Review: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo






STAY WITH ME by Ayobami Adebayo
Knopf | Release Date: August 22, 2017 | 288 pages 

Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage--after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures--Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time--until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin's second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does, but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.


My Review: 
I received this at Book Expo this year and while I wasn't initially drawn to the summary, I grabbed it because it was chosen as one of the Adult Editors "Buzz Books". Somehow, Stay With Me managed to be the book I chose to read on the airplane coming home from NYC. By the time I departed the plane, I was already hooked and telling my friend Alison about it. By the time I finished it, I had text her and 2 other friends about it and then mailed it to my sister. If you're looking to expand your reading (diversity, culture, geography, history) then grab this up. But most importantly, if you are interested in the topics of identity, motherhood, and feminism; you absolutely can't miss Stay With Me. 



***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

4 Netgalley Mini Reviews

Sometimes my Netgalley shelf gets out of control (ok, it's usually overflowing). Instead of doing longer reviews on these releases I thought I'd just do some mini reviews. I've been cleaning up my backlist and have not been requesting via Netgalley for a couple months so I could get it down to manageable again. I now have my shelf down to 9! I don't remember when I've had it that low! I know I'll be loading it up again soon, especially since I got my new Paperwhite (which I love)! How's everyone else's Netgalley shelf and TBR looking?

HOW TO PARTY WITH AN INFANT by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Simon & Schuster | Released: August 9, 2016 | 227 pages

Summary: When Mele Bart told her boyfriend Bobby she was pregnant with his child, he stunned her with an announcement of his own: he was engaged to someone else. Fast forward two years, Mele’s daughter is a toddler, and Bobby and his fiancée want Ellie to be the flower girl at their wedding. Mele, who also has agreed to attend the nuptials, knows she can’t continue obsessing about Bobby and his cheese making, Napa-residing, fiancée. She needs something to do. So she answers a questionnaire provided by the San Francisco Mommy Club in elaborate and shocking detail and decides to enter their cookbook writing contest. Even though she joined the group out of desperation, Mele has found her people: Annie, Barrett, Georgia, and Henry (a stay-at-home dad). As the wedding date approaches, Mele uses her friends’ stories to inspire recipes and find comfort, both.

My Review: Lots of witty one-liners, great come-backs, and outlandishly hilarious answers to the Mommy Club questionnaire. Also, liked the food angle, with turning her friends crazy stories into recipes. Cute, quick read.


FAITHFUL by Alice Hoffman
Simon & Schuster | Released: November 1, 2016 | Audio CD

Netgalley DescriptionGrowing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.


My Review: I am drawn to Alice Hoffman novels and have loved listening to them on CD (The Dovekeepers, The Museum of Extraordinary Things) but I felt the same about Faithful as I did about The Marriage of Opposites...it was ok, but not great. I really want magic realism when read Hoffman, and always feel a bit let down when I don't get any. I'm looking forward to diving into The Rules of Magic soon. I did love the choice of Amber Tamblyn as the narrator though.





FLÂNEUSE by Lauren Elkin
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux | 2015 | 336 pages

Netgalley Description: A flâneuse is, in Lauren Elkin’s words, “a determined resourceful woman keenly attuned to the creative potential of the city, and the liberating possibilities of a good walk.” Virginia Woolf called it “street haunting,” Holly Golightly epitomized it in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Patti Smith did it in her own inimitable style in 1960s New York. Part cultural meander, part memoir, Flâneuse traces the relationship between singular women and their cities as a way to map her own life—a journey that begins in New York and takes us to Paris, via Venice, Tokyo, and London—including the paths beaten by such flâneuses as the cross-dressing, nineteenth-century novelist George Sand, the Parisian artist Sophie Calle, the journalist Martha Gellhorn, and the writer Jean Rhys. With tenacity and insight, Elkin creates a mosaic of what urban settings have meant to women, charting through literature, art, history, and film women’s sometimes liberating, sometimes fraught relationship to the metropolis.

My Review:
I loved this book, but beware that it isn't an "easy" read. The information compiled in Flâneuse is dissertation-level. I read this as an e-book but would like to have a physical copy for future reference. Women walking freely through cities have not always been social acceptable. Elkin delves into the obvious and more complex aspects of the gender divide of what now may be seen as a simple stroll. 


BLIND SPOT by Teju Cole
Faber Faber | Released: July 4, 2017 | 352 pages (e-book)

Netgalley Description: The award-winning author of Open City and photography critic for The New York Times Magazine combines two of his great passions in this innovative synthesis of words and images. The shadow of a tree in upstate New York. A hotel room in Switzerland. A young stranger in the Congo. In Blind Spot, readers follow Teju Cole’s inimitable musings into the visual realm as he refines the voice and intellectual obsessions that have earned him international acclaim. Through more than 150 photographs—taken in New York, Seoul, London, Lagos, Beirut, Zürich, Selma, and many other destinations—accompanied by surprising, lyrical text, Cole explores how we see the world and demonstrates once again why he’s considered one of the most powerful and original voices in contemporary literature.

My Review:
As with any art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beyond doing a personal analysis of Cole's work, I liked that the artist supplied descriptions of the work. These were pieces of art themselves. Blind Spot was like reading a poetry book with pictures. 

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Top 10 Thrillers Releasing August 2017


Here are my picks for the top 10 thrillers releasing this month: 




Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka 8/1 from Simon & Schuster

Who murdered a high school girl? 


A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang 8/1 from Lake Union

Spanish influenza or poison? 


The Dying Game by Asa Avdic 8/1 from Penguin
48-hour competition for a top-secret intelligence position in 2037. 


See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt 8/1 by Atlantic Monthly
Retelling of the Lizzie Borden murders.


The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose 8/1 from Viking

17-year-old girl goes "underground" after taking the fall for a friend. 



The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy 8/1 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
An ancient darkness spreads virally IRL.



The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett 8/8 from HQ
Shattering consequences for suburban neighbors



Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker 8/8 from St. Martin's
Two sisters disappear but only one returns.



Best Intentions by Erika Raskin 8/15 from St. Martin's
Elite, obstetrician mother witness dark side of her husband's medical center.




Pretty, Nasty, Lovely by Rosalind Noonan 8/29 from Kensington
The dark side of sorority sisterhood. 

Foodie Friday Feature: Sheet Pan Suppers Vegetarian by Raquel Pelzel


SHEET PAN SUPPERS VEGETARIAN by Raquel Pelzel
Workman | ISBN: 9780761189930 | Pub Date: October 3, 2017 | 264 pages 

Netgalley Description: 
Sheet Pan Suppers is back! This time, with 100 vegetarian recipes for satisfying, sumptuous full meals—all made on a sheet pan, and all meat-free. It’s the one-pot meal reinvented with a healthy twist, and what is sure to become every busy cook’s new favorite way of getting dinner on the table. There are recipes for complete meals, snacks, brunch, and even dessert, that require nothing more than a sheet pan, your oven, and Raquel Pelzel’s inspired take on satisfying, delectable, vegetarian cooking. Recipes include Orzo with Pan-Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon, and Mozzarella; Loaded Chilaquiles with Baked Eggs; Super Creamy No-Boil Mac and Cheese; and more.


I am not a vegetarian but I do like to make vegetarian meals occasionally. I used to be pretty good about Meatless Mondays but I fell into a rut of cheese pizza or salads. Not very exciting. This cookbook had some easy ideas to inspire me and the photography was mouthwatering. I also thought that this cookbook would make a wonderful gift for a beginning cook because the recipes were pretty straightforward and there are not multiple pots and pans involved. 

My Review of SHADOW OF THE LIONS by Christopher Swann in Perimeter North Lifestyle Magazine

Page Turners for August 2017 for Perimeter North Lifestyle magazine 

I reviewed SHADOW OF THE LIONS by Christopher Swann for the August issue of Perimeter North Lifestyle magazine. Click the link and "flip" to page 34, or I've added the text below for easier reading 👇

Sandy Springs Novelist Draws on Academic Life in Twisty Thriller Debut:
Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann

Two massive concrete lions have guarded the front entrance to Virginia’s Blackburne School for more than a century. Respected and revered, they symbolize the school’s fiercely held traditions, especially its honor code. After Matthias Glass confesses his honor code violation to his best friend, Fritz Davenport, they briefly argue before Fritz runs into the woods—and vanishes without a trace.

In the decade following Matthias’ graduation from Blackburne, he attends college, grad school, and writes a successful first novel. When he finds himself abandoned by his writing inspiration (and his model girlfriend), he accepts a position at Blackburne teaching English. Upon his return to his alma mater, he becomes consumed with finding out what really happened to his friend all those years ago. While looking for answers, a student death on campus opens his eyes to the dark underbelly of the prestigious boys’ boarding school. Partnering with a local ex-cop to solve the mysteries, Matthias begins to suspect a campus figure may have connections to both the recent student death and Fritz’s disappearance. As he digs deeper, his search turns up much more than he bargained for, including links to the FBI, cyber surveillance, exorbitant bribes, and issues of national security. He also uncovers various Blackburne secrets as well as the dark realities of a powerful Washington, DC, family.

Sandy Springs author, Christopher Swann, creates a complex protagonist and conjures an alluring and ominous prep school setting from his firsthand academic experiences. As the English Department chair of Atlanta’s Holy Innocents' Episcopal School, Swann’s twenty-one years of teaching English are evident in Matthias Glass, a novelist turned English teacher turned amateur detective. Swann also draws on his own four years of high school at Woodberry Forest School, an all male boarding school in Virginia, to transport his readers to the insular community of Blackburne. In true Southern style, Swann also weaves the underlying theme of football into his debut novel. While the unofficial religion of the South offers many metaphors on life, Swann perfectly exemplifies the painfully tenuous transition between adolescence and adulthood with his powerfully detailed descriptions of grueling practices and an intense annual football game against their rival school.

Alternating between Matthias’ student and teacher periods and filled with literary references, Swann’s bildungsroman draws comparisons to beloved boarding school novels The Catcher in the Rye, Dead Poets Society, and A Separate Peace. Like these classics, Shadow of the Lions explores love, loyalty, loss, duty, and betrayal. It exposes burdens of privilege, the desperation to belong, the layered creation of one’s character, and the fact that intense adolescent friendships shape all of our adult lives, for better or worse.


Review: ARE YOU SLEEPING by Kathleen Barber


ARE YOU SLEEPING by Kathleen Barber
Gallery | ISBN: 9781501157660 | On sale: August 1, 2017 | 336 pages 


Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father's murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

Described as "Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood," when I read this novel's summary, I was intrigued. Plus, two of the main characters are twins (does everyone know my fascinations with twins, yet?) But what really caught my eye is that the author grew up in Galesburg, IL! (Galesburg is very close to the even tinier town where I grew up, I lived in Galesburg shortly as an adult, and my father still lives in Galesburg.)  

Pros: I liked the modern epistolary inclusions like Reddit threads and Twitter posts. 
Cons: I had the *twist* figured out pretty early on, but the reveal and ending were a little messy.

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Review: The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman




THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN by Ellen Marie Wiseman
Kensington | ISBN: 9781617734496 | Pub Date: July 25, 2017 | 356 pages


Inside Front Cover: "On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn't allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She's never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it's for Lilly's own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time--and sold to the circus sideshow."

I love strong female characters, but I  can't stand formulaic women's fiction. That's sometimes a tall order when I'm choosing a contemporary fiction read. But I found it in The Life She Was Given. I will note that not everyone will love this story due to aspects of abuse (animal abuse, child abuse, and sexual abuse). As a matter of fact, I'm sure that some people will hate it because of these topics, but the strength of the characters in spite of their abuses and the harsh realities of humanity are what really made me love this book. I predicted this story would be Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus meets The Museum of Extraordinary Things and I was right. Plus, throw in a little Flowers in the Attic. This book is raw and different and unexpected. I loved that it wasn't "safe". If I had a complaint, I would say it is the title. It's just not the right fit. I would have liked something less passive and more attention grabbing. 



***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Review: HUM IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE WORDS by Bianca Marais





Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais
G.P. Putnam’s Sons | ISBN: 9780735218260 | July 11, 2017 | 420 pages 

I am trying to expand my reading into new genres, locations, and voices. When I received an ARC of Hum If You Don't Know the Words, I thought "whoa". This is exactly what I didn't know I was looking for. Told from the point of view of 10-year-old, white, Robin Conrad and Xhosa widow and mother, Beauty Mbali, I alternately wanted to throttle and hug little Robin, while my heart ached for Beauty. After Robin's parents are killed she is sent to live with her aunt (who's loveably conflicted herself), and Beauty is hired to care for Robin while she searches for her daughter. Set in apartheid-era 1970s South Africa, I will admit I knew close to nothing about the politics or geography of this story (Soweto Uprising, Bantu, Transkei) but  Hum If You Don't Know the Words had me thinking of The Poisonwood Bible and To Kill a Mockingbird. This is one of the best books I've read in a while, making me glad I've expanded my reading selections. 

Have you read anything lately that was outside your comfort zone? 




***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***



Review: Marlena by Julie Buntin





Marlena by Julie Buntin
Henry Holt | ISBN: 9781627797641 | April 4, 2017 | 288 pages 

Sometimes I read a book and think "I'm going to wait to write my review because I really liked this one." The problem is that life goes on and sometimes I don't get to writing my review for quite a while. That is the case with Marlena. I saw the book popping up on lots of my fellow book bloggers' pages and social media a few months ago, but wasn't initially drawn to the story. I rarely find that authors can adequately capture the unique inner world of teenage girls. When other bloggers and critics were praising Dare Me and The Fever by Megan Abbott, I was let down. There was something forced, but I think a lot of adult women wanted to love it. They wanted a verification that those early teen years weren't all boy bands and braces. They want someone to show the intensity of those friendships and the pain of those first betrayals, the sleepovers that weren't all pillow fights and popcorn. Those are the years we learned about our friends' families and inner lives. We learned of abuses, addictions, and affairs but we also learned who we could and could not trust to talk to about them. 

When a copy arrived in my mail, I decided to give it a shot and was pleasantly surprised! 

After relocating to rural Michigan with her mom and brother, Cat befriends her neighbor, Marlena. While Cat has the typical teenage "firsts" (smoke, kiss, etc.), Marlena is living in a much darker world. Like a million small towns, the drug abuse is rampant, and Cat and Marlena are touched by it in several ways. After a year of friendship, Marlena is dead and Cat is forever changed. Flashing between this pivotal year and alcoholic 30-something Cat, a reader can identify with how young relationships affect us and how they shape our adult selves.


***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

My Best Summer Reads Selections Featured in 3 Atlanta Area Magazines


Page Turners July 2017 for Buckhaven Lifestyle, Perimeter North Lifestyle, and Alpharetta Lifestyle magazines

Before heading off to Book Expo last month, I submitted my list of Best Summer Reads 2017 for publication in several Atlanta area magazines (Buckhaven, Perimeter North, and Alpharetta Lifestyle). The issues have all been released and can be found through the links above or I've added the text below for easier reading 👇


After you’ve packed the cooler and the sunscreen, you’re probably looking for a great summer read to add to your beach bag. Whether you want lighthearted humor, heart racing thrills, or Old Hollywood glamour, we’ve got the perfect book for you. Here are six new releases that everyone will be talking about this season.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
From the bestselling author who brought you Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, Rich People Problems is a wickedly fun novel about the privileged Shang-Young family. As relatives descends from all corners of the globe to stake a claim on the family’s great fortune, their unique personal problems complicate matters.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Born to Cuban immigrants in Hell’s Kitchen, Evelyn Elena Herrera became Hollywood film star Evelyn Hugo through a series of gambles. Now nearing the end of her life, major publishers and media outlets beg her to share her life story. Instead, Evelyn chooses unknown magazine writer, Monique Grant. She gives every juicy detail of her ruthless ambition and, of course, about her seven husbands. She also divulges her great forbidden love and a long-held secret that reveals why Evelyn really chose Monique for the coveted job.

The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder
The People We Hate at the Wedding is funny family drama at its finest. In the Chicago suburbs, widowed matriarch Donna spends her evenings drinking wine and watching her favorite television shows. Two of her children, Paul and Alice, are struggling with relationship and career issues, while her eldest daughter from a previous marriage, Eloise, lives the pampered life in London. When the dysfunctional clan gathers for Eloise’s spectacularly fancy wedding, small details like embroidered napkins stir up a handful of underlying resentments.

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
Identical twin sisters, Harper and Tabitha Frost look alike, but lead wildly different lives. Laid-back and easygoing Harper can’t hold down a job or a relationship on Martha’s Vineyard. On Nantucket, Tabitha has a taste for fine wine, owns a fashion boutique, and is mother to a rebellious daughter. After more than a decade apart, in an attempt to end their sibling rivalry, Harper and Tabitha swap islands and identities for an unforgettable summer that will change their lives forever.

It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell
Twenty years after three women become college friends, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge while someone urges her to jump. With a storyline alternating between the women’s college and adult lives, the layers are peeled back on their complex relationship. Filled with lies, betrayal, bribery, infidelity, and murder, this page turner will have you on the edge of your seat right up to the finger pointing finale.

Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman
Between expensive IVF treatments and a child’s therapy, best friends Annie and Sarah are both in desperate need of some fast cash. Teaming up, the two decide to sell a “luxury” anti-aging face cream to the members of Annie’s wealthy La Jolla book club. The scheme goes off without a hitch, until Annie adds an illegal ingredient.


Be sure to grab an icy drink before you escape into one of these sizzling summer reads, because the only thing hotter than these novels is an Atlanta summer!





Review:: A Paris All Your Own: Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light edited by Eleanor Brown

This collection of 18 essays was just what I needed in terms of reading material. Since arriving back from Book Expo (a month ago!), I've not gotten much reading done. Most of my time has been spent getting my daughter ready for her study abroad trip to London and trying to keep up with the day to day mountain of daily duties in addition to working. After Kali left on her trip a few days ago, I set about to deep cleaning the house and reclaiming my office (her room when she is home from school). In between tasks, I took to reading A Paris All Your Own. I could start some laundry, read an essay, run to the store, read an essay, do a bit of work, ...you get the point. I enjoyed some essays more than others but will probably reference the book as a whole when speaking to friends about traveling. I've learned to never expected too much when traveling and you've got to be able to roll with the punches. Almost every writer in this collection talked about unmet high expectations or unexpected but highly enjoyable side tracks. I've learned, (through trial and error) that you have to let go a bit and make each journey your own. For example, back to Book Expo, my 1st trip to NYC was not filled with typical tourist destinations. Upon my return I was asked if I visited this or that attraction. When I told them "no" and the places I did visit, I was usually met with strange looks. But I had the perfect NYC trip...for me. This weekend my daughter is going to Paris, and hopefully she'll have the perfect Paris trip...all her own. 


A PARIS ALL YOUR OWN: BESTSELLING WOMEN WRITERS ON THE CITY OF LIGHT edited by Eleanor Brown
G.P. Putnam's Sons | ISBN9780399574474 | On sale: July 4, 2017 | 304 pages


***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***


Giveaway to Celebrate the Paperback Release of THE SUMMER THAT MELTED EVERYTHING by Tiffany McDaniel

Last summer I read (and loved!) The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel (my review HERE). Now, The Summer that Melted Everything is a finalist for the Ohioana Literary Award and you can vote (through July 3rd) right HERE. 

You don't need to provide an email address or any other personal information, you do not need to be a US citizen, nor do you need to be from or reside in Ohio...just click on the book! So quick and easy! You can also check out the Ohioana Library Facebook and Twitter

Also on July 3rd, the paperback version of 
 The Summer that Melted Everything is releasing! 
To celebrate, I'm giving away 2 signed copies!* 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

*(contiguous U.S. only)

My Recap: Book Expo 2017 (with lots of pictures!)


I was a first time Book Expo attendee (and 1st time NYC visitor) this year and had a whirlwind of a time.

Tuesday 

Tamara, Alison, and I met Kristin at our hotel in the early afternoon on Tuesday and then promptly headed over to the New York Public Library:









We also met our team mascot, "Brenda", and decided we all wanted to be her when we grow up.

#TeamBrenda (the pic doesn't do her justice. Her hairdo alone should have its own post)

We then took the subway (adventure!) to what we thought was the beginning of the walking tour for The High Line. Being early we stopped off for cocktails at The Drunken Horse. When we arrived at what we thought was our destination, we found out we were way off! Oh well, Kristin pulled up the visitor information and gave us our own private tour!
  
We headed back towards the hotel for dinner at Mama Mia. I had the MOST delicious shrimp pasta in mushroom cream sauce! After a full day of travel, walking 10 miles or so, and a nice Italian dinner with wine, I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow!

Wednesday

Tamara, Kristin, and I went to the Roxy Diner for lunch (Alison headed to Brooklyn for a meeting) and then picked up our badges at the Javits Center where I squealed and a freaked out a bit. I felt like I had found some version of heaven / my mothership. I super loved the ad for Book of Dust (which I am dying to get my hands on).
  

We met up with Alison and headed to the Adult Editors Author Buzz Panel, which was packed.

I enjoyed listening to the speakers and thought "I'd like to grab a couple galleys from this list." Well, at the end of the session it was mayhem! No organization, rhyme, or reason. Just mayhem! I thought "I'm not going to get physical to get these books!" We're not in a mosh pit nor is it Black Friday! I grabbed two and went to stand outside, where I made friends with two very nice, older educators. The gentleman continued to go in and bring out more and more copies. When his partner said that they couldn't take all of those, they gave a bunch to me! Jackpot!

We all headed back to the hotel for a bit before Tamara, Kristin, and I headed over to The Mysterious Bookshop to see our girl, Jenny Milchman do her thing.

Again, I was beat at the end of my long day...and Book Expo hadn't even really started yet!

Thursday


I had tickets to the 8:00 a.m. Adult Author Breakfast and was ready to take the first shuttle at 7:00a.m.  I was waiting at 6:45 and was still waiting until the 7:30 a.m. shuttle arrived. I was furious! I arrived at the conference room for the breakfast and was bummed because it was packed, but after showing my ticket I was escorted to the very front section (I guess there were multiple ticket tiers, I forget what they were). Since it was just me I was able to grab a seat at the VERY FRONT. Stephen King and his son each did a short speech and then Whitney Cummings came out to talk about her book and then introduce the panel: Claire Messud, Scott Kelly, Jesmyn Ward, and Pete Souza.





I loved every minute and that ticket was worth every penny! I could go on and on about how freaking hilarious Whitney Cummings was and write a full blog post on every one of the other authors as well. I was able to get Whitney to sign my book at the end and tell her that she had liked my tweet that morning. She said it cracked her up and I fangirled out a little bit (to myself mind you, I didn't want to SHOW my crazy)  I was on Cloud Nine when I walked out of that breakfast (where I ate about 3 bites of a bagel and had half a cup of coffee).

Now it was time to hit the floor! I had a very specific plan (there were spreadsheets involved) to meet and grab a galley/copy from:

Jamie Ford
Ellen Marie Wiseman
Sujata Massey
Alice Hoffman
Neil Olson
Jessica Valenti
Emily Culliton
Fiona Davis
Gabrielle Union
Amy Tan
and Natasha Pulley

I headed over to the FedEx Center (inside Javits, but next year will use the other shipping center) to "prepare my box". This was interesting in that you could start a box and keep dropping items in it until you were ready to ship. #TeamBrenda met in the upper food court to compare notes on our day and then Alison and I headed to "An Evening with Hilary Rodham Clinton". Upon arriving we found out that she would be interviewed by Cheryl Strayed and the whole crowd sighed / "oooh"-ed in awe. After the event, Alison and I walked back to our hotel and then enjoyed wine and cheese in our hotel bar.



Friday

I had a little bit of a better idea what to expect on Friday. My plan was:
Celeste Ng   
Karen Rinaldi
Marissa Meyer (for my friend's daughters, I was a bit disappointed that she was not doing a full copy)
Wendy Walker    
Taylor Reid
Rene Denfeld
Ginger Zee    

I ran into Felicia in the lower food court and we had lunch together. It was so fun to meet an online friend IRL! Friday afternoon #TeamBrenda (all members, I think) attended Book Club Speed Dating (which I'm so glad Tamara suggested to me) and that was another time where some people were getting a little greedy. Oh... and OMG this lady took out a full packed lunch and proceeded to *violently* eat. Like, she was chewing AT me. It was rude....but in all fairness I may have been a little cranky. After the Speed Dating wrapped up, I headed back to FedEx to ship my box. Tamara had told me to be prepared for the high cost...$75! Ugh! But, I think it was worth it to not have to schlub another suitcase full of books to the airport and home. Alison shipped her box (similar weight) at the other shipping center and her total was about $10 cheaper AND it arrived a day earlier. Like I said, next year, I'm using the other center.

After meeting back at the hotel we all went to dinner at Cara Mia right across the street from Mama Mia.    We walked over to Times Square but, first I had to do a wardrobe change:  We checked out the lights, and the Strand "kiosk" and took some fun pics.


Saturday

Kristin and Tamara headed for home early in the morning, but Alison and I didn't depart until almost 4 p.m. so we had a leisurely morning and headed to brunch at The Rustic Table which had a very "warm industrial chic" vibe. After brunch we headed to the airport and flew back to the A!

I'm totally ready for next year! Who's with me?