Amy interviews Kevin Birmingham, author of THE MOST DANGEROUS BOOK.
Read an excerpt and learn about the book here.
Amy interviews Kevin Birmingham, author of THE MOST DANGEROUS BOOK.
Read an excerpt and learn about the book here.
John Mercun works as the Consumer Engagement Manager for Penguin Random House’s Consumer Marketing Group and is known as “the funniest guy in the office”, mainly because no one else is editing this bio. In his spare time, John is a police dispatcher, volunteer EMT, fantasy football fanatic and, when time permits, an avid reader.
One of the great pleasures of working in publishing is being able to watch an author get more and more popular every year that they publish. This is no truer than in the case of Robert Crais, who has made a name for himself as a terrific mystery writer. Elvis Cole is easily one of my favorite literary characters, mainly because he always has a glib comment in the best or worst of times. Partnered with the strong but silent Joe Pike, together they take on a missing persons case that puts both of them up against more than they bargained for.
If you’ve never seen A&E’s hit show LONGMIRE, you should first pick up The Cold Dish, the first novel in the series. We meet Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire for the first time as he is looking back on twenty-five years as sheriff and hoping to finish his tenure in peace. When a high school boy is found dead, however, Walt’s hopes for a quiet finish to his career are dashed. Capturing the American West with great feel and authenticity, author Craig Johnson gives readers a mystery that they will keep reading well into the night.
In the two decades as the chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office of Manhattan, Linda Fairstein spent most of her time solving crimes. Now she spends most of her time writing about people who solve crimes. Terminal City reunites readers with Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper who find themselves hunting for an elusive killer whose only signature is carving a carefully drawn symbol into his victims’ bodies. This thrill ride takes readers into the darkest heart of one of New York’s most iconic structures – Grand Central Terminal.
I’ve always appreciated the smart and surly police detective who walks to the beat of his own drum while getting the job done. And no one fits that bill more than Carl Mørck, the deeply flawed head of Copenhagen’s unsolved crime unit known as “Department Q”. With a few years left until retirement, Mørck hopes to quietly whittle the time away in the basement of police headquarters. Unfortunately, that plan has yet to work out. This time, he’s chasing down a fifteen year old gypsy boy on the run and a mystery that extends from Denmark to Africa, from embezzlers to child soldiers, from seemingly petty crime rings to the very darkest of cover-ups. Coming this September!
Harlan Coben is no stranger to the mystery and suspense world. NYPD Detective Kat Donovan has become an old friend to his readers and, with each book, the friendship grows a little deeper. Against her will, Kat is placed on an online dating site that at first she thinks is a waste of time. But when she looks at the accompanying photo to one profile, her world comes crashing down. Staring back her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, who broke her heart over 18 years ago. Things are not what they seem, however, and when Kat reaches out to him an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light that Kat is forced to confront and stop.
Find more books on the Mystery & Suspense page!
Paul Wargelin is a mild-mannered Web Copy Manager for the great metropolitan Penguin Random House’s Berkley and NAL imprints, who also writes and edits cover copy for the Ace, Roc, and InkLit imprints. Despite a lifetime exposed to a variety of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and superhero fiction, he has yet to develop any superpowers of his own.
Easily the best debut novel I have ever read, science fiction or otherwise. We already live in a world where cameras on every street corner, and in everyone’s hands, record everything we do 24/7. Now, imagine collating all of that recorded footage into a virtual environment, recreated precisely from every conceivable angle, its historical events preserved for people to experience and interact with again and again. Tomorrow and Tomorrow is the poignant story of one man’s addiction to reliving his virtual past, an intriguing murder mystery that unfolds both online and off, and a thought-provoking near-future vision that takes our technological social connected society to its logical, plausible, and increasingly isolating conclusion. My favorite book Penguin has published since I started my career here.
A mesmerizing science fiction mystery featuring the most exciting first chapter I’ve read in recent memory, Lexicon hits the ground running with an amnesiac desperately trying to regain his lost memories and doesn’t stop until his final confrontation against a woman capable of destroying the world with a single word. A riveting story of how ambition, power, and ultimately love, alters our very essence.
A fallen angel. A city comprised of dirigibles. Cybernetic cannibals called carnivorgs. These are just a few of the elements found in Terminal World’s post-apocalyptic far future setting. An incredible adventure from one of science fiction’s most imaginative practitioners, Alastair Reynolds’s novel is a must read for Steampunk aficionados willing to expand their horizons beyond the genre’s basic tropes.
Since I was introduced to Bob Howard in The Atrocity Archives, I’ve faithfully followed the adventures of this tech nerd/cubicle jockey turned “computational demonologist” as he reluctantly fights the forces of Lovecraftian darkness on behalf of Her Majesty’s anti-occult organization known as the Laundry. Bob’s role as an everyman office drone separates him from the destined supernatural warriors chronicled in most urban fantasies, making him one of the most relatable protagonists in the genre. The Rhesus Chart pits Bob against vampire financiers employed by a literal blood bank as Charles Stross once again demonstrates just how bureaucratic office politics can lead to Armageddon in both humorous and horrific style.
The late John Steakley’s contribution to vampire mythology is an action-packed thrill-ride featuring the hunters of Vampire$, Inc., secretly bankrolled by the Catholic Church, exterminating bloodsuckers with extreme prejudice. But the endless cycle of violence against near-immortal demons takes its toll as Jack Crow and his team begin to lose their capacity for compassion—and their very humanity—after every battle. Cynical and daring, Steakley’s focus on Crow’s crew as soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome while leaving the vampires in the shadows made this novel one of my most emotionally invested reads.
Harry Turtledove proves the pen is mightier than the sword as William Shakespeare writes a play to galvanize a conquered populace to turn against their occupiers in this alternate history about the Spanish Armada’s successful invasion of Elizabethan England. Immersing himself in the literary language of the era, Turtledove has crafted an inspired novel in true Shakespearean fashion with his intriguing cat and mouse game between the Bard and Spanish playwright/soldier Lope de Vega, depicted as mutually respectful adversaries loyal to opposing regimes. What I love about Turtledove’s historical novels is that you don’t have to be a scholar to enjoy them, and I find myself educated as well as entertained.
One hundred teenage boys volunteer to trek down the east coast of the United States as contestants in a brutal game of endurance, marching non-stop until only one remains. Reading this in one day, King’s relentless narrative had me just as fatigued as the walkers, feeling their psychological and physical stress as they faltered and fell one-by-one. Taut and tight characterizations put you inside the head and heart of each featured walker, learning the dreams, fears, and agendas that drive them to win. It may have originally been published under his Richard Bachman pseudonym, but in my estimation The Long Walk ranks among the best novels of King’s career—and is also a frightening vision of the potential direction “Reality TV” could take in the future.
Find more books on the Science Fiction / Fantasy page!
Alaina Mauro is Publishing Manager for the Adult imprints at Penguin Group. She is a well-known romance-phile, and has been known to discuss the literary merits of her favorite romances with pretty much anyone who will listen. She thanks the Penguin blog for giving her the opportunity to proselytize to a wider audience.
Julie James is my go-to for an absorbing, funny, contemporary romance novel. She’s always the first I recommend to friends interested in reading romance. Her novels are full of wonderfully drawn characters who feel like real people, and by the end, real friends. It Happened One Wedding is no exception, and the story of Vaughn Roberts, Special Agent, and Sidney Sinclair, investment banker, is engaging from their first funny coffee shop not-meet-cute, in which both decides the other is not for them. Circumstances draw them together, and their gradual friendship that turns into something more is delightful to read. This is one of those book’s that I like to have more than one copy of—one to keep, and one to loan—it’s that good.
The fourth book in Jill Shalvis’s Animal Magnetism series is about veterinarians in rural Idaho. Dr. Emily Stevens is about to start a new internship far from her Los Angeles life at an animal clinic in rural Idaho, working for Drs. Dell and Adam Connelly. She has a plan. It involves spending the least amount of time in Idaho as possible to get a permanent position in LA, and marrying someone whose goals line up with hers. Not on the plan is Dr. Wyatt Stone, her new boss. She had a one-night stand with Wyatt months earlier at a veterinarian conference and expected to never see him again. Then Came You is a great contemporary romance about two people trying to reconcile life’s plans with life’s reality. Wyatt, in particular, is an excellent hero, and it was great to see him get his Happily Ever After. Though this is the fourth book in the series, it can easily be read without having read the others, but also, the others are great and you should totally read them!
Historical romance is my favorite romance subgenre, and Sherry Thomas is one of the best writing currently. Her stories are emotionally engaging in a way that is really rewarding for the reader. Ravishing the Heiress is the second book in a series set in Edwardian England about the Fizhugh siblings. It’s my favorite of the series and can be read without having read the others. It is that most-common historical trope, an arranged marriage, which starts with the main characters, Millicent and Fitzhugh, both having had their hearts broken with their true loves through circumstance, agreeing to marry each other, but that if either’s true love were to become available, to part ways with no hard feelings. When Fitz’s love, Isabelle returns to London, their agreement is put to the test. This story is one where the HEA is far from secure. Will Fitz end up with Isabelle? Will Millie find her own love? Has there been more between Fitz and Millie than either was willing to admit? Finding out, and the way the Thomas resolves these issues, is what make this book really stand out.
Beatriz Williams writes engrossing novels with strong, well-drawn, female characters who don’t always act the way romantic heroines “should” and her books are all the better for it. The Secret Life of Violet Grant is set in 1914 Berlin and 1964 New York City, and follows Violet and Vivian Schuyler. Vivian has just graduated from Bryn Mawr and has defied her wealthy Manhattan family to get a job! And live on her own! And to actually do it successfully! The horror! She receives a parcel in the mail, a suitcase, which belonged to Violet. Violet is a hushed-up family secret, and Vivian becomes determined to find out what happened to her. The story is told from both Violet’s and Vivian’s point of view, and both women are smart, compelling characters. Of course, this wouldn’t be here if there weren’t two excellent heroes to help both women with their mysteries. Both romances are deliciously complicated, and the resolutions are extremely satisfying.
Romance is My Day Job is actually a memoir by Patience Bloom, an editor at Harlequin. And yet, it is my favorite romantic story of the year. Patience, like some other people I know, grew up devouring romance novels, and expected that she too would find her hero, her happily ever after, her grand love. Then she moved to New York City, got her dream job at Harlequin editing romance, and…nothing happened. No hero, although many near-heroes. The book opens with a single, happy Patience in her early forties, living her life, when she receives an out-of-the-blue message from an old friend. All of a sudden it seems as if maybe her grand love might be a real possibility. Patience is an hilarious narrator, and anyone who has read and loved even one romance novel, will love her. Her actual romance is as compelling as any of the others here, if not more so, because it’s real.
Find more books on the Romance page!
Alexis works with books, and is a lover of the following, in no particular order: stories, believing in making a difference, London, San Francisco, New York City, traveling, banter, Converse, coffee, and Keds.
Set in Crown Heights Brooklyn this is the story of a second generation West-Indie boy and a Hassidic girl who meet and fall in love when they are trapped in an elevator. It’s a modern, real, star-crossed lover story that is a bit West Side Story and a bit Romeo and Juliet but with less violence and a strong, thoughtful, female lead. With countless romances in literature painting the story of girls giving away their souls (cough-Twilight – cough), it’s nice to find a story that shows you how to stay true to your first love, and to yourself.
With undertones of Siren Lore, a feisty female lead, and a story that leaves you wondering what exactly is real, what isn’t, and if something mystical exists, this is a summer read not to be missed. As soon as I opened this book I couldn’t put it down. Bring it to the beach and enjoy in the wet hot humidity where most of its story takes place. You won’t regret it.
This book is something so special. Magical realism is the term everyone’s using. It’s a story that is told vividly, and has musical undertones. It deals with loss, self-discovery, class, and belonging through the story of a young man, a little girl, and the summer that changed everything. I can’t urge you enough to read this one. Just do it.
Now, as a publishing professional, I secretly LOVE when books are made into movies, but, I always ALWAYS believe that a person should read the book first. It helps you make up your own mind and then approach the movie with a bit of intelligence, and, having had experienced the story without anyone else’s images clouding your imagination. Which is why I am recommending this book this month. If you haven’t read it, and if you are looking at trailers of the movie – DON’T GO UNTIL YOU READ IT. This story of love, life, and death should be experienced in your own head and heart first. Trust me.
I always say this when people ask me about this book, but I mean it: this is not another witch book. This book is amazing. Told from the perspective of a young man (Nathan) who is a witch, born of an evil father (who just happens to be the world’s powerful and cruel Black witch) and of good mother. This is the beginning of a trilogy where we journey with Nathan as he tries to figure out where he belongs. It’s thrilling and set in modern day England. Read it quickly before the next one comes out!
Find more books on the Young Readers page!
Erica Martirano is the associate director of marketing for Berkley, Celebra, DAW Books, and InterMix. In her spare time she harasses the editors for early manuscripts on her favorite books (a publishing perk!) and has been known to pester the NAL publisher in particular for JR Ward. To date the publisher has not acquiesced.
I’ll admit it—I’m a JR Ward junkie and basically love everything she does—but this is a standout favorite of mine throughout the entire BDB series. Zsadist’s story never fails to literally bring me to tears (something my husband will never stop making fun of me about), and is really where I got hooked on the story of the brothers. Of all the brothers, he’s the most damaged, and before you know it, you’re rooting for Bella to help try to repair him. The series as a whole really just rocks, but if you read nothing else JR Ward you have to read this one!
This book is unfairly good. Like, slap-the-person-who-wants-to-talk-while-you’re-reading good. Pia Giovanni is blackmailed into stealing a relic from one of the most powerful members of the Elder Races, Dragos Cuelebre, and the romance that develops between the two of them basically sets the pages on fire. This is an outstanding start to a series and somehow manages to make DRAGONS sexy!
Before everyone starting thinking I only do the romances…the Chicagoland Vampires series is AMAZING, and Blood Games is no exception. Merit is a vampire, Sentinel of Cadogan House in Chicago, and she basically kicks all sorts of ass, humans and paranormal creatures alike. In this installment, a killer is going after the human population in Chicago and leaving his victims with magical souvenirs.
And okay, she also has a super hot boyfriend, Ethan, who’s the head vampire of the house. But these are completely urban fantasy books, so if you like your heroines bold and with a sword, Chicagoland is for you!
The Mercy Thompson novels are like chips—you can’t have just one! I just started reading this series this year and zipped through the eight of them in what felt like a week. Mercy’s another badass heroine, a shapeshifting VW mechanic who somehow manages to find herself in sticky situations. Here, her mate’s ex is being stalked by a paranormal creature leaving bodies all over the Tri-Cities of Washington state, and Mercy needs to put aside her personal feelings in order to stop him. It also doesn’t hurt that the cover art on these books is absolutely fantastic—Dan Dos Santos is a master!
Find more books on the Paranormal page!
I LOVE Summer and I like to think I’m really good at it (if one can be “good” at a season). There’s nothing more enjoyable than the sun, a beach, waves (of the pool or ocean variety), and a novel that matches your outfit. So here are my literary fiction selections to take you from the sand to al fresco dining.
This book is the clear beach choice, and what I will be reading in my American flag swimsuit over the 4th of July. The Post family travels from NYC to the beautiful island of Mallorca, but can’t escape their problems. Emma paints a beautiful portrait of a family experiencing change, and this will likely make you laugh as well as cry.
This rainbow book selection will brighten any day! Meg’s novel follows a group of friends from summer camp all the way through middle age, and touches on the questions we all have at one time or another. It’s introspective as well as enlightening, and will make you think fondly of your childhood friends, and maybe try to reconnect over a beach bonfire.
One of the first books I read as an early manuscript when I started at Penguin five years ago, the story of Kimberly Chang has stayed with me. We can all relate to feeling like an outsider, and Jean Kwok’s lyrical tale of ambition, family expectations, and forbidden love should not be missed.
I admit I love World War II novels, and this one is my favorite. This incredibly written novel follows Sigrid Schröder of Berlin, who appears to be the perfect soldier’s wife, until she meets a Jewish man that changes her entire world.
The perfect green-grass picnic read, this novel introduces three sisters who have returned to the home in which they grew up. I think we can all relate to the feeling of coming home, and Eleanor captures it beautifully, and intersperses words from Shakespeare that add to the delight.
Wear a headscarf and get a convertible – this book is the perfect summertime romp back to New York City in 1937, and all that entails. You’ll meet Katey and Eve and Tinker, and you won’t soon forget them.
Find more books on the Literary Fiction page!
Sam Raim works in editorial for Penguin Books and Penguin Classics, where he advances his longtime goal of convincing everyone to read Saul Bellow.
One of my favorite parts of working in Penguin Classics is having a row of Saul Bellow novels right above my desk. Bellow’s characters go through struggles relevant to us all and I’ve found his work to be a constant companion regardless of where my life has taken me. I’ll confess that my favorites are Herzog and Collected Stories, but Henderson has a special worth to me as the first Bellow I ever encountered. It’s full of his deeply profound and hilarious (yes, Bellow is funny!) musings on the human condition and I think it makes a perfect starting point for his work.
I love short, thoughtful books on big classics, like Nathaniel Philbrick’s Why Read Moby-Dick? So in the months leading up to the 75th anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath, I devoured Susan Shillinglaw’s concise study of Steinbeck’s classic. It’s a delight to climb into Professor Shillinglaw’s jalopy and let her guide us along the journey taken by both the Joads and John Steinbeck.
Anniversaries are perfect opportunities and excuses to revisit books we haven’t read in far too long. I recently reread Joyce’s short story collection for its hundredth anniversary and found myself amazed by the capacity of its pivotal moments to move me just as strongly they did upon my first reading. The little boy staring up into the darkness at the end of “Araby,” the tragic inability of Eveline to follow her lover, and of course the snow falling “upon all the living and the dead”—these are the literary moments that have stayed with me like few others.
2014 marks the centennial of the Great War (last anniversary, I promise!) so I’ve been digging back through the incredible literary output that resulted from what Wilfred Owen called “the pity of war.” The diverse poems in this collection — such horror so masterfully documented — are astonishing. It’s not only great war poetry, but it’s also some of the 20th century’s best poetry. Owen and Sassoon are of course household names, but Isaac Rosenberg and Edward Thomas are two of my favorites. In fact, Thomas’s “Rain” may be my favorite WWI poem.
“One had to discount, he thought, exaggerated speeches that concealed commonplace affections; as if the fullness of the soul did not sometimes overflow in the emptiest of metaphors, since none of us can ever express the exact measure of our needs, or our ideas, or our sorrows, and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when we long to inspire pity in the stars.” It shouldn’t take much more than that to convince you that it’s time to read Lydia Davis’s translation of Flaubert.
I like to think that the Iliad vs. Odyssey debate is a bit like the literary version of Beatles vs. Stones. Everyone has a side to take and though I love Odysseus’s journey, I can’t help finding myself drawn always to the epic scale of The Iliad. I’ve read this in numerous translations but my money’s on Fagles every time. No one else succeeds as he does in capturing the atmosphere and feeling of the Trojan War, the sheer grandeur of gods and men at battle. By this point, my copy looks as if it’s been through a war of its own.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t end this with my favorite author. Jacob’s Room was Woolf’s attempt to do away with all the material trappings of the Edwardian novel (“no scaffolding; scarcely a brick to be seen,” she said). As the narrator and characters consider the eponymous Jacob, sifting through the people and places that made up his life, Woolf asks essential questions about how we know both the characters in our books and the people in our lives. The first of Woolf’s modernist efforts, Jacob’s Room perhaps lacks the elegance of later masterpieces, but that’s what keeps me coming back time and time again to search through those cracks for signs of Jacob.
Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!
Sarah is a Marketing Manager at Viking, specializing in nonfiction. She lives in the Bronx and is obsessed with sketch comedy.
Just over one year after the Supreme Court decision to overturn Proposition 8, the two lawyers who argued for the plaintiffs offer an insightful and riveting look inside the inner workings of the case. Theirs is an unlikely pairing—one conservative, the other liberal, they argued against each another in Bush v. Gore—but they were able to put aside their political differences and join forces to fight for what they believed in, which is hard not to get inspired by.
This book achieves the trifecta of history, literature, and murder. By weaving together F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing of The Great Gatsby with the unfolding criminal investigation of the 1922 Hall-Mills murder, Churchwell looks for clues as how to how aspects of the case—which was a major ongoing news story that year—may have made their way into Gatsby. It also details the Fitzgeralds’ lives in Great Neck and the fascinating characters they hobnobbed with, from newspapermen to bootleggers to criminal bosses. We of course have no way of confirming if Churchwell’s suspicions are true, but it’s fun to think about regardless.
Blood Aces, by Doug Swanson - On sale 8/14/14
This is the pulp-infused true story of Benny Binion, the Texas gangster and pioneering Las Vegas casino owner whose legacy can still be felt today (he founded the hugely successful World Series of Poker). As Dallas’s reigning mob boss, Binion could be brutal, yet he was fiercely protective of his family and philanthropic when it was to his advantage. Brimming with tales of the criminal underworld and Binion’s shrewd business practices, which often turned violent (he is quoted as having said “I ain’t never killed a man who didn’t deserve it”), this dark slice of Americana is compelling and vivid—you can almost smell the stale Camels and last night’s beer at Binion’s Horseshoe.
Counter to popular lore, this book argues that the majority of the fires ravaging parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan in the ‘70s were caused by a faulty computer model. In the ‘60s Mayor Lindsay teamed up with a think tank called the RAND Corporation to develop a way to govern the city more efficiently and statistically, starting with the fire department. But their methods were deeply flawed, resulting in severely reduced service in the neighborhoods that needed it desperately. It was an aspect of New York City history I hadn’t been aware of—and I’ve read a lot of books on New York City history. With so much of our current world moving to statistical analysis to predict just about everything from customer buying habits to election outcomes to the nation’s best burrito, this seems especially relevant.
If you’re anything like me, you love reading about the culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Pictures at a Revolution profiles the five movies that were nominated for Best Picture of 1967, offering not just the stories of the making of each individual film, but a broader picture of Hollywood in the ‘60s and the overall culture and atmosphere of the era. In a year that marked a real turning point for American movies, not to mention the culture at large, the five nominees represent both the new and the old, the generational divide sharply on display. The book offers some fascinating on-set stories and priceless trivia—who knew that at one point Bonnie and Clyde was to be directed by Jean-Luc Godard, who wanted to cast Elliott Gould as Clyde Barrow? (I actually kind of wish that had happened.)
Find more books on the Current Events & History page!
Anne Kosmoski is the Assistant Publicity Director for Gotham and Avery. She has books her in blood … and all over her apt, which makes choosing the right one at bedtime easier for her two daughters. Books, daughters, mom and dad all live in Brooklyn.
To be honest, I am more of a Tuesday – crossword gal than a Sunday. But Alan Connor’s book about the history and secret lives of crosswords, made me feel like a Crossword Queen. Spies, secret codes, upside down words – it’s all in there and more. Everything you need to know about a subject you didn’t know you were fascinated by. This is my kind of beach reading!
It’s summer which means school is out and the playgrounds and backyard projects are in. Our family loves Ken Denmead’s Geek Dad. It is a treasure trove of crazy experiments (exploding soda) and fun projects (the Best Slip-n-Slide ever). And he has clear cut, easy to follow instructions for those who aspire to be geeks but wouldn’t know binary if this was written in it.
Aah, summer. It is not often that we entertain, but when we do I love a themed cocktail. This book looks like a classy party with beautiful people and witty repartee. One or two vespers and your party will look that way too.
I am an evangelist for this book. First, I love the title and I love watching people react when I give it to them. Second, it’s just a great read. A M Homes take on modern living is sarcastic, deadpan, and brilliant.
Even a mom needs some downtime and I am lucky enough to get in a yoga class here and there. One teacher began a class with a quote from this book and I haven’t looked back since. As the book says, a beautiful mix of enlightenment and entertainment. It keeps me grounded, makes me laugh, and reminds me to step back and just take it all in. The dude abides.
I couldn’t help it. This is a current family favorite (and even the one year old reads along). If you have young children and have not ventured into the world of Llama Llama, you should.
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