Saturday, June 5, 2010

BEA 2010: An Amazing Week for Booklovers & Book Bloggers

How many times do you want to hear that the events this last week was amazing, incredible, went beyond expectations?  The week was absolutely amazing and made even more fun by the fact that I'd made friends on Monday during the publishing house tours.  Instead of gushing which is likely to bore you, I'll share some of the things that I learned and links to other write-ups that you'll likely find useful and entertaining.

Monday and Tuesday with the publishing house tours that were organized by Yen from Book Publicity Blog and organizers of the Book Blogger Convention.  We given the unique opportunity to visit and chat with folks from Bloomsbury Press, Picador, Scholastic and Penguin.  Wednesday and Thursday were all about BEA 2010.  BEA is overwhelming and I'm glad that I was with Angela of Dark Fairie Tales and Tonia of Literary Cravings.   We'd met during the publishing house tours on Monday and found that we got along really well.  (Meeting new people was a major highlight of my week!) There were receptions as well.  On Wednesday night Harper Collins sponsored a Celebration of Book Bloggers at the Algonquin Hotel. On Thursday the Book Blogger Convention began with a reception from 4 to 6 at the Javitz Center.  I heard that the Book Blogger Convention reception was packed with interesting people - many of whom didn't attend the BBC - and it was a highlight for bloggers.  I missed it and wish that I had gone!  Friday was devoted to the Book Blogger Convention and a nice way to round off the week.

                   BEA 2010

I got up extra early every morning to line up for the tickets to book signings by the most coveted authors.   Waking up at 4:30 a.m. and getting to the Javitz by 5:30 am, I was often either the first person or second person in line.  You don't actually have to get there that early to be sure to get tickets, it's just that I would have been disappointed if I'd slept in an extra 30 minutes and missed the last ticket for Lee Child' s 61 Hours: A Reacher Novel (Jack Reacher Novels) or Rick Riordan'The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1) .  (I ended up giving away my ticket to the Rick Riordan signing, which I still regret, but that's another story altogether. I'm sure that it will be cherished by a lucky student in Texas!)

Tickets in hand and having registered, Angela, Tonia and I plotted our day.  We'd each prepared our own list of activities based on the rich (read: extensive & overwhelming) list of talks, authors, and books in the BEA program.  Then we checked Publisher Weekly's Show Daily to read about upcoming books and new events.  I discovered Show Daily too late last year and was determined not to make that mistake this year!  Then we discussed which books were were most looking forward to and tried come up with a plan that would allow us to attend the talks and panels and our favorite author signings.  Dark Faerie Tales and Literary Cravings are both more focused on the genres of Young Adult and Fantasy, so I listened carefully to Angela's recommendations.  After all, it was this time last year that  that I discovered Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire  and Kristin Cashore's Fire (Graceling) through other bloggers.   With that reintroduction to YA, I was hooked!

I discovered a whole list of books through Show Daily and from talking to other booklovers at BEA.  I wasn't able to get most of these books, but I now know to watch out for them and have ordered the ones that I'm dying to read.  So many of the covers are gorgeous, so I thought I'd share them with everyone!

Lauren Oliver's latest books, Delirium is out!  I'd read her debut novel, Before I Fall, through the Barnes & Noble First Look Club -  and thought it was amazing (Read my review here.).  I'd recommended it to my four nieces and friends my age.   I was so excited about Delirium that I was the first person in line -- an hour and a half before she was scheduled to sign the book. The monitors thought I was mental!  PW describes Delirium (Harper) as "a dystopian novel in which love is considered a disease."  (Note: The book descriptions in quotes are all taken from PW's BEA Show Daily.)

I so wanted to meet Mitali Perkins who wrote Bamboo People but I missed her! Mitali describes Bamboo People is a coming of age story which "takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. Narrated by two fifteen-year-old boys on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma, Bamboo People explores the nature of violence, power, and prejudice."  I heard from someone who attended the Children's Book and Author Breakfast that the event was one of the best parts of BEA.   She assured me that hearing Mitali Perkins speak in person was as amazing as I'd expected.  Head over to Mitali Perkin's site for Bamboo People at or her blog, Mitali's Fire Escape, "a safe place to chat about books between cultures." Isn't that cool?

I'm looking forward to these books:

  • Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly "interweaves the stories of a young girl living in present day Brooklyn and one who lived in Paris 200 years earlier. " 
  • Sharon Dogar's Annexed is a fictionalized account that "follows Peter van Pels from the attic that he once shared with Anne Frank on to Auschwitz."   

  • Firelight by Sophie Jordan is the first in a trilogy and tells the "story of a girl who can change into a dragon."   
  • Matched by Ally Condie is "a dystopian novel, where people are paired with their ideal mates."

  The Moses Expedition: A Novel    Library Lion 
The Scorch Trials  by James Dashner follows The Maze Runner. It continues just 4 hours after The Maze Runner ends - it's a direct sequel and the Gladers must cross the Scortch, a wasteland which has left many survivors insane.

The Moses Expedition: A Novel by Juan Gomez-Jurado is described as a summer blockbuster, in the best sense of the word. It's a thriller based on the search for the Bible's lost Ark of the Covenant. 

Savages: A Novel by Don Winslow is a "nonstop action novel" with a Laguna Beach, CA marijuana kingpin who is kidnapped by a Baja cartel.

The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai: A Novel by Ruiyan Xu tells the story of a "Shanghai businessman whose childhood English returns after an accident, but he discovers that he can no longer speak Chinese."

Michelle Knudsen's Library Lion looks like it'll become a children's classic.  It's the story of a lion who roams the halls of the New York Public Library breaking the rules and endearing himself to readers.

If any of the books tempt you, I should mention that Borders is circulating a 33% off coupon which expires on June 7, 2010.   Or click on the link which will take you directly to Amazon.

Armchair BEA
I should mention that Armchair BEA was organized for those folks who weren't able to come to NYC for BEA this year.  Pam from served as the on-site reporter, she diligently covered each event (often with a video camera).   Even though I was at BEA, I found her reports fun, informative, and  helpful. There's just so much to do at BEA that the first thing is to acknowledge you can't do it all!

Book Review of The Knight Life: Chivalry Ain't Dead by Keith Knight, Gentleman Cartoonist

The Knight Life: "Chivalry Ain't Dead"

The contest for copies of Keith Knight's The Knight Life: Chivalry Ain't' Dead is open! Contest ends on June 30, so sign up now!

The blurb:
The Knight Life is a hilariously twisted view of life through the eyes and pen of its creator, community-oriented urban hipster and award-winning cartoonist Keith Knight. The Knight Life deftly blends political insight and neurotic humor in a uniquely fluid and dynamic style, offering a comic strip that's fresh, sharp, topical and funny. Designed for daily newspapers, The Knight Life follows Knight's long-running, 2007 Harvey Award-winning weekly comic strip "The K Chronicles," which appears on

An unabashedly provocative political and social satire, The Knight Life tackles contemporary issues like consumer culture, bacon, the media, race, family and everything else, gently mocking the minutiae of daily life with self-deprecating humor, honesty and goofiness-a combination that's perfect for the comics. And The Knight Life's energetic style reminds readers that comics can look funny as well as read funny. The result is accessible yet edgy, compassionate and political-and never preachy. Cartoonist and comic historian R.C. Harvey said, "The Knight Life is undeniably the best new laugh- and thought-provoker on the comics page. Not since Calvin and Hobbes has there been so novel an entertainment in the funnies."

My thoughts:
It's been a while since I've read comic strips, and The Knight Life reminds me why I used to check the daily for the latest gem.  Keith Knight's "autobiographical comic strip" pulls together everyday things and left me shaking my head, tabbing pages, and sharing the chuckles.

In one strip, Keith dubs himself the "Chucklehead of Cheap,"  the "Friar of Frugality," -- and it so reminded me of someone that I know!  Keith touches on immigration, gifting (re-gifting), weirdos on the bus, hoarding plastic bags, Trapper Keeper notebooks, Barack Obama, bi-racial relationships,  Trader Joe's 2 buck chuck, taco trucks, junk mail, real estate, and bookcrossing's way of releasing books into the world and tracking them as they travel around the world.  The "Life's Little Victories" series speak to me.

The Knight Life: Chivalry Ain't Dead is a hilarious introduction to Keith Knight's witty comic strip.  I'm glad to have found it!

ISBN-10: 0446548669 - Paperback $17.99
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (June 9, 2010), 224 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Keith Knight was born and raised in the Boston area. Weaned on a steady diet of Star Wars, hip-hop, racism and Warner Bros. cartoons, Knight started drawing comics in grade school. After graduating from college with a degree in graphic design, Knight drove out to San Francisco in the early 90s. It was in the Bay Area where Knight developed his trademark cartooning style that has been described as a cross between Calvin & Hobbes and underground comix.

Knight is part of a new generation of talented young African-American artists who infuse their work with urgency, edge, humor, satire, politics and race. His art has appeared in various publications worldwide, including the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle,, Ebony, ESPN the Magazine, L.A. Weekly, MAD Magazine, and the Funny Times. Knight won the 2007 Harvey Award and the 2006, 2007 & 2008 Glyph Awards for Best Comic Strip. His comic musings on race have garnered accolades and stirred controversies, prompting CNN to tap him to grade America on its progress concerning issues of race.

"Keef" has a 2-year old and has not read anything beyond little kiddie books in a long time. But he does have time for comics! He recommends: Ruben Bolling's "Tom the Dancing Bug", Steve Notley's "Bob the Angry Flower", Kate Beaton's "Hark, a Vagrant!", Harvey Pekar's "American Splendor", Amy Martin's "Bachelor Girl", Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home"…and way more.

Check out Keith Knight's website at

Thanks so much to Anna, Grand Central, and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

Blog Tour & Book Review of Lori Devoti's Amazon Queen

Amazon Queen (Amazons, Book 2)
This is a continuation of my earlier blog tour post of Amazon Queen by Lori Devoti.

The blurb:
Being an Amazon ruler just became a royal pain.

Amazon queen Zery Kostovska has never questioned tribe traditions.  After all, these rules have kept the tribe strong for millennia and enabled them to live undetected, even in modern-day America.  Zery is tough, fair, commanding -- the perfect Amazon leader.

At least, she was.  A new high priestess with a penchant for secrecy and technology is threatening Zery's rule.  Plus, with the discovery of Amazon sons, males with the same skills as their female counterparts, even Zery can't deny that the tribe must change.  But how?  Some want to cooperate with the sons.  Others believe brutal new leadership is needed -- and are willing to kill to make it happen.

Once, Zery's word was law.  Now, she has no idea who to trust, especially with one powerful Amazon son making her question all her instincts.  For Zery, tribe comes first, but the battle drawing near is unlike any she's faced before. . . and losing might cost her both the tribe and her life.

Amazon Queen gives us a story with an unambiguous heroine and her quest.  Told from the point of view of Zery, the head of an Amazon camp, Amazon Queen is about how a superior force handles the need to adapt.  The Amazons had been willing to kill or mutilate their male children to prevent them from being a threat; a humanist faction advocated that the children be abandoned but left unharmed.  These abandoned male children have grown up and harbor their own grudges against the Amazons for the violence perpetuated on their gender and for the Amazons' callous treatment of "ordinary humans."  The Amazons in Zery's camp find themselves under attack by these sons  of Amazons. When the Sons steal a baby, Zery's investigation leads her to question whether the Amazon council still has the community's interests at heart.

Though Zery may be too trusting and a little distant as a leader, but the reserve is understandable since she's led a camp of migrating women warriors for nearly a hundred years.   More than anything, it is clear that Zery has a deep sense of honor and responsibility.   Like the Amazons before her, Zery worships Artemis and wears tattoos of the totems or givnomais that guide her.   Like other Amazons, Zery will live an inordinately long time, she's developed a reputation for being a stickler for the rules and honorable.

Zery's sense of justice and principles lead her to confront the high priestess.  The Amazon camp is thrown into disarray.  Meanwhile, Zery finds unlikely allies in her search to save the community and to protect those unable to care for themselves.

Overall, Amazon Queen is a fast-paced, entertaining fantasy novel.  A light novel, it's a fun beach read for folks who enjoy fantasy.  It is clearly the second of a series and I expect that the next installment will be even better.

ISBN-10: 1439167729 - Mass Market Paperback $7.99 
Publisher: Pocket (April 27, 2010), 375 pages.   
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Lori Devoti is originally from the Missouri Ozarks, but also lived in Montana where she worked in the advertising departments of two daily newspapers. Currently she  lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two kids, and two dogs.

Participating Sites:

Book Junkie:
Books and Things:
Books Gardens & Dogs:
Taking Time For Mommy:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
See Michelle Read:
My Five Monkeys:
A Journey of Books:
My Book Addiction and More:
The Wayfaring Writer:
Pick of the Literate:
Cheryl’s Book Nook:
Avid Reader:
Starting Fresh:
I Heart Book Gossip:
Knitting and Sundries:
The Bibliophilic Book Blog:
Poisoned Rationality:
A Musing Reviews:
Booksie’s Blog:
Lucky Rosie’s:

Thank you to Sarah and PocketBooks for this review opportunity! 

The Thriller Panel at BEA 2010: Lee Child, Karin Slaughter & Justin Cronin

BEA Panels

There is so much to do, see, and find at BEA that I wasn't able to attend all the talks and panels that I would have liked.   One of the highlights of my BEA 2010 was the Thrillers panel with Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels,  Karen Slaughter, author of Broken, and Justin Cronin, author of The Passage,  on Thursday.

I attended the Thrillers panel to hear Lee Child speak.  I'd attended his talk about writing series characters during Thrillerfest 2009. He was funny, insightful, and made curious about his character Jack Reacher.  I quickly read my first Jack Reacher novel, and then proceeded to read the other 12 in the order that I could get them!  The book signing of Lee Child's 14th novel, 61 Hours: A Reacher Novel (Jack Reacher Novels) was another highpoint for me!

I'll write more about 61 Hours, but I thought this is the perfect time to introduce Jack Reacher.  A self-described "military brat,"  Reacher's father was a U.S. Marine and his mother was French.  Reacher was born in Berlin and grew up on military bases all over the world (including  in a base outside of Manila in the Philippines).  Although people called his brother "Joe",  everyone always called him "Reacher."  Even his mother calls him by his last name.

Lee Child was careful not to give too much details, so each person paints his own picture of Jack Reacher.  We do know him from the reactions that other people have, as well as from some basic details.  The first impression people have of Jack Reacher is his size: hands as big as chickens....

Reacher's vitals:

Name: Jack Reacher (no middle name)
Born: October 29th
Measurements: 6'5", 220-250 lbs., 50" chest
Hair: Dirty-blond
Eyes: Ice blue
Clothing: 3XLT coat, 95 cm. pants' inseam

Reacher left home at 18, graduated from West Point. Performed 13 years of Army service, demoted from Major to Captain in 1990, mustered out with the rank of Major in 1997.

What I like about Jack Reacher is his deep sense of honor.  During the panel Lee Child talked about how there are two equally compelling and competing ideas in America: (1) that each person must pay his own way and (2) that we should take care of the little guy, those unable to take care of themselves.  Jack Reacher embodies both of these contradictory sentiments.  Aside from being a superior physical specimen and deadly fighting machine, it is clear that Jack Reacher can take care of himself.  But Jack Reacher will always stop to help the person who can't take care of himself.  Reacher isn't gullible, but when his sense of justice and right are affected, Jack Reacher will stop and help out even if doing so puts him in mortal danger.  Jack Reacher is a modern day nomad of sorts,  he travels light (no luggage) and has no home.  In each novel, the location and "villains" are new, it's only Jack Reacher that remains constant.   If you'd like to learn more about Jack Reacher or Lee Child, I recommend the description of Reacher  and book excerpts on Lee Child's website. 

61 Hours 61 Hours   The Passage       Avatar 5

click for a larger photo        Broken: A Novel 

Karin Slaughter is an international bestselling author of the Grant County novels.  Karin Slaughter has several strong characters whose lives we follow throughout the series.  Unlike Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels, Karin Slaughter's books have a clear sense of place.  The Grant County novels are set in imaginary town, an amalgamate of small towns that Karin has known.  There's just as much going on in Grant County as you'd find in a large city. Karin Slaughter's next novel,  Broken, comes out in June 2010.   Learn more about Karin Slaughter and her novels at  Read Lee Child's interview of Karin Slaughter at

Justin Cronin's The Passage has been described as the big book of the year, one not to miss.  Everyone who has read it (or is reading it) loves it.  It's the first in a trilogy set in the near future and the distant future.   Curious?

Here's the blurb:

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.
 There was a hugely positive review of The Passage in the New York Times entitled, "Literary Novelists Turns to Vampires and Finds Pot of Gold" recently.  After hearing so much about Justin Cronin's The Passage, I had to have a copy.  I've only read the first few pages, but it's sucked me in.  I'll post more about The Passage in the future.   Curious?  Check out Justin Cronin's website at

The YA Buzz Panel

I heard that the YA Buzz Panel was particularly good as well.  The YA Panel featured Ally Condie, author of Matched, Rebecca Maizel, author of Infinite Days, Kody Keplinger, author of The Duff,Sophie Jordan, author of Firelight author of and Erin Bow, author of Plain Kate.    Fortunately for those of us who missed it,'s writeup, "BEA 2010: You're Reading That!?@ - Tackling Crossover YA/Adult Readers" gives us an idea of the discussion. (See

   Infinite Days (Vampire Queen Novels)     The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)   Plain Kate

For more BEA news, keep an eye out for my interview with Talya, a bookseller from Newton, Massachusetts who reads books of every genre but has a particular fondness for YA novels.