Updates from Melissa Albert Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Melissa Albert 4:30 pm on 2017/07/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    White FurAuthor Jardine Libaire Shares Her Favorite Autobiographical Books by Rebellious Women 

    More than one of us cancelled dinner plans so we could finish reading Jardine Libaire’s White Fur, her gorgeous novel about love and obsession set in gritty 1980s New York. This ferocious and seductive—almost hypnotic—story is absolutely unforgettable. We asked Jardine to tell us what she read while she was working on White Fur, and this is what she said:

    “The female protagonist in White Fur is a woman named Elise, and I got fueled to write about her by entering the consciousnesses of other strong and original women, women who didn’t quite do what they were told. I particularly love to read about these women and their worlds in their own words. Whether they all thought of themselves as feminists is less important to me than the monumental power they demonstrate to be who we want, to write what we want, and to love who we want.”

    Here’s the author to share some of these inspiring books

    Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, by Cookie Mueller
    Right out of the gate, Mueller runs on high-test gasoline, defiantly becoming who she is in high school—teased hair and cat eyes, in love with a boy and with a girl—and never looking back. This is a furious life, full of adventures, mishaps, love, drugs, fun, hitchhiking, friends, art, and burning houses. And no apologies.

    Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
    Reading this is like stumbling through someone’s psychedelic notebook after she handed it to you and warned you not to expect answers or epiphanies. You get messy, exquisite life instead. You get the jewels of data that constitute someone’s daily thought experience.

    Dust Tracks on a Road, by Zora Neale Hurston
    I love this book for many things but largely for the joyful dissidence, the imaginative and creative rebellion. Hurston was not going to be what she was told to be, but she was also not going to be anything that had already been established as an alternative. She would be someone else, someone unprecedented.

    M Train, by Patti Smith
    How do you funnel the drive and the heart that goes into being a young wild bohemian rock star into the years that follow? This book is a pocket guide on staying fierce, on creating rituals (like graveyard sessions in other countries, or having brown bread and coffee every single morning) that help a woman maintain a blueprint of untamed living.

    The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas, by Frida Kahlo
    Kahlo has fascinated me since I was young, and I used to be baffled by how she could be so autonomous, so proud, so strong, and also so attached to a man who gave her (what I thought was) less than she deserved. Now I deliberately respect the whole chaotic truth of her life, because it was her life, no one else’s. And it’s my honor and pleasure to read about it in her words.

    The post White FurAuthor Jardine Libaire Shares Her Favorite Autobiographical Books by Rebellious Women appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 7:00 pm on 2017/07/11 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    Swell Author Jill Eisenstadt Shares Her Picks for Essential Summer Reading 

    Jill Eisenstadt’s debut, From Rockaway, was bound by the nihilistic routines of a trio of lifeguards who spend their summers surveying New York’s Rockaway Beach. Though still young, their lives already seem decided, split between watching the waves and working blue-collar jobs in the cold months. Her latest, Swell, returns to the shore thirty years later, in the story of a family with some serious baggage, moving into a Rockaway house that’s haunted in more ways than one. An unwanted houseguest and the return of a character who first appeared in From Rockaway round out this darkly funny, sympathetic tale.


    Both books make for perfect beach reading, set seaside but far from candy-colored. Here’s Eisenstadt to share a list of more ideal waterfront reads, for your summer enjoyment.

    What makes a good beach read? For me, it’s mainly about practicality. Leave the heavy tome at home. Avoid the minuscule print (though that’s advice for everywhere). Don’t bother with anything you’d care about getting stained with sunscreen or sandwich drippings. Wind, wet, sand, salt – such conditions require a book you can wrangle. Break the spine, throw the sopping towel over accidentally, or fold down pages when your bookmark vanishes. Other than that, it’s a matter of your current mood. So have a good assortment handy – old and new, serious, light, something in between. Content-wise, I tend to go for sweltering settings or themes, but that’s personal. There can be no bad beach books because, thank Poseidon, books don’t need charging or batteries.

    Some for Summer 2017:

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, with an Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld, chaser
    Like beaches, Jane Austen is a place to escape from the news. Curtis Sittenfeld’s modern take is pure fun, an inside joke for the outdoors.

    Men Without Women, by Haruki Murakami
    Short stories work well on the beach, particularly ones that tend toward the spare and philosophical. Between stories you can take a swim or stare out to sea wondering why Murakami used a Hemingway title, whether the men in the book could be weirder, and ultimately what it all means.

    The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery
    If you haven’t heard, octopuses are in. And no, it’s not octopi, as you’ll learn if you read this. Includes many other fascinating insights into these intelligent, emotional beings.

    The Member of the Wedding, by Carson McCullers
    “It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old. This was the summer when for a long time she had not been a member. She belonged to no club and was a member of nothing in the world. Frankie had become an unjoined person who hung around in doorways, and she was afraid.”

    Endless Love, by Scott Spencer
    I haven’t looked at this novel in decades but nor have I forgotten it. And I just recounted to verify….yes, the sex scene is 36 pages long! Definitely high time to revisit.

    The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith
    Psychological thrillers do not get better than this. Exciting and intelligent and set in fabulous sometimes beachy locales (the Ligurian coast). Never will you find yourself more fervently rooting for a sociopath.

    Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed
    Lie on the sand on a big soft towel and listen to your daughters (or friends) take turns reading advice aloud. This book, culled from columns originally run in the Rumpus, written by the once anonymous and shockingly wise Cheryl Strayed, is a guaranteed conversation starter. When and if you gather the will to finally take a walk, there’s also a handy spinoff podcast with the wonderful Steve Almond.

    Sea Grapes, by Derek Walcott
    Poetry on the beach is essential. Because, as Walcott himself writes in the title poem of his most famous collection, “The classics can console. But not enough.”

    The post Swell Author Jill Eisenstadt Shares Her Picks for Essential Summer Reading appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 7:30 pm on 2017/06/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , elin hildebrand,   

    Elin Hildebrand Shares Her Favorite Summer Reads 

    In Elin Hildebrand’s The Identicals, out next week, Hilderbrand takes readers to the sunny shores of Martha’s Vineyard. There, we meet the 39-year-old Frost sisters: fun-loving, hard-drinking Harper, who’s allergic to responsibility, and her estranged identical twin sister, Tabitha, a cultured and elegant woman and single mother who lives a few miles away in Nantucket, where she struggles to keep their mother’s boutique afloat. The twins haven’t gotten along in years, but when scandal engulfs them both, they decide to swap islands—and lives—in a desperate attempt to help right each other’s wrongs. In preparation for Hildebrand’s latest scrumptious and intelligent beach fare, the author shared her picks for the best summer reads.


    For me, a great summer read does NOT have to be set at the beach.  It merely has to be completely engrossing, a real page-turner, and extra points for escapism.

    Saints for All Occasions, by Courtney Sullivan
    This is a good old-fashioned family saga.  It begins in Ireland in the fifties and follows the immigrant parents over to Boston right up to 2009. When tragedy strikes, the family gathers and all the secrets come out.  You may feel as though you’ve read this story before, but Sullivan’s gorgeous, precise, empathetic prose draws you in and makes the whole thing fresh and new.  You WILL fall in love with this family. Suggested for: New England beach vacations!

    The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
    Possibly the perfect beach read.  This novel follows an upper class American family to Majorca for the summer.  It’s whip-smart, erudite, and so, so clever.  It has sumptuous European details and juicy scandal.  Extra points for escapism! Suggested for: Your trip to the south of France or Santorini!

    Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley
    After a private plane filled with important people crashes off of Martha’s Vineyard, there are only two survivors, and authorities puzzle over what happened. This is a thriller AND a beach book!  It’s written in the kind of prose you can vividly see in your mind’s eye—I say it should be a movie!—and I devoured every delicious page.  Suggested for: anywhere BUT Martha’s Vineyard.

    The Admissions, by Meg Mitchell Moore
    This is one of my favorite books in recent years. It’s about a family with three daughters, and the eldest is desperately trying to get into Harvard.  Set in the high-stress, high-tech, high-property-value world of San Francisco, this novel keeps you guessing and cheering and biting your nails to the very end. Suggested for: summer college tours, parents only.

    Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
    I read this novel while on St. John this past March and was both mesmerized and inspired. Picoult is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), especially when it comes to novels that deal with “issues.”  This novel takes on Race with a capital R, but Race takes a backseat to Picoult’s impeccable characterizations; you develop sympathy for all of the characters in this book, even those you might not naturally be inclined to like. And that, my friends, is a feat only the most masterful of storytellers can pull off.  Suggested for: everyone, everywhere.

    The post Elin Hildebrand Shares Her Favorite Summer Reads appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 2:00 pm on 2017/05/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , , served cold,   

    The Child Author Fiona Barton Shares Her Favorite Cold-Case Mysteries 

    Last year Fiona Barton told a tangled tale in The Widow, centered on long-suffering housewife Jean, her recently deceased husband, and the kidnapping he was accused of years before his death. Her latest thriller, The Child, out this June, sees the revival of another cold case when a journalist finds herself bound to chase the mystery of a baby’s skeleton found in the remains of a demolished house, to its roots.

    Barton is, unsurprisingly, a fan of the cold-case mystery in her reading as well. Here she shares with us some of her favorites, perfect creepy reading for cool summer nights.

    The righting of historic wrongs has chimed with something fundamental in me since I was a young reader. I love the forensic skills, the psychological insights, and the sheer bloody-mindedness of various detectives—professional or accidental—inching toward the truth of a long-buried secret. It will be no surprise, then, that I have gone down this route in my second novel, The Child, in which the discovery of a newborn’s skeleton sets in motion an investigation by journalist Kate Waters into the identity of the nameless child. I am following tentatively in the footsteps of some of the greats in the genre, starting with Agatha Christie, the queen of the uncovered clue, and finishing with my current read, Val McDermid’s latest starring her cold case detective, DCI Karen Pirie. Some of my choices for this list are hardboiled crime, some literary, some old, some new, but all held me spellbound.

    Five Little Pigs, by Agatha Christie
    This is often described as Christie’s neglected masterpiece and pitches Hercule Poirot into a 16-year-old-murder (with hemlock), a possible miscarriage of justice, and a convoluted family feud. So far, so what? But it’s not so much the plot in this novel that enthralls, it’s the way Christie presents the riddle of the murder from five different viewpoints. Her Belgian detective asks the five key suspects to write him a letter describing what they heard and saw on the day of the murder and sets out to solve the crime without visiting the scene. Elegantly resolved and an immensely satisfying ending.

    Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson 
    This is the novel that introduced me to Jackson Brodie, Atkinson’s troubled private investigator (are there any other kind?). As the title suggests, he deals with more than one cold case—there are three family tragedies, including the disappearance of a child from a tent in a back garden thirty years earlier, an axe murder by a new mother, and the stabbing to death of a solicitor’s daughter. Now, don’t say you are not getting good value… The stories intertwine expertly and unexpectedly, leaving you desperate to read the next one.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
    This astonishing debut, published posthumously, was a fairly nuclear introduction to Scandi Noir. The story centers around the dysfunctional Vanger family and the unsolved disappearance of a young relative in 1966. The hunt for the truth is led by a journalist and the anarchic hacker Lisbeth Salander. The story is gritty, sometimes unbearably graphic, but swept me through its 463 pages to the awful, shuddering denouement.

    The Dry, by Jane Harper 
    The secrets of small towns have fascinated writers and readers since the first psychological thriller was penned. (Wikipedia tells me that was in 11th-century Japan, and who am I to argue?) Jane Harper has set her cold-case mystery in the worst drought in Australia in a century, teasing us with the irony of temperatures. Her Federal Agent Aaron Falk goes home for the first time in decades for the funeral of a boyhood friend. The friend is said to have committed suicide after murdering his wife and young son in horrifying circumstances, but all may not be as it seems, and Falk reluctantly becomes embroiled in reinvestigating the crime. Meanwhile, a much older crime that touches the investigator intimately is exposed as a rich seam of lies and collusion that underpin the community.

    The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt 
    Donna Tartt is a genius. This, her second novel, sets a 12-year-old heroine to solve the death of her brother, found beneath a tupelo tree on Mother’s Day when she was still a toddler. The 11-page prologue is a masterclass of building and sustaining unbearable tension before we are plunged into the mind of Harriet, the child determined to find nine-year-old Robin’s killer. It is complex, sublime, and has stayed with me. I am rushing to read it again.

    Out of Bounds, by Val McDermid 
    The latest outing for DCI Karen Pirie, head of Police Scotland’s Historic Case Unit, is my current book on the bedside table. The danger with having a known character who only deals with cold cases is that there may be nothing new to add to the genre, but McDermid is surprising me page by page. This time, the detective has to revisit a 20-year-old rape and murder after a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and a routine DNA test links him to an unsolved crime. Fab twists and turns and am learning new Scottish words all the time…

    The Remorseful Day, by Colin Dexter
    Having lived for many years in Oxford, for me the last Inspector Morse novel is a must. I had been part of the backdrop to the Morse series for 25 years (my daughter was actually an extra in one episode of the TV version), and I grew to love the curmudgeonly copper and his long-suffering sidekick, Lewis. The duo are normally part of live investigations, but in this book they consider a cold case, which may or may not have personal connections for Morse. It is a wonderfully intricate valedictory for a brilliant character.

    Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier 
    I refuse to apologize for including this classic thriller in every literary Top Ten I’ve put together. It was in my Top Novels with Marriages with Secrets, the list of books that have influenced me most, and Best First Lines. It is a masterpiece with an unsolved murder at its heart, a second wife, and the scariest housekeeper ever created. What’s not to like?

    Fiona Barton’s The Child hits shelves June 27, and is available for pre-order now.

    The post The Child Author Fiona Barton Shares Her Favorite Cold-Case Mysteries appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 5:05 pm on 2017/05/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , in conversation, ,   

    Authors Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini Talk Public Relations 

    Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini are writers with bylines at Buzzfeed and beyond, and are the brains behind Public Relations, a dishy new novel that takes a look at the glitzy, high-stakes world of celebrity PR. Rose Reed is an up and comer in the world of public relations, who’s thrown into the deep end when she takes over as solo publicist for Archie Fox. Soon the sexy new rocker’s reputation is skyrocketing, thanks to Rose’s stroke of genius: pairing him in a for-the-tabloids-only relationship with a fellow pop star. Until Rose finds herself wondering, very inconveniently, whether she’s the one who should be on Archie’s arm…

    Here are Heaney and Rebolini to talk about the fandoms that inspired the book.

    Katie Heaney: One of our reviews called the book “old-school chick lit” and I think that’s probably the most accurate. And I know that might be considered a demeaning term, but to me that’s what we were going for.

    Arianna Rebolini: Absolutely. That is such a compliment to me.

    KH: That makes me think of Bridget Jones, and Jennifer Weiner and Meg Cabot.

    AR: And those are the books I love! I feel like we both had that in mind. Would you also call Public Relations fanfic, or not?

    KH: I feel like fan fic is such a nebulous term. It’s one of those things where it’s like “All X is fanfic but not all fanfic is X.” If the premise of fanfic is wish fulfillment between you and a famous person, then yes, because our male lead is inspired by Harry Styles, but also, it’s not him. But Fifty Shades of Grey is fanfic, right?

    AR: Yeah, but I think that started on Wattpad with Edward and Bella as the names. For me, I think fan fiction, especially right now, is such a real community with, like, its own taxonomy, and I’m not well-versed enough in it to claim that label because I only read it really casually. And there are people who are much more thorough and do it really well, like Anna Todd. But as far as wish fulfillment, this was loosely what we could imagine as a fantasy between us and a combination of our various personal pop icons.

    KH: I guess in that way it’s inspired by fanfic, that viral Zayn fanfic about him being your heart transplant donor. We made a quiz after that, and from there its attachment to fanfic got more and more diluted. I think you’re right that there are rules. It’s like with romance writers, there are components you need to qualify for certain kinds of romance novels. And ours is sexy, but I think fanfic is usually sexier, or dirtier. Ours is no Fifty Shades.

    AR: If someone is reading this and wants to imagine themselves with Harry Styles, I could see them being like, well, this isn’t Harry! Archie became very much not Harry Styles in a lot of ways. But it still makes me swoon, even though we wrote him.

    KH: Right, Harry is the muse. He looks like Archie. And I imagine Archie being similarly composed in interviews, smiley and coy and charming but also fairly reserved.

    AR: I remember working on this and watching clips of Harry doing interviews.

    KH: Didn’t we watch This Is Us around then too? In, like, ten-minute installments on YouTube?

    AR: We watched that too, yeah.

    KH: All that stuff helped get us in the zone to write this, without it being a formula we were following. What do you think it is about One Direction that inspired a wider range of people to get more involved in fanfic?

    AR: I think their down to earth vibe, from having started on a reality show, was a part of it. But also the internet let the community grow so enormously and quickly, and Wattpad was a part of that, and those are things we didn’t have when I was obsessed with *NSYNC, for example. It’s such a fun way to be proactive in your fandom. When you’re obsessed it’s, like, physically painful and not enough to just love it, you have to act on it. And fanfic lets you do that.

    KH: I think part of their fame and the fanfic is that people had unprecedented access to their lives. We had all their social media presences, and when they started they were much more active and authentic on them. They had all those videos of them huddled together on the stairs. There was an immense amount of non-performance video from them, and a lot of the Larry stuff came from that, seeing the dynamic between Harry and Louis. If all you have is music videos and performances, it’s much harder to witness or create those dynamics that form stories.

    AR: That access also let us see how kind Harry seemed to be to his fans, and so it was very easy to think ‘that could be me.’ I could see how it would be easy to imagine meeting him and then him being so nice.

    KH: The pictures of him hugging fans, they all look like that could be his girlfriend, because of how real the hugs are.

    AR: And in the Rolling Stone interview didn’t he defend his young female fans?

    KH: Yeah, I mean he has always been a vocal advocate for his young female fans. In that interview he talked about how they show up for you in a way that other demographics don’t. He makes it easy to love him.

    AR: And Archie is an homage to that.

    KH: I think Archie has a worse attitude. He’s been in the business longer and has gone through a period of having a bad attitude. Whereas Harry is just now setting out on his solo career, so we don’t really know much about what to expect as a solo performer and personality. But we’ll see! Because his album is out now.

    Public Relations is out now.

    The post Authors Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini Talk Public Relations appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

compose new post
next post/next comment
previous post/previous comment
show/hide comments
go to top
go to login
show/hide help