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  • Elodie 2:00 pm on 2016/11/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , children's books, , , ,   

    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.

  • Elodie 1:00 pm on 2016/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: children's books, , , ,   

    8 Ways Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Goes Wonderfully Dark 

    The much-loved Harry Potter series may start off with a bunch of lighthearted magical shenanigans, but by the time we hit book number four, things take a turn for the serious. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry finds himself competing in the Triwizard Tournament, a dangerous competition that pits contestants from three wizarding schools against each other in a trio of increasingly treacherous magical competitions. The thing is, he didn’t sign up for this—someone else entered his name. Possibly someone with a dark purpose and a larger plan in mind.

    So how exactly do things get dark in the fourth chapter in Harry’s story? Let us count the ways.

    1. We meet the Death Eaters.
    We already knew there were people who supported Voldemort (the wizarding world’s resident big bad) back when he was powerful. Now we have a name for them, and it’s chilling: the Death Eaters. And it looks like there are still some living among the masses in secret.

    2. It gives us a feel for the First Wizarding War.
    Harry defeated Voldemort when he was just a baby. But before that, Voldemort’s rise to power was littered with panic, confusion, and mysterious deaths aplenty—and suddenly that dark period is at the front of everyone’s minds.

    3. It pits Muggles vs. wizards.
    Voldemort’s is driven by a belief that wizards and witches are superior to Muggles (non-magical people) and Muggleborns (witches or wizards with non-magic parents—like Hermione Granger). The events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire put this conflict front and center, forcing everyone to choose where their loyalties lie.

    4. The Triwizard Tournament could be deadly.
    Hogwarts is no stranger to danger. But now that the school is hosting a magical tournament that was discontinued for 200 years after the death toll got out of hand, the stakes are higher than ever.

    5. The arrival of Professor “Mad-Eye” Moody.
    Harry’s new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor used to be an Auror (basically, the wizarding world’s equivalent of a federal marshal), whose entire job involved catching dark wizards. What we’re saying is, he’s a gruff and eccentric oddball who has seen some stuff, and he’s not shy about letting his students know it.

    6. We learn that magic isn’t all fun and games.
    The imminent threat of rising dark forces throws some of the uglier realities of the wizarding world into sharp relief. Between the Unforgivable Curses—the only three spells punishable by life in wizarding prison Azkaban—and the fates of those who wound up on the wrong side of the Death Eaters all those years ago, we’re given an unpleasant look at what wizards are capable of doing to each other (besides just turning each other’s quills into ravens).

    7. The book puts Harry’s orphanhood into fresh perspective.
    Harry lost his parents the very night he inadvertently defeated Voldemort. He was a baby; he never really knew them. But now that he might be in over his head with this whole “death tournament” thing, it could not be more obvious that what Harry wants—what he really wants—is a parent.

    8. The story is rife with themes of loss. Now, no spoilers, but we may or may not lose a character or two this time around. We DID tell you Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is when things get really real. The events of this novel in particular have far-reaching consequences that have a major effect on the rest of the series—right up to the brand-new two-part play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

    The post 8 Ways Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Goes Wonderfully Dark appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 7:25 pm on 2016/09/28 Permalink
    Tags: , bryce moore, children's books, , ,   

    Powering Your Writing Through Discovery: An Interview with Bryce Moore 

    For better or for worse, our memories shape who are. So imagine having the power to steal them from other people—from the memories they cherish, to those they deeply regret. This is the magical premise behind author Bryce Moore’s newest novel for young readers, The Memory Thief, brought to you by Adaptive Studios and available exclusively at Barnes & Noble. We spoke to Moore about his inspiration, his process, and what it was like working with Adaptive Studios.

    What’s your writing background?

    I started writing in second grade, but I didn’t get very serious about it until 2001, when I took a creative writing class at BYU from Dave Wolverton, followed by one on writing for children and young adults by Louise Plummer. I’ve been writing ever since. When I was at BYU, I became friends with Brandon Sanderson, whose Elantris had just been sold. I was in a writing group with him for five years, and I learned a lot about work ethic and attention to detail there. I’ve finished 15 novels so far, though The Memory Thief is only the second to be professionally published. (Vodník came out in 2012.) These days, I write every day, often over lunch or right when I get home from work. Almost all of my books are YA or Middle Grade fantasy or science fiction.

    How did Adaptive find you?

    I originally sold The Memory Thief to Egmont, a publishing house in New York. They were shuttered by their parent company, and when that happened, my book was once again without a home. Thankfully my editor, Jordan Hamessley, ended up at Adaptive, and she was able to make another offer on the book—one I happily accepted.

    How long did it take you to write the manuscript?

    The first draft went really quickly. I think I was done writing it in under two months. But there’s a lot more to writing a book than just writing that first draft. I don’t plot extensively before I write (generally), but with a book like The Memory Thief, you still need to figure out the basics, like how the magic system will work and what the main conflict of the story is. So there’s time ahead of that first draft, and then of course all the revisions that happen afterward.

    What did you read or watch to get inspired to take on this project?

    That’s a great question. I watch a lot of movies and television, which inevitably influences my writing. A lot of times once I know what kind of book I’m going to be writing next I’ll take some time to watch a bunch of movies similar to it. For The Memory Thief, I watched Disney horror movies from my youth: Something Wicked This Way Comes and Watcher in the Woods. The magic system itself was partly inspired by the TV series Pushing Daisies, which I loved (and which was taken from us far too soon). Not that this book is about people coming back from the dead if they get touched, but rather that something simple (in this case, making eye contact with a person) can give a magic user a toehold to do just about anything they want with a person’s memories.

    Books published by Adaptive will ultimately be turned into TV series or movies. Did that affect the way you approached the project?

    It didn’t affect me when I was writing the first draft because, as I said, the book was written before it found a home at Adaptive. Once it was with Adaptive, I’d say it definitely influenced the revision process. I generally write with a fairly visual style (probably due to how many movies I watch), but Adaptive encouraged me to push that even further, making some internal conflicts have corresponding external signifiers.

    What was the revision process like?

    Lots of it. I’m big on revising, and I usually do at least three or four drafts before I even send the book out to my agents. Then we bounce the drafts back and forth a few more times before we submit them to editors. With Jordan, I think I did three more revisions, and a lot of those still involved major changes. The climax was totally reworked, for example, and some plot elements that play a big role throughout the book didn’t come into existence until late in the revision process. A lot of the energy for my writing comes through the discovery process. I write to find out what happens next. Having big changes in revisions helps me to keep that energy going.

    How did writing for Adaptive differ from working on your other novels or projects?

    They were great to work with. The whole creative team gets involved and gives input, which I really valued. I’m always envious of filmmakers, who can have such a collaborative process. Actors, directors, composers—all of them bring something to the table and can help refine a story and perfect it. And then of course with The Memory Thief, Adaptive made a book trailer. I loved being able to see the finished product.

    If you had to write a logline for your life thus far, how would it go?

    A librarian geek moves to rural Maine with his family. Adventure and hilarity ensue.

    The post Powering Your Writing Through Discovery: An Interview with Bryce Moore appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 8:00 pm on 2016/09/20 Permalink
    Tags: , children's books, ,   

    Watch the Exclusive Book Trailer for Bryce Moore’s The Memory Thief 

    The Memory Thief

    For better or for worse, our memories shape who are. So imagine having the power to steal them from other people—from the memories they cherish, to those they deeply regret. This is the magical premise behind author Bryce Moore’s newest novel for young readers, The Memory Thief, brought to you by Adaptive Studios and available exclusively at Barnes & Noble.

    When Benji runs into a group of bullies at a county fair, he ducks into a tent called The Memory Emporium and meets Louis, a strange man with the power to take memories from others. Benji’s parents have been arguing, and he immediately imagines how taking some of their memories could keep them from fighting with each other, and convinces Louis to teach him this intriguing skill. But as he learns more about the art of being a “memory thief,” Benji realizes it is an ability that brings with it powerful—and sometimes damaging—consequences. And soon after meeting fellow memory thief Genevieve, who uses her abilities for evil, Benji finds himself pitted against her in a desperate struggle to protect the memories of everyone in town—including his little sister, Kelly.

    Check out The Memory Thiefs eerily atmospheric book trailer for a colorful glimpse into Moore’s haunting story.

    The Memory Thief is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post Watch the Exclusive Book Trailer for Bryce Moore’s The Memory Thief appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 5:30 pm on 2016/07/08 Permalink
    Tags: , children's books, , , ,   

    Strange Facts About Presidential History 

    The first thing people might wonder upon glimpsing Grover Cleveland, Again! on a bookshelf is why in the world Ken Burns, the celebrated documentarian who gave us in-depth films such as Baseball and The Civil War, would be writing an illustrated children’s book. The second thing would probably be why in the world it’s titled Grover Cleveland, Again!.

    The answer to both questions is contained in Burns’ charming introduction to this beautiful book (illustrated by Gerald Kelley): When his daughters were very young Burns, ever the historian, would get them to sleep by reciting the names of the presidents in order. His kids quickly memorized the list, and it became a game they played at bedtime—he would say the first name, they would supply the last name. When they got to Grover Cleveland’s second term, the kids would shout “Grover Cleveland, again!”

    If you’re surprised to find out that Grover Cleveland was both our 22nd and 24th president—the only person to have been elected to two non-consecutive terms, in fact—then this book is perfect for you and your kids—or just you. Because Burns and Kelley have given us a book that kids will find engaging and interesting, and adults will find surprisingly compelling themselves.

    Growing Up to be President
    Burns also has an ulterior motive in writing this book: he wants to impress upon kids that nothing, really, is stopping them from someday being president themselves. Despite the fact that 43 out of our 44 presidents to date have been white men, Burns looks a little deeper and finds a vast spread among the education, wealth, background, and philosophies of each president and uses this often overlooked diversity to make the point that America remains a country where people can rise from humble or unlikely beginnings to become leader of the country. In an age where we’ve just seen our first black president and might just be on the cusp of electing our first female president, the message really resonates.

    A Tiny Education
    Most people in the modern age aren’t terribly familiar with past presidents; after all, their decisions, controversies, and performance in office often seems like ancient history that has no bearing on our modern lives. Grover Cleveland, Again! is composed of two-page spreads for each president (two for Cleveland, naturally!) that are wonders of design, offering a wealth of easily absorbed information offering a glimpse of the times, the issues, and the achievements of each president. An official portrait and dense list of stats is accompanied by a gorgeous painting by Kelley depicting an important (or often private) moment from the president’s life or career, coupled with a clear, concise writeup that will give anyone a basic understanding of that president’s place in our shared history.

    Unlike a lot of books aimed at children, Burns doesn’t try to candy-coat history too much. While there’s no room for in-depth analysis, Burns doesn’t exclude negative facts about the presidents; for example, in his writeup of Andrew Jackson, Burns says, “Andrew Jackson did a couple of things in particular that most people think were wrong. First, he strongly supported the institution of slavery.” In his introduction, Burns also writes that “the great stain of slavery” still haunts the nation. He includes just enough of this sort of complexity to keep his overview of the presidents honest—and, more importantly, to spark questions from kids reading or listening to the book.

    Gorgeously Illustrated
    Gerald Kelley has been one of the top illustrators in the world of commercial art and book illustrations for a long time now, and his lush watercolors are both striking and beautiful. Kelley’s style is simultaneously simple (with implied backgrounds and rough edges) and complex (with a color sensibility and compositional eye that makes each piece pop off the page). The choice of which moment to illustrate for each man is also smart throughout, always a scene that isn’t one of the famous images already associated with that president, making every one a wonderful surprise for both kids and adults.

    The Lesson
    In the end, Burns succeeds in making his point: while superficially our list of presidents have been similar looking, in reality they’ve been very diverse—in their beliefs, their philosophy of government, and their origins. We’ve had educated presidents and uneducated presidents, rich ones and poor ones, physically frail ones and Teddy Roosevelt, even presidents with learning disabilities. Seeing all those differences spread out in one book like this really does drive it home: in America, any citizen can be president—and that’s a wonderful lesson for kids to learn.

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