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  • BN Editors 2:00 pm on 2018/08/16 Permalink
    Tags: abbi glines, courtney cole, girl wash your face, guest posts, his true queen, , , losing the field, rachel hollis, , saving beck, that guy   

    From Here to You Author Jamie McGuire Shares 5 Favorite Romance Picks 

    What’s not to like about romance novels? They’re entertaining and relatable. Everyone wants to feel loved and accepted. I adore this genre so much because readers get to experience all kinds of different relationships and types of love. When it comes to my own reading, I tend to dabble in a lot of different kinds of books—non-fiction stories about entrepreneurs, self-help books, and sci-fi fantasy—but I always return to romance.

    Here are a few of the titles that I’ve been enjoying recently:

    Losing the Field, by Abbi Glines
    Football, teenage angst, strong friendships and sweet young love. Everything that makes a perfect YA romance!

    Saving Beck, by Courtney Cole
    Courtney has written the kind of story that makes you stop and think. It’s heartbreakingly realistic, and one you’ll feel deep in your soul.

    That Guy, by Kim Jones
    HILARIOUS! You’ll find yourself saying “no way” throughout the book, but hysterically laughing the entire time.

    His True Queen, by Jodi Ellen Malpas
    British Royalty and American Hollywood actor? LOVE! I’m still not over the royal wedding, and this series made me feel like I was reading a story straight out of the headlines!

    Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis
    You caught me. I know this isn’t a romance novel, but a good romance starts with loving yourself first, right? Rachel gets raw and real about all the things women struggle with and gives her best advice on how to overcome those challenges. Lots of laugh out loud moments and girl chat that will make you feel like you just made a new best friend. Rachel is the best kind of human!

    From Here to You is on B&N bookshelves on August 21.

    The post <i>From Here to You</i> Author Jamie McGuire Shares 5 Favorite Romance Picks appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Miwa Messer 4:00 pm on 2018/07/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , , guest posts,   

    The Ensemble Author Aja Gable on the Attempt to Say That Unsayable Thing 

    Four friends are bound by their art and their ambition in Aja Gabel’s snappy debut, The Ensemble. We were delighted by the author’s insights about friendship, passion, and loyalty; her characters’ messy truths; and her lively, light writing. There is, as one of our bookseller reviewers said, “WOW on every page.” We asked Aja how her debut novel began for her, and this is what she said:

    Long before I wrote a word of my novel, The Ensemble, which is about a professional string quartet, I wrote one short story about music. A Russian violinist, Stefan, must fill in for his deceased teacher, Sergei, at a concert in Hong Kong. In a dressing room above the concert hall, he frets about his new million-dollar violin and the violent political riots happening outside his window. The drama is high and slick, and the language has a tinge of the old-fashioned. The story’s confidence wavers (an imprint of its nascency), but passages about the music performance flicker in early resemblance to the passages about music in my novel.

    I dug the old story up recently because I’ve been trying to figure out the origin of my novel, when the idea first began to take root. Was it here? I wondered.

    I know a neat and tidy origin story would point to a moment of revelation, an article that changed me, or a piece of music that unfolded a novel plot. But it feels instead like I’ve carried The Ensemble around with me for years, that it grew inside me as I grew, twining and fusing with my body from the moment I was five, when I first began to play the cello and write stories. Over the years, as I filled notebooks with fantasies and cut my calluses on steel core strings, the enmeshment continued. By the time I entered writing school, still playing the cello on the side, it was complete.

    Because of that fusing, I didn’t write about music because writing about music felt like writing about my skin or my voice. What was there to say? It was just me.

    I wrote that short story about the Russian violinist because of a conversation I had with a teacher about writing a novel. Make it easy on yourself, she said. What do you know enough about to write 300 pages? This version of the “write what you know” advice hadn’t occurred to me before. Rereading the story now, I see why. My relationship to music was the most intimate relationship I had, shared with no one but other musicians who I played with. But I believed novels to be big, outsized, highly dramatic. I also believed people wanted that sense of symphonic gravitas in any story about classical music. So I wrote a story that had all of that: political strife, foreign locales, tortured Russian artists. It’s not a bad story, but in rereading, I struggled to find the beating heart of it. It didn’t feel like my novel.

    It wasn’t until a year later, alone on a writing retreat, that I decided to do what I’d been hesitant to do before. I unraveled the story of music that was braided inside me, and began to parse the strands, until I figured out what it was about. That intimate narrative I’d tended to and told to no one but myself was itself about intimacy. When you play music with someone, you come to know their artistic impulses, their breath and body, their secret ambitions and wayward desires. And as I put the threads back together on the page, it took on new life and grew again. There are no steely Russians and no mid-recital explosions in this one. Instead, there are subtler and equally earth-shattering moments: a cruel, tossed off phrase, heartbreak that morphs with time, the death of an absent mother, the loss of a best friend.

    In the end, it did become big. The tale of a collaborative life, lived through music, across decades, is inevitably expansive. But it didn’t become big because I’d intended to write an epic. I don’t think any great novel begins by being enamored of its bigness. What ultimately opened the door into this novel was, for me, what always draws me to any book: truth, recognition, heart, the attempt to say that unsayable thing.

    I am now able to see it: the daunting excavation of the internal story I’d tended to for years. I don’t think it’s the root of every novel, but it was for my first one. I look at that old short story, the one about Sergei and Stefan and the riots, and see a writer who wanted to do what she thought other people wanted to read. But I think now that we should always only be writing what we ourselves want to read. And even in that older story, what I gravitate toward are the scenes of music, Stefan’s uncertainty while playing, his love of the physical feeling of his violin, his fear of the outside pressures drowning out his concerto, his song.

    The Ensemble is on sale now.

    The post <i>The Ensemble</i> Author Aja Gable on the Attempt to Say That Unsayable Thing appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • BN Editors 2:00 pm on 2018/07/16 Permalink
    Tags: , bear town, beneath a scarlet sky, cecelia ahern, , , educated, , franklin graham, , guest posts, helen hoang, , mark sullivan, , , , , the gift, , , , therese ann fowler, through my father's eyes,   

    Cottage by the Sea Author Debbie Macomber Shares Her Summer Reading List 

    Filled with memorable characters and set in gorgeous locales, bestselling author Debbie Macomber’s novels about family, friendships, and love, will help even a staycation feel like an escape. And while her stories are perfect for reading any time of the year (her Angel series and Christmas novels are delightful to cozy up with during the holidays), summer is the perfect time to lose yourself one of her lush, heartwarming stories. In her newest novel, Cottage by the Sea, a woman who has experienced great trauma travels to the Pacific Northwest, a place where she has happy memories from childhood, to recover. There she begins building a new life for herself, despite her grief, discovering her own community and even finding romance—until she finds herself at the crossroads of an important and life-defining decision. Ms. Macomber was kind enough to share her own summer reading list with B&N Reads—and it is filled with fascinating stories, from nonfiction to historicals, that are sure to find their way onto your own summer to-be-read pile! Enjoy her ten picks below (and don’t miss her interview with the B&N Podcast here!).

    Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan
    I’m actually half way through this book about an Italian youth working for the resistance in World War II, which I’m finding to be fascinating. It’s based on a true story and compelling reading.

    Through My Father’s Eyes, by Franklin Graham
    With the death of Billy Graham earlier this year I have this book on my bookshelf and am eager to read about the man himself.  I personally attended two of his crusades and am a great admirer of this godly man.

    The Gift, by Cecilia Ahern
    This is actually a Christmas book that I’ve been wanting to read since the holidays.  If I wait much longer it will be the season so I’ve moved it to my “to-be-read” pile.

    The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang
    There’s been quite a bit of industry buzz about this book.  I found the premise intriguing, an autistic woman who is eager to understand what it is to fall in love.

    The High Tide Club, by Mary Kay Andrews
    Her beach reads are something I look forward to each summer season. This story is full of romance, and even has a surprising twist that I did not expect!

    All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin
    It’s a thought provoking and relatable novel that involves complex social issues we face in today’s society. This is definitely one of her best, and who doesn’t love the cobalt blue cover!

    The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
    Many people know Kristin from her book The Nightingale, but this stand alone is just as amazing! The Great Alone is set in Alaska which is wild in nature. This setting mixed with the dysfunction of the family creates a downfall of events. Each dark moment seems to get darker and darker. This story digs deep, and the character development is incredible. Your heart will be intertwined and invested not only with Leni and her parents, but the community who embraces this family.

    Bear Town, by Fredrik Backman
    The tragedies that befall this community and the families there are much like you’d experience in any small town. When you finish this book, you know there is more to this story. I was thrilled to see the follow up Us Against You was just released.

    Educated, by Tara Westover
    This is a truly gripping story about a girl struggling for an education. It pulled at my heart strings as I read through each page. This book is moving and demonstrates the power in someone’s life that an education holds.

    Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Ann Fowler
    With her highly anticipated new book coming out this October, A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts, I decided to reread this one.  It was just as good if not better the second time. It takes you back in time to the roaring twenties and the Jazz era. Re-reading this book made me anxious for her next debut.

    Cottage by the Sea is on B&N bookshelves July 17.

    The post <i>Cottage by the Sea</i> Author Debbie Macomber Shares Her Summer Reading List appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Miwa Messer 4:00 pm on 2018/07/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , , guest posts,   

    “Wonderfully Clear”: Christian Donlon on MS and parenting 

    “My daughter took her first steps on the day I was diagnosed—a juxtaposition so perfect, so trite, so filled with the tacky artifice of real life that I am generally too embarrassed to tell anybody about it.”

    Journalist Christian Donlon writes about his MS and his daughter’s development with incredible grace and candor in his memoir, The Inward Empire: Mapping the Worlds of Mortality and Fatherhood, a Summer 2018 Discover Great New Writers selection that’s often very funny despite its serious subject. We asked Christian how he keeps his sense of humor in the midst of chaos and pain, and this is what he said:

    My daughter Leontine, who is now almost five, has just discovered jokes. Well, it is a partial discovery at least. She gets the two-part format of many jokes and she gets the social anxiety involved. (I can tell, after she has said the joke’s opener, that she is filled with tension regarding the closer; she understands innately that getting a joke right is a terribly serious business.) But I don’t know if she knows why the jokes she has learned are funny—why it is funny, say, that the way to get Pikachu onto a bus is to poke him on—and she doesn’t understand that a joke is a bit like a firework: it can only go off once with any particular audience.

    The thing is, jokes are hardly essential with a girl like Leon. She has been making me laugh since she was born, it seems. Since she could express herself I got a sense that here was a girl who saw the world in a slightly different way, who would watch most things out of the corner of her eye and find them ridiculous. Ridiculous and strange. Out walking on the way to school recently, my wife and Leon found one of Leon’s name labels long detached from whatever bag or lunchbox it had once been fixed to and blowing around in the wind. “That’s strange?” Leon asked, more for confirmation of her reading of it than anything else. And then: “I love it when things are strange.”

    I think my daughter’s presence in my life probably explains why people sometimes tell me that I have written a funny book, or rather that my book has made them laugh despite themselves. I am always delighted to hear this, even if it was not entirely my intention. On the surface my book is about fairly serious things: it’s about my diagnosis, shortly after my daughter’s birth, with multiple sclerosis, a maddeningly unpredictable and frequently brutal neurological disease in which the protective coatings of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are accidentally shredded by the immune system. When you have MS, people start to describe you as a sufferer, and so I assumed that I had written a sufferer’s book.

    If I haven’t, it’s because of Leon’s influence. Because of my fantastic, unprecedented, bewildering, and glorious daughter who has grown up alongside my disease, and whose explosion of life and new ideas and new cognitive abilities has been a vital pleasure to me as my own mental equipment has started to falter. I have wanted to mope theatrically at times, but it is hard to mope when you have a daughter who wants you to show them how to draw the really hard parts of a pony – always the back hooves—and who finds your moping hilarious anyway. Even at its worst, when I am stuck in bed with sore legs or muddled vision—the sheer range of things that MS can do is baffling—I can hear her elsewhere in our house, arguing with a cat or mis-singing the latest chart songs with a wonderful scatterbrained innocence.

    Practically, I would say two things about all this. Firstly, while I worry about my own diminishing agency as an MS patient who is also a father of a young child, Leon makes it wonderfully clear what my priorities are, and she gives me the humour I think you need to hold onto when you have been dropped into the bewildering world of neurology, where simple things are suddenly not so simple, and when the entire landscape around you can occasionally feel like a Victorian stage magician’s set filled with trick staircases and tilted mirrors.

    Secondly, I was talking with another MS patient the other day and we remarked on the fact that public understanding of this disease has progressed over the last few years from pretty much nothing to an appreciation that MS is a very complicated thing. Then, public understanding has sort of halted, and perhaps people are tempted to look away from MS because complicated things often make them feel foolish and powerless and sad.

    Humour, though, or at least a certain amount of easy wit, or a willingness to admit that some awful things do have undeniably funny aspects, might be a good way to make people look again at a thing they have already decided they don’t want to look at. A sense of humour—often, more specifically, my daughter’s sense of humour—has not just helped me understand my new world a little more, it might allow other people in, too.

     

    The post “Wonderfully Clear”: Christian Donlon on MS and parenting appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Melissa Albert 2:00 pm on 2018/07/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , , guest posts,   

    “Wonderfully Clear”: Christian Donlon on MS and parenting 

    “My daughter took her first steps on the day I was diagnosed—a juxtaposition so perfect, so trite, so filled with the tacky artifice of real life that I am generally too embarrassed to tell anybody about it.”

    Journalist Christian Donlon writes about his MS and his daughter’s development with incredible grace and candor in his memoir, The Inward Empire: Mapping the Wolds of Mortality and Fatherhood, a Summer 2018 Discover Great New Writers selection that’s often very funny despite its serious subject. We asked Christian how he keeps his sense of humor in the midst of chaos and pain, and this is what he said:

    My daughter Leontine, who is now almost five, has just discovered jokes. Well, it is a partial discovery at least. She gets the two-part format of many jokes and she gets the social anxiety involved. (I can tell, after she has said the joke’s opener, that she is filled with tension regarding the closer; she understands innately that getting a joke right is a terribly serious business.) But I don’t know if she knows why the jokes she has learned are funny—why it is funny, say, that the way to get Pikachu onto a bus is to poke him on—and she doesn’t understand that a joke is a bit like a firework: it can only go off once with any particular audience.

    The thing is, jokes are hardly essential with a girl like Leon. She has been making me laugh since she was born, it seems. Since she could express herself I got a sense that here was a girl who saw the world in a slightly different way, who would watch most things out of the corner of her eye and find them ridiculous. Ridiculous and strange. Out walking on the way to school recently, my wife and Leon found one of Leon’s name labels long detached from whatever bag or lunchbox it had once been fixed to and blowing around in the wind. “That’s strange?” Leon asked, more for confirmation of her reading of it than anything else. And then: “I love it when things are strange.”

    I think my daughter’s presence in my life probably explains why people sometimes tell me that I have written a funny book, or rather that my book has made them laugh despite themselves. I am always delighted to hear this, even if it was not entirely my intention. On the surface my book is about fairly serious things: it’s about my diagnosis, shortly after my daughter’s birth, with multiple sclerosis, a maddeningly unpredictable and frequently brutal neurological disease in which the protective coatings of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are accidentally shredded by the immune system. When you have MS, people start to describe you as a sufferer, and so I assumed that I had written a sufferer’s book.

    If I haven’t, it’s because of Leon’s influence. Because of my fantastic, unprecedented, bewildering, and glorious daughter who has grown up alongside my disease, and whose explosion of life and new ideas and new cognitive abilities has been a vital pleasure to me as my own mental equipment has started to falter. I have wanted to mope theatrically at times, but it is hard to mope when you have a daughter who wants you to show them how to draw the really hard parts of a pony – always the back hooves—and who finds your moping hilarious anyway. Even at its worst, when I am stuck in bed with sore legs or muddled vision—the sheer range of things that MS can do is baffling—I can hear her elsewhere in our house, arguing with a cat or mis-singing the latest chart songs with a wonderful scatterbrained innocence.

    Practically, I would say two things about all this. Firstly, while I worry about my own diminishing agency as an MS patient who is also a father of a young child, Leon makes it wonderfully clear what my priorities are, and she gives me the humour I think you need to hold onto when you have been dropped into the bewildering world of neurology, where simple things are suddenly not so simple, and when the entire landscape around you can occasionally feel like a Victorian stage magician’s set filled with trick staircases and tilted mirrors.

    Secondly, I was talking with another MS patient the other day and we remarked on the fact that public understanding of this disease has progressed over the last few years from pretty much nothing to an appreciation that MS is a very complicated thing. Then, public understanding has sort of halted, and perhaps people are tempted to look away from MS because complicated things often make them feel foolish and powerless and sad.

    Humour, though, or at least a certain amount of easy wit, or a willingness to admit that some awful things do have undeniably funny aspects, might be a good way to make people look again at a thing they have already decided they don’t want to look at. A sense of humour—often, more specifically, my daughter’s sense of humour—has not just helped me understand my new world a little more, it might allow other people in, too.

     

    The post “Wonderfully Clear”: Christian Donlon on MS and parenting appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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