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  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 7:00 pm on 2019/04/02 Permalink
    Tags: a date with murder, caridad piñeiro, , , ha!, , jane gloriana vallanueva, , let me off at the top!, marriage vacation, newt scamander, pauline turner brooks, ron burgundy, , will farrell   

    5 of the Best Books Ever Written by Fictional Characters 

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    Writing books is hard work. Okay, sometimes reading books is hard work, too, but creating a story out of thin air, and adding believable characters, a plot arc, and relatable themes to it is downright impossible, not to mention getting the thing published. That’s why it’s remarkable when someone who isn’t even a real person authors a book. You’re making us living, human writers look bad, you fictional jerks!

    Okay, so fictional people don’t actually write books, or rather, they can’t, on account of how they don’t exist. But publishing a book by a TV, movie, or literary character can work as a marketing tactic, an inside joke for fans of an existing property, or it can add an extra level of fun or irony to a project, blurring the lines between fake and not-fake. Here then are some books that were published under the names of some famous and famously not-real individuals.

    A Date with Murder, by Jessica Fletcher
    Murder, She Wrote has been off the air now for more than two decades, but its 12-year-run was so successful that there’s a nice cottage industry of delectable little mystery novels ostensibly written by Jessica Fletcher. Portrayed by Angela Lansbury, she was a successful author who wrote murder books when she wasn’t solving actual murder mysteries (and getting ideas for more books) in her quaint Maine hometown of Cabot Cove. Apart from the opening credits, viewers rarely saw Jessica Fletcher actually writing, what with the time-consuming nature of sleuthing, but she was apparently hard at work because 50 Murder, She Wrote­­-branded books (which are security blankets that read like long-form episodes of Murder, She Wrote) have been published, written by a handful of talented mystery writers.

    Marriage Vacation, by Pauline Turner Brooks
    At the center of the TV Land show Younger is Broadway legend Sutton Foster as Liza Miller, a woman in her early 40s who pretends to be a woman in her 20s so she can land a job as a PR assistant at a youth-obsessed publishing company. Eventually, she gets the chance to edit Marriage Vacation, a salacious, tell-all by Pauline Turner-Brooks, ex-wife of the company boss, Charles…whom Liza happens to be having a fling with. Liza needing to make a good book that pleases the writer without upsetting her boss raises all kinds of ethical and professional quandaries, and now Younger fans can actually read the long-talked about book, which provides both backstory to several Younger characters as well as many subtle and obvious references to the show, which, amusingly…is based on a novel by Pamela Redmond Satran.

    Snow Falling, by Jane Gloriana Villanueva
    Jane the Virgin is a soap opera or telenovela in the form of a drama-tinged comedy. It’s got a wacky premise: Having never “been” with a gentleman, Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) nonetheless becomes “with child” and decides to raise said child, with her wacky family, romantic life, and career aspirations serving as a backdrop. As the series plays out, Jane, who wants to be a writer, goes to grad school, gets a Master’s in creative writing, lands a job at a publisher, and gets her romance novel, Snow Falling, into bookstores. The text itself is a fictional roman à clef, if you will, as the not-real Jane wrote something that details her own life story, as depicted on Jane the Virgin, only she changes the setting to the early 1990s instead of current times. So who actually wrote this cheeky romance novel? Caridad Piñeiro. She even provides a “blurb” on the cover, recommending Snow Falling to readers: “Jane’s novel is so much fun I wish I’d written it myself!”

    Let Me Off at the Top!, by Ron Burgundy
    Around the time of the release of Anchorman 2 in 2013, the movie’s star and co-writer Will Ferrell took to appearing in public as his boorish, ‘70s newsman character. Part of the promotional shtick was this book, a mock version of the chatty, self-aggrandizing, celebrity memoir, the kind they used to make back when Ron Burgundy was “kind of a big deal.” But unlike Liberace or Elizabeth Taylor delivering only the non-controversial parts of their rises to fame, this real book about a fake person is full of actual weirdness as it gives the backstory to one of film’s great comic characters. You might be one of those people who quotes Anchorman all the time, but did you know that Ron Burgundy collects Spanish broadswords, or that he’s from an Iowa town sullied by the stain of a cult murder?

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Newt Scamander
    Seven huge novels weren’t enough room for J.K. Rowling to build her vast and spectacular “Wizarding World.” In creating an entire alternate Earth where magical beings are alive, well, and dealing with the rise of Voldemort, Rowling provided so many delicious details, down to things like textbooks that Harry, Hermione, and Ron (okay, not Ron, because he was a bad student) read in their Hogwarts classes. In 2001, Rowling made those casual references into actual books for Muggles like you and me. Along with Quidditch Through the Ages, this slim volume is a mini-encyclopedia of magical creatures, which creates another big world inside of Rowling’s already big world, to the point where they made this one into a series of movies about the 1930s-set adventures of its author, ex-Hogwarts student (he was a Hufflepuff) and enchanted game keeper, Newt Scamander.

    What’s your favorite book by a fictional character?

    The post 5 of the Best Books Ever Written by Fictional Characters appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jen Harper 3:00 pm on 2019/03/14 Permalink
    Tags: , girl stop apologizing, , ha!, ,   

    Girl, Stop Apologizing: 15 Insta-worthy Quotes from Rachel Hollis’s New Book 

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    In 2018, she told readers to wash their faces, and now she’s back with another important piece of advice for her legions of fans: Stop apologizing! Author, podcaster, businesswoman and motivational speaker Rachel Hollis wants to get women to overcome their fears, embrace their dreams, and follow their ambitions in both their personal and professional lives with her brand-new book Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals.

    Her follow-up to the bestselling Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be is chock-full of helpful tactical tips and inspirational nuggets of wisdom Hollis has gleaned from her own experiences building a successful enterprise. And she doesn’t just draw from her own know-how;  she even includes some motivational quotes from friends of hers like Elizabeth—”You need less wishbone and more backbone.”—and other luminaries like renowned historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich—”Well-behaved women seldom make history.”—and rapper and Mr. Beyonce himself, Jay-Z—”I’m a hustler, baby.”

    With her blunt, no-nonsense style, Rachel’s words of encouragement occasionally venture into the slightly profane—as Hollis says, “I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.” But for her fans, it’s all part of her charm.

    We rounded up some of the most Instagrammable quotes from Girl, Stop Apologizing, so start scanning your photo archives for some breathtaking landscapes upon which you can superimpose Hollis’s words and start posting! And be sure to order Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals for even more important pearls of wisdom on living your best life.

    1. “Embracing the idea that you can want things for yourself even if nobody else understands the whys behind them is the most freeing and powerful feeling in the world.”

    2. “Talents and skills are like any other living thing—they can’t grow in the dark.”

    3. “There is so much untapped potential inside people who are too afraid to give themselves a chance.”

    4. “[T]he world needs your spark. The world needs your energy. The world needs you to show up for your life and take hold of your potential.”

    5. “A goal is a dream with its work boots on.”

    6. “Stop waiting for someday; someday is a myth.”

    7. “Not having the knowledge makes you teachable, not stupid. Not being in shape makes you moldable, not lazy. Not having the experience just makes you stronger, not ignorant.”

    8. “You are enough. Today. As you are.”

    9. “You guys, mommy guilt is bulls—!”

    10. “OPO, other people’s opinions. You down with it? Because if you are, you’re giving all your power away.”

    11. “When everything is important, nothing is important.”

    12. “Ambition is not a bad thing.”

    13. “Girl, maybe you should get it tattooed on your body, but it’s this simple: go all in.”

    14. “You cannot control the circumstances of your life; you can only control your reaction to them.”

    15. “Who you are is defined by the next decision you make, not the last one.”

    What’s your favorite bit of advice from Rachel Hollis’s new book?

    The post <i>Girl, Stop Apologizing</i>: 15 Insta-worthy Quotes from Rachel Hollis’s New Book appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Brian Boone 3:00 pm on 2019/03/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , ha!, jack sparrow: the coming storm, james kirkwood j.m. barrie, , , peter and wendy, ps your cat is dead, , rob kidd, , the wild things   

    5 Notable Novels That Are Adaptations of Movies and Plays 

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    Movies are magical and wonderful of course, presenting us with eye-popping, realistically-rendered scenarios of adventure, action, romance, and intrigue. But where do the screenwriters behind those movies get their ideas? Well, sometimes they make them up, because writers are wired that way. But frequently, a movie is an adaptation of a work from another medium, like, say, a book, stage play, or TV series.

    Oddly enough, it goes both ways. Some of the most beloved and/or notable novels in the Western literary canon are actually based on pre-existing material. These are some books that were adapted from other media…and not the other way around.

    Peter and Wendy, by J.M. Barrie
    Few childhood stories are as enduringly popular and universally beloved—and well-known—than the saga of Peter Pan. He’s the boy who would never grow up, living on and around Neverland (because he could fly), with London girl Wendy and cantankerous fairy Tinkerbell around to help him defeat nefarious pirate Captain Hook. Peter Pan, or Peter and Wendy as the first book by Barrie is more properly known, is the perfect book to read with your kids (or for kids to read themselves) at bedtime, because it’s got everything a bedtime story needs—pirates, fairies, rebellion, romance, and flying. J.M. Barrie created the Paniverse with the tastes of some children he knew in mind, except he didn’t write it as a novel or collection of stories. The first iteration of Peter Pan was a stage play. While Barrie mentioned baby Peter in his 1902 book The Little White Bird, the permanent-child Pan became the main character in his smash hit 1904 play Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.


    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
    Perhaps the greatest sci-fi saga ever written—and certainly the funniest—it’s hard to believe that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy didn’t initially pour forth from Adams’ witty mind into prose-filled pages. There’s just so much exposition, omniscient narration, and wry comment as the reader plows through the adventures of Arthur Dent, forced to traipse around the known universe after the Earth is destroyed, along with his best friend/spaceman Ford Prefect, unhinged galaxy president Zaphoid Beeblebrox, sad robot Marvin the Paranoid Android, and all manner of exceptionally bureaucratic and hostile creatures from other words. While THGTHG has been a British TV show, a video game, and a feature film in addition to a novel series, the first time the world experienced this unique comic universe was as a radio play, broadcast on BBC 4 in 1978.

    The Wild Things, by Dave Eggers
    In 2009, the classic children’s book, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, finally got the big-screen adaptation it deserved after more than 45 years in print as one of the most memorably illustrated and written kid titles of all time. But like other slim children’s books turned long feature films (The Cat in the Hat, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day), screenwriters had to significantly bulk up the story’s plot, themes, and characters to fill in all that extra time. The result was not a bright and happy kids movie, but a sad, melancholy story for adults about the pain of growing up and being different. It so wildly veered from Sendak’s source material that co-screenwriter Dave Eggers, known for genre-defying works like A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, adapted the screenplay into a pensive, downbeat novel called The Wild Things.

    Jack Sparrow: The Coming Storm, by Rob Kidd
    Here’s the rare case in which a book series was based on a movie…which in turn was based on an amusement park ride. Back in 2003, Disney took a chance when it made a pirate movie—the form hadn’t been popular for decades—and gave it a title taken from one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland, Pirates of the Carribbean. Thanks to Johnny Depp’s bonkers portrayal of unrepentant antihero pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, the film is now a five-film strong, billions-earning blockbuster juggernaut. People love Jack Sparrow, and Disney, which has a books division, gave the people what they want, or rather the young readers, with a prequel series of adventure novels about a not-yet-captain Jack Sparrow, a teenage adventurer engaging in thrilling adventures on the high seas.

    PS Your Cat is Dead, by James Kirkwood
    Hitting shelves in 1972, P.S. Your Cat is Dead was pretty provocative for the time, what with its plot points about depressed actor Jimmy who, coming across a burglar in his not-great apartment, beats him within an inch of his life and then ties him up…before befriending him, and then falling in love with him. Then the two sell some drugs and live happily ever. (Oh, and also—spoiler alert—Jimmy’s cat dies.) Kirkwood’s darkly comic novel is so brash and zany, and takes place in so few locations, that of course it was based on a play, although it didn’t see broad success until it was staged after the novel version caused a stir.

    What is your favorite novel that was actually an adaptation of a play?

    The post 5 Notable Novels That Are Adaptations of Movies and Plays appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 4:00 pm on 2018/09/13 Permalink
    Tags: choose your own disaster, choose your own misery: dating, dana schwartz, flip to page 103, ha!, jeff burke, jill gagnon, , , mike macdonald, my lady's choosing, ryan north, super giant monster time!, to be or not to be   

    Go Your Own Way With These 5 Modern-Day Takes on Choose Your Own Adventure Books 

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    R.A. Montgomery’s Choose Your Own Adventure books were an ever-present part of childhood for ‘80s and ‘90s kids. Popular at both school libraries and book fairs, they were a game as much as they were a book, more accurately described as “interactive fiction”—taking the infinite possibilities idea of video games and applying it to text. A CYOA book wasn’t just one story, or a collection of stories—it was the same story told a bunch of different ways, like Rashomon for kids, but with way more aliens, rainforest escapes, and fringe scientists. The stakes were always nice and high, too—if your character died (or rather when your character died) you could just go back to the last breaking-off point at try again.

    A generation or two of kids inhaled Choose Your Own Adventure books, and they made a huge impression on readers, some of whom grew up to be writers. And those writers have found ways to imitate, parody, pay homage to, and expand the ideas of interactive fiction not to mention second-person fiction.

    If you want to read about a CYOA­­­-style book about grown-up life…SCROLL DOWN.

    Choose Your Own Misery: Dating, by Mike MacDonald and Jilly Gagnon
    MacDonald and Gagnon have struck on a brilliant idea, juxtaposing the breathless tone and breakneck speed employed by Choose Your Own Adventure books with painfully mundane and realistic adult situations. Sure, they’re still harrowing and terrible, just not spelunking in haunted caves or messing with malfunctioning time machines or whatever. In Choose Your Own Misery: The Office, the authors tasked readers with deciding whether or not to actually deliver their big presentation…or goof around on the Internet (hi!). (You know, work stuff.) Next up came The Holidays, which offers its own aggravating choices, like spending the festive season with your terrible family…or your significant other’s terrible family. Completing the trilogy is a book about things more terrifying than any spooky pirate ship or alien abduction scenario a CYOA could produce: first dates, mingling at parties, and connecting to another person in some small way. Ah, love!

    To go on a Shakespearen adventure…KEEP READING.

    To Be or Not to Be, by Ryan North
    The author subtitled this the copyright-skirting “A Chooseable-Path Adventure,” but we all know what this is. It’s also incredibly ambitious—the dude is rewriting Shakespeare, or at least he’s making you do it, putting into the reader’s hands all the raw material of the greatest work of English drama, jostling it all around, and seeing what happens if the reader can make the Prince of Denmark’s bad decisions for him. Finally, you can make Hamlet get to it while the getting is good and kill his throne-usurping uncle right away, and move on. Or you can give Ophelia, a fascinating character robbed of a good storyline, the good storyline she deserves. There are about 100 possible endings in all, plus it’s illustrated and there are puzzles. It’s everything a play should be!

    If you want to pursue the aliens…READ THE NEXT ENTRY.

    Super Giant Monster Time!by Jeff Burk
    And here we have a Choose Your Own Adventure novel that is more homage (peep that perfect cover) and continuation of the form than a transplanting of its properties. It reads exactly like an old school Choose Your Own Adventure classic, especially since the plot concerns giant alien monsters from space that are attacking your city. However, there are some adults-only, ironic flourishes, such as how the aliens’ ray guns turn people into mohawked punk rockers, as well as barroom fights, lots of swearing, and violence. It’s a kids’ book for adults is what it is.

    For a classy British adventure…MOVE ON DOWN.

    My Lady’s Choosing, by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
    There’s this whole cultural subgenre of Jane Austen fantasy—stories about people who long to live inside a Jane Austen novel (Shannon Hale’s Austenland) or magically get to do that (the British miniseries Lost in Austen). Who wouldn’t want to bicker and then marry Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and enjoy all those Regency-era fancy parties? The most successful and ephemeral entry in this genre: My Lady’s Choosing, because it’s written in the second person—“you” are literarily there, dear reader, making the decisions for a “plucky but penniless” young woman as she tries to find love with the prickly Sir Benedict, an affectionate faux Darcy. It’s a wonderful use of the Choose Your Own Adventure Format while also paying respect to Austen. This means that yes, there’s lots of witty back-and-forthing, but depending on the decisions you make, may also encounter a libertine Scotsman or go on a pirate adventure.

    If you wish to follow the clever humorist…READ ON.

    Choose Your Own Disaster, by Dana Schwartz
    Schwartz has done a lot of living, or she’s lived so much of her life with eyes wide open and with the Nora Ephron dictum that “everything is copy” in mind, that she’s already written a memoir by her mid-20s. This is an innovative autobiography in more than one way. First of all, life is rarely linear, but books that tell life stories are—but not this one. A read of Choose Your Own Disaster is all jumbled up, out of order, episodic, and fragmented—on account of how life is like that. It’s also interspersed with Internet-style personality quizzes…the answers of which direct readers to choose different paths—which are funny, self-deprecating stories from Schwartz’s life. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel where author, reader, and plot all get rolled up into each other’s business.

    What modern-day Choose Your Own Adventure iteration are you excited about?

    The post Go Your Own Way With These 5 Modern-Day Takes on <i>Choose Your Own Adventure</i> Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Sarah Skilton 2:00 pm on 2018/09/07 Permalink
    Tags: back in the saddle, ha!, , ,   

    6 Reasons Andrew Shaffer’s Hope Never Dies Is the Perfect Buddy Comedy 

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    If you’ve ever chuckled at an Obama/Biden meme, in which Joe plays a prank and Barack rolls his eyes affectionately, Andrew Shaffer’s Hope Never Dies—one part mystery, one part fanfic—is for you. When his favorite Amtrak conductor dies and all evidence points to murder, the former Veep can’t resist launching his own investigation. After all, life has gotten a bit dull since vacating his post in D.C., and he’s eager to be useful again, especially if that means teaming up with his partner-in-service and BFF, the 44th President of the United States. A perfect buddy comedy ensues. Here are six reasons why we love it.

    1. It’s fast-paced with a concise narrative voice
    Shaffer knew to keep things short and sweet. Chapters range from one to five pages, and the yarn is narrated by Biden himself, using semi-hardboiled prose: “I glanced over my shoulder, but no one was there. Barack had disappeared into the inky darkness, same as he’d come, leaving nothing behind but the stale smell of smoke.” (Don’t worry: with one exception, Obama sticks to Nicorette gum.) 

    2. The dialogue is gold
    Biden, re: the machinations of an apparent femme fatale: “Son of a buttermilk biscuit, we got bamboozled!” Obama, in response to whether he’ll run for any type of office again: “Michelle would kill me in my sleep. She said she’d smother me with a pillow. Even showed me which one she’d use.” 

    3. Its characters’ behavior is very on brand.
    Obama is “cool as cucumber lotion” in tense situations, but always willing to step into the fray when needed, as when Joe’s being held at gunpoint by a biker gang. Joe, who swaps his bomber jacket and aviator sunglasses for a KISS MY BASS hat as a “disguise,” is impulsive and hotheaded, eager to go with his gut, as when he storms the hideout of the aforementioned biker gang. Together they’re unstoppable. 

    4. A genuine relationship shines through
    The former Veep and ex-President are best friends and it shows, even if they’re going through a rough patch right now. There’s nothing either wouldn’t do for the other, even if they bicker like brothers. Obama schools Biden on the flowers he chose for Jill (“The lily is a funeral flower. If you were going for romantic, you should have gone for roses”) and Biden accuses Obama of ditching their true-blue friendship to go windsurfing with celebrities (cough, Richard Branson). Their initial meetup sets the tone: “I offered a handshake. Barack turned it into a fist bump. It was a greeting I’d never been able to master, but I gave it my best shot. Barack smirked. Just like old times.”

    5. Funny situations abound
    When a fast-food clerk makes a casual remark about global warming, Barack can’t resist explaining the finer points of it to her, and his passion for the topic wins her over. He and his secret service agent, healthy eaters both, are horrified by what Joe orders at a diner (a “hot and bothered” plate of hash browns, covered with “cheese, onion, diced ham, and jalapeno.”) To pass the time inside a particularly rancid no-tell motel, Biden and Obama launch into a game of “POTUS, SCOTUS, or FLOTUS,” in which one of them names three women, and the other responds with the role he’d prefer for her. (Prior to participating, Obama acknowledges it’s a little demeaning to women, and wonders if Strom Thurmond came up with it.)

    6. It’s absurd but brilliant
    While picturing the events of the story, you may occasionally think, “This is CRAZY.” But is it? I mean, who could have predicted what would happen once this duo left office? Is this any crazier than what has actually occurred since 2016? My advice is to embrace the setup, because if you’re willing to suspend disbelief, it’s sort of plausible. I like to think so, anyway.

    The post 6 Reasons Andrew Shaffer’s <i>Hope Never Dies</i> Is the Perfect Buddy Comedy appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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