Category: Historical Fiction

See the First Trailer for George Clooney’s ‘Catch-22’!

George Clooney is back with a mini-series adaptation of the acclaimed classic Catch-22 by author Joseph Heller.

 

Image via Amazon.

 

The book, set during World War 2 ,  focuses on the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. The plot mainly follows the fictional 256th Squadron, while they attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home.

As heavy as the topic of war is overall, Heller’s novel is famously humorous, and manages to make a pretty amusing story out of the psychological struggle of surviving the scourge of war under an unsupportive government that does not want its soldiers to leave the battlefield. Sounds like one heck of a ride!

Clooney is directing, executive producing and starring in the role of Lt. General Scheisskopf, alongside Hugh Laurie as Major de Coverley and  Kyle Chandler as Colonel Catchart, alongside Christopher Abbott, who you might know from the hit series The Sinner and HBO’s series Girls who will play Captain Yossarian.

 

Snapshot of the 265th squadron. | Image via Philipe Antonello/Hulu.

 

Clooney’s new mini-series will debut on Hulu in the US on May 17th and will be broadcast on Channel 4 shortly thereafter.

 

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George Clooney as Lt. General Scheisskopf. | Image via Philipe Antonello/Hulu.

 

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Hugh Laurie as Major de Coverley. | Image via Philipe Antonello/Hulu.

 

Kyle Chandler as Colonel Catchart. | Image via Philipe Antonello/Hulu.

 

Christopher Abbott as Captain Yossarian. | Image via Philipe Antonello/Hulu.

 

In addition to photos, we also have our first trailer! Check it out here!

 

 

So say goodbye Nesspresso commercials, and let’s welcome George Clooney back to what he does best!

 

Featured Image Via Consequence of Sound.

Celebrate Black History Month with books!

Celebrate Black History Month With These 10 Powerful Novels

It’s the first day of Black History Month, and what better way could there be to celebrate the black community’s rich artistic legacy than with these ten iconic novels? These outstanding works of literature represent the diverse experiences of the black community, collectively featuring black authors and characters of varied genders, sexual orientations, nationalities, and mixed racial identities. If your favorite book isn’t on the list… be glad to have an extra recommendation! Truthfully, there are too many powerful books to list, and the collection below represents only the smallest fraction of the black community’s enormous cultural achievements. So read on! Whether classic or contemporary, these ten books represent some of the world’s greatest works of literature.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

 

'Beloved' by Toni Morrison

 

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.

 

GIovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

 

'Giovanni's Room' by James Baldwin

 

Baldwin’s haunting and controversial second novel is his most sustained treatment of sexuality, and a classic of gay literature. In a 1950s Paris swarming with expatriates and characterized by dangerous liaisons and hidden violence, an American finds himself unable to repress his impulses, despite his determination to live the conventional life he envisions for himself. After meeting and proposing to a young woman, he falls into a lengthy affair with an Italian bartender and is confounded and tortured by his sexual identity as he oscillates between the two.

Examining the mystery of love and passion in an intensely imagined narrative, Baldwin creates a moving and complex story of death and desire that is revelatory in its insight.

 

Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

 

'Their Eyes Were Watching God' by Zora Neale Hurston

 

Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person — no mean feat for a black woman in the ’30s. Janie’s quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.

One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

 

'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe

 

Things Fall Apart tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.

The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. Things Fall Apart is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within.

 

The Underground Railroad by Colson whitehead

 

'The Underground Railroad' by Colson Whitehead

 

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven—but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

 

'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker

 

The Color Purple is a classic. With over a million copies sold in the UK alone, it is hailed as one of the all-time ‘greats’ of literature, inspiring generations of readers.

Set in the deep American South between the wars, it is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually, Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

 

wHITE tEETH by Zadie Smith

 

'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith

 

At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. A second marriage to Clara Bowden, a beautiful, albeit tooth-challenged, Jamaican half his age, quite literally gives Archie a second lease on life, and produces Irie, a knowing child whose personality doesn’t quite match her name (Jamaican for “no problem”). Samad’s late-in-life arranged marriage (he had to wait for his bride to be born), produces twin sons whose separate paths confound Iqbal’s every effort to direct them, and a renewed, if selective, submission to his Islamic faith.

Set against London’s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, White Teeth revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.

 

Invisible man by Ralph Ellison

 

Ralph Ellison's 'Invisible Man'

 

First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison’s nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be.

As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.

 

SIng, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

 

Sing Unburied Sing

 

Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America.

Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.

When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.

Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes

 

'Not Without Laughter' by Langston Hughes

 

Although best known as a poet and pioneer of the Harlem Renaissance movement, Langston Hughes proves himself one of modern literature’s most revered and versatile African-American authors with Not Without Laughter, a powerful classic novel.

This is a moving portrait of African-American family life in 1930s Kansas, following young Sandy Rogers as he comes of age. Sandy’s mother, Annjee, works as a housekeeper for a rich white family, while his father, traverses the country in search of work.

Not Without Laughter is a moving examination of growing up in a racially divided society. A rich and important work, Hughes deftly echoes the black American experience with this novel.

 

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Featured Image Via Toledo Parent
The Goodreads Choice Awards Winners 2018

The Best Books of 2018 According to Goodreads Readers

Surely we’ve all gone to see a profoundly boring film with bleak comments about the nature of being, interspersed with eclectic yet disjointed scenes and the occasional shaky-cam. If the point of the movie was to reiterate the pointlessness of existence, we think upon leaving, it certainly achieved its goal. Critics, inevitably, will find the film just as meaningful as the filmmaker did. This isn’t to say that critics are always or even frequently wrong—instead, it’s to note that critical approval is not the only measure of quality. Since it matters what we readers love, let’s take a look at some of our favorite titles with this years’ Goodreads Choice Award winners!

 

Best of the Best

 

'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas

 

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

 

A timely commentary on police brutality and the way it impacts individuals, Angie Thomas‘ The Hate U Give tells the story of a high school girl whose best friend is shot by the police… which is also a story of race, class, and an adolescence where everything feels tumultuous- mostly because it is. The Hate U Give (THUG) was the winner of the 2017 award for Young Adult Fiction, and Thomas herself won the award for Goodreads Debut Author. The Best of the Best indicates the most popular book of all previous recipients.

Readers say: “Angie Thomas picks you up from whatever world you’re living in, and she drops you right smack in the middle of a new one. Events unfold rapidly, and things you’re used to seeing on TV and walking away from are given a voice. You feel as though you’re right in the middle of the plot with the other characters. You can’t just look away.”

 

Fiction

 

'Still Me' by Jojo Moyes

 

“Books are what teach you about life. Books teach you empathy.” 

 

Still Me by Jojo Moyes is the third book in Moyes’ trilogy, which begins with Me Before You. The third installation follows the exploits of Louisa Clark, who has moved overseas for one of the two reasons people tend to do that (1. career, 2. love). The problem is that although she’s moved towards one, she’s moved further away from the other. Her boyfriend waits for her back home—but is it home anymore? And is she still the person she expected to be?

Readers say: “Is it possible to read and finish a Jojo Moyes novel without tears streaming down your face?”

 

Mystery & Thriller

 

'The Outsider' by Stephen King

 

“I believe there’s another dozen thoughts lined up behind each one I’m aware of.” 

 

It’s difficult to summarize a Stephen King novel. Usually, it goes like this: something horrible happens. Then, something  really horrible happens. Possibly, you assume things cannot get more horrible. That’s exactly when they do. The Outsider is like that—only even more grim. After the shocking discovery of a child’s violated corpse, a town finds evidence pointing to one of the city’s most popular figures—a beloved coach, loving husband and father. Is he as kind a man as he seems? Probably not. Are any of the other characters? Also probably not.

Readers say: “Stephen King amazes me. Here, he has managed to turn a 300-page story into a 560-page story by leading us on a long-winded wild goose chase while waffling on about almost everything, but somehow, though it seems hard to fathom, I could not put this cracktastic shit down.”

 

Historical Fiction

 

'The Great Alone' by Kristin Hannah

 

“Such a thin veil separated the past from the present; they existed simultaneously in the human heart.” 

 

Kristin Hannah‘s The Great Alone, depicts 1970s Alaska with all the wildness of a frontier that is as geographic as it is emotional. When her Vietnam POW father moves his family North after losing yet another job, young Leni hopes that this will be the start of their new life. And that’s exactly the problem—it will be. As Alaska plunges headlong into winter, into night, Leni learns that the wildness outside their home is nothing when compared to the wildness within.

Readers say: “There is such a poignancy in this book, and I’m not ashamed to say it wrecked me emotionally at times, but I kept reading and reading and just couldn’t stop. The Great Alone is the story of survival, not just in the harsh Alaskan wilderness, but within your own lives.”

 

Fantasy

 

'Circe' by Madeline Miller

 

“Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.” 

 

Less a reimagining of Homer’s classic The Odyssey, Madeline Miller‘s Circe perhaps imagines the nymph and sorceress the way she truly might have been. Circe—originally little more than a waypoint, a powerful woman and threat to be overcome—stands alone against man and gods. A child of the divine living among mortals, Circe has to make a choice—which world to choose, which version of herself to be. But as she incurs the wrath of the most dangerous Olympians, the question changes: will she be able to choose either one?

Readers say: “This is the pièce de résistance I’ve been searching for my entire life… This book is about love; the love between lovers, the love of a mother, and the love you must find in yourself. This book proves why family of choice will always be greater than family of origin. This book is about magic.”

 

Romance

 

'The Kiss Quotient' by Helen Hoang

 

“All the things that make you different make you perfect.” 

 

Introducing a bold new voice in fiction, Helen Hoang‘s The Kiss Quotient gives us a protagonist on the autism spectrum, a mathematics fanatic for whom romance—especially physical intimacy—doesn’t really add up. The solution is at once whimsical yet deeply rational: Stella hires a prostitute to teach her all the things that don’t come naturally (and to make sure that both parties do). But when love follows its own sort of logic, Stella has some new problems to solve. As an autistic writer herself, Hoang tells parts of her own story with authenticity and impact.

Readers say: “I devoured this in a single sitting. And it was fucking delicious. For me, this book has everything going for it. It’s dramatic, emotional, educational, complex, diverse, and hotter than sin.”

 

Science Fiction

 

'Vengeful' by VE Schwab

 

“Knowledge may be power, but money buys both.” 

 

The sequel to genre giant V.E. Schwab‘s Vicious (five years in the making), Vengeful was an uncertain prospect when Schwab herself was unsure whether or not there might be one. When the news dropped of its confirmed release, fans knew what to do—buy it immediately. After reading it, fans didn’t know what to do with themselves. A subversion of your typical superhero story, the saga is a story of two rivals—a battle between good and evil. Except that it’s hard to tell which is which. Except that sometimes our heroes are neither… or both at the same time. Except that these two are not necessarily rivals, but instead are former friends, caught in the same misfortune and headed towards what could easily be the same ruin.

Readers say: “Me, having absolutely no concept of liking things in moderation: I WOULD DIE A THOUSAND FIERY DEATHS FOR THIS BOOK.”

 

Horror

 

'Elevation' by Stephen King

“Everyone should have this, he thought, and perhaps, at the end, everyone does. Perhaps in their time of dying, everyone rises.”

 

Stephen King is at it again with Elevation, another impossibly good book rife with impossibly awful things. This time, though, it’s a little more possible than you might suspect. In this case, the awful thing is something more recognizable than a sewer clown, or rather, something we are more likely to encounter: illness and prejudice. I’ll leave this one alone except to say that it’s (1) uplifting and (2) not a horror novel AT ALL. It’s pretty clear why the novel won in the horror category—Stephen King is the author. It’s pretty clear why it’s award-winningly good—Stephen King is the author.

Readers say: “Instead of feeling scared, I cried my eyes out. It was not what I expected, but it was so much much better.”

 

Nonfiction

 

'I'll Be Gone in the Dark' Michelle McNamara

 

“What is the lasting damage when you believe the warm spot you were just sleeping in will be your grave?”

 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the final achievement and master work of now-deceased journalist Michelle McNamara, completed by her closest research colleague. The book details McNamara’s investigation into the infamous Golden State Killer, a serial rapist and murderer who shone a flashlight on his victims’ faces to blind to them—and to make certain that they were awake for the carnage. Survivors remember only the grim rasp of his voice as he left them for dead: “you’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.”

Readers say: “My mouth continually fell open and my head was shaking NO as I listened to this moving account from one woman with an enormous investigation to relate to the public. It is simply a magnificent piece of work.”

 

Memoir & Autobiography

 

'Educated: A Memoir' Tara Westover

 

“We are all of us more complicated than the roles we are assigned in the stories other people tell.”

 

Tara Westover‘s Educated is the story of a girl who wasn’t. Until she was 17, Tara had never been in a classroom—or a hospital. Born in her family’s remote Idaho home, she didn’t legally exist, with no birth records to help her get an education and no school records to help her get a birth certificate. Her plan for the future was the apocalypse bug-out bag she shared a bed with. Given that she ended up with a PhD from Cambridge University, calling this a book feels almost like an understatement—it’s a story, and it’s as challenging and important as the word implies.

Readers say: “Educated: A Memoir scalded the very edges of my soul. It took me through a whole gamut of my own emotions from belief to disbelief, from hesitation to doubt to wariness, and most importantly, from the weightiness of compassion and empathy to the restrictions of frustration and anger.”

 

Debut Author

 

'Children of Blood and Bone' Tomi Adeyemi

“I won’t let your ignorance silence my pain.”

 

Tomi Adeyemi‘s Children of Blood and Bone is impressive for every possible reason: it was written by a twenty-four year old author. It earned an astonishing seven figures, unheard of for a debut author. More importantly, it’s a mainstream YA interpretation of Nigerian mythology, written by a Nigerian author. And most importantly, it’s (according to over 70,000 people who VOTED, which is more readers than most books ever have) astonishingly good.

Readers say: “All you need to know from this review is…. Read the book.”

 

While these aren’t all of the winning titles, these are the smash hits of 2018-the books that, were they songs, would be blasting 24/7 in cars and supermarkets. (The difference is that these are so good you still might like them after.) Check out Goodreads for more information on the other winners.

 

 

All Images Via Goodreads.com
Featured Image Via Bustle.com

George R. R. Martin Reveals Why His New New Book Should Be on Your Wishlist

A Song of Ice and Fire fans, you better hope you’re on the Nice List this holiday!

Just a few weeks ago Martin’s new installment Fire and Blood made its publishing debut!

 

Image Via Amazon

 

What was originally thought to just be a historical side-story within the Westeros Universe is now revealed to have bigger ties to the ongoing series than we thought it would.

 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Martin was asked if there are any hints for what’s to come for the series in the new book.

 

There are a few that are definitely important, but I’m not going to flag them. Readers will have to find them and puzzle out whether they’re hints or red herrings.

 

Image result for george rr martin emmys 2018

Image Via Mashable

 

Martin’s most recent installment in the fantasy saga is entitled Fire and Blood because the Targaryens are the focus of his writing. With their control over the dragons of Westeros and lineage of political power, I can see why Martin would pick that title.

 

According to the Martin in the same interview from Entertainment Weekly, Fire and Blood “is not a traditional novel”.

 

I don’t want people buying it thinking they’re going to get something like A Game of Thrones or Dance With Dragons. This is an imaginary history. It’s written in the style of a textbook as you’ve seen, which is quite a different style and is deliberately that way. That’s what I’ve set out to do and that’s what I’ve done and, hopefully, people enjoy it on that basis. I don’t want to mislead people into thinking they’re getting a traditional novel. It’s a generational story, it covers 150 years, there’s a large cast of characters who are born, grow up and die, and are succeeded by their children.

 

This definitely sounds like a great gift for any hardcore “ice and fire” fan! Being a fan myself, I think I have a last minute gift to add to my list.

 

If you want to catch the full interview from Entertainment Weekly read here!

 

 

Featured Image Via WBUR.org

Cassandra Clare's 'Queen of Air and Darkness'

The Most Anticipated December Book Releases

As proof that 2018 seriously dragged on, consider this: the Tide-Pod eating fiasco happened in January of this year. (Consider this: it happened at all.) So if your year has felt even longer than your to-read list, check out the most anticipated releases of December across six different genres.

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