Akif Saifi is an editorial assistant at the Penguin Press.







stalin 2

Stalin Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928, by Stephen Kotkin

The first of Stephen Kotkin’s projected three-volume biography of Joseph Stalin is itself a mammoth undertaking. Kotkin here seeks to do away with once and for all our conception of Stalin as an opportunistic monster, and he shows us instead that from a very young age, Stalin proved himself to be exceptionally smart and capable, and was thoroughly driven by Communist ideology. Perhaps one of the most impressive things about this first volume is that very little is really known about Stalin’s early years, and Kotkin takes care to only includes verifiable information—he is not prone to the wild psychoanalysis of Stalin’s earlier biographers who speculated that the purported beatings he received as a child were in some way responsible for his later atrocities. And so Stalin himself is barely a presence in the first part of the book, and instead we are given a tour of the plethora of factors shaping the empire (not to mention the world) that he was born into: Bismarck, Marx et al. As a result, this is more than just a biography of Stalin; in Kotkin’s own words, it’s “a history of the world from Stalin’s office.”  Whatever it is, it’s a thrilling read, and it goes a long way in putting the present situation in Russia, as well as the crisis in Ukraine, into their proper historical context.

when the factsWhen the Facts Change: Essays, 1995-2010, by Tony Judt (on sale 1/22/2015)

In recent years, there have been few public intellectuals as consequential as Tony Judt. He was that rare figure who could seamlessly bridge the gap between history and current events, drawing from overlooked historic episodes to help explain the world we live in now. When the Facts Change is a collection of some of the essays he wrote in the last fifteen years of his life, the majority of which were first published by The New York Review of Books, where he was a longtime contributor. It’s all here, all the subjects that were so central to his work and thought: Europe and its efforts to come to terms with its history; the folly of the war in Iraq and America’s increasing isolation on the world’s stage; and, of course, the Holocaust and Israel’s current moral dilemma. His writings on Israel are collected here for the first time in book form, and even though some time has passed (and numerous lives have been lost) since he wrote them, they still carry with them an air of prescience and insight invaluable for understanding the conflict objectively. When the Facts Change is a fitting capstone to his stellar body of work, as well as a sad reminder of the voice that we’ve lost.

muderMurder in Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerance, by Ian Buruma

Ten years ago this month, Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26-year-old Dutchman of Moroccan descent, shot and killed the filmmaker Theo van Gogh as he rode his bike through the streets of Amsterdam. But he did not stop there. He went on to slash van Gogh’s throat as people looked on in horror. The act was meant to be a retaliation for the release of van Gogh’s film, Submission: Part I, where verses of the Quran were painted on the bodies of naked women; indeed, Bouyeri claimed he was acting to defend the name of Allah. It was not the first time we had heard those words; it was surely not the last. In recent months, we’ve witnessed a resurgence of similar barbarism in the name of Islam, from the beheadings and widespread atrocities of the so-called Islamic State and the kidnappings and bombings of Boko Haram and Al Shabab in Africa. In Murder in Amsterdam, Ian Buruma, a noted historian and a Dutchman himself, travels to the Netherlands soon after van Gogh’s murder to investigate the climate that gave rise to such an appalling act, examining the influx of immigrants from North Africa and ex-colonies into the country and the way they are treated, as well as the resurgence of reactionary Dutch nationalists in a society often prized for its tolerance and liberalism. It reads like long form journalism that perfectly blends history with current events to explore a most pressing question, one that remains unanswered ten years on. I can think of no book more fitting for our times.

delugeThe Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931, by Adam Tooze 

Among the spate of recent books examining World War I on the centenary of its outbreak, Adam Tooze’s new book. The Deluge, stands out. Tooze, a professor of history at Yale and the author of The Wages of Destruction, a much-praised study of the Nazi war economy, is one of the finest economic historians writing today. Here, he shifts his focus from the Third Reich and the Second World War to the United States and the First, examining the pivotal role that conflict played in redefining the nation and catapulting it to the top of the global hierarchy. This is not new territory per se, but Tooze writes persuasively and authoritatively. If you only intend to read one World War I book this year, The Deluge will not disappoint.


capitalCapital The Eruption of Delhi, by Rana Dasgupta

There has been much talk in recent years of the growing division between the top 1% and the remaining 99%, and part of the reason Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century became such a sensation earlier this year was because it provided some quantitative grounding to these arguments. Rana Dasgupta’s similarly titled Capital does not bother itself with the numbers; it is far more concerned with the social and human cost of income inequality. Dasgupta takes as his subject New Delhi, the capital of India, itself an incredibly polarized society where the very rich have recently done very well for themselves and have taken advantage of the influx of capital from globalization, while the rest of the city has carried on, largely unaffected, their lives about the same now as they were some forty years ago. If you’re a fan of Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City, you’ll find much to like in Capital.


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Alan Walker is the Director of Academic and Library Marketing and Sales for Penguin. He can also be found on occasion reading Penguin Classics in alphabetical order for his Penguin Classics Marathon.





Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham 

W. Somerset Maugham’s masterpiece is my favorite novel, and I recommend it to everyone. It follows the life of Philip Carey at the beginning of the twentieth century. Born with a club foot and orphaned at a young age, Philip grows up with his dreary aunt and uncle, is packed off to boarding school in Germany, attempts to become an artist in Paris, and then returns to England to try his luck at medicine and various other careers. During that time he falls for Mildred, a waitress beneath his station, in what turns into a mutually destructive relationship (to say the least!). Maugham’s novel stands the test of time and is unique in how it makes us realize how much alike we are to those who came before us, in our hopes, ambitions, passions and most especially our deepest flaws. Three film adaptations have never come close to doing the novel justice, never capturing the heart and humor of the book. It would make a great HBO or BBC mini-series if done properly! (Michael Fassbender as Philip maybe?)


The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

Wharton’s novel of the 1870s New York aristocracy is right up there as my all-time favorite read. Newland Archer’s tortured affair with the scandalized divorcee Countess Olenska set against the rigid morals of upper class society is the stuff of literary magic. How Wharton gets so deep into the very soul of Newland’s mind and heart is uncanny. If you’ve ever lived a lie for even a moment Newland is your man! The famous scene when our hero (or anti-hero?) sees Ellen (the Countess) from afar, and decides to go to her if she turns to him is one of the most heartbreaking scenes you’ll ever find in a book.




Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton

Wharton’s novels were mostly about high society New Yorkers, like The Age of Innocence, but she also wrote two books about the rural poor. The better known of these is Ethan Frome which takes place in a corner of Western Massachusetts and is one of literature’s great love stories. I read this when I was a teenager and plan to go back to it at some point to see how it reads a few years (OK, decades) later.  I admit a personal connection to this book as I too spent early years with friends and siblings sledding down the same steep Berkshire hills as Mattie and Ethan did in their fictional town of Starkfield. Luckily for me though, we did a better job of avoiding the trees.



a hero

A Hero of Our Time, by Mikhail Lermontov

Ah, the Russians. I think I could list any number of great Russian novels below in my top five black spine recommendations, but for the sake of brevity I have chosen one, which may not be as familiar as some from the long list of great 19th and 20th Century works, from Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Zamyatin, Chekhov, Bulgakov, Gogol, Pushkin, etc. That book is Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time starring the dark and moody Pechorin who delights in the misery and downfall of those around him. Pechorin is one of my favorite characters in all of literature, and towards the end of the short novel there is a hilarious dual scene that is worth the price of admission! For anyone interested there is a 1992 French film entitled Un Coeur in Hiver (A Heart in Winter) which is a loosely based modern adaptation of the novel starring Daniel Auteuil.


a room

A Room with a View, by E. M. Forster

Speaking of great film adaptations, my last recommendation is E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View.  It’s hard to read this book without picturing all the actors from the great 1985 Merchant/Ivory production reading their lines as you stroll through this very amusing novel, and that is mostly due to E.M. Forster’s brilliant dialogue which was taken practically verbatim from the book for the movie. To quote from my own Classics Marathon Read (link above) I guess I am a sucker for a novel about repressed upper class Brits at the turn of the 20th Century, especially when juxtaposed against the raw passion and beauty of Italy. If you are like me, whether you’ve seen the movie a hundred times or not, Forster’s novel will make you want to ask the great questions and maybe on a future trip to Florence plan a day trip to a nearby Fiesole hillside!


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Sara Carder is Editorial Director at Tarcher / Penguin Random House where she has the great pleasure of working on books that help people lead happier, healthier lives.





The Power of Meditation, by Edward Viljoen

I heard Edward Viljoen speak recently and was so moved by his talk that I was eager to hear more from him. Once I found a moment to dig into his book The Power of Meditation, I was not disappointed. Edward has the ability to talk about things that are really quite serious (such as, well, sort of a biggie, how to be more at peace in your life!) with such a light touch that the wisdom of what he’s saying creeps up on you like the punch line of a great joke. In The Power of Meditation he takes what can be a very intimidating topic for some –meditation– and makes it so wonderfully accessible. If you are one of those people, like me, who is convinced that you could never “learn” how to meditate, read Edward’s book. The how and why of meditation are beautifully explained in The Power of Meditation. I have decided to give it another go.


Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, by Michael Pollan

As a self-help editor I experience no shortage of advice in my life. How can I be a better parent? How can I find a better live/work balance? Or – a biggie – what should I eat? I love this slim little book that tells you all you need to know really about eating healthily. After I read it, I decided I never needed to read anything else on the topic. I was also very happy because I wouldn’t have to deprive myself of delicious food. The rules for eating in this book are truly rules to live by.





Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win, by Ryan Babineaux, Ph.D., and John Krumboltz, Ph.D.

Full disclosure #1: this is a book I acquired and edited for Tarcher. Full disclosure #2: when it came to me on submission from a literary agent, I thought “What a great title and I know SOOOO many people who need this book. But I’m not one of them. I know how to fail. I fail all the time and I’m good at it.” Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I learned is that my fear of failure was actually one of the biggest things holding me back in life. Now, after reading this book, when there’s something I feel inspired to do, instead of not doing it because I think I can’t do it well, I tell myself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if this doesn’t work?” And I give it a try.



Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love, by Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A.

When my son was born I discovered that there were a lot of books out there on “Attachment Parenting.” It’s a pretty good approach to raising kids: form a deep, secure bond with your child and you will set him/her up for a happy life. I devoured these books! Attachment theory as it pertains to the parent/child bond is truly fascinating so when the proposal for this book on how an understanding of Adult Attachment research can help you better relate to your romantic partner, I was eager to read. This fascinating research reveals that, when it comes to romantic love, we are all one of the following types: Anxious, Avoidant, or Secure. And guess what the best type to be is? Secure (of course). This book will show you how to become more calm, contented, and connected in your relationship – whether you’ve found a partner or you’re still looking. This is one of the smartest self-help/psychology books I’ve ever read.


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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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