Meet the Author: Imbolo Mbue

April 22, 2018

BEHOLD THE DREAMERS

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A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy

Oprah’s Book Club selection • New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award • Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award • An ALA Notable Book

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
NPR • The New York Times Book Review • San Francisco Chronicle • The Guardian • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Chicago Public Library • BookPage • Refinery29 • Kirkus Reviews 

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Praise for Behold the Dreamers

“A debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse . . . Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller.”The Washington Post

“A capacious, big-hearted novel.”The New York Times Book Review

“Behold the Dreamers’ heart . . . belongs to the struggles and small triumphs of the Jongas, which Mbue traces in clean, quick-moving paragraphs.”Entertainment Weekly

“Mbue’s writing is warm and captivating.”People (book of the week)

“[Mbue’s] book isn’t the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, but it’s surely one of the best. . . . It’s a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American.”—NPR

“This story is one that needs to be told.”Bust 

Behold the Dreamers challenges us all to consider what it takes to make us genuinely content, and how long is too long to live with our dreams deferred.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“[A] beautiful, empathetic novel.”The Boston Globe

“A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Mbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune


Tamora Pierce: How I Started Writing Female Heroes

March 13, 2018

Fantasy author Tamora Pierce on how she started writing female heroes


Author Spotlight: Chanel Cleeton

February 19, 2018

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity–and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest–until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.


AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: CHLOE BENJAMIN

February 10, 2018


Author Spotlight: Jeff Wilser

October 30, 2017

Researching Joe Biden for my book | Author Jeff Wilser (THE BOOK OF JOE)

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THE BOOK OF JOE: The Life, Wit, and (Sometimes Accidental) Wisdom of Joe Biden by Jeff Wilser

The ultimate guide to America’s favorite vice president, filled with all of the key moments, all of the lessons, and none of the malarkey.

The aviators. The Amtrak. The ice cream cones. The memes. Few politicians are as iconic, or as beloved, as Joe Biden. Now, in The Book of Joe, Biden fans will finally have the definitive look at America’s favorite vice president—and what he can teach us.

Structured around key moments in Biden’s life and career—and filled with Biden-isms like “That’s a bunch of malarkey” and “I may be Irish, but I’m not stupid”—this blend of biography, advice, and humor will reveal the experiences that forged Joe Biden, and the lessons we can use in our own lives. Along the way, readers will also encounter fun sidebars on his love of muscle cars, his most endearing gaffes, his bromance with President Obama, and much more.

Yet beneath the memorable Biden-isms, the book will reveal an inspirational story of a man who keeps “getting back up.” We need this right now. Much as Biden has come back from both professional missteps and personal heartbreaks, sometimes we all have to get back up and fight. Given Biden’s reputation as a decent, plainspoken, patriotic statesman of integrity, this entertaining and practical book will be both a celebration of great political figure and an essential guide to creating the America he believes in so dearly.

 


Guest Blogger: Neil Plakcy returns!

October 25, 2017

I am so happy to welcome back author Neil Plakcy!

The Dark Web

Many years ago, at the dawn of the Internet, I picked up a book called Teach Yourself HTML in Seven Days, and I proceeded to do just that. Since then, I’ve been fascinated with internet programming – and hacking. The protagonist of my golden retriever mysteries is a somewhat reformed hacker, and it’s great fun for me to figure out how he can use those skills in his amateur sleuthing.

In my Angus Green thrillers, I’ve taken a different approach. Angus is a newly minted FBI Special Agent with a degree in accounting—a background common to many agents today, who need significant financial skills to track today’s sophisticated criminals. But Angus doesn’t have much experience with the dark side of the Internet, so I’m able to use his actions to teach my readers a bit about online villains.

An analogy that’s often used compares the Internet to an iceberg. Only about ten percent of all networked material is accessible through search engines and web crawlers. Techies call that the surface web.

Material like your bank account information, your email folders, corporate intranets and so on—anything that you need a password to access – is called the deep web. These don’t show up in a search engine, and you wouldn’t want them to. But there’s another part of that submerged iceberg, called the dark web. And that’s where criminals lurk, selling your information, trafficking in drugs, sharing pornographic videos.

When you make any request online – to visit a website or send an email– the internet uses a series of routers to complete your request. ISPs or government agencies can track the stops you make along the way, tracing you back to the unique web address assigned to the computer you’re using. But if you want to cover your tracks and dive into the dark web, all you need is an internet connection and a piece of software called the Tor Hidden Service Protocol.

Using Tor, your surfing requests stay within the network so you maintain anonymity. You don’t know where the server is you’re accessing, and they don’t know where you are. It’s perfect for political activists in repressive regimes, and for people who want to share and/or sell illegal materials – like drugs or kiddie porn.

The dark web is getting more visible these days, as investigators break into sites like Silk Road, an online black market and the first modern darknet market, best known as a platform for selling illegal drugs. Recently a France-based administrator of the site made the mistake of coming to the United States to participate in a beard-growing contest, and he was promptly arrested.

Angus is gradually building his arsenal of online skills. He’ll never be a true techie—the FBI has plenty of those. But I see him as an eager young Special Agent determined to bring a measure of justice to the world, and willing to learn everything he needs to know to carry out that mission.

You can enter to win this book and many others, all signed by the author!

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NOBODY RIDES FOR FREE by Neil S. Plakcy

The sharp and suspenseful new sequel to The Next One Will Kill You, perfect for fans of Joseph Hansen, Richard Stevenson, Randy Wayne White, and James W. Hall.

With less than a year of experience and only one big case behind him, FBI Special Agent Angus Green has joined the rarefied group of agents who have been wounded in the line of duty. Assigned to a desk job while he recovers, Angus wonders if he’s chosen the right career. He’s been following his late father’s dream for a life of adventure and travel―and instead encountered danger, pain, and heartbreak.

But when Angus discovers that gay teens are being sexually abused by a pornographer in the same neighborhood where he lives, he shoves aside his lingering doubts about his job and accepts his new assignment. The case takes him from Fort Lauderdale’s seamy underbelly to boisterous beachfront bars where big-fish Russian émigrés launder illegal cash. Angus is back in full effect, but with great power comes great responsibility, and he’ll soon find his stake in saving these trafficked teens is more personal than he could have anticipated. Every case leaves a lasting scar―some are just more difficult to see. In the end, Angus will learn the truth of a saying he learned as a boy―there is a price to pay for every decision we make. Nobody rides for free.


Denis Leary | What I’m Reading

October 24, 2017

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Why We Don’t Suck: And How All of Us Need to Stop Being Such Partisan Little Bitches by Dr. Denis Leary

From the author of the bestselling Why We Suck comes a searing comic look at these divisive times, skewering liberals and conservatives alike with a signature dose of sarcasm and common sense.

In an America so gluten-free that a box of jelly donuts is now a bigger threat than Vladimir Putin, where college kids are more afraid of Ann Coulter than HIV, it’s time for someone to stand up and make us all smell the covfefe.

Dr. Denis Leary is that guy.

With Why We DON’T Suck: And How All of Us Need to Stop Being Such Partisan Little Bitches, Denis is on a devoted mission to #MakeAmericaLaughAgain. Using the clamorous political atmosphere as a starting point, he takes a bipartisan look at the topics we all hold so dear to our patriotic hearts—including family, freedom, and the seemingly endless search for fame and diet vodka.

Denis will answer important questions like: When will Hillary blame herself? Why does Beyoncé think he’s Bryan Adams? And why doesn’t he follow the millennial lead and post pictures of his food on social media? (Spoiler alert: He’s too busy actually eating it.)

Not that Denis has anything against millennials: “When it comes to science, math, and technological advances, this generation has done more in three and a half decades than any other age group in history. What did my generation do? Cocaine and quaaludes mostly. With a side order of really stupid haircuts.”

Dr. Leary is here to remind us of what truly makes America great, even though we’re #7 on the most recent list of Best Countries to Live In. Which may sound bad but means we still make the playoffs.

Why We Don’t Suck by Dr. Denis Leary. Crown Archetype (October 24, 2017). ISBN 978-1524762735. 320 p.


Author Spotlight: Norm Macdonald

September 14, 2017

Norm Macdonald convinces you to buy his book “Based on a True Story” – Norm Macdonald tells different groups of people why they should buy his memoir.

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BASED ON A TRUE STORY: Not a Memoir by Norm Macdonald

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Driving, wild and hilarious” (TheWashington Post), here is the incredible “memoir” of the actor, gambler, raconteur, and Saturday Night Live veteran.

Don’t miss Norm’s new Netflix special, Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Treachery!

When Norm Macdonald, one of the greatest stand-up comics of all time, was approached to write a celebrity memoir, he flatly refused, calling the genre “one step below instruction manuals.” Norm then promptly took a two-year hiatus from stand-up comedy to live on a farm in northern Canada. When he emerged he had under his arm a manuscript, a genre-smashing book about comedy, tragedy, love, loss, war, and redemption. When asked if this was the celebrity memoir, Norm replied, “Call it anything you damn like.”

Praise for Based on a True Story

“Dostoyevsky by way of 30 Rockefeller Center . . . the best new book I’ve read this year or last.”The Wall Street Journal

“This book is absurd fiction. . . . Scathing and funny.”The New York Times

“Hilarious and filled with turns of phrase and hidden beauty like only a collection of Norm Macdonald stories could be.”Esquire

“Raucous . . . a hilarious, innovative work.”A.V. Club

“Part personal history and part meta riff on celebrity memoirs, the book, it quickly becomes clear, is also just partly true (and all hilarious).”Vulture

“Very, very, very funny! Thanks, Norm, for letting me be part of this Booker Prize–for–literature–quality effort.”—David Letterman

“Norm is brilliant and thoughtful and there is sensitivity and creative insight in his observations and stories. A lot of comics over the years have been compared to Mark Twain, but I think Norm is the only one who actually matches the guy in terms of his voice and ability. I seriously f**king love Norm Macdonald. Please buy his book. He probably needs the cash. He’s really bad with money.”—Louis C.K., from the foreword

“Norm is one of my all-time favorites, and this book was such a great read I forgot how lonely I was for a while.”—Amy Schumer

“I always thought Normie’s stand-up was the funniest thing there was. But this book gives it a run for its money.”—Adam Sandler

“Norm is one of the greatest stand-up comics who’s ever worked—a totally original voice. His sense of the ridiculous and his use of juxtaposition in his writing make him a comic’s comic. We all love Norm.”—Roseanne Barr

“Norm Macdonald makes me laugh my ass off. Who is funnier than Norm Macdonald? Nobody.”—Judd Apatow

“Norm Macdonald is more than a triple threat—he’s a septuple threat. He is smart, funny, wry, rakish, polite, rakish . . . no, wait. He is polite, insightful, and . . . aaaaah . . . warm. No. He’s exciting. Yeah. Exciting! You never know what he’ll do. Okay, then make that unpredictable. Add that up. He’s amazing.”—Alec Baldwin

“Norm is a double threat. His material and timing are both top-notch, which is unheard of. He is one of my favorites, both on- and off-stage.”—Dave Attell

“Letterman said it best: There is no one funnier than Norm Macdonald.”—Rob Schneider

BASED ON A TRUE STORY by Norm Macdonald. Spiegel & Grau; Reprint edition (June 13, 2017). ISBN: 978-0812983869. 272p.

 


Author Spotlight: Timothy Snyder

August 26, 2017

5 Ways to Resist Tyranny | Author Timothy Snyder – Drawing from lessons learned in the 20th century, here are five ways to resist tyranny in the modern age. Adapted from Timothy Snyder’s ON TYRANNY.

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ON TYRANNY by Timothy Snyder

Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century 

#1 New York Times Bestseller

The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism.  Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

“We are rapidly ripening for fascism. This American writer leaves us with no illusions about ourselves.” —Svetlana Alexievich, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

“Timothy Snyder reasons with unparalleled clarity, throwing the past and future into sharp relief. He has written the rare kind of book that can be read in one sitting but will keep you coming back to help regain your bearings. Put a copy in your pocket and one on your bedside table, and it will help you keep going for the next four years or however long it takes.” —Masha Gessen

“Please read this book. So smart, so timely.” —George Saunders

“Easily the most compelling volume among the early resistance literature. . . . A slim book that fits alongside your pocket Constitution and feels only slightly less vital. . . . Clarifying and unnerving. . . . A memorable work that is grounded in history yet imbued with the fierce urgency of what now.” —Carlos Lozada, The Washington Post

“Snyder knows this subject cold. . . . It is impossible to read aphorisms like ‘post-truth is pre-fascism’ and not feel a small chill about the current state of the Republic. . . . Approach this short book the same you would a medical pamphlet warning about an infectious disease. Read it carefully and be on the lookout for symptoms.” —Daniel W. Drezner, The New York Times Book Review

“As Timothy Snyder explains in his fine and frightening On Tyranny, a minority party now has near-total power and is therefore understandably frightened of awakening the actual will of the people.” —Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

“Snyder is superbly positioned to bring historical thinking to bear on the current political scene. . . . These unpretentious words remind us that political resistance isn’t a matter of action-movie heroics, but starts from a willingness to break from social expectations.” —Jeet Heer, The New Republic

“The perfect clear-eyed antidote to Trump’s deliberate philistinism. . . . These 128 pages are a brief primer in every important thing we might have learned from the history of the last century, and all that we appear to have forgotten.” —Tim Adams, The Guardian

“On Tyranny demands to be read.” —The Forward

“The manifesto we need. . . . Snyder detects dangerous trends in American politics that may be less visible to most citizens who cannot believe that our country, with its system of checks and balances, could succumb to illiberalism or authoritarianism.” —Darryl Holter, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Bracing. . . . On Tyranny is a call to action. . . . A brisk read packed with lucid prose.” —Vox

About the Author

Timothy Snyder is the Levin Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin and Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. Snyder is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and a permanent fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.


Author Spotlight: Shaka Senghor

August 18, 2017

I recently attended a workshop on prisoner reentry in Palm Beach County, and it was heartbreaking and inspirational. 

Fixing our prison system: Author and speaker Shaka Senghor spent 19 years in prison, and has become a leading voice in criminal justice reform. Looking at the issues with America’s prison system, Senghor identifies the key areas where restorative practices can be implemented.

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Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor

New York Times bestseller from member of Oprah’s Super Soul 100 | one of World Economic Forum’s “Most Recommended Books of 2016”

Now in paperback, the harrowing,* inspiring**, and unforgettable† memoir of redemption and second chances amidst America’s mass incarceration epidemic.

Shaka Senghor was raised in a middle class neighborhood on Detroit’s east side during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. An honor roll student and a natural leader, he dreamed of becoming a doctor—but at age 11, his parents’ marriage began to unravel, and the beatings from his mother worsened, sending him on a downward spiral that saw him run away from home, turn to drug dealing to survive, and end up in prison for murder at the age of 19, fuming with anger and despair.

Writing My Wrongs is the story of what came next. During his nineteen-year incarceration, seven of which were spent in solitary confinement, Senghor discovered literature, meditation, self-examination, and the kindness of others—tools he used to confront the demons of his past, forgive the people who hurt him, and begin atoning for the wrongs he had committed. Upon his release at age thirty-eight, Senghor became an activist and mentor to young men and women facing circumstances like his. His work in the community and the courage to share his story led him to fellowships at the MIT Media Lab and the Kellogg Foundation and invitations to speak at events like TED and the Aspen Ideas Festival.

In equal turns, Writing My Wrongs is a page-turning portrait of life in the shadow of poverty, violence, and fear; an unforgettable story of redemption, reminding us that our worst deeds don’t define us; and a compelling witness to our country’s need for rethinking its approach to crime, prison, and the men and women sent there.

the New York Times
** 
Bryan Stevenson
† Michelle Alexander 

Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor. Convergent Books; Reprint edition (January 31, 2017). ISBN: 978-1101907313. 288p.