Today In Books

Barnes & Noble is Pivoting to…Books: Today in Books

Barnes & Noble Is Pivoting To Books

After a not-great second quarter, with a $30 million net loss, Barnes & Noble’s leadership has decided to rejuvenate stores and bring customers back by switching gears and focusing on books. Which sounds like satire, but isn’t. The company plans to place more emphasis on books over non-book assortments, and shed some under-selling stock in gifts, toys, and games. According to CEO Demos Parneros, a big takeaway from customer research was that people liked interacting with B&N’s human booksellers. Again, not satire.

Emma Cline’s Ex-Boyfriend Sues Her For Plagiarism

Moving on to thrillers, Emma Cline’s ex-boyfriend filed a lawsuit alleging that she plagiarized parts of her debut novel, The Girls, with the help of spyware installed on a computer she sold him. Cline denied the allegations and filed a countersuit, claiming his actions are part of a jealousy-fueled, long-term assault on her mental health and reputation in the literary world. The countersuit does acknowledge that she used spyware to get information on ex Chaz Reetz-Laiolo’s infidelity during their relationship back when they were both aspiring writers, but says she didn’t have access to the software after she sold the computer to him.

American Gods Showrunners Exit Series

And finally, unexpected news from the thrumming world of adaptations: American Gods’ Michael Green and Bryan Fuller have exited the series. There was talk that Neil Gaiman might jump in as showrunner, but this rumor was struck down by Gaiman himself. No word on why Green and Fuller left as of the writing of this newsletter, but Deadline mentioned word that the showrunners’ split may have been over the series’ budget.

Today in Books is sponsored by Tru and Nelle: a Christmas Tale by G. Neri.

In this sequel to Tru & Nelle, told over three Christmases, readers are transported back to the 1930s, drawing upon real events—from tender personal moments to the awful truth of living with segregation and Jim Crow Laws—to tell the bittersweet history that inspired some of Capote and Lee’s greatest works.

Inspired by the early relationship of Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee, this powerful story of friendship also explores race, what it means to be a family, and the possibility of miracles.

True Story

True Stories of Royals to Read Ahead of a Royal Wedding

My plans for this week’s newsletter got totally scrapped on Monday following the news that Prince Harry is engaged to American actress Meghan Markle. There’s going to be another royal wedding!

My sister and I love to follow the royal family, and I’ve done my fair share of reading on the trials and tribulations of British monarchs. With that in mind, I want to share two biographies I’ve read and enjoyed, and two more books that jumped to the top of my TBR pile after Monday’s big news.

Sponsored by Oxford University Press, publisher of The League of Exotic Dancers by Kaitlyn Regehr and Matilda Temperley

For more than four years, documentarian Kaitlyn Regehr and photographer Matilda Temperley embedded themselves within the Burlesque community-a group which continues to thrive sixty years past its supposed prime. At The Burlesque Hall of Fame reunion they found women, at times well into their 80s, subversively bumping and grinding away preconceptions about appropriate behavior for a pensioner. This collection of interviews and photographs is drawn from the dressing rooms, homes, and lives of this aging burlesque community, as well as the young neo-burlesque community who adore them. The authors present an inter-generational sisterhood that is unique and socially significant.

Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird — In this book, Julia Baird offers an intimate and personal biography of one of Britain’s longest serving monarchs. Victoria took the throne when she was just 18, after being brought up in a sheltered, isolated, and manipulative environment. Becoming queen gave her one of her first opportunities to make decisions for herself, and she very much became an adult in the spotlight. I love the way this biography shows Victoria in all of her many facets – impulsive teenager, passionate lover, curious intellectual, reluctant mother, and mourning widow. It’s a lovely book.

Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith — Few people expected that Elizabeth Alexandra May would be queen. She is the daughter of a second son who would have immediately lost her place in the line of succession if a brother were born. But then her uncle, Edward, abdicated in order to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson, making Elizabeth the heiress presumptive after her father. Elizabeth, who took the throne in 1952, is now the longest-reigning monarch in British history. The thing I loved best about this book is the way Sally Bedell Smith balances politics, personality, and gossip in the narrative. It’s a smart, warm, generous portrait of Elizabeth (although much less kind to some other family members) that’s worth picking up despite the heft.

Game of Crowns by Christopher Andersen — This book is described as a “compulsively readable look into the relationships and rivalries of Queen Elizabeth, Camilla Parker Bowles, and Kate Middleton.” These three women have very different background, yet each has her own place in the line of succession and the work of the monarchy. I’m really curious to learn more about their private lives as wives and mothers, as well as their differences in how they approach the responsibility of being part of the palace.

17 Carnations by Andrew Morton — This book had me at the subtitle – “The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History.” 17 Carnations is the story of Edward VII (Queen Elizabeth II’s uncle who abdicated shortly before World War II) and a “bizarre wartime Nazi plot to make him a puppet king.” The book explores alleged affairs, supposed cover ups, interference by Soviet spies, and so much more. This book is next on my TBR – it’s exactly the kind of juicy history I’m in the mood to read.

Links You’ll Love

I’m going to round out this week’s newsletter with a few links that caught my eye in the last couple of weeks:

Thanks so much for reading and have a great week!

— Kim, @kimthedork,

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Dec 1

Happy Friday, nerdfriends and geekpals. Today is our now-annual Swords and Spaceships Holiday Gift Guide. Onward to gift-giving glory!

This newsletter is sponsored by The Speaker by Traci Chee.

The Speaker by Traci CheeIn this sequel to the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestselling fantasy The Reader, Sefia and Archer are back on the run, slipping into the safety of the forest to tend to their wounds and plan their next move. Haunted by painful memories, Archer struggles to overcome the trauma of his past with the impressors, whose cruelty plagues him whenever he closes his eyes. But when Sefia and Archer happen upon a crew of impressors in the wilderness, Archer finally finds a way to combat his nightmares: by hunting impressors and freeing the boys they hold captive.

I’ve got a round-up of non-book things, but as always let’s start with books. I picked five each of the science fiction and fantasy titles that, for my money, are the most giftable of the last year.

Five Science Fiction Books To Give

5 Sci Fi Books To Give Cover Collage

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty: A locked-room mystery, except it’s a locked spaceship and it’s mid-space flight crewed by clones! For readers who love space opera and/or murder mysteries.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon: A generation-ship story that examines the intersections of racism and class structures. For readers who can’t get enough NK Jemisin, Ursula Le Guin, and Octavia Butler.

Provenance by Ann Leckie: A comedic space opera that centers around an art heist, forgeries, and family power struggles. For readers who love John Scalzi, the art world, plucky heroines, intergalactic politics, pronoun fluidity, and queer/nonbinary characters.

27 Hours by Tristina Wright: The Queer Teen Space Squad adventure of your dreams. For readers who enjoy YA, planetary colonization and alien encounter stories, lots of action and explosions, and multiple-POV narratives.

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden: A mad-cap near-future story set in South Africa, complete with enraged goddesses, awakening Artifical Intelligence, drugs, sex, and rock and roll (literally). For readers who love blends of sci-fi and fantasy, a WTF-inducing plotline, and characters you fall in love with.

Five Fantasy Books To Give

5 Fantasy Titles To Give Cover Collage

Jade City by Fonda Lee: An Asian The Godfather plus magic! Feuding families, magic gemstones, and lots of betrayal, skulduggery, and street fights. For readers who are sold on that premise, characters with questionable moral standing, and don’t mind investing a bunch of time (it’s a long burn but such a good one).

The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin: 20 authors put their own spin on the djinn/genie myth. For readers who love fairytale retellings, updated mythologies, discovering new voices, and revisiting favorite authors.

The Changeling by Victor LaValle: A dark, bloody, and terrifying story of one father who loses his family, and his struggle to get it back. For readers who like some weight in their stories, don’t mind getting seriously creeped out, and appreciate social commentary alongside an A+ plot.

The Chimes by Anna Smaill: An alternate, dystopian London in which music is the organizing metaphor of life and memories are impossible to form. For readers who appreciate complex world-building, stories with many layers, and coming-of-age tales. (Technically a 2016 book but whatever!)

Tender: Stories by Sofia Samatar: A wide-ranging collection by an author who is as at home in a contemporary satire as she is in a beautifully atmospheric fable. For readers who love seeing what a master can do with short fiction.

And Now: Not Books! 

For your Star Wars gift needs, a round-up.

For your Harry Potter gift needs, the best stuffed animal options.

Bookish ornaments (not 100% SF/F but includes some EXCELLENT options).

For your comics-related gift needs, a round-up.

For your crafting plus comics needs.

Still not over this Game of Thrones cutting board.

Will never be over the Death Star waffle maker.

And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda.

Your fellow booknerd,


Win a Stack of Great Holiday Gift Books!


10 winners will each receive: The Secret Lives Of Color; The Line; Wreck This Journal: Now In Color; Ivy And The Inky Butterfly; Ikigai!

Penguin Books has the perfect gift for everyone this season! Add some color to the holidays with The Secret Lives of Color and learn about the unknown history of colors and the vivid stories behind them in a beautiful multi-colored volume. Looking for more inspiration? The Line and Wreck This Journal: Now in Color by Keri Smith are perfect for creators, or anyone looking for an adventure. A wonderful gift for all ages is Johanna Basford’s Ivy and the Inky Butterfly, a gorgeously hand-illustrated storybook for readers to color and cherish. The ultimate guide to staying Zen during this busy season is Ikigai. Bring meaning and joy to all your days with this internationally bestselling guide to the Japanese concept of ikigai.

Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click the photo of the prize stack below. Good luck!

Riot Rundown


Today’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by The Graphic Canon of Crime & Mystery, edited by Russ Kick from Seven Stories Press.

From James M. Cain to Stephen King, from Sophocles to the Marquis de Sade to Iceberg Slim, here are stunning and sometimes macabre visualizations of some of the greatest crime and mystery stories of all time. Rick Geary brings his crisp style to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment; C. Frakes resurrects the forgotten novella “Talma Gordon,” the first mystery written by an African American. Crime finds new life in these graphic renditions of The Arabian Nights, the Bible, James Joyce’s Dubliners, Patricia Highsmith, and leading mystery writers of today like Jo Nesbø. Crime and mystery have never been so brilliantly reimagined.

The Stack


Today’s The Stack is sponsored by The Graphic Canon of Crime & Mystery, edited by Russ Kick from Seven Stories Press.

From James M. Cain to Stephen King, from Sophocles to the Marquis de Sade to Iceberg Slim, here are stunning and sometimes macabre visualizations of some of the greatest crime and mystery stories of all time. Rick Geary brings his crisp style to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment; C. Frakes resurrects the forgotten novella “Talma Gordon,” the first mystery written by an African American. Crime finds new life in these graphic renditions of The Arabian Nights, the Bible, James Joyce’s Dubliners, Patricia Highsmith, and leading mystery writers of today like Jo Nesbø. Crime and mystery have never been so brilliantly reimagined.

Today In Books

The New Avengers Trailer Is Here: Today in Books

The New Avengers Trailer Is Here

The Avengers: Infinity War trailer is out, and it is epic. So many familiar faces in one room. Iron Man, Black Panther, Black Widow, Doctor Strange–basically every Marvel superhero we’ve seen so far–a fittingly epic beard, and so many Easter eggs…you really should see it.

George R.R. Martin Confirms Nightflyers Series

George R.R. Martin confirmed that the Syfy channel picked up an adaptation of his story Nightflyers. The Hugo-nominated novella follows a team of academics who charter a spaceship with a mysteriously unseen captain. The team is on an expedition to find a race of intersteller nomads when the ship turns on them. The first season of the series will consist of 10 episodes to be aired sometime in 2018 (Martin hopes July). Martin will not be involved in the series’ production.

The Book Christmas Tree Oddity At The White House

The White House erected a Christmas tree constructed of books and it includes some…interesting picks. Melville House discussed some of the selections, which include: American Mourning, a thriller titled Tainted Evidence, and World of Golf. According to Melania Trump’s director of communications, the books were purchased for their varieties of green color tones.

Today in Books is sponsored by The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook.

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl, Paige Bonnet. Paige is everything Skye’s not— rich, pretty, and popular. But they’re both living a lie. A dark, rivet­ing mystery that questions just how far you’d be willing to go to become someone else.


Carrie Fisher Audiobooks, To Celebrate Her Grammy Nomination

Happy Thursday, Audiobook fans,

I loved Carrie Fisher. Unlike many in my generation, I didn’t become aware of Fisher through the Star Wars films. Instead, I became aware of Carrie Fisher in 2009, through her book Wishful Drinking. I had been sober a little less than a year and OH MY GOD it was a relief to read something funny by someone sober. And not only was she sober, she also had a mental illness! It was my US Weekly “Celebs, they’re just like us!” moment because I have a mental illness too! Despite struggling with addiction and bipolar, Fisher was smart, funny, and creative. imply by being honest about her experiences, Fisher made me believe it was possible for me to be all those things, too. So while I still mourn the loss of Fisher, I’m excited because….she’s been nominated for a Grammy for her narration of The Princess Diarist! This is actually her second Best Spoken Word Album narration, the first was for the aforementioned Wishful Drinking in 2009.

Season 1 of our new podcast series Annotated is complete! Each episode is about 20 minutes long and is great for fans of podcasts like This American Life. Go here to check it out, or just click the image below:

The Princess Diarist is the result of Fisher coming across her journals from 1977, the year she filmed Star Wars. The book is “Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time – and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty.”

Fisher discussed the audiobook recording of the book in an interview on Penguin Random House Audio’s “This Is The Author” podcast, saying: “I don’t know that my mother read a lot to me when I was a kid, probably when I was a little teeny kid…but I was a big reader so she must have read to me sometimes, and I read aloud to my daughter, because I love words. I fell in love with words as a kid and the love goes on.”

Listen to a clip from The Princess Diarist.

Here are a few other Carrie Fisher books I loved (and she narrates all of them! Delightful!) Goodreads description in quotes.

Postcards from the Edge

Fisher’s first book, published in 1987, follows Suzanne Vale, a young actress who finds herself in a “drug hospital” (rehab, or “The ‘Hab,” as I call it). The novel follows Suzanne as she navigates the world of early recovery and, perhaps more dangerous, her relationship with her mother. Bonus: it was made into a movie with two actresses you may have heard of, Shirley MaClaine and Meryl Streep. Check out the trailer here.

The Best Awful

The Suzanne Vale saga continues in The Best Awful. Deciding that her medication is hindering and not helping her, Suzanne decides to stop taking it. “The ‘manic’ side of the illness convinces her it would be a good idea to get a tattoo, cut off her hair, and head to Mexico with a burly ex-con and a stash of OxyContin. As she wakes up in Tijuana, the ‘depressive’ side kicks in, leading Suzanne through a series of surreal psychotic episodes before landing her in a mental hospital. With the help of her movie star mom, a circle of friends, and even her ex-husband, she begins the long journey back to sanity.”

Wishful Drinking

I already gave you my glowing review of this book above but here’s a bit more detail from Goodreads, “It’s an incredible tale – from having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother, to marrying (and divorcing) Paul Simon, from having the father of her daughter leave her for a man, to ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.”


New Release of the Week

I might as well call New Release of the Week “Audiobooks that Will Eat All My Audible Credits” because that’s basically what this is. My remaining audible credit this month will likely go to Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile.

This is a new audiobook but not new book–-it was actually the first of Bolaño’s novels available in English. It “recounts the tale of a poor boy who wanted to be a poet but ends up a half-hearted Jesuit priest and conservative literary critic, a sort of lapdog to the rich and powerful cultural elite, in whose villas he encounters Pablo Neruda and Ernst Jünger.

Father Urrutia is offered a tour of Europe by agents of Opus Dei to study ‘the disintegration of the churches’ – a journey into realms of the surreal – and, ensnared by this plum, he is next assigned, after the destruction of Allende, the secret never-to-be-disclosed job of teaching Pinochet, at night, all about Marxism, so the junta generals can know their enemy. Soon, searingly, his memories go from bad to worse.”

The narrator of By Night in Chile, Thom Rivera, has some serious audiobook cred–he’s narrated work by Isabel Allende, Maggie Stiefvater, Marlon James, and Lucia Berlin.

Links for Your Ears

Count on PBS to do a really excellent history of the audiobook.

A short history of the audiobook, 20 years after the first portable digital audio device

I’ve been really impressed with Bustle’s audiobook game, this seems like the millionth list I’ve linked to from them.

11 Incredible Audiobooks That Might Actually Be Better Than The Written Version


I love love love stories about audiobooks and accessibility.

Ten Leading Doctors Share Top Lyme Treatments in New Audio Book


That’s all for this week! As always, you can hit me up on Twitter at msmacb or by email at



Last Chance: Win a New, Waterproof (!) Kindle Oasis!

Just two days left to win a new, waterproof Kindle Oasis…

Last month, Amazon announced a new waterproof version of its top-of-the line Kindle model, the Oasis.

And, courtesy of our friends at Riffle, we have one of these brand new bath-ready devices to give away.

The giveaway is open until November 30th, 2017 at 11:59pm pacific time. One entry per email address: U.S. residents only. Winner will be randomly selected and notified via entered email. Winner will then have 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.

Alright, that’s the deal. Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click the image of the new submersible Kindle below. Good luck!

Today In Books

FANTASTIC BEASTS Director Defends Johnny Depp: Today in Books

Fantastic Beasts Director Defends Johnny Depp

David Yates, The Crimes of Grindelwald director, made a statement in defense of keeping Johnny Depp on the cast. Fans have been criticizing the studio producing the Fantastic Beasts sequel, and J.K. Rowling, for the decision to keep Johnny Depp on the cast in light of allegations of domestic abuse made by his ex-wife Amber Heard. “With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something,” said Yates. ScreenCrush noted the problematic nature of Yates’ defense. Rowling has yet to comment on the controversial casting.

Cassandra Clare To Write Adult Fantasy Series

The best-selling author of the YA series The Mortal Instruments announced that she will write a new adult fantasy series. A publication date for the first book in the series, Sword Catcher, hasn’t been released, but the book is currently in progress. Featuring criminals, princes, magicians, and warriors, this will be her first high fantasy work.

Gender Disparity In Book Awards

VITA addressed gender disparity in book awards, pulling up a 2015 study looking at 15 years worth of data from top literary prizes. The study showed that fiction written by women about women won few prizes, fiction by women about men performed only slightly better in literary awards, and books by men about men far exceeded both in wins. The author of the piece conducted independent research and found that “women still have a long way to go for equality within literary prize culture.”

Today in Books is sponsored by Simon & Schuster, publisher of The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak.

It’s May 1987. Fourteen-year-old Billy Marvin of Wetbridge, New Jersey, is a nerd, but a decidedly happy nerd. Afternoons are spent with his buddies, watching copious amounts of television, gorging on Pop-Tarts, debating who would win in a brawl (Rocky Balboa or Freddy Krueger? Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel? Magnum P.I. or T.J. Hooker?), and programming video games on his Commodore 64 late into the night. Then Playboy magazine publishes photos of their idol, Wheel of Fortune hostess Vanna White, Billy meets expert computer programmer Mary Zelinsky, and everything changes.