Monday, August 27, 2012

Sneak peek of ON POLITICS by Alan Ryan

Since Alan Ryan's ON POLITICS began making the rounds for pre-publication reviews, it has collected an abundance of non-stop praise!  The book will not be published until October by Liveright/W. W. Norton, yet it has already received two starred reviews and endorsements from (among others) bestselling author and National Book Award-winner Stephen Greenblatt and bestselling author Harold Bloom. 

ON POLITICS is an enormous two-volume compilation covering two and a half thousand years of Western political thought.  The first volume, spanning 399 pages, starts with ancient Greek historian Herodotus and ends with Renaissance thinker Machiavelli. The second, spanning 711 pages, begins with English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes and continues into the present.  And yet, despite the intimidating size, the work has been consistently praised as "highly readable" (Publishers Weekly), as well as "lucid, precise, and accessible" (Steven Lukes, author of Power: A Radical View).

The publisher has packaged the two volumes into a beautiful, hardcover boxed set (see below).  Splashed across the box and the book spines is an image of a mosaic depicting philosophers from the School of Athens deep in discussion; the mosaic itself can be found in Pompeii, Italy.  Eye-catching and elegant, the cover packaging clearly and immediately sets the book apart as a treatise that is bound to become a classic.  Cleverly, the packaging creates a mosaic in and of itself, given that the image only becomes whole when all sides of the box are viewed together and the two volumes are neatly fit into the box opening, side-by-side.

Liveright has been promoting ON POLITICS with the tagline, "Three decades in the making, one of the most ambitious and comprehensive histories of political philosophy in nearly a century."  Indeed, the book did take Ryan, a professor at Oxford and Princeton Universities, thirty years to write--which is only understandable, given the breadth Ryan covers in his book.  Clearly the effort was worth it!  Below are several of the rave pre-publication reviews:

"An ambitious survey...Provocative, illuminating, and entertaining--an exemplary work of philosophy and history whose author's deep learning is lightly worn." --Kirkus, starred review

"Remarkably detailed yet highly readable...[An] absorbing and edifying read, [Ryan] regularly reminds us of what modern citizens might gain from a deeper understanding of the roots of today's political ideals and loyalties...These two volumes constitute a remarkable achievement, one that will be immensely valuable to both students and readers for years to come." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"In a work of astonishing scope and ambition, Ryan, surveying the whole vast field, concisely charts the welter of conflicting positions and tracks the sometimes thrilling, sometimes catastrophic consequences of political thought." --Stephen Greenblatt, Harvard University, author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

"Ryan has created a vision of the entire surge of Western political thought which is equal to the heroic venture of George Sabine...Ryan demonstrates throughout vivacity and a tenacious grasp of the human meaning of everything that has transpired in political speculation from the ancients on through the threshold of our own dark age.  I commend particularly his terse eloquence, his capacious erudition, and the verve and judicious intensity with which he somehow allows his whole being to inform his vast scope and deep concern of our human limitations." --Harold Bloom, Yale University, author of The Western Canon

"With an unmatched magisterial command, Ryan powerfully reminds and teaches us how the leading thinkers since classic times can and must inform our debates over how to envision the better world we must build." --Anthony Marx, President, New York Public Library

"Ryan has taken a vast range of challenging material written over twenty-five centuries in the West and engaged with it in prose of stunning clarity.  He displays the intrinsic interest of reflection on writers from Herodotus to yesterday, while showing how it can be a powerful resource for dealing with politics today.  It is an amazing achievement to combine so much learning with such lucidity." --Anthony Appiah, Princeton University, author of The Honor Code

"In lucid, precise, and accessible prose, Ryan has written an unparalleled guide for our times to the Western tradition of political thought.  From Herodotus through the Christian world and the rise of modernity to our own time, readers will be stimulated to reflect on historical, contemporary, and perennial questions." --Steven Lukes, Princeton University, author of Power: A Radical View

 Liveright/W. W. Norton, October 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Have you experienced a case of the wednesdays?

Last week, THE WEDNESDAYS by Julie Bourbeau was released by Knopf Books for Young Readers!  THE WEDNESDAYS is Bourbeau's highly imaginative, oftentimes hilarious, and sometimes creepy middle grade debut.

Max V. Bernard lives in a village that is perfectly normal...except on Wednesdays.  The very worst that can happen does when a villager or visitor is caught outdoors on this most inauspicious of days.  To protect themselves, the villagers lock themselves indoors and shutter up their windows in an attempt to evade the otherwise unavoidable and peculiar happenings, like one's hair catching on fire or one's cat getting stuck up a vacuum cleaner.  No one wants to catch "a case of the wednesdays."  But, this Wednesday, Max refuses to stay home.  When he ventures into the great (and deserted) outdoors, he runs into the wednesdays themselves, the silver-eyed, impish creatures causing all the weekly mayhem.  What will Max do when the wednesdays want him to become the next member of their legion?

Bourbeau has undertaken a number of fascinating blog interviews to celebrate her book's release. 

Over at Random Acts of Reading, she revealed a bit about what inspired her to make the wednesdays actual beings: "My son was literally growing up with the book as I wrote, and as a toddler he was quite the little imp.  (He still is, in fact.)  He was responsible for quite a few wednesday-like mishaps--colorful marks on walls, even more colorful spills, remote controls gone missing, and so on."  You can read the full interview here.

On another blog, So I'm Fifty, Bourbeau offered advice for others who are writing books for children: "Read you book out loud to a child who isn't afraid to play critic.  It's amazing how quickly you'll stumble over awkward phrases or boring lulls in the action when you have a precocious seven-year-old rolling her eyes or yawning while you read to her!"  Don't miss the full interview here.

THE WEDNESDAYS will be honored as an Indie Next List title for Autumn 2012.  Below are several of the excellent reviews the book has received thus far:

"Lighthearted and entertaining....Bourbeau's story is filled with slapstick humor...[A] gentle sense of magic and mayhem." --Publishers Weekly

"I wanted more of everything...Max is hilarious...I want to be best friends with [Max]...Recommended for: People who have ever wondered how powerful their mind actually is." --Wear the Old Coat Blog

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Where do you fit in the world of STARLING?

Lesley Livingston's new YA book, STARLING, will be released in only two weeks!  The first in a trilogy, STARLING blends Norse, Greek, and Egyptian mythologies in a paranormal showstopper.  As an award-winning author, Livingston excels in this realm.  She is also the author of the WONDROUS STRANGE trilogy, blending fairie lore and Shakespearean plays, and ONCE EVERY NEVER (the beginning of another trilogy), blending Celtic warriors and time travel.

To prepare for the release of her newest, Livingston created a quiz where readers can find out which STARLING character they are most like.  A few of us in the office took the quiz, and we uncovered an array of intriguing results: Two of us were the image-obsessed, handsome and talented fencer, Calum Aristarchos.  Another of us was the mega-popular Heather Palmerston, beautiful and intimidating and a bit of an ice queen, but with a wounded heart beneath the frost.  Meanwhile, Livingston herself took the test and came out as Rory Starling, Mason's rude, annoying older brother, who may have more of an evil streak than anyone gives him credit for.  It seems there's a dearth of heroines and heroes over here, as not one of us was one of the protagonists: the spunky fencer extraordinaire Mason Starling and the hunky and troubled Fennrys Wolf.  Find out which character you're most like--and whether you're one of the good ones, the bad ones, or the vain ones--by clicking here.

For more about the world of STARLING, visit Livingston's Pinterest page here.  For the latest news and updates, navigate to Livingston's Facebook fan page here and her Goodreads page here.

STARLING has already received several wonderful reviews before its release, including these below:

"Livingston's intense novel will be popular with readers across genres; its incorporation of romance, mystery, intrigue, and magic, as well as the strength of the main characters, will appeal to an audience beyond those dedicated to fantasy fiction." --VOYA

"Thrilling and intense; pulls you along like the inevitable rush toward Ragnarok." --Julie Kagawa, New York Times bestselling author of THE IRON FEY series

"A must read for all mythology fans!" --Josephine Agelini, internationally bestselling author of STARCROSSED

And last but not least, the following full, rave review from Publishers Weekly reveals a few more plot tidbits:

The Fennrys Wolf [who last appeared in the third of Livingston's WONDROUS STRANGE trilogy] is bigger and badder than Red Riding Hood ever imagined, and he's just landed in Manhattan--tumbling naked through a stained glass skylight, sword in hand.  Few recognize him as the harbinger of Ragnarok, the end of the world, but many of those in the know are connected with Gosforth Academy, where the privileged, beautiful scions of the super-rich are expensively educated.  Fennrys saves the fencing team from an inhuman onslaught with the timely assistance of Mason Starling, the team's Olympic hopeful.  Each goes away from the encounter feeling a strange connection with the other, but Fennrys doesn't know who or what he is, and Mason discovers that she doesn't know herself much better.  Livingston chooses action over introspection in this series launch, and lays out the plot in short scenes from various points of view that are kaleidoscopic without drawing readers too far into any one character.  Like a stylish TV pilot, there are special effects and eye candy galore, making for a quick, pulse-pounding read.

HarperTeen, August 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

A former CIA officer's writing tips and spy insights

CLOAKS AND VEILS is a riveting CIA spy thriller written by former undercover CIA officer J.C. Carleson.  Just released a few weeks ago, the book has been hailed by Booklist as "cloak-and-dagger spycraft with a side of romance" and "fine escapist fare with a canny and capable protagonist."

In the book, CIA officer Dara McIntyre has been demoted after an affair with a Jordanian intelligence officer.  She finds herself stuck behind a desk pushing paper and burdened with the task of assessing whether a fellow officer, whose husband has been kidnapped and assassinated by terrorists in Dubai, is still fit for her job.  But the grieving widow has deep secrets, and there is far more to her husband's death than Dara first suspected.  Dara finds herself steeped in murky investigations, all the while trying to rescue her career as she journeys through Dubai and Barcelona.

Carleson recently participated in an interview on Chuck Wendig's  The interview is hilarious, complete with details on social gaffes Carleson committed while living in Spain and revelations about potential zombie apocalypses and wars against the robots.  In a more serious vein, it also sheds light on Carleson's writing process and what it means to be an undercover CIA officer.  Be sure to read the full interview here!  To whet your appetite, a few tidbits are below:

Q:  Why do you tell stories?
A:  I got used to being paid to lie in my old career and I wanted the paychecks to continue. 
More seriously, storytelling is a huge part of working undercover.  Huge.  You have to create a persona, live a cover story, and disguise your intentions--and you have to do it convincingly.

Q:  What can you tell us about the CIA that most people don't know or wouldn't expect?
A:  -There's a Starbucks inside CIA headquarters.  And a Dunkin' Donuts.
     -CIA officers hate being called spies.  They're not spies--spies are people who commit espionage against their own country.  CIA officers RECRUIT spies.
     -Plus more on!

While CLOAKS AND VEILS is Carleson's debut book, she has also written a nonfiction business book about all the ways you can use CIA insights in everyday life.  That book, called WORK LIKE A SPY: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer, will be published by Portfolio/Penguin in February 2013.  Check out the covers for both books below:

Thomas and Mercer, July 2012

Portfolio/Penguin, February 2013

To learn more about J.C. Carleson, visit her website here.