On sale this week: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
by Ben Fountain
A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at “the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal”—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America’s most sought-after heroes. For the past two weeks, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war. Now, on this chilly and rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside the superstar pop group Destiny’s Child.
Among the Bravos is the Silver Star–winning hero of Al-Ansakar Canal, Specialist William Lynn, a nineteen-year-old Texas native. Amid clamoring patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and Support Our Troops bumper stickers on their cars, the Bravos are thrust into the company of the Cowboys’ hard-nosed businessman/owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a luscious born-again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized pro players eager for a vicarious taste of war. Among these faces Billy sees those of his family—his worried sisters and broken father—and Shroom, the philosophical sergeant who opened Billy’s mind and died in his arms at Al-Ansakar.
Over the course of this day, Billy will begin to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his struggling family, and his brothers-in-arms—soldiers both dead and alive. In the final few hours before returning to Iraq, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.
Poignant, riotously funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a devastating portrait of our time, a searing and powerful novel that cements Ben Fountain’s reputation as one of the finest writers of his generation.
In May 1969, the same year that N. Scott Momaday began his tenure as associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for House Made of Dawn, published in 1968 by Harper & Row. The book was acquired and edited by Frances McCullough. When Frances McCullough was an English student at Stanford University and an editor of the Sequoia, the University’s literary magazine, a graduate student, N. Scott Momaday, submitted some poems for publication. Fran published them, and later, when she came to Harper & Row as a Trade editor, wrote Momaday asking if he might have a group of poems which might be published as a collection. He hadn’t pursued poetry, but Momaday, a Kiowa Indian, told Fran he had a novel in the back of his mind and maybe this was the time to write it. Eight months later, the manuscript for House Made of Dawn, Momaday’s first novel, was ready to go into production.
The book was met with some enthusiastic reviews, a few lukewarm ones and a lesser number of negative ones. The book sold moderately well for a first novel, but hardly had unanimous endorsement and could hardly be termed a best seller. However, as a result of the Pulitzer Prize, it stimulated public interest in Native American literary history as well as contemporary Native American writers in general. It continues to sell today in both trade paperback and e-book formats.
In 1989, twenty years after publishing House Made of Dawn, Momaday published his second novel, The Ancient Child. Originally published in hardcover by Doubleday, it was reprinted in paperback by Harper Perennial in 1990.
In 2007, President George W. Bush awarded him the National Medal of Arts for his legacy of writing works that embrace and celebrate Native American culture. He is also the Poet Laureate of Oklahoma. He is perhaps the central figure in Native American literature today, and House Made of Dawn is widely considered to be his central work. Because of this, the book is widely seen as a primary work of modern Native American literature.
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth’s much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.
We first talked about Harry Potter twitter character @Lord_Voldemort7 after he reviewedDivergent and said that it “filled the void for Harry Potter fans.” After that, we eagerly anticipating what Voldemort thought of book 2 in the series. He just posted his review of Insurgent and called it “spellbinding.” The dark Lord says more…
In 1996, the Academy of American Poets officially inaugurated April as National Poetry Month. Over the past month, you might have seen news about activities at local schools, libraries or bookstores. Bookish communities on the internet are always abuzz with any excuse to celebrate the written word, so perhaps you’ve clicked through on links to poems or posted some of your own favorites. Poetry lovers of all ages can use Poetry Month as a nice excuse to take the time out from a busy schedule to enjoy old favorites and discover new poems. And since today is April 30th, that means there’s still a whole day left to celebrate.
If you ask me, though, one of the most important days in the mission established by Poetry Month does not actually occur in April. May 1st is the first day after the official month of poetic revelry and the first opportunity to remind yourself that poetry is something that can be part of your life throughout the year. I love Poetry Month because it reminds us of the impact a poem can have on our lives and it encourages us to share poetry with those who might not yet have discovered a poem to love, to cherish, and to connect with on a deep, emotional level. Each May 1st, I try to remind myself that the message of Poetry Month is not restricted to a month or an age group or a venue. Poetry is for life – for all aspects of it and for all seasons. So really, I think of Poetry Month as kicking off a new year of reading and it’s up to me to keep delighting in poetry all year long.
At HarperCollins Children’s Books, we have a tradition of celebrating poetry month with the brilliant and funny Shel Silverstein – and that’s particularly exciting this year because it’s the first time we have his new poetry collection Every Thing On It to help us SHELebrate! Every year, we create activities for poetry lovers of all ages to engage with Shel Silverstein’s poetry and this year is no different – so head on over to Silverstein’s page and download some fun, new activities to help you enjoy his poetry. As a child, I loved Shel Silverstein’s poetry and as an adult, I might love it even more. His funny and brilliant poems are a great way to get readers of all ages and interest levels to connect with poetry. If you’re looking for some fun poetry to read in these final few Poetry Month hours, it’s not too late! Just download and be delighted.
But remember… tomorrow might not be Poetry Month, but perhaps it could mark the start of your poetry year. And that sounds like something worth celebrating for a long time to come.
— Alana Whitman, Senior Marketing Associate at HarperCollins Children’s Books
Jonathan Burnham on The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
I am delighted to introduce you to Sadie Jones’ The Uninvited Guests, due to be published tomorrow. Set in the early 20th century at a grand country house in the English countryside, Sadie Jones’ remarkable novel takes place over the course of one night. The Torrington family is throwing a birthday party for the twenty-year-old Emerald, but their careful plans are thrown into disarray, and their celebrations take a strange new turn.
Sinister, witty, and packed with surprises, this book is a tour-de-force. Sadie Jones is one of the most brilliant writers of her generation, and this novel showcases her incredible gift: crystalline prose that creates a distinctive world the reader will be reluctant to leave, a world that is rich in period detail, human foible, mystery, and suspense. All of us at Harper are very excited about this gem of a novel.
The great Sir Terry Pratchett turned 64 on Saturday, and if you haven’t read him, you might be wondering which book of his to start with. Fortunately for you, we can help.
The Discworld Graphic Novels
Imagine a flat world sitting on the backs of four elephants who hurtle through space balanced on a giant turtle. The Discworld is a place (and a time) strikingly parallel to our own—but also very different. But also very similar.
To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the birth of the Discworld, the first two volumes of the remarkable Terry Pratchett’s equally remarkable—and phenomenally successful—series were made available together, right here, in graphic novel form. These beautifully illustrated renditions of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic show and tell the bizarre misadventures of the spectacularly inept wizard Rincewind and Twoflower, Discworld’s very first—and possibly, portentously, its very last—tourist. Not to mention the Luggage, which has a mind of its own. And teeth.
The Wee Free Men: The Beginning
When Tiffany Aching sets out to become a witch, she faces ominous foes and gains unexpected allies. As she confronts the Queen of Fairies and battles an ancient, bodiless evil, she is aided (and most ably abetted) by the six-inch-high, fightin’, stealin’, drinkin’ Wee Free Men!
Laugh-out-loud humor and breathtaking action combine in the books that launched the unforgettable adventures of a determined young witch and her tiny but fierce blue friends.
When the Spirit of Winter takes a fancy to Tiffany Aching, he wants her to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever. It will take the young witch’s skill and cunning, as well as help from the legendary Granny Weatherwax and the irrepressible Wee Free Men, to survive until Spring. Because if Tiffany doesn’t make it to Spring—
“More about Howl? Sophie thought desperately. I have to blacken his name! Her mind was such a blank that for a second it actually seemed to her that Howl had no faults at all. How stupid! “Well, he’s fickle, careless, selfish, and hysterical,” she said. “Half the time I think he doesn’t care what happens to anyone as long as he’s all right—but then I find out how awfully kind he’s been to someone. Then I think he’s kind just when it suits him—only then I find out he undercharges poor people. I don’t know, Your Majesty. He’s a mess.”— —Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle
The year is 1985, and twenty-two-year-old Galen lives with his emotionally dependent mother in a secluded old house surrounded by a walnut orchard in a suburb of Sacramento. He doesn’t know who his father is, his abusive grandfather is dead, and his grandmother, losing her memory, has been shipped off to a nursing home. Galen and his mother survive on the family’s trust fund—old money that his aunt, Helen, and seventeen-year-old cousin, Jennifer, are determined to get their hands on.
Galen, a New Age believer who considers himself an old soul, yearns for transformation: to free himself from the corporeal, to be as weightless as air, to walk on water. But he’s powerless to stop the manic binges that overtake him, leading him to fixate on forbidden desires. A prisoner of his body, he is obsessed with thoughts of the boldly flirtatious Jennifer and dreams of shedding himself of the clinging mother whose fears and needs weigh him down.
When the family takes a trip to an old cabin in the Sierras, near South Lake Tahoe, tensions crescendo. Caught in a compromising position, Galen will discover the shocking truth of just how far he will go to attain the transcendence he craves.
An exhilarating portrayal of a legacy of violence and madness, Dirt is an entirely feverish read.
On sale today: Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan
Search Inside Yourself
by Chade-Meng Tan
Early Google engineer and personal growth pioneer Chade-Meng Tan first designed Search Inside Yourself as a popular course at Google intended to transform the work and lives of the best and brightest behind one of the most innovative, successful, and profitable businesses in the world … and now it can do the same for you. Meng has distilled emotional intelligence into a set of practical and proven tools and skills that anyone can learn and develop.
Created in collaboration with a Zen master, a CEO, a Stanford University scientist, and Daniel Goleman (the guy who literally wrote the book on emotional intelligence), this program is grounded in science and expressed in a way that even a skeptical, compulsively pragmatic, engineering-oriented brain like Meng’s can process. Whether your intention is to reduce stress and increase well-being, heighten focus and creativity, become more optimistic and resilient, build fulfilling relationships, or just be successful, the skills provided by Search Inside Yourself will prove invaluable for you. This is your guide to enhancing productivity and creativity, finding meaning and fulfillment in your work and life, and experiencing profound peace, compassion, and happiness while doing so.
Search Inside Yourself reveals how to calm your mind on demand and return it to a natural state of happiness, deepen self-awareness in a way that fosters self-confidence, harness empathy and compassion into outstanding leadership, and build highly productive collaborations based on trust and transparent communication. In other words, Search Inside Yourself shows you how to grow inner joy while succeeding at your work. Meng writes: “Some people buy books that teach them to be liked; others buy books that teach them to be successful. This book teaches you both. You are so lucky.”
On sale now: Oklahoma City by Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles
In the early morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove into downtown Oklahoma City in a rented Ryder truck containing a deadly fertilizer bomb that he and his army buddy Terry Nichols had made the previous day. He parked in a handicapped-parking zone, hopped out of the truck, and walked away into a series of alleys and streets. Shortly after 9:00 A.M., the bomb obliterated one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people, including 19 infants and toddlers. McVeigh claimed he’d worked only with Nichols, and at least officially, the government believed him. But McVeigh’s was just one version of events. And much of it was wrong.
In Oklahoma City, veteran investigative journalists Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles puncture the myth about what happened on that day—one that has persisted in the minds of the American public for nearly two decades. Working with unprecedented access to government documents, a voluminous correspondence with Terry Nichols, and more than 150 interviews with those immediately involved, Gumbel and Charles demonstrate how much was missed beyond the guilt of the two principal defendants: in particular, the dysfunction within the country’s law enforcement agencies, which squandered opportunities to penetrate the radical right and prevent the bombing, and the unanswered question of who inspired the plot and who else might have been involved.
To this day, the FBI heralds the Oklahoma City investigation as one of its great triumphs. In reality, though, its handling of the bombing foreshadowed many of the problems that made the country vulnerable to attack again on 9/11. Law enforcement agencies could not see past their own rivalries and underestimated the seriousness of the deadly rhetoric coming from the radical far right. In Oklahoma City, Gumbel and Charles give the fullest, most honest account to date of both the plot and the investigation, drawing a vivid portrait of the unfailingly compelling—driven, eccentric, fractious, funny, and wildly paranoid—characters involved.
Read an excerpt of Oklahoma City by Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles
Recipe: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Okay, there are SO many reasons why I love these cupcakes, and one particular reason that I am discussing gingerbread in what is not usually gingerbread season. First and most importantly, the cupcake part is a light, spicy, molasses and ginger bundle of wonderfulness. And the frosting. I barely have words for the frosting. Okay…here are some words: Cinnamon. Cream cheese. Sugar. Butter. All together in one frosting. You will have to resist the temptation to eat the frosting before it even makes it to the top of the cupcake…but try!
Here’s another reason: this cupcake recipe was born at the mouthwatering Georgetown Cupcake, whose first location was and is in the beautiful Georgetown area of Washington DC. And as a proud graduate of Georgetown University (English major, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of never-you-mind) this makes me love Georgetown Cupcake even more than I ordinarily would have.
There it is… my alma mater! Excuse me while I go sing the fight song. Please click here if you would like to join me! Which brings me to the other reason I am writing about gingerbread cupcakes, and that’s my dad.
Georgetown University, School of Business, Class of never-you-mind-that-either, and the most enthusiastic Hoya that I know. It was recently his birthday, and I wanted to make him a birthday dessert that he would love, and hard as this may be to believe, the guy is not a fan of chocolate. Nope. Crazy, I know. What DOES he love? Gingerbread. (This is all coming together, right? I always get there. Eventually.) So I made him these Georgetown Cupcake gingerbread cupcakes, and where did I get the recipe? They have a new cookbook! Yes!!
Which brings me to my last reason for loving these cupcakes…in this book I got to read not only about their amazing cupcake creations, but also about how they were inspired by their grandmother. My favorite recipe on this entire blog is the molasses cookie recipe I got from my own grandmother, and so this book struck such a chord with me. Which pretty much meant I HAD to give away a couple of copies of this one…and so here we go.
Leave me a comment telling me a favorite family recipe that you love. It can be cupcakes or pot roasts or even the peanut butter and jelly sandwich your mama made you when you were a kid. Then on Sunday I’ll post up two lucky winners of two wonderful Cupcake Diaries cookbooks. And in the meantime, if you get a hankering for gingerbread in the off-season, you can’t do better than this recipe!
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: 12-16 cupcakes
2 3/4 cups flour
3 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups molasses
1 cup hot water
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
Cinnamon sugar for topping
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a standard cupcake pan with twelve paper baking cups. (Note: The original recipe calls for a 12 cupcake tin but I ended up with enough batter for 16 cupcakes, so you might have an additional pan ready as well!)
2. Sift together the dry ingredients except for the brown sugar and set aside.
3. Cream the brown sugar and butter together in a mixer for 3-5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the molasses, mixing until well-incorporated.
5. Add one third of the dry ingredients, followed by 1/3 of the water and mix thoroughly. Repeat, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the last of the dry ingredients and the water and mix thoroughly. Batter will not be that thick - don’t worry!
6. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups using an ice cream scoop and filling almost to the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (start checking at 15 minutes.) Transfer to a rack and cool completely.
To make frosting:
Place all ingredients in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until well-combined. Frost cupcakes with a knife, or with a frosting bag fitted with a large round tip. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar.
(Recipe adapted just a little from THE CUPCAKE DIARIES)
On sale today: A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
A Land More Kind Than Home
by Wiley Cash
A stunning debut reminiscent of the beloved novels of John Hart and Tom Franklin, A Land More Kind Than Home is a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small western North Carolina town.
For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can’t help sneaking a look at something he’s not supposed to—an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess’s. It’s a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he’s not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.
Told by three resonant and evocative characters—Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past—A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all. These are masterful portrayals, written with assurance and truth, and they show us the extraordinary promise of this remarkable first novel.
Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States
by Michael Lind
From one of America’s leading intellectuals comes a sweeping and original work of economic history, recounting the epic story of America’s rise to become the world’s dominant economy.
In Land of Promise, bestselling author Michael Lind provides a groundbreaking account of how a weak collection of former British colonies became an industrial, financial, and military colossus. From the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, the American economy has been transformed by wave after wave of emerging technology: the steam engine, electricity, the internal combustion engine, computer technology. Yet technology-driven change leads to growing misalignment between an innovative economy and anachronistic legal and political structures until the gap is closed by the modernization of America’s institutions—often amid upheavals such as the Civil War and Reconstruction and the Great Depression and World War II.
Against the dramatic backdrop of shattering tides of change, Land of Promise portrays the struggles and achievements of inventors like Thomas Edison and Samuel Morse; entrepreneurs like Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs; financiers like J. P. Morgan; visionary political leaders like Henry Clay and Franklin Roosevelt; and dynamic policy makers like Alexander Hamilton and Vannevar Bush. Larger-than-life figures such as these share the stage with the ordinary Americans who built a superpower, from midwestern farmers, southern slaves, and the immigrants who created canals and railroads to the sisters of Rosie the Riveter, whose labor in factories during World War II helped to end Hitler’s dream of world domination.
When the U.S. economy has flourished, Lind argues, government and business, labor and universities, have worked together as partners in a never-ending project of economic nation building. As the United States struggles to emerge from the Great Recession, Land of Promise demonstrates that Americans, since the earliest days of the republic, have reinvented the American economy—and have the power to do so again.
Introducing Our New Book by Gawker Blogger Ryan Tate
The 20% Doctrine: How Tinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in Business
by Ryan Tate
We’re at a crossroads. Many iconic American companies have been bailed out or gone bankrupt; others are struggling to survive as digitization and globalization remake their industries. At the same time, the tectonic forces disrupting U.S. corporations—ubiquitous bandwidth and computing power, cheap manufacturing and distribution—have enabled large organizations to foster new innovations and products through experiments that are at once more aggressive and less risky than they would have been twenty years ago. At companies such as Google, employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their work time on projects they’re personally interested in. Almost half of Google’s new product launches have originated from this policy, including Gmail and AdSense. Now other companies have adopted the concept, providing them a path to innovation and profits at a time of peril and uncertainty and offering employees creative freedom when many are feeling restless.
The 20% Doctrine is about goofing off at work, and how that goofing off can drive innovation and profit. Here Ryan Tate examines the origins and implementation of 20% time at Google, then looks at how other organizations such as Flickr, the Huffington Post, and even a school in the Bronx have adapted or reinvented the same overall concept, intentionally and serendipitously. Along the way, he distills a series of common themes and lessons that can help workers initiate successful 20% style projects within their own organizations. Only through a new devotion to the unhinged and the ad hoc can American businesses resume a steady pace of development and profitability.
It has been one hundred years since the sinking of the passenger liner Titanic in the North Atlantic, yet worldwide fascination with the epic tragedy remains as strong as ever. With Voyagers of the Titanic, Richard Davenport-Hines gives us a magnificent history of the people intimately connected with the infamous ship—from deal-makers and industry giants, like J.P. Morgan, who built and operated it; to Molly Brown, John Jacob Astor IV, and other glittering aristocrats who occupied its first class cabins; to the men and women traveling below decks hoping to find a better life in America. Commemorating the centennial anniversary of the great disaster, Voyagers of the Titanic offers a fascinating, uniquely original view of one of the most momentous catastrophes of the 20th century.
How to Survive the Titanic: The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay
by Frances Wilson
Award-winning historian Frances Wilson delivers a gripping new account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, looking at the collision and its aftermath through the prism of the demolished life and lost honor of the ship’s owner, J. Bruce Ismay. In a unique work of history evocative of Joseph Conrad’s classic novel Lord Jim, Wilson raises provocative moral questions about cowardice and heroism, memory and identity, survival and guilt—questions that revolve around Ismay’s loss of honor and identity as his monolithic venture—a ship called “The Last Word in Luxury” and “The Unsinkable”—was swallowed by the sea and subsumed in infamy forever.
James Cameron’s Titanic
by James Cameron
An update on a classic, the New York Times bestselling companion to James Cameron’s unforgettable film Titanic celebrates Fox’s re-release of Titanic in 3D and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ship’s tragic sinking. The original editions of James Cameron’s Titanic were runaway bestsellers; now updated with an all-new introduction by James Cameron and never-before-seen photos from the making of the movie, this new edition is sure to enthrall a new generation of movie-goers enraptured by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s love story aboard the “Ship of Dreams.”
Titanic and the Making of James Cameron
by Paula Parisi
14 Academy Award nominations, 11 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director, a $1 billion dollar worldwide box office, James Cameron’s Titanic was, and remains, a monumental achievement in film. Titanic and the Making of James Cameron by former Hollywood Reporter journalist Paula Parisi recounts the making of this modern classic motion picture from conception to completion, offering a fascinating, detailed, behind-the-scenes look at its stars, including Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, its crew, and its genius director. Republished in time to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the catastrophic sinking of the gargantuan ocean liner, Titanic and the Making of James Cameron is a must-read for Titanic fans and for true movie buffs everywhere.
by Claudia Gray
Eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, troubled family she serves. It’s 1912, and Tess has been trapped in the employ of the Lisles for years, amid painful memories and twisted secrets. But now the Lisle family is headed to America, with Tess in tow. Once the ship they’re sailing on—the RMS Titanic—reaches its destination, Tess plans to strike out and create a new life for herself.
Her single-minded focus shatters when she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets of his own. He’s in a hurry to leave Europe, and whispers aboard the ship say it’s because of the tragic end of his last affair with the French actress who died so gruesomely and so mysteriously… .
Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves exist and are stalking him—and now her, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.
In Fateful, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray delivers paranormal adventure, dark suspense, and alluring romance set against the opulent backdrop of the Titanic’s first—and last—voyage.
Kaspar the Titanic Cat
by Michael Morpurgo
illustrated by Michael Foreman
When Kaspar the cat first arrived at London’s Savoy Hotel, it was Johnny Trott who carried him in. After all, Johnny was a bellboy and was responsible for all of Countess Kandinsky’s things — including Kaspar. But when tragedy befalls the Countess during her stay, Kaspar becomes more than Johnny’s responsibility: Kaspar is Johnny’s new cat, and his new best friend.
And when Kaspar and Johnny meet Lizziebeth, a spirited young heiress, they find themselves journeying across the Atlantic with Lizziebeth’s family on England’s newest and most magnificent ship, the Titanic. Because there is always adventure in the air with a cat like Kaspar around. After all, he’s Kaspar Kandinsky, Prince of Cats, a Londoner and a New Yorker and, as far as anyone knows, the only cat to survive the sinking of the Titanic… .
Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic: The Ocean’s Greatest Disaster
by Everett Marshall
A gorgeously produced rediscovered classic, Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic revives 1912’s most exciting and sensational report of the doomed ship’s catastrophic voyage, first published mere months after the Titanic met her fate: “A graphic and thrilling account of the sinking of the greatest palace ever built, carrying down to watery graves more than 1,500 souls…. Exciting escapes from death and acts of heroism not equaled in ancient or modern times, as told by the survivors, and includes the history of icebergs, the terror of the seas, wireless telegraphy, and modern shipbuilding!” Stunningly designed to convey the rich look and feel of the original 1912 publication, with a worn cloth cover, hand-tinted maps, and gold foil-stamped pages, this rare treasure is a must-have for any Titanic fan.
Truth be told, I don’t really remember participating in the Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) program when I was in elementary school. I probably shouldn’t admit to this in writing, given the following two facts: one, my mother was a 4th grade teacher turned college reading professor before she retired; and two, I’m now gainfully employed by the very same people who published Beverly Cleary’s books and thus gave rise to D.E.A.R. Day.
It’s possible, though, that my memory fails me - I haven’t been a student at Shubert Elementary School in a very long time. And though my classmates and I did “pledge our loyalty” to our alma mater and sing that its “teachings always will inspire us” at many an assembly, I’m compelled to admit that I don’t think D.E.A.R. Day was part of the esteemed curriculum. Sorry, Shubert — I’m a bit more Benedict Arnold than you trained me to be.
Despite not following the D.E.A.R. teachings as an elementary school student, I’ve wholeheartedly embraced them since then. Throughout the rest of my academic career and now well into my adult life (kind of), I’ve been quite eager to drop everything in order to read. Homework, never heard of it … but The Nancy Drew Files commanded my attention. “What’s that mom … you need me to clean my room? I’m totally already dusting these book jackets over here on this shelf, duh!” Luckily, the beach is made for reading and no one can really complain if you’d rather read than go for a long walk; chances are that they’re reading, too. And just this weekend there was plenty of laundry to do, but also that 700-page book to devour because I just had to see how all those threads would come together at the end … leaving me so ready to run out and grab book #3.
Some may call this kind of behavior lazy and me a procrastinator for engaging in it, but I seriously disagree. I’m a reader, people, and what’s more fundamental than that? Not much!
So, I say this to the naysayers and mockers and people who seem to be able to “do it all” without really trying: “Get smart - drop everything you’re doing and read!” There’s no need to make that sauce this very minute. Do you really need to pay those bills on time? Running errands is boring and unnecessary! Drop these tedious tasks from your routine and pick up a book, instead. Make reading your priority, whether you’re on your own or cozied up on the couch with your kids. It’s so much more fun and rewarding than anything else you’ve got going — trust me on this, people, I’m a professional!
p.s. National D.E.A.R. Day is celebrated every year on April 12 to mark Beverly Cleary’s birthday and to remind everyone - kids, parents, teachers, communities - to make reading a priority. Join millions of families and classrooms across the country by deciding to set aside 30 minutes on April 12 to read a good book. While you read, don’t forget to wish Beverly Cleary a happy birthday; as she’s told us, “I am honored that D.E.A.R. Day goes on in my name,” so we know how much she’ll appreciate your birthday wishes!
Pip Ballentine and Tee Morris just sent out a missive from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurences. All readers should be alerted that the first podcast episode of Volume 2 of Tales from the Archives just went live this morning.
According to the authors, steampunk aficionados are already buzzing about the sneak preview. They report that this year, there will be a total of 14 short stories being podcast, with steampunk set in Thailand, China, New Zealand, and the United States. They are going global at the Ministry!
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at App Development: Wonders of the Universe
When we started to think about what HarperCollins’ digital publishing might look like — exemplified by Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe by Professor Brian Cox — we knew it had to be ambitious, innovative and wonderful to look at and use.
After first deciding to fold both books into one product, we sought to augment Brian’s written narrative using video from the BBC series – an option the BBC had not permitted previously. We then decided to show this content in a 3D model that demonstrated the scale and beauty of the universe, from the smallest particle to the edge of the known universe.
We chose to break down the universe into seven realms: Sub Atomic, Atomic, The Solar System, Local Stars, Galaxies and the Universe.
We populated each realm with various Wonders, from the planets and moons of the Solar System to Galactic Red Giants, Nebulae and Pulsar Stars. We pinned content to these models — making it tangible in the process — while keeping more abstract content about light, time and gravity in the Universe realm.
We wanted the user experience to be one of unconstrained discovery, so we gave them the option of jetting off on their own through the 3D Universe — to a Black Hole, for example — where they could call up related content upon arrival.
They could also take Brian Cox’s guided tours of the Solar System and the Universe if they wanted a more curated experience. For the non-linear approach, this meant dividing the content into chunks and tagging it to the various models we’d created. This option was well beyond the capabilities of standard e-book formats, so we knew the product had to be an app.
Where other astronomy apps charted planetary positions and orbits — and were limited in scope to the Solar System — Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe would give users a whole 3D universe, one underpinned by a rich-media story of its creation and ultimate demise.
We found a development partner brave enough to take on the enterprise, a London-based agency that understood our idea. They proposed creating a bespoke 3D engine that would create our models and enable the user to move smoothly between the seven levels.
We had interesting discussions about what exactly a black hole should look like – which is hard to imagine, given that it’s a theoretical construct that’s never been seen by human eyes — but they heroically created a convincing image of a black hole sucking down a hapless star.
They also built a beautiful reading experience which lets users drag a page up from a thumbnail at the bottom of the screen. The experience incorporates Brian’s text, image galleries, and BBC video clips, which the company eventually allowed us to use. As a final flourish, we optimized the app for the new iPad’s screen resolution, which makes a drift through the Lagoon Nebula a particularly spectacular journey.
Though I am biased as the publisher, I do think the final product really is wonderful — a true showcase app that sets a new benchmark for UI, content, and production values.
— Alex Gatrell, Digital Publisher for Collins
Download Wonders of the Universe here (for US customers) and here (for UK customers)
When Karen Siff Exkorn’s son, Jake, was diagnosed with autism, she struggled to pull together comprehensive information about the disorder. Fortunately, she was able to educate herself quickly, and her extensive at-home treatment of her son led to his amazing full recovery. But the journey wasn’t easy, and now, in The Autism Sourcebook, Siff Exkorn offers parents the wisdom she wishes she’d had at the beginning.
Now I See the Moon: A Mother, A Son, and the Miracle of Autism
by Elaine Hall
When her son Neal was diagnosed with autism, former Hollywood acting coach Elaine Hall, aka “Coach E,” took matters into her own hands and used her resources to guide him toward an increasingly independent life. In the process, she founded The Miracle Project, a groundbreaking organization that uses the performing arts to connect with children with autism. Both controversial and unorthodox, Hall’s innovative approach has been praised by leaders in the field of autism. She was also the subject of an Emmy-Award-winning documentary Autism: The Musical. Hall now speaks around the country sharing her wisdom. Now I See the Moon is a story of hope, faith, and miracles; it is a story only a mother could tell.
Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World
by Debra Ginsberg
When you have a child that doesn’t fit in, what do you do? Debra Ginsberg knew that her son, Blaze, was unique from the moment he was born in 1987. What she didn’t know was that Blaze’s differences would be regarded by the outside world not as gifts, but as impediments to social and academic success. Blaze never crawled. He just got up and walked when he turned one. He called his mother ‘Zsa Zsa’ until he was three. By kindergarten, he loved the music of Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. He fears butterflies and is fascinated by garbage trucks. With the same honesty that made Waiting a success, Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World chronicles Debra’s experience in raising a child who has defied definition by the host of professionals who have sought to label his differences. Ginsberg introduces us to a remarkable child and her own unusual childhood. She writes about a family which shows us the redemptive power of faith, humour and love.
Critics have a tendency to imitate the artists they write about. Think about the art critic who writes a survey in elaborate, winding paragraphs, thereby illustrating the skill of a freewheeling painter. Think about the book critic who picks up an author’s flair in reviewing her latest novel. Think about the food critic whose abstruse metaphors make points about molecular gastronomy. Now think of the rock critic, whose challenge is a little more difficult. How do you imitate the qualities of popular music – an art form defined in large part by its sloppiness — in a way that’s both authentic and readable?
The answer, if you’re Neal Pollack, is simple: you come up with a style that’s so blunt and funny, so raw and terse and compelling, that every sentence you write is an heir to the swagger of rock music. That style is the driving force behind Never Mind the Pollacks, which is easily one of the funniest first novels I’ve ever read.
In an early chapter, the author describes the first assignment taken on by his protagonist, a brash young writer. Sing Out!, a small magazine, sends him to cover a protest in Washington Square. It’s 1961. America’s young people are anxious and ready to agitate. Given a chance to chronicle the changing mood of the times, the critic “got drunk at the Cedar Tavern, passed out, and missed the whole event, but he filed the article anyway, calling it a ‘real righteous hootenanny.’” The irreverence on display here is familiar, or should be. Like a band gleefully trashing their expensive hotel room, Pollack treats momentous opportunities like chores handed out by his mother. At a panel at South by Southwest, where the critic makes an appearance with Robert Christgau and the narrator, he cuts down a speech on “enlightenment as mass deception” with a kind of prototypical ad hominem: “…I would say, Paul, that you suck, and your writing sucks, and rock and roll sucks.” In Pollack’s worldview, it seems, the only thing that doesn’t suck is the patron saint of adolescence: himself.
There’s something about biscuits that is so comforting. Warm, savory, soft biscuits…they taste like everything’s right with the world. Now, plain old biscuits are just fine with me, and I will happily eat one every time it’s offered to me. (Or two. Or, um, three.) But if you add a little something extra to them…say some creamy brie cheese and some spicy chopped chives… well, THOSE are biscuits you really want to savor.
Which brings me to something I wanted to tell you about…something the Southern husband and I have been trying to do over the past weeks, and that is savor our supper. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of adventurous eating that goes on in my kitchen as I both make up and test new recipes, and luckily for me I live with both a guy and a dog who are up for eating pretty much everything. But there was only one hitch. I would spend a million years in the kitchen cooking up my latest attempt at short ribs, it would come out just the way we hoped, we would set the table and light the candles and dish it out…and ten minutes later it would be gone. Gone! Like it never happened! Now don’t get me wrong…that is a sign that supper was a success…but still. Then I ran across this book.
And as you might guess from the cover, it had a lot to say about not eating your supper in ten minutes while simultaneously watching the latest episode of Mad Men or talking about your tax returns or answering the phone (guilty as charged on all counts). It suggested that supper is a wonderful thing that should be eaten slowly. Reverently. QUIETLY. Did I mention slowly?
So we gave it a shot, and for a bunch of dinners we didn’t watch television, we didn’t have Jason Aldean cranked up on the Ipod (sorry Jason)…we didn’t even talk. We just ate. We paid attention to the fact that if you concentrate on the fact that you have a mouthful of biscuit that has creamy pockets of melted brie cheese and is flecked with chives, it tastes even better than it does when you are debating whether or not it’s time to change the brake pads on the car. Unbelievable, I know, but true.
I won’t say that we are spending every suppertime in reverential silence, but we HAVE slowed down a little. We are definitely savoring more than we were. The dog, however, is still wolfing down her dinner like it is going to evaporate at any second.
So! In case some of you might like to savor along with us, I am giving away two copies of this great book. And as usual, here’s how it works: All you need to to is head on over to my Framed Cooks Facebook page by clicking here, and click the Like button, and then come on back here and leave me a comment telling me you liked it. And if you have already liked it, leave me a comment telling me that too. And if you aren’t a Facebooker, leave me a comment telling me how you shared Framed Cooks in whatever way you like. Pinning, Stumbling, Emailing – I love ‘em all. Then on Sunday I’ll post up two lucky winners of Savor. And in the meantime, you might want to savor these biscuits! They are definitely worth it.
Brie and Chive Biscuits
Yield: 16 biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 ounces Brie, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces (including the rind)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3/4 cup buttermilk
1. Heat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in until crumbly.
3. Add the Brie and chives and toss to combine. Add the buttermilk and stir just until moistened (do not overmix).
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times to bring it together. Gently shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter (or a small glass), cut out 16 biscuits (flouring the cutter and reshaping the scraps as necessary). Place on the prepared baking sheet.
“Gilbert King’s ‘Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America’ re-creates an important yet overlooked moment in American history with a chilling, atmospheric narrative that reads more like a Southern Gothic novel than a work of history.”— —Barbara Spindel, “Devil in the Grove” review, Salon