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  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2017/03/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , hotly anticipated, , ,   

    5 Reasons We Can’t Wait to Read Alec Baldwin’s Memoir Nevertheless 

    Eventually, everyone famous writes a memoir, in part because famous people do tend to lead interesting lives, and in part because publishers know those memoirs will sell because readers want the inside scoop on being famous. The entertainment value of these memoirs varies widely, of course, from rote tellings to revealing journeys into the lives and minds of  flat-out hilarious, fascinating people.

    Alec Baldwin’s forthcoming memoir, Nevertheless, promises to be among the latter. In fact, it has been climbing up our “Can’t Wait to Read” lists for months now. With its April 4 release just around the corner, here’s why we’re counting down the days till we can get the book in our hands.

    The Zeitgeist
    Baldwin has been part of the entertainment landscape for decades now—he’s one of the most recognizable actors in the world, with of the most recognizable voices in the world, alongside an acting resume a mile long. From a humble childhood on Long Island he went on to soap operas, was at one time one of the hottest leading men in movies, and then became a surprise candidate for Funniest Man Alive. He resurfaced as one of pop culture’s most visible figures with his slaying impersonation of President Trump on Saturday Night Live, which just reminds us how funny the man is—a brand of funny we expect will be all over his memoir.

    The Stories
    The thing about Alec Baldwin? He has worked with everybody. His IMDB page looks like a Who’s Who of Hollywood, which means he has got a treasure trove of gossip and tales of adventure to share. Even the title of his memoir, Nevertheless, stems from a joke Michael Gambon (whom you might know as the second Dumbledore from the Harry Potter films, among many other roles) told Baldwin when they were working on the TV movie Path to War together. Considering Baldwin is one of the best talk-show guests of all time, owing in part to his endless font of intimate insider trivia, we fully expect to read some great tales out of school.

    The Many Facets of Baldwin
    Put bluntly, Alec Baldwin is fascinating. When he first became a star it was easy to dismiss him as a very pretty man with a great voice, but over time it has become clear what a layered performer he is. He initially intended to go into politics, and still occasionally hints at a political run (which seems more viable than ever these days). He has had struggles with drugs and alcohol and has admitted that sobriety is challenging to him. He’s outspoken and has had plenty of public embarrassments stemming from his temper and the occasional ill-advised public comment. Nevertheless promises to dig into his family dramas—and considering his brothers are also actors, that ought to be really, really interesting.

    He’s Surprising—and a Surprisingly Good Writer
    Nevertheless isn’t Baldwin’s first book—that would be 2008’s A Promise to Ourselves, which topped the bestseller lists. That book was a surprise: instead of a wide-ranging memoir or something light and designed to move units, it focused on Baldwin’s experiences in his bitter divorce, and his thoughts on how the process could be improved. He admitted to many mistakes during the process, and shared the moments in which he chose to retreat instead of fight because he thought it best for his kids. The book proved Baldwin isn’t predictable, so who knows what he’s going to reveal or what surprisingly deep point he’s going to make?

    He’s Hilarious
    Actors often seem wittier and smarter than they are because they’re always reading someone else’s dialogue—but Baldwin’s the real deal, hilarious and smart. He’s lived a lot in his 58 years, and he seems to be self-aware about it, the two main requirements for an excellent memoir—in fact, the only requirements. We’re adding this one to the top of our April reading list.

    The post 5 Reasons We Can’t Wait to Read Alec Baldwin’s Memoir Nevertheless appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Shank 8:25 pm on 2017/01/06 Permalink
    Tags: anna pitoniak, bethany ball, , emily ruskovich, , , firsts, hotly anticipated, kayla raye whitaker, lisa ko, , weike wang   

    6 Superb Debut Novels to Read in 2017 

    The new year brings fresh opportunity for literary discovery in the form of a wave of debut novels. Here are six promising first efforts to look out for, including the story of the raucous friendship between two female cartoonists, a tale of a Chinese immigrant’s son forced into a new identity, and a coming of age novel about a young chemist who discovers a career in science might not offer her a path to happiness.

    Idaho, by Emily Ruskovich (January 3)
    Fans of Western American literature have been anticipating Emily Ruskovich’s debut since her story “Owl” appeared in the 2015 O. Henry Award anthology. Idaho spans 50 years in the story of Ann, a woman living in rural Idaho with her husband, Wade, who is declining due to early onset dementia. Ann is determined to uncover the truth about Wade’s first wife Jenny, in prison for the murder of their daughter. Idaho is a Barnes & Noble Spring 2017 Discover Great New Writers selection.

    The Futures, by Anna Pitoniak (January 17)
    Anna Pitoniak sets her debut novel of young lovers coming to terms with making a living in the big, bad city in 2008 New York, during the financial crash that upended many well-laid plans. Evan Peck and Julia Edwards have been together since their freshman year at Yale, cementing a relationship they believe can help them take on the world. But when they graduate and move to New York, Evan takes a high-pressure job as a hedge fund associate, and Julia struggles to find meaningful work. Get out some popcorn and turn the pages of this debut to see how the tension generated by Evan and Julia’s divergent fates tears at their romance.

    The Animators, by Kayla Raye Whitaker (January 31)
    Terrific novels about complicated friendships among female artists might be a trend, with Dana Spiotta’s Innocents and Others, Clarie Messud’s The Woman Upstairs, and Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings all riveting readers in recent years. Now comes Kayla Raye Whitaker’s debut, The Animators, about two talented female cartoonists with distinctly different personalities who forge a bond in college and make a splash with their debut film, then must navigate the fallout of success together. The book, another Spring 2017 Discover Great New Writers selection, promises an energetic ride through a tumultuous friendship.

    What to Do About the Solomons, by Bethany Ball (April 4)
    Bethany Ball’s debut about an international family in turmoil will hit bookstores this spring. The story kicks off when authorities raid the Los Angeles home of Marc Solomon, formerly an Israeli navy commando who now faces accusations of money laundering. The rest of the Solomon family, living in a kibbutz in the Jordan River Valley, react to the unfolding scandal in different ways, as their own perspectives and secrets are revealed.

    The Leavers, by Lisa Ko (May 2)
    Lisa Ko’s debut novel The Leavers already has earned an impressive seal of approval: Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. One day, 11-year-old Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, heads to her job at a nail salon in the Bronx and never comes back. Two white college professors eventually adopt Deming, move him to upstate New York, and rename him Daniel Wilkinson. But Deming never forgets his heritage or his mother as he searches for answers about the mystery of her disappearance.

    Chemistry, by Weike Wang (May 23)
    Those of us who relish novels that explore the inner lives of scientists can’t wait to read Weike Wang’s debut about a female scientist whose chemistry research fails, leading her to question her life direction. The unnamed narrator’s Chinese parents expect continued excellence from her, and her long-term boyfriend whose research is going swimmingly is ready to marry her, but the narrator isn’t sure she can live up to their expectations. Wang knows her stuff—she graduated from Harvard with degrees in chemistry and public health, before switching her focus to writing. But you don’t have to take my word for it: National Book Award winner Ha Jin praised Chemistry as “a genuine piece of literature: wise, humorous, and moving.”

    The post 6 Superb Debut Novels to Read in 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 8:00 pm on 2016/12/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , hotly anticipated, , psychological thrillers, suspense, ,   

    5 Reasons We Can’t Wait to Read The Girl on the Train Author Paula Hawkins’ Next Book 

    If you needed one more reason to fervently await spring fever, here you go: Paula Hawkins just announced that her follow-up to smash hit thriller The Girl on the Train will hit shelves May 2 of next year. Titled Into the Water, this forthcoming novel of psychological suspense is set in a small riverside town where the bodies of a woman and a teen girl are discovered a few days apart. The investigation that follows begins to uncover a complex connection between the two murders, with, we assume, a whole new pack of the kind of delicious twists and turns that made Girl an ongoing literary phenomenon.

    The announcement has us giddy with anticipation, and not just because it’s confirmation Hawkins is sticking with the twisty thriller tales we love. Here are five reasons we just drew a big red heart around May 2 on our calendars.

    The Slipperiness of Truth
    One of the most brilliant aspects of The Girl on the Train was the way Hawkins played with perception in a variety of ways. Rachel’s alcoholism made her an unreliable narrator to begin with, but also degraded her ability to see things clearly even in the moment. This not only made the surprises of the plot more powerful, but gave the book a depth many thrillers lack. Based on the descriptions of Into the Water, Hawkins is exploring similar themes; the story concerns “family secrets and ‛the slipperiness of truth.'” Her U.S. editor says the book will “interrogate the deceitfulness of memory,” which is a fascinating extension of the themes that made Girl sooooo good.

    There’s Gonna be Witchcraft
    When most of us think witch hunts and trials, we think Salem and America. But Scotland saw its own rash of women being accused of witchcraft, and in an interview last year Hawkins said, “I wanted there to be something about women being accused of witchcraft” in her next novel. That works perfectly with those themes of unreliable memory and slippery truth and adds a macabre element of hysteria and creepiness that makes us even more excited. (The only thing that could make us more excited about the witch angle is if Hawkins announced a starring character named Black Philip.)

    The Focus on Women
    Hawkins has taken a genre often dominated by men and focused it on women—flawed, complicated women. In The Girl on the Train, Rachel is weak, crippled by her addiction and making awful decisions based on loneliness and obsession. She’s also the victim of psychological abuse, and the story is as much about her slowly crawling out of the hell created for her—by men—as it is the mystery. Hawkins doesn’t simply write the so-called “strong female character,” but rather writes about women who feel real, complex, warm-blooded people with problems, frailties, and a difficult relationship with the modern world. We frankly can’t wait to meet the females Hawkins has created for us in Into the Water.

    Those Twists, Tho
    All right, let’s be honest: Hawkins is a modern master of the twisty plot. When The Girl on the Train dropped it was one of those books your friends pushed into your hands, telling you you simply must read this. The book has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide because it surprised everyone who read it. Even if you went in with your eyes wide open, seeking clues and trying to outsmart Hawkins, chances are pretty good she shocked you at least once or twice. We’re absolutely thrilled to repeat that experience, and since no one does the twists like Hawkins, no other novel can get us quite as excited as Into the Water.

    The Feels
    Finally, our biggest reason for being excited about a new book from Paula Hawkins is the emotional power of her writing. In a lot of thrillers and mystery stories, the victims exist mainly to kick the story into motion. They’re a spur for an avenging detective, or a toys for a horrifying villain. In Girl Hawkins told a story in which every single character had a life, a back story, ambitions and real depth. It’s a rare writer who can spin a great mystery that also tells more than one story that kind of shatters you. Hawkins is that writer, and as a result we’re buying every book she writes forever.

    In other words, if Into the Water is even half as good as The Girl on the Train, we’re in. Go to your boss and schedule your reading vacation days for next May right now—you’re going to need them.

    The post 5 Reasons We Can’t Wait to Read The Girl on the Train Author Paula Hawkins’ Next Book appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 7:07 pm on 2016/05/09 Permalink
    Tags: big news for muggles, , , , hotly anticipated,   

    Pre-Order Your Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Script Book Today! 

    By now, you’ve heard the news: Harry Potter’s story is getting an eighth chapter, in the form of play and script book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! This is what Potter fans have been waiting for since closing the book on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows seven years ago. Way back then, J.K. Rowling left the Weasley-Potters (Harry and Ginny) and the Granger-Weasleys (Ron and Hermione) in a very good place: dropping their kids off at the Hogwarts Express for their first year. The grownups were safe, the kids were Hogwarts-bound, and all was well.

    Until now, thank goodness.

    According to the brief and tantalizing synopsis of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, set 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, the Boy Who Lived is now a working stiff, pulling long hours at the Ministry of Magic and (presumably) coming home to his lovely, Quidditch correspondent wife. Meanwhile, oldest son Albus Severus Potter is struggling to live up to his name—or, perhaps, to duck the responsibility it comes with. Encroaching darkness is promised, as are links to Harry’s complicated, marvelous past, and, of course, lots and lots of magic for all—particulalry the lucky Muggles who managed to get tickets to the London-based production. (Start working on your Apparition skills now, American No-maj.)

    The Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script book hits bookstores everywhere on July 31, the day after the play’s premiere. For the first time since 2009, Potter fans around the world will get to experience what it feels like to read a book thousands (millions?) of other people are reading at the same time—to, essentially, have a massive book club with a fandom that has members of every age, in every country. Few things unite readers in this crazy world the way Potter does, and the arrival of an eighth chapter of his story is cause for massive celebration.

    Pre-order your copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child today!

  • BN Editors 1:30 pm on 2016/04/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , hotly anticipated, ,   

    J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay Is Coming on November 19 

    Major news for Harry Potter lovers (aka everyone): Scholastic has just announced that it’s publishing the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on November 19, the day after the movie’s release. And every good Potter fan knows the drill: pre-order your copy now, so you can get to reading right after you’ve seen and loved the movie.

    The movie adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them stars Eddie Redmayne as intrepid magizoologist (and Hogwarts evictee!) Newt Scamander. On a research trip spent studying magical creatures around the world, Scamander runs into trouble when some of his beasts escape into the “No-maj” (that’s American for “Muggle”) world of New York City. Rowling is making her screenwriting debut with this ninth silver-screen entry into the Potter world—so you know it has to be good.

    2016 is shaping up to be the year of Harry Potter. From this summer’s release of the script book for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, to Rowling’s new Potter stories on Pottermore, to the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets coming October 4, hungry fans have numerous reasons to escape, yet again, into the magical universe of the Boy Who Lived.

    Does all this amazing news from the Potterverse seem too good to be true? We’re not complaining. And while all our dreams are coming true, we might as well request our very own Nimbus 2000, thanks very much!

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits shelves November 19, and is available for pre-order now.

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