Monday, October 7, 2019

Barry Eisler Launches His Next Livia Lone - Hurray!

There are 1 or 2 days every year that I really look forward to.  These are the days that Barry Eisler launches his next book.  Every event is at Kepler's, and every launch is fun because Barry is a kick.  But here's the best part: He's really a good writer!  The launch this time (9/26) was for his next Livia Lone story, called All the Devils.  I will be writing my review of this one soon.  But let me give you a hint...I LOVED IT!  

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Last Train to London, by Meg Waite Clayton - PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!

I think most of us have read our share of historical fiction.  And a lot of it centers on WWII.  Well, Meg Waite Clayton's The Last Train to London is certainly in that category.  But that's where the similarities end.  First of all, the story does not take place in France or Germany.  It mostly happens in Austria.  Second, the story starts in 1936 and ends in 1940. Most historical fiction runs during the war itself.  Third, this is all about a Dutch woman, Truus Wijsmuller-Meijer, who saved thousands of Jewish children.  An historical fiction writer by the name of Kristin Hannah (ever heard of The Nightingale and The Great Alone? uh...yeah) said:  "An absolutely fascinating, beautifully rendered story of love, loss, and heroism in the dark days leading up to World War II."

I'm not going to post the blurb about the book.  I think you can get the gist from the 1st paragraph.  But let me give you some observations about the book along with some practical matters relating to publication, book tour, and distribution.  First, some of my thoughts about The Last Train to London:

1.  It's a story that I'm pretty sure has never been told.
2.  The amount of research that went into this book is mind-boggling.
3.  I had my share of emotional reactions, but I don't typically cry.  There is a scene where I actually did cry.  And I am perfectly fine with that!
4.  Meg is such a darn good writer.  So if you combine good writing with great storytelling and fascinating material, The Last Train to London is what you get.

Now on to non-content considerations:

1.   The book is available September 10.  You can, of course, preorder it.
2.   Meg's launch will be at Books, Inc. in Palo Alto on Monday, September 9, at 7:00.  Everybody is welcome.
3.   Meg will also be in Northern California bookstores on September 10, 11, 12, 20, 24, and 26 (you can go on her website for locations).
4.   Bookstores have made Last Train an Indie pick for September.
5.   Booklist has given it a starred rating.
6.   Publisher's Weekly calls it "standout historical fiction."
7.   It's being published in 19 languages.
8.   Meg's film rep will be presenting it to the studios.
9.   Here's the link to Meg's website:  The Last Train to London
10. And, finally, her screenplay version of the book has earned her a spot in The Writer's Lab, sponsored by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.

Is that enough publishing bling for you?  People, this one will grab you. Get a copy on September 10 so that you can start reading it right away!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Daniel Silva in the Bay Area

Daniel Silva made his only Northern California appearance last night at the JCC in Palo Alto to promote his 19th Gabriel Allon book, The New Girl.  When we saw him 2 years ago at the same venue, the interview was dry.  But not last night!  His wife, noted Washington D.C. journalist, Jamie Gangel, did the interviewing this time.  And it was anything but dry.  Aside from the teasing that went back and forth between the 2 of them, we learned a whole bunch of interesting things about Silva and his books.  Here they are in bullet point form:

1.  At the time Silva started writing his latest book, there was a Saudi prince who looked like he was going to break tradition and actually reach out to Israel.  The Israelis and allies were very excited.  The possibilities seemed endless.  But then came Khashoggi.  As you probably remember, he was assassinated at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.  It turned out that this Saudi prince that everybody was so excited about was in on it.  Now why does this matter to Silva?  Well, he had written 250 pages of the new book specifically about a Saudi prince who was leaning toward allying with Israel.  So what did Silva do?  He took the 250 pages and dumped them in the garbage can...literally! Since he only has 6 months to write his book each year, he had to basically spend all of his time writing, even when he was on vacation with his family!
2.  On a completely different note, Bill Clinton says that Gabriel Allon is his favorite fictional character of all time!
3.  Dick Cheney says he dreams about Allon!
4.  We all know that Allon is a world-class art restorer.  It turns out that he is patterned after a very close friend of Silva's who is also a world-renowned art restorer.
5.  Not surprisingly, art restorers LOVE Allon!
6.  Silva writes his books almost exclusively on yellow legal notepads with a specific type of pencil (and many of them).  He does NOT like anybody (including his wife) to touch those pencils.  And after he finishes a section longhand, then he will type it up.
7.  Somebody asked him what his 5 favorite books are:  1984, The Great Gatsby, The Sheltering Sky, The Quiet American, Lolita.
8.  All research is done by Silva, his own self.
9.  When it was my turn to get my book signed, I told him that the plotline for The Unlikely Spy (his 1st book and still my #1 Silva), is one of my favorites of all time.  He said that he's been rereading parts of that book in preparation for doing something with it.  Very cryptic, but equally exciting.

Crazy stuff, right?  Here are some pics:

We went with Rich and Leslie.  Here is Rich getting his book signed.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

A Couple of Interesting Articles (plus a warehouse sale)

Hi all,

I've got a couple of very interesting articles about independent bookstores and book sales:

Book Sales News in U.S. for 2018 Announced

One more announcement:

Books, Inc. is having its semi-annual warehouse sale on Saturday, July 20, at 150 Vermont Street, San Francisco.  It starts at 9:00 and goes all day.  And they not only have thousands of books on sale at a 30%-80% discount.  They also sell toys, greeting cards, gifts, and even furniture! Don't miss it.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Cara Black on tour

It's always fun to see Cara Black on book tour.  I try to make it every year, when I can.  So Joni and I saw her this past Tuesday night at Books, Inc. in Palo Alto.  But wait!  This wasn't just any book tour.  Why not, you ask?  I'll tell you why not:

1.  Her latest Aimée Leduc celebrates 20 years!  And with the same publisher!  How cool is that?
2.  Although she had her launch the night before, we saw her on the day Murder in Bel-Air hit the bookstores.
3.  Books, Inc. provided a cake for Cara and guests (see below).
4.  Cara has agreed to come back to the RBC!  We will be welcoming her with arms wide open on January 22, 2020.

Here are some pictures from the event.  And take a look at #3.  Do you think there might have been a whole bunch of people there, with most of them buying a book?  I would say yes to that.

Sunday, June 2, 2019


Hello all.  Here are some random literary-related tidbits for your edification, notification, and gentrification (huh?) :

1.  All the Light We Cannot See is coming to Netflix as a limited series.  As of now, there is no date or casting.

2.  Have you read Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts?  It's really good.  Here is a short blurb I wrote about it a few years ago.:

The story takes place starting in 1933 when a college history professor is appointed by FDR to become ambassador to Germany in Berlin.  It not only addresses the rise to power of Hitler, but it also talks about what being an ambassador meant in those days.  This is the same guy who wrote Devil in the White City, about the 1896 World's Fair in Chicago.  I liked this one much better.

Tom Hanks will be co-producing a big screen version of it.  There are no details as of yet.

 3.  Take a look at this article by author Steve Berry, he of the Cotton Malone series.  It's about the benefits of adult literacy from reading books as an adolescent.  Pretty heady stuff.…/artic…/pii/S0049089X18300607

4.  The owners of the Books, Inc. chain, Michael and Margie Still Tucker, will be retiring in October! I have been a member of the Books, Inc. Tuesday Night Book Club in Palo Alto for a few years now. Margie actually runs the book club.  She is very knowledgeable and does a great job.  I, among many, many others, will miss her. 

5.  Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain will be coming to the multiplexes on August 19.  This is a book I stayed away from only because there is a picture of a dog on the front.  And as some of you may know, I'm really not interested in stories revolving around animals.  HOWEVER, I really liked this book.  The movie starts Milo Ventimiglia (TV's This Is Us) and Amanda Seyfried.  The voice of Enzo, the canine narrator, is Kevin Costner.

6.  And speaking of books that are being made into movies, how about the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Goldfinch?  It comes out on September 19 and stars Nicole Kidman.  Need I remind you that I read 19 pages and said:  "Uh, no.  I can't do 700 pages if they are like the first 19."...or words that that effect?  You don't remember I said that?  Maybe it was just in my head as I wrote the letters DNF (did not finish) in my list of books read.

That's it, y'all.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Another Excellent Kristin Harmel Novel Right Around the Corner

You all know what I think of Kristin Harmel's books.  I gave The Life Intended and The Room on Rue Amelie 4/4.  The Sweetness of Forgetting didn't earn a 4/4.  That's because I rated it a 4+/4!  It was just too good to give it "only" a 4.  (Do you remember how you used to occasionally get an A+ on a school assignment?  Yeah, me neither.)  So certainly her latest, The Winemaker's Wife (which hits bookstores in August), could not match those earlier three novels...WRONG!  It is also outstanding (did you see the title of this post?).  Here's the storyline:

Champagne, 1940:  Ines has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade.  As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Resistance.  Ines fears they'll be exposed, but for Celine, half-Jewish wife of Chauveau's chef de cave, the risk is even greater - rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate.  When Celine  recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Ines makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love - and the champagne house that ties them together. 

New York, 2019:  Liv Kent has just lost everything when her eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France.  But the older woman has an ulterior motive - and a tragic, decades-old story to share.  When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau.

I admit that I love a good story that goes back and forth between a different time and the present.  That captured my attention immediately.  But there's got to be a whole bunch more to keep my interest.  And there was that in TWW.  Kristin not only gives us a different historical perspective for Germany-occupied France during WWII (as it related to wineries); but she also presents us with the present-day mystery of family connections for both Liv and her grandmother, Edith.  Intrigued?  How could you not be.

It's unfortunate that you will have to wait until August before you can get a copy of The Winemaker's Wife.  But do you know what I will be doing while you are reading Kristin's book?  Two things, actually.  First, I am hoping that I will be able to see her in person on book tour, IF she comes to Northern California (are you reading this, Ms./Mr. Publisher?). And, second, I will be impatiently waiting for Kristin's next book!  Keep writing, Kristin, keep writing.