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  • Jenny Kawecki 4:00 pm on 2016/12/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , happy holidays?,   

    Put Your Holiday Drama Into Perspective with the Worst Holidays in Fiction 

    Despite being full of extra days off during which to read and (hopefully) the gift of some beautiful new books, sometimes the pressure of being surrounded by everyone we know and love means the holidays aren’t as enjoyable as we wish they were. But for every dull office party you attend and every well-intentioned relative asking about your plans for the future, there’s a fictional character who has got it much, much worse. So any time you’re surrounded by off-key carolers wearing intentionally ugly sweaters, just remember: at least you’re not stuck in one of these terrible holidays.

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling
    Our favorite boy wizard’s first ten Christmases with the Dursleys were undoubtedly less than magical, but his fifth holiday at Hogwarts is even worse. Harry, who has been plagued by dreams of Voldemort all year, sees Arthur Weasley get attacked by Voldemort’s snake. Worse still, Harry sees it from the snake’s perspective—and it’s not a dream but a vision of a real event. The Weasleys spend the first half of the holidays worried about their patriarch, who’s recovering at St. Mungo’s, while Harry deals with his guilt over Arthur’s attack. Not exactly a joyous occasion.

    The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen
    All Enid wants is to have her whole family together again for the holidays. Unfortunately for Enid, her husband’s health is rapidly declining due to Parkinson’s, her oldest son can’t convince his wife or children to make the trip, her daughter is in the middle of an affair, and her youngest son’s life is falling apart. Undaunted by resistance on every front, Enid sets about to advance her mission, armed with nothing but a serious ability to guilt trip. After all, nothing says Christmas like desperately trying to make your life appear perfect in front of your closest relatives.

    Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
    Great Expectations opens on Christmas Eve, as orphaned Pip visits the graves of his parents and siblings. While there, he’s accosted by a recently escaped convict, who bullies Pip into stealing food and a file to get rid of his handcuffs. Later, instead of thanking Pip for his help, the convict gets violent, and Pip runs home to spend Christmas Day stewing in guilt over the whole affair. Life gradually improves when Pip starts visiting creepy Miss Havisham, falls in love with her ward Estella, and starts receiving money from a mysterious benefactor, but still. Not the best holiday memory for a seven-year-old.

    The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
    When Richard joins an eccentric group of close-knit Classics students at an elite college, he doesn’t expect to wind up complicit in the death of a classmate. The Secret History is Richard’s memories of the year leading up to his classmate’s killing and the splintering that occurs in the aftermath. But woven into the middle of the story is an account of Richard’s terrible Christmas, spent alone on campus in a freezing warehouse, where he nearly dies of hypothermia before being hospitalized—a miserable holiday to precede an even more miserable spring semester.

    The post Put Your Holiday Drama Into Perspective with the Worst Holidays in Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Kawecki 2:00 pm on 2016/10/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , funko, ,   

    Decorate Your Bookshelves with These Collectible Harry Potter Figures! 

    The holidays are upon us, and what better way to deck the halls—or your shelves—than with the magic of Hogwarts? We can’t help but want to keep our books company with the entirety of Funko Pop’s Harry Potter collection. With their adorably large heads and charming details, these collectible figurines make the perfect gift for just about anyone—including yourself.

    Harry Potter
    Of course, you’ll want to kick off your collection with the boy wizard who started it all. Doesn’t his hair look perfectly mussed? Don’t you just love his little Gryffindor tie? It’s almost as if he’s really real. (Just kidding. We know he is.) Whether you’re buying him to accompany your precious hardbacks or gifting him to a friend, you can’t go wrong with classic Harry.

    We’ve loved Dobby from the moment he and his tennis-ball eyes appeared in Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets, warning Harry not to return to Hogwarts. And there’s nothing, not even stupid old Bellatrix, that can stop us. Here’s our favorite house elf having just been given the most wonderful gift a house-elf can get—a sock! And now you can give the next most wonderful gift: Dobby, holding his newly acquired sock!

    Luna Lovegood
    Luna is our favorite Ravenclaw (not skewed at all by the fact that she’s really one of the only Ravenclaws we ever meet). With her radish earrings and her brave, wand-ready stance and her eyes that have so clearly seen Thestrals, Luna is hands down the only person we want guarding our dirigible plums—and proudly chilling out with the rest of our collection.

    Sirius Black
    Harry’s beloved godfather will live on in our hearts and minds forever. Of course, that’s much easier to say when you’ve got a little statue of Sirius giving you a daily reminder of his scruffy perfection. Go on, try to convince us you don’t know someone who’d love to have him standing watch over their copy of Prisoner of Azkaban. We don’t believe you.

    Harry & the Sorting Hat
    This one is a B&N exclusive you absolutely have to have: nervous little first year Harry anxiously awaiting the announcement of his permanent Hogwarts home. From the detail on the Sorting Hat to the worried gleam in the Boy Who Lived’s eye, this cute little collectible is bound to make a stellar gift for the Harry Potter fanatic in your life. Bonus points if you yell “Gryffindor!” when the wrapping is opened.

    Neville Longbottom
    On to Neville, aka, the Boy Who Suddenly Became Totally Adorable. Seen here lovingly holding Trevor the Houdini-esque toad, Neville is just too cute not to add to your collection. Now if only Funko would make one of Neville holding the sword of Gryffindor in one hand and Nagini’s head in the other, all our action-figure fantasies would be complete.

    Draco Malfoy
    How can you resist this flawless rendition of Draco Malfoy? With that slicked-back hair and what we swear is an arrogant tilt to his chin, you can almost hear him saying, “My father will hear about this.” For all the times you and your friends have wanted to reenact Draco and Harry’s finer moments, this little guy makes an excellent—and essential—addition to the collection.

    Hermione Granger
    Have a wicked smart friend whose brains and tenacity you admire? Just give her this Hermione Granger figure and she’ll understand. From her bushy hair to her practical shoes, the Brightest Witch of Her Age is a must-have for all Harry Potter fans. Besides, you know there’s nothing Hermione would like better than sitting on a bookshelf for the rest of time.

    Fred Weasley
    Brand new to the Harry Potter collection is Fred Weasley, complete with a suitcase (no doubt full of prankish items from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes) and a mischievous glint to his eye. We’ll admit it: it’s hard not to tear up a little when looking at this half of the Weasley twins. But there’s no doubt we want him on our shelves, anyway.

    Who wouldn’t want this huggable giant (well, half-giant) gracing their collection? Just like in the books, Hagrid towers over everyone else, complete with a tiny pink umbrella. All we need is a Buckbeak figure to go with him—and a Fang, and an Aragog, and a Norbert, and okay, basically, Funko needs to release a complete series of Hagrid’s menagerie next.

    The post Decorate Your Bookshelves with These Collectible Harry Potter Figures! appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Kawecki 7:09 pm on 2016/10/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , stacey lee, , ,   

    8 Books to Convert a YA Naysayer into a YA Fanatic 

    We’ve all got that friend who thinks that, just because they’re an adult, they can’t be seen cracking the cover of a young adult book. Maybe they’re snobby about it, maybe they just don’t think YA could be their thing, but either way you’ve got a mission: help that friend find the right book, thus opening their eyes to a marvelous, ever-expanding category of fabulous reads. Here are 8 YA books that will entice even the most selective reader.

    I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
    Dodie Smith’s old-school YA I Capture the Castle is a good place to start; it’s usually shelved with the adult books, so you may be able to recommend it with nary an eyebrow raised. Seventeen-year-old Cassandra lives in a broken-down castle with her crazy family and no money, waiting for the day when her famous novelist father overcomes his writer’s block. When they get a handsome new landlord—one who might actually expect them to pay rent—things around the castle start to change. Narrated in Cassandra’s clever, engaging voice, I Capture the Castle is the perfect gateway YA read.

    Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
    This book is like a sucker punch to your emotions: full of beautiful, lovable teenage moments, but heartbreaking as hell. Eleanor and Park meet on the bus. Eleanor, red-haired and strange, is the new bully magnet; Park has been always stayed successfully under the radar. Slowly they fall in love over comic books and music. As they face struggles with other kids, their families, and each other, they both know it’ll never last—the only question is what will tear them apart in the end.

    Wolf by Wolf, by Ryan Graudin
    Fast-paced and wonderfully original, Wolf by Wolf will quell a lot of non-YA readers bad assumptions about YA stereotypes. Yael lives in an alternate post-WWII world in which the Axis powers won. After surviving torture and experimentation in a death camp, she’s determined to get revenge for the loved ones she lost. Her plan? Win the annual motorcycle race held to commemorate the Axis victory, gain an audience with Hitler, and kill him. Sounds foolproof, right?

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Junior has spent 14 years on the Spokane Indian Reservation, watching the people around him live hard and die young, and he wants out. So he uses his smarts to gain a transfer to the local all-white high school off the res. Building a new life for himself isn’t easy: his new classmates stereotype him, his old friends think he’s abandoned them, and on top of it all, he usually has to hitchhike to school. Funny, heart-wrenching, and beloved, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is basically irresistible.

    I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
    I’ll Give You the Sun tells the story of Jude and Noah, twins who used to be inseparable. At thirteen, they complete each other. At sixteen, they barely speak. What happened in between? Told in alternating perspectives, with Jude narrating the later years and Noah narrating the early years, the story slowly pieces itself together. Full of family, grief, first love, and what comes after, this book will make your YA-reluctant friend cry and swoon in equal measures.

    An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
    If you know someone who thinks YA novels can’t include complex, well-built worlds, this book will prove them wrong. Laia and Elias are on opposite sides of an ancient Rome-esque world: Laia’s people have been conquered, and Elias is training to lead the conquerors. As Laia embeds herself as a slave in order to gather intel from the military academy Elias is training at, Elias enters into a deadly competition he wants nothing to do with. Dark, detailed, and action-packed, An Ember in the Ashes is a standout.

    Outrun the Moon, by Stacey Lee
    Looking for an excellent young adult historical fiction novel to recommend? Outrun the Moon is it. It’s 1906 in San Francisco, and Mercy Wong is determined to go to a posh private school so she can become a businesswoman. The problem? She’s Chinese, and the school is open only to white students. But Mercy is stubborn, and through a combination of bribery and blackmail, she gets in. Cue a massive earthquake that tears apart the city, leaving Mercy stranded among her less-than-friendly classmates.

    Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo
    What could be better than a heist novel full of six lovably damaged characters, a gritty backstory, and a touch of magic? Kaz Brekker is notorious for his criminal skill, so when he’s offered the job of a lifetime, he can’t turn it down. But the only thing more impossible than the task ahead is getting his team of talented misfits to get along long enough to pull it off. Full of twists and distinct, well-developed characters, Six of Crows will make anyone fall in love with YA.

    The post 8 Books to Convert a YA Naysayer into a YA Fanatic appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Kawecki 4:00 pm on 2016/09/30 Permalink
    Tags: don't forget the giant spiders, , , , , new in fiction, ,   

    10 Scenes We Can’t Wait to See in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Illustrated Edition 

    We’ve been counting down the days until the release of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Illustrated Edition ever since we first set eyes on Jim Kay’s perfect depictions of The Sorcerer’s Stone. And October just feels like the perfect month for revisiting Harry’s second year at Hogwarts. Between the giant spiders and the Deathday Party and the general air of spookiness, Chamber of Secrets practically screams fall. We can’t wait to see how Jim Kay works his magic on this installment—especially with these scenes!

    10. Fred and George and the Ford Anglia. This moment is pure joy: Harry is sad and desperate and alone, when all of the sudden, Fred and George (and Ron, too) appear in a flying car to save the day. Bonus: Vernon shouting “HE’S GETTING AWAY” as Harry and Hedwig escape. We’ve gotten a taste of this scene from the cover reveal of the new book, but we want more, more, more!

    9. Harry and Draco dueling. We will forever love any scene featuring Draco and Harry, but this one holds a special place in our hearts. After all, who but Harry would begin a duel with a tickling curse? Toss in the look on Justin Finch-Fletchley’s face as Harry speaks Parseltongue, and yep, we can’t wait to see this drawn out.

    8. Aragog and company. How surprising was it to learn that Hagrid used to keep a man-eating spider as a pet? Not at all. But how great will it be to see Ron looking extremely nervous as giant arachnids cover every page? Very. We can’t wait to see how Kay handles this one.

    7. Filch nursing a petrified Mrs. Norris. There’s not much to like about Argus Filch, but if there’s one thing we can definitely relate with him over, it’s his love for his cat. He may be kinda gross and super mean, but the man is clearly devoted to Mrs. Norris, and we don’t want to miss out on this humanizing, anxious pet-parent moment.

    6. Harry trying to get away from Gilderoy Lockhart. In the bookstore, during detention, after breaking his arm—pick any “Harry desperately tries to avoid Lockhart” scene, because they’re all perfect. We can practically picture it already: Harry wishing he could summon his invisibility cloak, Lockhart’s gleaming white smile, and Colin Creevey capturing it all on camera.

    5. Nick’s Deathday Party. Hands down, Harry, Ron, and Hermione awkwardly hanging out at an all-dead party is our favorite ghost scene in the series. We’re hoping for detailed illustrations of the moldy food and varied spirits, not to mention Peeves.

    4. Ron puking slugs. Poor Ron and his havoc-wreaking broken wand—we’d feel sorry for him if we didn’t appreciate the comic relief so much. Between seeing Ron vomit buckets of slugs and getting a glimpse of the inside of Hagrid’s hut, we’re really looking forward to this one.

    3. The Weasleys de-gnoming the garden. This scene is a double-whammy: not only do we get to see the entire Weasley clan (including Molly giving her younger sons the what-for), but also gnomes. Gnomes! And not just gnomes, but gnomes being flung through the air and dejectedly traipsing across the lawn. It’s bound to be quirkily adorable.

    2. Harry freeing Dobby. Beating Voldemort is all well and good, but the real victory of Chamber of Secrets is Harry rescuing Dobby from Lucius Malfoy’s evil clutches. We’re not sure what we’re more excited about seeing: Dobby’s lovable, lamp-like eyes, or Harry’s grubby, nasty sock.

    1. Hermione polyjuicing into a cat. Because honestly, what’s better than seeing our favorite girl wonder with a pair of fuzzy ears and a tail? Nothing, that’s what. We’re sure Jim Kay will work some magic (pun intended) in this illustrated edition.

    The illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is on B&N bookshelves October 4!

    The post 10 Scenes We Can’t Wait to See in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Illustrated Edition appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Kawecki 3:00 pm on 2016/09/22 Permalink
    Tags: a chill in the air, autumn, , fall reads, seasons,   

    Autumn Is the Best Season for Reading (And We Can Prove It) 

    Sure, summer reading is fine. The days are longer, and you can match your paperbacks to your vacation spot. But autumn, with its rich colors and brisk air, is truly the best season for reading. Don’t believe me? Here are three very important reasons why:

    1. The Aesthetic
    By the end of August, you’ve probably realized that all of your summer reads have sand packed into the binding—what’s so great about beach reading again?—and pages whose edges have been softened by a deadly mix of humidity and sweat and sunscreen. You know when that doesn’t happen? Autumn. You know what you’d rather fill those pages with? The crisp smell of freshly fallen leaves.

    Even if you’re not going back to school, it’s hard not to give in to that itch to fill a backpack up with brand-new books every fall. Cozied up with sweaters, reading in front of a fireplace or under a nice orangey-red tree, blanketed with paperbacks—what’s not to love? So grab your plaid shirts, your candles, and your sense of self-discovery and get ready for fall.

    2. The Snacks
    There’s one thing that all true book nerds know: if you’re settling in for a long day of reading, you’re going to need proper sustenance. And you know what pairs perfectly with a nice, new hardback? Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, a nice chai latte—all worldly pleasures that are hard to appreciate when you’ve got summer sweat rolling down the back of your knee. Toss in some fresh-baked cookies, a slice of pie, an after-dinner glass of brandy, and anything pumpkin, and you have to admit that fall reading snacks are the best reading snacks.

    3. The Books
    Food and aesthetics are all well and good, but the true reason that autumn reading surpasses all other reading? The books.

    Summer books sound good when you make the initial approach: a quick fling you can speed through and then forget. But after months of light reading, you can’t help but crave something a little more serious. Enter fall reading. Between long-awaited new releases from favorite authors (helllllloo Swing Time) and beloved re-reads (Night Circus is a must), you’ll have more books to read than pumpkin spice lattes to drink. Plus, as the air turns chillier, you can’t help but be drawn to those dark, thrilling reads, perfect for matching your Halloween decorations.

    Still need some convincing? Here are some upcoming autumn books that will have you craving sweater season:

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: the Illustrated Edition, by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay
    Arguably the most “autumn” of the Harry Potter books (I mean, there’s a party. With ghosts), Chamber of Secrets is the perfect classic back-to-school read—it starts off light and gets gradually creepier until finally you’re left standing on a pile of bones. Which makes this fall the perfect time to re-read this book, and even more perfect when accompanied by Jim Kay’s wonderful, rich, autumn-hued illustrations.

    Swing Timeby Zadie Smith
    You only have to wait a few more months to fill the hole in your chest reserved for Zadie Smith’s beautiful, brilliant writing. Swing Time tells the story of two mixed-race girls, both in love with dancing. One of them, Tracey, is talented. Our narrator is not. They meet in a dance class as children, become friends, and are pulled apart by their divulging futures—but they never forget each other. Is it November yet?

    Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo
    The much awaited sequel to Six of CrowsCrooked Kingdom resumes with Kaz and his crew struggling to survive after a betrayal ruins all their hopes of retiring rich and happy. There’s something about this magical heist novel that just screams fall (besides its release date, of course). If you, like us, are dying to find out what happens to our six favorite criminal misfits, welcome to your autumn kick-off read.

    Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple
    If you loved Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, this new book from Maria Semple should have you clamoring for October. Eleanor is ready to take back control of her life, starting with getting her son to school on time and working on her relationship with her husband. She even has a plan. But, like most plans, life gets in the way. For everyone who wanders into a new season hoping to improve themselves and “finally do things right,” Today Will Be Different is your next autumn almost-coming-of-age read.

    What books are whetting your appetite for chillier days?

    The post Autumn Is the Best Season for Reading (And We Can Prove It) appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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