Tag: BEA 2016

Aug 10

The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper

Family, Flowers 4

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve been a busy reading bee when I’m not out watering my flowers and getting bitten by mosquitoes. Seriously, the fact that I’m so delicious to bugs and also adore gardening is like a cruel, cruel joke. But, the fact that I’m such a flower nerd was a huge part of the reason I picked up my latest read, The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper. I actually heard about the book at BEA during speed dating, but there either weren’t copies there or not enough or something and I ended up procuring a digital copy through NetGalley. *Which means, of course, that I got the book at no cost from the publisher for review consideration. As per usual, I’ll give you my honest opinion because I’m really terrible at lying and even if publishers were to stop working with me tomorrow, I could still get free books from the library, so. I really have no motive to lie to y’all.*

antoinettemartinLily and Rose were as close as a pair of sisters could be growing up on a commercial flower farm in Kentucky (see? I heard the setting and I was sold. I’m so predictable.) They’ve been estranged for years, but as Rose’s health declines, she reaches out to reconnect with her sister. Rose’s 10 year old daughter Antoinette has special needs. Her diagnosis is murky, but it manifests through symptoms very similar to severe autism. She also has the ability to heal with her touch. You heard me. There’s some magical realism up in this piece. Or science fiction. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s definitely  a bit peculiar. The thing is, this gift of Antoinette’s comes at a price. The more Antoinette heals people, the more health consequences she faces herself. She’s begun to have dangerous seizures as a result of her gift, and Rose is desperate to find a way to keep her daughter safe.

The whole thing had a Sarah Addison Allen vibe, but with a little less quirk and a little more emotional gut punch.  It was a decent read, I just don’t think I was in the mood for something with quite so much emotional weight? I feel like a jerk for not being all effusive in my praise of it. Maybe I’m just a little too cynical for miracle stories, which DUH KATIE, “miracle” is in the title of the book. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up had it not been for the whole commercial flower farm thing, but I’m a sucker for flowers. So. Yeah. If you’re in the mood for a whole lot of feelings and a little big of magic, check The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin out!

Tell me something, Bookworms, do you find that your mood strongly influences your opinions on the books you happen to be reading?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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May 20

BEA 2016: Random Crap I Forgot To Mention

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Howdy Bookworms,

It’s Friday and I’m going to wrap up my BEA 2016 coverage because you’re probably sick of hearing about it by now. I thought I’d finish things up with some of the random factoids I wanted to tell you about that didn’t really fit into the other posts (which are HERE and HERE). Cool? Let’s do this.

ONE: There were a number of publishers who brought in the world’s plushest carpet for their booths. It was really nice and probably awesome for the feet of the people standing up in those booths all day, but it never failed to trip me up. Not actually trip, but like, “WHOA I AM ON A CLOUD” moments abounded.

TWO: On day 2 I saw a girl on the expo floor wearing tons of Ravenclaw swag. I was wearing my Ravenclaw shirt and told her I thought we were kindred spirits and that we should take a selfie. Thanks again, Ravenclaw Girl!

Thanks for humoring me, Ravenclaw girl! #HousePride

Thanks for humoring me, Ravenclaw girl! #HousePride

THREE: On my way back to the burbs from the second day of the convention I got on the wrong train. I accidentally got on an express train that blew right past the stop I was trying to get to, so I had to text my dad to pick me up in Aurora instead of Naperville. He was SUCH a good sport about the whole thing. (My actual hometown of Bolingbrook is apparently not cool enough to merit a train station of its own. Nor is Peoria, for that matter. Why do I always end up living in trainless towns? It’s terribly inconvenient for a person who enjoys the occasional trip to Chicago but also has a crippling fear of driving in the city.)

FOUR: I had a picture of myself taken with my head in a dinosaur’s mouth. It pairs well with my current Facebook profile photo, which features my head in an alligator’s mouth. Did I mention that I behaved with the utmost professionalism?

headeaten

You can’t take me anywhere.

FIVE: When you’re at BEA, you wear a name tag. My name was commented upon multiple times. First, Jennifer Close’s helper person was all “oh your name is like in You’ve Got Mail!” And I was like “Oh yeah, I didn’t realize that!” Because I saw that movie before I married into the name (even though I’m Kathryn not Kathleen.) I know I totally could have kept my maiden name (hyphenation was NOT an option because my maiden name ALSO started with a K. The initials. Not cool) but I liked my husband’s last name better. It’s half the letters and nobody ever mispronounces it. I make important decisions based on solid logical reasoning. AS YOU CAN TELL.

There we are. BEA 2016 is in the books and I have a lot of friggin books to read. Thanks for putting up with the craziness here. Hopefully we’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming next week. If I don’t lose my ever loving mind planing ALL THE FLOWERS this weekend. Because that’s what I’m doing this weekend. What’s your favorite color flower? I’m still wishy washy on this year’s color scheme and I’m open to ideas.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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May 18

BEA 2016: What the Heck Is This?

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Happy Wednesday Bookworms!

One week ago today I was a bundle of butterflies heading off to my first BEA. In case you missed the world’s gushiest post about how cool people from the internet can be, you can check it out HERE. If you already read the schmoop and are like, “but Katie, what did you actually do?” I shall now answer all of your questions. I know what they are, because I can read your minds. If I were you I’d be making a tin foil hat about now, because if there’s one person I don’t want rooting around in my brain, it’s me. (I cannot actually read minds, thank heaven. Wouldn’t that be the worst superpower?!) What follows are the whats and wherefores regarding what actually happens at BEA.

Expo Wandering: Alright, you guys. The majority of BEA is a ginormous expo floor. All the major publishers in the land along with lots and lots of cool less giant publishers have booths showcasing their wares. All the wares are books and book related products. Are you hearing the choir of angels yet? Since BEA is a trade show, most of the publishers are looking to drum up business with influential folks like booksellers and librarians and important Bookternet people. (Luckily “importance” is difficult to quantify when it comes to the internet, so occasionally stooges like me are allowed in. Insert maniacal laugh.) Thus, they give out a lot of free samples in the form of ARCs. ARCs (pronounced like Noah’s Ark, not like the acronym A-R-C, a thing I learned whilst at BEA… I wonder how many times I said that to people?) are early proofs of upcoming books. That’s right. Free Books. It is effing magical. Bloggers tend to get kind of a bad rep for being grabby and entitled when it comes to ARCs, but I assure you, I conducted myself with the utmost professionalism. If squeals of delight and unabashed enthusiasm can be considered professional.

Photo Courtesy of Florinda of 3 R's Blog

Photo Courtesy of Florinda Pendley Vasquez of The 3 R’s Blog (Thank you for giving me permission to use your photo! I got a lot of pics of feet and carpet!)

Panels: As cool as the expo floor is, my inner introvert got overwhelmed from time to time. Sensory overload is a thing that happens. Plus, when you’re lugging a tote full of books (or half full even, seriously, three books in a bag get heavy after a while) you start to get kind of tired and sore. Which is why it’s super cool that there are panels. Because panels have chairs. Sometimes a panel is a bunch of people pitching books. Sometimes it’s a bunch of authors discussing a thing. Sometimes Robyn Carr and Susan Elizabeth Phillips tease each other about being old and banter about the ridiculous things they put their characters through. It’s a treat, I’ll tell you what.

Author Signings: If you’re someone who is extraordinarily organized like Julie from JulzReads, you’ve got a game plan and a schedule so you can get all the books signed by all the authors. If you’re someone like me, you walk past a line and tap someone on the shoulder to find out who is doing the signing. I don’t have the best history with author signings, anyway. I mean, there was that time that I scared Jo Baker back across the Atlantic and that time Danielle Fishel was probably offended to find out that people think I look a little bit like her. Stacey from Unruly Reader has serious author signing game. She had heartfelt stories for each author explaining what their work meant to her. I did things like tell Colson Whitehead that I live in Richard Pryor’s hometown. I mean, how can an author respond to that kind of a statement? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, KATIE? (In my defense, he did ask me where I was from and Richard Pryor was the first Peoria factoid that came to mind. Well, second, but I didn’t want to have to explain the Vaudeville joke, so.) Luckily, Jennifer Close had the good grace to compliment my penguin cardigan so I didn’t have to come up with anything to say to her, and Faith Salie neglected to point out that my blog’s title isn’t strictly a pun when I awkwardly tried to explain it. I shouldn’t be allowed out in public.

That's me with Paul and George wearing the penguin cardigan. It really is rather adorable.

That’s me with Paul and George wearing the penguin cardigan. It really is rather adorable.

Speed Dating for Book Groups: I heard about this event through that glorious Facebook group of book bloggers I mentioned in my last post, and it was so much fun. Wandering around and getting free books is great, but the pace is somewhat frantic and you don’t always have a lot of time or desire to slow down long enough to give the back of the book a good long look. The Speed Dating event was like having a friend tell you all about the cool new things they’ve been reading. I landed at a rather sedate table of mostly librarians, so they were all far more dignified than I was. Thankfully, Debra from Algonquin assured me that once one stopped caring about one’s nerdiness one becomes cool by accident. Also, Laura from St. Martin’s Press was really excited to see how jazzed I was about Lev Grossman’s new release (it’s actually a re-release of his first novel, so it’s sort of time capsule-y. Eeep!) I was pretty good about limiting the books I took throughout the conference… Until Speed Dating. Everything sounded really good, you guys!

And now you know what the deal is with BEA. And that I can’t actually read minds. And that I live in Richard Pryor’s hometown. This has been an incredibly informative post, no? Make me feel less weird. Have you ever made a fool of yourself in front of an author?

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May 16

BEA 2016: The Cool Kids

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Happy Monday Bookworms!

As you know, I attended Book Expo America (or BEA for those who do not like to type out full words) last week. That’s part of the reason for my blog silence (that and laziness), but if you follow me on any social media you likely got an eyeful. I decided to break up my experience into multiple posts because I have a lot to say and I don’t want you to fall asleep reading and miss any exclamations of joy. HAVE YOU HAD COFFEE?

This was at the Penguin Random House booth. I got way too excited about it. I'm not sorry.

This was at the Penguin Random House booth. I got way too excited about it. I’m not sorry.

I mentioned this in several posts leading up to the event, but I was hella nervous about BEA. My plans morphed a several times and during the metamorphosis some of the people I was internet closest with (Andi who would have been my roomie, and also Rory) ended up not being able to attend. So I was going to go to an event with people I knew in internet passing, but more on an acquaintance level than a “let’s get matching tattoos” level. Not that I want to get a matching tattoo with anyone. Or a tattoo at all, probably. But you get my drift.

Just kidding. They're temporary.

Just kidding. They’re temporary.

So I did what I do best. I wrote an extremely awkward “please be my friend” post in a Facebook group for book bloggers who would be attending the convention and made plans to meet up with some people. Every single person I met was gracious and kind, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give some shout outs to my main posse. That’s right, I said posse!

From Left: Marisa from The Daily Dosage, Julie from JulzReads, Yours Truly, and Stacey from Unruly Reader

From Left: Marisa from The Daily Dosage, Julie from JulzReads, Yours Truly, and Stacey from Unruly Reader.

Julie, bless her heart, is the most organized person on planet earth who also happens to know all the things about commuting into Chicago from the suburbs (which is where I ended up staying with my parents. Extra thanks to Dad for train station drop offs and pickups.) She shepherded me and my fellow commuter Marisa around Union Station and is about as obsessed with Alice in Wonderland as I am with penguins. There’s a bond there, people. (I will tell you more about her mad organizational skills later probably, because WHOA.)

What should you know about Marisa? First, her name is pronounced like Theresa, but with an M. Second, she is incredibly sweet and warm and good humored. She loves short stories and laughs at my terrible jokes. She is also smart enough to heed Julie’s advice to bring and check a rolling suitcase for her books (which I am not.)

We all hung out beyond commuting, of course, but things get nuts when you hit that floor (particularly if you have a flipping spreadsheet schedule, cough cough Julie.) Thus, Stacey became my main partner in crime on the expo floor. I LOVE HER SO MUCH. She’s a librarian, and if you want to know just how creepy I am, I’ve always wanted a librarian as a friend. I got VERY excited when I found out one of my co-workers was dating a librarian and expressed my desire to become her best friend. As a result, she has avoided all office occasions in the history of ever. Probably because of me. But Stacey wasn’t weirded out by me! We talked about books and meandered and suggested reading to each other. I wrote down none of her suggestions because I didn’t bring a pen (I KNOW!) and I am the worst. She wrote down mine because she is smart and thoughtful. I have her digits now, though, so I can text her and be like “who was that writer you said I should read that is utterly heartwarming?” She will probably be like “Katie, that is like asking me for the book with the blue cover, you should know better!” And I will be like, “You are my favorite.”

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Me and Julie and Kim!

I feel like I should be getting played off the stage at the Oscars with a giant list of thank yous, but I’ve got more people to mention. I met Kim and Florinda first thing on day one (oh and they are the best best best!!!) and they helped to put my nerves right at ease. The Facebook group organized a Blogger Happy Hour the first night and it was SUCH fun. I met all kinds of bloggers like Kerry, Shannon, Julianne, April, Catherine, Janani, Rachel, Jenna, Kristen, Heather, Annie, Dawn, Beth and probably other people I am not remembering because my mind is a sieve. I facetimed Andi while at this event because OF COURSE I DID. So basically she was there too. I later met Shaina (who is as sweet as pie) and Michelle (who is a stealth ninja and hard to track down).

And then there was my blogger fan girl moment. I met Alice from Reading Rambo! I’ve long admired her blog and was sure that she’d be much too busy and important to chat with me. But she wasn’t! She complimented my accessories and there was charming banter (on her part, my banter was awkward and I probably avoided eye contact because I’m shifty when nervous.) It confirmed all my suspicions that book people are the best people. I’m going to close the love fest now because this is post is ridiculous. I promise to tell you more about my actual conference experience later. I had to get the gushing out of my system first. Whew.

If you click on any of the names mentioned, you’ll get to check out some amazing blogs. You totally should because these folks are legitimately awesome, online and off. 

 

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