author photo by Piro Patton.
John Verdon's brilliant sleuth, NYPD detective Dave Gurney, returns in his fourth adventure, Peter Pan Must Die. Gurney really just wants to live a simple life in the country, but he is dragged back into the crime world when a wealthy real estate developer is shot and the unfaithful wife is convicted of murder. But things don't line up, and Gurney finds himself up against a uniquely sinister villain.
Gurney can piece together a puzzle like no one else in the sleuthing biz. Verdon gives us a peek into his standout character:
Somewhere along the way in my literary education I managed to absorb the simple notion that drama is about conflict. Without conflict there is no dramatic development, no story, no tension—nothing at stake to hold our interest.
There are reasons for this. We have been hardwired by the survival imperatives of evolution to pay close attention to conflict in all its forms, from simple disagreement to outright violence. Conflict attracts our attention, and we want to see what happens next—how it escalates, how it’s resolved.
So if I had one overriding priority in mind when I began writing Think of a Number, the first novel in the Dave Gurney series of mystery-thrillers, it was the need for conflict—in every scene, on every page, even with only one person present. (That last one might sound odd at first, but I’ll come back to it.)
Since the story idea for Think of a Number began with a character who was in an emotional state of near-breakdown over a series of increasingly threatening letters, I wanted to involve him with a detective who was supremely rational. (Conflict comes in many flavors, including contrast between two perceptions of a situation.) That basic storytelling need gave rise to the core personality trait of Dave Gurney, leading some reviewers to compare him to Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot.
But that was just the starting point for the Gurney character. I wanted him to be married, because I believed that would give me opportunities to make him truly three-dimensional and—you guessed it—inject other interesting conflicts into his life.
Gurney’s first approach to every situation is analytical. He’s always thinking, asking why and how about whatever he observes. He’s obsessed with figuring things out. So I gave him a wife who’s just the opposite—who loves the experience of living, the immediate beauty of nature, the fascinating aspects of the thing in front of her. She’s every bit as smart as he is and often more acutely perceptive, but her way of seeing the world always contrasts with his. I’m especially intrigued by the role of personality differences in a close relationship like this, since it’s such a fertile ground for exploring the way persistent disagreements play out in our lives, as well as that ultimate tension between love and selfishness.
I mentioned earlier that I try to put conflict into every scene, even when only one character is present. It’s really easier than it sounds, when you consider all the forms of collision and frustration in our lives—for example, with inanimate objects. I recall a detective whose cigarette lighter never works, whose umbrella never opens, whose cell phone battery is always dead at the very moment that he must make a call. And, of course, a man like Dave Gurney faces an ongoing struggle every day with his own durable demons.
Conflict. It defines character and propels narratives. It’s what’s much of life and all great stories are about.
Thanks, John! Readers, Peter Pan Must Die is now available.
It seems to be the year of the mother-daughter mystery. I'm not talking about cozy mother-daughter sleuthing teams, solving crimes amid witty banter and little squabbles. No, these ladies are about as trustworthy as any Gone Girl character, and it's rare the reader knows what they've got up their sleeves.
It's the multigenerational bad girls club, and it's easily this year's hottest mystery trend.
Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke
Paranoia reaches new heights in this psychological thriller. Holly Judge wakes up on Christmas morning, suddenly convinced that there's something very wrong with her adopted teenage daughter. "Something followed them home Siberia," she thinks, and starts ticking off all the disturbing evidence. An obsessive and twisted tale where reality threatens to slip away. Read an excerpt.
I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy
Oliver Lane’s murder looks like a simple case of a woman scorned—in this case, his wife, Diana. But investigators soon discover Oliver had two more families as well. So who really killed Oliver? Multiple points of view keep this thrilling mystery from every giving too much away. The most interesting POV comes from Oliver's daughter Picasso, who has seen plenty. Watch out for these ladies, and whatever you do, don't cross them. Read our review.
Don't Try to Find Me by Holly Brown
It's not initially clear who the victim of Brown's debut is. After 14-year-old Marley runs away from home, her mother launches a public campaign for her return. But people are fickle, and soon Marley's mom finds herself the target of public scrutiny. Why did Marley leave? Who is to blame? Secrets upon secrets. Read our review.
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
This book's victim is pretty black-and-white, as Janie Jenkins was incarcerated 10 years ago for the murder of her mother. She's just been released from prison on a technicality—but she's also innocent and in need of some answers. Debut author Little has a great voice, and I wish her unapologetic heroine was my best friend. Look for a review in our August issue.
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
This is another high-intensity thriller than unfolds through multiple points of view, but I can promise you'll never see this ending coming. The story jumps between events before and after Mia Dennett's abduction, when she was held in a cabin in the woods by a guy whose motivations don't quite make sense. Mia's mom is in on the investigation, and that's all I'm going to say about it. Look for a Q&A in our August issue.
Our Top Pick in Cookbooks this month is Fruitful: Four Seasons of Fresh Fruit Recipes by Brian Nicholson and Sarah Huck! With 140 seasonal recipes to choose from—plus growing tips and advice for canning and preserving—you'll be able to incorporate ripe fruits into your dishes in inventive ways all year. Take a break from summer burgers and BBQ with this light, fresh recipe for pan-roasted salmon.
Salmon with Plum, Cucumber, and Mint Salad
Not only is this salad a beauty to behold, it’s explosively flavorful, too. The syrupy, slightly tannic flavors of the plum really come alive when tossed with zingy rice vinegar and an abundance of clean, fresh mint. Although pan-roasted salmon has a melt-in-your-mouth quality that contrasts nicely with the bright fruit, you could throw the fish on the grill instead; the smokiness would also add a nice layer of complexity.
Makes 4 servings
Season the salmon liberally with salt and pepper. Rub the lime zest into the flesh.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan. Add the fish, flesh-side down and sear, without moving, until the underside is golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and continue cooking to your desired doneness, 3 to 4 more minutes for medium-rare.
While the salmon cooks, prepare the salad: In a large bowl, combine the plums, cucumbers, scallion and mint. Toss in the 1 tablespoon of vinegar, the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil and salt and pepper to taste. Taste the salad and add more vinegar if desired.
Place each salmon fillet on an individual plate and top with a few spoonfuls of the salad; serve any remaining salad alongside.
Molly Harper's latest paranormal romance, Better Homes and Hauntings, is the spooky, oftentimes hilarious tale of talented landscaper Nina Linden as she attempts to restore the dilapidated mansion of wealthy entrepreneur Deacon Whitney. But she keeps running into obstacles that keep her from finishing the job, not to mention exploring her feelings for Deacon. Namely: ghosts. In this guest post, Harper shares the inspiration behind the book and her thoughts on played-out horror tropes.
As a child, I watched a little too much Scooby Doo. I remember sitting in front of TV, practically twitching as the ending credits to Guiding Light rolled by, whining, “Is it coming on now, Mom?” Because that day was going to be the day: The day when Fred and Daphne failed to catch the spooky culprit—using Scooby and Shaggy as bait—and Velma would be forced to say, “Jinkies, gang, I guess this carnival really is haunted by the ghost of an evil Cotton Candy Clown.”
I was never happy when the phantom turned out to be a guy in a rubber mask. And their reasons for posing as phantoms never satisfied my curiosity. This turned out to be a lifelong problem. Whether it was a TV show, a campfire tale or a non-fiction paranormal-science book, it was rare to find a haunting explanation that left me feeling sufficiently frightened.
And frankly, I got a little judgmental about the actions of the Scooby Gang and the characters in the horror movies. Why did they always split up? Why did they go investigate spooky noises coming from the basement armed only with a flickering candle? Why did they ignore walls dripping blood and disembodied voices telling them to “GET OUT”?
So when I set out to write Better Homes and Hauntings, my first-ever ghost-based paranormal romance, I had three goals for the characters. I would devise the scariest, twisty-est ghost story possible. I would spare the characters the stereotypical, “let’s split up” moments. And no one would lose their glasses, ever.
Based on the mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, The Crane’s Nest of Better Homes and Hauntings is an enormous, stylish structure on a private island. However, it never quite made it as a family home since Gerald Whitney, the business tycoon that built it, murdered his unfaithful wife, Catherine, immediately after it was finished. Gerald died disgraced but unprosecuted, and rumors of a curse followed the family as their fortunes crumbled. Over the years, locals insisted Catherine’s spirit was still wandering the halls of the mansion, hiding from Gerald’s angry ghost and searching for her lost lover.
Tales of ghosts and curses persist until Deacon Whitney, the first successful Whitney in more than a century, sets about restoring the mansion to its former glory. A team of restorers, including comely landscape architect Nina Linden, plan to stay on the island for the summer to breathe life back into the Crane’s Nest, and the weird phenomena begin before Nina sets foot on the island. The characters are drawn into the mystery of Catherine’s death, but the spirits inhabiting the mansion are none too happy with their sleuthing.
As someone who has grown up with the horror movie tropes, it was a lot of fun to play with those themes and the characters’ awareness of them. I loved hiding clues in strange places around the house and letting the characters stumble into information. My “Mystery Gang” experience fear, ferret out the truth and find love – because this is a romance, and even though Fred and Daphne never got together, I’ll do what I want. And in the end, there is a real ghost and a twist, without a rubber mask in sight.
Better Homes and Hauntings is a childhood dream fulfilled and I hope the readers enjoy it.
Will you be picking up Molly Harper's latest romance?