Monday, March 11, 2019

Another Author Event

We were back at A Great Good Place for Books on Thursday night.  This time, we went to see Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Daisy Jones & the Six. Her book is the rage right now.  Her Goodreads rating is high (4.4/5), and, just like Where the Crawdads Sing, it's a Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection.  But here's where the books diverge.  Reese's production company bought the TV rights to the book BEFORE IT WAS DONE!  And then she sold it to Amazon Prime.  It WILL be showing up on TV either late 2020 or early 2021.  Casting will begin soon.

Another very interesting piece of information came out of the discussion Taylor got to cast the voice actors for the audiobook.  And at least three of them are well-known:  Jennifer Beals (Flashdance), Judy Greer (27 Dresses, The Wedding Planner), and Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality, Traffic).  I don't think authors usually get that kind of control.  Pretty cool.  And leave it to GGP's owner, Kathleen, to get another big name author.  How does she do it?

Here are a few pictures from that night.






Friday, March 8, 2019

Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters, by Lizbeth Meredith

A few months ago, my cousin, Richard, told me about a friend of his that he met in Alaska when he worked up there.  He was on the board of a women's shelter that the author, Lizbeth, worked at.  And she was trying to raise money to go to Greece and reclaim her 2 daughters, 4 and 6, who had been kidnapped by her ex-husband and taken back to his homeland.  Richard told me she wrote a book about her experiences, and I immediately bought it.  And it sat in my TBR pile...and sat...and sat...  Then a couple of weeks before we were going to see him and his wife again, I figured I should read it.  All I can say is Wow!  This is some book.

Let's get right to the punchline.  We find out on pages ix and x that Lizbeth was successful in getting her girls back.  And, today, they are adults and are doing fine.  You want to know the mark of a good writer? It's making you feel the tension and the uncertainty of a situation when you already know the outcome.  And let me tell you that there were definitely moments in Pieces of Me when I wondered what was going to happen next.  Did I forget that she got them back?  Nope.  Did I worry anyway while reading it?  Yep.

You all know my obsession with connecting with the at least the protagonist, whether it's a memoir, like this, or a fictional genre.  Did I connect with Lizbeth?  I must have because I teared up IN THE PROLOGUE!  Are you kidding me?  But I will also say that there was humor right off the bat.  Don't get me wrong. This book is most decidedly not funny.  But it helped to break up the drama a little bit. Other than that, though, I had moments of outrage and uttered a "few" mild expletives.  There are even some moments when it was all done that hit Lizbeth as if she had been in a war.  When you read the book, I think you will feel the same way that I felt.  Memoirs can be sketchy and unpredictable.  This is one that I think everybody will get wrapped up in. Because of what Lizbeth had to do, and then did, you won't be sorry you read it.




P.S.  If you live in the Bay Area, Lizbeth is flying down from Alaska to come to our RBC meeting on March 20.  How cool is that?  For those who are interested in attending, and don't get the regular RBC emails, contact me at lloydrrussell@gmail.com, and I will give you details.

P.P.S.  I am using a new computer.  Sorry about all the random stuff on the left of the page.  I will make sure that doesn't appear next time.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

BookBrowse Report

I've talked about BookBrowse, and its Publisher, CEO, and Founder, Davina Morgan-Witts.  BookBrowse is described as "Your one-stop resource - for books that entertain, engage and enlighten."  This is reason enough to go on their website - bookbrowse.com - and JOIN!

But that's not what this post is about.  BookBrowse has just published a 56-page report on book clubs.  It is incredibly interesting and very detailed.  This report addresses public and private book clubs.  Let me give you just a couple of tidbits from the report:

1.  84% of private and 90% of public book clubs spend at least 40 minutes discussing the book at meetings.  This dispels the theory that most book clubs get together just to schmooze, eat, and drink wine.
2.  The #1 issue for book clubs is Overly Dominant Personalities.  On page 25 of the report, there is a list of 12 "Common Book Club Issues," including percentages of concern for book club members.
3.  91% of the respondents like reading books they wouldn't otherwise read.  (RBC members, does this sound familiar?)

This is only a very small smattering of the hundreds of facts you will see in this outstanding report.  Go to bookbrowse.com to order your pdf copy.  It's normally $49, but it's only $29 if you order by March 10.  And if you want a print copy, you can get one for an additional $15.  If you are in a book club, this report will definitely enhance your experience.  If you aren't, you will still be mesmerized by the details.  DON'T DELAY!




Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Another Great Author Event

On Monday night, Joni and I went to one of our very favorite bookstores, A Great Good Place for Books, in Oakland.  We've been to quite a few GGP-sponsored events - either in the bookstore or nearby at a church. In fact, I met one of my favorite authors, Beth Hoffman, at the bookstore.  I always enjoy visiting the owner, Kathleen.  It was our 1st time meeting her employee, Samantha, but are looking forward to seeing her at future events.

In our latest visit, we got to meet Jill Santopolo, promoting her latest book, more than words.  This is her 2nd book (her 1st is The Light We Lost).  Besides hearing her read a passage from her new book, we also learned a few things about Jill:

1.  Jill worked in Brooklyn for the Hilary for President campaign.
2.  She writes short chapters that she calls vignettes.
3.  She published a number of children's books and a couple of teen books before she published The Light We Lost.  She said that drawing on those experiences helped her write books for adults.

Here are what people say about more than words:

"This kept me up at night...and the ending DID NOT DISAPPOINT." - Reese Witherspoon
"Your new tearjerker has arrived:  Fans of Me Before You and One Day will love/weep over this ELEGANT novel." - New York Post
"EXTRAORDINARY." - Emily Giffin

I know that her book will go right near the top of my TBR pile.





Monday, February 11, 2019

What She Left Behind - My First Ellen Marie Wiseman - And Definitely NOT My Last

Let me start by discussing the concept of waterworks.  We all know some definitions for that, right?  It could be rain or falls or displays.  Or it could be crying.  Guess which one it was for me?  Uh, huh.  Yep.  I cried more the last 6 pages of What She Left Behind than I think I have for any whole book.  I mean the tears were rolling down my face.  You all know that "tearing up" is not so unusual for me.  But this was ridiculous.  In fact, I teared up thinking about it later!  Okay, let's move on to the storyline:

Ten years ago, Izzy Stone's mother fatally shot her father while he slept. Devastated by her mother's apparent insanity, Izzy, now seventeen, refused to visit her in prison.  But her new foster parents, employees at the local museum, have enlisted Izzy's help in cataloguing items at a long-shuttered state asylum.  There, amid piles of abandoned belongings, Izzy discovers a stack of unopened letters, a decades-old journal, and a window into her own past.
Clara Cartwright, eighteen years old in 1929, is caught between her overbearing parents and her love for an Italian immigrant.  Furious when she rejects an arranged marriage, Clara's father sends her to a genteel home for nervous invalids.  But when his fortune is lost in the stock market crash, he can no longer afford her care - and Clara is committed to the public asylum.
Even as Izzy deals with the challenges of yet another new beginning, Clara's story keeps drawing her into the past.  If Clara was never really mentally ill, could something else explain her own mother's violent act? Piecing together Clara's fate compels Izzy to re-examine her own choices - with shocking and unexpected results.

Man is this book good.  I know that people get tired of the back-and-forth in time.  I do not happen to be one of those people; especially when it's done so well.  I mentioned the late crying.  But I was overwhelmed with a whole bunch of emotions throughout the book.  I had:  raised eyebrows, chills, jaw-dropping, many OMG exclamations, and even a "What?"

Let me be clear:  As you might imagine from the blurb, some of what happens to both Clara and Izzy is hard to read.  And that's because Ellen does such a good job of making you feel for, and care about, both of them.

I've got a short list of some personal and cultural connections that came from WSLB:

1.  There is a YA fantasy by A.R. Silverberry, called Wyndano's Cloak, that I love.  The book rotates between the 2 protagonists.  And every time a chapter ended, I was disappointed.  Then I would read the next chapter and be disappointed when that one ended.  That is the case here, going back and forth between Clara and Izzy.
2.  My favorite Jodi Picoult (I've read all of her adult books) is called The Storyteller.  In that one, there are fairly short chapters in the voice of several characters.  And then there is one chapter that is super long and very appropriate.  That is the case in this one too.
3.  There is a reference in one of Izzy's chapters to wine coolers.  This is 1995, after all.  I have a big birthday coming up in which I will be reliving my wine cooler past, much to the (guarded) delight of my children.  I will let you know how that goes after it's over.
4.  There is one scene that reminds me of Barry Manilow's song, Copacabana.  How random is that?

Needless to say, I am highly recommending What She Left Behind.  I'm already looking forward to reading Ellen's other 2 books.  4/4







Saturday, February 9, 2019

Barry Eisler's Latest at Kepler's

Joni and I went to Kepler's Thursday night to see Barry Eisler launch his latest book, The Killer Collective.  He was his usual engaging self.

I think you all know that Barry was in the CIA for 3 years.  But did you know that :

1.  Barry started writing his 1st John Rain book in 1993 and got it published in 2002?
2.  he had his 1st launch at Kepler's with that John Rain book in 2002?
3.  Thursday night was his 15th launch at Kepler's?
4.  his latest, The Killer Collective, combines characters from all 3 of his series?
5.  14 of his 15 books are in those 3 series?
6.  the one stand-alone, The God's Eye View, is based on fact?
7.  Barry reads his own audiobooks and is a multiple award-winning narrator?  (If you don't believe me, just ask Barry!)

I have read and enjoyed all of Barry's books.  Subject to reading The Killer Collective, I think my favorite is that stand-alone, The God's Eye View.  The protagonist is a great character.  And, who knows, we might see him again some day!  Stay tuned.










Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Miscellaneous Again

There is some very cool stuff in this post.  Take a couple of minutes to click on the links.

1.  Our latest RBC author (1/23), Marina Adair, has her 3rd romance novel being turned into a TV movie.  Valentines in the Vineyard will be on the Hallmark Channel this coming Saturday, Feb. 2.

2.  If you have never seen Dave Barry in person (or even if you have), here is your chance.  The Kepler's Literary Foundation is hosting Dave at Aragon High School in San Mateo on April 11, from 7:30-9:00.  People, this guy is a stand-up comedian.  Plus his books are very funny.  You can go on Kepler's website to order tickets.

3.  You have to click on this link.  Amazing stuff:  book-art-elizabeth-sagan

4.
'The Goldfinch' will finally grace the big screen.