Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Super Evening with Helene Wecker at VHOB

Last night, Wednesday, Jan. 30, was a great night at VHOB.  Helene Wecker, author of the award-winning debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni, came to the store.  She spent some time explaining how the novel came to be and even how she ended up in Northern California (after growing up in suburban Chicago and with stints in New York and Seattle). She's a very engaging speaker, and everybody thoroughly enjoyed what she had to say. In fact, there were a ton of questions before she signed books.

And what was really cool about her presentation was the readings.  She read excerpts of how the Golem and the Jinni came into being.  She gave us just enough info to make us want to read it.  Oh, wait, I've already read it.  And I wanted to read it again!  Those who hadn't read it yet definitely had their appetites whetted.  We're very glad that Helene came.





P.S.  There was a very neat development for Village House of books last night.  We had 5 people come to see Helene who had never been to the store before.  Among them were a couple from Palo Alto and a woman from Los Altos.  Keep 'em comin'.

P.P.S.  We had more people in the store last night who didn't get into the picture.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Another Book Review - I'm on a Roll

Black Horizon is James Grippando's 20th adult novel (he's also written one YA), and the 11th with Jack Swytek as the main protagonist.  I have read and enjoyed all 20, but I'm partial to the Swytek series.  There's a great cast of regular characters:  Jack Swytek, of course, Theo, his sidekick (who provides comic relief), and Andie Henning, the FBI undercover agent who Jack marries at the beginning of this book.  Here's what  it's all about:

Miami attorney Jack Swyteck finds himself in the middle of an international legal battle over a Cuban oil spill that sets him on a deadly mission.

Three summers after the Deepwater Horizon environmental catastrophe, oil is spewing into the ocean again, this time from a drilling explosion in Cuban waters just fifty miles from the Florida Keys. The slick is headed straight for the United States, but the Cubans refuse American offers to assist with the cleanup, and threaten to fire on "hostile" U.S. vessels entering their waters. Backstopping the Cubans is the powerful consortium that owned and operated the rig, and is tied to the Chinese, Russian, and Venezuelan governments, who stonewall all inquiries and relief efforts.

Jack and his new wife, Andie Henning, an undercover agent for the FBI, are honeymooning in the Keys when Andie is called away on an assignment shrouded in secrecy. Jack, too, is soon back at work, representing an American woman whose Cuban husband was killed in the rig explosion. Though the spill occurred in foreign waters, Jack draws on all his legal know-how to file a wrongful death suit in a U.S. court and hopefully bring the young widow a semblance of closure.

Jack's pursuit of the unimaginably complicated international case plunges him into a dangerous world filled with treacherous twists that lead him—and Andie—to the same shocking realization . . . that the looming environmental disaster may have been no "accident" at all.


I enjoyed this book a lot.  I like a legal thriller, and this one had a lot of legal and a lot of thriller.  I appreciate that Grippando has created a story taken from our history.  He has not only given us an update on oil spills, but he also continues the discussion of Cuba and Cuban-Americans.  As a lifetime West Coast-erner, I enjoy reading books that take me to a part of the country that I don't know much (or anything) about.  Grippando does a good job of educating me while, at the same time, entertaining me (remember, it's all about me).


Grippando is a very good writer.  Otherwise I wouldn't have just read my 20th book by him. I once got into trouble with a publisher because I posted a lineup of "B listers," and James Grippando was on that list.  I'm not sure I want to revisit that argument now, but suffice it to say that I am recommending Grippando's work.  Is he Silva, Flynn, Coben, or Iles?  No.  But is he an author that delivers every time he puts out a new book?  Yes, he is.  When you read 70+ books a year, there will be ratings across the board.  In 2013, I had 19 books that were 3.5 or 4.0.  Does that mean a 3.0 is not worth reading?  Of course not.  A 3.0 is a darn good rating, one that I know I would be happy to receive if I were an author.  And Grippando's books, especially the Jack Swytek ones, are a solid 3.0.  And let's not forget that my opinion is only that - an opinion.  If you or the publisher agree, great.  If not, so be it. 


Thank you for listening (or not) to my diatribe regarding ratings. 


P.S.  This book, like Coben's , is coming out in March.  


Monday, January 27, 2014

New Contest - Identify Well-Known Books From 1st Lines

Thanks to Silk Questo, from the Fiction Writers Guild on LinkedIn, I have a contest for you.  I'm going to give you 25 1st lines from books that we've all heard of.  The person who gets the most right wins any book from my 2013 reading list (sound familiar?).  We'll run the contest through the end of the week, and I'll announce the winner next Monday. And to prevent copying from your neighbor's paper, you can email me directly at lloydrrussell@gmail.com.

P.S.  I think I got 3 or 4 - shameful.


1. “Call me Ishmael.”
2. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
3. “A screaming comes across the sky.”
4. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
5. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
6. “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
7. “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”
8. “I am a sick man … I am a spiteful man.”
9. “All this happened, more or less.”

10. “It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.”
11. “It was a pleasure to burn.”
12. “Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.”
13. “Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.”
14. “You better not never tell nobody but God.”
15. “To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.”
16. “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”
17. “In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.”
18. “Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.”
19. “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

20. “They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.”
21. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
22. “They shoot the white girl first.”
23. “The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
24. “It was love at first sight.”
25. “All children, except one, grow up.”

Sunday, January 26, 2014

JoAn Smith at VHOB

We had a GREAT night at VHOB Friday.  1st of all, there were 33 people there, our largest turnout since the Grand Opening night with Steve Sporleder.  Second, JoAn Smith brought a big variety of Chinese snacks and beverages, which people took advantage of both before and after the event. Third, JoAn, (local) author of Chopstix, told some very interesting stories and gave us all her history and what led to her time spent in China.  In fact, the book begins with JoAn at the Los Angeles airport, waiting for her flight to China.

I gave you some background about JoAn's book earlier this week, so I won't repeat myself (I know you're happy to hear that).  I will say, though, that she told some great stories and gave us all a flavor of what it was like for an American to be immersed in a university in China.  JoAn spent 2 years there, beginning in 2005, and I, for one, am looking forward to reading her book. 





JoAn is in the middle.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Harlan Coben Does It Again - Missing You, Coming Out in March

There may be better authors than Harlan Coben.  But there is nobody better at murder mysteries/thrillers (Greg Iles is a close 2nd).  I just finished Coben's 25th novel, and I've read all but 2 (and those are his 2 YA novels featuring Myron Bolitar's nephew, Mickey).  I've enjoyed every single one of them, without exception.  But this one is right near the top. Here is Goodread's thumbnail sketch of Missing You, due out March 18.

It's a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years.

Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her.  But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable. 

As the body count mounts and Kat's hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there.


I am in awe of how Coben can create books that have so many pieces to them but never seem too complicated.  And that I can never figure out (I can't figure out what's going to happen in movies either).  Plus, in a literary world that typically features male protagonists, with some very notable exceptions (and not counting romances), it's nice to have a nationally renowned male author feature a female lead.

I have read a lot of books in the last couple of years by debut authors, book club authors, and local authors.  This has led me to miss out on some of my stand-by authors.  But I never miss a Coben.  And I know I've said this before.  If you have a chance to see him up close and personal, don't pass up the opportunity.  He's just south of a stand-up comedian.  I may have told you this one before, but we saw him a couple of years ago at Book Passage in Corte Madera.  He started by saying "I live just east of here - New Jersey.  And when he told the story of his teenage daughter coming into the kitchen, seeing Coben's picture on a book cover, and saying "Ewwww," the entire audience cracked up.  A very good author and a very entertaining speaker.  Most importantly, read Missing You when it comes out in March.  And if you haven't read him before, and if you start with this one, you will definitely be hooked. It's a 3.5/4 and will be in my list of top books for 2014.



Friday, January 24, 2014

Author Events at VHOB - Tonight and Next Wednesday

How's that for a snappy title?

We've got JoAn T. Smith appearing tonight at 7:00.  JoAn wrote Chopstix, her experience in China after the break-up of her 27-year marriage.  She will be bringing food and beverages that she was introduced to in China and will also be giving away a gift basket. The basket will consist of her book, a fancy bookmark, and a paper cutting of a panda bear.  She's going to give us all insight into a country that most of us have never been to.



Next Wednesday night at 7:00, Helene Wecker will be joining us.  Helene is the author of The Golem and the Jinni.  This is a very good book that gives us a look at New York City's Little Syria in 1899.  But it also is very magical because it introduces us to a golem, which is a creature made out of clay in Jewish culture, and a jinni, which is a mystical creature in the Arab world.  Their connection is mesmerizing.

Helene's book has received a lot of publicity:

Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013
Amazon Top 20 Pick for Best of 2013
Finalist, 2013 NBCC John Leonard Prize for First Book
Finalist, 2013 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction
Finalist, 2013 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fantasy
Finalist, 2013 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Debut



We hope to see you for these events.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Review of Playing St. Barbara, by Marian Szczepanski (see, I still do reviews!)

Marian Szczepanski's debut novel, Playing St. Barbara, is quite a book.  It's difficult to describe and was difficult to rate.  But I'll get to that.  1st, here is a synopsis of the book from Goodreads:

The secrets, struggles, and self-redemption of a Depression-era coal miner's wife and three daughters play out against a turbulent historical backdrop of Ku Klux Klan intimidation and the 1933 Pennsylvania Mine War. Their intertwined lives eerily mirror the 7th century legend of St. Barbara, patroness of miners, reenacted annually in the town pageant. Tested by scandal, heartbreak, and tragedy, each woman will write her own courageous ending to St. Barbara's story.

It took me almost 100 pages to get into the rhythm of this book.  But here's the thing:  The next 100 pages really picked up, and the last 180 pages flew by.  Despite the slow start, I'm very glad I read it, and I still gave it a 3/4.  Goodreads and Amazon readers were more generous with their ratings than me.  Goodreads averaged 4.4/5 with 15 ratings.  Amazon averaged 4.55/5 out of 9 people.  But that's a bit misleading.  8 people gave it a 5, and 1 gave it a 1 (a ridiculous rating for a ridiculous reason).  By and large, that's a lot of love.


Let me tell you what I particularly liked.  I really liked the setting and the history.  Marian makes you feel the brutal nature of the mining industry in the late 1920's through the early 1940's.  I also really liked some of the ancillary characters, especially the ones associated with the eldest daughter, Norah.  In fact, I felt the most emotional connection with Norah, more so than her 2 sisters, Deirdre and Katie, and their mother, Clare.  The father, Fin, was a beast.  Some of what he did was tough to read (after just seeing the movie 12 Years a Slave, what Fin did to his family was not so different from what many of the slave masters did to their slaves).


So, all in all, it's a very good read.  If the 1st part of the book hadn't been a bit slow, I would have given it a 3.5.  As it is, there's nothing wrong with a solid 3.  If you can pull yourself away from Coben, Brown, Child, Baldacci, et al, then pick this one up.  It's different from the usual cast of literary characters.  And it's got some meat to it.


P.S.  I LOVED the ending.




List of Characters:  If you go to Marian's website - www.marianszczepanski.com - and click on the heading For Reader, you can actually get the entire list of characters.  This can be very helpful, take my word for it.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Another Independent Bookstore - Be Still My Heart

I spent this past weekend in the Sacramento area - specifically Folsom, El Dorado Hills, and Roseville. We have very close friends moving to EDH, and we spent Sunday afternoon seeing the house (under construction) and exploring the town.  They took us to the El Dorado Hills Town Center, a very cool shopping center.  And there I was exposed to Face in a Book, a bookstore that's been open for about a year and half now.  I met the owner, Tina Ferguson (see her blurb and pic below), and got a chance to walk through the store. Tina has done a great job.  She has a nice variety of books, and the store is very inviting.

The store already has a whole bunch of programs each month.  They have 2 book clubs, called Daytime Book Club and Evening Book Club.  They may not be original names, but what a great way to make sure that all of their customers can belong to a book club if they are so inclined.  They also have author booksignings (3 authors in January and 5 in February) and Storytime for toddlers and preschoolers (3-4 times each month).  And a Reader of the Week along with Staff Recommendations.  Plus, I love their website name - www.getyourfaceinabook.com.

You know how I feel about independent bookstores.  Every time I come across one, and especially when I learn that it is succeeding, I feel even more optimistic about the future of print books and community bookshops.  I am a strong supporter of ebooks and audiobooks (anything that gets people reading), but there's something special about a local independent bookstore.
Tina Ferguson
I've been called everything from courageous to crazy for opening an independent bookstore 12 months ago.
I have been so overwhelmed by the community support we've received! My in-store playlist of favorites includes my staff, our customers and whatever book I've currently got on my nightstand.
Stop in sometime and say hello - Face in a Book is YOUR community bookstore...I am so grateful to be able to share this bright and cozy place with all of you!




We exist for one simple reason: For the love of books.

Face in a Book is a different kind of bookstore hub for reading enthusiasts and novices alike seeking books on every subject. Located in the heart of Town Center in El Dorado Hills, California, Face in a Book aims to delight readers of all ages. In addition to over 3000 titles to choose from, Face in a Book is your new destination for fun, affordable gifts, greeting cards, stationery, and custom-branded school apparel for any occasion.
- See more at: http://www.getyourfaceinabook.com/about.php#sthash.Dg84kEfa.dpuf

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Share" - A Cookbook That Everybody Needs to Know About

Last month, Lauri Pastrone came to Village House of Books.  Lauri, and 4 collaborators, put together a cookbook, called Share, that she was promoting, and that VHOB was highlighting in the store.  After listening to Lauri, several of us bought the cookbook - and more.

What is Share all about?  Women for Women International is an organization whose mission is to support women in a number of war-torn countries.  The idea is to give women training over the course of a year that allows them to be independent and productive members of their society when that year is up.  By paying $30/month for one year (plus a $30 start-up fee), you are giving these women a chance to turn their lives around.  Joni and I were certainly sold.

What does the cookbook consist of?  There are numerous recipes from:  nationally-renowned chefs, celebrities, and 2 women from each of the 8 war-torn countries.  In fact, Meryl Streep wrote the forward for the cookbook.  So, not only are you supporting the organization by buying a cookbook ($40) or maybe even taking the next step by supporting a woman from the program, but you're also getting a beautiful, coffee table book with fantastic recipes.  Let WfWi explain about the cookbook and the program:

Share – the cookbook that celebrates our common humanity 
Since 1993, Women for Women International (WfWI) has transformed 
the lives of nearly 400,000 women survivors of war.  

About the Cookbook  
 
 An uplifting and beautifully designed cookbook that includes a collection of nearly 100 recipes and 
inspiring stories from women who have gone from victims to active citizens.  
 
 Foreword by Meryl Streep. 
 
 International chefs participating include: Alice Waters, Jamie Oliver, Yotam Ottolenghi, René Redzepi, 
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jesse Ziff Cool, Maggie Beer, Judy Wicks, Susan Spicer, Greg Higgins, Ann 
Cooper, and Nora Pouillon.  
 
 Activists, philanthropists and humanitarians contributing recipes include: Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson 
Mandela, Sir Richard Branson, Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, 
Muhammad Yunus, Ashley Judd, Emma Thompson, Annie Lennox, Livia Firth, Christiane Amanpour, Ben 
& Jerry, Kate Spade, Trudie Styler, Jennifer Buffet, Sheryl WuDunn, Craig Kielburger, Alice Walker, Dame 
Judi Dench, Lisa Shannon, Mia Farrow, Robin Wright and Helen Bamber, among others. 
 
 Published by Kyle Books, Share is being sold in the US, UK, Ireland, Romania, Croatia, Holland, Saudi 
Arabia, Dubai, Lebanon, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Canada, South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia, New 
Zealand, and Germany (translated).  
 
 Share is the 1st cookbook to be placed on the JP Morgan Summer Reading List (2013). 
 
 Sold at Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores and on Amazon.    

 
All royalties and 100% of publisher’s profits will go to the work of Women for Women International. 

Goals  
 
 To generate new sponsorships for women victims of war through sales and publicity of the cookbook 
and to raise money for ongoing training programs.  

What Is Women for Women International? 
 
 WfWI provide victims of war the opportunity to transform their lives through a year-long skills training 
programme, which includes job skills and business training to earn a living.  
 
 Women in the programme also receive tools and support to deal with the social and emotional 
consequences of war. A key component is information regarding their rights -- what they are and how 
to fight for them in their homes, their communities and their nations.  
 
 Through WfWI’s extensive sponsorship programme, sponsors pledge $30 (£22) per month and 
exchange letters with their assigned ‘sister.’  
 
 Women graduate with a breadth of skills. The variety of trades offered include: organic farming, small 
animal husbandry, tile production, tailoring, cooking, bee keeping, bread making, and more. 
 
 WfWI has training centres in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, the Congo, South Sudan, Nigeria, Rwanda, 
Afghanistan and Iraq. (WfWI has centres only in countries of conflict or post-conflict.) 

Women for Women International’s Scope  
 
 WfWI has corporate partnerships and collaborations with many organisations. e.g., Google, Neal’s 
Yard, Harper’s Bazaar, Kate Spade, Browns and others. 
 
 Zainab Salbi, Founder of WfWI, frequently appears on CNN, the BBC, and other international networks 
and was on Oprah many times. In addition to receiving the Conrad Hilton Humanitarian prize, she has 
been named a member of the Clinton Global Initiative by former President Clinton.  



For more information in the USA, contact Tracy Craighead  
+1 (845) 260-2672 or +1 (914) 533-2079  
tracycraighead@hotmail.com  Sold at Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores and on Amazon.  


SHARE Cookbook Signing & Benziger Wine Tasting with Author Lauri Pastrone


Do yourself a favor and, at least, buy this book.  Your $40 will get you an amazing cookbook and will do a lot more good than that.  And, if you feel particularly moved, you may want to consider the 1-year sponsorship, at $30/month.  I guarantee that either way, you will feel great.






























Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tim Myers - Coming to VHOB Tomorrow Night at 7:00


Tim J. Myers has over 32 years' experience as a classroom and university teacher in English and education, was a university teacher educator for 17 years, and is now full-time in English.  
He's also a widely-published writer for children and adults.  He has 11 children's books out (one of which was aNew York Times best-seller and was read alound on NPR) and five on the way.  He's published two books of adult poetry out (one got a great review from poet Grace Cavalieri), has published over 120 poems, and his Glad to Be Dad:  A Call to Fatherhood was featured on the Parents Magazine website, won the inaugural Ben Franklin Digital Award, and came in at #5 on Amazon's "Hot New Releases in Fatherhood."  Tim's been nominated for two Pushcarts, won a prize in the Writers of the Future Contest for science fiction/fantasy, and has published much other fiction and nonfiction.

He's also a professional storyteller and a songwriter; his "When Lady Smiled at Me" won the Dan Howell Song of the Year for the Saratoga chapter of the West Coast Songwriters.  And he's the oldest of 11 children and can whistle and hum at the same time.

Here is an interview with Tim: 


Why is good children's literature so powerful, so magical?  How can the complexities and force of great language and art be presented to young readers?  How do we best use the master-power of Story itself to enrich not only the lives of children but our whole culture as well?

If you're interested, check out my interview with the wonderful TV series "The Better Part"--it's on YouTube here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Iz27TcQK6A






Monday, January 13, 2014

An Author's Account of How Authors Get Paid

Taylor Stevens, who wrote The Informationist, and who I have quoted in the past, has given a detailed account of how she gets paid for the sales of her books and how she can monitor whether the publisher and literary agent have been honest in their accounting.  I found it to be fascinating.  Here it is.



Why this ad?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Romance Authors Night at VHOB - It Was So Much Fun!

Last night was a blast (I'm obviously a product of the '60's).  We all had so much fun with Joan Swan, Marina Adair, and Virna DePaul.  And get this - Joan came from the San Luis Obispo area, and Virna came from the Sacramento area (Marina only lives in Scotts Valley, but we all know Hwy 17 can be a bear during commute hours!).  How cool is that?

We started pretty close to 7:00.  We had a panel discussion with our 3 authors, and everybody in the audience piped up with questions along the way.  Our 3 authors even spent some time asking questions of each other.  After about 45 minutes, we ended the Q&A, and our 3 authors spent the next 45-60 minutes signing books and chatting with our audience.  And speaking of our audience, we had a number of distinguished local authors there - Hannah Jayne, Diana Orgain, Cassie Alexander, and Sonja Rouillard, who is coming out with her 1st book in a couple of months.

And let's not forget Romantiques.  Right after we ended the discussion with our 3 authors, Susan, the owner of Romantiques, and Debbie were there to sell the garments and products that they had brought earlier in the day.  We did have one mishap last night. Joni wrenched her knee when she tripped over a box that held "toys" from Romantiques. Let me just say that these products were not G-rated...or PG-rated...or...  But since it was an adult audience, it was all good.

So there you have it.  We couldn't have had a better threesome for our event.  Here are some pictures from last night:

Virna DePaul, Joan Swan, Marina Adair

Full House

Chatting After The Event

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tomorrow Night! Don't Miss It!

Okay, it's almost here.  Tomorrow night is our Romance Authors Night.  Joan Swan, Virna DePaul, and Marina Adair will be taking part in a panel discussion (emceed by yours truly - don't let that discourage you from coming), followed by Q&A from the audience.  Then, right after the Q&A, while the 3 authors are signing books, Romantiques will be presenting their trunk show.  Here is your chance to get an early start (and finish?) on Valentine's Day Shopping (the capital "S" is on purpose).  They will have a wide variety of garments and products to sell.

Here are your 3 authors for tomorrow night and their books that we will be selling:

Joan Swan




Virna DePaul




Marina Adair



      

The 1st VHOB Book Club - A Big Success

Last night was our 1st ever VHOB Book Club meeting.  We read The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas.  Everybody liked it.  Out of 4, our average rating was 3.46, and nobody gave it less than a 3.0.  That's pretty darn good.

Here's how it went down:  Our meeting was scheduled to start at 6:30.  As is customary, some people came early, some on time, and some a few minutes late.  And what did we do when everybody got there?  We did what anybody would do in the same situation.  We ate and drank.  We had wine, water (no religious inference is meant here), hummus and pita chips, fancy candy, and home-made brownies by Joni (with melted Reese's on top!) that were pure evil.

Then we had our discussion.  We started by going around the room and getting an opinion of the book from each member, along with a rating.  Then we started flinging questions back and forth around the group.  It was, to say the least, very lively.  I think that everybody contributed and nobody dominated.  It was an extremely in sync (not 'nsync) group.

Right at 7:15, Michael came.  After we sent him to the buffet table, we attacked!  Just kidding.  We spent an hour asking him questions.  His answers were very illuminating.  He told us how he came up with the idea for the book.  It was actually very serendipitous. Fun story.  Then he told his thought process that went into the writing of the book.  It took Michael 7 years to write Oracle!  And after all that time, the book was bought by a publisher in a bidding war within one week.  Neat, huh?  We met with Michael for an hour and then, even though we were still going strong, had to cut it off so that Michael could sign books.  We didn't get out of there until about 9:00.  It was a great night.

Next up?  The Lost Saints of Tennessee by Amy Franklin-Willis.  We will be meeting on Tuesday night, February 18.  Be there.  Or not.  And remember - if you can't/don't want to be a part of the book club, I would still highly recommend that you read Amy's book.  It's excellent.  And if you don't want to be a member of the club, and you don't want to read the book, you can still come see Amy at 7:15.  So many options.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tomorrow Night - The 1st VHOB Book Club/Author Meeting

Well, it's (finally) here.  The 1st meeting of the VHOB Book Club.  Tomorrow night at 6:30 the VHOB Book Club will meet at Village House of Books to discuss Michael David Lukas' The Oracle of Stamboul.  And then, at 7:15, Michael, himself, will be there to answer everybody's questions.

Two other important pieces of news about the book club/author event:
1.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE PART OF THE VHOB BOOK CLUB TO SEE THE AUTHOR.  In fact, we encourage everybody to come and see Michael.
2.  And this is REALLY important - there will be wine and snacks at the book club meeting (and probably even after our meeting is over)!

Here is the book cover and a picture of Michael.



Saturday, January 4, 2014

2 Big Pieces of News for Upcoming Events

Greetings.  First of all, I told you I would let you know about the local lingerie store, Romantiques, and our Romance Authors Night, scheduled for this coming Friday at 7:00. Well, it turns out that Romantiques is going to have a trunk show immediately following the 3 authors' panel discussion and question-answering.  While the authors sign books, Romantiques will sell a wide variety of their garments to our audience.  Think of this as getting a jump on Valentine's Day shopping.  Romantiques will be selling their products from 8:00 until around 9:00.  How excited are we all?  I know I am!

As if that's not enough good news, we've got our April selection (Tuesday, April 15) for the VHOB Book Club.  It's Tracy Guzeman's The Gravity of Birds.  This book was my 10 most favoritest(?) book of 2013.  It's Tracy's debut novel, and it is excellent.  So, let me remind you how this works.  The VHOB Book Club will meet at Village House of Books from 6:30-7:15.  And then, at 7:15, Tracy will come to answer questions and sign books. Tracy appeared at VHOB with Meg Waite Clayton way back in November and does an excellent job of engaging an audience. And don't forget - the author's appearance is open to everybody, not just the book club members.

I'm exhausted from all of this good news.  I have to stop here.

SECOND REMINDER:  Make a comment on my Books of 2013 post and enter a drawing for your pick of the list(er).  I will keep the contest open until next Wednesday, Jan. 8.