A great way to celebrate Women’s History Month is by reading about the lives of some of our heroines and everyday women. Luckily for you, Penguin has several such books publishing this March!

Rita MorenoOut today is the memoir of Rita Moreno (Rita Moreno: A Memoir). Moreno, made famous by her Oscar-winning performance in West Side Story, grew up in the barrios of the Bronx after traveling to America from Puerto Rico at age 5. Her memoir reflects her journey through Hollywood and the relationships and hardships she faced as an American-Puerto Rican woman in show business.

Listen to a clip of the audiobook read by Rita Moreno herself!

Read an excerpt.

The Still Point of the Turning World

Publishing later this week, The Still Point of a Turning World: A Mother’s Story by Emily Rapp, recounts the story of an ordinary mother put in a rare situation. Rapp had high expectations for her son’s life prior to his birth, but when he was born with Tay-Sachs disease she and her husband were forced to look at their lives in a new light. Her inspiring story shows wisdom and hopefulness in an otherwise tragic situation.



The Maid and the Queen

Are you a history buff? Do you think you know everything there is to know about Joan of Arc? The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc by Nancy Goldstone might just offer you a bit of previously unknown information about the woman warrior’s relationship with Yolande of Argon.



Interested in reading more about the lives of spectacular women? Check out all of Penguin’s Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs!

Posted By: Michelle Giuseffi, Online Marketing Intern

Seeing is BelievingAround the age of nine (give or take a few years) a lot of kids stop believing in the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, and the conviction that their parents are invincible and have all the answers.  In the Disney movie, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, they labeled it as the Age of Not Believing, and Angela Lansbury sings a tune to that affect.  It’s that transitional age from childhood to the teen years and it can be a tough and frankly, scary, time.  For the heroine in my March release, Seeing Is Believing, Piper Tucker never believed in fairy tales, given that she was raised by an abusive stepfather and abandoned at the age of eight.  But she did believe in ghosts, since they have always manifested to her.

Brady Stritmeyer believed Piper was telling the truth, just like he believed that his dreams for a better future lie outside of their small town and in the big city.  Now, fifteen years later, he has returned home to Cuttersville, dream shattered, to find that Piper has grown up and no longer talks to ghost, but still has a crush on him.

I’m a child of the eighties, and to me everything is an eighties song lyric, so I think Journey sums it up nicely by reminding us never to stop believing.  Sure, by the age of ten a bit of the wonderment of life has been knocked out of us by reality, but part of the journey (yes, that is a pun) is to recapture our awe as we pass beyond our teens and enter adulthood.  We learn to redefine what is means to believe in the mysteries and the magic of the world around us, and most of all, in ourselves.  We don’t need to see something to believe in it.  So while we can puzzle over the fact that the modern interpretation of Cupid is a rather bizarre chubby arrow-wielding kid in a diaper, we believe in the sentiment behind it: love.

If we don’t, we’ll have to answer to Steve Perry.

Hacking Your EducationOur culture puts so much emphasis on a college education that it can be hard to see the alternatives. Even though I was unschooled as a child, I still headed off to college at the appointed time like everyone else. What I quickly discovered was that college was not right for me. I wanted to be out in the real world meeting people, exploring other cultures, and experiencing life as the vibrant and unpredictable cacophony it is. Sitting in an office chair listening to lectures about the world I wanted to be living in just wasn’t cutting it. Why read a textbook about Taiwan when I could go and explore it firsthand for far less money than a semester of college?

Soon after this realization I moved to San Francisco and started UnCollege to spread the word. I figured there were many other college students in my situation who didn’t realize there were other options. I began spreading the word about an alternate educational model in which students take their future into their own hands, say no to student debt, and set out into the real world to find mentors, learn applicable skills, and experience the world firsthand through travel, volunteer work, internships, and entrepreneurship.

Critics argue that skipping college is too risky but I think that graduating college with $26,000 plus in debt and a questionable skillset is at least as risky in the current job market.

Some say looking at college as a financial decision is narrow minded because college is not just an financial investment but a place to learn who you are and gain independence and life skills. While growing up is important, college may not be the most healthy environment for a young adult. According to a 2007 study by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that Forty-nine percent (3.8 million) of full time college students binge drink and/or abuse prescription and illegal drugs and 1.8 million college students (22.9%) meet the medical criteria for full blown substance abuse and dependence. As if that isn’t bad enough the Department of Justice found that over 40% of undergraduate girls engage in “heavy drinking” with that number rising to over 60% for those in a sorority. Alcohol on campus is responsible for “1,400 deaths from alcohol-related causes; 500,000 unintentional injuries; 600,000 assaults; and 70,000 cases of sexual assault and acquaintance rape” per year. Not necessarily the idealized coming of age environment envision by most parents.

Of course the most obvious argument is simply that kids need to attend college in order to learn the skills they will need in order to be valuable members of society.Unfortunately there are also problems in this area. According to recent study titled Academically Adrift, as many as 45% of students show “no improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning or written communication during their first two years in college.”

Fast forwarding past graduation day paints a similarly dismal picture for college grads in the job market. According to a 2011 study by Andrew Sum of Northeastern University over 44% of college grads under 25 were unemployed or working in a job that did not require their degree.

Put all of these facts together and then realize that college is still the only socially acceptable choice for high school grads and I knew that I had to spread the word about an alternate path. In my book Hacking Your Education I explain a practical process for hands on learning outside the classroom. I explain how to find mentors, build a community of like minded self educators, and leverage all the new resources of the 21st century to learn skills, grow as a person, and eventually get a job doing something you love; all without setting foot in a classroom.  With a bias towards action and experience over dry lectures, self directed education may be a better fit for many students than a traditional college experience.

If you are interested in learning more about uncollege and self directed learning head over to our blog at www.uncollege.org

Audio Excerpt (6)
Audio Excerpt Night Moves Randy Wayne White (Penguin Audio)
Audio Excerpt The Striker Clive Cussler (Penguin Audio)
Audio Excerpt  Rita Moreno Rita Moreno (Penguin Audio)
Audio Excerpt The Russia House John le Carré (Penguin Audio)
Audio Excerpt The Looking Glass War John le Carré (Penguin Audio)
Audio Excerpt A Small Town in Germany John le Carré (Penguin Audio)

Author Interview (1)
Author Interview Hidden Cities Moses Gates (Tarcher)

Excerpt (23)
Excerpt The Vatican Diaries John Thavis (Viking Adult)
Excerpt Pope Benedict XVI Stephen Mansfield (Tarcher)
Excerpt Saved by Cake Marian Keyes (Plume)
Excerpt Crave the Darkness Amanda Bonilla (Signet)
Excerpt Lost to the Gray Amanda Bonilla (Signet)
ExcerptBreaking Point C.J. Box (Putnam)
Excerpt The Last Grave Debbie Viguie (Signet)
Excerpt Calculated in Death J.D. Robb (Putnam)
Excerpt Frost Burned Patricia Briggs (Ace)
Excerpt Mary Coin Marisa Silver (Blue Rider Press)
Excerpt The Idea Factory Jon Gertner (Penguin)
Excerpt Booze for Free Andy Hamilton (Plume)
Excerpt Hidden Cities  Moses Gates (Tarcher)
Excerpt Who Was Dracula? Jim Steinmeyer (Tarcher)
Excerpt Why Can’t I Be You Allie Larkin (Plume)
Excerpt Rita Moreno Rita Moreno (Celebra)
Excerpt Six Years Harlan Coben (Dutton)
Excerpt Trading Bases Joe Peta (Dutton)
Excerpt The Memory of Love Linda Olsson (Penguin)
Excerpt In the Kitchen with the Pike Place Fish Guys The Crew of Pike Place Fish (Studio)
Excerpt The Vegucation of Robin Robin Quivers (Avery)
Excerpt A Tale for the Time Being Ruth Ozeki (Viking Adult)
Excerpt American Story Bob Dotson (Viking Adult)

Notes on Text (1)
Notes on Text The Vatican Diaries John Thavis (Viking Adult)

Pictures (1)
Pictures Argo  Antonio Mendez (Penguin)

Podcast (1)
Podcast Creating Room to Read John Wood (Viking Adult)

Reading Group Guide (5)
Reading Group Guide The Good Daughter  Jane Porter (Berkley)
Reading Group Guide Garbology Edward Humes (Avery Trade)
Reading Group Guide The Painted Girls Cathy Marie Buchanan (Riverhead)
Reading Group Guide The Lost Art of Mixing Erica Bauermeister  (Putnam)
Reading Group Guide Virgin Soul Judy Juanita (Viking Adult)

Video (4)
Video 7 Steps to Save Your Financial Life Now Daniel Solin (Perigee)
Video  High Risk Vivian Arend (Berkley)
Video  The Company You Keep Neil Gordon (Penguin)
Video Call Me Zelda Erika Robuck (NAL)

Posted by: Lindsay Jacobsen, Online Content Coordinator

Book people love the Oscars because so many movies are also books. At Penguin, we are pretty thrilled to have Argo, the book, and to share with you these awesome pictures of fake memorabilia and IDs From the original Argo CIA mission.

And of course, who could forget Les Misérables, Victor Hugo’s epic tale turned musical? Or Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina? Here are our nominees for The Best Movie That’s Also a Book You Should Read:

argo les_miserables anna_karenina

And the winner is… all of them!

For more information on the 2012 Academy Awards Nominees, visit the official Oscars website.

And now some Oscar-worthy titles whose film counterparts won in years past:


Meryl Streep, Best Actress 2011, The Iron Lady

Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Actor 2007, There Will Be Blood

Octavia Spencer, Best Supporting Actress 2011, The Help

Best Picture winners:

Best Picture 1975, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Best Picture 1972, The Godfather

Best Picture 1968, Oliver!

Best Picture 1948, Hamlet

Bonus titles:


Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini for all you Lincoln lovers.

The Girls of Murder City:Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired Chicago by Douglas Perry, for everyone who loved the Best Picture winner of 2002, Chicago.

Check out other Penguin Blockbusters (of screens large and small) and have fun watching the Oscars this weekend!

Posted by: Julie Schaeffer, Senior Online Content Coordinator

Excerpt (6)
Excerpt A Tangle of Knots Lisa Graff (Philomel)
Excerpt The Madness Underneath Maureen Johnson (Putnam Juvenile)
Excerpt Out of the Easy Ruta Sepetys (Philomel)
Excerpt Stranded Jeff Probst (Puffin)
Excerpt The Burn Zone James K. Decker (Roc)
Excerpt Lover Awakened J.R. Ward (NAL)

Reading Group Guide (1)
Reading Group Guide How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead)

Video (1)
Video What Darkness Brings C.S. Harris (NAL)

Posted by: Lindsay Jacobsen, Online Content Coordinator

rules_of_inheritanceAfter my mother died when I was eighteen, I was ravenous to find others who had been through a similar experience. Because I had never met anyone my age who had lost a parent, I turned to books. I’d always been an avid reader, but up until then I’d only read fiction and poetry.

When I stumbled into the genre of memoir, a whole new door opened. I couldn’t believe how many stories there were out there to pore through. It seemed there was a memoir for every kind of experience: grief, cancer, parenting, divorce, travel, sexual identity, substance abuse. The possibilities for reading were endless. Initially I tore through as many grief memoirs as I could, each one giving me a tiny sense of lightness, of not feeling so alone. Finally, when I’d run through everything on grief I read everything else. Even books about things I’d never experienced gave me a sense of solidarity in the face of hardship.

Each time I closed the cover of another memoir – some of them great, some of them not-so-great – I felt like I had a better understanding of myself and of people around me. I also had a better understanding of what it means to bare one’s soul, to really be honest about one’s feeling and thoughts. All the memoirs I read that were great were the most honest.

The thing was though, even after all the dozens and dozens of memoirs I read, I never quite found what I was looking for. Eventually I had to settle for the fact that no one had written it yet, but what I was really looking for was my story.

So I wrote it.

People ask if it was hard to be so honest in my own memoir and my answer is always no. After reading all the ones that I did, I knew that it would be pointless to write one myself if I wasn’t going to be as seriously truthful as the other great books I read. I can only hope that my book will help others as much as the ones I read helped me.

rules_of_inheritanceAs an experienced grief counselor, one of the tools I find most valuable for my clients is the act of writing. Taking pen to paper in the midst of grief can be one of the most powerful ways to access and process the heavy emotions that come with the loss of a loved one.

I was already a writer when my mother died so it came naturally to me, and I’m so grateful for that. I often felt very isolated and alone in my feelings of grief and writing about them helped me to understand them better and to just move through the emotions in general.

Sometimes I simply wrote about the painful memories and sometimes I wrote letters to my mother. Both exercises were incredibly cathartic. There is often so much left unsaid when someone dies and most people are surprised by how healing it can be to just write down those sentiments.

Every year on my mother’s death date I write her a letter, and every year I am somehow surprised by the emotion that it stirs up. It’s as though for that one brief moment while I’m writing she really can hear me. Just a few weeks ago I wrote the 15th letter to her and it was just as powerful as ever.

Writing the memoir was also cathartic. Sometimes it really takes writing about an event, really looking at it in a multi-faceted way, to understand what it was really about. I’ve written about my mother’s death a hundred times but every single time I do it I come to some new understanding about the loss, or about my connection to it.

There’s a French writer named Annie Ernaux who has half a dozen or more memoirs to her name, and each one follows the same story of her life, but each one is so different. This just proves to me how you can never out-write something that you’re trying to process.

Should you ever find yourself in the throes of grief, or just in a tumultuous time in your life, I highly recommend simply writing about it. It doesn’t have to be something anyone will ever see, but I can promise that it will help you to see.

rules_of_inheritanceOne of the most common kinds of question people ask me is about the process of writing my book. Did I always know I was going to write a memoir? How long did it take? Did I know the structure before I wrote it?

The answers to these questions aren’t very simple.

Writing a memoir is so different than writing fiction, or even some nonfiction. The hardest part, I believe, is that you—the subject—are always changing. I wrote three versions of my memoir. The first two weren’t very good, but they did pave the way for the third. I absolutely couldn’t have written the published version without having slaved away at those other two drafts.

I changed, my perspective and understanding of my story changed, and my writing changed, over the years I was working these drafts. So when someone asks me how long it took me to write The Rules of Inheritance there are really three answers.

  1. My whole life. I had to live my whole life so far in order to tell this story.
  2. Ten years. That’s how long ago I began writing about the events in the book.
  3. Ten months. That’s how long it took me to write the published version.

This is why whenever anyone asks me for advice on writing, I just tell them, “Write, write, write.” Write as much as you can, as often as you can, even if you think what you’re writing is terrible. The mediocre sentences simply pave the way for the brilliant ones. Few writers are brilliant right out of the gate. It’s a craft that takes years and years of practice and effort. But one thing I can promise is that the more you do it, the better you’ll become at it.

cat_christmasGeorge and I haven’t had much luck with holidays. The first time we went abroad was when George wanted to see the fish on the coral reef in Egypt, and that was when our beloved cat Ben disappeared. We thought we’d never go away again.

Ben was reunited with George that Christmas Eve, and I will never forget that evening as long as I live. I sat back, watching the two of them together, Christmas carols playing, tinsel, baubles and lights all over the floor. Ben sat pulling on everything George tried to hang on the tree. Of course, Ben was clearly helping in George’s eyes. It was my two boys decorating the tree.

We had no presents for under the tree or Christmas food shopping in the house and fish fingers was all we had on the menu that evening. It’s all we had in the freezer, as George didn’t want me to shop while Ben was missing. Our lives stopped! It almost felt like a luxury having fish fingers for dinner. Just to sit and hear the two-way conversation between George and Ben about what tomorrow would bring was amazing, seeing as George had been silent for the past three months.

While Ben sat on the table eating his fish fingers alongside George, it was like the whole experience had been a bad dream and the moment hit me when I felt what it was like to win the lottery. We never slept that night — George was busy wrapping last year’s presents up for himself and Ben to reopen again. George was over the moon. He told me how happy he was. He knew what was under the paper and surprises just worried him. I will never forget that Christmas, when George told me for the first time that he had everything he has ever wanted.

A Merry Christmas, a kiss and a smile is all a mum could ever dream of.

I would like to wish all you readers a very Merry Christmas and fantastic New Year!