Thursday, June 8, 2017

BEA 2017 -- Day 2 (Wednesday)

Kathy and I woke bright and early on Wednesday for another fun-filled day. After sharing a room for the past seven years, we have our morning routines down to a science. We were excited to have breakfast with one of my favorite people in publishing, Miriam Parker, and catch up on books and life!

Kathy and I have become much more confident in how we get around New York over the past few years. Walking is always our default, but we now are comfortable with taking the subway if necessary. Since we were meeting Miriam at the Augustine at the Beekman Hotel near the World Trade Center at 8:30, we thought our best bet would be to take the subway. It was a one-train trip, so what could go wrong?
We gave ourselves an extra fifteen minutes and that should have been plenty of time. However, when we tried to find the restaurant, we got all turned around. Despite Kathy and I both using our iPhone GPS, we were being told different things. We walked in circles for about fifteen minutes and ended up arriving at our destination only a few minutes late. Miriam assured us that the area is confusing because the streets aren't on a grid, but Kathy and I have been known to go the wrong way more than once through the years...

The food was amazing and the company was even better. Seriously if you ever find yourself at the Augustine, make sure you order the bacon -- it was fantastic! It was so much fun to catch up with Miriam and her adorable dog Leo, but I have to admit I was drooling over a few of the Ecco titles for the fall. One that sounded particularly good is Amy Tan's memoir called WHERE THE PAST BEGINS.
Here's the publisher blurb:

In Where the Past Begins, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement Amy Tan is at her most intimate in revealing the truths and inspirations that underlie her extraordinary fiction. By delving into vivid memories of her traumatic childhood, confessions of self-doubt in her journals, and heartbreaking letters to and from her mother, she gives evidence to all that made it both unlikely and inevitable that she would become a writer. Through spontaneous storytelling, she shows how a fluid fictional state of mind unleashed near-forgotten memories that became the emotional nucleus of her novels.

Tan explores shocking truths uncovered by family memorabilia—the real reason behind an IQ test she took at age six, why her parents lied about their education, mysteries surrounding her maternal grandmother—and, for the first time publicly, writes about her complex relationship with her father, who died when she was fifteen. Supplied with candor and characteristic humor, Where the Past Begins takes readers into the idiosyncratic workings of her writer’s mind, a journey that explores memory, imagination, and truth, with fiction serving as both her divining rod and link to meaning.

Sounds terrific, right? Later in the day, I was super excited to find the door of the Javits Center decorated in a gorgeous ad for the book.
One of the best parts about our breakfast was hearing all about Miriam's new baby... and by baby, I mean her debut novel titled THE SHORTEST WAY HOME which is coming out Summer 2018. It's contemporary women's lit and sounds like a book that's right up my alley. It's about a thirty-something woman who leaves her almost-fiancé and job in New York finance to move to a winery in Sonoma, California. After visiting the winery, she falls in love with it and the people who run it. THE SHORTEST WAY HOME is about finding one's self, and I'm always a sucker for coming-of-age novels even if the protagonist is in her 30s! I can't wait to read this novel and share it with all of you... and since wine is a major "character" in the story, I think book clubs are going to have field day with this one.

After a delicious breakfast, Kathy and I decided to walk down to the World Trade Center Memorial. I visited the museum last year and thought it was truly amazing. It's a must-see if you go to New York. We spent some time just taking everything in, and it still is almost incomprehensible to me that those towers came down and so many lives were lost.
Next, we walked around in the Westfield World Trade Center which is basically just a huge shopping mall. It's gorgeous and there were quite a few upscale stores, but Kathy and I didn't feel the need to really buy anything. Then we hit a fun store called Century 21 -- no not the real estate company! This store was huge and had great prices on everything -- makeup, shoes, purses, clothes, jewelry. I loved this store so much that I asked my husband to take me to one in Philly the next time we're there.
We decided to head back to our hotel and see if our noisy neighbors signed out -- fortunately, they did. Kathy and I then decided that we wanted to get tickets for another show. I desperately wanted to see Sara Bareilles in Waitress after hearing about it from my daughter who saw is last month. There were a few tickets left but was I willing to pay the full price? After walking out of the box office and visiting another one, I decided that it was a once in a lifetime chance to see her performing the songs she wrote for the musical. Kathy was so sweet and patient with me -- thank you, Kathy!

Kathy and I then headed over to Javits to bet our badges. There was basically no one there so we got them right away. A very nice guy even let us cut in line in front of the few people who were waiting. I was reluctant, but he assured me that, "Sometimes you just have to break the rules." Words of wisdom? In keeping with tradition, we got a soft pretzel at the hot dog stand in front of the convention center. 
We killed some time before the main event -- the Editors' Buzz Panel. We arrived 45 minutes early so we were assured seats next to Diane (BookChickDi), and we were pretty happy when we saw tons of people standing near the back of the room -- Ha Ha. And then it dawned on all of us that they were closer to the tables with all of the ARCs! The editors all did a fantastic job in convincing me that their books were amazing -- although, as a book blogger, I'm a pretty easy audience.

UNRAVELING OLIVER by Liz Nugent - In this “compelling, clever, and dark” (Heat magazine) thriller, a man’s shocking act of savagery stuns a local community—and the revelations that follow will keep you gripped until the very last page. This work of psychological suspense, a #1 bestseller in Ireland, is perfect for fans of Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Ware.

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

With its alternating points of view and deft prose, Unraveling Oliver is “a page-turning, one-sitting read from a brand new master of psychological suspense” (Sunday Independent) that details how an ordinary man can transform into a sociopath. -- Scout Press

STAY WITH ME by Ayobami Adebayo - 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. -- Knopf

MY ABSOLUTE DARLING by Gabriel Tallent - Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. The reader tracks Turtle’s escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, and watches, heart in throat, as she struggles to become her own hero–and in the process, becomes ours as well.

Shot through with striking language in a fierce natural setting, My Absolute Darling is an urgently told, profoundly moving read that marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer. -- Riverhead

THE WORLD OF TOMORROW by Brendan Mathews - Three brothers caught up in a whirlwind week of love, blackmail, and betrayal culminating in an assassination plot, set in prewar New York

June 1939. Francis Dempsey and his shell-shocked brother Michael are on an ocean liner from Ireland bound for their brother Martin's home in New York City, having stolen a small fortune from the IRA. During the week that follows, the lives of these three brothers collide spectacularly with big-band jazz musicians, a talented but fragile heiress, a Jewish street photographer facing a return to Nazi-occupied Prague, a vengeful mob boss, and the ghosts of their own family's revolutionary past.

When Tom Cronin, an erstwhile assassin forced into one last job, tracks the brothers down, their lives begin to fracture. Francis must surrender to blackmail, or have his family suffer fatal consequences. Michael, wandering alone, turns to Lilly Bloch, a heartsick artist, to recover his lost memory. And Martin and his wife, Rosemary, try to salvage their marriage and, ultimately, the lives of the other Dempseys.

From the smoky jazz joints of Harlem to the Plaza Hotel, from the garrets of artists in the Bowery to the shadowy warehouses of mobsters in Hell's Kitchen, Brendan Mathews brings prewar New York to vivid, pulsing life, while the sweeping and intricate storytelling of this remarkable debut reveals an America that blithely hoped it could avoid another catastrophic war and focus instead on the promise of the World's Fair: a peaceful, prosperous "World of Tomorrow." -- Little Brown

THE IMMORTALISTS by Chloe Benjamin - A dazzling family love story reminiscent of Everything I Never Told You from a novelist heralded by Lorrie Moore as a “great new talent.”

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds. -- Putnam

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A.J. Finn - For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-five languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house. It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble?and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious, and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock. -- William Morrow

The end of the panel was a nightmare though... and the folks at BEA really need to handle this better in the future. After the publishers removed the drapes on the tables, it was a mad rush to the books. People were getting crushed and books were dropping on people's heads. Kathy got shoved and almost fell. And I'm telling you, if someone went down, they would have been trampled. It was that crazy!

Kathy and I escaped, but barely! We took the shuttle back to our hotel and headed down to John's Pizza. We eat there every year -- it's kind of a tradition for us, but I have to say I was disappointed for the first time. The service was okay but the pizza wasn't as good as usual, although the salad was delicious. It was still fun and we had a great time just visiting with each other.
And then it was time for Waitress -- I could barely wait. As we were entering the theatre, we could smell freshly baking pies. Isn't that fun?
Check out the cool curtain! It's hard to tell from the picture, but the sides of the stage are cases of pies!
I absolutely loved everything about this musical! It was quirky, funny, and even touching towards the end. I had an amazing time and Sara Bareilles was amazing. I've always loved her music, but I was blown away by her vocals. During the intermission, Kathy surprised me with a cute little pie in a jar. It was a salted caramel/chocolate mini pie and it was pretty good. I think I ate the vast majority of it!
We had another wonderful day in New York... and it even included some books. We desperately needed to catch up on some ZZZs because we were hitting the Javits for the trade show first thing in the morning!


cindysloveofbooks said...

The Woman in the Window and The Immortalists have been put on my wishlist since hearing about them. They sound like fantastic reads. I just read Kathy's review and was online last week when I saw the pictures from the panel and it looked really scary. Hopefully no one got hurt and I agree hopefully they will fix that part of the panels soon. Its almost like they have to package the bundle and perhaps hand them out as you leave or soemthing.. thankfully you guys didn't get hurt. The play sounds like fun.

bermudaonion said...

I feel fairly confident in midtown but that's about it. lol I had so much fun last week and the time just flew by! I'm so glad we saw Waitress!

The Book Sage said...

It's fun to read your rendition of Day 2 after reading Kathy's. You did the same things but reported them differently. I enjoyed (jealously) reading about your day.

Dorothy N said...

What a terrific post! I felt like I was in NYC with you and Kathy. Thank you for the wonderful preview of new books. I can't wait to read The Woman in the Window and Amy Tan's memoir, Where the Past Begins.