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.

 

 


MaxandRubyThis fall, Viking will publish Max and Ruby at the Warthog’s Wedding, the latest of Rosemary Wells’s books about the bunny siblings who star in their own popular show on Nick Jr.

Despite the fact that Rosemary has written more than fifty books about Max and Ruby, she always finds a way to keep the latest book fresh.  In Max and Ruby at the Warthog’s Wedding, the bunnies race through the Ritz Hotel, in search of a missing wedding ring, guided by the maps on Grandma’s iBunny phone.  In a typically witty Wells touch, the iBunny phone features a glittery green lift-the-flap cover decorated with a carrot with a bite taken out of it!

Rosemary always tries to teach as well as entertain, whether by teaching ABCs, counting, or nursery rhymes, and in this newest title she is subtly imparting early map skills via up-to-the-minute technology.

It’s hard to believe that Max and Ruby are 35; they certainly are not showing their age!

See the entire Max and Ruby series!


JDG SUN photoI’ll Give You the Sun made me realize just how many new YA readers, teens and adults both, had never heard of The Sky is Everywhere.

It’s been over four years since Sky, Jandy Nelson’s debut, made everything crystalline for me.  I used to have the hardest time explaining to agents and authors what I wanted beyond “really, really good manuscripts,” which is like having an online dating profile saying you like to do “really, really fun stuff.”  It was The Sky is Everywhere that broke it open for me.  I made everyone read it—my best friend, my teenage cousins, my husband, my mother, my grandpa (I have a kickass 96-year-old grandpa).  I began to tell people, “This.  This is what I want.  Novels like The Sky is Everywhere.”  Little did I know then that I’d get to work with Jandy Nelson herself one day, and that her second book, I’ll Give You the Sun, wouldn’t just break it open for me, it would break my effing heart.

I’ll Give You the Sun is a soaring, pinwheeling, forget-where-you-are, steal-your-breath, feel-it-in-your-bones, transcendent, transporting whirlwind.  It’s the kind of novel that makes you cry through the happy parts as much as the sad parts for the sheer depth of feeling, sheer aliveness of its characters, sheer boldness of its telling.  Reading it, I had the same falling-headlong feeling, the same zap of recognition I’d had at eighteen when I read Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat for the first time.  This is the kind of novel that stays with you, that you read over and over again.  It’s the kind of novel that lasts.

The voices here are the voices of two teen fraternal twins, one a boy, one a girl, telling their stories from two different, crucial points in time—one from before the event that changed their lives and one from after.  Both are magical, visceral, pop-off-the-page voices—so hard to find.  To do justice to these siblings, Jandy essentially wrote one novel, then another novel, and then wove those two novels together to create a third, I’ll Give You the Sun.  No wonder it took her four years.

It was The Sky is Everywhere that brought me to Jandy Nelson, and I’ll Give You the Sun that will make me stay with her.  What this novel accomplishes is raw and rare, and it will change some readers’ lives.  Is it too much to say that I’ll Give You the Sun redefines the boundaries of what makes a YA novel YA?  Nah, I’d say that’s just about right on target.

Read More Posts From the Editor’s Desk.


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This week has been a little quiet – lots of people are out on vacation, reading their books on the beach or another idyllic location. Well, I may be in the office, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make it a beachy environment – with a little help from our stuffed penguin.

As you can see, work is very serious and buttoned-up and no fun at all.

 

 

 

 

Speaking of vacation, I got to interview the wonderful and hilarious Emma Straub for the Beaks and Geeks Podcast. We talked about road-trips, cold beaches, weird Americana … and even her novel.

I loved hearing about the different types of vacations families take – are you a road-trip, national-park-visiting, camping-and-hiking vacationer or a stay-in-a-hotel, relax-poolside, easy-breezy vacationer?

In other news, First to Read, which lets one read new Penguin books before they are released, just hit 20,000 members last week! It’s such a wonderful program, headed up by our very own John Mercun – who you may remember from his Staff Picks. If you’re not already signed up, hop to it! There are some exciting titles coming up.

Hope you have great weekends, readers!

-Amy





Alexis

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Like No Other

Like No Other, by Una LaMarche

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.

 

 

 

Inland

Inland, by Kat Rosenfield

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.

 

 

 

 

Nightingale's Nest

Nightingale’s Nest, by Nikki Loftin

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.

 

 

 

 

Fault in our stars

The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green

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.

 

 

Half Bad

Half Bad, by Sally Green

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!

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


Anne

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossword Century

The Crossword Century, by Alan Connor

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!

 

 

 

 

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Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects for Dads and Kids to Share, by Ken Denmead

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.

 

 

 

An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails by Orr Shtuhl, Illustrator: Elizabeth Graeber

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.

 

 

 

 

 

This Book Will Save Your Life

This Book Will Save Your Life, by A.M. Homes

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Dude and Zen Master

The Dude and the Zen Master, by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman

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.

 

 

 

Lama Lama Time to Share

Llama Llama Time to Share, by Anna Dewdney          

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.

 

 

 

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here.

See Staff Picks for all our categories!