Editor's desk photoOne of the greatest pleasures of my editorial career was introducing Mark Greaney to Tom Clancy. I knew that Tom needed a new co-author, and I was absolutely sure that Mark was the best fit. He is a dedicated researcher, brilliant writer and, not incidentally, a huge Clancy fan. I knew they would be a good match both professionally and personally. Indeed, they hit it off so well at their first face to face meeting that what was supposed to be a short meet and greet turned into a three hour conversation.

Their pairing led to three #1 New York Times bestselling novels. Rarely have I been this right about something. (Just ask my wife and kids).

So when, after Tom’s untimely passing, his family decided to continue the Jack Ryan saga, I knew that Mark was the right man for the job. While I had faith in him, I recognized that this was a daunting task. It’s one thing to work with the master, but striking out on your own with a character as iconic as Jack Ryan is a formidable challenge.

Once again, I’ve been proven correct (Take that wife and kids!). Full Force and Effect is a worthy successor to Tom’s own books. It’s a sprawling story of international intrigue with plenty of high tech action and a shockingly personal twist.

A new young leader has arisen in North Korea. Like his predecessors he plans to build his nation’s nuclear program, but unlike them he has an edge. A recent discovery of mineral wealth has given the Hermit Kingdom the money it needs to accelerate those efforts. In the Oval Office, President Jack Ryan recognizes both the danger posed by a nuclear armed Korea and the limits of his ability to respond without adequate intelligence. But how does one place an agent in the most closed society on Earth?

FullForce&EffectWe may have started this project with some trepidation, but Mark Greaney has more than risen to the challenge. His great respect for the classic characters of Tom Clancy shines through in this mesmerizing thriller. It’s my absolute pleasure to share it with you.


ZODIAC_EditorsDeskPhotoEvery morning at seven on the dot, an astrology website sends me an automated email containing my daily horoscope. Rare are the days when my fortune doesn’t begin with a caveat reminding me that, as a Sagittarius, I’m “known for [my] outspoken views and habit of saying exactly what’s on [my] mind,” or that I’m “the one who normally tells it like it is, regardless of others’ sensitivities,” or that “truth arrows are [my] negotiating tools.”

Well, I’d like to think that I’m more conscientious and have better self-control than my team of Internet astrologers seems to suggest, but when it comes to Zodiac by Romina Russell, I can’t help but be blunt. So, here’s a truth arrow for you:  Zodiac is breathtaking. And its debut author, Romina Russell, is a force to be reckoned with. The first novel in an epic YA series that reimagines the twelve zodiac signs as a galaxy divided into twelve distinct solar systems, Zodiac takes everything I love about astrology–the fun personality tidbits and dishy discussions about good fortune, bad omens, and romantic pairings both heaven-sent and disastrous–and marries it to thrilling sci-fi suspense and drama of big-screen blockbuster proportions. Add a quirky, charismatic cast of characters who hail from gleaming courts of Libra to the hot and happening streets of Aries, a mystifying villain, and a crazy-swoon-worthy yet completely out-of-the-box love story, and I’m in the biggest, coziest wingchair in Editor’s Heaven.

There’s so much that I, an unabashed astrology nerd with a weakness for adventures set in space, love about the Zodiac concept, but my favorite aspect of Romina’s stellar debut has got to be its heroine: the complex, compassionate, and exquisitely fallible Rho, a sixteen-year-old Acolyte from House Cancer. Rho has an unusual way of reading the stars–instead of calculating their positions to make practical predictions about her world, she looks to them the way a poet might, weaving stories out of the swishes of comet tails and using stardust patterns and pulsars to tell fortunes for her friends.

A true representative of House Cancer, which embodies such traits as nurturing, intuition, and loyalty, Rho thinks with her heart and acts from love. She’s a generous and open-minded friend (her bestie is an outgoing firecracker from House Sagittarius), and would do anything to help her home and her people. Still, softie though she is, Rho harbors haunting memories of a childhood marred by the sudden and unexplained departure of her mother. So instead of wearing her heart on her sleeve like the rest of her kind, she’s formed a shell to protect her sensitive soul–just like the Crab that rules her constellation. But when the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend returns to exact revenge on the Galaxy, the stars call upon Rho to lead House Cancer, and our girl rises to the occasion, hunting down evil with passion rather than wrath; instinct instead of instruction manuals. And guess what? In the end, she messes up. She messes up big time, and boy are there are consequences, and if I were to say more I would need to insert a big red SPOILER ALERT right about here. All I can say is that that Rho–a naïve and fallible dreamer from the most conflict-averse constellation in the Galaxy–is not your average heroine.

And then there is Romina. Romina and I actually first met as undergrads at Harvard, in a huge lecture class that may as well have been called “Math for English Majors,” back when Zodiac was still just one tiny twinkle in the constellation of Great Novel Ideas. Out of the couple hundred kids in that class, Romina–an infectiously charming and completely adorable young woman with a big smile and a razor-sharp wit–was randomly assigned to be my partner for a final group research project. We instantly hit it off, and it didn’t take long to decide on the irresistibly juicy human interest topic of Trends in Online Dating. And it turned out, we made a great team. Romina, a meticulous and ultra-organized Virgo, was the yin to my shoot-from-the-hip, incurably optimistic Sagittarian yang, and as we spent hours together interviewing couples, recording their personality types and measuring their predicted compatibility scores against their actual compatibility scores, a beautiful friendship was born.

ZodiacSeveral years later, a beautiful book was born. Romina presented me, armed as always with my quiver of truth arrows, with a stunning story about a girl from the galaxy of my dreams. And then something in the universe just clicked.

Start Reading an excerpt from Zodiac by Romina Russell!


SONY DSCAs 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.

ThereWasALittleGirlBrooke 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!


staceybarneyphoto (1)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.

ThePaperCowboyIf 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.


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I haven’t had many proposals cross my desk in my twenty years as an editor which I felt I was born to edit, but my heart skipped a beat when Andrew Roberts’ agent called to tell me he wanted to write a big, meaty new biography of Napoleon. Now truth be told I have been hunting for a good book on Napoleon for a long time. I’ve bought several (from bookstores), and they’ve generally left me filled with rage – the options seemed to be Freudian psychobabble or ranting indictment: if you take your cue from recent releases you’d think he was a frothing tyrant with blood on his britches. But the truth, as Andrew Roberts reveals in this magnificent biography that draws on a stupendously rich new cash of Napoleon’s letters (33,000 – and those are the ones that have survived, just think what he might have done in the age of email) is altogether more riveting. Napoleon was one of the giants of history. He was an inveterate bookworm who steeped himself in the writings of Caesar and modeled himself on him too, though he also gobbled up Rousseau and Voltaire and the great thinkers of the enlightenment, much like our own founding fathers. I came away from this book thinking that Napoleon was like Washington, Jefferson and Madison rolled into one: he was the visionary general who led France to victory in the series of wars that followed the French revolution (we were lucky not to have angry monarchs on all sides determined to overturn our revolution); he was an erudite intellectual and reformer like Jefferson who drew artists and scientists around him, introduced the metric system and set up the Louvre and France’s still stellar system of grandes ecoles and universities; and he was a state-builder like Madison who drafted a whole new set of laws and established the French national bank.

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Now for full disclosure my great great great grandfather on my father’s side was a colonel who fought for Napoleon and a true believer. Napoleon was a meritocratic, which may seem counter-intuitive for a man who crowned himself emperor. But he believed that if you gave people a sense that they were participating in something larger than themselves, they would live up to the moment and surpass your expectations. He was a great leader of men, and I was struck as I worked on the manuscript that modern business leaders would find much in his practice and philosophy to learn from. He was also an unbelievable romantic and his love letters to Josephine are worthy of a harlequin romance. It is true that in the end, in his campaigns in Spain and Russia, he made mistakes that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of men. But war is a messy business with many unintended consequences, as we have learned ourselves recently (not for the first time). Andrew Roberts is the biographer Napoleon has been waiting for – he writes like a dream and appreciates his (many) jokes.  And no one is better at telling the story of a battle so that you feel you are right there in the saddle, dodging canon fire and charging into the fray. But you don’t have to be a military history buff to love this book – I’m not particularly, and I can’t wait to go back to the beginning and read it all over again.

 

Read more about Napoleon by Andrew Roberts


9780399160851_MapleI’m a sucker for trees. Our art department laughs about how many of the picture books I publish feature trees (in a good way!). So when I got the submission for Maple, I was a goner. Here was a book that celebrated a nature-loving, free-spirited little girl whose parents plant a tree in her honor. A little girl who can often be rowdy but who finds peace under the rustling, dancing leaves of her maple tree. Lori Nichols’s art in this enchanting picture book debut is crisp and lush and so inviting. Everyone who reads this falls in love with Maple and her little sister, Willow. And the starred reviews keep coming in!

We were thrilled when Lori told us there were more stories about these charming little girls. 9780399162831_Maple_&_Willow_Together(After all, Lori has three little girls of her own, so there will be many stories to tell!) In Maple & Willow Together, which we are publishing in November 2014, Lori perfectly captures the dynamics of siblings. Maple and Willow do everything together, playing outside come rain or shine. But it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, because sometimes a big sister can be bossy and a little sister can be frustrating—and get frustrated—and a blow-up ensues. What I love about this story is that Lori shows us that the girls figure out how to solve things on their own. They are the ones in charge in this leafy kingdom – a kingdom that readers will want to revisit often. And good news on that front – more adventures are coming when Maple heads off to big-girl school and Willow is home alone, so stay tuned for Maple & Willow Apart (coming Fall 2015).


photo 3A woman came to my door the other day and said, “You’re the editor of Superstorm, right?”  My assistant has been out on maternity leave and so I’m getting used to people I don’t recognize waltzing into my office.  “Great book” the woman said and so of course she had my attention.  She said she was from Gerristen Beach, a part of Brooklyn that was about 10 feet underwater after Sandy rolled through.  Her family lost the house her father built.  They are still putting their lives back together.  She is a temp working in Operations for PRH at 375 Hudson Street.  She loves this book.  Me too.

We had just had our Halloween party back in 2012 in this building when New Yorkers started to realize the big bad hurricane was coming to get us.  As she was working on Superstorm Kathryn Miles said the storm was like the shark in Jaws—yes, her story is that scary.  Forecasters and their science were unable to make sense of this unprecedented system as it played out; seamen with all their traditional knowledge couldn’t predict what it would do; and the survivors whose lives it all but destroyed are still trying to pick up the pieces.  This story is all about the unforgiving, fearsome power of nature—just when we thought we had it beat.

We meet Chris Landsea, the Science and Operations Officer at the National Hurricane Center who had been thinking the 2012 hurricane season was a quiet one—and pretty much over—until he and a colleague noticed what looked like the beginnings of an unusual tropical depression.  But the picture the data delivered was not clear.  Kathryn Miles’ gripping narrative soon demonstrates that we have a national infrastructure emergency that we haven’t yet noticed.  It isn’t just that our bridges and schools are in danger of collapsing, our scientific data gathering, especially meteorological data gathering systems, are an appalling, neglected mess.  Forecasters used to rely on a tool called the quick scatterometer which used microwave sensors to gauge winds speeds near the ocean surface.  Then it broke.  In 2009.  Ever since we’ve been using a vastly inferior European data stream and have no plans to replace it.  This of course is merely one example…

SuperstormThe New York Office of Emergency Management advised Mayor Bloomberg that all was fine on Saturday night, but then by Sunday morning had him calling for the mandatory evacuation of 350,000 people including the families of Gerristen Beach.  Given the state of our forecasting infrastructure, this flip flop is perhaps not so surprising.

Kathryn Miles’ Superstorm is a gripping read, and it is also a necessary one in a time of increasingly unpredictable, deadly weather.

Happy Halloween.

Read more about Superstorm by Kathryn Miles.


When I was young my parents used to traipse my two brothers, my sister and me around Europe to see the sights – my mother was a historian, and we spent a lot of time reliving the Albigensian crusades, climbing ramparts and re-enacting the fates of kings and heretics. I remember a trip through Normandy when every time we passed a broom bush we would cry out “Plant a Genet” – Geoffrey Plantagenet, the founder of the dynasty that ruled England before the Tudors, used to stick a Theplantagenetssprig of broom in his hat. The Plantagenets controled England and Normandy, and large swaths of France. Their most famous kings – Henry Ist, Richard the Lionheart, Edward I, were heroic rulers, brave on the battlefield and skillful in their stewardship of government. The less appealing among them – “Bad” King John, Edward II, Richard III – were conniving and duplicitous egotists, the famous villains of Shakespeare’s history plays.

All of this was a bit of a blur of fact and myth until I read Dan Jones’ The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England. Dan’s history is alive – he puts you right there on the battlefield, and inside the thoughts of knights and knaves as they contemplate cunning acts of treachery or meet their gory deaths. He is a natural storyteller – which means that he tells history as it should be told, as a story, with larger than life characters and surprising plot twists. This is history for fans of Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings – with all of the sexual escapades and gory ends –only in this case every word is true.

TheWarsoftheRosesMy son is three and thinks of himself as a knight, and I think there is something deeply appealing about that world, with its code of honor, bravery  and chivalry. Dan Jones’ Plantagenets was a surprise NY Times bestseller for us – everyone in house loved it, and it became a huge sales department favorite. We are about to publish his follow up, The Wars of the Roses, which tells the story of how the Plantagenets essentially clawed themselves apart and were finally replaced by the Tudors. The Tudors are familiar – Henry with his bloody serial monogamy, Elizabeth and Mary, Queens who knew that their power was at once sharpened and compromised by their sex. But how did they come to rule England? It turns out that their grandfather would never in his wildest dreams have imagined that his descendents would one day wear the crown. When Katherine of Valois chose him as her second husband, she did so because she thought he was safe. Little did she know what trouble their children would have in store for them. Dan Jones is so much fun to read that once you finish you want to go right back to the beginning and start all over again.

Start Reading an Excerpt from The Plantagenets and learn more about The Wars of the Roses.


9780399163241_large_Pennyroyal_AcademyPlaying make-believe as a kid, I usually dreamt up that I was one of two people:  “the grocery store checkout lady” or “the guy that cleans your windows at the gas station.” Not on the list: the princess. Maybe because I’d never seen one up close? Maybe I was just exceedingly practical? No, it definitely had more to do with princesses being, to my mind, fine but boring. What do they really do all day? Nothing as cool as wielding a squeegee.

Then I read A Little Princess. And not long after that, The Princess Bride. Suddenly, I’d found two “princess stories” that I would read again and again. They were funny, moving, and a little scary, with princesses I cheered for and loved to spend time with. So it felt a little magical when three years ago, Pennyroyal Academy crossed my desk, a submission that instantly reminded of these cherished books. Only then, it was called Pennyroyal’s Princess Bootcamp. It was hilarious and charming, and we knew immediately that we wanted to publish it.

Then in a twist befitting the best fairytales, something even more magical happened: debut novelist M.A. Larson shaped Pennyroyal’s Princess Bootcamp into the extraordinary Pennyroyal Academy, a novel that’s not only sharp and funny, but is a clever Grimm-like fairytale (starring a heroine Sara Crewe and Buttercup would definitely be proud of). The tongue-in-cheek is still there, but so now, too, is an incredible warmth and heart, and a memorable cast of characters, from princesses and knights, to witches and dragons.

We first meet our heroine, Evie, stumbling through an enchanted forest, wearing a dress made of cobwebs, desperate to make her way to the famed Pennyroyal Academy. For the first time in its long history, the academy has lifted its blood restrictions and all are welcome to enroll at this premier training ground for princesses and knights. The school has no choice. With the threat of witches growing stronger every day, they need all the help they can get. But for Evie, life at the academy means enduring a harsh training regimen under the ever-watchful eye of her fairy drillsergeant, while also navigating a new world of friends and enemies. I hope you’ll have as much fun falling into the world of Pennyroyal as I have–this is a story that is surprising, tender, and inspiring, with the affirming message: “You get to decide what you want to be. No one else.” No matter what your make-believe preference, there’s something here for everyone.

ps. If you have 5 minutes (of course you do, you’re reading this!), check out the Pennyroyal website for our Princess Maker and to discover your true princess name:!


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When I was given the job of heading up Fredrick Warne publishing in the U.S., I ran home and found my old, worn copies of the Peter Rabbit stories. Memories of reading these books, about a strong-willed rabbit (both as a child and to my own children) flooded back to me. The books were worn, but well loved!

Beatrix Potter, the creator of these beloved books, was a talented and generous woman. But she was also a determined lady and not shy about speaking her mind. When The Tale of Peter Rabbit was turned down by several publishers, she was not defeated—she published it herself! And when the book was eventually picked up by Frederick Warne, Beatrix was not shy about telling her editor what she liked and didn’t like about the editorial process! Speaking your mind might not seem an out-of-the-ordinary character trait for young women today, but Beatrix lived during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and you know all too well how women back then were expected to behave!

Fast-forward 100-plus years to another strong, outspoken woman—the formidable actress and activist Emma Thompson—who has written her third original Peter Rabbit tale, The Spectacular Tale of Peter Rabbit. What I admire about Emma Thompson is that she is outspoken, elegant, and immensely talented. Both Beatrix Potter and Emma Thompson channeled their individuality through little Peter Rabbit, who is wise yet rash, funny yet dignified, and always a tad mischievous—sound familiar?

SpectacularPeterRabbitIn The Spectacular Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter’s thrill-seeking nature remains undimmed. He is still the little rabbit who doesn’t know the meaning of the word no. So, when a spectacular fair comes to town and Peter is told he can’t attend—well, you know exactly what he will do. And in case you don’t, or want to find out, pick up a copy of the book. You can also listen to the tale, which is beautifully narrated by Emma Thompson, on the CD that comes with the book.

Strong women, a strong rabbit—timeless lessons to be learned!

View all of Penguin’s Peter Rabbit Tales!