Amy talks with Kathryn Miles about her new book, SUPERSTORM: bit.ly/1vNGQzq
Amy talks with Kathryn Miles about her new book, SUPERSTORM: bit.ly/1vNGQzq
As an editor and a reader there’s nothing I love more than a book that gives me a true emotional experience. Often, that experience is laughter. I work on a lot of humor books, and people tell me all the time that the books I work on make them laugh. But Brooke Shields’s book, There Was a Little Girl, was the first book I’ve edited that made me cry – and not just once!
From the moment I learned Brooke wanted to write this book I knew it was going to be powerful. Her mother was a fascinating, controversial figure, and I’d already read about and was intrigued by her life story. But when Brooke came in to meet with us and told us about her experience of growing up with Teri Shields and all of their ups and downs – as well as the painful experience of letting her mother go in October 2012 – I just couldn’t believe how touching, and relatable the story was. No one in the world has had a life like Brooke’s, but the experiences and emotions she’s had are truly 100% relatable to anyone who has ever loved (and lost) a parent.
Brooke and I worked together on the manuscript for the next nine months – an amount of time we both noted! – and it was an incredible experience. Brooke wrote the whole book herself, just as she did when she wrote Down Came the Rain, and her voice and emotions come through on every page. There are moments of incredible humor, but so many lines still choke me up and have literally moved me to tears. As both a daughter and a soon-to-be mother, this book has truly touched me in so many ways, and taught me so much about the power of love, even when it isn’t easy. I couldn’t be more excited to share Brooke and Teri’s story with the world!
Kristin Levine and I have worked together since her debut, The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had. I still remember that “I must have it!” feeling as I read her debut on submission. It was everything I love in a book—not only was it wonderfully written with humor and a voice that leaped off the page, but the characters were palpably real to me; they were the kind of characters that stay with you. And seven years later, I still reach to Dit and Emma for comfort or laughs. It was like that with Kristin’s second novel, The Lions of Little Rock, as well. Marlee and Liz were both girls I would have liked to have been friends with when I was that age—girls who had an interesting perspective on the world around them, girls I would have admired.
When Kristin introduced me to Tommy, the main character in The Paper Cowboy, she did so with trepidation. She said, “He might not be as likeable as my characters have been in the past; he’s a bit of a bully.” Well, I couldn’t imagine Kristin was capable of writing a character I didn’t like—bully or not, so I said send him on. I couldn’t wait to meet him.
Reading The Paper Cowboy for the first time was a wonderful and emotionally fraught experience. Just as I suspected, Kristin Levine was incapable of writing a character I didn’t like. In fact, I loved Tommy, immediately. I also worried over him, cried with him and even found myself darn right upset with him at times. But I also rooted for him, wanted to give him hugs and tell him it would be okay. Tommy wasn’t unlikeable. He was this charming, loveable, and yes mischievous boy, who sometimes made mistakes. But he also had a big heart and was capable of great kindness and generosity. He was nuanced and—as Kristin’s characters had always felt to me—incredibly real. Both his vulnerability and strength ran deep and his determination to turn it all around for not only himself, but also his family and his community was inspiring. Yet, he was still a character I knew other kids would see themselves in and through Tommy’s struggles and triumphs, they would know they could make an important difference for themselves or someone else.
More so in The Paper Cowboy than in her previous novels, Kristin doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff. Tommy’s mom is struggling with mental illness, his sister has been badly burned and hospitalized and Tommy feels tremendous guilt because of it, and there is an unnerving fear of communism running rampant throughout this Cold War era neighborhood. But the hope that also runs throughout the narrative is undeniable and wholly sustaining, making this a very rewarding read—as now three starred reviews give testament to.
If you’re like me as you read (and I hope you do!), you’ll simultaneously want to protect Tommy and set him straight. Ultimately, you’ll understand he has to find his own way through the tough stuff and when he does, he’ll make you immensely proud. He may even be one of those characters who restore your faith in the human spirit and people’s ability to change for the better. At least that’s what he did for me.
And that’s the magic of Kristin Levine. She breaks your heart and then helps you put it back together piece-by-piece and you’ll thank her for every bit of it. I’m very thankful for Tommy; he will be with me for a lifetime. Gosh, I can’t wait to see who Kristin will dream up next.
Judy Murello is an Executive Art Director in the Berkley Art Department handling all genre but especially the Ace list. She has worked at Penguin for oh such a long time. Before working at Berkley she was at NAL and was involved with the start of ROC.
The Raven’s Shadow trilogy by Anthony Ryan : Blood Song, Tower Lord, and Queen of Fire (coming in July 2015)
Anthony Ryan has created such a thrilling and engrossing epic tale. I just loved it! It’s just as good as the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Great characters encountering great challenges, with some heart-breaking results. And it has a satisfying conclusion. Read them!!
This is a great book! One of my favorites. Don’t let the quiet set-up fool you. Let it lure you in and experience the strangeness that’s to come. Check out The Lesser Dead by Christopher too.
Beginning with Moon Called, this paranormal series just keeps getting better. Read both series, they go so well together.
This isn’t out yet, but keep your eye out for…
Alice – Christina Henry (coming in August 2015)
This is a very unusual story that uses the Alice in Wonderland world in a unique way to tell a very different dark tale. Well written and surprising.
Find more books on the Science Fiction / Fantasy page
Katherine Pelz is an assistant editor at The Berkley Publishing Group, where she acquires romance, mystery and women’s fiction. During the rare moments when she’s not reading for business or pleasure, she’s in Brooklyn binge watching TV shows and hanging out with her cats.
Joanna Bourne is, hands down, one of the best historical romance writers out there. Her writing, her characters, her settings, her plots…they are all THAT good. If you’re a historical romance reader and you’ve never read one of her Spymaster novels, you’re missing out on a master of the genre. Get your hands on a copy ASAP.
Small town contemporary romances are all the rage these days, and nobody writes one better than Maisey Yates. Her voice is fresh and ridiculously readable. UNWRAPPED is a holiday read that’s both hot and full of heart.
Not strictly a romance, but a beautiful and moving historical novel that explores the pain and power of first love. It’s an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve read the final page.
If you like some action with your romance, then you need to check out P.A. DePaul’s romantic suspense series. The heroine of Exchange of Fire is a sniper—I love a strong heroine (and a hero that can keep up with her!)
I love reading New Adult romance, and WHEN WE MET contains stories from four of my top New Adult authors. You get four times the romance (and four times the hot heroes) with this one!
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Isabel Farhi is an editorial assistant at NAL/Ace/Roc, where she works on romance novels and science fiction & fantasy novels. When not at work, she watches anything with characters she can ship—and magic is an added bonus!
Paranormal equals vampires, and while I’m not usually a huge vampire fan I haven’t found better vampires than the Chicagoland vampires. Merit’s a grad student-turned-badass vampire, and she’s refreshingly human and fun to read. What’s really great about Chloe Neill is that her books just keep getting better as her world expands, and the twists and turns of her plots can last over books. But it always comes back to Merit and her vampire master/boss/lover, Ethan—who’s more than a little the attraction of these books as well!
I was introduced to Anne Bishop years ago with her Black Jewels series, but this book plunged me back into her fan club, fast. As a history buff in my spare time, I loved how this book set up an alternate history and mythology where humans had always had to share their world with otherworldly creatures, and seeing how that changed our history—and even more, I loved seeing those otherworldly creatures interact with humans. Anne Bishops really captures the feeling that these beings are not human at all and they don’t think like us, and it makes for a fascinating, intense read.
Ilona Andrews is better known for her Kate Daniels series, but I really enjoyed this lesser known series. It’s nice to have a heroine who isn’t as blasé as some of the more jaded paranormal detectives—Rose is cynical, but she’s unsophisticated as well, and she’s learning things right along with the reader. None of which keeps her from being whip-smart, and more than a match for the powerful aristocrat who comes sniffing around. This world’s also a far cry from a lot of fantasy worlds—not only is it much more rural, set in the backwoods—but the magic system’s incredibly intriguing. It’s definitely world worth exploring! And the hero and heroine’s frustrated chemistry is really delightful.
The only thing better than pirates? Pirates in airships! The only thing better than pirates in airships? A female pirate captain who’s totally in charge and ruthless enough to stay there. And the only thing better than that? Watching her fall in love, and not get any weaker for it. I love subverting tropes, and the way this romance turns the pirate and his captor trope on its head makes it a great read. Their banter and constant one-upping contest just makes it better! With the adventure and swashbuckling as well as the romance to drive the story along, I couldn’t put this book down.
Find more books on the Paranormal page
Erin is a Digital Marketing Manager at Penguin Young Readers Group. When she’s not reading (which isn’t often), Erin enjoys baking, hiking, and dreaming about her next vacation.
It’s impossible to overstate how much I love this book. To put it in perspective, I work in an office that is lined virtually floor-to-ceiling with amazing novels, yet I’ve read this one twice in the last six months. Twins Jude and Noah walk right off of the page, and Jandy’s playful, lyrical prose is beyond compare. I recommend this book to anyone who likes books about love, or family, or loss, or beauty, or friendship, or art—which is another way of saying that I recommend this book to literally everyone.
You may remember Cat from the hilarious Here Comes the Easter Cat, in which a certain feisty feline tried to steal the Easter Bunny’s job. This time, Cat has Mr. Claus in his sights. Worried that Santa won’t bring him a gift on account of his naughty behavior, Cat decides to take matters into his own paws and, along the way, learns a thing or two about the real meaning of Christmas. Here Comes Santa Cat is a delight: It’s quick-witted and clever but with a heart of gold. (Just like Cat himself.)
Oliver Jeffers refers to his books as picture books, not children’s books, and that is especially true of his latest offering. Once Upon an Alphabet is a darkly humorous, flawlessly illustrated, and wildly entertaining collection of 26 interconnected short stories, one for each letter of the alphabet. My personal favorite? “Onward,” starring a problem-solving owl and octopus duo. Pick it up for your kiddo, but don’t be surprised if you want a copy for your coffee table as well.
If you haven’t read this alien invasion page-turner yet, this is the perfect time to pick it up. The movie is in production, so you still have plenty of time to read The 5th Wave (and the sequel, The Infinite Sea) before opening night. It’s a riveting story filled with edge-of-your-seat action, but what I love most about it is how Rick Yancey expertly fuses the physical and psychological struggles of surviving in a post-apocalyptic world. The novel jumps between narrators as it hurdles towards the conclusion and ultimately asks the question, what does it mean to be human?
This one isn’t in stores yet (sorry, readers) but I can’t wait another minute to start talking about An Ember in the Ashes. This gripping debut novel is nothing short of amazing. Set in a ruthless and brutal dystopian world, Embers follows Laia, an orphan who will stop at nothing to save her imprisoned brother, and Elias, a reluctant soldier forced to compete to be the next emperor. You’ll race through pages filled with loyalty, betrayal, friendship, and violence as Laia and Elias discover just how far they are each willing to go.
Find more books on the Young Readers page!
Caitlin O’Shaughnessy is an Associate Editor at Viking and works with Clare Ferraro. She acquires and edits commercial fiction, nonfiction and illustrated books, including Sarah Lazarovic’s A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy, which was recently featured on the Today Show.
This mesmerizing psychological suspense novel follows an irresistible femme fatale from small-town Tennessee to the glamorous art worlds and seedy underbellies of New York and Paris. The perfect follow-up for anyone who’s ready to move on from Gone Girl.
When Allison Lorentzen first brought The Poser to our editorial meeting I read a good chunk of this submission and loved it. Now that it’s finished and is coming out in March 2015, I can’t wait to reread it and see how its evolved through the writing and editing process. The main character, Giovanni Bernini, is able to imitate anyone he encounters and becomes famous for his talents. Rubin is a great writer with a long career ahead of him and his debut novel is one to look out for.
This isn’t technically literary fiction but The Secret Place is the kind of book that’s so well-written you stay up all night to finish it. This is Tana’s fifth book (Viking also published In The Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, and Broken Harbor) and I think it’s her best one yet. She captures the dialogue of teenage girls and their text-filled romances in an uncanny way and it’s like a smart, literary version of spending a Saturday afternoon watching Mean Girls.
This is a Brooklyn writer who lives up to the hype – Vanessa Manko’s heartrending novel about immigrant struggles in the early 1900s is hard to put down. Incredibly well written and based on Vanessa’s own family history, it’s a great read and equally good to pass along to a mom or aunt.
Find more books on the Literary Fiction page!
Brooke Carey is an Editor at Gotham where she specializes in self-help, personal development, pop culture, and other non-fiction. She currently resides in Astoria, Queens but grew up in Nashville where she developed a deep, unyielding love for sad country songs and fried green tomatoes.
I edited this book when I was still new to my career and had no clue how to manage my time. In fact, I had succumbed to the notion that time managed me. Laura changed all of that. This is not a book about how to make a to-do list or filter your inbox. Laura argues that, while we all say we “don’t have enough time,” we have exactly the same amount of hours—168 in a week—as anyone else. So how do some people manage to work full time, raise a family, run marathons and take up pottery while the rest of us feel like we’re constantly playing catch up? According to Laura, the first step to making the most of our hours is to look at exactly how we spend them. When we do, we realize that we waste a lot of time doing things that don’t improve our lives and are then empowered to focus on what really matters. If you don’t want to read a 270+ page book because, well, you’re pressed for time, I suggest Laura’s especial What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
This is another book I worked on, so perhaps I’m a little biased, but I truly believe every twenty-something should read it. It’s a guide for young people—those who are financially independent for the first time—on how to create financial habits that will set them on the path to lifelong prosperity. This is not a book about how to make a million dollars overnight, nor is it full of complicated investment advice. Zac argues that if you commit to good money habits—saving for retirement, paying off debt—while you’re young, you’ll set yourself on the path to lifelong prosperity. He also unpacks what wealth really means—that the people who have the biggest homes and fanciest cars are often up to their eyeballs in debt—and that real wealth is about security and not having to worry about money because you’ve been smart about it your whole life. But Zac isn’t preachy. He fills the book with references to pop culture and uses Teresa Giudice and Lenny Dykstra, among others, as cautionary tales. After editing this book, I immediately upped my contribution to my 401(k).
As soon as you look at Sophia, you want to be her. She’s gorgeous, poised, and hella cool. And then you learn that she built her $100-million-dollar online clothing retailer, Nasty Gal, from scratch without a college education all before the age of 30, and your head explodes. She is, in short, an inspiration, but a sassy one. #GIRLBOSS is about being awesome and not apologizing for it. It’s about finding success on your own terms, even if you’re unconventional, awkward, or have stumbled along the way (Sophia, for example, spent a good chunk of her early adulthood dumpster diving and shoplifting to get by). The book became an instant classic when it was published earlier this year, and it’s no wonder. Sophia is Jackie O meets Jack Welch. What’s not to love?
On its face, this is a book of dating stories, but it’s so much more than that. I wish I’d had this book when I was 22 and first moved to NYC because I could have saved myself some of the drama—and trauma—that defined my dating life for the better part of a decade. Reading Klausner’s hilarious and horrifying tales of the man-children she’s encountered in her quest for true—or just functional—love is like listening to your bawdy best friend counsel and commiserate with you on what you should and should not tolerate from men (or women, or anyone, really). Read it with a bottle of wine.
Not a self-help book per se, but everyone can take a lesson from Julia Child. She was not only wildly successful but extraordinarily kind, level-headed, and full of joie de vivre. Plus, she and her husband, Paul, were deeply in love. This book made me smile, literally. I was so delighted while reading it that I couldn’t help myself. If more people lived like Julia, we’d be happier, healthier, and definitely better fed.
To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here
Daniel Ridge is the Director of Advertising and Promotion for the Academic and Library Marketing department. He can be spotted at the hippest playgrounds throughout Williamsburg.
There are few writers whose books I enjoy starting quite as much as Graham Greene. His writing is crisp, cinematic, and hooks one from the outset. His output was fairly staggering and covered quite a range, but The Power and the Glory is generally considered his masterpiece, and rightly so. A whisky priest, a fanatical police lieutenant, a fanged mestizo, a setting worthy of Orson Welles, and a narrative that never sags—with an insightful introduction by John Updike to boot. Sign me up.
This collection of Pullman’s beautifully rendered retellings of the Grimms’ classic tales is truly wonderful—full of wonders—and has become a bedtime-story standby in my household. Reader beware: even tales with innocent titles such as The Goose-Girl can lead to some awkward questions from 4-year-olds about how a decapitated horse’s head could talk and whether being rolled to death in a nail-studded barrel is really a fitting punishment for any crime.
And speaking of crime and punishment, Dostoyevsky’s novel of that name is one of my all-time favorites. Yes, it’s chock-full of big questions about justice, morality, and human nature, but what sticks with me is the vivid depiction of a sweltering, fetid, feverish Saint Petersburg in the days leading up to Raskolnikov’s foul deed. Anyone who has lived through an August heat-wave in New York City with no A/C, a job that doesn’t pay the bills, and a neighbor who blasts Seal’s 1991 hit “Crazy” every morning at 6:30 a.m. will know why Raskolnikov started thinking about that axe.
As a New Yorker, reading stories from the city’s past is much like thumbing through childhood pictures of your lover (who may be losing interest in you). Reading John O’Hara’s The New York Stories is like finding out that all those birthdays, baths, and Christmas mornings were shot by Annie Leibovitz. Great characters and razor-sharp dialogue set amid streets and buildings that time has certainly changed, but still spark a flutter of recognition. And I love the cover.
Kafka is great. If this is news to you, read this book immediately. If you already know this, then you know these stories are well worth reading again. I still think of “The Penal Colony” every time I hear the word harrowing.
Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!