Monday, May 31, 2010

The Passage--Promises to be Hottest Book of the Summer

Promoted as a cross between The Andromeda Strain and The Stand, the book grabs you in its first thirty pages, with questions that you can't wait to turn the page to answer--and a reference to Iowa in the first paragraph, no less! The author, Justin Cronin, is a U. of I. Writers Workshop graduate who teaches at Rice University. He was one of the last authors to sign books at the Random House booth on Thursday, but the line waiting for him was one of the longest lines of the show. I think they put him last so that people (who typically ship their books homes) would be forced to carry his book onto the plane--great marketing strategy!

For a bookie like me, Book Expo is the closest thing to taking a vacation
while working. Jon Stewart tickled the audience with his silent
reading of his new book EARTH, which he hopes will become a science textbook for high schools this fall. John Grisham shared his inspiration for his upcoming book, The Confession --a followup to his nonfiction book called,The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, -- from an obit he read of a man who had been incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, then freed due to new DNA analysis techniques. Michelle Norris, from NPR's All Things Considered, shared a glimpse of her "extraordinarily ordinary" parents, in a memoir called, The Grace of Silence, as did Condeleeza Rice in a book also dedicated to her parents. Barbra Streisand,the perfectionist, shared with Oprah's friend Gayle King, her woes of remodeling her various homes.

Sara Gruen, of Water for Elephants fame, drew a huge crowd for Ape House--which I had planned to read on the plane, until I got sucked into the vortex of The Passage! There's another primate book in my very near future, by Benjamin Hale. Entitled, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, it is a first person account (by a talking chimp) of a love affair with his human.

I met Nelson DeMille, a long-time personal favorite and was intrigued by a presentation by mystery writers, Karin Slaughter, Lee Childs, and Justin Cronin, (who wrote The Passage--and yes, there is already a movie deal in the works).

For all you romance readers, I connected with Debbie Macomber who is considering a trip to Des Moines next year. And so is Adriana Trigiani--who is as funny as any stand up comic. So many great writers--so many great books!

In the next few weeks, I will be sharing my thoughts on some of the advanced reader copies that I picked up. For starters, here's the short stack currently on my bedside table:
--Ape House, by Sara Gruen
--Room, by Emma Donoghue
--God's Guest List, by Debbie Macomber
--Naked in Eden, by Robin Easton
--The Promise, by Jonathan Alter

Sunday, May 23, 2010

NYC Book EXPO! An AViD Reader's Delight!

Books, authors, and publishers--all gathered in one city--and I get to go! Book Expo brings together hundreds of authors and "bookish folks" like me and hundreds of other librarians, book sellers, publishers, etc.

Last year, within two minutes of entering the Javits Center, I met R. L. Stine coming up the stairs--and that was just the beginning! Nicholas Sparks, Capt. Sully (the pilot of the plane that went down in the river), Dr. Ruth, Julie Andrews, Pete Dexter, Richard Russo, Greg Mortenson, Peter Yarrow, Mary Karr, Holly Black--that's just a few of the wonderful writers on hand. I met Claire Cook there and that's how we were able to get her to come to Des Moines for AViD on June 15!

This year the event has been expanded to include several author events around the city and -- even a key note with Barbra Streisand Tuesday evening! I have several appointments with publishers so, trust me, I will be WORKING HARD ALL WEEK LONG to convince the authors I meet to add a trip to Des Moines on to their next book tour. It's grueling work, but somebody has to do it!

p.s. Mark your calendars for September 7--Sara Gruen has agreed to launch her newest book, Ape House, right here in good old Des Moines. She did a lot of research at The Great Ape Trust, so we are lucky enought to be the first city on her book tour! Her talk will be held at Hoyt Sherman Place Theater and will begin at 7:00 PM. More details soon!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Polygamy, Faith, and A Mother’s Love –Topic of Tonight’s AViD Author Event

Carolyn Jessop visited us last year on a cold day in February, but I still remember distinctly how much her warm spirit impressed me. Now back in Des Moines for an AViD Author Visit, it’s obvious that Carolyn continues to exude a quiet confidence and a strong faith. She will speak tonight (May 12) at 7:00 PM at Hoyt Sherman Place Theater, about her second book, Triumph, a moving and inspirational tale of her life since she fled, with her eight young children, from the extremist Mormon sect the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints where she was raised.

Since then, Carolyn has been recognized for her bestselling memoir, Escape, and has become a spokesperson for women’s rights, sharing with readers the sources of the strength that has allowed her to not only survive but flourish in her new life.

Don’t miss her program tonight. (Books will be available for sale and signing after the program.)

I promise that you will be touched deeply by her quiet grace, saddened by her painful story, and inspired by how she has met the challenges in her life. Here’s a link to a more complete description of her two books.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

We All Become Care Givers at Some Point: Passages of Caregiving by Gail Sheehy

If only Gail Sheehy would have written her book about ten years earlier! As she outlines in her new book, Passages of Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence, almost every person faces the task of caregiving at some point in their life. For me it was about ten years ago when we realized that my dad was showing signs of dementia. All at once, I found myself pulled in all directions, trying to figure out how to manage his care, researching the disease, the various options available in nursing care, dealing with doctors, Medicare, etc. It’s an overwhelming feeling and Gail Sheehy has done a great job of pulling it all together in one easy to read, extremely helpful book. She knows, first-hand, what it means to be a caregiver because she has spent the last seventeen years caring for her husband.
This morning, I watched an interview between Gail and Meredith Veira (another lady who also deals with her husband’s health issues) on The Today Show and I just read a story by Gail Sheehy in this month’s issue of AARP Magazine. (Gail was named Caregiving Ambassador for AARP last year.)
You can listen to an interview with Gail next Friday, May 14 on Iowa Public Radio’s The Exchange at 12:30 PM. Then plan to attend the free program with Gail at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, May 19 at Sheslow Auditorium on the Drake Campus as part of the library’s AViD Author Series.
Visit Gail’s web site for more details at: