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  • Jenny Shank 7:00 pm on 2018/01/24 Permalink
    Tags: , Authors You Need to Read, , , green, halsey street, , meghan kenny, mick kitson, naima coster, new and noteworthy, sal, sam graham-felsen, the driest season, the ensemble   

    6 Debut Novels to Watch for in 2018 

    Many readers love the fall, when new novels by well-known authors are apt to appear in bookstores. But some of us prefer the first part of the year, when first-time novelists make their debuts. Here are six notable debut novels to watch for in the first half of 2018.

    Fire Sermon, by Jamie Quatro
    Jamie Quatro follows up her New York Times notable story collection I Want to Show You More with her debut novel, Fire Sermon, in which a middle-aged writer named Maggie whose marriage has gone cold sparks up an affair with a poet named James, with whom she bonds over their shared interest in Christian mystics. Quatro cycles back to Maggie’s past, exploring how her faith led her to marry her husband Thomas when she was 21.

    Halsey Streetby Naima Coster
    In Halsey Street, Coster explores gentrification in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn she grew up in through the character of Penelope Grand, who dropped out after a year of college at the Rhode Island School of Design and tried to make a go of it as an artist in Philly before returning home to care for her injured father, Ralph. He once ran a record store, but as the neighborhood turned over and business dwindled, he closed the place, which is now an organic grocery store. Penelope’s mother, a Dominican immigrant named Mirella who worked as a housekeeper, left Brooklyn years earlier, but seeks to renew her connection with Penelope in this engaging debut.

    Green, by Sam Graham-Felsen
    Sam Graham-Felsen, who once worked as the head blogger for the presidential campaign of President Obama, drew on his experiences growing up for this funny, heartfelt coming-of-age tale that follows narrator David Greenfield as he begins attending an almost all-African-American middle school in Boston in 1992. David seeks to gain some credibility and friends who will make his adolescence bearable.

    The Driest Season, by Meghan Kenny (February 13)
    The fate of a Wisconsin family farm in 1943 turns on the actions of a fifteen-year-old girl named Cielle in the first novel by Meghan Kenny. Kenny, who previously published a collection of stories, Love Is No Small Thing, expanded a prize-winning story into The Driest Season. When Cielle discovers her father has hanged himself, she must help the community’s efforts to portray it as an accident so they won’t violate their loan conditions and lose the farm. You’d think that would be enough for Cielle to tackle in one slim, spare book, but she also faces her first stirrings of love, and must say goodbye to a beloved neighbor who enlists for World War II during this momentous summer.

    Sal, by Mick Kitson (May 8)
    Readers who enjoyed My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent should love this novel of the resourceful, 13-year-old Sal, who escapes an abusive home in Scotland with her ten-year-old sister Peppa to live in the wilderness, armed with knowledge gleaned from YouTube survival videos. Author Mick Kitson gives narrator Sal an endearing, unique voice.

    The Ensemble, by Aja Gabel (May 15)
    Some of the best novels offer an immersion in an intense subculture, and Aja Gabel’s debut about the young members of a string quartet promises to offer such an insider’s view. Gabel played the cello for two decades, and in this novel she follows the members of a string quartet as their relationships evolve, their careers take off, and the drama between them intensifies as they rely on each other yet are pulled in different directions.

    What 2018 debut novels are you excited about?

    The post 6 Debut Novels to Watch for in 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Elodie 2:00 pm on 2016/11/29 Permalink
    Tags: Authors You Need to Read, , , , , ,   

    8 Spells, Potions and Objects in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince That Will Make You Wish Magic Was Real 

    Behind every fictional bad guy is the dark and troubled past that made him this way. Lord Voldemort of the Harry Potter series (aka, the most villainous villain to ever villain) is no exception. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry plumbs the depths of his archenemy’s life story—and discovers Voldemort may in fact have a fatal flaw after all.

    Needless to say, it’s not just another year at Hogwarts. And while we wouldn’t trade places with Harry for a second (unprepared as we are to take on an evil wizarding overlord), we can’t help but wish we had some of the magical spells, potions, and objects he gets to use along the way. Here are just a few that give us serious enchantment envy.

    The potion: Felix Felicis
    What it does: It’s liquid luck! Though the effects only last a few hours, you’ll succeed in everything you try. Harry uses this in the ongoing crusade to suss out Voldemort’s weakness, but think how useful it would be during a final exam, job interview…or the lottery.

    The spell: Muffliato
    What it does: It fills the ears of everyone in the vicinity with an undetectable buzzing sound, so private conversations can be held without being overheard. Harry discovers this spell, among many others, scribbled in the margins of an old Potions textbook—they seem to have been invented by someone who calls themselves the “Half-Blood Prince.”

    The object: A Canary Cream
    What it does: This might look like your average, everyday custard cream, but when eaten, it briefly transforms the consumer into a canary. The holidays are coming up. You can’t tell us this wouldn’t be a big hit at Thanksgiving dinner, either as a conversation starter or as a way to change the subject when your relatives start asking about your future, or why you aren’t dating anyone.

    The object: The Hand of Glory
    What it does: It’s an instrument that gives light only to the holder. With this tool at your disposal, bothering other people with the light of your cell phone as you struggle to find a seat in a dark movie theater would be a thing of the past. Draco Malfoy, who as usual appears to be up to something nefarious, might just be using his Hand of Glory to a more sinister end.

    The spell: Aguamenti
    What it does: It causes water to shoot from the tip of one’s wand. If this were real, we’d be using it all the time, either for refills when we’re thirsty or to shoot jets of water at unwitting friends.

    The object: The Pensieve
    What it does: It’s a handy item that allows you to deposit your memories into a container and then reexamine them at your leisure. Harry, alongside Hogwarts headmaster Professor Dumbledore, uses this to explore the memories of those who knew Voldemort growing up. Most people would probably use it to figure out where they left their wallet, but defeating a Dark Lord is pretty good, too.

    The object: A Skiving Snackbox
    What it does: Everyone fakes sick to get out of doing things. Everyone. What’s often missing is the authenticity factor. The Skiving Snackbox is a magical product developed by twin entrepreneurs Fred and George Weasley, and is one of four treats designed to make you just sick enough to get out of school, work, or your great-aunt’s 90th birthday party. We recommend the Fever Fudge rather than the Puking Pastille or the Nosebleed Nougat, though there’s something to be said for the Fainting Fancy.

    The object: 10-Second Pimple Vanisher
    What it does: Self-explanatory. This is another product courtesy of Fred and George, and we think we speak for all of us when we say…where is the real-life equivalent? We can put a man on the moon and invent cars that drive themselves, but we haven’t yet devised a way of getting rid of acne instantaneously? What’s up with that?

    The post 8 Spells, Potions and Objects in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince That Will Make You Wish Magic Was Real appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 6:58 pm on 2016/11/11 Permalink
    Tags: Authors You Need to Read, bnstorefront-funnywomenlol, , , make 'em laugh   

    7 Hilarious Gift Books by Funny Women 

    Coming as they do at the end of the year, the holidays are as much a time of joy and togetherness as they are a time of last-minute bustle and unfestive stress. There’s no better time to slow down and look for a reason to laugh. This collection includes hilarious books from some of our favorite female comedians, actresses, and authors, women who aren’t afraid to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. Give the gift of laughter this year and brighten someone’s day (or treat yourself, if you need a pick me up).

    I Had a Nice Time, and Other Lies: How to Find Love and Sh*t Like That, by The Betches
    The Betches are the creators of an online advice column that doesn’t skimp on the funny or the insight, and they’re back with a new book about navigating the modern world of love and romance. Dating apps are a prime target, but this is a must-read for any “betch” looking for love. Even if they can’t help you get a date, you’re at least guaranteed a few laughs.

    How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows, by Jacqueline Novak
    You know what’s gut-bustingly hilarious? Crippling sadness. Ok, maybe it’s not the most obvious subject for a humor book, but Jacqueline Novak knows from funny at least as well as she knows from feeling miserable, and in this memoir-cum-self help tome, she gives depression double barrels of wry humor laced with rock salt. If she’s not revealing her secrets for motivating yourself to actually get dressed and leave the house, she’s teaching you how to enjoy a good cat hair–covered wallow.

    Bossypants, by Tina Fey
    No list of funny female authors is complete without the inimitable Tina Fey. Yes, Bossypants makes it onto lots of must-read lists, but there’s a reason why. This self-deprecating memoir produces uproarious laughter, which is something to keep in mind if you’re on a crowded train or in a quiet waiting room. In Bossypants, Fey details her lukewarm college love life, her early years of improv and working at the Y, her admission into the ranks of SNL, and her disastrous honeymoon. She also dishes plenty on the battle of the sexes, her unorthodox style of parenting, and best friends (see: Amy Poehler). An absolute requirement for your shelf of comedy she-roes.

    Mother, Can You Not?, by Kate Siegel
    The laughter is coming from inside the app! Confounded and deeply amused by the epic text conversations she shared with her, er, concerned mother, Kate Siegel decided to share them with the world via Instagram, birthing the @CrazyJewishMom account. It quickly became a viral sensation, and is now a LOL-worthy book. From visits to the OB-GYN, to menstrual cycles, to a few discussions that somehow don’t involve intimate details of the female anatomy, nothing is off limits for these two. While their convos might inspire some to forge a closer bond with their mothers, some of us will choose to stick to living vicariously.

    I Want My Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting, by Karen Alpert
    If you’re a parent who knows the sting of an epic Pinterest fail, this is the book for you. Alpert strikes back at the legion of online sanctimommies and daddies who swear they’ve mastered the formula for perfect parenting (spoiler: it involves lots of quinoa and organic, GMO-free cotton) with an ode to those of us who end the day with a nice pat on the back as long as we’ve managed to get through it with our children alive and accounted for. If you’ve ever worried about being bad at that lifelong job we call “nurturing the next generation,” this book will assure you that sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with being a “mediocre” parent, and at the end of the day, your kids will settle for just being loved (and maybe an extra cookie).

    Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much, by Faith Salie
    We’ve already witnessed Faith Salie in “serious” mode as a journalist on CBS News Sunday Morning, and gotten an earful of her sense of humor on the wacky NPR news quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, but we’ve never before been given as much access to the weird and wonderful workings of her brain as we are in this confessional new biography, in which she describes her lifelong struggle with being a people pleaser. From scoring perfect grades to impress her parents to enlisting the help of an exorcist to save her marriage and avoid the shame of a divorce, she has spent her entire life worried about what others think of her—even when it meant thinking less of herself. While you’re laughing, you’ll also nod in recognition of her insights into why people pleasers are compelled to do what they do—even when it involves humble-bragging about how you excelled at those fertility treatments and looked smashing when you strode into the courtroom to finalize that divorce.

    You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), by Felicia Day
    The first book from actress, writer, and social media superstar Felicia Day is highly amusing, yes, but also touching, insightful, and, incidentally, newly available in paperback, with a never-before-published bonus chapter to boot. The memoir offers a wry, insightful look at her life, from an eccentric childhood through her unusual rise from humble roots to the head of an entertainment empire as an actor, writer, and comedian. From the wild, untamed days of the young internet, to her obsessions with online gaming and math, Day’s story will inspire anyone who ever feared their quirks would keep them from finding their place in the world—even as it makes them cry tears of laughter in recognition of the weirdness that unites us all.

    The post 7 Hilarious Gift Books by Funny Women appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Monique Alice 4:00 pm on 2016/09/15 Permalink
    Tags: Authors You Need to Read, poetry we love   

    7 Feminist Poetry Collections that Empower and Inspire 

    For centuries, the world’s most embattled social and political movements have expressed themselves in part through poetry—and feminism is no different. The poetry collections below give us a window into the quiet, solitary moments of some of the modern era’s leading feminist voices. By turns fearless, intimate, wry, and laugh-out-loud funny, these collections will strengthen your soul and inspire you to celebrate your own experience.

    Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
    There has been a resurgence of interest in feminist poetry of late, thanks in part to this gripping collection of poems from newcomer Rupi Kaur. This New York Times bestseller is filled to the brim—not only with Kaur’s vivid prose, but with her own captivating illustrations as well. Her narrative tells of the pain of loss and the elation of triumph, capturing in finely wrought detail the experience of being a young woman in today’s world. Kaur’s collection is sure to be a staple on both nightstands and syllabi for years to come.

    The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde, by Audre Lorde
    Equal parts rage and tenderness, the work of Audre Lorde defies neat categorization. That fact should come as no surprise, however, since Lorde herself was the very same way. The self-proclaimed “black lesbian mother warrior poet” was uniquely qualified to rail against the racism, sexism, homophobia, and general marginalization that burdened her life until her death from cancer in 1992. This collection of over 300 of her most poignant poems is an essential addition to every feminist’s bookshelf.

    The Dream of a Common Language, by Adrienne Rich
    With a career that has spanned seven decades, Adrienne Rich may be the most prolific of feminist poets. When she began writing in the 1950s, her work was described as excellent, but a tad on the formal and decorous side (in one instance, Rich herself was described as “a polite copyist of Yeats”). As her life unfolded throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s against the backdrop of The Women’s Movement, her work began to reflect the radical and chaotic brilliance of the time. Published in 1978, The Dream of a Common Language is considered by many to be the quintessential collection of Rich’s work at its most iconic. The poems in this collection are wildly original, showcasing Rich’s willingness to bend the rules of both language and decorum to their breaking point in the service of a fearless exploration of what is means to be a woman, a mother, and a fighter for freedom.

    Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, by Warsan Shire
    In 2011, a little-known Somali-born London-based young woman released a collection of poems that set the Internet ablaze. The poet’s popularity has only grown since then, especially since she was featured prominently in Beyonce’s 2016 visual album, Lemonade. It’s easy to see why the Queen Bey is a fan—Warsan Shire’s style of writing cuts straight to the heart. No matter if you’re lucky enough to have never set foot inside a war zone, you will smell the carnage and feel the fear in your veins. If it’s been a while since you’ve fallen in love, your heart will swell in your breast and your fingertips will ache for the person whose name is written on your heart. London’s first Young Poet Laureate’s work reminds us that, come war or terror, oppression or heartbreak—the only true defeat lies in the crushing of the human spirit.

    Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women, by Maya Angelou
    There is no greater ode to the experience of womanhood than Maya Angelou’s famous poem, “Phenomenal Woman.” An icon of American literature, Angelou’s words feel especially powerful when they line the page in verse. Her poetry is ripe with the fruit of a lifetime of soul-crushing sorrow and heart-melting joy. Although she didn’t always align perfectly with The Women’s Movement, Angelou was a lifelong warrior against oppression of every kind. When the patriarchy’s got you down, there is no stronger medicine than the poems in this volume. They help us remember that our true ills are hate, fear, and ignorance, and they can only be cured with love, courage, and understanding.

    The Collected Poems, by Sylvia Plath
    One simply cannot talk about feminist poetry without talking about Sylvia Plath. Plath may be best known for her tragic novel The Bell Jar, but the genius of her poetry is second to none. Published posthumously, The Collected Poems received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1981. Haunting, lyrical, sad—these are words that we think of when Plath’s name comes to mind, and they are apt descriptions for The Collected Poems. However, this volume is also reverent, fiery, and even joyous at times—eschewing the caricature of Plath as one-dimensional tragedy and enabling a celebration of the full range of her humanity.

    The World’s Wife, by Carol Ann Duffy
    If you’ve never heard of Carol Ann Duffy, your world is about to get bigger. Duffy earned the title of Britain’s Poet Laureate in 2009, and was, somehow, the first woman and the first openly gay poet to grace the position. (Can we say double-win for feminists everywhere?) As is befitting of a laureate, Duffy’s entire oeuvre is mind-bogglingly good—but The World’s Wife is a particular darling of fans and critics alike. The most probable reason for this is that it is hilarious. Through poetry, Duffy reimagines the narratives of classic tales from a woman’s decidedly non-passive point-of-view. From Penelope to Mrs. Quasimodo to Queen Herod, these women all have something to say, and it’s usually something that makes you laugh out loud. Duffy takes up the battle cry of feminists everywhere—that women are not just the world’s wives (and mothers, and daughters, and sisters, and best supporting actresses). We are human beings who are living our own stories—whether or not they fit into the patriarchy’s storyline.

    What are your favorite feminist poetry collections?

    The post 7 Feminist Poetry Collections that Empower and Inspire appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Monique Alice 12:40 pm on 2016/09/06 Permalink
    Tags: Authors You Need to Read, , , glennon doyle melton, , , ,   

    Oprah Names a New Nonfiction Book Club Selection 

    Glennon Doyle Melton has unleashed a memoir of epic proportions with Love Warrior. This is the latest book from the Internet sensation, who, since beginning her blog in 2009, has steadily asserted herself as the online voice of an entire generation of mothers. After gaining a groundswell of popularity through her funny, relatable, and vulnerable blog, Melton published her first book, Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, in 2014. The book shot to the top of bestsellers’ lists and received loads of acclaim from everyone from Brené Brown to Meredith Vieira. Two short years later, Love Warrior seems destined to surpass its predecessor, having already earned the honor of Oprah’s Nonfiction Book Club selection.

    In Love Warrior, Melton devotees will recognize her trademark blend of warmth, honesty, and unflinching truth. Where Carry On, Warrior centered mostly on motherhood, Love Warrior turns its focus onto marriage and what it means for two people to build a life together. Between her ex-model husband, three beautiful children, and a writing career that was rocketing through the stratosphere, Melton’s life and marriage looked picture-perfect. But, as she shares in Love Warrior, she was struggling underneath it all to truly know herself and the man to whom she’d been married for over a decade.

    The simple version of Love Warrior is: husband cheats, wife embarks on a quest to find herself. The real story, however, is so much deeper than that. In an attempt to make sense of her present, Melton circles back to her past. She begins with her near-perfect childhood, goes on to an adolescence pockmarked with self-doubt, and lands in a young adulthood besieged by bulimia, alcoholism, and vacant, soul-crushing sex. She leads us by the hand through the darkest hours of her life, when even her parents seemed ready to wash their hands of her and her priest treated her with derision.

    Melton is so completely honest in the rendering of her own desperation and self-disdain that the reader is struck with a yearning to climb through the page and lead her by the shoulders to a warm place and a hot meal. Her rock bottom is palpable—striking in its wretchedness, yet still relatable. Glennon Doyle Melton did not fit many people’s idea of a lost soul; she never sold her body for drugs, she wasn’t homeless, and she always held down a job. Melton is also purposeful in outlining her picket-fence childhood and uneventful, albeit painful, teen years. She seems to say pointedly that there is no easy origin story for her personal demons—nor was she, at her worst, a caricature of a person run off the rails. From the outside looking in, she appeared to be a perfectly functional, intelligent, attractive young woman with a loving family and a good education. Inside, though, she was drowning in pain, loneliness, terror—that moonshine-and-motor-oil cocktail that is the dark side of being alive.

    All of that changed on Mother’s Day, 2001, when Melton found herself staring down the barrel of a positive pregnancy test. Facing the prospect of motherhood, Melton chose to look her demons squarely in the eye for the first time. She began the long, hard road toward recovery from bulimia and alcoholism, and she and her then-boyfriend made the decision to wed and start their family. Through the intervening years, Melton paid her dues on the altar of mommy-dom—as anyone who has read her blog can attest. She and her husband were like so many couples with young children—two ships in the night, volleying babies and poopy diapers and soccer carpool schedules, often without making direct eye contact. It was a struggle, sure—but one in which the dividends far outweighed the cost. Until, that is, Melton’s husband dropped the bomb on her: he had been sleeping with other women.

    In the wake of this truth-telling, Melton doubles back to the work of self-discovery that had previously saved her from the trenches of despair. She digs deep, sparing nothing and no one from the high-powered beam of her soul searchlight. During the ensuing journey, she learns that she and her husband have each run from pain in their own unique ways. She learns about how she has continued to avoid the terrifying depth of her emotions—no longer through food or alcohol, perhaps, but through a simple failure to be present with herself and the ones she loves the most. Like a child learning how to walk, Melton sets out on unsteady legs to reclaim her life. She seeks healing and solace from community, family, and, most of all—from her true self. 

    More than simply a memoir about marriage, Love Warrior is what the title suggests: a manifesto for a fight. It is a fight that so many of us will face—against addiction, against fear, and against the desire of a wounded soul to protect itself by shutting out the light. Glennon Doyle Melton reminds each of us that we have, deep inside, a soldier who will fight for hope, for truth, and for love—if only we are brave enough to invite her into the world.

    Love Warrior is on shelves now.

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