Archive for the ‘ Best Of Lists ’ Category

Bored? Steam Up the Winter With These 6 Erotic Novels

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Snow. Cold. Winter. Blah. My theme of the week is boredom. I am losing my mind with the same old work and routine. So is my husband. We’re hovering in this end of the season limbo waiting for temps to lift and the sun to come out so we can play. Sometimes, it’s just normal for life to become monotonous. My friends agree, they’re stir crazy. One of my editors at Parents is also about to lose it. I promised I would not name here. She’s especially bored this week.

We don’t have to live this way. Let’s spice things up!

I have the perfect idea.

Let’s download 6 erotic novels on Audible. Okay, so my kids can’t have anything to do with this raucousness. But my husband, friends and I will get a kick out of it. Listening to one of these will kill some time between now and spring, and it’s way better than Girls this season on HBO.

Here are 6 erotic novels that should be really good. They just won the 19th Annual Audie Awards, presented by Audio Publishers Association. Take a peak:

1. Carrie’s Story: An Erotic S/M Novel
by Molly Weatherfield, narrated by Shana Savage
The dirt: Imagine The Story of O starring a Berkeley Ph.D. in comparative literature, who moonlights as a bike messenger, with a penchant for irony, self-analysis and as well as anal pleasures. Set in both San Francisco and the more chateau-friendly, Napa Valley, Weatherfield’s deliciously decadent novel takes you on a sexually explicit journey into a netherworld of slave auctions, training regimes, enticing “ponies”, (people) preening for dressage competitions. Desire runs rampant in this story of uncompromising mastery.

2. Fallen Too Far
by Abbi Glines, narrated by Jennifer Bronstein
She is only nineteen. She is his new stepfather’s daughter. She is still nave and innocent due to spending the last three years taking care of her sick mother. But for twenty-four year old Rush Finlay, she is the only thing that has ever been off limits. His famous father’s guilt money, his mother’s desperation to win his love, and his charm are the three reasons he has never been told no.
3. The Killer Wore Leather
by Laura Antoniou, narrated by Lauren Fortgang
The Killer Wore Leather is a deliciously tongue-in-cheek murder mystery set at a leather convention, allowing listeners into this private world of personalities and peccadiloes. It’s the kinkiest game of clue ever, with a sex toy as the murder weapon, and every leather man and woman lacks an alibi. Cleverly crafted and highly humorous, Antoniou is at her wicked best in this pause-resistant fetish fest.
4. Release Me (The Stark Trilogy)
by J. Kenner, narrated by Sofia Willingham
He was the one man I couldn’t avoid. And the one man I couldn’t resist. Damien Stark could have his way with any woman. He was sexy, confident, and commanding: Anything he wanted, he got. And what he wanted was me. Our attraction was unmistakable, almost beyond control, but as much as I ached to be his, I feared the pressures of his demands. Submitting to Damien meant I had to bare the darkest truth about my past – and risk breaking us apart. But Damien was haunted, too. And as our passion came to obsess us both, his secrets threatened to destroy him – and us – forever.
5. This Man
by Jodi Ellen Malpas, narrated by Edita Brychta
Young interior designer Ava O’Shea has no idea what awaits her at the Manor. A run-of-the-mill consultation with a stodgy country gent seems likely, but what Ava finds instead is Jesse Ward – a devastatingly handsome, utterly confident, pleasure-seeking playboy who knows no boundaries. Ava doesn’t want to be attracted to this man, and yet she can’t control the overwhelming desire that he stirs in her. She knows that her heart will never survive him and her instinct is telling her to run, but Jesse is not willing to let her go. He wants her and is determined to have her.
6. Wuthering Nights
by Emily Bronte and I.J. Miller, narrated by Joy Pratt
Romantics everywhere have been enthralled by Emily Bronte’s classic novel of the tragic love between beautiful, spirited Catherine Earnshaw and dark, brooding Heathcliff. The restrained desire between these two star-crossed lovers has always smoldered on the page. And now it ignites into an uncontrollable blaze. In Wuthering Nights, writer I.J. Miller reimagines this timeless story to reveal the passion between Catherine and Heathcliff – in all its forbidden glory.

 

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What Are Your Favorite Love Stories?

Friday, February 14th, 2014

I am anti-Valentine’s Day even though I have a wonderful husband and happy life. Why? Because one or two bad experiences with Cupid are stuck in my mind and heart and determined to torment me forever. I’ll never get over it. I’ve been married for almost 10 years, and now the nice Valentine’s Days outnumber the bad ones. So I’m listing a few of my favorite love stories below to get me in the mood for this romantic day. It’s working. I just think about Eleanor and Park’s first kiss or how much Scarlett really loved Rhett but couldn’t show it. Below is an eclectic mix of new and old, young adult and literary. Don’t just wait for Valentine’s Day to get sappy–these books are great for all year round.

What are your favorite love stories? Here are mine:

1. Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell

2. Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

3. The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

4. Lolita
by Vladimir Nabokov

5. Twilight (Don’t judge me. The love in these books is epic and the pace is time-stopping.)
by Stephenie Meyer

6. The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

7. Gone With the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell

8. Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon

9. Eat, Pray, Love
Elizabeth Gilbert

10. The Lover’s Dictionary 
David Levithan

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Valentine's Day Felt Hearts Garland Craft
Valentine's Day Felt Hearts Garland Craft
Valentine's Day Felt Hearts Garland Craft

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Parents Picks: My Top 5 Books of 2013

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

After reading and skimming more than 100 books this year it’s no easy task to tell you which ones are my favorites. But I sat down, poured a beer and perused my overflowing bookshelf. It was so much fun to revisit Pamela Druckerman‘s Bebe by Day, Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train and Kristine Barnett‘s The Spark. They are easily among my top 12.

But if I absolutely had to whittle it down, here are my Top 5 Books of 2013. These are the books that stayed with me all year long–the ones I went on and on about until my husband’s eyes glazed over. These titles were so fresh that I fired off Facebook statuses and emails about them.

What about you? What are your favorites of 2013?

Here are mine:

1. Lean In
by Sheryl Sandberg
She stepped up to the plate this year and said what hasn’t been said before to women. Just because women want to have families and careers doesn’t mean we need to start planning for it straight out of college. She encourages women to go out there and claim what’s ours in the workplace. Wait to figure out your next steps until you’re actually pregnant. That’s advice I wish I’d had when I was getting started in 1999. Sheryl is a cool chick who has her gender’s back on every page. Take this: “’Ask a man to explain his success and he will typically credit his own innate qualities and skills. …A woman… will attribute her success to external factors, insisting she did well because she ‘worked really hard or ‘got lucky’ or ‘had help from others.’”

2. The Still Point of the Turning World
by Emily Rapp
I’ve wondered for months how Emily Rapp is doing. She lost her dear son Ronan to Tay-Sachs earlier this year around the time her memoir came out. This wasn’t the run-of-the-mill tragedy. She was unapologetically angry and fiercely sweet. Her frustration and struggle–without the religious backdrop and sentimentality–made her achingly real. She’s real in a way that I will never forget. I’m not sorry for her. I’m inspired by her book that drips with meaning and poetry.

3. Let Them Be Eaten by Bears
by Peter Brown Hoffmeister
Thanks to this book, I’ve taken my kids hiking this year for the first times ever. Right in the beginning, he writes, “With kids, we don’t get out much. It’s too hard.” That resonated with me. I’ve been saying this to my husband since my babies were first born. Now they are 8! And they had never really been outside beyond the backyard or park. Thanks to Hoffmeister’s playful and inspiring approach, we even got our butts off the couch and went camping. I let the kids wander the playground, too, and with bare feet just to make Peter even more proud of me.

4. Orange is the New Black
by Piper Kerman
If you’re tired of books and shows about desperate women chasing dreams of men, careers and babies, this one is for you. It’s got very little to do with anything you’ve probably ever read before. This memoir, which formed the fictionalized–but equally awesome Netflix TV show–is about a nice girl who graduates from college and goes buck crazy. She lands a hot, rich girlfriend who just happens to smuggle drugs internationally. Piper runs cash in this operation just one time, and she soon leaves the relationship. She becomes a nice, normal straight woman again. But the feds catch up with her 10 years later, and she winds up in federal prison for a year while her real-life fiance waits for her. The inner workings–and indecencies–of the prison system are fascinating. Her life isn’t as whack as it is in the show, (Piper and Pennsytucky became friends for real) but Piper blasts your thoughts right open. This was a unique read.

5. Until I Say Goodbye
by Susan Spencer-Wendel 
Whenever I’ve felt kind of bad this year, I reminded myself of Susan Spencer-Wendel. She lives with ALS everyday, but she isn’t sad. Instead, she does everything her heart desires, including getting makeup tattooed on her face for when she could no longer apply it herself. While she still can, she goes on an epic trip with her longtime best friend to see the Northern Lights. She takes her teenage daughter wedding dress shopping because that’s something she doesn’t want the two of them to miss. Susan’s book did make me weepy–just once–but mostly she made me laugh. Her life has purpose and meaning, and it makes me more aware of what I’m doing with my own. Her book was optioned, and a film sounds like its in the works.

Instill a love of reading in your little one with one of these children’s books. Then, sign up to get parenting tips and tricks sent right to your inbox.

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Best Books of 2013 Roundup: Oprah, The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly–See Who’s List You Like Best

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

What were your favorite reads of 2013? I’ll list my Parents picks in the next few days, but today I’ve been having fun with are everyone else’s. Other editors and reviewers from Oprah and The New York Times don’t agree on many of the Best Books of 2013, as you’ll see below. Publisher’s Weekly culled through 9,000 reviews (15 I wrote myself) to come up with their choices–most I haven’t even heard of. So what should you read? I’m thinking about The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner which showed up twice–so did Good Lord Bird. The Interestings gets one nod, and that’s one I loved it this summer.

So stop what you’re doing–work and watching kids can wait. Take time to peruse these awesome reading choices below. I’m sending this list to my book club. (Hi girls!) We need a great new read to ring in 2014.

Oprah’s 10 Best Books of 2013


1.The Isle of Youth
By Laura van den Berg
The gist: A quirky story collection filled with unique and strong female protagonists.

2. Country Girl: A Memoir
By Edna O’Brien
The gist: A memoir by one of Ireland’s most famous fiction writers that has been compared to Angela’s Ashes.

3. The Signature of All Things
By Elizabeth Gilbert
The gist: This one about a strong 19th Century botanist proves that the Eat, Pray, Love writer is at the top of her game. Gilbert makes moss a fascinating subject, I hear.

4. Vampires in the Lemon Grove
By Karen Russell
The gist: This hugely creative collection of short stories–one about a vampire who’s afraid to fly and another about U.S. presidents reincarnated about horses–proves that the author of Swamplandia has staying power.

5. The Flamethrowers
By Rachel Kushner
The gist: The award-winning saga of an electric young woman’s full-throttle pursuit of love amid the class war and cultural upheaval of the late ’70s.

6. The Good Lord Bird
By James McBride
The gist: A slave boy and abolitionist John Brown change the course of American history in this novel that is inspired by real events.

7. The Interestings
By Meg Wolitzer
The gist: Through well-tuned drama and compassionate humor, Wolitzer chronicles the living organism that is friendship, and arcs it over the course of more than 30 years.

8. The Cuckoo’s Calling
By Robert Galbraith
The gist: A book for mystery lovers by J.K. Rowling.

9. Dog Songs
By Mary Oliver
The gist: This Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s combo of woman’s best friend and poetry is irresistible.

10. The Woman Who Lost Her Soul
By Bob Shacochis
The gist: What is the legacy of war—and how long does it last—are the questions behind this brilliant and gripping novel.

Publisher’s Weekly Best Books (gathered in no particular order)

 

1. See of Hooks
By Lindsay Hill
The gist: “Pure reading pleasure on every single page, not to mention a wallop of pathos.”

2. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief
By Lawrence Wright
The gist: Wright’s prodigiously researched investigation of Scientology does what good reporting ought to do: examine something in search of truth, lay out the findings, and let conclusions be drawn.

3. Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield
By Jeremy Scahill
The gist: The Nation’s national security correspondent surgically exposes how the War on Terror is actually conducted: secret prisons, torture, extralegal assassinations, drone surveillance and warfare, gamesmanship with corrupt regimes. 

4. Men We Reaped
By Jesmyn Ward
The gist: Critically acclaimed novelist Ward (Salvage the Bones) bravely enters nonfiction terrain in this starkly honest and deeply tragic account of the deaths of five important men in her life.

5. People in the Trees
By Hanya Yanagihara
The gist: In this novel, a ccientist who, after graduating Harvard medical school in the 1940s, travels to a remote Pacific island chain where he may or may not have stumbled upon the key to immortality.

6. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery
By Robert Kolker
The gist: “Even hardened true crime readers will be haunted by New York magazine contributing editor Kolker’s provocative tale of five young escorts who became linked by the tragic circumstances of their disappearances, and the discovery of their remains on Long Island’s Oak Beach.”

7. Miss Anne in Harlem
By Carla Kaplan
The gist: In this beautifully written, empathetic, and valuable addition to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, scholar Kaplan (Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters) presents the untold story of six notable white women (including Fannie Hurst and Nancy Cunard, members of a larger group known collectively as “Miss Anne”) who embraced black culture—and life—in Harlem in the 1920s and ’30s.

8. Constellation of Vital Phenomena
By Anthony Marra
The gist: A Chechen village, a young girl watching her father taken by Russian soldiers and her house burned to the ground: so begins Marra’s startling debut, in which a tough doctor ponders the extent of her obligation to help Havaa, an eight-year-old girl who has been brought to the doctor’s wretched and abandoned hospital by Akhmed, the girl’s neighbor.

9. The Silence and the Roar
By Nihad Sirees
The gist: “Sirees’s deeply philosophical and satirical novel echoes Kafka and Orwell.”

10. The Good Lord Bird
By James McBride
see details above

The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2013

FICTION:
1. Americanah
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi

2. The Flamethrowers
By Rachel Kushner

3. The Goldfinch
By Donna Tartt

4. Life After Life
By Kate Atkinson

5. Tenth of December
By George Saunders

NONFICTION
6. After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead
By Alan S. Blinder

7. Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
By Peter Baker

8. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
By Sheri Fink

9. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
By Christopher Clark

10. Wave
By Sonali Deraniyagala

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National Book Awards Finalists Announced: Great Picks for Your Reading List

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

I love the National Book Awards. They always give me great ideas for what to read next. I’m just bummed that two of my favorite young adult books on the longlist (that was new this year) didn’t make the shortlist! You simply must read Flora and Ulysses to your kids and Two Boys Kissing for you!

In the meantime, check out the NBA picks and stay tuned for the winners which will be announced Nov. 20.

Fiction

FINALISTS:

Rachel KushnerThe Flamethrowers (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)
Jhumpa LahiriThe Lowland (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
James McBrideThe Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group USA)
Thomas PynchonBleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA)
George SaundersTenth of December (Random House)

LONGLIST:

- Tom DruryPacific (Grove Press)
- Elizabeth GraverThe End of the Point (Harper/HarperCollinsPublishers)
- Anthony MarraA Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth/Random House)
- Alice McDermott, Someone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Joan Silber, Fools (W.W. Norton & Company)

Young Adult

FINALISTS:

Kathi AppeltThe True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
Cynthia KadohataThe Thing About Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
Tom McNealFar Far Away (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
Meg RosoffPicture Me Gone (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Group USA)
Gene Luen YangBoxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan)

LONGLIST:

- Kate DiCamilloFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Candlewick Press)
- Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots (Philomel, A division of Penguin Group USA)
- Alaya Dawn JohnsonThe Summer Prince (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
- David LevithanTwo Boys Kissing (Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House)
- Anne UrsuThe Real Boy (Walden Pond Press/an Imprint HarperCollinsPublishers)

Nonfiction

FINALISTS:

Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
Wendy LowerHitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
George PackerThe Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Alan TaylorThe Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (W.W. Norton & Company)
Lawrence WrightGoing Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief  (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

LONGLIST:

- T.D. AllmanFinding Florida: The True Story of the Sunshine State (Atlantic Monthly Press)
- Gretel EhrlichFacing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami (Pantheon Book/Random House)
- Scott C. JohnsonThe Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son, and the CIA (W.W. Norton & Company)
- James OakesFreedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865
(W.W. Norton & Company)
- Terry TeachoutDuke: A Life of Duke Ellington (Gotham Books)

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