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    We asked some of our favorite authors if inspiration really is all around them during the holiday season, helping to fuel their creativity. Read below for some classic holiday memories that have inspired a variety of timeless tales.

    The Winter Prince is totally inspired by the celebrations surrounding the winter solstice. When I was in the Folklore Department as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, every year as the shortest day approached we would perform a traditional English mummers’ play as a SURPRISE to the first-year Intro to Folklore class—we’d actually invade their class session. When the mummers burst in on us in my first year, I was in the middle of writing The Winter Prince and nearly expired of excitement right on the spot. It was so in keeping with my themes of seasonal death and rebirth, and I sat down and wrote a mummers’ play to insert into the novel. And although I already had The Winter Prince as a title, using it as the name of a character in the play-within-a-play brought the whole book together.

    “Our book tradition is only the simple tradition of making sure everyone receives a book as a gift! And we always show off a couple of Robert Sabuda’s wonderful pop-up books on the coffee table: The Christmas Alphabet.” —Elizabeth Wein

    “There’s always a New Year’s resolution to read a handful of specific titles together. Whatever the season, there is at least one book wrapped and delivered.”—Laura Dower

    “My best book memory is one Christmas holiday, finding a little Victorian book in my grandmother’s shelf called The Birds’ Christmas Carol. It was about a frail and sickly, sweet little girl who decides to throw a big Christmas party for her poor neighbors, the Ruggles. This story could give you a toothache but I thought it was beautiful—and I did not see that tragic end coming. I cried my melodramatic nine-year-old heart out.” —Adele Griffin

    “We give lots and lots and lots of books as a holiday book tradition in my family.” —Jane Yolen

    “My own Christmas book, What Child Is This?, is based on the Christmas trees you find in restaurants or in church which are hung with children’s wishes, and you pick a tag, and buy that unknown child the gift for which she yearns. What if you are a foster child? What would you want most for Christmas? You’d want a family.” —Caroline B. Cooney

    “Our holiday book tradition is draping ourselves about the warm quiet house, reading our new books.” —Chris Raschka

    “Christmas decorations make the world seem so colorful and exciting—it always stimulates the imagination. I like to buy a travel guide for a place we may visit in the coming year, but haven’t planned yet.” —Andy Briggs

    “Is there anything about this time of the year that you use as inspiration for your work? I go to the Caribbean for Christmas every year. I look forward to it all year and the break definitely nurtures my energy for the new year.” —Melanie Falick

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    Matchmaking, like stormy weather, class disputes, and Lydia Bennett, runs rampant in Jane Austen’s novels. In honor of her 238th birthday, we’ve decided to try our hand at this very Austen activity. Read on to find your perfect match in contemporary fiction based on your favorite Jane Austen character.



    Outrageous ActsFans of Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice will love authorGloria Steinem and her nonfiction essay collection Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.

    Like Elizabeth, Gloria Steinem is strong willed, intelligent, and witty—as well as judgmental, in the sense that she assesses and critiques society from a feminist standpoint in her writing. Including essays such as an underground exposé entitled “I Was a Playboy Bunny” and an exploration of feminist theory in “Erotica vs. Pornography,” the collection reveals Steinem at her most provocative and her most compassionate.



    WingraveFans of Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice will love the Earl of Meriden from Amanda Scott’s romance novel The Dauntless Miss Wingrave.

    The Earl of Meriden is willful and arrogant, which becomes clear to beautiful Miss Emily Wingrave when she bravely attempts to stop him from meddling in her widowed sister’s estate. But in their battle of wits and wills, Emily learns just how well armed he is: His surprising charm and seductive techniques make her worry that she may very well be the one who surrenders in the end.



    SayersFans of Mr. Bingley from Pride and Prejudice will love Lord Peter Wimsey from the mystery Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers.

    Blond, athletic, and chipper, Lord Peter Wimsey is the perfect model of a British gentleman. He is also a detective, solving murder mysteries during the Jazz Age. In Whose Body?, the first of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, he must figure out how a corpse, naked except for an incongruous pince-nez, could possibly have appeared in a suburban architect’s bathroom.


    pymFans of Emma Woodhouse from Emma will love Jane Cleveland from the literary fiction read Jane and Prudenceby Barbara Pym.

    Jane, forty years old and a vicar’s wife, has a good heart and the best intentions. When her friend Prudence is about to turn thirty, Jane decides it’s about time Prudence got married. Like Emma Woodhouse, Jane determinedly takes matters into her own hands. Jane attempts to set her up with a widower, Fabian Driver. However, Prudence is interested in another man, and things get even more complicated when they realize there are other women who have their sights set on Fabian, too.


    Emily FranklinFans of Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility will love Cyrie in Emily Franklin’s young adult novel At Face Value.

    Like Marianne Dashwood, Cyrie is tangled up in a mess of unrequited love. Even though Cyrie is funny, smart, and athletic, she feels self-conscious about her big nose, which prevents her from confessing her feelings to Eddie “Rox” Roxanninoff. When Rox expresses interest in her best friend, Cyrie decides to help her friend win Rox over—a task that may be more than love-struck Cyrie can handle.

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    Your bestie deserves nothing but, well, the best! But if you’ve been shopping for each other for years, it can be challenging to think of a new and exciting gift. Whether your friend loves pop culture, literary fiction, romance, or sci-fi, you’re sure to find the perfect ebook on our list. This year, spare yourself the crowded malls and shop from the comfort of your own home. It’s easy and immediate—and now you have more time to bond with your BFF.

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  • 12/17/13--00:19: Gift of E 2013 Staff Picks

  • It’s time to deck the halls with Open Road ebooks! In need of some expert opinions we asked our staff to share their favorite books to give as gifts during the holidays. Our team’s recommendations range from whimsical fiction to nonfiction that explores the human spirit. 

    If your holiday shopping is getting down to the wire, don’t fret—you can buy an ebook now and schedule delivery for any time you like. Learn how here.

    "Adam Langer's The Salinger Contract is going to a couple of people: a high school friend who felt that The Catcher in the Rye changed his life, and a college friend who continues to nurse conspiracy theories about this and that. It’s a really satisfying read that totally indulges English majors and lit geeks of all stripes.” —Laura De Silva, marketing manager

    Border Angels is the second novel by up-and-coming Irish crime writer Anthony Quinn. Dark, brooding, and intelligently crafted, the novel instantly transports you to the foggy highways and the dark, impenetrable forests of Northern Ireland. This would be great for mystery readers, and also literary readers looking for something different. It would make the perfect gift for a dad or older brother.” —Emma Pulitzer, marketing associate

    “I’m a Vassar girl through and through, so Mary McCarthy’s The Group is a no-brainer for me; think HBO’s Girls but set in the 1930s.” —Sarah Yurch, editorial assistant

    “This season, I am giving my sister Caveat Emptor as she has been interested in reading it after seeing it featured on the CBS Sunday Morning Show, and I will be reading Franklin’s Christmas Gift to my eleven-month niece!” —Emily Sharpe, children’s marketing manager

    “I would giveUp the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman as a gift to my dear friend Liz, a dedicated NYC public school teacher with a great sense of humor. Though written decades ago, I’m sure that Liz will be able to relate to Miss Barrett, star of this American classic.” —Julie Blattberg, executive director, Consumer Engagement

    “I’d love to get my mom The Roger Angell Baseball Collection, since she’s a huge fan of the sport!” —Laura McKelvie, managing editorial assistant

    “I’m going to give my best friend The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie. It’s an amazing collection and I thought of her when I was reading it because she lives in Washington State where the stories are set.”—Megan Radogna, marketing intern

    Reservation Bluesis an ebook I would give to someone entering college or in college because it is a great exploration into American pop culture, history, and an easy way to get into suspended disbelief. It is real enough to keep you interested and real enough to make you think and wonder.” —Lara Selavka, interactive manager

    “’Tis the season to give the gift that keeps on giving—The Great Santiniby Pat Conroy. Conroy’s classic novel is a one-hundred-percent-guaranteed great gift because every single person who knows how to read will love it. Unfortunately, I can’t give this gift to everyone—so I will give it to my mom because she is Pat Conroy’s number-one fan.” —Carly Croll, marketing associate

    “I’m getting my husband a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas, so of course I have to load it up with some Open Road titles such as Whitey’s Payback by T. J. English, because he’s a native Bostonian, and Lilith’s Brood (The Xenogenesis Trilogy) by Octavia E. Butler because we needed some lady power.” —Alexandra Carver, marketing associate
    “My sister is a special education teacher and I think she would love Chip Crockett’s Christmas Carol because it is a heartwarming holiday story whose entire proceeds go to Autism Speaks.” —Stacy Horowitz, marketing associate

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    Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . . Nope, that’s no countdown to the end of the world—it’s the coming of the one-year anniversary of the apocalypse predicted by the Mayan calendar for December 21, 2012—the ending that never happened.

    An apocalypse is defined as a cataclysm, whether natural or manmade. The related science fiction subgenres center on a disaster, holocaust, or anything that indicates that the end of the world is near. Sorry to disappoint all of you die-hard apocalypse believers, but there don’t seem to be any more apocalyptic threats in sight. If you find yourself in a lack-of-apocalypse funk, there is good news in store for you: Today, we are celebrating the fact that the apocalypse never actually happened with our collection of heart-thudding, nail-biting post-apocalyptic ebooks! Download them soon before time runs out on you—for real!

    The End of the Worldby HowStuffWorks

    In response to its readers, who are particularly curious about doomsday scenarios, presents The End of the World. Drawing on editors’ extensive research, this handy guide outlines the various theories of how the world as we know it could come to its end. There are more ways than ever to imagine our own doom, ranging from rogue black holes to solar superstorms to global pandemic. Our technological innovations in warfare alone mean that it would take very little—a push of a button—to destroy the planet in a nuclear cloud.

    How to Survive the End of the Worldby HowStuffWorks

    If the world as we knew it came to an end, we’d like to think we’d survive. At least, we’d like to think that this book, with its equal parts education and laughter, gives our readers an advantage. Join us for the apocalypse. Let’s survive together.

    Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World by Walker Percy

    In Walker Percy’s future America, the country is on the brink of disaster. With citizens violently polarized along racial, political, and social lines, and a fifteen-year war still raging abroad, America is crumbling quickly into ruin. The country’s one remaining hope is Dr. Thomas More, whose “lapsometer” is capable of diagnosing the spiritual afflictions—anxiety, depression, alienation—driving everyone’s destructive and disastrous behavior.

    The Dawning by Judy Griffith Gill

    Following the devastating Bio Wars, in which genetically modified diseases were weaponized and used with astonishing cruelty, some survivors developed extraordinary powers, such as telepathy. These people, called Talents, are feared and hated by the Normals, who occupy the seats of power in this post-apocalyptic world. As Talents are forced to hide out in wilderness territories, two survivors among them—Serena and Andrew—team up to protect one of the youngest members of their community: a baby, named Grace, who needs protection from the territorial government at all costs.

    Fall of the Birdsby Bradford Morrow

    Hundreds of red-winged blackbirds are discovered scattered, lifeless, around a greenhouse in Warwick, New York. Heaps of common grackles litter the fields of a farm upstate near Stone Ridge. And in Manhattan, a Washington Square restaurant is forced to close its doors when a flock of pigeons inexplicably dies on the sidewalks out front. From Pennsylvania to Maine, birds are falling from the sky en masse—and nobody can figure out why.

    Futurelandby Walter Mosley

    In “Whispers in the Dark,” an ex-con sells his organs to ensure his brilliant nephew’s future. The boy will grow up to have the highest IQ ever recorded, but the uncle, who sold his eyes, won’t be able to see it. In “Voices,” a history professor becomes addicted to a drug called pulse, which gives him access to a world of vivid fantasy while tearing his brain to shreds. By the time the professor qualifies for a brain transplant, he’s no longer sure what’s real and what’s imagined. And in “Angel’s Island,” a convict in the world’s largest private prison reveals the facility’s chilling secrets.

    Amnesiascope by Steve Erickson

    In the apocalyptic Los Angeles of Amnesiascope, time zones multiply freely, spectral figures roam the streets, and rings of fire separate the city from the rest of the country. The narrator, a former novelist, lives in a hotel and writes film criticism for a newspaper whose offices are located in a bombed-out theater. Viv, his girlfriend, is a sexually voracious artist, and together the two are collaborating on an avant-garde pornographic film. But in this world, what’s real and what’s merely the conjuring of the protagonist’s imagination—obsessed with dreams, movies, sex, and remembrance—is far from clear. At once outrageous and hypnotically lyrical, Amnesiascope enflames the reader’s memory.

    This is the Way the World Ends by James Morrow

    George Paxton is a simple man, happy enough with his job carving inscriptions on gravestones. All he needs is a high-tech survival garment—a scopas suit—to protect his beloved daughter in the event of nuclear Armageddon. But when George finally acquires the coveted suit, the deal comes with a catch: He must sign a sales contract admitting to his complicity in the nuclear arms race between the US and the Soviets.

    At Winter’s Endby Robert Silverberg

    The time of falling death stars ushered in the Long Winter—eons of cold that caused plants and animals to vanish from earth and drove people to take refuge in underground cocoons. Human ingenuity had never faced a greater challenge. For seven hundred thousand years, generation after generation was born and died below the earth’s surface. But now, one small tribe is sensing change. Chieftain Koshmar is sure that the New Springtime is near, so she leads her people above ground to explore the new world that awaits. The unfamiliar earth, still a frozen shell of its former self, will test their mettle in every way, leading the people of the tribe to the brink of their destiny—or to their doom.

    The Jericho Iteration by Allen Steele

    It takes only minutes for the earthquake to demolish St. Louis. The city’s oldest structures crumble, its finest bridge collapses into the Mississippi, and the observation deck of the famous arch falls to earth, killing five. Seven months later, all those who can afford to leave have gone, abandoning the poor, sick, and desperate to scrap for survival. Gerry Rosen, a reporter for the Big Muddy Inquirer, isn’t going anywhere. Whether thriving or ruined, this is his town.

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    With 2014 just around the corner, it’s time to select book club picks for the New Year. Amid the excitement of anticipating all the great new books to come in 2014, don’t forget to consider classic authors, too. Carol Shields is one such writer. Her Shieldsnovel The Stone Diaries is the only book to have won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Canadian Governor General’s Award. In addition to novels, Shields is the author of poetry, plays, and a biography of Jane Austen.

    The ordinary becomes extraordinary in the hands of Shields, who is celebrated for stories that explore the elegance in the mundane and the richness in the inner lives of regular people. Her beautifully written, engaging novels are perfect for a book club, offering nearly endless themes for discussion. Here are five topics your book club can explore with the help of Carol Shields (and maybe some snacks and wine):

    Small Ceremonies1. Love: “I don’t know why, but he will never, he will never, he will never be someone I love. Only someone I could have loved.” —Small Ceremonies 

    2. Marriage: “ ‘It just doesn’t make sense. She’s comfortable The Box Gardenenough. Why on earth does she want to go and get married?’ . . . ‘Well, why does anyone get married?’ ” —The Box Garden

    3. Intelligence: “Our thoughts are all we have. I love my thoughts, Swanneven when they take me up and down sour-smelling byways where I’d rather not venture. Whatever flickers on in my head is mine and I want it, all the blinking impulses and inclinations and connections and weirdness.” —Swann

    4. Reading: “Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t Republic of Lovemove until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve.” —The Republic of Love

    The Orange Fish5. The Past: “History gobbles everything up willy-nilly; it doesn’t care a fig for distinctions; it was all the same. . . . Eventually, everything gets stuck between a pair of parentheses or buried in the bottom of a trunk.” —The Orange Fish

    Such insights from Shields’s novels stand the test of time, sure to spur lively discussions about themes relevant today. To learn more about Carol Shields and her novels, visit her author page.

    And to determine what type of wine to serve at your Carol Shields book club meeting . . . well, we’ll leave that decision up to you!

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    Racking your brain over what to buy the teen on your holiday shopping list? Stress no more! Give the gift of getting lost in a great story. Shop for ebooks of every genre, sure to satisfy every type of teen. And hey, you don’t have to be a teen to love YA literature. While you’re at it, pick up something for your YA-fanatic teen-at-heart friend.

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    The popular saying “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” resonates throughout Jon Land’s political thriller The Tenth Circle. The eleventh novel in the Blaine McCracken series tracks Blaine as he races against time to prevent a holy war from erupting between extreme evangelist Reverend Jeremiah Rule and Islamic terrorist cells. When the battle hits Blaine personally in an attack involving his grandson, the rogue agent becomes hell-bent on revenge against Rule.

    The Tenth Circle by Jon LandBut when Blaine’s plan backfires and he finds himself on the run, his only hope is to solve the mystery behind the one clue that could save the world: Croatoan. The word references the only trace left by a colony of British settlers who disappeared off Roanoke Island in 1590. Blaine finds a connection between this and another mysterious disappearance in 1872, when the freighter Mary Celeste was found floating off the Bay of Gibraltar with its crew and passengers missing.

    Despite the seemingly impossible twists and turns of The Tenth Circle, Land’s focus on real historical events deserves some background information.


    In 1587, one hundred fifty British colonists were sent to establish a second Roanoke Colony (present-day North Carolina) after the first attempt failed. The leader, John White, was able to form a relationship with the native Croatans, although not all tribes were willing to accept White’s peace offerings, and lingering tensions remained. Fearing for their lives, White and a few colonists returned to England, leaving 115 people behind. When he was finally able to return in August of 1590, the colony was deserted, the only clue being the word Croatoan carved into a fence. With no sign that the disappearance had been hurried or forced, White could only conclude that the colony had relocated to nearby Croatoan Island. However, he was never able to visit the island, and never saw or heard from the colonists again.

    Mary Celeste 

    The discovery of the abandoned ship Mary Celeste in December 1872 uncovered similarly mystifying conditions. Despite reasonable weather and a capable crew, the ship, which departed from Staten Island, New York, on November 5, 1872, never made it to its final destination of Genoa, Italy. When the abandoned vessel was discovered by another ship’s crew, it was found to be relatively untouched. There were no signs of a struggle, and all personal possessions, fresh food, and water were still onboard, making the possibility that it had been raided almost nonexistent. However, most of the ship’s papers and its only lifeboat were missing. The seaworthy condition of the ship makes it the subject of much speculation, with no concrete conclusion ever having been established. 

    The mystery behind these disappearances has made them enduring events in history, continually referenced in popular culture—most recently in Land’s The Tenth Circle. But how will all this historical information help Blaine stop Reverend Rule and clear his own name? Check out the novel to see how history and fiction tie together. To find out more about Jon Land and his Blaine McCracken Novels, visit his author page here

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    stocking stuffersSo you’re almost done with your holiday shopping. Congrats! Bet you forgot the stocking stuffers, though, didn’t you? Don’t worry; we have the perfect solution—check out our ebooks on sale for $3.99 and under!

    Ebooks make great gifts, especially at the last minute! Gifting an ebook is easy, personal, and immediate. Does your giftee open stocking stuffers on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Either way, you can schedule your delivery time so it’s just right. Watch these how-to videos to learn how to gift an ebook for every device, and check out our gift-giving guide for tips on the best stocking stuffers of the season!

    Best Gifts for Kids & Teens:

    kids & teens

    The Boxcar Children Winter Special by Gertrude Chandler Warner, a set of three mysteries in one, is perfect for the early reader who loves a great mystery!

    Caroline B. Cooney’s Holly in Love is a tender, funny story about falling in love—perfect for chilly winter nights!

    Returner’s Wealth is the first book in an epic trilogy of dragons from Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.


    Best Gifts for Mom: mom

    Gesine Bullock-Prado’s Bake It Like You Mean It is a visually sumptuous book showcasing cakes that are beautiful from the inside out, with treats that reveal an intricate layer of gorgeous patterns and designs when they are cut.

    Fire from Heaven is the captivating first volume of the Novels of Alexander the Great trilogy from Mary Renault

    Nothing is as it seems in bestselling author Dorothy Eden’s Waiting for Willa, a novel of romantic suspense and international intrigue set in Sweden.


    Best Gifts for Dad

    dadThrilling and passionate, James Hilton’s bestselling classic, Lost Horizon, is a masterpiece of modern fiction and one of the most enduring books of the twentieth century.

    Perfect for mystery fans, Jerry Tracy, Celebrity Reporter,which features every Jerry Tracy story ever published in Black Mask, is an invaluable compendium of one of early noir’s most original heroes.

    With America in ashes and lawlessness threatening to rule land, air, and sea, one pilot stands poised to pull his nation back from the brink of all-out anarchy in Mack Maloney’s Wingman, the first book in the bestselling, action-packed series by the same name.

    Check out all of our ebooks on sale through December 25 to find something for everyone on your shopping list!


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    You love knitting gifts for your family and friends, but with Christmas only two days away, you’re probably tempted to sheepishly hand them all gift cards instead. Never fear! If you have a few spare hours, you can create a knitted gift that everyone will think took you weeks, thanks to quick patterns from crafting guru Joelle Hoverson.

    Just calculate how much time you have before your guests arrive, pick a pattern below, and download the ebook you’ll need to make it happen. Holiday crisis averted! 

    Four to six hours:


    men's cashmere scarf

    Men’s Cashmere Scarf from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts

     knitted coasters

    Cozy Coasters from More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts


    Two to four hours:


    knitted hand warmers

    Hand/Wrist Warmers fromLast-Minute Knitted Gifts


    child's scarf

    Child’s Rainbow Scarf from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts


    Less than two hours:


    knitted hat

    Pointy Elf Hat from More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts


    knitted coffee holders

    Reusable Hot Coffee-Cup Sleeve fromMore Last-Minute Knitted Gifts


    Really pressed for time? Click here to learn how to give your fellow knitters an ebook for Christmas in just seconds!

    last-minute knitted giftsmore last-minute knitted gifts

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    From the classic Nutcracker to the beloved, animated A Charlie Brown Christmas, there are lots of must-see holiday films and performances that will send you into the holiday season full swing. We asked some of our favorite authors what their must-have holiday entertainment is—their answers might surprise you! 

    “My favorite holiday music to get me into the holiday spirit is Christmas with Marais and Miranda. They were a South African couple who immigrated to the United States and made their names as folk singers during the 1950s—and The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of the Winter Solstice by John Langstaff, et al. My must-see holiday movie is NBC’s 1951 Hallmark Hall of Fame live recording of Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti. We also listen to the soundtrack while tree-trimming!” —Elizabeth Wein

    “Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. No contest.” —Laura Dower

    “For a few years, starting at age fourteen, I worked as an usher at Symphony Hall in Boston. The Boston Pops Christmas concerts interrupted the symphony season for a couple of weeks each year and a completely different atmosphere took hold. Popular symphonic versions of all the Christmas standards made the place more like a nightly grand holiday ball. I had a privileged holiday season, four seasons in a row. I fell in love, four seasons in a row. I have a Boston Pops Christmas album that gets played a lot now, many seasons and experiences and miles away.” —Chris Lynch

    The Nutcracker Suite.” —Lois Duncan

    “We play these three every year—and though they have no holiday content, we consider them our holiday movies: O Brother,Where Art Thou?, Galaxy Quest, Danny Kaye’s The Court Jester.” —Jane Yolen

    “Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols.” —Tomie dePaola

    White Christmas is the must-see movie during the winter. My wife, Nina, watched it every year when she was a kid, and she turned me on to it. We always hoot and holler when Bing Crosby comes out with a Bingism like ‘yuletide clambake.’ ” —Dan Gutman

    “I like to start early, so at Halloween I begin singing songs from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.” —Andy Briggs

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     It’s the end of the world as we know it . . . or is it?

    “Science fiction, particularly in the atomic age, needs to approach the apocalyptic and therefore the post-apocalyptic theme because we could have the apocalypse at any moment,” says science fiction Grand Master Robert Silverberg.

    Even though the Mayan apocalypse didn’t happen, it still could, Silverberg contends. Watch as an array of acclaimed science fiction authors, including Silverberg, Elizabeth Hand, Allen Steele, and Ellen Datlow, as well as science fiction editor and historian Gary K. Wolfe, discuss how the genre can help us explore what the apocalypse might mean for humanity.

    “Theodore Sturgeon used to have a button that had a question mark with an arrow pointing off of it which meant, Ask the next question. And that is fundamentally what science fiction does—it’s always asking the next question,” says Allen Steele.

    Even though the Mayan Apocalypse didn't happen, our ebooks are still available! Our Post Apocalyptic Fiction will have your heart racing well into 2014.

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    Power Up

    Since their introduction in the late nineties, ereaders have made up a huge portion of holiday gifts. If you are one of the millions of book lovers lucky enough to own a new tablet or ereader in the wake of this holiday season, you’re probably wondering one thing: what will I download first?

    Indeed, building blocks for a healthy digital library can be hard to nail down. To help you create the perfect foundation for a solid collection on your shiny new device, we’ve put together an easy-to-use, genre-by-genre guide to some of our favorite ebooks. From mystery to romance, sports to children’s literature, we’ve got you covered.

    Just navigate to your favorite genre and click the covers to learn more about some of our favorite books. Then start putting that new reader to good use, one title at a time!

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    Power Up

    If you are one of the many lucky folks who came away from this holiday season brandishing a new ereader, you’re probably wondering one thing: What do I download first?

    For help, we asked the experts—a few favorite authors—which ebooks they’ve been downloading. After all, who knows books better than the writers? Here’s what they had to say:

    Elizabeth Speller, author of The First of July

    Just downloaded: The English Girl by Margaret Leroy

    Comment: “It’s that rare thing: a book that’s absolutely gripping, romantic . . . and yet informative about a bit of history I only understood vaguely.”

    Jane Ciabattari, author of Stealing the Fire

    Just downloaded: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    Matt Dojny, author of The Festival of Earthly Delights

    Just downloaded: Dear Life by Alice Munro

    Charles Blackstone, author of The Week You Weren’t Here

    Just downloaded: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    Comment: “A print book of that heft is too dangerous to have within the vicinity of my toes.”

    Sue Harrison, author of Mother Earth Father Sky

    Just downloaded: Compromising Positions by Susan Isaacs

    Parnell Hall, author of Stakeout

    Just downloaded: The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons by Lawrence Block

    Mary Glickman, author of Marching to Zion

    Just downloaded: Bringing Up Oscar by Debra Ann Pawlak

    Comment: “I bought [Bringing Up Oscar] on Cyber Monday for my sister . . . a big film and nostalgia buff!”

    Lois Duncan, author of Gallows Hill

    Just downloaded: Fallout by Todd Strasser

    Dan Gutman, author of The Funny Boy Adventures

    Just downloaded: The Stench of Honolulu: A Tropical Adventure by Jack Handey

    Comment: “I saw an article in the New York Times Magazine that said it was hilarious, so I decided to give it a try.”

    Andy Briggs, author of Tarzan: The Greystroke Legacy

    Just downloaded: Zero Hour by Clive Cussler

    Laura Dower, author of From the Files of Madison Finn

    Just downloaded: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    Melodie Johnson Howe, author of City of Mirrors

    Just downloaded: How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

    Comment: “I love having the books lined up in my floating, somewhere-out-there library, waiting for me.”

    Take a look at even more recommendations here.

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    The New Year signifies fresh starts, change, and of course, resolutions. Many of us make resolutions to improve our sense of well-being and happiness and minimize pain in some way.

    In author Ian McDonald’s spellbinding ebook Out on Blue Six, pain is not allowed in a utopian society in which enjoyment and safety rule.

    What would you do if you were penalized for bringing pain to another person? What would you do if something you considered fun were banished by society?

    McDonald’s novel explores questions like these through a world in which self-exploration and the need for change break down stereotypes about society and the constraints it places on individuals. In a far-future city where happiness and stability are law, a group of rebels fights for what it means to be human.

The Compassionate Society was designed as a utopia, where people’s genetic predispositions and aptitudes—rather than random choice—guide their lives, and pain of any kind is illegal. In the self-contained city, happiness is the most cherished value, and the Ministry of Pain swiftly prosecutes anyone who interferes with the contentment of another. For many of its citizens—who were matched to their jobs, spouses, and friends—the Compassionate Society is perfect. But to Courtney Hall, a political cartoonist, it is a place of stifling mediocrity. When her satirical work makes her a target of the government, Courtney goes on the run, only to discover an entire underground network of dissidents, each fighting against the stagnation imposed by the Compassionate Society—a struggle that could stand as humanity’s last chance for growth, innovation, and ultimately, survival.

    Thrilling and inventive, Out on Blue Six is Ian McDonald’s engrossing story of free will and self-determination, and of the true value of a life ruled not by fear, but by hope.

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    Julia Dye is the author of Backbone, one of our featured ebooks on sale this week to ring in the New Year with a New You. In this essay, Dye shares her thoughts on welcoming 2014.


    “I have trouble every year with New Year’s Resolutions for two reason: the New Year’s part and the Resolution part. January 1 feels emotionally arbitrary. In my heart, Labor Day feels like the New Year, when school starts and the weather starts getting brisk, and I want to buy everyone a pencil box and a new pair of saddle shoes. And a resolution sounds like an edict with no flexibility. It's so firm and final; an edict of behavior with no wiggle-room.

    “I've decided to instead use the word in its definition as the amount of detail held by an image. If I can visualize the change I want to have happen, the more detail I can imagine, the more ‘resolution.’ In that way I'm more likely to come up with a solid picture I can reference on what it is I want to change. So I made a resolution to make better resolutions and embrace the January 1 tradition.

    “I start my resolution in the bathtub. All good ideas begin in the tub and are executed in the garage, as far as I can tell. How many businesses have you heard of starting in the garage? How many bands? It seems a special place for making things happen. And the bathtub is just the best place ever. The bathroom is pretty much the only room where you're guaranteed to feel better coming out than you did going in. If every room was like that, we’d be constantly happy.

    “In previous years, I’ve done the traditional “I'd like to lose ten pounds” or “I'm going to quit putting mayonnaise on everything” but I've given up on that, partly because it's too easy to fail and it's looking at the issues negatively. When I fail to reach the goal in an unreasonable week or two, I feel stupid and hopeless. Not how I want to start a new year.

    “Instead of stopping something or giving it up, I now phrase my resolutions in the positive. This year, I'm going to make healthier choices. That’s one I can do every day, and it doesn't have to end. I can look at three things I might eat or do and pick the apple to eat or walk the dog instead of staring at my computer screen. Mission accomplished. And feeling like I've achieved something, I feel good and am much more likely to continue along the same path.

    “Finally, leadership is key! I get a few people on my side who have already made the change I want to make. I discover how they did it. I have them check in on me once in a while to see how I'm doing. Then it’s time to step up and be a leader. Once I've mastered the change, I find at least one person to teach it to. I never really know something until I’ve taught it to someone else. Next class starts in my garage in the spring!”

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    Break out your party hats—it’s time to celebrate time travel, technology, the paranormal, the futuristic, and of course, science.

    No literary genre lets individuals explore mind-bending concepts quite like science fiction does, encouraging imaginations to plumb the darkest and most unexamined corners of the earth. Science fiction lets creative minds roam with abandon while simultaneously questioning society.

    Today is National Science Fiction Day—and it is also the birthday of the grandfather of sci-fi: Isaac Asimov.

    Asimov, a professor of biochemistry, was considered a pioneer of science fiction as a result of his enormously popular science books, including the Foundation series, the Galactic Empire series, and the Robot series. His short story “Nightfall” was voted the best short science fiction story of all time in 1964 by the Science Fiction Writers of America.   

    Asimov wrote or edited over five hundred books—many of them on topics in science and history—as well as an estimated ninety thousand letters and postcards. He has published works in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System.

    The popular magazine Asimov’s Science Fiction is of course named after Isaac Asimov and has featured many notable sci-fi writers throughout the years, including Robert Silverberg, Octavia E. Butler, Allen Steele, Ian R. MacLeod, Ian McDonald, Jane Yolen, Alan Dean Foster, and John Shirley.

    So today, tip your hats to the heavens above as we celebrate all that science fiction has given us throughout the years!

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    Amy Newmark is Chicken Soup for the Soul’s publisher and editor in chief. She has coauthored more than five dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books and has edited another three dozen, several of which are on sale this week to celebrate a New Year and a New You! Below, Newmark describes how she's welcoming 2014. 


    Do you have a favorite place to sit and reflect on your New Year's resolutions? If so where is it?
    I sit in front of my computer to reflect on my resolutions. I guess that makes sense because I am a writer and I have to write everything down! I also an email service that sends me my prior year’s resolutions on January 1 each year. I see how I did and I send in my new ones. They are basically the same every year!

    Are there any improvements would you like to make to your life this year?
    Same every year: lose five pounds, exercise more, and clean up my home office!

    Do you traditionally share or discuss your goals with anyone? If so, whom?
    Oh, I tell lots of people. The more the better. I like to go on record since it makes me accountable.

    Do you typically keep your resolutions? Do you have a secret for this?
    I get incrementally better each year. The fact is that I know I am already okay - my office isn’t that messy, I don’t really need to lose five pounds, and I get a decent amount of exercise. So I am just trying to do a little better.

    Have you had great success (or crushing failure!) with a past resolution? We'd love to hear about it.
    I never fully achieve my resolution goals but that’s okay. Having the same ones every year keeps me from getting worse!

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    Retro ReadsThere’s something remarkably hopeful about starting a new year; to have a clean slate is, to put it simply, refreshing. And with all the merriment and excess of the holidays over, we’re sure that many of you have a litany of New Year’s resolutions—joining a gym, embarking on a new diet, and honing a new hobby usually top the list for those hoping to start the year off right.

    The Dawning

    Thus, it would logically follow that our Retro Reads pick for January would be optimistic, invigorating, and inspiring, right? Something that would make the dark days of winter perhaps a little brighter?

    Well, we think that would be a little too easy. Instead, we’re shaking things up a bit with Judy Griffith Gill’s The Dawning. A post-apocalyptic nail-biter, The Dawning follows Serena and Andrew, two survivors of the disastrous Bio Wars, in their quest to protect one of the youngest members of their community. With insight and finesse, Gill expertly evokes the budding romance between Serena and Andrew, as well as the forbidding landscape they inhabit. Retro Readers who love sci-fi and dystopian fiction along with romance, you’re in for a treatThe Dawning incorporates the best of these genres.

    Check back throughout the month for updates from our Retro Readers on this month’s pick and find us on Goodreads in the Retro Readers Group. Or, sign up for our romance newsletterand we’ll send you a monthly roundup of everything romance at Open Road, including Retro Reads updates and info on new releases, bonus content, giveaways, special offers, and more.

    Interested in downloading a review copy of The Dawning? Request it here on NetGalley.

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