Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday: The Beginning of After

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
HarperTeen, September 6, 2011


Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. Now, Laurel must navigate a new world in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel’s life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.

What are you "waiting on" this Wednesday?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan

The only child of a devout Catholic father who nonetheless failed the priesthood and a mother so terribly wounded by a community that still judges her for her family's past sins that the family hardly mixes with their neighbors, young Ellie Flaherty's childhood is a drab and loveless affair. It's no wonder, then, that when Ellie's mother lets her out, as an act of charity, to play with John Hogan whose parents have both passed away from TB, that she quickly falls in love with his easy smile and his awe at the nature that surrounds their village in Ireland. The pair are best friends through their school days, but when John leaves for Dublin to apprentice with a carpenter, Ellie wonders if she's lost him for good, but she need not worry, for when they meet again their love is stronger than ever, and soon the pair are married.

Married life isn't easy in their rural Irish home during the Irish rebellion, and John, a soldier for the Irish Republican Army, is severely wounded. The only way John will walk again is with an expensive operation, and Ellie knows the only way to afford it will be for her to join a friend working as a lady's maid in America. Soon enough, Ellie is being seduced by the promise, independence, and society of life as a young woman in New York City during the Roaring 20s. Will Ellie be able to return to a life of poverty in Ireland with her one true love, or will the siren call of the city of dreams lure her into a new life altogether?

Ellis Island is Ellie's story, and hers alone. Though the pages of Ellis Island are full of characters, her Irish family, her husband John, her rich employer Isobel Adams, and her friends from her typing job, not to mention the charming Charles Irvington who would woo her given the chance, Ellie's character is the only one that truly jumps off the page. The rest, while fleshed out enough, merely give structure to Ellie's journey, not just from Ireland to America, but from thoughtless, selfish childhood to accepting, understanding adulthood. Kerrigan's Ireland and 1920s New York City are almost like characters themselves, and Kerrigan draws out the wonder and the fast pace of a city on the rise just as well as she pictures for us the quaint, if sometimes desperately poor, Irish countryside. The contrasts between Ellie's two lives are sharp, but Kerrigan ultimately manages to show the great value in both of them.

Ellis Island is littered with the sort of coincidences that might make the story seem contrived but for the impression that Ellie's story is so human and turns out the way so many human stories do. Ellie's story reveals a life peppered with joys and haunted by regrets and thoughts of what might have been. Ellie's coming of age mirrors so many in that we come to understand the lives around us, and we don't just "settle" but learn to love even the small joys that our lives have to offer us. Ellis Island was a little lighter fare than perhaps I was expecting but is ultimately an enjoyable historical love story that brings the 1920s to life and gives us a memorable character finding herself during a captivating time in history.

Ellis Island releases on June 28th.

Thanks to Mary at Harper Paperbacks for sending me a copy for review!

Check out other reviews at...

Lovely Treez Reads
Sam Still Reading

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I Love Being a Book Blogger!

The bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish are celebrating their one year blogoversary this week (Congrats, by the way!). In honor of the occasion, the topic of this week's top ten list is the "Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Book Blogger." Should be a piece of cake, right? =)

1. Other Book Bloggers - They're book nuts, just like me! When you meet them it's like meeting old friends that you've never technically met before.

2. The Community - I especially love when practically the whole book blogosphere gets together for stuff like the 24 Hour Readathon and Book Blogger Appreciation Week.

3. Being in the Know about the New - Okay, maybe swimming in review copy commitments isn't always ideal, but I love keeping up with the new and exciting books coming out before or as they arrive on the scene with the help of my favorite book bloggers.

4. First Rate Book Recommendations - Where else can you find people that seem to have the exact same taste in books as you where every book they love, you can bet you'll love it, too? Even more, where else can you find people who can talk so passionately and coherently about the books that they love that you find yourself picking up books to read that you wouldn't have given a second thought before?

5. Having Your Bookish Horizons Broadened - Book bloggers have gotten me to try short stories. And audiobooks now, too. Can't wait to see what's next!

6. BEA/Book Blogger Con - I've been there 2 years now, and would happily go again! All the books and book bloggers and bookish people and bookish events and everything all in one place. It's a book person's paradise and something I never would have even dreamed about before book blogging made it a possibility!

7. The Books - Okay, a shallow reason for loving being a book blogger, but I can't deny that getting the occasional advance copy of a book that I'm super excited about is worth loving!

8. Getting to Talk About Great Books - Is its own reward. And sometimes people even read my ramblings and comment on them. Double win!

9. Twitter - I never would have joined without the help (or is it peer pressure??) of book bloggers who always seem to having great fun or hatching brilliant plans on Twitter. Now whenever I feel like "talking" or getting an answer to a random question or whining or whatever, there's a friendly tweeting book blogger to chatter at.

10. Feeling Normal - When you spend all day with people who couldn't care less if they read a book this year, you start to feel like maybe, just maybe, you're the freak. So, it's nice to be in the company, however virtual, of people who don't think you're crazy if you think it's a first rate crisis if you forgot to put a book in your bag to keep you company on your lunch break or who don't look askance at you if you have a few shelves double stacked with books. It's good to have friends that enable my "book problem."

What do you love about being a book blogger? Or a book lover in general?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Audio Experiment

I have a confession to make. Up until this month, I'd never listened to an audiobook. I appreciate many bloggers' love for them and understand how they would be a welcome diversion on a long commute or while going through the motions of housework, but to me, it seems like cheating, like not really reading. Besides, I told myself, I don't retain things as well when I'm hearing them instead of reading them, especially if I'm tired or distracted, which would probably be the times I'd be trying to listen anyway.

When I arrived back from BEA and discovered Audiobook Week was upon us, I was none too excited. "Great," my selfish inner monologue mumbled, "a whole week of posts that have no bearing on me and the things I like." But then, there's always that thought lurking, that one that says, "Well, if everybody else likes this stuff so much, then I must really be missing out on something." You may remember I fell down that slippery slope at least once before, and have since come to a grudging truce with short stories. It was probably that lurking thought that drove me to pick up the free Martin Misunderstood audiobook from the Book Blogger Convention swag tables, and it was probably Audiobook Week that drove me to pluck it from its box and stick it in my car stereo for my drive to work. "It was free," I thought, "What do I have to lose?"

Martin Misunderstood is a short novel about epic loser Martin Reed. Martin is a pudgy accountant at Southern Toilet Supply where he commands respect from no one and draws ridicule from everyone from Unique, the employee that he hired that refers to him exclusively as "Fool!" to the insurance man who is dragging his feet helping Martin get rid of the "Twat" scratched into his car door. Even in middle age, Martin still lives with his mother, Evelyn, an old battle-axe whose one purpose in life seems to be demeaning Martin. When he leaves for work one morning, and discovers his car has been seemingly vandalized yet again, it seems his troubles have just begun because, when a co-worker turns up dead, the hapless Martin finds himself the prime suspect. And that's okay with him, as long as he gets to spend more time in the company of the lovely An Albada, the detective on the case.

Martin Misunderstood was a wise choice for getting my audiobook feet wet, all around. It was free, it was short (only 2 and half hours), and it's not the sort of book I normally read so I if I disliked listening to it, hey, I wouldn't have ruined a book for myself that I otherwise would have read. I'd heard of Karin Slaughter and associate her with the mystery/thriller sort of books that I used to read way more often than I do now. By all accounts, the book is nothing to shout about, but I have to admit, that while listening, I was fully absorbed and Wayne Knight's (of Seinfeld fame) narration combined with Slaughter's black humor had me laughing out loud at times. My commute flew by, and I even found myself lingering in the car, since, of coure, the mystery was being revealed just as I was pulling into my driveway.

That said, there were other times that I'm glad that my windows were not down when I was listening to it. There were at least two wicked raunchy sex scenes (particularly distasteful when read aloud, yikes!), which you would hardly expect in a book about a loser as epic as Martin, and the language was a little rough to boot. Even with those drawbacks, I have a feeling I still enjoyed listening to Martin a good deal more than I would have enjoyed reading it.

All in all, I think I can see myself listening to more audiobooks, but I doubt I'll become a prolific reviewer of them. It's true that I don't process something I'm listening to while battling traffic as well as something I read, and it kind of bothered me that I didn't always know the definite spelling of the characters' names for reviewing purposes. I admit now, though, that maybe listening to some lighter fare (on the order of Martin Misunderstood) or maybe "re-reading" some old favorites via audio might just be a great way to redeem all the time I feel like I'm wasting driving to and from work.

Oh, book blogging, there you go again making me try new things. I think like it.

What do you read or what bookish things do you do now that you never would have considered had it not been for book blogs?

And, if you're an audiobook lover, what do you recommend for the audiobook newbie should I decide to take up my library card and get in deeper with this whole audiobook thing?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia Maria Reyes lives in a world where everything is fiercely regulated by the powerful Society. The Society decides where Cassia is best suited to work, who is her best genetic match for marriage, and that she won't pass her eightieth birthday, the ideal age at which the Society has decided people should die to spare them indignity. Despite its many restrictions and its ever-watchful nature, Cassia never feels trapped or limited by the Society, rather she feels safe and looks forward to the day of her Match Banquet with eagerness. When she finds that she is to be matched with her best friend, Xander, things have never looked better. That is, until she glimpses the wrong face when she views the microcard that contains the details of her match. A brief glimpse of Ky Markham's face in place of Xander's is all it takes to bring Cassia's carefully sheltered life tumbling down around her and leave her swirling in a vortex of questions she was never meant to ask.

The dystopia in Ally Condie's Matched is downright frightening in its possibility. In Cassia's world, no decisions are left to chance. In her world there are only the Hundred Poems, Hundred Songs, Hundred Stories that designated committees have deemed worthy to pass down through the generations, as the rest would only serve to clutter and overwhelm citizens' minds. Children are no longer taught to write their own words, only to regurgitate those of others. Love and passion are no more in a world dominated by the Society. Girls and boys are matched based solely on their genetic qualities, practically placed together to ensure the health and endurance of the human race.

Matched is a fascinating look at a world gone so right that it's wrong. The thought of a world where one makes no decisions, and there is no unpredictability is as interesting as it is frightening. Watching what turns out to be the most fragile of strands that bind this world together come unraveled through Cassia's eyes as she begins to consider that a different life, a life more like the lives we know now, might be possible, make Matched an exhilarating page-turner of a book. Cassia herself, is a strong narrator, a girl testing the limits of her independence in a world where her every move is controlled by a higher authority, whether she realizes it or not. The relationship that develops between Cassia and the mysterious Ky is powerful in its chemistry, a force that people in the Society have little experience with, and in its questioning of the values that the Society holds dear.

But let's step out of this nice, carefully written, ungushy review for a moment so that I can level with you and tell you IjustreallywantKytobemyboyfriend, mmkay? Strong and sensitive and vulnerable all at once, smart, artistic, "bad" in a way that's oh so good. Plus he's got pretty eyes. Yes, please. Okay, just had to get that out. Back to thoughtful, analytic reviewing.

Matched is an utterly compelling look at a world that might be far away from our reality but at the same time could be oh-so-close. Cassia's will to break free from the constraints of the Society she always believed kept her safe is at the heart of what, I'm confident, is going to be an incredible series.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Hand Me Down World

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Hand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones
Bloomsbury, September 27, 2011


This is the story of a young African mother’s journey to reclaim the infant son heartlessly stolen from her. Beginning in Tunisia, where she is employed as a hotel maid, the novel follows her as she makes an illegal, near-death crossing of the Mediterranean, then up the length of Italy, across the Alps, and on to Berlin, where her child has been given a new home. We learn the mother’s story through the people she meets along the way, human links in the perilous chain of her journey: a taxi driver, a hunter, a snail collector, a street performer, a blind man. Most are generous, some malevolent, but all write their own deeply personal needs on the nearly blank slate of a mother whose needs are greatest of all. Finally, the woman herself picks up the narration, retelling her story in her own words. And only then do we understand the extent of the sacrifices she has been willing to make for the love of her child.

After eight novels, and following on the heels of his award-winning, bestselling Mister Pip, Hand Me Down World confirms Lloyd Jones’s stature as one of the most provocative and important writers today. Dazzling in its literary effects, powerful in its emotions, this is a masterwork of contemporary fiction.

What are you "waiting on" this Wednesday?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reviewlettes Again!

Adding "lettes" to a word just makes it more fun, doesn't it? I know some of you agreed when I posted my last reviewlettes post. That said, I went to reply to your lovely commments to further rhapsodize about 'lettes, and Blogger was having its breakdown and not allowing comments, so instead I wandered off to look at shiny things as I am wont to do. The writing of the reviewlettes was relatively pain-free and actually did not leave me feeling guilty for skipping out on the longer reviews, so guess what? I'm going to try it again. Three more for you today, and all YA. Here it goes!

Kyriel's job is Hell. Seriously. Kyriel is one of the Fallen, a demon responsible for tormenting the damned for all eternity. His function is to "echo souls' regrets back at them, thus letting them feel the full burden of their shame, guilt, and sorrow." Kyriel has always been a witness, but he thinks it's high time he got to experience some of the sins he's only heard about, so he steals the body of a high school guy mere seconds from dying and embraces the human experience. Overall, A.M. Jenkins' Repossessed didn't really satisfy me. Often books that rely on recounting the minute details of the human experience from the inexperienced eyes of some other just don't work for me, and such is the case here. Kyriel's descriptions of his experiences in Shaun's body seemed a little wooden and boring. I've done these things, so unless they're described in a particularly clever way, it loses my interest. That said, there were definitely some good points to Repossessed. For example, seeing the reviled demon's desire to do some good while he's got the power to even attempt to make a change is refreshing. Also, Jenkins uses Kyriel's mostly lightheated story to explore some of our beliefs about God and the devil as well as asking some profound questions about just how much God notices what's going on His creation. Repossessed definitely offers up a clever premise, but, in my opinion, it doesn't always live up to its promise.

Firelight is the first book in a series about modern descendants of dragons, the draki. Draki have developed the power to transform themselves into human form to hide from the men who would hunt them to extinction for profit. Jacinda, our narrator, is the last fire-breather of her pride and the victim of her pride's high expectations. She is already promised in marriage to Cassian, the son of an elder, doomed to a life of breeding to produce another fire-breather until one day, after a forbidden daylight flight, everything changes. Cornered by hunters, Jacinda is sure she is moments from death, until the hunter sent to find her spares her. Soon, Jacinda is being swept away from her home by her mother and sister to a place where she is forced to deny her very nature to survive, but when the very hunter who saved her life shows up in her new life, problems aren't far behind. Firelight is a fantastic start to a new YA series. The draki's nature and way of life is cleverly fleshed out. There is, of course, a convincing forbidden love story between two characters with undeniable chemistry. Jacinda makes a great narrator, pulled in so many different directions by all the people around her, yet determined to stay true to herself and her own draki nature. There's plenty of action and suspense to keep the pages turning, but never at the expense of the characters' development. I'm looking forward to reading more about Jacinda and the rest of the draki!

Last up is Blind Faith by Ellen Wittlinger. Blind Faith tells the story of Liz Scattergood who has just lost her grandmother, Bunny. Liz's mother is taking the loss particularly hard, having been the best of friends with her mother. When she finally gets up after days on end in bed, it's to try out a spiritualist church that promises to help her communicate with the dead. Liz and her father are skeptical, but Liz attends, just to see, and finds herself wondering if communicating with the dead isn't possible after all. Unfortunately, the church, instead of offering her answers, just gives her more questions.

In the meantime, Liz gets to know the newly moved in grandchildren of her prickly next door neighbor, Mrs. Crosby. Bubbly Courtney and angry Nathan are just the diversion Liz needs from all the problems she has at he own house, that is, until she discovers that Courtney and Nathan's mother is terminally ill, and a whole new legion of questions are unleashed, about life and death and love. Despite his own prickly exterior, Liz finds herself falling for Nathan, and before she knows it, she's wrapped up in a whole other family about to endure a crippling loss. Wittlinger takes on a lot in Blind Faith, dealing with death and dying, God, faith, the afterlife, mediums, mother/daughter relationships, and love all in one shot and does it remarkably successfully. In fact, if I had one complaint about this book, it's that all of Wittlinger's strings are tied up a bit too well. It's rare that you see all these sloppy issues cleared up so tidily in less than 300 pages. Even so, Wittlinger does an admirable and graceful job of asking questions about faith, unearthing the sensitive topic of dealing with terminal illness, and exploring the the unique mix of joy and pain that lurks inside all too many mother/daughter relationships. Not my favorite Wittlinger, but still definitely worth a read!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

So, enough with all this BEA stuff, already, right? It's time to get back in bed with my review backlog which keeps adding up because, um, I keep reading books. Hard to believe, isn't it?

Actually, I'm very excited to be talking about Erica Bauermeister's new book Joy for Beginners. I really enjoyed her debut, The School of Essential Ingredients, so imagine my glee when Erica herself wrote me with an offer of her newest. It had big shoes to fill to follow in the footsteps of The School of Essential Ingredients, and I'm happy to report it doesn't disappoint. Exactly the opposite, in fact.

When Kate's friends come together over dinner to celebrate Kate's victory over breast cancer, they get a little more than they bargained for. Kate's daughter Robin wants her to take a terrifying white-water rafting trip, and having just dodged death, Kate can't fathom taking such an unnecessary risk. To persuade her, her friends each agree to do something scary or difficult, and Kate gets to choose.

The book follows each of the seven women as they undertake the tasks that Kate has chosen for them. I admit, at first, that I was reluctant to believe that Kate could so perfectly choose just the things that would lead her friends to challenge themselves and be renewed, but as the book moved on, and the bands of friendship between the group were more illuminated and finally, when Kate's own Grand Canyon rafting trip takes place, it all comes to seem natural and perfectly woven together.

Bauermeister gives each woman her own section of the book, gently fleshing out each character and drawing her connection to the others. Kate's wise choices of tasks are revealed, and though some seem less than challenging to the average woman, each task is loaded with emotional hurdles for characters who have struggled and who have lost or given up parts of themselves just going through the motions of life. In the process of taking on Kate's challenges, the women discover parts of themselves that they had either intentionally or unwittingly locked away, parts where joy is so tangled in fear and pain that they could hardly hope to unravel them.

By the end of the week, Sara had decided that her feet and eyes and nose were much more interesting guides than a map. Over the years, she had forgotten what it felt like to walk with the delicious purposelessness of going nowhere. But now she remembered, and she spent hours simply moving, reveling in the feeling of the muscles of her legs, the swing of her arms agains her body. She stopped only to eat, or to take pictures - the smooth brown surface of a cat mask, the light caught in its curves; the middle-aged couple oblivious to the world, sitting on a park bench, her legs draped across his lap, his fingers on her ankles. A family eating Sunday lunch, the aroma of their meal drenching the air in a scent so warm and round and golden it made breathing feel like eating.

How long had it been, she wondered, since she had seen the world like this?

That's just it, though, in Joy for Beginners, the women, with Kate's help, begin to uncover the strength, the capability, the joy they had forgotten existed. All throughout, Bauermeister's writing with its almost ethereal quality imbues the characters' journeys with a kind of everyday magic with the power to make readers smile and cry, occasionally at the same time. It's easy to recognize yourself or any of the women you know in Bauermeister's characters, which makes Joy for Beginners that much more of a personal read. On the whole, Joy for Beginners is an emotionally satisfying tale of self-discovery and the power of true friendship that I can't recommend highly enough.

Check out Joy for Beginners when it hits shelves on June 9th!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

BEA 2011 Day 3 + Book Blogger Con!

Day 3 at BEA was a bit more on the chill side. There weren't as many people around and that seemed to make everything a little more relaxed. In the morning rush (which was not as rushy unless you were getting squished to death in the Harper booth), I finally managed to snag a copy of The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen. I had heard ARCs would be available on Wednesday afternoon, but for all my lurking I didn't see any. Anybody who has listened to me go on and on (and on and on...) about Mullen's last book, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, must know that Mullen's new book would be a must have for me. When I finally spotted it on Thursday morning I snapped up a copy with glee (but don't worry, no one was harmed in my pursuit of this book - though I did hear some horror stories about bad behavior that wasn't mine).

The more relaxed atmosphere allowed me more time to wander the show floor at leisure. I got to talk with some people at the Europa booth. During my time blogging, Europa has worked its way into my heart as one of my favorite small presses. I love the look and feel of their books, along with, of course, their content, so I was happy to come away with two books, one of which is the first release of their new imprint, Tonga, You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik.

I also waited in another one of those long lines that prompts the continual asking of the "Who are you in LINE for?" for Melissa Marr. By the time we got to the front of the line, the friendly librarian behind me in line and I agreed that we could be very rich if only we had charged a quarter everytime we said, "Melissa Marr."

By then, I'd run out of room in my shipping box, and did not wish to ship another, so I slipped away to mail my box and then hiked to lunch with a bunch of bloggers - Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, Heather from Age 30+ ...A Lifetime of Books, Jenny from Jenny's Books, Ash from English Major's Junk Food, Teresa from Shelf Love, Rebecca from Rebecca Reads, Memory from Stella Matutina, and Anastasia from Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog. And I've probably forgotten someone. If so, please forgive me (and remind me)! The walk was long, but the company and the food were both great, plus Ash and I discovered that red shirts with white polka dots are not as distinctive a wardrobe choice as we might have imagined.

Me and Ash in our polka dots
(Thanks again to Heather for the photo!)

Following was the Book Blogger Con reception where I met a bunch of bloggers, many of them new to me, but ultimately ended up with a pair of Colleens - one from Books in the City and the other from Col Reads. Books in the City Collen was going to take me on my first city bus ride to an Atria event at Simon and Schuster, but at the last minute, we hopped the shuttle bus with Kathy from Bermuda Onion, Julie from Booking Mama, and Candace from Beth Fish Reads.

The Atria blogger happy hour event was fantastic, with Mexican inspired cuisine catered by Aaron Sanchez that included some of the most incredibly delicious guacamole ever. It was wonderful (if a bit surreal) to be able to sit down and relax and chat and eat while meeting authors and publicists who actually circulated around to us. It was a nice way to wrap up a few very busy days at BEA.

But wait, the story doesn't end there. Once "my" Colleens left, I took up with Florinda and Jill from Rhapsody in Books to devour some delicious baked goods from Magnolia Bakery in bustling Rockefeller Center. The red velvet cupcake was to die for, seriously. But I still needed more sugar, so I hiked up to Serendipity 3 where Heather had signed me up to be her +1 at a get-together arranged by JKS Communications. I finally got to sip on a Frozen Hot Chocolate that I'd been meaning to try for so long among a few bloggers and a pair of authors. It was a great time, and I enjoyed hearing about the reasons the other bloggers at my table started blogging as well as hearing from the two authors, Joe Luniecvicz and Chitoka Webb, about their books. Another great event!

Me and the last of the frozen hot chocolate
(Again, I'd be lost without Heather and her camera.)

Evening. Morning. Next day. Book Blogger Con.

I won't say much here, really. I was about to head to Boston, so I could only attend the first half of the day at Book Blogger Con. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't totally beat and so didn't get nearly as much out of it as I could have. Just the same, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books gave a great, entertaining keynote speech that not only kept me awake but engaged despite my dilapidated state after a few packed full days.

After that I sat in on the Ask a Publisher or Publicist panel, the first portion of which was composed of representatives of some of the major publishing houses, the second of publicists and representatives of smaller publishers. Here I learned that honesty is encouraged even if that means a (respectful) negative review because it has the potential to generate conversation, publishers *do* like to hear about your reviews of their titles that aren't brand new, many are eager to arrange to provide you some blog content if you're in need of a guest post or something, and that Michael Reynolds of Europa Editions would dance naked in Times Square to get some attention for Europa titles. No, really! He said that! Unless I was delirious by then...

Thus ends my BEA recap, but I'm sure you haven't heard the last of it. I'm looking forward to spotlighting some of the many books I gathered during my time at BEA. Until then - happy reading!

Friday, June 3, 2011

BEA 2011 Day 2

On the second day of BEA (the publisher gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree! Or not.), I rose early (but not nearly as early as some) to get in line for the show floor. I did this to practice for a long day of waiting in lines so long that people repeatedly asked, "What's this LINE for?" Some answers? Crossed by Ally Condie, The Leftovers by Tom Perotta, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Chris Van Allsburg!

I was desperately in love with Chris Van Allsburg's beautifully illustrated books throughout my childhood, so I was eager to get in line for his signing. The publisher was giving away copies of The Chronicles of Harris Burdick in which numerous big name authors put stories to Van Allsburg's formerly wordless The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. It looks fantastic, and I can't wait for it to arrive in my box of books that will hopefully have arrived at my house by the time this posts. Additionally Chris was signing nice posters of the book cover. Honestly, I've been enamored of his work for so long, he probably could have been signing used paper cups and I would have stood in line for it, but the poster is much much much better.

After much line standing and book acquiring, I stashed my books in the shipping room and headed back to the hotel. After a short rest, and a lengthy effort at getting a cab, Heather and I finally made it to the (again, packed!) Harper Collins Celebration of Book Bloggers event. There were drinks and tote bags with books in them and, of course, bloggers galore. I finally got to meet, in passing, Shanyn from Chick Loves Lit who I'd been excited to meet ever since I interviewed her for last year's Book Blogger Appreciation week. I lurked (lurking is another of my many worthless skills) by a table until I was able to join it and spent some time chatting with Teddy Rose from So Many Precious Books, So Little Time and Jenn from Picky Girl among others.

Shortly thereafter, Heather invited me along to dinner with a bunch of bloggers at a nice Italian place called Bice. There were 11 of us there, but I spent most of my time talking with Sheila from Book Journey, Florinda from The 3 R's Blog, Alison from Alison's Book Marks, Ann from Books on the Nightstand, and Michelle from Red Headed Book Child.

Here we all are! (Thanks to Heather for the photo!)

Reagan (Miss Remmers' Review), Heather, Me, Sheila, Florinda, Michelle, Alison, Ann, Stacy (A Novel Source), and Natalie (Coffee and a Book Chick).

At the end of the evening, we stuffed illegally many of us into a cab, and headed back to the hotel.

And that was the second day! Stay tuned for Days 3 and 4 which I will attempt to squish into only one post. Crazy, no?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

BEA 2011 Day 1

Greetings one and all, I am freshly returned from BEA, Book Blogger Con, and Boston and am ready to regale you with tales of books and bookish adventures. Unfortunately, immediately upon my return from my city adventures, I fell ill with a headcold, but hopefully this post will not reflect my foggy state of mind.

My trip got off to an inauspicious start when I drove my car to the train station in New Jersey (where I would be returning via Amtrak) and found the rather large parking garage to be completely full. After an hour long rigamarole that involved my driving around the garage at length anyway, being directed to an outer surface lot that was also full, and finally being parked on the grid lines in the best spot in the garage, I ascended the train platform to wait for an NJ transit train to deliver me to the city nearly an hour after I had intended to depart. While loitering on the platform, I got a call from my hotel roomie, Heather, informing me that my other hotel roomie, Amanda wouldn't be coming after all. Let's just say, by the time I got on the train I was sorely in need of some bookish cheering up.

Some hour later I arrived at Heather and I's compact Best Western hotel room, dropped off my bags, and hustled off to the Javits past carriage horses, and a collision repair center for taxicabs on one side and the vehicles of the masses on the other. I'm pretty sure there was a gentlemen's club nestled between the damaged automobiles, too. The street definitely had character, but at a half a block from the convention center, it beat all for convenience and value.

So onto the show floor I went, at which point a lunch time lull had descended allowing me to wander the floor and get my bearings and worry about where in the heck all the books were simultaneously. I made the mistake of wandering too close to the L. Ron Hubbard booth and its representative became the official first person I talked to. Somewhere around that time I finally happened on a book I was dying to have. I'd been looking forward to Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding ever since I heard it was being buzzed at BEA. When I saw the author signing I stumbled into a very short line and walked away with this book in my hand.

Shortly thereafter I happened upon Diana Abu-Jaber's signing of her buzz book, Birds of Paradise, which I eagerly got in line for. Somehow, and surprisingly unawkwardly (I am usually very talented at being awkward) the subject of my blog came up, and I bestowed upon her my very first business card of the show. This was so unexpected that I hadn't even remembered to put cards in the back of my ID badge, so the formerly missing awkwardness ensued as I attempted to dig a card out of my bag.

Enough of this longwindedness, though. People at booths were talked to, a reasonable amount of books were acquired. I attended the standing room only YA Editors Buzz where I heard all about a bunch of really great sounding YA titles only one of which I actually acquired over the course of the show. How'd that happen? With the Adult Editors Buzz titles it seemed I couldn't turn a corner without tripping over a pile of them for the taking. I managed to grab a copy of Laini Turner's Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but am looking forward to acquiring the others by other means when the time comes, after hearing them so glowingly presented.

A few books later, I started a shipping box at the Javits and headed back to the hotel to meet up with Heather. We ate a delicious and expansive dinner at a diner with an immense menu and got to know each other before we met up with Reagan to attempt a subway trip to the very packed Bookrageous Bash. Despite our inexperience with the NYC subway, we made it there (and back!) in one piece without getting lost even once. We were rewarded with drinks and shouted conversations with newly met bloggers which was good times but kind of really hot and crowded and uber-loud. Nonetheless, what conversation I did manage to have with Reagan, Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, Cass from Bonjour, Cass!, and others was fun!

And then there was sleeping, and then there was morning, the second day....

In the interests of keeping this short-ish, I think perhaps it is wise to divide this recap into days. Look for more in the near future!