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    book christmas tree

    At the end of September 1941, more than a million German soldiers lined up along the frontline just 180 miles west of Moscow. They were well-trained, confident, and had good reasons to hope that the war in the East would be over with one last offensive. Facing them was an equally large Soviet force, but whose soldiers were neither as well-trained nor as confident. When the Germans struck, disaster soon befell the Soviet defenders. German panzer spearheads cut through enemy defenses and thrust deeply to encircle most of the Soviet soldiers on the approaches to Moscow. Within a few weeks, most of the Russian soldiers marched into captivity, where a grim fate awaited them.

    Despite the overwhelming initial German success, however, the Soviet capital did not fall. German combat units, as well as supply transport, were bogged down in mud caused by autumn rains. General Zhukov was called back to Moscow and given the desperate task to recreate defense lines west of Moscow. The mud allowed him time to accomplish this, and when the Germans again began to attack in November, they met stiffer resistance. Even so, they came perilously close to the capital, and if the vicissitudes of weather had cooperated, would have seized it. Though German units were also fighting desperately by now, the Soviet build-up soon exceeded their own.

    The Drive on Moscow, 1941 is based on numerous archival records, personal diaries, letters, and other sources. It recreates the battle from the perspective of the soldiers as well as the generals. The battle had a crucial role in the overall German strategy in the East, and its outcome reveals why the failure of the German assault on Moscow may well have been true turning point of World War II.

    book christmas tree

    A daredevil pilot in the famed 352nd Fighter Squadron, the author of this remarkable memoir bailed out of his burning Mustang two days after D-Day and was launched on a thrilling adventure on the ground in Occupied France.

    After months living and fighting with the French Resistance, Fahrenwald was captured by the Wehrmacht, interrogated as a spy, and interned in a POW camp—and made a daring escape just before his deportation to Germany. Nothing diminished this pilot’s talent for spotting the ironic humor in even the most aggravating or dangerous situations—and nothing stopped his penchant for extracting his own improvised and sometimes hilarious version of justice.

    A suspenseful WWII page-turner and an outrageously witty tale of daring and friendship, Bailout Over Normandy brings to vivid life the daily bravery, mischief, and intrigues of fighter pilots, Resistance fighters, and other Allies in the air and on the ground.

    Captured by the Wehrmacht, however, interrogated as a spy, and interned in a POW camp, the author made a daring escape just before his deportation to Germany. Nothing diminished Ted’s talent for spotting the ironic humor in even the most aggravating or dangerous situations, nor his penchant for extracting his own improvised and sometimes hilarious version of justice.

    The author recorded his swashbuckling adventures at age twenty-four, after his discharge and return to the States. Afterward he went into business and never again put pen to paper. But his immediate reminiscence of his wartime experience—recently found—reveals a rare literary talent.

    book christmas tree

    “Gentlemen, do not be daunted if chaos reigns; it undoubtedly will.” So said Brigadier S. James Hill, commanding officer of the British 3rd Parachute Brigade, in an address to his troops shortly before the launching of Operation Overlord—the D-Day invasion of Normandy. No more prophetic words were ever spoken, for chaos indeed reigned on that day, and many more that followed.

    Much has been written about the Allied invasion of France, but award-winning military historian Flint Whitlock has put together a unique package—the first history of the assault that concentrates exclusively on the activities of the American, British, and Canadian airborne forces that descended upon Normandy in the dark, pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944. Landing into the midst of the unknown, the airborne troops found themselves fighting for their lives on every side in the very jaws of the German defenses, while striving to seize their own key objectives in advance of their seaborne comrades to come.

    Whitlock details the formation, recruitment, training, and deployment of the Allies’ parachute and glider troops. First-person accounts by veterans who were there—from paratroopers to glidermen to the pilots who flew them into the battle, as well as the commanders (Eisenhower, Taylor, Ridgway, Gavin, and more)—make for compelling, “you-are-there” reading. If Chaos Reigns is a fitting tribute to the men who rode the wind into battle and managed to pull victory out of confusion, chaos, and almost certain defeat.

    book christmas tree

    Like many heroes of the Second World War, General Albert C. Wedemeyer’s career has been largely overshadowed by such well-known figures as Marshall, Patton, Montgomery, and Bradley. Wedemeyer’s legacy as the main planner of the D-Day invasion is almost completely forgotten today, eclipsed by politics and the capriciousness of human nature.

    Yet during America’s preparation for the war, Wedemeyer was the primary author of the “Victory Program” that mobilized US resources and directed them at crucial points in order to secure victory over the Axis. In the late 1930s, he had the unique experience of being an exchange student at the German Kriegsakademia, the Nazis’ equivalent of Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff School. As the only American to attend, he was thus the only ranking officer in the US who recognized the tactics of blitzkrieg once they were unleashed, and he knew how to respond.

    As US involvement in the European conflagration approached, Wedemeyer was taken under the wing of George C. Marshall in Washington. Wedemeyer conceived the plans for US mobilization, which was in greater gear than realized at the time of Pearl Harbor. The Victory Program, completed in the summer of 1941, contained actual battle plans and called for the concentration of forces in England in preparation for an early cross-channel invasion into France. However, to Wedemeyer’s great disappointment (reflecting Marshall’s), he was not appointed to field command in the ETO once the invasion commenced; further, he had run afoul of Winston Churchill due to the latter’s insistence on emphasizing the Mediterranean theater in 1943.

    Perhaps because of Churchill’s animosity, Wedemeyer was transferred to the Burma-China theater, where a year later he would replace General Stilwell. Ultimately, Wedemeyer’s service in the Asian theater became far more significant, though less known. Had the US political establishment listened to Wedemeyer’s advice on China during the years 1943–48, it is possible China would not have been lost to the Communists and would have been a functioning US ally from the start, thus eliminating the likelihood of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

    Despite Wedemeyer’s key position at the crux of modern history, his contributions have been overlooked in most accounts of World War II and the Cold War beyond. In McClaughlin's work, we gain an intimate look at a visionary thinker who helped guide the Allies to victory in their greatest challenge, but whose vision of the post-war world was unfortunately not heeded.

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    Need a special gift? Something you can purchase right away? Ebooks make great presents for every occasion! Ebooks can be read on tablets, ereaders, smartphones, or desktop computers and are delivered when you want them.  Instant, easy, personal gifts. 

    Learn how to give ebooks for Kindle, Sony, Nook, Kobo and iBooks with our videos below and discover great gift ideas here.

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    As we get ready to celebrate Mother's Day, we are thrilled to welcome bestselling romance author Amanda Scott to the blog. Scott shares some wonderful stories about motherhood, including how she got her first steamy read!

    Amanda Scott

    Amanda Scott with her mother, whom she describes as "a very strong woman, descended from other strong women, [who] passed those traits on to my sister and to me."  

    Did your mother impact or influence your writing?

    My mother was a very strong woman, descended from other strong women, and she passed those traits on to my sister and to me. She died before I sold my first book (The Fugitive Heiress), but I did read some of its first chapters to her while she was in the hospital. She seemed to enjoy the story, but she never got to see it in print.

    If she impacted my writing, it’s because she taught me to read when I was three. We lived in San Francisco then, while my dad was going to law school, and she taught me to read by using the advertisements on the cable cars and streetcars. From that point on, she encouraged my reading. Once, when she had friends over, I was reading a book that utterly scandalized one lady. I was about seven or eight, and I guess the book had sex scenes in it. Mom told the woman that she didn’t care what I was reading, as long as I was enjoying the reading. She thought, accurately, that most of what upset the woman would go right over my head, and that anything I didn’t understand, and wanted to understand, I’d ask her to explain—also accurate, because she never ignored or discouraged such requests and was a veritable font of knowledge for me.

    What strengths did she impart that may have helped you in your career, directly or indirectly?

    Whenever I think about questions like this one, I remember her telling me to “rise above it!” Someone would throw me a curve, or I would hit a point of frustration in something I was trying to accomplish or a conflict when someone was asking me to do one more thing (usually when I was already in over my head), and Mom would say, “Just rise above it, deal with it, and move on.” I’ve heard those words often in my head during my career. They can pop up at the oddest times, too. She also instilled in me a sense of responsibility and self-reliance.
    Amanda Scott Highland FlingShe was strong from birth, I think. She contracted polio when she was eighteen months old and was paralyzed from the waist down for several months. The doctors told my grandmother to keep massaging her legs to remind the muscles of what they were supposed to do, and when the paralysis wore off, he told her to get Mom involved in something that would build up the strength in her legs again. Gram chose ballet and my mother proved to be particularly flexible, as well as a talented ballerina. She appeared in all sorts of venues, including variety shows, so Gram eventually took her on the road. Mom performed all over the Northwest, including Alaska, while they lived in Washington State, and then, when they moved to California, she appeared in several movies, as well. She was known as Baby Lowell.

    Gram disapproved of the Hollywood scene, but Mom and her younger sister loved it. Mom also danced professionally as a ballerina and eventually with the San Francisco Opera Ballet until she married my dad.

    Could you tell us about your relationship with your own children? How did becoming a parent affect your perspective on life?

    Everything an author does, reads, sees, or hears becomes grist for the mill, so certainly the birth of a child has a major impact. My son was highly entertaining, for one thing, so he gave me all sorts of ideas for characters from the time he was born and still does today, especially since he now has two wee ones of his own, also highly entertaining. On the more serious side, he gave me increased insight about parents, parenting, and just character in general. He has always been forthright and blunt, which I appreciate (usually).

    He drenched me with our hose when he was two or three, and only a few days ago, I got a text from him telling me that he’d been tinkering in his garage and heard his four-year-old son, just outside, say, “Daddy, help me, I’m stuck.” He stepped outside, straight into the full force of a Super Soaker. His text ended with laughter and “Classic!” I texted back, “Classic, heck! Karma!”

    What are your children’s reading habits, and how were they formed?

    My son also learned to read early and used to read under his covers (believing, I’m sure, that he was the first child to outsmart his parents in such a fashion). We could see the flashlight through the covers, but my husband and I agreed that as long as he was reading, we would remain blind. Our son still reads voraciously, whenever he finds time, just as my husband and I still do, and our parents and grandparents did before us. I think reading for pleasure and knowledge is something that parents can easily hand down to their children if they make the effort.

    Amanda Scott is the author of more than fifty romantic novels, many of which have been bestsellers. 

    Check out our Mother's Day gift guide with ebooks for every kind of mom and follow our Mother's Day blog series. 

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    China Beach debuted in 1988 and was hailed as groundbreaking television. People magazine raved "An innovative, inspired, and brave gamble of a show . . . .Grade A." And the Washington Post called it "clearly exceptional television." The show—inspired by William Broyles' GOODBYE VIETNAM and never before available on dvd or vhs—has consistently ranked as one of the most requested unreleased tv series of all time. 

    Last month, the good folks over at Time Life Star Vista Entertainment released China Beach: The Complete Series —starring everyone's favorite First Lieutenant-turned-desperate-housewife-turned-medical-examiner: Dana Delaney.  The 62 episode, 21-disc set includes more than ten hours of bonus material AND, wait for it . . . 268 classic hit songs as they were played in the original broadcast. Personally, I can't think of another single, on-going series for which the soundtrack played such an integral part in the show. 

    In this brief clip, Co-creators John Sacret Young and William Broyles take us behind the scenes.  Want more?  Click to download and excerpt of William Broyles' GOODBYE VIETNAM

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    James Hilton’s imaginative LostHorizon is not only a tale of a lost world, it is also a philosophical questioning of how life should be lived. In the midst of war, British diplomat Hugh Conway is fleeing Afghanistan when his plane crashes in the Himalayas. Conway and his fellow survivors are rescued and led to the hidden paradise of Shangri-La, where the residents live seemingly immortal lives in peace.

    Lost HorizonThroughout the novel, the residents of Shangri-La emphasize the importance of moderation. The monks in the lamasery practice a religion that is a mix of Christianity and Buddhism. Their philosophy of everything in moderation is the secret to immortality in Shangri-La. Although their lifestyle is clearly desirable,, some newcomers are incapable of understanding it. As the goal of Shangri-La is to reach a mental peak, the Western newcomers have difficulty identifying with a goal that does not require physical action. But while the dogma that the residents of Shangri-La live by is certainly commendable, their living arrangements are in direct contrast with the philosophy of moderation.

    Their lives, while peaceful in actions and mindset, are populated with the conveniences of modern life, including heating, grandiose bathrooms, a library, and lavish musical instruments. These luxuries are provided through an endless gold supply in the valley. Because they are provided with unlimited comforts, they are not burdened with the troubles that the rest of society faces. Living without conventional worries, they are able to focus on leading contemplative lives. The fantasy of their lifestyle is even more apparent when it is revealed that once a person leaves Shangri-La, his or her immortality is compromised and they quickly progress in age. The contrast between Shangri-La and the rest of the world prompts us to question which way of life is more righteous, especially given the consequences inherent in each.

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    Whitey Bulger

    After a twenty-year tyranny over Boston, more than a decade on the run, and a number-two slot on the FBI's Most Wanted list after Osama bin Laden, Irish mobster James "Whitey" Bulger has finally been captured. Bulger, who was also an FBI informant, currently awaits trial for charges ranging from racketeering to murder. Watch as New York Times bestselling author and renowned crime journalist T. J. English, author of Whitey's Payback, chronicles Bulger's reign of terror, his downfall, and his unique relationships with the criminal justice system.

    Whitey's PaybackT. J. English’s new book, Whitey’s Payback, chronicles more than twenty years of English’s work as one of America’s foremost journalists in crime reporting. In addition to numerous pieces about Whitey, he reports stories about gangsters and organized crime from New York City to Jamaica to Hong Kong to Mexico. Be they about old school mobsters, corrupt federal agents, or modern-day narcotraficantes wreaking havoc on the US–Mexico border, English tells these stories with depth and insight. Combining first-rate reporting and the storytelling technique of a novelist, English takes his readers on a bloody but fascinating journey to the dark side of the American Dream.

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    In honor of this upcoming Mother’s Day weekend, we are pleased to have author Adele Griffin on the blog with a piece about her mother and about becoming a mother herself.

    Adele Griffin with her mother

    Adele Griffin with her mother, 1989.

    My favorite memory of my mom is from the least-favorite time of my life. It happened back in October 2007, when my daughter, Priscilla, was born four months premature. Weighing just one-point-seven pounds, Priscilla was what they call a “micro-preemie” and we were taking her chances for survival day by day. My parents had come across the country to sit with my husband and me in the neonatal intensive care unit, dropping everything in their lives to be there for their first grandchild in her fight to survive.

    On a night of particular trauma and medical urgency, I was hovering at the ventilator whispering to my daughter all of the things we’d do together when she got well. I thought my mom was asleep in the hospital rocking chair, but it turned out she was listening. “I’m looking forward to us all getting out of here and starting the fun part, too,” she said. Her voice was almost startlingly casual; in it she gave me no indication that she didn’t believe this tiny baby, hooked up to at least a dozen tubes and with drugs of every description pumping into her, would be one day be on the swings and slide, or picking out her favorite flavor of ice cream.

    When my world was falling apart and there was nothing to hold onto in that night but the sound of my mother’s voice, so known to me, so matter-of-fact and assured—no matter that there wasn’t any reason for her to be so—I held it very hard. And I immediately wanted to be that voice for my own daughter, to offer her that same perfect confidence. My mother’s private fears were identically mine, but her outward assurance was her gift and guide for me.

    My daughter did come home, a hundred twenty-one days later and four pounds heavier. Today, at age five, she is well into the “fun part,” which includes sharing her grandmother’s love of a scoop of fudge-swirl on a sugar cone with sprinkles—after a few turns on the swing. I’ve heard my mother’s voice in my own countless times since then, when I assure my daughter that the thunder can’t come inside or that vampires are just pretend. And while I know that my daughter’s fears will change, I hope that her trust in my voice continues to be a way for her to hold onto a simple peace in that hour when she needs it most.

    Adele Griffin with daughter Priscilla

    Left: Adele Griffin with her daughter, Priscilla; Right: Adele Griffin's mother with her granddaughter, Priscilla

    Adele Griffin is a critically lauded author of children's books and young adult fiction. Griffin has won a number of awards, including National Book Award nominations for Sons of Liberty and Where I Want to Be. Her books are regularly cited on ALA Best and ALA Notable lists.

    Check out our Mother’s Day gift guide with ebooks for every kind of mom and follow our Mother’s Day blog series.

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    Where would we be without our mothers? This Mother’s Day, we at Open Road Media asked our authors to weigh in on the special roles their mothers play in their lives—as teachers, editors, dating coaches, best friends, and literary inspiration. 

    Taken from the authors' personal collections, we’ve created a slideshow of famous authors with their mothers, including Dean Koontz, Erica Jong, Gloria Steinem, Octavia Butler, Pat Conroy, Erma Bombeck, and more. Scroll through these wonderful images, read what the authors have to say in our Mother's Day blog series, and browse our Mother's Day Gift Guide for the perfect literary gift.

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    book christmas treeOne of the most notorious Americans of the twentieth century was a failed Broadway actress turned radio announcer named Mildred Gillars (1900–1988), better known to American GIs as “Axis Sally.” Despite the richness of her life story, there has never been a full-length biography of the ambitious, star-struck Ohio girl who evolved into a reviled disseminator of Nazi propaganda.

    At the outbreak of war in September 1939, Gillars had been living in Germany for five years. Hoping to marry, she chose to remain in the Nazi-run state even as the last Americans departed for home. In 1940, she was hired by the German overseas radio, where she evolved from a simple disc jockey and announcer to a master propagandist. Under the tutelage of her married lover, Max Otto Koischwitz, Gillars became the personification of Nazi propaganda to the American GI.

    Spicing her broadcasts with music, Gillars’s used her soothing voice to taunt Allied troops about the supposed infidelities of their wives and girlfriends back home, as well as the horrible deaths they were likely to meet on the battlefield. Supported by German military intelligence, she was able to convey personal greetings to individual US units, creating an eerie foreboding among troops who realized the Germans knew who and where they were.

    After broadcasting for Berlin up to the very end of the war, Gillars tried but failed to pose as a refugee, and was captured by US authorities. Her 1949 trial for treason captured the attention and raw emotion of a nation fresh from the horrors of the Second World War. Gillars’s twelve-year imprisonment and life on parole, including a stay in a convent, is a remarkable story of a woman who attempts to rebuild her life in the country she betrayed.

    Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany by Richard Lucas {Excerpt}

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    Breakfast in Bed

    Mother’s Day isn’t just a day for mothers to enjoy a moment of appreciation. It’s a golden opportunity for husbands, children, and grandchildren to rack up major brownie points for the year ahead. Use this May 12 to remind Mom how much you love her with an over-the-top brunch and a bonus gift for her ereader. The goodwill you garner will surely come in handy sooner rather than later.

    Step one: Sneak into the kitchen early on Sunday morning and get to work. Whip up some pain perdu, the gourmet take on French toast from Gesine Bullock-Prado’s Bake It Like You Mean It.

    Step two: While the delicious dough rises, you can get started on your candied bacon and deviled eggs from Canal House Cooking Volume N° 1: Summer to achieve the ultimate savory-sweet balance.

    Step three: Put those kids to work! Crack open a watermelon and let them do the hard work of seeding and straining to make a refreshing pitcher of melon water. If Mom likes a boozy brunch, sneak some rum into the adults’ glasses while the kids aren’t looking.

    Step four: Download Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soulto Mom’s ereader so she has some heartwarming reading material while digesting the feast you’ve prepared.

    Step five: Arrange the brunch spread on the kitchen table with flowers and a sentimental card or two. A cup of coffee and Mom’s ereader are ready for a relaxing mid-morning read after the meal. Serve to the whole family, and enjoy the household harmony that comes with a happy mom!

    Check out our Mother’s Day gift guide with ebooks for every kind of mom and follow our Mother’s Day blog series.

    Bake It Like You Mean It [Mother's Day Excerpt] by Gesine Bullock-Prado by OpenRoadMedia

    Canal House Cooking Volume No. 1: Summer [Mother's Day Excerpt] by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamil... by OpenRoadMedia

    Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul [Excerpt] by OpenRoadMedia

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  • 05/10/13--09:00: Fahim Speaks: Thank you, Mom
  • Fahim Fazli is a man of two worlds: Afghanistan, the country of his birth, and America, the nation he adopted and learned to love. 

    He’s also a man who escaped oppression, found his dream profession, and then paid it forward by returning to Afghanistan as an interpreter with the US Marines. When Fahim speaks, the story he tells is harrowing, fascinating, and inspiring. 

    Born and raised in Kabul, Fahim saw his country and family torn apart by revolution and civil war. Dodging Afghan authorities and informers with his father and brother, Fahim made his way across the border to Pakistan and then to America where he was eventually reunited with his mother, sisters, and one brother. 

    In Fahim Speaks, Fazli also talks about the importance of family—and, in particular, the central role his mother played in developing his understanding and appreciation of humanity. As we head into Mother's Day weekend, it seems fitting to share Fahim's letter to his mother: 

    Dear Mother,

    Happy Mothers Day! And thank you for giving me an inner confidence, a love and respect for women, children, animals, and especially my fellow human beings. I am so glad you taught me the life skills necessary to read people and translate their motives and agendas, to negotiate peace with words that heal and actions of mercy and kindness. 

    You also taught me that standing up for my rights and the rights of others helps maintain a strong inner core of navigational direction between right and wrong, and to not get manipulated by the greedy and the selfish.

    Mom, you said, “Son, when you lie to people, you don’t lie to them--you lie to yourself. You have one witness above you that can hear and is taking notes, which is God.” Mom, you also said, “If people are rude to you, do not fight back, always walk away and you will be the winner. You don’t have to prove people wrong—you cannot change people; you can only change yourself and be a good example for them."

    Mom, you always taught us to dress nice, and to not be a hypocrite or have a double standard of decency for women and children, as they were created as men’s equal. If you want to follow religion, make sure you observe it, not just think it or be a fundamentalist. You don’t have to prove your good deeds to others; this secret is between you and your God. And you always taught me when you go out with your wife or girlfriend, let her talk and finish her sentences, and not to interrupt her. Always respect your lady in front of others.

    Mom, Happy Mother’s Day. I wish you were alive to see all my accomplishments. I want to thank you for them all.

    CLICK for more on Fahim Speaks by Fahim Fazli published in conjunction with our partners at Warriors Publishing Group.

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    Eighty Days of Pleasure

    Pleasure. It comes in so many forms. Cool drinks on hot days, lazy afternoons reading in the sun, settling into a new book series that promises a healthy supply of sizzling storytelling.

    With summer just around the corner, we at Open Road wanted to help you get a head start on enjoying the pleasures of summertime (well, the reading-a-great-series-in-the-sunshine part, at least—you're on your own for the cold, frosty drinks). So we have a suggestion for your summer series pick, and an amazing deal to go along with it.

    Starting May 18, read along in the popular Eighty Days erotic romance series by Vina Jackson with our special “Eighty Days of Pleasure” offer, an ongoing sale on each of the first three ebooks as well as the ebook bundle, The Eighty Days Series: Volumes 1–3.

    Schedule for the “Eighty Days of Pleasure” Sale:

    Need more convincing? Here's what fans of Eighty Days have to say about the series on Goodreads:

    "Completely original and not like anything I have read before . . . EVER!"

    "The story is told slowly, almost like a silent movie waiting to drag you in. There is no sudden shock that has the reader quickly turning the page yet I found myself turning and turning wanting to know what would come next."

    "I’ve really enjoyed these books—I love the language, the richness of the prose, the realism and the starkness of their story. It’s compelling, intensely sensuous and emotionally draining."

    "I hope one day to find an as interesting and testing a series but I wonder deep down if it is even possible."

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    Susan Morse

    “I take pictures. The chosen ones chant and chant. Ma seems so small and fragile in her loose cotton nightshirt, and so humble and sincere that she catches me off-guard . . . all my years of loving Ma while she was driving me out of my mind, and all the times I’ve been unutterably furious at her, and the love she’s capable of, and I can barely keep the camera steady.”

    Meet Mother Brigid. Mother, wife, artist, and nascent nun, Susan Morse’s mother has spent her life searching for The Answer to Everything. In the 1960s, it was Catholicism; in the 1970s, she sang the praises of macrobiotics; and at the ripe old age of eighty-five, Ma has fully embraced Orthodox Christianity.

    The Habit by Susan MorseIn honor of Mother’s Day, we are featuring Morse’s hilarious and frank memoir, The Habit, which chronicles her relationship with her indomitable and eccentric mother. As Ma’s designated “special” child, Morse is tasked with being both her confidante and her surrogate therapist. After Ma is diagnosed with rectal cancer, Morse assumes an even more proactive role, shuttling Ma from doctors’ appointment to religious ceremonies, all while juggling the responsibilities of mothering her own three children.

    We see the ways Ma drives Morse to the brink of insanity with her seemingly arbitrary rules (in one instance, she admonishes her daughter for using the “vulgar” term trash can instead of the more acceptable scrap basket), but we also see Morse’s unalterable love for her mother.

    For anyone who has experienced the role reversal of caring for aging parents, The Habit is an immensely relatable and comforting read. More universally, Morse’s deft exploration speaks to the particular dynamic of mother-daughter relationships, so complicated and frustrating, and yet ultimately underscored by abiding love.

    Check out our Mother’s Day gift guide with ebooks for every kind of mom and follow our Mother’s Day blog series.

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  • 05/11/13--06:00: Mother's Day by Mark Salzman
  • Mark Salzman

    I assume that the full scope of my mother’s influence on me lies beyond my understanding. I figure it must be like an iceberg: only the tip of it shows. The tens of thousands of hours she spent looking after me, feeding me, clothing me, socializing me, teaching me, consoling me, encouraging me, disciplining me, listening to me, driving me to cello and kung fu lessons—I can remember only a tiny fraction of it all. And then there is all that I learned from her by example: watching her practice the piano every day for hours and hours without ever feeling satisfied with the results, watching how she worried every month when it came time to pay the bills, watching how kindly and patiently she treated others, but how unkindly and impatiently she treated herself.

    My mother graduated with honors from the Eastman School of Music, having double-majored in piano and oboe. She gave solo recitals all over the country and abroad; she taught hundreds of students; she raised three children without the help of a housekeeper or nanny; she helped found an orchestra in Connecticut and an early concert series in Arizona, both of which are still thriving; and she never spent what little money she had unwisely. She led, in other words, a productive, accomplished life—but not quite as productive or accomplished as that of Pablo Casals or J. S. Bach. And those were the sorts of people to whom my mother compared herself.

    One year, I sat next to her during a lecture by the writer David McCullough. He was discussing the life of John Adams, and regardless of anything else you may think about John Adams, you cannot accuse him of being an underachiever. The man was staggeringly productive. At the end of the lecture, I turned to my mother and saw that the front of her blouse was soaked with tears. She could barely move, her whole body was so tense. Eventually, after the applause had died down and people were getting up to leave, she shook her head and said, “My whole life has been a waste.”

    Here’s the happy ending to this story, even if it is bittersweet.  When my mother was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at age sixty-seven (she’d smoked for fifty years; tobacco was her antidepressant medication of choice) and was told she had between three and eighteen months to live, her reaction took all of us by surprise. She seemed to go through the first four Kübler-Ross “stages of grief”—denial, anger, bargaining, and depression—over the course of the first weekend. By Monday morning, she’d reached stage five (acceptance) and pretty much stayed there until she died nine months later. She stopped practicing and started reading for pleasure. She started describing every meal she ate as the best meal she’d ever eaten. We traveled as a family to Italy and watched her marvel at everything she beheld, from the statues to the soundless dishwasher in our rented house.

    When, at the very end, her symptoms required care that we weren’t able to provide at home, we moved her to a room in a hospice facility. The first thing she did when she got there was point out a trim pattern that had been hand-painted on the walls just below the ceiling—tiny purple flowers growing in clusters—and marvel at how beautifully they’d been rendered.  

    Whoever came up with the idea of hospice care ought to get the Nobel prize. During her stay there, no one poked her with needles or woke her for tests, no machines beeped, no alarms went off, and the staff’s highest priority was to make her as comfortable as possible. She was lucid and cheerful until the morphine carried her off into the land of dreams, and then she slipped away.

    She let go of something when she learned she was going to die, and it seems to me that it relieved her of an elaborate and unnecessary burden. Better late than never, as they say. She did the “surrender thing” well, and that’s what I remember most vividly about my mother now. That’s the tip of the iceberg for me, and far from trying to steer away from it, it’s become a landmark that I navigate by every day. Not a bad parting gift—just wish I could thank her for it.


    Mark Salzman is an award-winning novelist and nonfiction author who has written on a wide range of subjects, from a graceful novel about a Carmelite nun’s crisis of faith to a memoir about growing up a misfit in a Connecticut suburb.

    The Man in the Empty BoatAs a boy, Salzman studied kung fu and the cello. His cello proficiency led to his acceptance at Yale University at age sixteen. He soon immersed himself in Chinese language and philosophy; he then spent two years in mainland China, teaching English and studying martial arts. His experiences in China resulted in his first book, the Pulitzer Prize–nominated Iron & Silk

    Salzman went on to write The Laughing Sutra, Lost in Place, The Soloist, and Lying Awake. He has also played the cello on the soundtrack to several films, including the Academy Award–winning documentary Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien. His latest work is the memoir The Man in the Empty Boat, published by Open Road Integrated Media.

    Check out our Mother’s Day gift guide with ebooks for every kind of mom, and follow our Mother’s Day blog series.

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  • 05/12/13--06:00: Happy Mother's Day!
  • Happy Mother's Day! We're wrapping up our celebration with a roundup of some of our authors’ favorite memories of their mothers.

    Click here to explore other Mother's Day posts. Looking for a last minute Mother's Day gift? Check out our ebook gift guide.



    I remember coming home from school on Wednesdays to find dough rising in the big brown ceramic bowl Mom used for breadmaking that could accommodate a quadruple recipe. We were a family of eight, so keeping us fed was a big job, one she took seriously. She made everything from scratch and was a good cook, but what I remember best was her bread. I never ate a store-bought loaf until I was older, which made me appreciate all the more how good I’d had it the years I was growing up. Our deep-freezer in the garage was stocked with enough loaves to feed an army, all different kinds: white, whole wheat, Swedish rye, oatmeal (my favorite), graham. During the holiday season she made cinnamon bread that she frosted and decorated with “flowers” made from cut-up citron. We gave those loaves to our teachers and the postman and other people who were important in our lives. In my memory our entire cul-de-sac in Woodside, California, was fragrant with the scent of cinnamon and fresh-baked bread at that time of year. My mom is no longer with us, sadly, but I still have her recipes, which I treasure. I’ve carried on the tradition of making cinnamon bread at Christmastime. The rest of the year, there’s a little part of her in everything I do or bake.     


    My mother loved Nantucket Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, and after my father died she bought a time-share there. When my children were growing up, we had a tradition of spending a week there in June, usually including my birthday. Just us and the kids. She would sketch the scenery and I would go biking with first one and then both of my children. I think of the passage of those fifteen or so years in terms of my young bikers gaining confidence and skill as they rode behind me like little ducks, and then getting so confident that they rode ahead of me and waited at our destination, where my mother would be waiting in the car to pick us and our bikes up and take us for ice cream.


    My late mother, Marilyn, sadly passed away when I was in my early twenties, but people are still shaking in their boots! My mother was nobody's fool. She was amused and slightly bemused by what passed for conventional thought. She had disdain for people who followed the crowd and called them "sheep." "Don't be like all the sheep," she would stress when she saw what she considered foolish common "pack" behavior. She was cutting and sardonic and caustic but very, very funny. 



    I remember sitting with my sister, one on either side of Mother, as she read Robert W. Service to us: “There are strange things done in the midnight sun / By the men who moil for gold . . .”  Those words, even today, put me back on that couch with the flickering lamplight (no power), and the scent of wood smoke in the air. She also read us “The Lady of the Lake”—“. . . Where danced the moon on Monan’s rill . . .”

    She and Dad took turns reading “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” aloud. “As idle as a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean.” I think all of this influenced my love of poetry that has rhyme and rhythm, and descriptive phrases I strive to put into my own writing so readers can see what I’m seeing, as I saw what those writers saw.

    My mother taught me to read when I was four, mainly to keep me out of her hair, and created an avid, even compulsive, reader from that point on. The secure childhood she and Dad gave us certainly influenced my writing, in that most of my stories involve mothers and children and all have happy endings.

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    Throughout the month of May, in remembrance of Memorial Day, Open Road Media will share guest blog posts from some of our combat veteran authors. Today's guest, Michael Stokey author of River of Perfumes, comes to us from our partner, Warriors Publishing Group.    

    letter from my father when I was at boot camp, 5/8/66

    Dear Mike,

    Well…it’s a LITTLE better. I mean, it only took me 30 minutes to decipher THIS one. If those Marine D.I.s are reading your mail, I’m pretty sure they’re breaking the law; but then, no sentence would be as hard as any one of yours on them.

    Just wrote your mother and sister and gave ’em your address. Hope you remember Mother’s Day. Or will, rather, since you didn’t have her new address.

    It’s raining hard now, so I’m sure your D.I. has called all activities off and you’re lying around on your bunk reading pocketbooks and munching candy bars, downing a coke and listening to the hi-fi.

    It wasn’t like that in the Air Corps, you know. We had to report to the Officer’s Lounge, rain or shine.

    Well, enough cheering up. I’ll write more later.
    Don’t get up, 

    reflections from the jungle, 1968

    It was a simpler world in the rice paddies and jungle. Eat if you could, sleep if you were able, survive if you were lucky. The chaos was back home.

    If it was war in Vietnam it was wargasm in the States. As the war heated up, so too did the passion and riots in the streets. Half a world away came reports of demonstrations around the Washington Monument. Activists waved North Vietnamese flags, burning the Stars and Stripes.

    There were love-ins in the streets, sit-ins on campus and Laugh In on TV. Everybody had a cause or agenda, and it was heady and reckless and intoxicating. It was a time of great social upheaval, the decade of the pill and sexual freedom, and the struggle for civil rights. America was in flames. Young women burned bras, young men burned draft cards. It was the young against the old, and the old were barely thirty.

    The country reeled from her second Civil War—even if fought in a far off land. It not only divided a nation, but friends, lovers, even families. As the hawks grew more passive, the doves screeched their heads off. The radical factions wanted revolution. Swabbed in the armor of moral superiority, the militants railed against the war, while the Establishment paid lip-service to the warriors. But the vets who survived were welcomed home by neither. 

    CLICK HERE to download an excerpt of Michael Stokey's River of Perfumes.

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     [Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry, prepares to board helicopters to conduct an airmobile assault on an enemy bunker complex located in Gia Dinh Province, South Vietnam on June 2, 1968.] 

    June 2, 1968: the day is etched in my memory because I lost two good men that day.  As company commander, I mourned the loss of every man, but that day one man in particular stands out in my memory, and he is among those photographed on pick-up zone: Private First Class Charles Clifford Bailey was 21 years old when he was killed that day.

    “Cliff” was the name he went by in his platoon.  I remember the day he joined our company in late April of 1968. It was my practice to meet and talk with all the replacements who joined the company before assigning them to a platoon, finding out a little about their background.  Cliff was a taller than average guy with a warm smile, and I remember him telling me that his hometown was Eureka, Kansas, a small mid-western town of around 3,000 people. He’d graduated high school, and attended Emporia State College before he was drafted. I told him he’d be paired up with one of the more experienced soldiers in his platoon, and to always listen closely to his sergeants and lieutenant.  Cliff seemed to fit in nicely with the other guys in his platoon and was by everyone’s account a good soldier who followed orders cheerfully and got along well with everyone.  With a bit more experience in a rifle platoon, I may well have picked him to be one of my radio operators. I always chose the best and brightest for radio operators.

    By June 2, 1968, Charlie Company had been through some of the toughest fighting of the war including the Tet Offensive and the May Offensive, and we lost a number of good men. Things seemed to be quieting down a bit by the beginning of June, but there were still a number of enemy units in our area, so I wasn’t surprised, when on the morning of June 2d, we were called out to reinforce another company from our battalion that was in a vicious fight with an entrenched enemy force.

    Soon after our combat assault into the flooded rice paddies, we moved out toward a tree line and came under heavy automatic weapons and machine gun fire.  Cliff’s platoon bore the brunt of the fire and casualties. I, along with my radiomen, was moving between Cliff's platoon and another platoon from my company.  My men returned fire and continued to advance on the tree line, and I started splashing through the flooded rice paddy toward the scene of the heaviest fighting.  I didn’t see Cliff fall, but I got there just as his buddies were carrying him to a more secure location from which he could be evacuated.  His body appeared lifeless, but I hoped the medics might revive him. They couldn’t. As I helped lift his body on the medevac chopper, I began to tear up. Cliff’s buddy, Lloyd Martin Starkey, from Hardy, Virginia was also fatally wounded along with several other less seriously injured men.  Both men were American heroes who gave their lives for our great nation.  Their names are etched in the black marble of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Panel 61W, Rows 9 and 17.

    book christmas tree

    I try to visit the Wall each Memorial Day and Veterans Day to mourn and remember our fallen heroes, and I think of them each and every day of my life.

    Robert Tonsetic is the author of a number of books including Foresaken Warriors.   
    Click to download an excerpt.

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    The first Children’s Book Week took place in 1919, founded on the belief that children’s books and literacy are life-changers. Administered by the Children's Book Council and Every Child A Reader, the celebration aims to encourage and inspire young readers everywhere. For this year’s celebration of the longest-running literacy initiative, we are showcasing some of our most beloved works from a variety of children’s and teen authors. Events surrounding Children’s Book Week take place across the country, in libraries, bookstores, and classrooms. Find out what’s happening near you, or simply celebrate at home by reading with your child. All it takes to fall in love with reading forever is one great story. Discover that story for your child!

    picture books

    Books to inspire a beginner reader:

    middle-grade books
    Books to inspire a middle-grade reader:

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    Robert Silverberg

    With the release of Robert Silverberg’s ebooks yesterday, we would like to take a look at his legacy, as well as that of one of his best-known works, Nightwings.

    Silverberg’s long career covers a range of genres and is colored by a number of awards. Although he is most recognized for his science fiction, he has shown off his writing skills with a number of well-regarded historical nonfiction and erotic novels, too. In 2004, Silverberg was honored with the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, presented to only one living science-fiction or fantasy writer per year. In receiving this high accolade, Silverberg joined the ranks of great writers such as Ray Bradbury, James Gunn, and Gene Wolfe.

    Part of Silverberg’s legacy is his Nightwings trilogy, which began as three separate novellas and was later combined into one novel, also titled Nightwings. After his home burned down in 1968, Nightwings was the first work he wrote; it was an escape from the stress resulting from the tragedy.

    The novel revolves around a future in which humans are divided into job-specific guilds. Some of the guilds opt to genetically alter their human forms in order to be more efficient in their jobs. Because humanity is under the constant threat of alien invasion, one of the guilds, Watchers, has their mental capabilities altered in order to be able to watch the distant skies. But when one Watcher gets distracted, his lack of attention allows the aliens to advance on Earth, threatening its future.

    Robert Silverberg NightwingsThe Earth in Nightwings is far from the one we know, including different but similar names for some of the world’s most famous cities: Roum (Rome), Perris (Paris), and Jorslem (Jerusalem). North America is known as The Lost Continent.

    The series is not only a popular success; it is critically acclaimed. The original first novella won a Hugo Award and was nominated for a Nebula Award. In 1985, DC Comics adapted the novel into a graphic novel.

    To learn more about Robert Silverberg, Nightwings, and the rest of his novels, visit his author page here

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  • 05/16/13--07:00: Meet R. D. Rosen
  • R. D. Rosen

    “Harvey blissberg is who I would be if I could hit a major league pitch and was less squeamish about violence,” says R. D. Rosen, author of the Edgar Award—winning series, The Harvey Blissberg Mysteries. R. D. Rosen’s writing career spans mystery novels, narrative nonfiction, humor books, and television, where he was a writer for Saturday Night LiveStrike Three You’re Dead, the first in Rosen’s series featuring major league baseball player Harvey Blissberg, won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America in 1985. The four subsequent novels visit the less savory side of sports, including basketball (Fadeaway), and show business (Saturday Night Dead).

    Learn more about R. D. Rosen in this great new video, filmed at his home in New York.

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