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  • Heidi Fiedler 3:40 pm on 2017/04/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , gift guides, ,   

    33 Books to Read with Your Mother 

    Whether your mom is just upstairs or thousands of miles away, reading a book together is a wonderful way to connect. You can introduce her to your favorite characters, learn something new, or just escape into a dreamy world of happy endings. The books on this list are sure to make you feel closer and more connected. Pick up two copies, one for you and one for her, and enjoy!

    My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
    Reading this phenomenal series is a highbrow but thoroughly enjoyable way to celebrate friendship between women, whether those women are neighbors, sisters, or mothers. (You can also trade notes on what pen name you would use if you were to become an international bestselling author.)

    Bad Girls Throughout History, by Ann Shen
    What if mothers and daughters traded biographical tidbits about accomplished women the way sports fans trade stats? This collection of 100 profiles of revolutionary women includes pirates, scientists, spies, and other ladies who ditch ideas of “ladylike” and are sure to inspire you and your mother to live boldly and have some fabulously naughty conversations.

    Just Between Us, by Meredith and Sofie Jacobs
    Girl’s Life Magazine says this is the perfect gift for Mother’s Day, and we agree. The prompts in this shared journal will help you get to know everything from your mom’s guilty pleasure to her favorite thing about you. And if you don’t tear up writing about your favorite memory of your mom, you’re probably doing it wrong.

    Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist
    When Brené Brown says read a book, you read the book. This collection of essays is all about slowing down, simplifying, stepping away from worry, and doing what matters—like spending time with your mom. If you’re craving a deeper relationship with your mother or simply looking to feel more present, this book will stay with you for years to come.

    The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
    If you want to start your own private book club à deux, this World War II novel about two sisters is a lovely place to start. With strong themes of loyalty, courage, and family, this tearjerker will leave you wanting nothing more than to give your mom a big hug, open a bottle of wine, and talk about this story.

    Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith
    If your relationship with your mom is less a meeting of the minds and more a battle against misunderstanding, contemplating the vast differences between humans and animals may help put it all in perspective. Written by a philosopher, this book examines how cephalopods think. Discussing animals that are highly intelligent but as alien as can be here on Earth, this book shines a light on the consciousness we share with other creatures—including our own mothers.

    The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
    See life through the eyes of a young girl who’s figuring out what it means to be a Latina woman in America, and join the many readers who have fallen in love with this book, including Maxine Hong Kingston and Julia Alvarez. For maximum enjoyment, we recommend reading this classic coming of age story with your mama over some mango with a little chili powder, lemon, and salt.

    White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
    If you can’t travel around the world with your mom, people watching together and listening to her commentary, this novel is the next best thing. Set in London, it follows a Muslim family and a Jamaican family as their stories intersect with vibrantly detailed characters and the full force of history.

    Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born, by Tina Cassidy
    This book looks at the natural birth process from a cultural perspective and encourages readers to move away from false assumptions about how “it’s always been this way,” to how and why women give birth in so many different ways around the world and throughout history. This fascinating read is sure to inspire questions about your own birth, and moving answers.

    The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gaines
    For those who love nothing more than to binge Fixer Upper with their moms, reading this memoir from the stars of the dreamy TV show is a total pleasure. Daydream about being friends with Joanna, learn how the Gaines’ couple got engaged, and laugh at Chip’s many schemes (that are actually pretty brilliant). Then debrief with your mom when you’re in between seasons of your favorite home reno show.

    Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky
    Geek out over 50 women who have made the world a better place through science, technology, engineering, and math. Illustrated biographies and infographics are filled with fun facts you’ll want to swap with each other. Both you and mom are sure to finish this book feeling inspired. And bonus, you can send each other book reports via the matching postcards—or just say I love you from afar.

    Notorious RBG, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
    Take a deep dive on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with this biography that’s one part history book, one part annotated legal brief, and one part irreverent visual ode to this feminist pioneer. With interviews from friends, family, colleagues, and the Justice herself, this book will prompt your mom to tell stories about the way things used to be, and you’ll be in awe of all that has changed. The perfect book to read when you’re both worried about how much further we have to go.

    The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
    This classic novel is told from the perspective of Chinese mothers and daughters. Readers experience the way their stories echo, overlap, and diverge through the generations. Filled with complex characters and poetic language, this is a book you’ll be talking about together for many years to come.

    Hidden Figures, by Margo Lee Shetterly
    Whether you watched the movie or not, you’ll want to share this book with your mom. It tells the true story of the African American women who worked at NASA in the ’50s and ’60s and played an integral role in making the space program successful. It’s a painful history to read, but sure to leave you feeling proud to be a woman.

    The Whole 30, by Melissa Hartwig
    Whether you’re trying to lose weight, investigating allergies, or just trying to have more energy, if you’re doing your first Whole 30, you’ll want to grab a buddy. Read the book with your mom, and soon you’ll be bonding over almond flour and grass-fed buffalo jerky. There’s nothing sweeter than finishing a Whole 30, having a cocktail, and toasting your accomplishment with your favorite person in the whole world.

    Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
    Grab this book to prepare yourself, so you can swoop in if Tina Fey ever stops being Amy Poehler’s BFF—or just look for ways you can make your relationship with your mom funnier, sassier, and more positive. This collection of essays, poems, mantras, photographs, and lists tackles everything from plastic surgery to viewing your career as a nasty boyfriend. Smart advice from Amy Poehler? Yes, please!

    Caraval, by Stephanie Garber
    If you just want a flat-out juicy read, this novel about a fantastical performance that only happens once a year delivers. Love, betrayal, and magic all play a role in weaving a spell that leaves readers eager to share the experience with besties, book clubs, and moms who are ready to debate the meaning of the tagline “Remember, it’s only a game.”

    Rad American Women A-Z, by Kate Schatz
    Get inspired with this children’s book that includes short biographies and bright graphic illustrations. Patti Smith, Rachel Carson, first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation Willa Mankiller, and more are all introduced in A to Z fashion. Compare notes with your mom when you reach X “is for the women whose names we don’t know.” There’s sure to be a woman you want to add to this list.

    I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai
    Travel around the world, experience life under the Taliban, and learn what it means to live in a culture that believes girls shouldn’t go to school. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai encourages readers to stand up in big and small ways for women everywhere, and her memoir is sure to leave you and your mother inspired to work together to help women around the world.

    Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    This classic historical novel is as much about the powerful bond between mothers and daughters as it is about slavery. An unforgettable read, this moving story will have you and your mom crying, hugging, and asking deep questions about what it means to truly be free.

    Talking as Fast as I Can, by Lauren Graham
    Until there’s a new Gilmore Girls season (maybe…hopefully…there’s gotta be!), you can share your love of all things Gilmore with Lauren Graham’s collection of essays. Written in the same smart, funny voice we love to watch on TV, Graham tells stories about living on a houseboat, dating in Hollywood, and developing the craft that has made so many mothers and daughters fall in love with her character.

    Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
    An idiosyncratic relationship between a precocious teenager and a childlike mother lies at the center of this hilarious and wise novel. Told through emails, letters, bills, FBI reports, and more, it will have readers examining their own relationships with tenderness and affection.

    Bringing Up Bébé, by Pamela Druckerman
    Debate whether the French have it all figured out, or if they know more about croissants than childcare, as you read this modern guide to parenting. Ask your mom when you started sleeping through the night, share a laugh over the curse words French children are allowed to say, and reassure your maman that you love her despite her provincial American parenting ways.

    Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
    Cheryl Strayed’s deep grief following her mother’s death is one of the tragedies that leads her to hike the grueling Pacific Crest Trail. But her mother’s love and wisdom also gives Strayed strength as she journeys away from addiction and a broken marriage, toward self-awareness and hope. This memoir is sure to leave you treasuring your own mother.

    Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    Keep your mother-daughter book club going strong with this Oprah-endorsed bestseller. Elizabeth Gilbert is a joy to read, and this memoir about her time recovering from heartache and depression in Italy, India, and Indonesia transformed the lives of readers around the world. If you’re hoping to book a trip with your mom anytime soon, this is the perfect book to get you both inspired.

    Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child
    Start your own Julia and Julia project by working your way through over 500 recipes with your (hopefully patient) mom. Gasp as your soufflé falls, admire Julia’s clear instructions, and toast your own success whenever your results are edible. By the end of Volume II, you’ll surely have sharpened your knife skills, expanded your tastes, and enjoyed some good meals together.

    Cleopatra, by Stacy Schiff
    Travel back in time with your mom to explore the life of one of history’s most famous women. Thoroughly researched and laced with sensuous details, this biography captures the queen’s mystique and celebrates her power. Just remember who the real royalty in your relationship is—mom!

    The Beauty and The Beast, by Gabrielle-Suzanna Barbot de Villenueve
    Indulge your bedtime fairytale fantasies with this 3D interactive book. With over 200 pages, there’s a foldout map of the Beast’s castle, a punch-out rose, and, of course, the beloved story. Relive tuck-ins with this magical tale that’s old as time.

    Becoming Wise, by Krista Tippett
    My mom wants to be friends with Krista Tippet, and I’m sure she’s not the only one. After interviewing so many deep thinkers, Tippet has put down her own wise words in a book that offers insights on how to live a meaningful life. Read it together, then talk about the big and small ways you can make the world, or simply the hours you spend together, a better place.

    The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
    You can’t go wrong reading Joan Didion, and this title is one of her masterpieces. Written after her husband and daughter died in quick succession, in it Didion describes the brutal, crazy nature of grief in a way that will make you grateful to be alive and able to share this “one wild and precious life” with your mother.

    The House of Spirits, by Isabel Allende
    Discover the love, pain, and spirits that weave through the lives of three generations. A phenomenal example of magical realism, this literary classic will remind you of your own family, while at the same time transporting you to a world only a master storyteller like Allende could invent. The perfect book to read when you’ve been itching to ask your mom about your great-great-grandparents.

    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
    Head off an extensive clean-out session when your parents downsize with Marie Kondo’s approach to sorting, discarding, and organizing everything from books to clothes. Reading this together is a gift for your future self. And when your parents open the garage and find there’s plenty of room for their car, they’ll thank you, too.

    Hallelujah, Anyway, by Anne Lamott
    Whatever your relationship with your mother, forgiveness will go a long way in keeping it healthy. Wise writer Anne Lamott helps readers understand how to invite mercy into their relationships with family, friends and not friends, and even themselves. Read this with your mom, and you’ll soon experience more kindness and gentle grace during your time together. Hallelujah!

    The post 33 Books to Read with Your Mother appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Dell Villa 8:00 pm on 2016/12/14 Permalink
    Tags: all hands on deck, , gift guides, , ,   

    8 Great Cookbooks for Holiday Cooking with Kids 

    Throughout the holiday season, there are plenty of opportunities for solitude. Think about the pre-dawn hours you spent circling the mall parking lot on Black Friday, or trying to wrap gifts in your freezing garage with mittens on, or cramming AA batteries into a clearly marked AAA compartment for that last toy that belongs beneath the tree. If you’ve had enough of forced “me time” in the wee hours, I’ll tell you where you shouldn’t be alone: the kitchen! Preparing nourishing entrees and baking your family’s favorite treats is a highlight of the holidays, so invite your little elves in to help. (Just think of the conversations you can have while whisking, whipping, and stirring your way to your next great meal!)

    To get you started on your multigenerational cooking adventure, we’ve handpicked a few of our favorite cookbooks for kids; they’re not only kitchen-tested and kid-approved, but all of them are available on our newest, lightest, smallest NOOK ever. The NOOK Tablet 7″ is just $49.99 this Christmas, and perfect for little hands to hold—so long as they’ve already been licked clean. Happy cooking!

    Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!), by Deanna F. Cook
    If you’ve ever imagined mashed potato clouds and fruit flowers in your dreams, then you need to wake up and check out this cookbook, because they’re real! Every page features a recipe that’s simple, healthy, and adorable—and the whole thing is written in kid-ese, so there won’t be any muddling, braising, or butterflying lost in translation.

    The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids, by Ruby Roth
    If, like so many parents, you have a hard time getting your kids to consume more than a cracker at mealtime, you might want to try this unorthodox method: empower them to prepare their own fresh meals! Roth has created an ultra-engaging, informative book that provides fun facts and mouthwatering recipes every step of the way. It might just inspire your kids (and you, too!) to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day!

    The Everything Kids’ Cookbook, by Sandra K. Nissenberg
    As the title suggests, this cookbook is stuffed with easy-to-follow recipes for delicious weeknight meals, holiday treats, and puzzles and games to keep even the most recalcitrant mini-chef entertained. Try the World’s Best Brownies for dessert tonight!

    The Berenstain Bears’ Holiday Cookbook: Cub-Friendly Cooking with an Adult, by Mike Berenstain
    When you have holiday cooking on the brain, chances are your cubs do too—so bring them into the kitchen to help! The Berenstain Bears have brought so many delicious recipes to the table in this brand-new cookbook, it’s difficult to keep track. But one thing’s for sure: Mama Bear’s Pumpkin Pie and Papa Bear’s Paw-Lickin’ Good Chicken Wings will be instant favorites at your next gathering.

    The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes that are Simple to Make, by Erin Gleeson
    This kid-friendly follow-up to The Forest Feast is as much a meal for the eyes as the plant-based recipes will be for your tummies. Let’s be honest here—the cover alone will have you drooling! Kids will be encouraged to set off on a vegetarian adventure, and they’ll soon be scooping pomegranate seeds and rinsing quinoa like professionals. Step side and prepare to be wowed!

    Mary Poppins in the Kitchen: A Cookery Book with a Story, by P.L. Travers
    There’s much more than a spoonful of sugar in this fantastic little volume. Mary the Wonder Nanny and the kids have taken over the kitchen for a week, and they’re reviewing all the essential cooking terms, from A to Z. All of your favorite Poppins characters are here, too, sharing their favorite recipes.

    Science Experiments You Can Eat, by Vicki Cobb
    We’ve always known it, but this book makes it plain—cooking is science. So lead your crazy hungry chemists into the kitchen and turn the place into your laboratory for the weekend; trade your aprons for lab coats and start hypothesizing! You can learn how coagulated protein constitutes custard, among many more strange and wonderful kitchen facts—and at the end of each experiment, you’ll have a delightful dish to consume with your favorite scientists.

    Wookiee Cookies: A Star Wars Cookbook, by Robin Davis and Frank Frankeny
    A Jedi warrior must be calm, and a Jedi warrior must not watch a pot while it boils. In addition to being full of delectable dishes intended for dining on earth as well as on space stations, this quirky cookbook is also a primer on Jedi culinary skills. If you have any Star Wars mega-fans in your house, get them to the kitchen to start cooking dinner with Boba Fett-Uccine and Princess Leia Danish Dos tonight!

    The post 8 Great Cookbooks for Holiday Cooking with Kids appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 5:14 pm on 2016/12/14 Permalink
    Tags: american heroes channel, civil war, gift guides, , ,   

    10 Gifts For Your Favorite Civil War Buff 

    A century and half ago, the bloody, pitched battles that defined America occurred right here on our own soil. Both sides of the Civil War were Americans who thought they were fighting a patriotic war, making the conflict an iconic and defining moment for the country. As the American Heroes Channel (AHC) launches their new series event, Blood and Fury: America’s Civil War (Wednesday, December 14 at 10/9c), this is the perfect time to revisit that moment in U.S. history. The series brilliantly concentrates on six key battles during the war—Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettsyburg, Nashville, and Petersburg—and explores them through the eyes of the soldiers who fought and died in them.

    This rich history is why books about the Civil War remain crucial reading material for history buffs, nonfiction fans, and anyone looking for a breathless factual read. Understanding how earlier Americans once let our political and moral disagreements lead to one of the bloodiest wars in history isn’t just a fascinating piece of the past—it’s a sobering lesson we all could use. Here are 10 classic Civil War books to round out your gift list, or to buy for yourself after watching AHC’s Blood and Fury: America’s Civil War.

    Confrontation at Gettysburg: A Nation Saved, a Cause Lost, by John David Hoptak
    Gettysburg remains the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil. The turning point of the war in military terms, it represented the furthest Robert E. Lee would ever penetrate northward, and his loss there marked the last time the South had the upper hand. Hoptak’s detailed review of the strategies and tactics on display at this furious battle is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand American history.

    Corps Commanders in Blue: Union Major Generals in the Civil War, by Ethan S. Rafuse and Kenneth Noe
    The Civil War has a Shakespearean tinge to it, a cast of colorful characters engaged in bloody warfare. You don’t need to be a history expert to find the conflict interesting—or to find the generals who fought for the Union to be some of the most flamboyant, brilliant, and frustrating men to have ever found their way into the history books. This entertaining and page-turning book offers plenty of history and personality to entertain and inform.

    McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union, by Ethan S. Rafuse
    General George McClellan should have been a legendary hero of the Civil War. Young, handsome, and brilliant, he was named supreme commander of the Union armies at age 35, cutting a dashing figure. His tentative and confused prosecution of the war, however, ended with the disastrous, savage battle of Antietam, and he was removed from his post. The story of George McClellan is an American tragedy in many ways, about a man destined for greatness who somehow missed his appointment with destiny in a life story that reads like a novel.

    Robert E. Lee and The Fall of the Confederacy, 1863–1865, by Ethan S. Rafuse
    Robert E. Lee is perhaps the most fascinating character of the Civil War after Abraham Lincoln. A brilliant general whose natural sympathies lay with the North, he chose to remain loyal to his home state and lead the Confederacy’s armies. The most talented military man in the country, he was incredibly successful for the first years of the war—and then found himself on a slow but consistent slide into defeat. The tragedy of Lee’s story is as affecting as any novel. Anyone who loves a great story will enjoy Rafuse’s excellent book on one of the most fascinating Americans who ever lived.

    Guide to the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, by Charles R. Jr. Bowery and Ethan S. Rafuse
    The longest campaign of the Civil War, the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign was incredibly complex, a swirl of violence and organization as the surging Union and fading Confederacy wrestled in a mighty, war-defining struggle. Anyone even casually interested in the history of war and this chapter of America’s story will thrill at how clearly this complicated chapter of the Civil War is explained and illustrated.

    Manassas Battlefields Then & Now: Historic Photography at Bull Run, by Garry E. Adelman
    What’s remarkable about The Civil War is that it’s one of the earliest modern wars we can document with photographs. Being able to see the battlefields and geographic features surrounding Bull Run—both as they were during the war and how they are today—grounds history in the modern day, allowing us to really imagine what it would have been like to be there. Even those casually interested in Civil War history will be wowed by this beautiful book.

    Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg: A Guide to the Most Famous Attack in American History, by James Hessler and Wayne Motts
    A battle isn’t a single, concrete thing. It’s a series of decisions and actions, many taken months before a single shot is fired—and many undertaken in the heat of it. Pickett’s Charge is perhaps the most famous attack in the Civil War, and you don’t have to love history texts to appreciate the heart-pounding story that Hessler and Motts expertly lay out in this thrilling book.

    September Suspense: Lincoln’s Union in Peril, by Dennis E. Frye
    When the Civil War commenced, many thought it would be quickly resolved. Eighteen months later, Lee invaded the North and reality came crashing home: the war would not end peacefully or quickly. Frye paints a picture of a nation struggling to come to terms with the fact that the unthinkable had not only happened, but wouldn’t end any time soon.

    Battle of South Mountain, by John David Hoptak
    The Battle of South Mountain is an ideal example of a crucial moment in history overshadowed by larger events—namely the epic battle of Antietam. Robert E. Lee intended his invasion of the North in 1862 to lead to a quick end of the war with a decisive, brutal body blow. And he almost succeeded. Seeing how the war could have had a much different ending offers a thrilling glimpse of an alternate future that could have been.

    Stonewall Jackson: A Biography, by Ethan S. Rafuse
    Jackson was the second most capable and famous general for the Confederacy after Robert E. Lee. A brilliant soldier, his death after being shot by friendly fire in 1863 is arguably the real turning point of the war, doing damage to Southern morale and leaving Lee with no replacement of equal talent. To understand the war, one has to understand Jackson, and Rafuse’s celebrated biography is a perfect gift for Civil War aficionados and amateur historians alike.

    The post 10 Gifts For Your Favorite Civil War Buff appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 7:45 pm on 2016/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , gift guides, great gifts, ,   

    40 of the Best Books to Give This Holiday Season 

    Looking for a gift for your favorite bookworm—or a gift to reward yourself after a long day of holiday prep? There’s something for every fiction lover on the list below, from picture books to share at bedtime, to wonderful chapter books to tuck into a backpack, to teen reads both moving and magical, to some of the best fiction books to hit shelves this year. These are the books they’ll want to start reading before the wrapping paper has even been tossed.



    Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
    This remarkable, bold debut, which spans 250 years, is a heartbreaking and thought-provoking look at seven generations of descendants from the Fante and Asante tribes of Ghana. Kicking off the story are half-sisters Effia and Esi, whose disparate lives remain linked, despite the fact that they’ve never met. Their children and grandchildren live on different sides of the Atlantic, but whether they’re involved in the Gold Coast slave trade of Africa or suffering under its effects in America, it’s the personal, smaller stories within that framework—stories of hardship, transcendence, wealth lost, and love gained—that will deeply move you.

    The Girls, by Emma Cline
    “These long-haired girls seem to glide above all that was happening around them, tragic and separate. Like royalty in exile.” Can you blame Evie, a bored, restless, 14-year-old, for becoming entranced by the group of young women (and their Manson-esque cult leader, Russell) she spies in the park in the late 1960s? Evie is especially fixated on Suzanne (a stand-in for Manson’s most famous “girl,” Susan Atkins), and recounts their interactions from the (relatively) safe distance of adulthood. Her rapt audience: a modern teen, Sasha, whose troubles and yearnings mirror Evie’s from years past. Psychologically astute and perfectly rendered.

    The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
    In this year’s tour de force National Book Award winner, acclaimed essayist, novelist, and nonfiction writer Whitehead imagines a pre–Civil War United States in which the Underground Railroad isn’t a metaphor but an actual train that carries slaves to safety. A brilliant genre mashup that combines elements of sci-fi and historical fiction, it’s an astonishing, must-read tale about a female slave on a Georgia plantation whose escape route takes her not just from South to North but through space and time as well.

    Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson
    Though Woodson is perhaps best known for her children’s literature (especially the extraordinary, award-winning biographical book in verse Brown Girl Dreaming), her new book for adults is lyrical and poetic, too. Through the lens of an anthropologist who has come home for the first time in decades, it addresses the coming of age of August and her three best friends growing up in 1970s Brooklyn. “We tried to hold on. We played double Dutch and jacks. We chased the ice cream truck down the block, waving our change-filled fists.” Their journey into womanhood is fraught with tragedy, abuse, and betrayal—and a reminder that friendship can tie people together tighter than family.

    The Nix, by Nathan Hill
    Eleven-year-old Samuel didn’t notice when his mother began to leave him. It started with a “slow burglary”—a photo missing from an album, a dress gone from the closet—and culminated in abandonment: “Slowly, her presence in the house grew thinner.” As an adult living in Chicago, Samuel is an adjunct professor and writer whose heyday is behind him (according to the publishing world, that is). When his long-lost mother makes national headlines for a notorious act, he’s forced to confront the realities of the woman who left him behind. A humorous, satirical look at pop culture, social media, Norwegian myths, online gaming, and American politics, The Nix is a compelling, entertaining, and (even at 640 pages) fast read.

    A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
    A follow-up to Rules of Civility (which tackled 1930s Manhattan), Towles’ latest historical novel takes place in Russia and depicts the life of Count Alexander Rostov, an “unrepentant aristocrat” sent by the Bolsheviks in 1922 to live out the rest of his days in the attic storage room of the Metropol hotel. As the world outside (he’s across from the Kremlin) passes him by, he adjusts to an existence devoid of the arts, leisure, and fine dining he is accustomed to. Yet in other ways his life is expanded immeasurably, as he creates an exquisite new world for himself. His relationships with the hotel staff, and a life-altering friendship with a child, breathe transcendent joy into every page.

    Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
    A marriage-destroying kiss at a christening sets off events that include an outsider’s controversial retelling of the incident (the book-within-a-book is also titled Commonwealth) as well as a film adaptation of said book. Six stepchildren, left to their own devices during long summer months, are affected by their parents’ couplings and uncouplings in different ways, until they can no longer imagine a life in which their respective families weren’t blown apart. Moving back and forth through time, the novel, Patchett’s seventh, crackles with intelligent, memorable discourse and a wide variety of sympathetic viewpoints.

    Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple
    Following her wildly successful sophomore book, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Semple’s latest begins with a to-do list gone haywire. A modern, middle-aged wife and mother has taken stock of her supposed shortcomings and has decided to control, alter, or annihilate them for just one day. The results are hilarious, disastrous, and far-reaching. (What else can you expect from a television writer whose credits include Arrested Development, and whose engaging narrator, Eleanor Flood, admits, “I’ve been to nine shrinks in twenty years and I’m still like, ‘Wait…what?'”)

    News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
    Longlisted for the National Book Award, News is set in 1870s Texas, where elderly war vet and vagabond Captain Kyle Kidd finds himself traveling 400 long and dangerous miles to San Antonio with an “uncivilized” 10-year-old girl. The girl was captured and raised by the Kiowa tribe after they murdered her parents and sibling. As such, she speaks no English and doesn’t remember a time before the Kiowas took her in. Kidd intends to return her to her family, but as their journey subtly shifts from a relationship of survival into a true and heartfelt meeting of souls, he may not be ready to leave her with a group of strangers, even if they’re kin. Though Jiles’ research must have been extensive, it effortlessly enhances the narrative rather than bogging it down, and in an age of Westworld, it’s tremendously satisfying to root for the white hats to win the day.

    Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
    An unnamed narrator living in North London and her best friend Tracey, both biracial, navigate childhood dreams of becoming dancers. Only Tracey has the talent to succeed, but her star burns out quickly. Meanwhile, our narrator works as an assistant for a wealthy white pop star from Australia who’s obsessed with all things West African (from “saving” a village to adopting a child). Though her pivotal friendship with Tracey falls apart when the women are in their 20s, its effects never truly leave either of them, for good or ill. “I wanted to believe that Tracey and I were sisters and kindred spirits, alone in the world and in special need of each other,” the narrator says. A worthy successor to Smith’s previous novels, this is a brilliant narrative on identity, culture, race, and class.



    Young Adult

    Lady Midnight, by Cassandra Clare
    Clare kicks off her hotly anticipated new Dark Artifices series, set in the world of the Mortal Instruments, with Lady Midnight, centering on the Los Angeles Shadowhunters and bringing in characters old and new. Bound Nephilim warriors Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn, grieving the tragedies of their pasts, must navigate both new supernatural challenges and old grudges in a deadly, alluring world readers are itching to return to.

    The Last Star, by Rick Yancey
    This month, Yancey’s bestselling Fifth Wave trilogy concludes with The Last Star. At the start of book one, The 5th Wave, four waves of alien attack—from pestilence to mind control—have left over 90 percent of humans dead. Orphaned survivor Cassie, separated from her brother while waiting for the fifth wave, sets out on a deadly trek to retrieve him. In follow-up The Infinite Sea, she joins forces with a hardened group of fellow survivors, including mysterious, deadly marksman Ringer. In The Last Star, the remnants of Earth’s population have a choice, between holding onto their humanity and doing whatever it takes to survive.

    The Crown (The Selection series #5), by Kiera Cass
    Across four books and two storylines, Cass has created the world of the Selection, in which American Singer and Prince Maxon fell in love, married, and had daughter Eadlyn, the first princess to choose her husband in a Selection of her own. Eadlyn’s story began in last year’s The Heir, and concludes with fifth and final book The Crown, in which Eadlyn must select her husband from among the remaining contendors—a choice that becomes more difficult than she could have imagined.

    Glass Sword, by Victoria Aveyard
    In Red Queen, 17-year-old Mare Barrow’s red blood made her a member of the powerless peasant class, in a world where the silver-blooded have both position and supernatural powers—until she’s revealed to have immense abilities of her own, despite the red in her veins. Aveyard’s sequel picks up right where its predecessor left off: reeling from a brutal betrayal and covered in the blood of battle, Mare Barrow sets out to recruit an army of her own, to fight back against her people’s Silver oppressors.

    This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp (January 5)
    The world can change in a minute. Nijkamp’s taut debut covers 54 of them, from just before a school shooting begins to its harrowing aftermath. Narration is shared among four students, both in and outside of the auditorium where the shooting occurs, all of whom have some link to the shooter. The cast is diverse, and their lives realistically tangled, in a story that combines almost painful tension with flashbacks that ground the sadly topical drama in an attempt at answering the question everyone asks: Why?

    The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon
    Yoon’s stupendous sophomore novel takes some of the themes she introduced in her best-selling debut Everything, Everything—the power of human connection, love’s ability to both save and destroy—and expands on them to tell the fast-burning, possibly doomed love story of Daniel, a dreamy Korean American teen on his way to an alumni interview, and Natasha, a girl on a last-minute mission to save her family from deportation to Jamaica. The two meet in a record store and have an epic stop-and-go romance all stuffed into a single day that might be Natasha’s last in New York. Told in alternating narration, the book also makes room for a whole chorus of other voices and perspectives, transforming it into a big compassionate tapestry of New York City, life, and everything. It’s an absolute knockout.

    A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas
    In 2015 series starter A Court of Thorns and Roses, a huntress trying to feed her starving family becomes key to saving the faerie realm of Prythian. After Feyre kills a wolflike beast in the woods bordering Prythian and the human world, a frightening fae comes to collect: her life for the life she took. But living with gorgeous faerie lord Tamlin isn’t the doom she thought it would be—nor is Prythian as settled as she once believed. In follow-up A Court of Mist and Fury, Feyre is more powerful than ever, but has sacrificed much to return to the Spring Court. The dark deal she made with the Night Court still hangs over her head, and the safety of herself, her love, and her two-realm world are far from secure.

    Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys
    In Sepetys’s hands, a footnote of World War II history—the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the biggest and perhaps most undersung naval tragedy in history—becomes a moving tapestry of lives and voices, of four people whose fates will converge onboard the doomed ship. Joana is a nurse and Lithuanian refugee attempting to outrun horrible guilt. Florian is a German art restorer with a secret, bent on avenging one small corner of the Nazis’ atrocities. Emilia is an orphaned Polish teen who carries her worst memory on her body, and who sees Florian’s heroic qualities even if he doesn’t. And Alfred is a Nazi sailor whose moral disease runs deeper than his uniform. After a headlong race across the frozen East Prussian landscape in the twilight days of the war, the three refugees believe passage on the Gustloff means salvation. But the worst is yet to come, and some scars never fade. Sepetys finds moments of grace, humanity, and sacrifice amid tragedy, while never eliding the costs of war or the brutal truths of the survival instinct.

    Stars Above, by Marissa Meyer
    Meyer’s best-selling Lunar Chronicles ended last year with Winter, but fans can get their steampunk fairytale fix with this collection of stories from the series’ vast world. Its nine tales, including five previously unpublished, explore the origins, transformations, and becoming of beloved characters including Cinder and Winter. And a bonus for readers who can’t wait to see what Meyer does next: the collection includes an excerpt of forthcoming Wonderland-set tale Heartless.

    Scythe, by Neal Shusterman
    Shusterman has a gift for marrying high concepts with great compassion and grippingly intelligent payoff; he sees his ideas through to their broadest conclusions in fascinating, right, and always relevant ways. Scythe imagines a future in which scientific advancement has defeated death, but may have birthed something even more frightening: a world free of consequences, aging, and foreseeable ends. Its people can turn back the clock on their bodies whenever they want, and live lives nearly devoid of intense passions—except when a Scythe comes to visit. Scythes are a highly trained force of public servants who deal out death according to quotas and within a strict set of rules: rules of studied randomness doing its best to imitate the indifference of true death. When an exemplary Scythe takes on two teen apprentices, Citra and Rowan, both seem suited to the job. But after their mentor dies under mysterious circumstances, the teens’ paths diverge: Citra is assigned to another noble Scythe, but Rowan finds himself re-apprenticed to a psychopath who threatens to upend the Scythehood for his own ends. This series starter is as haunting and eerily believable as Unwind.


    Books for Young Readers

    Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier 
    Raina Telgemeier is back with her signature graphic novel style in this new fictional tale about teenager Catrina, who is moving with her family to a coastal town in Northern California in hopes that the new setting will help her sick little sister. Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from Bahía de la Luna’s sea air. But as the sisters soon learn, the weather isn’t the only creepy thing about this town—there are ghosts! Maya really wants to meet one, but Catrina wants no part of it. Can she push past her fears to help her sister?

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II, by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
    The tale of the Boy Who Lived continues in this eighth original Harry Potter story—the first to be presented as a stage play, premiering in London’s West End on July 30, 2016. Set 19 years after the conclusion of the final book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the new story finds Harry now an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and a father of three children. And his youngest son, Albus, is struggling with the weight of his family’s legacy, as both father and son are forced to face some unfortunate dark truths in this highly anticipated release.

    Serafina and the Twisted Staff, by Robert Beatty
    Serafina defeated the Man in the Black Cloak in her 2015 debut novel, but she’s having to face a new evil in this equally suspenseful follow-up. One evening, Serafina is attacked by a group of vicious wolfhounds in the forest near her home at Biltmore Estate. The animals seem to be under the control of a terrifying creature—and Serafina believes this stranger isn’t acting alone. Someone else is wreaking havoc at Biltmore—and it’s up to Serafina to put a stop to it.

    Pax, by Sara Pennypacker 
    Bestselling author Sara Pennypacker’s latest is a beautiful and heartbreaking story about a 12-year-old boy named Peter and his beloved fox, Pax. Peter rescued Pax as an orphaned kit and has raised him as a pet since Peter’s own mother’s sudden death five years earlier. But now Peter’s father is heading to the frontlines of a raging war and is forcing his son to release his pet fox into the wild before Peter goes to live with his grandfather. The ensuing chapters alternate between the boy’s and fox’s perspectives as they each learn how to survive without the other.

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, by J. K. Rowling
    Consider this one a companion to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. That book came about as a way to bring the final(?) Potter story to the bookshelves of fans who may not be able to get tickets to a London theatrical production, and as a satisfyingly bookish way to complete the series for those of us reared on the novels. Likewise, the hardcover of Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts screenplay means readers get to enjoy the latest magical adventure in a form akin to the way we originally enjoyed Harry’s story. The thought of a new Potterverse story not somehow finding a spot on my bookshelf just feels wrong.

    Demigods & Magicians: Percy and Annabeth Meet the Kanes, by Rick Riordan
    Ancient Greek and Egyptian mysticism are swirling together to form a force to be reckoned with in this new collection of crossover stories from author Rick Riordan. Demigods & Magicians: Percy and Annabeth Meet the Kanes is comprised of three crossover short stories all published together for the first time—The Son of Sobek, The Staff of Serapis, and The Crown of Ptolemy—in which powerful magicians Carter and Sadie Kane meet demigods Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase, just as strange creatures begin showing up in unexpected places.

    An Author’s Odyssey (The Land of Stories Series #5), by Chris Colfer
    The fifth book in Chris Colfer’s popular modern-day fairy tale series finds twins Alex and Conner Bailey facing the realization that the only way to get to the Masked Man and his army is in Conner’s own short stories. The pair will need the help of all their friends and allies—some crafted from Conner’s very own imagination—to defeat the menacing masked one. Bonus: This Barnes & Noble exclusive edition contains an excerpt from The Mother Goose Survival Guide.

    Dog Man (Captain Underpants: Dog Man Series #1), by Dav Pilkey
    Dav Pilkey is back with a new hero for Captain Underpants fans. Is it a dog? Is it a man? No! It’s Dog Man! George and Harold’s latest heroic creation is part dog, part man, and all about biting, er, fighting crime! Greg used to just be a regular police dog with a normal human police companion, but after an injury in the line of duty, the pair undergo a life-changing surgery that combines the head of a dog and the body of a human, resulting in the titular character who’s all set to sniff out the bad guys. This Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes a Dog Man poster inside.

    Return to the Isle of the Lost (Descendants series #2 B&N Exclusive Edition), by Melissa de la Cruz
    Author Melissa de la Cruz is returning to Disney’s Isle of the Lost with this stellar second book in the Descendantsseries. Now living in Auradon and dating King Ben, Mal thought she had left her villainous roots behind her. But she and her friends Evie, Carlos, and Jay have all received menacing messages demanding they return to the Isle of the Lost—and they suspect that their parents are the ones sending them. Maleficent, Evil Queen, Cruella de Vil, and Jafar won’t rest until their kids are back in their clutches and Auradon is destroyed, so the teens are sneaking back to the island to put a stop to it. But will Mal discover she’s still wicked at her core, or has she truly turned over a new leaf?

    The Hidden Oracle (Trials of Apollo series #1, B&N Exclusive Edition), by Rick Riordan
    “How do you punish an immortal?” Riordan ominously asks in the description of the first book in the new Trials of Apollo series. “By making him human.” Naturally, Zeus is the punisher here, and his son Apollo, god of the sun, is on the receiving end after angering dear old dad. But rather than being sent to his room, the 4,000-year-old deity is cast down to Earth, landing in New York City as a regular teenage boy. He now has to: 1) learn how to survive, 2) find a way to get back in Zeus’s favor, and 3) dodge his many god, monster, and mortal enemies—NBD. This Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes a camp letter from Apollo to Zeus.





    Picture Books

    Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
    Bringing diversity, ingenuity, and hilarity to a picture book—in equal measure, no less—is no easy task, but Beaty and Roberts have teamed up again to make it possible. Tenacious Ada Twist is a self-identified scientist, with no fear of failure. So when she has a problem, she’s on her way to fixing it before you can say “failed experiment.” Read this to your favorite little chemist tonight!

    Bedtime for Batman, by Michael Dahl and Ethen Beavers
    When darkness falls, the real work begins. After changing into his costume and cleaning up the city, Batman can climb into bed. But even from the shadows, he is watching, and waiting—a hero’s job is never done. Parallel narratives show a boy preparing for bedtime, and the Dark Knight taking care of business—the result is an eye-popping, highly engaging tale for the little superhero at your house!

    Milk Goes to School, by Terry Border
    Border, who tickled readers with Peanut Butter & Cupcake and Happy Birthday, Cupcake!, has returned with another surefire read-aloud hit. Milk has a bedazzled backpack and adoring, supportive parents, but she’s still pretty nervous about the first day of school. And it gets even worse when Waffle—a would-be pal—accuses her of being spoiled. Whether you giggle or groan at the near-constant puns, readers of all ages will appreciate the attention to detail and sweet resolution in this charming story.

    The Thank You Book, by Mo Willems
    Introverted Gerald is a worrier, while affable Piggie is carefree. Gerald and Piggie are best friends, but their approach to life couldn’t be more different. In this charming conclusion to Willems’ bestselling Elephant & Piggie series, Piggie is thanking EVERYONE, but Gerald is afraid that his brash pal is going to forget someone very important along the way.

    What Do You Do With a Problem?, by Kobi Yamad
    If you’ve every had a problem and chosen to ignore it, chances are it hasn’t gone away. Instead, it’s gotten bigger—and likely more persistent. This follow-up to What Do You Do With an Idea? shows us, quite simply, the life cycle of a problem. Readers of all ages are reminded that a challenge makes us more courageous, and when we are encouraged to confront our predicament head-on, we often find that it’s less daunting than we originally perceived it to be.

    Pete the Cat Storybook Collection: 7 Groovy Stories!, by James Dean
    Fans of James Dean’s groovy feline Pete the Cat will love this collection of seven of his most beloved tales—including Cavecat Pete, Pete’s Big Lunch, and Too Cool for School! With his friendly demeanor and laid-back attitude, Pete is one cool character, and kids will love reading about his adventures.

    Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story, by Mariam Gates
    Re-energize your AM routine with a one-of-a-kind morning story that will help you and your little reader lead a more intentional day. Filled with breathing exercises, welcome stretches, and a mindful narrative that goes down easier than a bowl of oatmeal, Good Morning Yoga creates the perfect opportunity to greet the day—and honor its journey—with those we love best.

    If You Give a Mouse a Brownie, by Laura Numeroff
    Our favorite mouse is back, but we’ll warn you—only read this hilarious tale on nights dessert has been served. Brownies obviously lead to ice cream, and one helping—like one reading—is never enough! You’ll definitely want to add this sweet indulgence to your beginning reader’s collection!

    River Rose and the Magical Lullaby, by Kelly Clarkson
    New mom and beloved singer/songwriter Kelly Clarkson has brought us a tender, soothing story—starring her very own daughter, River Rose. It’s the night before the big trip to the zoo, and River Rose cannot fall asleep—nothing’s working! Will a special lullaby from Mommy help? You’ll enjoy the bonus story and bonus CD for many too-excited-to-sleep nights to come.

    Our Great Big Backyard, by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager
    Released in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Our Great Big Backyard showcases the wild natural beauty of our fascinating country. It’s an expansive story that starts with Jane, who dreams of a screen-filled summer—and gets a road-trip with the family instead. From jutting rocks to gator-filled swamps, Jane gets a taste of every sort of outdoors, and somewhere along the way—she starts to enjoy herself. Quench your wanderlust with this early summer treat!

    The post 40 of the Best Books to Give This Holiday Season appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 9:30 pm on 2016/11/14 Permalink
    Tags: gift guides, , the beasts are coming   

    Learn the Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts 

    J.K. Rowling promised us that Harry Potter was done following her play-turned-book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth book in the series. She wasn’t kidding, but she never said that she was done with the magical universe inhabited by her beloved characters. The new movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, adapted from the short Hogwarts textbook of the same name, follows Newt Scamander on a series of adventures in New York City during the 1920s. It’s the first screenplay work from the multi-talented Rowling, and it’s directed by Potter veteran David Yates. Which is to say that there’s no reason to believe that it won’t be amazing (and early reviews have been very positive). Given that our obsession with the Potter-verse continues unabated, it’s clear that the movie won’t be quite enough. Fortunately, there are a series of books on the way that should appeal to everyone, from long-time fans and adult cinephiles, to wee wizards that are taking their first dips into a world of magic.

    The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Mark Salisbury
    This book was designed by the same team that created the graphic props for all of the Harry Potter films as well as for Beasts, and the feel is that of Newt Scamander’s case (it even latches closed). Except, instead of containing magical beasts (because, you know, illegal), the book contains a plethora of information, photography, and art related to the new movie. Because the emphasis is on the graphic design of the movie, the book is filled with removable prop replicas and ephemera from the movie, providing insight into both the film and the movie’s magical world.

    Inside the Magic: The Making of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Ian Nathan
    For the grown-up cinephile (or younger cinephiles-in-training), this companion book goes into deep and extensive detail about the making of Rowling’s new film. The actors provide insight into their characters and process, but the book also covers things like set design, costuming, props, and the like, along with stories from the people who worked on the film. If you’re interested in more than just the story and characters, there’s plenty here to appreciate, and a lot to learn about the craft, hard work, and magic of filmmaking.

    The Art of the Film: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Dermot Power
    I love stuff like this: for every bit of magic on the screen in a film like Fantastic Beasts, there are dozens of sketches, concepts, blueprints, and paintings that made it all come together. The images in this handsome coffee table book show the origins of some of the most impressive moments in the movie. More than that, they detail a progression of ideas, alongside input from the artists themselves. Since concepts don’t always make it to the screen whole, or at all, it’s always fascinating to see the ways in which things develope. Given Beasts‘ magical-20s-New York-steampunk aesthetic, there will be some amazing art in here.

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, by J. K. Rowling
    Consider this one a companion to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. That book came about as a way to bring the final(?) Potter story to the bookshelves of fans who might or might not be able to get tickets to a London theatrical production, and as a satisfyingly bookish way to complete the series for those of us reared in the novels. Likewise, the hardcover of Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts screenplay means that readers get to enjoy the latest magical adventure in a form akin to the way we originally enjoyed Harry’s story. The thought of a new Potter-verse story not somehow finding a spot on my bookshelf just feels wrong.

    Magical Movie Handbook (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), by Michael Kogge
    I was going to describe this as a book for younger fans, but, if Rowling’s work has taught us anything, it’s that those distinctions are a little silly. So I’ll just say that the reading level skews a little younger, and will appeal to fans who are most interested in the actual story of the movie. This is a handy reference guide to some of the characters, locations, and scenes featured in the movie, and it’s a pretty great way to relive the magic if you just can’t get enough of the film.

    Character Guide (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), by Michael Kogge
    Not unlike the Magical Movie Handbook, this is similarly an all-ages guide to the movie, but focused specifically on the film’s characters. People like eccentric main character Newt Scamander, witch Tina Goldstein, sidekick Jacob Kowalski, and all the rest of Rowling’s magical (and no-maj) creations get illustrated profiles. It’s another great way to relive the magic and learn some new stuff about the film’s players that you might have missed. Plus, this isn’t the last time that we’ll be seeing this particular group of wizards and their friends (and foes), so it’ll be good to have on hand for the future.

    Fashion Sketchbook (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
    Fantastic Beasts boasts an impressive and brilliantly designed look inspired by steampunk but matched to the look and feel of jazz-age New York City. Oscar winning costume designer Colleen Atwood gave unique looks to each character while tying everything together with that particular style. This book provides budding fashionistas (or those of us who just like to doodle) a way to draw and color some of the clothes, shoes, and accessories worn by characters in the film offers inspiration on creating one’s own, even more fabulous, designs.

    Coloring and Creativity Book (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), by Liz Marsham
    Let’s be real: Rowling’s magical stories aren’t just for kids, nor is coloring. This is another book that’s aimed at kids, and, OK, they should get to have some fun, too. But this one should be fun for fans of any age: it’s a combination coloring and activity book with images to draw, doodle, and color, as well as including other activities. Pro-tip: if you can snag one before you go to the movies, you and the kids (or just you) can work on it while you’re waiting on line.

    How do you plan to celebrate the newest magical movie?

    The post Learn the Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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