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  • Ross Johnson 8:00 pm on 2017/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , top picks   

    The Best Bios & Memoirs of November 2017 

    Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose, by Joe Biden
    The former vice president’s new memoir, his first since before entering the White House, covers an extraordinary and difficult year in the life of Biden’s family: the twelve months surrounding the decline and death of his son, Beau, from a malignant brain tumor in 2015. The book promises a portrait of life in and out of the White House during a year of political challenges and world travel, all while facing the loss of a son and navigating family responsibilities.

    Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit, by Chris Matthews
    Following up his JFK biography, MSNBC anchor Matthews turns his eye on Bobby, whose impact on the 1960s was almost as great as his brother’s. In Matthews’ extensively researched book, it becomes clear that Bobby had the potential to go even further than Jack, having eschewed becoming a naval officer in favor of a joining on as a common sailor. Through that experience, he developed the skills that Matthews suggests lead him to connect with voters from all walks of life.

    Bannon: Always the Rebel, by Keith Koffler
    In 2017, there’s probably no more impactful political operative than former White House Chief Strategist Bannon. Not only did he help engineer Donald Trump’s upset victory, he was one of the key voices guiding the administration over much of its first year. Whether you feel that’s very good or very bad thing, there’s no question the man has had a stunning impact on American life. Bannon gave pundit Keith Koffler hours of exclusive insider access with which he’s crafted a portrait of the controversial and consequential figure’s life and ideas.

    Avedon: Something Personal, by Norma Stevens and Steven M. L. Aronson
    Over the course of a 60-year career, Richard Avedon became the worlds most famous fashion and portrait photographer. In all that time, he cultivated a carefully controlled image and an impenetrable mystique. This new biography, co-written by his longtime business partner and friend, provides an intimate portrait of the man and his studio. The book also includes interviews and reminiscences from many of the famous faces who Avedon photographed.

    Growing Up Fisher: Musings, Memories, and Misadventures, by Joely Fisher
    The multi-talented actor/singer/director Joely Fisher has an incredible Hollywood pedigree: daughter of Eddie Fisher and Connie Stevens,  next-door neighbor to Debbie Reynolds and her half-siblings, Carrie and Todd, she’s also managed an impressive career and a 20-plus-year marriage in a town where such things just don’t happen. In her new memoir, she reflects on her unconventional upbringing, her wide-ranging career, and the loss of her friend, sister, and mentor Carrie.

    President McKinley: Architect of the American Century, by Robert W. Merry
    Often overshadowed by the president who succeeded him, Theodore Roosevelt, there’s very little that’s conventionally sexy about the career of the 25th U.S. president. Robert W. Merry makes the strong case that there’s much more to the life story of this two-term executive than debates over the gold standard and a dramatic and prolonged assassination. The last president to have served in the Civil War, McKinley’s reconfiguration of American’s global relationships lead us away from colonialism into a more modern form of power, setting the stage for the entire 20th century.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life, by Robert Dallek
    Dallek’s career bona fides, dating back over 50 years, make him one of our indispensable presidential historians. Here he turns his eye on the second President Roosevelt, a figure whose legacy remains as relevant as ever. Dallek focuses on the things that make him so consequential: his ability to build consensus, and his willingness to put the presidency at the center of America’s political life. As an incredibly wealthy man who became a champion of the poor, Roosevelt was a study in contrasts with lessons that Dallek explores in this biography.

    Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror, by Victor Sebestyen
    The history of the early 20th century feels very present a century on, and it’s impossible to understand modern Russia with a grasp of the people and events surrounding the fall of the Empire and the rise of the Soviet Union. Central to that story is Lenin, whose life story is told here in the first major English-language biography in decades, drawing on new documents and papers only recently made available.

    A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures, by Ben Bradlee
    During Bradlee’s tenure as executive editor at The Washington Post, the newspaper won eighteen Pulitzer prizes, evolving under his leadership into an essential source of news and investigative journalism. His classic memoir, reissued with a new foreword by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, covers the scope of his career, including the Watergate stories and the battles over the Pentagon Papers.

    Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs, by Douglas Smith
    The life and death of Russian mystic, healer, and political consigliere Grigori Rasputin is shrouded in mystery and legend, and the true story has been incredibly hard to suss out. Douglas Smith gives it a go in this new biography, combining thorough new scholarship with documents that have long been forgotten or ignored. It’s not only the fascinating story of a pivotal and unique figure, but of the final days of imperial Russia.

    Whose story most intrigues you?

    The post The Best Bios & Memoirs of November 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2017/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , top picks   

    The Best History Books of November 2017 

    Obama: An Intimate Portrait, by Pete Souza
    You’ll never get a more intimate glimpse of the Obama White House. In more than 300 photos taken by Chief Official White House Photographer Souza, we see our 44th President in moments of relaxed intimacy as well as stressful emergency. Each photo is accompanied by explanatory captions that give just enough background to make them meaningful—and often powerful. You don’t have to be a fan of Obama’s policies or politics to find this deep dive into life in the White House completely absorbing. Obama’s administration was historic simply by its existence, and this beautifully-designed collection of stunning photos offers a powerful record of an era.

    What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism, by Dan Rather
    These days, Dan Rather is remembered as a steady and intelligent force in journalism at a time when “steady” and “intelligent” seem like too much to hope for. In this collection of essays, Rather brings gravitas to the subject of patriotism, a term and concept he argues is frequently, often willfully misunderstood, or even twisted into something perverse. Rather takes a quiet approach, exploring the importance of arts, the press, and service to your country in essays that are deeply felt and smartly written. The end result is a book thatwill prompt conversations about what it means to be a patriot in modern-day America.

    Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics, by Lawrence O’Donnell
    MSNBC’s O’Donnell makes a persuasive argument that our modern-day political morass of our politics can be traced firmly back to 1968, the year Nixon was elected to his first term. O’Donnell examines all the dominoes, beginning with Eugene McCarthy’s decision to run against Lyndon Johnson, which he argues spurred Johnson to make the unusual decision not to seek a second term, setting in motion a series of events that ended with Nixon triumphant and the liberal wing of the Republican Party extinguished. O’Donnell backs up his writing with in-depth research and detailed sources, making this the sort of history book that illuminates much more than just a single event.

    Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, by Donna Brazile
    Brazile is a divisive figure, but one thing is certain: when the Democratic National Committee was hacked during the 2016 presidential election and chaos threatened to swallow the party, she was in the room. Brazile now offers an insider’s account of that upheaval, and makes it clear that whatever you think happened, the reality was much worse. She paints a picture of a party in disarray, already boiling with in-fighting and scandal when the Russian-led efforts to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump hit. Brazile argues that covering up the events or pretending things are fine won’t help anyone, and sets out to do her part by offering an intriguing warts-and-all account of what happened as she understands it.

    Hellfire Boys: The Birth of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service and the Race for the World’s Deadliest Weapons, by Theo Emery
    World War I was a redefining conflict in many ways, not least of which was the demonstration of how scientific advancement and technological innovation could make the horrors of war that much more horrifying. Emery considers an obscure element of the first World War: the scramble the United States undertook to gear up its poison gas capabilities. The U.S. had a very small and ill-equipped military machine when war was declared in 1917, and the combination of patriotic fervor and can-do spirit that produced a humming poison gas infrastructure in a very short time is both haunting and terrifying—and new ground even for seasoned World War I buffs.

    The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture, by Brian Dear
    If you think the internet and web culture started in the 1990s with Netscape and AOL, you’re missing a whole lot of history. Some of it is widely-known, but some of it remains more or less untold. That’s the case with the teaching platform PLATO, invented in the 1960s and used at the University of Illinois. Via phone lines and a central server, PLATO was more or less a small, self-contained internet of sorts, and had a huge role in the development of hacker culture, as students learned how to use and misuse the system for their own entertainment and education. A fascinating look at a moment in time that seems impossibly ahead of the curve, considering it took place decades before the internet arrived on home computers.

    Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom, by Russell Shorto
    Shorto takes a refreshingly personal approach to familiar history, examining six figures from Revolutionary times (some, like George Washington, quite famous; others, more obscure), weaving their personal stories together. The result is an intimate story that explains the worldview of people for whom the concept of equality and personal freedom was new and somewhat confusing. Shorto treats each of his chosen figures as fully-formed people, even bringing a new intimacy and some surprising revelations to Washington, a historical figure too often treated as nearly inhuman in his nobility and perfection of motive. It’s important to be reminded that the world of 1776 was much different than today, and many of the things we now take as self-evident had to be explained and sold to people of the times.

    All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor’s Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor, by Donald Stratton with Ken Gire
    The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor occurred 75 years ago, and Donald Stratton was there, serving on the U.S.S. Arizona. This riveting firsthand account of the attack begins long before it, with Stratton’s childhood, offering a fascinating glimpse into the mindset of the men who joined the service before the war—and how it changed in the wake of the attack. With corroboration and additional research from Gire, Stratton offers an informative and gripping account of an event that shaped America, and continues to affect our nation’s military, politics, and social structures.

    Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission, by Bret Baier with Catherine Whitney
    Just about everyone is familiar with Eisenhower’s farewell address, in which he warned about the rising influence of the “military-industrial complex.” Baier and Whitney explore the final days of Eisenhower’s administration as he prepared to turn power over to the young John F. Kennedy, cognizant that Kennedy had, in part, leveraged the public’s fear of the Soviet Union in order to win the election. The time for a thorough reexamination of Eisenhower’s presidency in these telling final weeks is long overdue; any student of politics seeking insight into 2017’s transfer of power will benefit from reading this book.

    Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink, by Anthony McCarten
    McCarten, whose book is the basis of the new film about Winston Churchill starring Gary Oldman, traces the development of the iconic British Prime Minister over the course of his lengthy career. Before World War II Churchill was in the political wilderness, considered something of a bombastic failure, but the war brought him back in, and he rose to the occasion as have few other figures in history. McCarten offers up the eyebrow-raising theory that Churchill was seriously considering making a peace accord with Hitler before ultimately deciding peace was impossible, and his contrasting analysis of Churchill and Hitler’s rhetorical styles is fascinating.

    The post The Best History Books of November 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2017/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , american drifter, , , , bonfire, boyd morrison, chad michael murray, , , dean koontz, end game, every breath you take, , heather the totality, , krysten ritter, , , matthew weiner, stephen coonts, the armageddon file, , the people vs. alex cross, the whispering room, , top picks, typhoon fury   

    The Best New Thrillers of November 2017 

    November seems like a cozy month. The leaves turn, tea comes back in a big way, the nights get chilly and the holidays are just around the corner. That just means you need thrillers more than ever, to keep complacency at bay—because a few pretty leaves and some pumpkin spice treats don’t change the fact that the world is an exciting place. These books will serve to remind you just how exciting—while offering hours of entertainment and so much heart-pounding adventure you might not need that hot tea to stay warm after all.

    The People vs. Alex Cross, by James Patterson
    Alex Cross stands accused of murdering followers of Gary Soneji. Suspended from the police force, the evidence looks very bad, and Cross has gone from hero to villain as he’s held up as a prime example of a police force gone turned rogue. Even his own friends and family begin to doubt his version of events as the evidence mounts against him. Despite his troubles, when his old partner John Sampson calls him for help investigating a gruesome video connected to the disappearance of several young girls, Cross can’t refuse, and they begin an illegal investigation that leads them into the darkest shadows of the Internet. As his trial seems to get worse and worse, Cross can’t abandon this case until he’s caught the monster at the other end of it—even if it costs him his career, and possibly his life.

    End Game, by David Baldacci
    Baldacci’s fifth Will Robie novel flips the script a bit on his competent, deadly characters. When Will Robie and Jessica Reel’s legendary handler, Blue Man, goes missing after taking a rare vacation to go fly-fishing in a rural area of Colorado, the two deadly assassins are dispatched to investigate. They find themselves in the town of Grand, a festering place of economic decline, crime, drug wars—and a growing population of militia-style groups. They also find an inadequate police force unable to cope. They quickly realize there’s more going on in Grand than meets the eye, and by the time they realize that even they, two of the most dangerous people in the world, are out-gunned and surrounded it might be too late.

    The Midnight Line, by Lee Child
    Jack Reacher is once again stepping off a bus in a small town in the middle of nowhere, this time in Wisconsin. Stretching his legs, Reacher sees a West Point ring in a pawn shop window and is moved to find out what would make someone sell something so difficult to earn. His quest for the ring owner’s identity leads Reacher to cross several state lines as he assembles a story of service in Afghanistan, opioid addiction, and a huge criminal organization that Reacher, once he’s aware of it, has no choice but to take on. He manages to acquire an ally, however, in the form of the cadet’s brother, a former FBI agent-turned private detective, who’s one of those rare people Reacher feels he can count on, if only for a while. Along the way Reacher traces corporate complicity in the opioid crisis and the desperation that drives people to make bad decisions—all while dishing out violence the way only Jack Reacher can manage.

    Typhoon Fury, by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
    The 12th Oregon Files book once again ties history to the present day. In the waning days of World War II, a U.S. Army Captain stumbles onto a secret Japanese laboratory working on a secret project called Typhoon—a project that seems to produce soldiers who fight on despite gunshot wounds and other injuries. In the present, the Oregon and Juan Cabrillo have been tasked with locating a memory stick containing a list of Chinese secret agents operating in the United States—which leads them to a fight to take possession of the thousands of Typhoon doses in existence, doses that could turn ordinary people into super-soldiers. The stakes get higher the more Cabrillo learns about Typhoon—until a disastrous war is on the verge of breaking out in a world descending into chaos.

    Every Breath You Take, by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
    Clark and Burke’s fourth entry in their Under Suspicion series finds TV producer Laurie Moran at a professional high: her show Under Suspicion is a ratings smash on a winning streak of solving cold cases. Personally though, Laurie’s not so great. After splitting up with former host Alex Buckley, she’s found a new host she loathes in Ryan Nichols. Nichols suggests a new case for the show: the murder of a wealthy donor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art who was thrown off the roof of the museum at the Met Gala. The chief suspect is her personal trainer—and lover—the much younger Ivan Gray. Ryan works out at the gym Ivan founded (with his lover’s money), and Laurie’s suspicions are exacerbated when she gets a tip that widens the circle of suspects in surprising—and dangerous—ways.

    The Whispering Room, by Dean Koontz
    The sequel to The Silent Corner returns us to the thrilling world of FBI agent Jane Hawk, who learned of a horrifying conspiracy to seize control of the entire world via a terrifying technological breakthrough while investigating her husband’s sudden, inexplicable suicide in the first book. As a result, she knows that when a beloved and mild-mannered schoolteacher commits suicide after inflicting unspeakable carnage on innocents, not all is as it seems. Jane has proof of what’s going on—but she remains #1 on the FBI’s most-wanted list, and the NSA can track anything she does online, so getting the proof into the right hands isn’t easy, especially as she tries to stay one step ahead of her secretive enemies. As she picks up an unlikely ally, Jane remains as kick-butt as before—a warrior, a mother, and a patriot dedicated to truth and justice, no matter how deadly things get.

    Heather, The Totality, by Matthew Weiner
    Weiner, creator and showrunner of Mad Men, has crafted a sharp, character-driven debut novel that examines class and parenting with equal power. Heather, smart and beautiful, has been doted on by her mother since birth, causing a rift between her parents. Heather is also increasingly aware of the gulf between her family, the owners of an upscale apartment building in Manhattan, and the people who work for them—including a construction worker, Bobby, whose appearance isolates him. Heather sees Bobby as a way to bridge the gap, but her father sees a threat in how Bobby looks at his daughter, and tensions rise in complicated ways.

    Bonfire, by Krysten Ritter
    Ritter, already a celebrated actress and producer, dives into fiction with this taut, emotionally brutal debut. Abby Williams escaped the small town of Barrens, Indiana, mean girls, an abusive father, and other ghosts a decade ago. She’s built a life, becoming an environmental litigator in Chicago and living a fast-paced existence. But her work drags her back home when she’s put on a team suing Optimal Plastics, the main employer in Barrens, whose products have poisoned the land and the people. Discovering that Barrens has been largely bought off by the company, Abby finds herself investigating the disappearance of a popular high school girl ten years before, a case that might be connected to Optimal. Abby’s emotional wounds are torn back open by her declining father and the memories she thought she’d escaped forever—but when she learns about a disturbing local ritual known only as “The Game”, things begin to take on an even more sinister, and dangerous, feel.

    The Armageddon File, by Stephen Coonts
    Coonts delivers another headline-inspired story of political shenanigans with a distinct slant in one (conservative) direction. When an inexperienced billionaire wins the presidency, his embittered liberal opponent cries foul and asserts that foreign governments interfered and rigged the election. CIA Director Jake Grafton assigns agent Tommy Carmellini to a special task force to investigate the claims, teaming him with special agent Maggie Miller. They quickly catch a break when a voting machine technician gets arrested and offers to tell them what he knows about voter fraud—but he’s killed before they can talk to him, and that’s just the beginning of a flurry of bodies as someone seeks to squash their investigation by any means necessary. Soon Tommy is dodging bullets himself, which does nothing to dampen his determination to get to the bottom of things.

    American Drifter, by Heather Graham and Chad Michael Murray
    Graham teams up with actor Chad Michael Murray for this romance-tinged thriller about River Roulet, a veteran of the war in Iraq who finds life after combat intolerable due to his PTSD. He moves to Brazil, a country he’s always dreamed of living in, and finds a quantum of solace living a simple life with a few good friends. Then he meets Natal, a beautiful, spirited journalist, and their love is instantaneous and powerful—and complicated, both by River’s ongoing issues and Natal’s relationship with a powerful, violent drug lord. The couple flees into the jungle to escape him, and River is forced to kill one of his henchmen in order to protect his new love, which only brings Brazilian law enforcement against them as well. Graham and Murray have some surprises up their sleeves as River and Natal fight for their love—and their lives.

    What new books are you thrilled to read in November?

    The post The Best New Thrillers of November 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 3:00 pm on 2017/10/31 Permalink
    Tags: a christmas return: a novel, alexander mccann smith, anne canadeo, , city of lies, death in the stacks, , , hardcore twenty four, harry dolan, how the finch stole christmas, , , knit to kill, , , , , sleep no more: 6 murderous tales, the house of unexpected sisters, the man in the crooked hat, , the trouble with twelfth grave darynda jones, top picks, victoria thompson   

    The Best New Mysteries of November 2017 

    Happy November, gumshoes! This month, take advantage of a long, relaxing holiday weekend (or, hours of traveling to see family and friends) to get in some uninterrupted reading time! Stock your nightstand or suitcase with a few of these page-turners and keep fall mysterious.

    Hardcore Twenty Four, by Janet Evanovich
    As her many fans are aware, to know Stephanie Plum is to love her. Evanovich’s long-running series following the madcap exploits of Jersey’s most illustrious bounty hunter takes a spooky turn when headless bodies begin turning up left and right. Although initially they’re corpses from the morgue, when a homeless man is found murdered and decapitated, someone has clearly upped their creepy game, Stephanie is compelled to take the case. In the meantime, she’s bunking with professional grave robber Simon Diggery and his pet python, and concerned about Grandma Mazur’s online dating escapades. Tall blonde and handsome Diesel is also back in town, which is stirring things up for Stephanie and her perennial paramours, sexy cop Joe Morelli and the enigmatic Ranger. Treat yourself to the latest mystery in the Plum series!

    City of Lies, by Victoria Thompson
    This exciting new series by the author of the Gaslight Mystery Series introduces readers to Elizabeth Miles, a savvy con artist in the Robin Hood vein who makes a brazen living divesting wealthy men of their fortunes…until the day she and her brother cross the wrong wealthy man and end up fleeing for their lives. Elizabeth stays safe by hiding among a group of privileged women whose activism she comes to admire…and in time her admiration extends to Gideon, the son of the group’s matriarch. But Elizabeth has been playing a deadly game, and her past is on the verge of catching up with her.

    The Man in the Crooked Hat, by Harry Dolan
    For two years, former Cop Jack Pellum has been searching for his wife’s murderer—whom he is convinced is a suspicious, fedora-wearing stranger he observed in her vicinity a few days before her death. But his obsessive quest, which has so far been fruitless, is jumpstarted when a message relating to the suicide of a local writer cracks the case wide open. And when Pellum crosses paths with Michael Underhill, a man with a dark hidden past who has everything to lose now that he’s found the perfect girlfriend, he finds himself closer than ever to finding out the truth, which is might be more than he can handle. A relentless plotter who sketches out unforgettable characters, if you’re a mystery fan and you haven’t read Dolan yet, put him on your list.

    How the Finch Stole Christmas, by Donna Andrews
    Eschewing his typical one man show, Meg’s husband has decided to launch a full-cast production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol—starring their sons Josh and Jamie as Tiny Tim and young Scrooge of course, with Meg as stage manager. But the faded-star celebrity he brought into town to play Scrooge has brought a whole lot of trouble with him, in the form of a veritable zoo of animals, including a collection of finches. Fans of Andrews’ lively and charming Meg Langslow series will be crowing about the twisty 22nd installment.

    Knit to Kill, by Anne Canadeo
    Lucy Bing, a member of the storied Black Sheep knitting group, is getting married! To relax before the nuptials, the group accepts an invitation from Suzanne Cavanaugh’s friend Amy to spend the weekend on Osprey Island. But their relaxing getaway is ruined when an unpleasant local resident falls from a cliff to his death—and investigators believe he was murdered. When suspicion falls on Amy’s husband, it’s up to the Black Sheep knitters to untangle this unsettling mystery—which features a diabolical killer who always seems to be one step ahead.

    The Trouble with Twelfth Grave, by Darynda Jones
    Jones’ 12th Charley Davidson novel continues to blend mystery, romance, and the paranormal into a delightfully offbeat series. Son of Satan (and Charley’s husband) Reyes Farrow has been a bit peeved ever since she accidentally trapped him in Hell, which is understandable. But he’s not the only one making her life difficult these days—her startup PI venture is also keeping things very lively, and someone’s begun going after humans with an awareness of the supernatural. Can Charley protect them, despite her suspicion that she’s protecting them from someone she cares deeply about? If you haven’t yet met Charley Davidson, start at the beginning with the uproarious, award-winning First Grave on the Right.

    The House of Unexpected Sisters, by Alexander McCall Smith
    In this nuanced, slow burn mystery, the 18th in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Precious Ramotswe is approached by a woman fighting against what she calls an unfair dismissal from her job—for being rude to a customer. Although Mma Ramotswe initially takes her side, as more information comes to light, she begins to come to a troubling conclusion. Not only that, she discovers the existence of a local woman, a nurse, with the same last name of Ramotswe—which comes as something of a shock. When Mma Potokwani informs her that an unsavory man from her past has returned to Botswana, very likely in an effort to deliberately seek her out, Mma Ramotswe realizes she has her work cut out for her when it comes to unraveling the mysteries of her past and present, which have become entangled together.

    Sleep No More: 6 Murderous Tales, by P. D. James
    This cunning assortment of previously uncollected stories from the indomitable author of Death Comes to Pemberley is filled with tales of crimes committed long ago, complete with the chilling rationalizations that so often accompany them. Take a deep dive into the heart of a killer, and explore the push-pull in the minds of murderers, witnesses, orchestrators of the perfect crime, and unwitting victims. James’s formidable talent shines just even more brightly in her shorter works.

    A Christmas Return: A Novel, by Anne Perry
    When her investigation into a long-ago murder that sundered a friendship prompts the arrival of a mysterious and disturbing Christmas package on her doorstep, grandmother Mariah Ellison, the winning star of Perry’s newest Christmas-themed mystery, finds herself traveling to Surrey to pay a visit to her estranged friend, the murdered man’s widow, in an effort to make amends. There, she teams up with the victim’s grandson, who is hot on the killer’s (cold) trail. But now that they’re stirring up old crimes, every new lead puts this unlikely pair deeper into danger.

    Death in the Stacks, by Jenn McKinlay
    Brier Creek Library’s annual Dinner in the Stacks is a delightful fundraising event that should be lifting the spirits of the library’s staff—who instead find themselves under the thumb of miserable new library board president Olive Boyle, who is ruining everything. When Olive threatens bright new hire Paula, Lindsey Norris berates her—and she fears repercussions on the night of the big event. However, Olive is found dead in the middle of Dinner in the Stacks, with nonother than Paula crouching over her. Can Lindsey clear her name, or will Paula get the book thrown at her? Don’t miss the eighth book in this charming series for mystery-minded bibliophiles.

    Parting Shot, by Linwood Barclay
    A young man swears he has no memory of stealing a Porsche and murdering a girl while inebriated—an act which devastated the small community of Promise Falls and unleashed a barrage of threats against his family. Against his better judgment, Cal Weaver reluctantly agrees to investigate the threats, but before long he finds himself sucked into a brutal quest for revenge.

    The Secret, Book & Scone Society, by Ellery Adams
    The first book in a new series that combines a few of everyone’s favorite things—books, baked goods, and deep, dark secrets. Nora Pennington resides in beautiful Miracle Springs, North Carolina, a place renowned for the healing properties of its hot springs. Nora owns Miracle books, and she has a talent for drawing out people’s stories about their lives—in exchange for her uncannily perfect book recommendations. When a businessman is found dead before he can keep his appointment with Nora, she forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, which gives members a place to turn for support and a feeling of camaraderie—as long as they first reveal their darkest secrets first. As the members of Nora’s club begin to investigate the businessman’s mysterious death, they discover a sense of community—along with some hidden dangers.

    What mysteries are you excited about this month?

    The post The Best New Mysteries of November 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Dave K. 6:00 pm on 2017/10/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , top picks,   

    The Best New Vinyl of November 2017 

    Whether you’re getting an early start on gift buying or adding to your own collection, plenty of great records are hitting our shelves for your consideration in November! We’ve got new albums from Sam Smith and Morrissey, the original cast recordings for SpongeBob SquarePants and Charlotte’s Web, soundtracks for Game of Thrones and Serenity, and the final album from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. And if you’ve got Christmas on the brain, we’ve got a compilation album from Al Green that fits the spirit of the season. K

    SpongeBob SquarePants Original Cast Recording
    Over the years, SpongeBob SquarePants has gotten a lot of unlikely attention from cool, influential musicians. This phenomenon extends to the original cast recording for the stage musical based on the cartoon, which features songs written by Jonathan Coulton, Sara Bareilles (who also composed for Waitress), members of Panic! At The Disco and The Flaming Lips, and even Joe Perry and Steven Tyler. It’s incredible how many legit rock stars put their talents into this show, and the original cast steps up to that pressure with impressive performances across the board. Standouts include “Poor Pirates,” “I’m Not A Loser,” and the show’s version of David Bowie’s “No Control.”

    The Thrill of It All, by Sam Smith
    Sam Smith, who found fame in 2014 with his hit single “Stay With Me,” spent most of 2016 working on new material, and will be releasing his second album, The Thrill of It All, in November. Sam worked with classical crossover group Clean Bandit and Timbaland for this record, with the latter producing Smith’s second single, “Pray,” inspired by the singer’s experience with the War Child charity. “Pray” is an awesome song, by the way, with plenty of gospel heft stabilizing Smith’s voice. The album’s other single, “Too Good at Goodbyes,” will make you miss your ex even if you don’t have one.

    Game of Thrones Season 7 Original Soundtrack (B&N Exclusive Edition)
    Game of Thrones superfans, soundtrack junkies, and classical music fans alike will find lots to like about the score to Game of Thrones‘ seventh season. Composed by Ramin Djawadi, this album should be treated like a series of movements in one overarching piece, as specific moments in each track reflect plot points in prior seasons. “The Dagger,” for example, is a sinister update of a piece associated with the character Littlefinger, and “A Lion’s Legacy” contains a variation of the Lannister theme. But don’t worry if you’re not caught up with the show enough to catch each reference; Djawadi’s score more than stands on its own. This exclusive B&N edition features swirled black and fiery orange vinyl.

    Charlotte’s Web Original Soundtrack (B&N Exclusive Edition)
    Possibly the only animated film to feature a non-terrifying spider, Charlotte’s Web was released in 1973 and has become a classic children’s movie since then. Part of that appreciation is due to the soundtrack, written by the Sherman Brothers and featuring an all-star cast of Debbie Reynolds, Paul Lynde, Agnes Moorehead, and Henry Gibson, among others. The lyrics are sharp and clever throughout this album, with “I Can Talk” as a particular high point; how Gibson didn’t sprain his tongue on one of the many deft turns of phrase in that song is a mystery. Not only is this soundtrack a Barnes & Noble exclusive, we’ve got it on pink vinyl with black webbing.

    Low In High School, by Morrissey
    Morrissey, the Pope of Mope himself, is releasing his eleventh solo album this November. His fans, among the most devoted in all of pop music, are already buzzing about the two singles, and their excitement won’t be in vain; Morrissey’s mix of melancholy longing, sly wit, and caustic political commentary is as potent as ever, and his collaborations with longtime music director and guitarist Boz Boorer (formerly of the Polecats) still sound great. Electric piano riffs and synths give “I Wish You Lonely” a new wave vibe (the bouncy rhythm doesn’t hurt, either), and the verse in “Spent the Day In Bed” sounds downright McCartney-ish.

    Serenity Original Soundtrack (B&N Exclusive)
    The soundtrack for Serenity, available only at Barnes & Noble, was composed by David Louis Newman, whose other film score credits include Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Sandlot, and the animated film Anastasia, for which he received an Oscar nomination. His career has been eclectic, to say the least, which is why he was recommended to Joss Whedon, who wanted a composer “capable of everything.” This soundtrack is full of tension and rising action, but not in the typical space opera way. Rather, the soundscape is a varied blend of strings, brass, percussion, and quirky flourishes of erhu and pan-Asian flute. Recommended tracks are “Funeral/Rebuilding Serenity” and “Love.”

    Feels Like Christmas, by Al Green
    Feels Like Christmas is a ten-song compilation that pulls the best tracks from Green’s two 1980s Christmas albums. Green’s smoky tenor and soulful delivery were tailor-made for Christmas songs, particularly ballads like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “The Christmas Song.” Green’s approach to Christmas music could be described as upbeat crooning, and he fully commits to each song, making for a supremely enjoyable listening experience. There’s even a non-Christmas track on here—his 1976 song “Glory Glory”—which is also great. This vinyl release is exclusive to Barnes & Noble, and pressed on snow-white vinyl.

    Soul of a Woman, by Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
    Sadly, Sharon Jones passed away last year, but not before recording one final album with her band, the Dap Kings. Their record label promises that Soul of a Woman has the band’s “rawest and most sophisticated recordings to date,” and for once, a record label press release is not hyperbole. Soul of a Woman is a triumph in every aspect. Knowing what we know now about Sharon’s health, songs like “Matter of Time” and “These Tears (No Longer for You)” are wrenching and urgent, but they’re great out of context, too. Sharon’s vocals and the band’s performances were never better, and this record is an essential buy for any vinyl collector.

    The post The Best New Vinyl of November 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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