colleen conway

Colleen Conway is the Young Readers Sales Rep covering the Pacific Northwest and part of Northern California. She has worked for Penguin for 15 years and is a coffee fanatic and obsessive jam maker and baker who would rather be at the beach than anywhere else.





These are some of my favorite YA and middle grade novels from 2014:


I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson

My favorite book this year, this is a tale of twins who’ve grown apart and need to find their way back to one another. In gorgeous prose, it deals with family secrets, the joys of first love, the pain of growing up and growing apart, the vital importance of art and creativity in our lives and the importance of learning to forgive and move on. You won’t soon forget Jude and Noah’s story; I’ve read it twice already and think it’s a masterpiece. And if you haven’t read it, you should also get Nelson’s first novel, The Sky is Everywhere, which is equally beautiful.




Belzhar, by Meg Wolitzer

Meg Wolitzer has the same deft, delicate touch in her first YA novel as she has in her previous novels for adults.  Wholly original and unputdownable, this smart, raw look at overcoming trauma and learning to trust again is one teens – and adults- will love, and has an ending you’ll want to talk about with everyone you know. This is a book that should promote many conversations about love, loss and the power of acceptance and would be a perfect book group selection.





Pennyroyal Academy, by M.A. Larson

To say this isn’t your usual princess and dragon story is an understatement! Evie leaves home when she finds a postcard advertising the Pennyroyal Academy, and soon finds herself being trained by fairy drill sergeants, immersing herself in princess history, learning to fight dragons and making friends for the first time in her life. This is a book about finding yourself and standing up for what it right. I love this line from the end, which I think sums it up well: “You get to decide who you want to be. No one else.”





Under the Egg, by Laura Max Fitzgerald

I haven’t met a narrator quite as tenacious and full of moxie as Theo since I think since I first read Turtle’s story in The Westing Game when I was 10! When her grandfather dies, he whispers to Theo that there is “a letter, and a treasure, under the egg”. While looking under the large egg painting left in their apartment, Theo finds clues that set her off on an adventure and mystery across New York and through generations of history. This is perfect book about art, friendship and not just the families you are born with but those you make, and I think will be a modern classic.




The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove

Maps. Time Travel. Trains. Danger- what’s not to love? I adore fantasy, especially an epic fantasy that takes you to a place you’ve never even dreamt of before, and The Glass Sentence delivers in every way. After ‘The Great Disruption’, time splits itself apart, leaving countries and time periods mixed together. Young Sophia is growing up a century later with her uncle Shaddock, the world’s best known mapmaker, and when he is kidnapped and their secret map room destroyed she wonders if he has found a way to fix the disruption and decides to go after those who took him. First in a trilogy, The Glass Sentence has incredible world building, a tightly woven and continually surprising plot, and a main character that could have come out of a Frances Hodgson Burnett classic with her pluckiness and resolve. I can’t wait for the rest of the series.


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Julianne Clancy is a master of horror. Literally. She got her master’s degree in horror literature from Trinity College Dublin in 2009. She now spends her days as a copywriter for Berkley and NAL, and her evenings trying to convince her husband and her cat to sit through an endless stream of B-horror movies and Paranormal Activity sequels. She also cooks a lot.




The Haunting of Hill House,by Shirley Jackson 

If James Brown is the godfather of soul, Shirley Jackson is the godmother of the American Gothic. Her stories are some of the most chilling, twisted, and mind-bending in horror, and The Haunting of Hill House is the crowning achievement within her wonderful body of work. Part ghost story, part psychological puzzle, and completely terrifying, Jackson’s magnum opus will have you glancing over your shoulder to make sure none of the spirits on the pages have somehow come to life. A tour-de-force of horror that questions the nature of depression, insanity, and pure supernatural evil.




It, by Stephen King

Any list of great horror novels would have to include at least one entry from Stephen King. For me, that one book is, without a doubt, IT. King’s story of a cruel clown stalking the children of Derry, Maine plays off of the childhood fears we all still feel when something goes bump in the night. However, King’s true achievement here is in the characters, both the good and the bad, who prove to be so much more important, impactful, and horrifying than any other-worldly being could ever be. If Pennywise the Clown doesn’t frighten you, I guarantee vicious bully Henry Bowers will.




Those Across the River, by Christopher Buehlman

Buehlman wins my vote for best new horror writer of the past several years. He deftly handles creature horror while still keeping his work grounded in realistic fears that are unsettlingly relatable. This haunting tale of a failed academic discovering the dark, bloody secrets of a southern town is guaranteed to have you turning pages long into the night—and sleeping with the light on afterwards.






Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

Traditional gothic horror isn’t for everyone, but I happen to be a huge fan of the slow, creeping terror that true gothic can provide. Sarah Waters calls to mind Henry James or Edgar Allen Poe with her carefully written, chilling novel about a poor doctor in postwar England. Family secrets, insanity, and the hint of something more sinister abound—a delicious combination that gothic devotees will devour.






Omega Days by John L. Campbell

I love zombies. Always have, always will. However, I’d be the first to admit that many zombie tales fall into the category of silly or overdone. John L. Campbell’s Omega Days breaks the mold. Following a motley cast of characters as they face a sudden and devastating zombiepocalypse, this series opener reads more like a cautionary tale about human nature in crisis than standard zombie fare. Lots of action, but also lots of thought-provoking scares to keep you ruminating long after you finish the last page.




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Prior to her career in publishing Leis Pederson was busy getting her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and selling t-shirts and cigars on the beach. After abandoning that glamorous lifestyle she began her life at Berkley as an editorial intern and worked her way up. Now Leis is a Senior Editor with The Berkley Publishing Group. She acquires commercial fiction, including romance (all subgenres), erotic romance, urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mysteries and new adult.




Dance Upon the Air, by Nora Roberts

Love! A little bit of magic, a lot of romance and a great setting have me coming back to this book (and this series) again and again. I may have read it five or six times already but don’t tell anyone.







Passion, by Lisa Valdez

This is an older book, but one that has always stood out for me. If you like historical romance with an extremely sexy edge, then this is the book for you.








Bitter Spirits, by Jenn Bennett

Hands down one of the best paranormal romance novels I have read in a long time, which is probably why I acquired it. I just love her voice and who doesn’t love a sexy bootlegger?








Unforgiven, by Anne Calhoun

Emotionally driven and atmospheric romance. I can’t get enough of this contemporary romance.








Slave to Sensation, by Nalini Singh

I really have to recommend the whole series here. Nalini creates a world that just sucks you right in and I’m always holding my breath for the next one. Definitely a must read.







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Diana Gill ran Harper Voyager for 12 years before moving to Ace/Roc. Besides reading her vices are caffeine, cocktails, and plane tickets. She’s on twitter as @dianagill.







Having just moved to Penguin and Ace/Roc six months ago, I’ve been reading a bunch of our titles to get acquainted with the list—such hardship for a book lover! Here are some I’ve particularly enjoyed:


Written in Red, by Anne Bishop

I LOVE this contemporary/supernatural fantasy series so much that I begged for galleys long before I worked at Penguin. Featuring a girl named Meg who finds sanctuary among the supernatural Others (who ruled the land before humans ever arrived), these are fabulous books. The Others may resemble the vampires and werewolves you think you know, but Bishop does an amazing job of making them feel and act and think in a very Non-human way. You’ll love Meg and her encounters with the mysterious Others, and the fabulous side characters that will steal your heart (Winter! Mr. Erebus! Thunder!).




 Neuromancer & The Peripheral, by William Gibson

It’s not only the 30th anniversary of this sf classic, but Putnam’s publishing the new William Gibson novel, THE PERIPHERAL, 10/28/14! His first novel in years, and his first in more than several years set more into the future—I.Cannot. Wait. (I’ve been stalking my boss for a copy).  I really enjoyed re-reading NEUROMANCER recently, and not just because I still kind of want to be Molly–if you haven’t read this seminal cyperpunk work, you should, both for elegant, visceral phrasing, and for our world that is becoming more and more virtual ever day. And because Molly.


Blood Song, by Anthony Ryan

I read BLOOD SONG on the plane to San Diego Comic-Con, and instantly requested TOWER LORD so that I could read it on the plane ride back—these epic fantasies focusing on warrior Val Al’Sorna are that good. If you want great epic fantasy, sworn military brothers, and a fast, fabulous read, these are for you. If you need something to try while GRRM and Pat Rothfuss work on their epics, these are also for you.





prince of fools

Prince of Fools, by Mark Lawrence

The Broken Empire trilogy is very dark, lyrical, bloody epic fantasy, and I couldn’t stop reading it. Now, with the Red Queen’s War, Lawrence stays within the Broken Empire world, but a very unlikely hero—a playboy prince who would much wench and wine than fight or rule. If you like smart, engrossing epic fantasy with neat twists, sly humor, necromancers, dark undercurrents and/or Vikings, try this.






Dune, by Frank Herbert

This is one of my all-time, absolute favorite science fiction novels ever (yes, I have the “Fear is the  Mind Killer” speech memorized—geek, c’est moi), so had to put it in. The battle for water is increasingly topical, but moreover, this is just a great space opera with neat tech, galaxies in danger, And gigantic spice/sand worms.






Midnight Crossroad, by Charlaine Harris

And because editors love talking about books they’re excited about—I’ve just read the new Charlaine Harris following MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD that will be out next summer, and it is FANTASTIC. So if you haven’t tried MC yet, do check it out. There’s a lot of strange stuff happening in Midnight Texas that you will not want to miss.





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David Martin works in Viking Editorial and lives in Queens. His accompanying portrait was, unfortunately yet predictably, photobombed by Mookie Wilson and Michael Barson.








Loving, by Henry Green

It says something that I haven’t read the two other novels in this volume (Living and Party Going). Probably that I’m easily distracted and slothful. But Loving is so remarkable a piece of writing that part of me doesn’t want to read anything else by Henry Green because I, selfishly and irrationally, want everything to be like Loving.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas—I reread this last summer. It might be the most perfect “commercial” fiction novel ever written. It is also, more importantly, funny. Very very funny.




True Cross, by T.R. Pearson

A number of years ago Penguin published a few novels by Pearson: True Cross, Blue Ridge, and Polar. They are each worth reading. Pearson is a writer condescendingly labeled as “regional.” Which we all know means Southern, eccentric, peripheral. Yet his region seems much more wide-ranging than those territories scoured by many current authors whom we hold in much higher esteem.




archyThe Annotated Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis

If Penguin Classics solely existed to put back into print books like this, then for that alone we should be grateful.  How had I never stumbled upon the writings of Don Marquis before? Archy is a cockroach who types out poems on a rickety typewriter and Mehitabel is a cat, many times reincarnated. Don Marquis published Archy’s “poems” in the New York Evening Sun in the teens and twenties. They are exemplars of the American idiom. And yes, also, very very funny.





Elmore Leonard Four Novels of the 1970s: Fifty-Two Pick-Up/Swag/Unknown Man No. 89/The Switch

This one is a bit of a cheat. It’s published by Library of America (August 2014) but we distribute LOA so close enough, right? It’ll have to suffice for now. Leonard wrote a lot of books. And many of those books were not so good. But when he was good, he was very good. And this quartet features some of his best. Swag and Unknown Man No. 89 contain two of the greatest first chapters in all of Western literature. And Unknown Man No. 89 has the best opening since Moby-Dick and Lolita. Hyperbole? I guess. But honestly, not really. Just read them.

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Carrie Swetonic is the Director of Marketing for Dutton.  When not reading on creating killer marketing campaigns, she can be found rangling her toddler, her dog, or both, or sharing the latest picture of either.





untilshecomeshomeUntil She Comes Home, by Lori Roy

Until She Comes Home is a haunting suspense novel in which a pair of seemingly unrelated murders shatters a 1950s Detroit neighborhood.  I love a novel that transports me to another era and one that makes me feel entwined in the lives of the characters and this book did just that with its beautiful writing.  Plus, it had me guessing until the very end.  Lori Roy is a very clever writer and she just gets better and better with every book. Look out for LET ME DIE IN HER FOOTSTEPS, coming June 2015!




suspicionSuspicion, by Joseph Finder

Joseph Finder has a real talent for telling intriguing and original stories centered on an ordinary character who gets wrapped up in extraordinary circumstances—while managing to stay completely believable throughout.  SUSPICION is one of those novels where you continuously ask yourself “what would you do?”  When Danny Goodman, desperate to keep his daughter in the school she loves, accepts a tuition loan from Thomas Galvin, the wealthy father of his daughter’s best friend, his life changes forever. Just who is Thomas Galvin and how in over his head has Danny become?  As in many great suspense novels, the truth is more complicated than it seems.  The tension steadily builds throughout this novel and it’s especially impossible to put the book down during any of the incredible scenes between Danny and Thomas.

To say Elizabeth George excels at character development is a huge understatement.  This was the first Elizabeth George novel I ever read.  A long book, and yet every page is absorbing. Not a standard mystery, this is a more a story of the secrets and lies within a highly dysfunctional family.  The plot is multilayered and the writing is thoughtful and elegant.  This book has made me an Elizabeth George fan.






The Likeness, by Tana French

This novel has it all:  Gorgeous writing, memorable and very interesting characters, psychological thrills, and edge-of-your-seat suspense.   It had me riveted from beginning to end and made every new book from her a definite must-read for me.  She’s every bit as good as they say. Her latest, THE SECRET PLACE, is next on my nightstand.





keeperThe Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The flawed, darkly funny protagonist– disgraced police detective Carl Morck will draw you in. Add to that a fascinating cold case and a quirky, mysterious sidekick and you’ve got one incredibly entertaining book.   I love how the characters become even more interesting as the series evolves as more is revealed about them. Simply an excellent book and the start of an excellent series





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Andy Photo

Andy Dudley is a Digital Business Manager for Penguin. His favorite place to get lunch near the office is Fiacco’s for their roast beef sub.






howwegottonowHow We Got to Now, by Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson does what every science writer should be doing; he takes complicated issues and simplifies them without dumping them down. In How We Got to Now he addresses 6 different areas of technological development (glass, cold, sound, clean, time, and light) and shows how we got to this moment with each. It’s a fun, informative read. And if you want more, PBS is doing a series based on the book starting Oct 15th.






Five Came Back, by Mark Harris

No one writes about movies like Mark Harris (I always keep an extra copy of his prior book Pictures at a Revolution in my office just to give away to people). In Five Came Back, Mark looks at five of the most important directors from Hollywood’s Golden Age and how they came to influence the narrative of WWII and how we even remember the war today. Mark’s writing is Oscar-worthy.






The Plantagenets, by Dan Jones

Did you know that there were a real group of people almost as fascinating as the imaginary characters on Game of Thrones? Dan Jones brings the real-life characters of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine (who makes Cersei seem like a good wife and mother), Richard the Lionheart, and makes every sword thrust and toppling of king jump of the page. They may not have had any dragons, but they sure had the murdering down.






Command and Control, by Eric Schlosser

You probably remember from Schlosser from Fast Food Nation and how he addressed the recklessness of the fast food industry. In Command and Control, he addresses the recklessness of the nuclear weapon industry and wow, HOW ARE WE ALL STILL HERE? The number of times the world was almost blown up is frightening and Schlosser talks about a number of the close calls. Read this with the lights on.






Detroit, by Charlie LeDuff

Charlie LeDuff is a mad man. And I mean that as a compliment. In only the way he can, Charlie shows how his adopted hometown of Detroit has been brought down by corruption, destroyed by arson, battered around by politicians looking to make a buck, and the ordinary people who are just trying to survive every single day that represent all of America. And because of these people, even Charlie can hold on to a chance of redemption for Detroit, and hopefully, the entire country.




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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!

sdn1As soon as I finished reading the manuscript of Cristina Moracho’s Althea and Oliver, I knew I had to buy it for Viking. Even in its raw form, it was stunning—a coming-of-age story that combined lyricism and grit, humor and hard truths, and absolutely nailed life at the end of high school, when your tether to family and friends is beginning to fray. I couldn’t believe it was her first novel.

Neither could my colleagues. The word spread from Editorial to Design to Sub Rights to Marketing to Sales, and to my delight I watched every reader become an evangelist. Althea and Oliver is that rare book whose appeal crosses generational lines, and here’s why: It’s not a YA novel so much as a work of literature with teenagers in it.

It’s set in North Carolina, in the mid-1990s. Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since age six. Now, as they come up on their senior year of high school, Althea realizes that she wants more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, wants things to go back to normal—because his body has begun to betray him. When he falls asleep in class and wakes up at home three weeks later with no memory of what has happened, he is finally forced to admit that something is seriously wrong.

And then Althea, who even at her best is an instigator, makes a very bad decision, and their relationship is shattered. Before they can talk it through, Oliver leaves town for a clinical sleep study in Manhattan, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain; Althea gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

A plot summary can tell you just so much. Molly Templeton, from WORD Bookstores, can tell you more: “I loved it, to the point where I’m a little bit speechless.  I love that it’s a love story that isn’t a romance, and a coming-of-age tale that doesn’t have any too-tidy epiphanies; it felt intimate, accurate, and vivid, like I was living the book along with the characters. I can’t wait to tell people about this one. It’s mind-blowingly good.”Althea&Oliver

And others agree. Althea and Oliver has already gotten three starred reviews, been selected by the Junior Library Guild, has publication deals in six countries—and counting!—and I’ve just received the finished audiobook.

But, of course, the proof is in the prose. If you want to start reading Althea and Oliver right now, has made it very easy for you. Just click here!


Fall has fallen, and that means… book season! This Monday kicked off the Brooklyn Book Festival, which is a great series of events for readers, librarians, publishing professionals, etc. For me, it meant going to this Opening Night party, where I gawked at famous internetty book people, saw friends, and watched the Knausgaard Mad Libs.

If you’re in the New York area, swing by on Sunday to learn about book design, ebook reading, creativity and how to write. Here’s the full list of events.

This week, I got to explore Blue Rider and Portfolio‘s Book Room! It’s often important to have backlist copies of books in the office – at any given point, each imprint has about twenty copies of their book list. It’s a part of book publishing one might not necessarily see or know about, so I was glad to check it out and get to share with you all.


Lastly, I have some exciting news: the official Penguin Tumblr has launched. Follow us for behind-the-scenes office tours, posts about cover art design process, vintage ads and photos and much, much more.

What would you like to see more of? My favorite series so far is First Line Fridays. The first lines of books we love are often particularly memorable, set a tone, or reveal something about the author. Just look at this one from The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.


Do you have any first or last lines memorized? Any one you’d particularly like to see on tumblr?

It’s been a busy week, readers. Hope you’ve got lots of exciting plans for the weekend! Enjoy.