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  • BN Editors 4:00 am on 2020/06/05 Permalink
    Tags: Books of the Month, ,   

    I Do Love to Tease the Reader with Cliff Hangers: 5 Questions for Thomas Taylor, author of Malamander – Our Young Reader Book of the Month 

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    Malamander is a fun, wildly imaginative story about fearless, clever children in pursuit of a sea monster. It’s also our latest Young Reader Book of the Month, and we can’t wait for everyone to dig into this delightfully illustrated first installment of the new Legends of Eerie-on-Sea Series—where the mist is thick, and the legends are real. Since Malamander is a mystery adventure at its core, we were inspired to ask author Thomas Taylor five questions on everything from writing a mystery to what his favorite mysteries were to read when he was a kid.



     is such a fantastical and spirited mystery adventure; what drew you to this story?

    The inspiration for Malamander comes from my experience of living in a seaside town, and of being there in the stormy and misty winter season when the tourists are gone and the dark creeps in. This strange atmosphere lends itself beautifully to the sense of a secret life, to mystery and adventure, and to the eerie and the strange. In such a place, where the senses can be tricked by odd weather, shifting tides and long shadows, it’s all too easy to believe that a legend might actually be true, or that someone you thought you knew might turn out to have dark secrets. I think it would be hard for me to write in a different genre now. And I’m fine with that!

    What’s your favorite part of writing a mystery? The suspense, the inevitable plot twist?

    I do love to tease the reader with cliff hangers. And, to ratchet up the suspense. Twists can be hard to handle, and I think there is sometimes a tendency to add too many of them to mystery stories these days, though that’s more a criticism of television than books. One good twist is enough because even that can be hard to pull off well. I also enjoy the freedom that writing Middle Grade mystery brings — the freedom to explore the extraordinary, to dial up character and plot to ten, to play with language, to deal in wonder, and to offer hope.

    Herbie’s background is kind of a mystery in itself (one we can’t wait to see unfold!); where did you draw the inspiration for his character?

    Herbie’s faint heart yet innate sense of fairness comes from me, I suppose. Or rather from my own childhood self. But I’m also aware that many people find it hard to find the courage to act well in difficult and dangerous situations, so I think that makes Herbie relatable. I’m also drawn to the smallest and seemingly most insignificant person in any situation, and to the possibility they may turn out to be the real hero in the end. Herbie, as Lost-and-Founder, is a very junior member of staff at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, something the manager Mr. Mollusc will never let him forget. And yet, despite being such an underdog, he manages to triumph. Especially with help from his best friend Violet, and—if he can get one—Mrs. Fossil’s freshly baked salted-caramel muffins!

    The spooky seaside town of Eerie-on-Sea is so amazingly detailed it’s like its own character in the story; how do you feel setting changes and shapes a mystery?

    I think it is very important, and I learned just how important writing Malamander. I decided on a narrative structure to the town and built it up from there. That structure is based on an all-pervasive sense of menace and uncertainty, dotted with a network of warm, reliable, and safe places for Herbie and Violet to operate from. I wanted the reader to feel, whenever the characters left these safe places—the Lost-and-Foundery, the Book Dispensary, Seegol’s Diner—that danger and adventure could strike at any moment. Eerie-on-Sea is also a small, twisty place, that sits beside a vast and fathomless ocean. The combination of these two opposing qualities gives huge scope for storytelling.

    And finally, what were your favorite mysteries to read when you were a kid?

    I remember loving the Three Investigators as a child. And I got into Sherlock Holmes stories from a very young age, and from there into Golden Age crime fiction a bit later. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Tintin books too, and that blend of mystery, detection, and clue-hunting—with a hint of the supernatural—has carried through to Malamander.

    The post I Do Love to Tease the Reader with Cliff Hangers: 5 Questions for Thomas Taylor, author of <i>Malamander</i> – Our Young Reader Book of the Month appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Kat Sarfas 4:00 am on 2020/06/01 Permalink
    Tags: , Books of the Month   

    Our June Books of the Month are Here! 

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    We have one question for you now that summer’s here and the days are longer: What are you reading next? There’s something about the hazy days of summer that has us ready to be swept away in the pages of a great new read, and we’ve got the perfect place for you to start. Our newest Books of the Month are here, and we have fantastic stories for readers of all ages. Set sail with an enigmatic sorceress; beat the devil at her own wicked game; fall in love with a real life grizzly and her cubs; battle monsters in a divided metropolis—and decipher legends of old in an eerie new middle grade mystery. Great books are calling, and you won’t want to miss them.

    Fiction Book of the Month

    Madeline Miller

    A classic story reimagined and not to be missed. An enigmatic sorceress discovers powers she never knew she possessed and unlocks a destiny she never thought she would have. This intoxicating epic will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about The Odyssey.

    “Part love story, part mythology come to life, but mostly a story of how to live life as an independent woman. It’s a story that will make you want to go back and read the classics with a new insight into a fascinating character. It’s a story you can read over and over and get something new each time.” – Molly T, Bookseller, B&N Home Office

    Mystery & Thriller Book of the Month

    Never Have I Ever
    Joshilyn Jackson

    Something wicked has landed in suburbia. Fans of Liane Moriarty’s and Lisa Jewell’s twisty novels will definitely appreciate this story of friends and enemies, secrets and lies. What if your worst enemy knew your darkest secret? How far would you go to protect yourself?

    “An edge of your seat thriller!  Just when you think you know a character’s motives, you’ll need to guess again. Surprises abound until the very last page and you’ll be shocked at every turn.” – Jennifer A, Bookseller, Richmond, VA


    Nonfiction Book of the Month

    Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear
    Bryce Andrews

    A modern story of man and nature, wild spaces and the changing American West written by a farmer/conservationist. Outside Magazine calls Bryce Andrews’s beautiful new book about the life and death of a grizzly bear an “ode to wildness and wilderness.”

    “A quietly dramatic, gorgeously written story that attempts to navigate an unfolding conflict between one grizzly named Mollie and a Montana corn farmer; one that raises important issues regarding the economy, culture, environment and the mutual benefit needed to ensure a responsible and compassionate co-existence of wild and domestic.  I loved it! – Sallye L, Bookseller, B&N Home Office

    YA Book of the Month

    This Savage Song
    Victoria Schwab

    Who are the heroes and who are the villains in this divided city? And which do you want to be? Victoria Schwab, bestselling author of A Darker Shade of Magic, once again creates an impossibly beautiful world filled with monsters, magic and dark secrets that readers won’t want to escape.

    “VE Schwab’s world building in This Savage Song is truly impeccable. She transports you into a fantasy realm you’ll never want to leave.” – Rizza P, Bookseller, B&N Home Office


    Young Reader Book of the Month

    Thomas Taylor

    A fun, wildly imaginative story about fearless, clever children in pursuit of a sea monster. Delightfully illustrated, this is the first installment in the new Legends of Eerie-on-Sea Series, where the mist is thick, and the legends are real.

    “An eerie (literally) seaside town, a legendary sea monster, a quest for missing parents—what more could you ask for? This spooky mystery made me want to travel to Eerie-on-Sea to join Herbie and Violet on their journey to uncover the truth about the town’s mythical Malamander. Oh, and did I mention there’s a top hat wearing mermonkey? Perfect for fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events!” – Stephanie P, Bookseller, B&N Home Office

    The post Our June Books of the Month are Here! appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Kat Sarfas 10:00 am on 2020/04/01 Permalink
    Tags: , Books of the Month   

    Our April Books of the Month are Here! 

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    For us, few comforts compare to that of a great new book. While we’re all adjusting to staying at home, we’ve got a few choice recommendations to help keep you entertained. Our newest Books of the Month are here, and you won’t want to miss them. Meet a woman who defies description; decode the mind of a killer in the Italian Alps; get a lesson in spycraft and resistance from a real-life heroine–and laugh out loud at middle school antics. With books this good, you’ll want to stay in.

    Fiction Book of the Month

    American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson

    “A heart-thumping narrative that starts with a literal bang and doesn’t let up until the last page—I could not put this one down!”—Val Rivera, Bookseller, Newnan, GA

    Don’t let the title fool you—American Spy is a far cry from your dad’s old spy novels.  Written as a heartbreaking confessional, this razor-sharp debut digs into race, gender, and unyielding nationalism at the peak of the Cold War.  A seductive interrogation of love and politics—we’ve never read anything like it!

    “Spy fiction plus allegory, and a splash of pan-Africanism. What could go wrong? As it happens, very little. Clever, bracing, darkly funny, and really, really good.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates


    Mystery & Thriller Book of the Month

    Flowers Over the Inferno, by Ilaria Tuti

    “Want to be transported to a primordial Italian forest with a very gruesome underbelly? – Read This!!  Perfect for fans of Tana French.”—Amanda Couch, Bookseller, Atlanta, GA

    Ready for a macabre murder mystery that will chill you to your bones? A desecrated body found in a town that swirls with dark history and eerie folklore; a sexagenarian detective fighting against her aging mind. Dark and evocative, this series starter is sure to also enchant readers of Louise Penny and Donna Leon.


    Nonfiction Book of the Month

    A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War IIby Sonia Purnell

    “If this book was a work of fiction, it would be described as unbelievable!  A page-turning biography of a woman who deserves far more credit than she received in her lifetime.”—Katherine Dearth, Bookseller, Columbus, OH

    The Gestapo called her “the most dangerous of all Allied spies”, yet Virginia Hall’s story of heroism and spycraft has all but remained in the shadows. Her personal triumph over shocking adversity and fierce persistence is riveting and will make you truly question why she was ever left out of the history books!

    Young Reader Book of the Month

    The Next Great Paulie Fink (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Ali Benjamin

    “A humorous and heartwarming story of finding your place and making your mark. This is a great read for kids and parents; thought-provoking, but also a little silly.” —Elissa Pearce, Bookseller, Buffalo, NY

    What really makes someone legendary? Depending on whom you ask, Paulie Fink was either a hilarious class clown, a relentless troublemaker, or an evil genius—but now he’s disappeared. This totally authentic and highly accessible story of the highs and lows of adolescence reminds us that finding your true self is all part of the journey.

    The post Our April Books of the Month are Here! appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Kat Sarfas 4:55 am on 2020/03/01 Permalink
    Tags: anna james, , , Books of the Month, , earl swift, lucy foley, normal people, sally rooney, the bookwanderers, the hunting party   

    Our March Books of the Month are Here! 

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    We’re starting to shake off winter and emerge, blinking, into the light of early Spring.  No better time, we think, to go looking for a great new read. Our newest Books of the Month are here, and we couldn’t be more pleased to share them with you. We were swept up in a novel of messy, young love; found ourselves up to the knees in Chesapeake Bay; hiding from a murderer in the Scottish Highlands—and then wandering through the pages of a few childhood favorites.  Who needs sleep when the perfect book is at hand?

    Fiction Book of the Month

    Normal People: A Novel, by Sally Rooney

    “For anyone who’s ever felt “not quite normal”, a story of attraction between the least likely of people. Compelling, engaging, and emotionally raw.” – Kevin Robinson, Bookseller, Houston, TX

    This thoughtful, witty take on the consequences—and value—of young love struck us as incredibly real and full of truth. Though seemingly made for one another, Connell and Marianne are divided by class differences, personal demons, and fear of the wounds love might inflict. These characters reminded us of who we used to be.

    Nonfiction Book of the Month

    Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island, by Earl Swift

    “A fascinating look into a quickly disappearing way of life. Journalist Earl Swift spent two years living among this unique community and captured the heart and soul of its people as they face extinction.” – Ellie Zur, Bookseller, Mishawaka, IN

    Past, present and future collide in this unforgettable, elegiac true story. Tangier Island is the home of a centuries-old crabbing community, and the 1.3 square mile spit is as much a character as the residents who call it home. Here, climate change isn’t a theory—its impact is felt daily as Tangier sinks into the sea.

    Mystery & Thriller Book of the Month

    The Hunting Party: A Novel, by Lucy Foley

    “How well do you really know your friends? This high intensity thriller will leave you questioning the motives and relationships of a group of friends that suddenly find themselves in over their heads. Reminiscent of the best of the best: Agatha Christie, Ruth Ware and Peter Swanson. This is one quick read you won’t want to miss.” – Tina Wakefield, Bookseller, Lakewood, WA

    Perfect for whodunit fans, the quintessential winter’s tale: a group of nine old friends reunite for a New Year’s celebration at a remote hunting lodge in the Scottish Highlands—by morning, only eight remain. The survivors must seek the killer among them in this increasingly tense, snowbound mystery.

    Young Reader Book of the Month

    The Bookwanderers (Pages & Co. Series #1), by Anna James

    “A perfect choice for the child who has read everything! After losing her mother at a young age, Tilly Pages takes refuge in the books at her grandma’s store.  When she discovers her ability to wander into any book of her choosing, she just might uncover the mystery behind her mother’s disappearance.” – Kelly Carter, Bookseller, Mishawaka, IN

    What if you could walk into the pages of your favorite stories? This irresistible tale of a young bookworm who can is both a charming fantasy and a delightful celebration of reading and the written word.  This is a series-starter worthy of a place on the shelf next to Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart trilogy.

    The post Our March Books of the Month are Here! appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 5:00 pm on 2020/02/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , Books of the Month, ,   

    Guest Post: Karma Brown Shares the Classic Cake that Inspired Recipe for a Perfect Wife 

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    I have a beloved, vintage family cookbook (Purity Cookbook, 1945 edition), which is tattered and food splattered but contains the recipe that inspired Recipe for a Perfect Wife: the “Busy Day Cake.” It’s a basic, white cake that can be decked out with fancy adornments—like the sugared flowers my 1950s character, Nellie, uses—or kept simple with a shake of sprinkles. As a writer who works from home (and often bakes for procrastination) I love that something like the Busy Day Cake exists—because who isn’t busy these days? Writing this novel raised a lot of questions for me about gender roles and expectations, questions I am not sure there are full answers for, but it also made me appreciate my daily life in a new way.I have choices and freedoms about how I spend my time (cake baking in the morning, writing in the afternoon), unlike many of the women of past generations. 

    Busy Day Cake, Purity Cookbook (1945 edition)  

    ½ cup butter 

     teaspoon lemon or vanilla extract 

    1 ¾ cups granulated sugar 

    2 ½ cups sifted Purity Flour 

    ¼ teaspoon salt 

    2 teaspoons baking powder 

    1 cup sweet milk 

    4 egg whites, unbeaten 

    Cream butter until it is soft and creamy, add flavoring while creaming. Add sugar. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder and add to butter mixture, followed immediately by the milk and unbeaten egg whites. Stir mixture quickly and gently until it is well blended. Spread carefully into well-greased 7 x 12-inch cake pan and bake in moderate oven (350°F) for 60 to 65 minutes. Allow baked cake to set for 20 to 25 minutes before removing from pan. Cool and spread with any desired icing.  

    The post Guest Post: Karma Brown Shares the Classic Cake that Inspired <i>Recipe for a Perfect Wife</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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