staffpicks

 

Ally Bruschi is a publicity assistant at Avery who has a “To Read” list that is 73 books long and counting. She loves to read anything she can get a hold of – cookbooks, political tomes, funny memoirs, and shampoo bottles alike.  She lives in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

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Food Rules by Michael Pollan

The only person who I would trust to tell me what to eat is Michael Pollan, because he’s not really telling you what to eat, but how to eat – consciously and simply, to put it briefly. This handy guidebook offers 64 (often pretty funny) guidelines to making your daily diet a little healthier drawn from advice from doctors, scientists  and nutritionists that Pollan has come into contact with over the years.  It’s simple, it’s small enough to fit anywhere, and it gets to the point.  Two of my favorites: “#19: If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t,” and “#39: Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself.”

 

 

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What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies

At Avery we publish many beautiful cookbooks, but this one has been my favorite from the start- it caught my eye during my first interview and I was delighted when I was allowed to take a copy home with me – I devoured the book cover to cover on my train ride home.  Katie Davies’ stunning photography and mouth-watering recipes captivate you from the second you open the book. And she photographs all of her own food for the book, too! It’s truly a work of art- but not too beautiful that you can resist propping it up next to your stove and cooking your way from start to finish.  You haven’t lived until you’ve tried her Honey-Baked Peaches – trust me.

 

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9 ½ Narrow by Patricia Morrisroe 

I fell in love with this book by its third page, which is a rare occurrence for me.  Patricia  Morrisroe has this unique way of making her own, very personal memoir feel like an everywoman’s story of discovering her true self at every stage of life. Patricia’s hilarious, insightful anecdotes made me reflect on my own fashion mishaps, embarrassing moments, tifs with my mother, and instances of love lost and found. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel glowingly nostalgic about the trials and travails of growing up, you need to get your hands on a copy of this book – and a few more for each of your favorite women in your life.

 

 

women-in-clothes-by-sheila-hetiWomen in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton

This is not a book about shopping or fashion or even really clothes in a literal sense. In fact, I’d say it’s more about the women than the clothes. It’s about how the things we wear and keep in our closet can transform us, make us feel  more confident, express our values, and protect us –physically and emotionally – from the sometimes harsh world around us. I’d never encountered a book quite like this before, and loved the way it pulled in conversations between women from all different demographics, levels of fame, and opinions on style. You don’t have to be a diehard fashionista to appreciate this book’s unique perspective and style, and perhaps it might even be better if you’re not one.

 

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Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

I’m far from the first person to adore this book – Dr. Brené Brown is a bonafide celebrity in the self-improvement world. Daring Greatly teaches its readers to embrace vulnerability and uncertainty for a more meaningful, engaged life. This book inspired me to become more of a go-getter – why let yourself get mired down in the fear of failure and let great opportunities pass you by, when you could be taking active steps to becoming a happier, more self-assured person? If you’re having a bad day where you feel like the world is against you, read a chapter of this book. Or a paragraph. Or the whole thing, twice.

 

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here

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Anna Romig is a Marketing Coordinator for Putnam Books, where she’s worked for the last two years. She’s originally from Anchorage, Alaska.

 

 

 

 

 

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Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy

When I finished this book, I remember needing to physically walk away from it. It’s rare that I read something that jars me so intensely, but in a great way. David Joy’s novel, which he describes as “Appalachian noir” is a family saga, a love story about child sweethearts, and a crime thriller all at once. The story is told through the eyes of Jacob McNeely, the child of the local drug kingpin who controls the town, the people, and the police. When Jacob’s first love graduates high school and is about to leave their sleepy mountain town, Jacob fights to break away from the position he was destined to be in as his father’s heir and find a new life away from it all.

 

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Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Snow White set in 1950’s New England. Boy Novak escapes New York City and her father, an abusive man who literally catches rats for a living, only to end up in the quite town of Flax Hill. As in all great fairy tales, things are not quite what they appear, and when Boy marries a local man with an enchanting daughter, Snow, things start to slowly fall apart. Without giving away the plot, there IS an evil stepmother in this fairytale, but it’s not who you think.

 

 

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My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

M.O. Walsh’s debut novel starts with the line, “There were four suspects in the rape of Lindy Simpson.” Obviously, this novel was not going to be bright and sunny like the title implies. Instead, it’s a dark and haunting novel set in the suburbs of Baton Rouge. Everyone knows everyone: the victim, and the suspects. As the plot unfolds, the narrator, now an adult, looks back at his ruined childhood and you realize, you never really know anyone. Even if you’re not from the south or a small town, Walsh’s prose makes you imagine yourself in this small town: a glossy picture, where just one crack exposes everything lying beneath the surface.

 

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The Strangler Vine by MJ Carter

The Strangler Vine, the first in a new series that was a huge hit when it was published in the UK last year, introduces us to a new crime-solving duo in a novel that is part historical fiction/part mystery. Think Sherlock and Watson, plucked from London and placed in 19th century British colonized India. William Avery, a by-the-books soldier is tasked with fetching Jeremiah Blake, a secret agent who has gone rogue and run off to live with the local inhabitants, and bringing him back to civilization to find the mysterious Thuggee cult. As they travel through India, they encounter tribal wars, corrupt British government officials, and the problems that come from their own troubled pasts.

 

 

Find more books on the Literary Fiction page.

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Maureen-Meekins-Penguin-Mystery-Staff-Picks

 

 

Maureen is the Academic and Library Marketing Coordinator. When Maureen isn’t reading a book or…wait, let’s face it, Maureen is always reading a book.

 

 

 

 

 

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In the Woods by Tana French

Ah memories. This is the first Tana French book I picked up but, obviously, not my last. Not only is this book dark and suspenseful but, it has that unhappy European ending too! I LOVE unhappy European endings. I picked this book up, I didn’t put it down until I was done and, when I was done, I was so angry and disappointed with the way things went down. It was perfect! Not everything always goes the way you plan and Tana is a master of realistic mystery and suspense. In the Woods is by far my favorite of the Dublin Murder Squad series.

 

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The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey

Undertakers, sex, people dying while having sex, and the Irish mob. Who could ask for anything more? I read this book from start to finish in…let’s say…about 7 hours. 7 HOURS! And I had things to do that day! I was hooked from the beginning and even got to learn a bit about how to embalm a dead body! I haven’t fact checked yet but I think Jeremy Massey knows what he’s talking about since he really is a third-generation undertaker. HIGHLY recommended.

 

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The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Being somewhat of a WWII buff, I was immediately drawn to this book. It takes us on quite the adventure in Germany during WWII where two British pilots are shot down on enemy territory and, in order to survive, they throw two wounded SS soldiers off a train and take their place. Cut to: Alphabet House. A loony bin for traumatized and wounded SS Soldiers. I was on edge throughout this entire book just waiting for these guys to get caught. Two British soldiers surrounded by SS Soldiers and they can hardly even pronounce their fake names. Good luck, right?

 

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Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez

Clearly you can tell I love European authors and Franck Thilliez gets all the love. I read 10 pages of this book and had no idea what was going on. There was so much science jargon about eyeballs I felt like I was learning how to speak another language. But, I pushed on through the next 4 pages and WHAM! I was hooked. I was now becoming an expert on eyeballs, subliminal messages, and the psyche of freaky children. I read and read and read until it was over and Thilliez has now made my favorite author list (It’s a long list, yes, but I’m very particular).

 

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The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

Alex Marwood is an Edgar Award winning author because of this book and I know why. The first things about this book that got me were the writing and the flow of the story…Marwood is a genius! Continue on to the story itself and you can’t help but be fascinated. The Wicked Girls is dark and disturbing and seriously makes you question humanity and the innocence of children. Some children are just plain wicked.

 

 

 

Find more books on the Mystery & Suspense page!

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Andrea-Lam-Penguin-Classics-Staff-Picks

 

 

Andrea Lam is a Publicity Assistant at Viking / Penguin Books / Penguin Classics, where she is the in-house champion for tall ships, world mythology and folklore, and Anne Brontë.

 

 

 

 

north-and-south-by-elizabeth-gaskellNorth and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my favorite Victorian novelists, and North and South is easily my favorite of her novels. Gaskell wrote candidly and compassionately about class differences in British society, particularly as they applied to the heavily industrial North of England. In North and South, Southern Margaret Hale is forced with her family to move up to Milton-Northern (modelled after Manchester), where she comes into repeated conflict with mill owner and native Northerner John Thornton. As Milton-Northern’s mill workers increasingly agitate for rights, Margaret and John must come to an understanding both personally and politically, but their path is far from smooth. A bonus: the 2004 BBC series based on the novel is a wonderful adaptation, and I recommend both to just about anyone who will stand still long enough to listen.

 

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Spunyarn by John Masefield

I usually credit my deep love for tall ships and the Age of Sail to having read the entire 20-book Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian when I was twelve years old, but I’m sure that I encountered John Masefield’s poetry some time before then. Though I know intellectually that I’d not survive the physical toil of daily life on a merchant mariner or naval warship, Masefield’s ‘Sea-Fever’ makes me long for the far-ranging view from the bow of a ship running free, and moves me like few other poems do each time I read it.

 

 

 

the-turnip-princess-and-other-newly-discovered-fairy-tales-by-franz-xaver-von-schonwerthThe Turnip Princess by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth and translated by Maria Tatar

I’ve been passionate about world mythology and folklore since I was very young, and when I read the news in 2012 that a cache of previously unseen German fairy tales had been discovered, I jumped to follow the story. Imagine my surprise two years later when, shortly after I started working for Penguin, I learned that not only was Penguin Classics publishing a selection of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth’s tales, the tales were to be translated by the inimitable Maria Tatar! I’ve long admired Tatar’s scholarship, and I’m so pleased that her translation of Schönwerth’s tales are now available to the reading public and fellow fairy tale enthusiasts like myself.

 

passing-by-nella-larsenPassing by Nella Larsen

Nella Larsen’s short novel Passing is a poignant, painful exploration of race and racism in the Harlem Renaissance that deals with issues of racial identity formation, cultural assimilation, and self-presentation. Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry’s respective struggles with life as mixed-race women in a racist, male-dominated society still ring true today. Larsen’s other novel Quicksand, published a year before Passing, deals with related issues and is also well worth reading.

 

 

 

the-tenant-of-wildfell-hall-by-anne-bronteThe Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Jane and Emily are both well and good, but Anne is my favorite of the Brontë sisters and—I feel—the most under appreciated. Anne published only two novels, the other being Agnes Grey, and in both her straightforward depiction of casual male chauvinism stands in contrast to that of her sisters’ in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. For readers accustomed to the exploits of Edward Rochester and Heathcliff, Tenant’s Arthur Huntingdon may come as a shock. Given that popular culture through history has a deleterious tendency to gloss over abusive behavior, I appreciate Anne Brontë’s refusal to do the same.

 

 

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The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe

If you thought you know about witches, think again. The Penguin Book of Witches is a well-selected collection of historical accounts (all primary-source documents) of accused witches and witch-hunters in North America and England that ably demonstrates that the history of witches is the history of legalized persecution of marginalized groups. Katherine Howe’s explanatory essays and notes are both intelligent and accessible, and help to contextualize the varying time periods in which the documents were written. Witches are a popular trope in fiction for good reason, and The Penguin Book of Witches is a great look at the history behind the fiction.

 

Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!

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Catherine Hayden is a Marketing Coordinator for the School and Library department. She has a passion for bookstores and libraries that borders on obsession. When she’s not working or looking at books, she can often be found playing in a grown-up dodgeball league, doting on her nephews, taking in New York City, and saying hi to every dog she passes on the sidewalk.

 

 

 

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Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison

This is the book that I give to every child (and some adults) in my life and it’s impossible not to fall in love with. Jane is a circus dog who wants to be extraordinary like her strong, elephant lifting father and her fearless tightrope walking sisters. What she finds, after many mishaps is that she doesn’t have to be extraordinary to be special. Hannah E. Harrison’s illustrations are simply gorgeous and bursting with charm and whimsy. The story is funny yet cozy and comforting for little ones and I guarantee they will want to read it over and over again.

 

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The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

The Day the Crayons Quit is laugh out loud hilarious. It tells the story of a little boys box of crayons who are fed up with their jobs, so they quit! Each page features a different letter from an irate crayon listing it’s reasons for quitting. Red crayon feels over worked while white crayon feels like he’s not being used at all and yellow and orange crayon are downright feuding! Each letter comes with hilarious illustrations of indignant crayons and pictures they are forced to draw. The books satisfying conclusion will have kids seeing their box of crayons in an entirely new light!

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Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

I am a sucker for a good graphic novel and this one is pure fun! Astrid is 12 years old and devastated when she finds out that her best friend Nicole, with whom she does everything, has chosen to take ballet rather than attend roller derby camp together. Now Astrid has to navigate roller derby camp, and all of the bumps and bruises that come with it, completely alone. This book perfectly encapsulates what it is to be an awkward adolescent and the ups and downs of friendship. Astrid’s imperfections, and the growth that comes from overcoming them, make her an incredibly relatable character for young girls and boys alike who will completely understand her pains and triumphs.

 

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The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

As a lover of the classics, I was intrigued when I found out we were publishing a book inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. Every night a murderous boy-king takes a new bride and every morning at dawn he kills her. This reign of terror continues until a young woman named Shahrzad, vowing to avenge her best friend, offers herself up willingly. All she needs to do is stay alive long enough to kill the king. This book is so lush and every character brings their own depth and fascinating backstory to the plot. I cannot wait for the sequel!

 

 

 

between-shades-of-gray-by-ruta-sepetysBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepeteys

Honestly, Ruta Sepeteys could probably write a grocery list and I would be captivated but I recommend her debut Between Shades of Gray first. It has been a few years since I first read this book but I still can’t get it out of my head. It follows a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl during WWII after Soviet officers invade her home, separate her father and force her, her brother, and her mother onto a crowded train to a Siberian work camp. The entire story is at once hopeful and devastating and a testament to incredible storytelling. It opened my eyes to a part of history that I knew very little about and yet is incredibly important. I think everyone should read this one.

 

 

Find more books on the Young Readers page.

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Amanda Ng is an assistant editor at the Berkley Publishing Group. She has previously been paid to play video games and is currently being paid to read books. She thinks she’s doing pretty well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

The vampires from the Underworld movies and The Vampire Diaries are fine, but my absolute favorite version of vampires can be found in Robin McKinley’s SUNSHINE.  They aren’t just humans with fangs, they’re creatures that are dangerous, chilling, and entirely otherworldly.  The relationship between Sunshine and Constantine is equal parts curious and enthralling, and the scene in which they first meet is one of my all time favorites.

 

 

 

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Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews

The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews is one of my favorite urban fantasy series. Kate is a fantastic heroine, the action is thrilling, and the world she’s built up over the course of the series is one of the most well-developed worlds I’ve seen. In her version of Atlanta, humans, shapeshifters, necromancers, and more inhabit the same space but don’t always get along. Also, while I love main characters Kate and Curran, the numerous side characters always get their chance to shine and their diversity makes the series even more fun and engaging.

 

 

 

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Archangel, by Sharon Shinn

The first time I picked this book up was at a friend’s house. I started reading and before I knew it I’d been reading for twenty minutes, completely ignoring everyone around me. Rachel (a human) and Gabriel  (an angel) are unforgettable characters that are forced to wed and carry the weight of their world together. That world, Samaria, is rich and detailed, with one of the most intriguing societies I’ve had the pleasure of reading about.

 

 

 

 

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The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss

If you haven’t read the first two books in the Kingkiller Chronicle, THE NAME OF THE WIND and THE WISE MAN’S FEAR, you absolutely must. THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS is quite different from those thousand-page epics as it’s a beautifully illustrated book and features Auri, a side character from the main series. It’s an excellent companion piece as you get a glimpse into this fascinating character’s life while experiencing the author’s lyrical prose.

 

 

 

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The Magicians, by Lev Grossman

Quentin, the main character of THE MAGICIANS, is clearly an antihero and it’s a testament to how excellent the story is that I absolutely loved this book despite Quentin’s many unlikeable characteristics. THE MAGICIANS takes us to a magical world but shows us that magic won’t just solve our very real problems for us. It’s up to each person to make certain choices, and sometimes not everyone is capable of making the right choices.

 

 

 

 

Find more books on the Mystery & Suspense page!

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Tara Shanahan Young Readers

Tara Shanahan works as a publicist at Penguin Young Readers and has had a passion for children’s books since her mom handed her a copy of Harry Potter in the 4th grade. It’s been true love ever since.

 

 

 

 

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Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys 

Many books have rotated in my list of favorites over my years in publishing, but one that has held steadily at the top since the week I started at Penguin is Ruta Sepetys’ stunning debut. This account of the forced relocation of a Lithuanian family during the Russian invasion of 1939 was the first book I ever worked on and few stories have struck me so hard and stayed with me so long. BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is just so beautifully written and incredibly special that it is destined to become a classic.

 

 

 

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Althea and Oliver, by Cristina Moracho

I’m such a sucker for smart, gorgeously written, realistic YA with a healthy dash of romance and few books have hit the spot quite like Cristina Moracho’s literary debut.  Althea and Oliver are teenagers in the 90s who have been best friends since they were six, but as their high school careers draw to a close they’re faced with the challenge of Althea’s growing romantic feelings and Oliver’s mysterious illness. I absolutely devoured this book in an afternoon and then proceeded to tell everyone I knew about it, so now I’m telling you! Go read it. You won’t be sorry.

 

 

 

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The 5th WAVE by Rick Yancey

This list wouldn’t be complete without a phenomenal blockbuster YA! THE 5TH WAVE busted onto the shelves last year and it completely lives up to the hype. This epic sci-fi adventure follows Cassie Sullivan as she fights for her life and the life of her younger brother as mysterious strangers start to take over the world.  Cassie is a kick-butt heroine who you can’t help but root for. I can NOT wait to see this one come to the big screen next year!

 

 

 

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Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson         

This fresh new picture book has brightened up my mood every time I page through it! Matt’s story of a grandmother taking the bus through the city while teaching her grandson about empathy, gratitude, and giving back is so heartwarming. I love Christian’s illustrations that color every scene with cheer and bring all the bustle and movement of their day to life. A must-have for all city kids’ bookshelves!

 

 

 

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Maple, by Lori Nichols

Who doesn’t love a sweet, beautifully illustrated picture book? Lori Nichols’ charming debut features Maple, a free-spirited young girl who loves nature and seasons. This is the perfect story to get your whole family excited for spring!

 

 

 

 

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Jack & Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead

Are you a theater nerd or just love a good middle grade novel? This sweet and funny story of the friendship between two young performers auditioning for Into the Woods, written by two Broadway veterans, is the perfect read for the young entertainer in your life!

 

 

 

 

 

Find more books on the Young Readers page.

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katie

Katie McKee is a Senior Publicity Manager at Putnam. She started at Putnam in 2004 and has worked in the publicity department for almost 11 years. In her spare time, she loves traveling with her family, watching The Walking Dead, and reading to her daughter, Peyton.

 

 

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The Strangler Vine, by M.J. Carter

The Strangler Vine has shades of Heart of Darkness with a splash of Conan Doyle and it is one of my favorite debuts of the season.  Set in the wilds of 19th-century colonial India at the height of the East India Company’s rule, this historical mystery introduces an unforgettable investigative pair. William Avery is a young soldier with few prospects except rotting away in India. Jeremiah Blake is a genius political agent gone native who can’t resist the challenge of an unresolved mystery. This unlikely duo is thrown together to track down an author who has gone missing in the untamed wilds of India. I won’t reveal much more, but you end the novel wanting to read everything you can on the East India Company and the mysterious Thuggee cult. And what’s even better is that we haven’t seen the end of Avery and Blake!

 
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The Fatal Flame, by Lyndsay Faye

When you pick up a novel by Lyndsay Faye, prepare yourself for time travel. With her last two books (The Gods of Gotham and Seven for a Secret) and her latest, The Fatal Flame, you are literally transported to 1840’s New York City. Through her meticulous research, Faye blends real-life historical figures and details into her fictional canvas. The Fatal Flame once again features “copper star” Timothy Wilde, a one-man force of righteousness in a city rife with corruption. Faye is a masterful storyteller and if you love historical mysteries, this is the book to pick up.

 

 

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Gathering Prey, by John Sandford

Gathering Prey is the 25th novel in John Sandford’s beloved “Prey” series. This thriller takes Lucas Davenport and his adopted daughter Letty into the unknown world of “Travelers:” a group that moves from city to city, panhandling, committing no crimes. But now somebody is killing them. Gathering Prey has everything: Sandford’s trademark humor, action, and fantastic writing. But he has something extra in mind for this latest Prey installment – something no one will expect.

 

 

 

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My Sunshine Away, by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away is one of the most buzzed about debuts of the season (and for good reason). The novel has garnered amazing pre-publication praise from a few fans you might know: Kathryn Stockett, Anne Rice, Tom Franklin, Matthew Thomas, and the list goes on. My Sunshine Away tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in love with fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson, the girl across the street. But after Lindy is attacked one night while riding her bike home from track practice and no arrests are made, innocence is suddenly lost from her, him, and everyone along Piney Creek Road in their affluent section of Baton Rouge. Walsh’s writing is mesmerizing and the descriptions of his hometown of Baton Rouge create an incredible backdrop for this gripping debut.

 

theranger

The Ranger, by Ace Atkins

It’s hard to sum up Ace Atkins’ Quinn Colson series in a few lines because these books offer up so much. If you’re looking for a series that’s gritty and action-packed, yet reads more like a literary novel than crime fiction, look no further. Atkins has created such an intriguing and appealing hero in Quinn Colson, a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq who returns to rural Mississippi to fight corruption on his home turf. And if you don’t believe me, the reviews speak for themselves: Marilyn Stasio wrote in The New York Times Book Review, “Ace Atkins’ killing honesty sets a new standard for Southern crime novels.” The Ranger is the first installment in this remarkable series.

 

 

Find more books on the Mystery & Suspense page!

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seema

Seema Mahanian is an editorial assistant at Pamela Dorman Books/Viking. She isn’t ashamed to say that she will read any Kennedy family bio and can recite all Oscar best picture winners since 1927.

 

 

 

 

 

bonepeopleThe Bone People, by Keri Hulme

I ugly cried on a bus while reading The Bone People. Hard. But I was determined to finish, and I had zero regard for the fact that strangers were witnessing my heart being ripped out. So do I need to add that Keri Hulme’s debut, Booker-winning novel is devastating? Set in New Zealand’s South Island, three outcasts—Kerewin, a hermetic artist; Joe, a spiritual man and abusive alcoholic; and Simon, a mute, precocious orphan—form a family of sorts. Hulme, weaving in myth and legend, uses her characters to explore the intersection of Maori and European culture in contemporary New Zealand. The Bone People examine states of isolation, the desire for connection, and violence as communication. Raising the subjects of Maori displacement, and cultural survival, The Bone People is warm but brutal; it’s beautiful.

 

kitchens

Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal

As an Australian, I have limited knowledge of Midwestern cuisine—I think cream of mushroom soup and casseroles involving marshmallows. I was wrong (sort of). This smart, hilarious, touching novel that reminds me of Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, revolves around Eva Thorvald—a lonely young girl with a once-in-a-generation palate who becomes the legendary, mysterious chef of the most difficult dinner reservation in the country. She finds solace and salvation in the recipes and ingredients of the Midwest. Each chapter is the story of a single dish and character in Eva’s orbit, set against the backdrop of church bake-offs, hot pepper eating contests, and the opening weekend of hunting season. J. Ryan Stradal captures the zeitgeist of the Midwest, and with joyful, wistful prose, examines how food can create both community and identity, while highlighting the bittersweet nature of life. I’m so excited for this to come out in July 2015. Everyone who’s read it has fallen in love with it. So get ready, because you will, too.

interestings

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer

As a twenty-something living in New York, where my friends are like family, tell me a book is about a group of twenty-something friends in New York, and the narcissist in me will devour it immediately. But I didn’t expect to fall for this novel so completely. The Interestings traces the friendships of a group of six—from fifteen-years old into adulthood—and how they, and their friendship, changes over the years. For me, few books about the passage of time  have captured both youthful idealism about art and potential, alongside the harsh realities of adult success, jealousy, and failure, with such insight. Some characters are so well-realized that it felt more like investing time with new friends just made between the pages, than reading a book.

 

onbeauty

On Beauty, by Zadie Smith

Oh, Zadie. She gives an examination of race and gender in contemporary Britain and the US, with rich lush characters that spring off the page. She ties in elements of Rembrandt and the way we construct meaning and significance from art, while looking at the seemingly simple difficulties of contemporary relationships, both romantic and familial. This novel accomplishes so many things at once, and with such ease, I half-expected it to cook my dinner and clean my apartment as well.

 

 

 

trilogy

The New York Trilogy, by Paul Auster

We’ve all read detective novels. We start as children, then we grow up, go through a post-modernist phase, and read Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy. These three interlocked novels are incredible. Auster uses elements of classic and hardboiled detective fiction mixed with experimental and meta-fiction, littered with references to 19th century American authors, to explore the many layers of identity and reality. I was so enamored that I once chased Paul Auster around a city trying to get his photograph. Sorry not sorry, Mr. Auster.

 

 

 

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Andrew Yackira Headshot

Andrew Yackira is an Editor with Tarcher/Penguin, acquiring books on health, wellness, self-help, philosophy, and works containing loads of other fun and potentially world-changing ideas. When he isn’t reading for work, he still manages to read for pleasure, is an avid commuter cyclist, a gamer, an eater-of-foods-he-didn’t-prepare—as well as some that he did—and (presumably to his neighbor’s chagrin) has recently taken up playing the mandolin.

 

 

strongerfaster

Stronger, Faster, Smarter: A Guide to Your Most Powerful Body, by Ryan Ferguson

Ryan Ferguson, the author of this fitness guide, spent ten years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. The titular line comes from something his father told him—after first realizing that the nightmare of his imprisonment might be his new normal:  “Son, do whatever you can to get stronger, faster, and smarter.  This is now your number one priority.” Aside from the inspirational story behind the Ferguson’s physical transformation while behind bars—and, ultimately, his acquittal—this book contains a fitness program emphasizing a need of resolve and inner strength over the need of fancy exercise equipment. Most of the exercises highlighted in this book are simple and can be done in a 6’ x 8’ cage if need be (and we hope our readers never find themselves in a situation where that need arises).

 

getting things done

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen

This perennial bestseller in the “productivity” category is a favorite among many of the staffers here at Tarcher. David Allen is a mastermind of organization and anti-procrastination tips, and his no-nonsense approach is brilliant for simplifying the daunting pile of tasks many of us face during our workdays. Also, there will be a revised 2015 edition of this classic coming out in March! Tarcher is proud to have partnered with the Penguin imprint on theGetting Things Done Productivity Cards in 2013, which distilled the wisdom in this book down to bite-sized portions in a colorful and beautifully-designed deck of cards.

 

 

reiki

Reiki for Life: The Complete Guide to Reiki Practice for Levels 1, 2, & 3, by Penelope Quest

Chances are you’ve heard about Reiki in the last few years, as centers are beginning to pop up all around the country and compliment other ancient techniques such as T’ai Chi and acupuncture. This handbook is all anyone interested in Reiki needs to begin practicing this potent and increasingly popular healing technique. Readers will learn how Reiki works, how to perform Reiki on themselves and others, instructions on how to become a Reiki Master, and much more.

 

 

 

fork

What the Fork Are You Eating? An Action Plan for Your Pantry and Plate, by Stefanie Sacks MS, CNS, CDN

American culture seems increasingly obsessed with labels like “natural,” “grass-fed,” “free-roaming,” and “organic”—but author, certified chef, and nutritionist Stefanie Sacks argues that these labels may be misleading and arms consumers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their families. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, so this book would be incomplete without the included fifty original recipes that readers can try at home (although I don’t think there are any pudding recipes—sorry for any confusion).

 

 

lessdoing

Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier by Ari Meisel

In this handy and compact tome, TEDx speaker, triathlete, and productivity consultant Ari Meisel transforms his “Less Doing” lifestyle into actionable steps that readers can easily apply to their lives. Ari’s 21st century philosophy puts the internet and technology to work on behalf of the reader—using apps and tools to automate and outsource daily activities like e-mail, keeping track of new ideas, and remembering meetings—creating an “external brain” and freeing up the reader’s time and mind to focus only on important tasks. But this philosophy isn’t just about business and work life. Meisel tackles the trifecta of wellness—fitness, sleep, and nutrition— and instructs the reader on how to get more out of life, all while doing less. This book is a true gem in productivity improvement, and I personally use strategies I learned from working on this book in my daily life.

 

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