Memoir Mondays: BRAIN ON FIRE

Imagine waking up strapped to a strange hospital bed. You are alone, and you cannot move or speak. You’re wearing a wristband that says you are a flight risk, and you are told you are violent, dangerously unstable, and prone to hallucinations. No one knows what’s wrong with you—least of all yourself.

This terrifying experience marked the beginning of Susannah Cahalan’s real life “month of madness,” during which she would become a shell of her former self, spiraling downward into acute psychosis and a state of near-catatonia. A team of doctors spent a million of dollars worth of tests in a desperate search for a diagnosis–all of which came back negative. The medical field was baffled by her case, and ultimately came to the (wrong) conclusion that she was schizophrenic and needed to be institutionalized in a psychiatric ward.

It took one doctor (nicknamed Dr. House for his uncanny diagnostic skills) to save Susannah. Using a brilliant (and shockingly simple) diagnostic technique, Dr. Souhel Najar proved that Calahan’s psychotic behaviour was caused by an inflammation of the brain: her body was attacking her brain in a rare and often fatal form of autoimmune disease, called Anti-NDMA Autoimmune Encephilitis.

In Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, Susannah Cahalan provides the reader with far more than a simply riveting read and a crackling medical mystery. This is a powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity and to rediscover herself among the fragments left behind. Using all her considerable journalistic skills, and building from hospital records and surveillance video, interviews with family and friends, and excerpts from the deeply moving journal her father kept during her illness, Susannah pieces together the story of her “lost month” to write an unforgettable memoir about memory and identity, faith and love. It is an important, profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.

Learn more about Brain on Fire.

Visit Susannah’s website.

Watch her discuss Brain on Fire below:

Mysterious Middle Grade Reads

This May, we’re bringing you a bunch of mysterious reads for middle grade readers that are sure to pull you in and you keep you on edge.


Ten-year-old Keeper is searching for her mother. Keeper was born in the water and believes that her mother was a mermaid who swam away when Keeper was just three. As the myth goes, a blue moon calls mermaids to gather at the sandbar at night, so that’s exactly where Keeper’s headed. With her trusty dog by her side and a seagull as captain of the ship, Keeper heads out. However, with a storm approaching, the tides pull her farther from the shore and into more unsettling waters, as Keeper begins to fear the worst.

Read an excerpt from the book. You can also hear author Kathi Appelt’s advice for writers:

Brother from a Box

Matt Rambeau is finally a big brother—to a robot. Matt’s dad is a computer genius who’s always receiving cool stuff in the mail. One day, a package arrives from France. Turns out, it’s a humoid robot who, once assembled, begins calling Matt frère (brother in French). Although Norman, the robot, is a bit of a show off and ladies’ man, Matt still loves having a little brother. One day, Norman goes berserk after a technical malfunction, and suddenly strange men are showing in unexpected places. It seems like someone might be after Norman. Have a look inside the book.

The Great Cat Conspiracy

The New Cat likes to bring home dead things as gifts for Tom. One day, when the cat brings home the Vicar’s expensive koi carp, the Vicar demands that Tom’s mom replace the fish. Tom’s dad is so angry that he banishes the cat from the house. However, by the time Tom manages to convince his dad to let the cat back in, the cat has disappeared, and Tom is convinced someone has kidnapped his cat.

Neil Flambé and the Crusader’s Curse

Thirteen-year-old Neil Flambé is a world-class chef who serves nothing but the most scrumptious dishes, receiving only praise in return. Helping him concoct these dishes is his super-sensitive nose, which also allows him to help the local police solve aromatic mysteries. One day, things go horribly wrong. Neil’s plates are returned uneaten and critics are leaving unhappy. Worst of all, his restaurant is shut down by the Department of Health. Has the curse that plagued the Flambé chefs for decades returned?

Find out from author and illustrator Kevin Sylvester how to draw Neil Flambé yourself:

Bloodman: The new Luther?


I love Luther. This BBC show has a style to which I’m not accustomed. It has a smoothness about it, an addictive pacing and more than anything, a darkness. It’s this darkness that grabbed me first and it’s this same darkness that I find myself looking for in other mediums. I’ve since found it in books like Blacklands, by Belinda Bauer and in the works of James Lee Burke. Now, I’ve found it again. Continue reading

The Lost Angel

New York Times bestselling author Javier Sierra returns with a heart pounding, apocalyptic thriller about mankinds most ancient desireand the modern evil some will unleash to obtain it.

“Every religion has a story for how our species came to mix with yours and was doomed to this planet. We are the sons of exiles. Cursed. Even man condemned us, blaming us for all the evils of the world. On the one hand you worshiped us, these beings who brought knowledge from the heavens. But you also feared us for what we might want in return. . . .”

In approximately seventy-two hours, a little-known Middle Eastern terrorist group plans to bring about the end of the world. Convinced that they are the descendants of angels, they believe they are on the verge of at last being returned to heaven. Central to their plan is the kidnapping of Martin Faber, an undercover American scientist whose research has led him to an extraordinary secret.

Martin’s only hope for survival is his young wife, Julia Alvarez—a woman born with a rare psychic gift. But she must find the courage to save her husband, all while running from religious extremists and clandestine government agencies.

Sierra takes readers on an adventure across the world, from the summit of Mount Ararat to the high desert of New Mexico, from the monuments of Washington, DC, to the medieval city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Sierra spent years investigating scientific and historical mysteries related to mankind’s efforts to engage directly with the Almighty.

The Lost Angel bears all the hallmarks of Sierra’s erudite yet fast-paced brand of storytelling, combining historical fact and fiction with dazzling narrative feats.

Javier Sierra talks about the inspiration behind The Lost Angel

Visit for videos, excerpts and more!

The Lost Angel is in stores October 4th

Simon & Schuster’s Silver Screen Spectacular!

Four – count ‘em –  Simon and Schuster titles have been adapted into major motion pictures. Look out for our special movie tie-in releases to enjoy these stories on screens big and small. 

Actor James Franco

Adventurer Aron Ralston

 If you haven’t already been blown away by adventurer Aron Ralston’s unparalleled feat of wilderness survival, you must read 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place which is being re-released this October in conjunction with the film version 127 Hours directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Trainspotting) and staring the multi-talented  James Franco.  

Naomi Watts in Fair Game

Valerie Plame Wilson’s memoir Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House reveals the CIA operative’s extensive work in counter proliferation negotiations and the historic consequences when her identity is leaked. Movie star Naomi Watts will play Valerie Plame Wilson and Sean Penn stars as her husband Joe Wilson in the political thriller Fair Game directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity). 

Hilarious and disturbing  expose Love and Other Drugs, (previously published as Hard Sell) traces Jamie Reidy’s escapades as the “V-Man”: pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s number-one drug rep during the Viagra craze. This witty behind-the scenes look at the pharmaceutical industry has been adapted into Love and Other Drugs directed by Ed Zwick and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. 

Check out the movie trailer : 

 And for the grand finale… 


Chuck Hogan’s adrenaline-fueled dramatic thriller The Town (previously published as Prince of Thieves) will premier in a Gala Presentation as a highlight of the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. 

Here’s the trailer: 

Excited? So are we.