leis

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.

 

 

danceupontheair

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

bitterspirit

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

Unforgiven, by Anne Calhoun

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

slavetosensation

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find more books on the Romance page

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dianagill

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:

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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!).

 

 

 neuromanceperipheral

 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.

bloodsong

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

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.

 

 

 

 

midnightcrossroad

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.

 

 

 

 

Find more books on the Science Fiction / Fantasy page

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davidmartin

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

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.

 

 

truecross

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.

Find more books on the Literary Fiction page!

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carries

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.

 

 

 

 

likeness

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

 

 

 

 

Find more books on the Mystery & Suspense page!

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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.

 

 

 

 

fivecameback

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.

 

 

 

 

plantagenets

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

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

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.

 

 

 

Find more books on the Current Events & History page!

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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, EW.com has made it very easy for you. Just click here!


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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 


LauriHornik_photoHere’s the sneaky thing about books for young kids: They give those kids quite a lot of power over you the reader. The kids get to choose the book you’ll read to them, and then . . . whatever the words on the page say, you as reader HAVE to say. Out loud. Even if those words are tremendously silly and embarrassing and make you seem completely and utterly preposterous.

That’s the sly, ingenious, irresistible premise of B.J. Novak’s The Book with No Pictures. You probably know B.J. as Ryan Howard on “The Office,” or as a supporting actor in the movies “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” I hope you know that he was also a writer of “The Office”; and if you’re lucky, you have already read his excellent, acclaimed short story collection One More Thing.

But none of us knew B.J. Novak as a child whisperer—as one of the rare class of grownups who understand what makes young kids giggle. Boy, does he understand! I had the pleasure of watching him read his book aloud to a group of first graders. They didn’t know him from his acting roles, but he knew them—he knew what they found unbelievably funny. Words like blork and bluurf and badoongy-face. Hearing an adult forced to talk in a robot-monkey voice, and to sing a song about eating ants for breakfast, all the while protesting that “this isn’t the kind of book I wanted to read.” I still have that roar of first-grade laughter in my head.

You don’t need to be a comedian like B.J. Novak to read this book successfully, though. I’ve tested it with lots of my colleagues and friends and family. Everybody is funny when reading this book. Deadpan, singsong, completely over the top goofy . . . doesn’t matter. It always works. And I am especially fond of B.J.’s hidden agenda: to teach young kids—through this hilarity—that words are exciting.  That words are powerful. This picture book, you see, doesn’t have a single picture in it, not even a jacket-flap picture of the author himself. Just words—goofy, nonsensical, wonderful words!

TheBookWithNoPicturesBonk. (I didn’t want to say that. The kids made me do it.)

 

This innovative and wildly funny read-aloud by award-winning humorist/actor B.J. Novak will turn any reader into a comedian. Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)


diaryofamaddivaWords can’t really express how surreal it feels knowing that Joan Rivers has passed away. It’s simply hard to believe. Salacious and sharp from Johnny Carson to the Fashion Police, Joan’s quick wit truly made her eternal. She knew the key to a brilliant life is to laugh. Never take anyone or anything too seriously. Laugh at the world and, most of all, laugh at yourself. She was groundbreaking, she was hilarious, she was fierce…and she was part of our big Penguin family.

“Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” – Joan Rivers

Our thoughts are with Joan’s daughter Melissa and her grandson Cooper, her family and friends, and all of those around the world who were touched by her humor, her big heart, and her extraordinary generosity of spirit.

joanriversJoan has two books with us, the New York Times bestseller  I Hate Everyone… Starting With Me, and the newly published Diary of a Mad DivaI must admit that as someone who thought she would live forever, I’ve yet to read these and now plan to immediately. Her legacy will forever live on through television, film, web, and literature. Let’s not forget all the zingers comedians will pass on in her name. My friends and I have tickets to The Comedy Cellar tonight, and we’re looking forward to all the touching yet hilarious tributes ahead. Because in the end, how can anyone who cherishes comedy go easy on the ultimate roasting legend?

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While we’re on the subject of awesome people that happen to be Penguin Random House authors, Lena Dunham posted an Instagram photo of the book Women in Clothes. I’ll let the overview quote itself: “It is essentially a conversation among hundreds of women of all nationalities—famous, anonymous, religious, secular, married, single, young, old—on the subject of clothing, and how the garments we put on every day define and shape our lives.” Just in time for New York Fashion Week, this book will be a staple for women everywhere who acknowledge that appearance gives us confidence and connects our personalities to those around us.

Lena Dunham’s memoir Not That Kind of Girl is on sale at the end of this month, 9/30. She did a reading at Book Expo America this year. Maybe I’m biased…Okay, I’m definitely biased, but this book will be hilarious. Much like her usual self-deprecating humor, Lena’s personal musings kept the event hall roaring with laughter. Even in a moment of tongue twisting, she broke out of her narrative to rewind and reread in a bit of improv. Lena, much like Joan Rivers, enjoys poking at herself probably more than others do. She is certainly a “creative wonder” as quoted by Judy Blume.

In other influential and culturally relevant news, check out our CEO, Markus Dohle, who participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. He, in turn, nominated author Dan Brown. Fingers crossed he’ll pull through. If you wish to donate to ALS, click here.

Have a lovely weekend, and don’t forget to laugh.

-Lindsay