Hot Book Club Picks from BEA 2014 (Video)

Hot Book Club Picks from BEA 2014-From Left to Write

Hot Book Club Picks from BEA 2014-From Left to Write

I hope you’re not tired of my Book Expo America posts yet. I have one more for you, but this time it’s a video. There’s so many books being promoted during BEA that it’s tough to figure out what to read. In my video, I have 6 hot books are entertaining and will give your book club plenty to discuss:

Here’s the list of books in the order they were mentioned in the video. Most are available for pre-order:

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Ecco)
Pub date: August 2014 (Historical/Literary Fiction)

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Publication date: September 2014 (Literary Fiction)

Neverhome by Laird Hunt (Little, Brown, and Company)
Publication date: September 2014 (Historical/Literary Fiction)

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh (Amy Einhorn Books)
Publication date: January 2015 (Literary Fiction)

The Jaguar’s Children by John Vaillant (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Publication date: January 2015 (Suspense Thriller)

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley (Gallery books)
Publication date: January 2015 (Literary fiction)

Don’t forget to enter our Neil Patrick Harris book giveaway and our Facebook giveaway for e-books!

Neil Patrick Harris at BEA + Excerpt Giveaway!

Neil Patrick Harris at BEA 2014

Neil Patrick Harris at BEA 2014

I’m going to say this as calmly as possible. Ready?

I met Neil Patrick Harris. (Are you squeeing?) I met him last week at Book Expo America when he was signing excerpts to his book/memoir Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography (Crown Publishing).

Meeting Neil Patrick Harris at Book Expo America

I never get to BEA early in order to stand in line for an hour to meet an author, but NPH is different. It’s NPH: aka Dr. Horrible aka Doogie Howser aka Barney aka Balladeer (from Sondheim’s Assassins)! Obviously I’m a fan.

NPH Autograph from Book Expo America-From Left to Write

Was he worth waiting in line for? Of course! I only had about 10 seconds of face time with him, and I’m proud to say that I didn’t get all fangirl. I asked him about his kids, he signed me book, and I moved on. The line to meet him was very, very long.

His book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography isn’t released until Oct 14, 2014 (but it’s available for pre-order). It sounds like  a fun read. You can hear how he describes it in his breakfast speech at BEA (I didn’t attend). It’s modeled after those Choose Your Adventure books we used to read as kids. Did you ever read those?

Lucky readers, I got my hands on 3 extra copies of an excerpt to  Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography to give away to 3 of you! Of course they’re not autographed like mine is, but hopefully they’ll tide you over until the fall. Remember these are excerpts and not the full book.

Neil Patrick Harris Book Excerpt Giveaway-From Left to Write

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Meeting Book Club Authors at Book Expo America 2014

Book Expo America 2014-From Left to Write

Book Expo America 2014-From Left to Write

I’m not sure I’ve recovered from Book Expo America yet! Like always, my days there were packed yet there never seemed to be enough hours to see all the authors on my list or talk to all the folks I wanted to. I would do it all over again. My first evening in town, I met up with my friend Heather at a Crown Publishing event. Heather and I have similar tastes in books and I knew she’d enjoy meeting the authors of From Left to Write’s recent book club features.

Thien-Kim and Sandie Shelton-From Left to Write

Sandie Shelton, aka Maddie Dawson, author of The Opposite of Maybe

On the top of my list to meet was Sandi Shelton, who wrote our April book club selection The Opposite of Maybe (under the pseudonym Maddie Dawson). Sandie and I have exchanged many emails and she was just as wonderful in person as she was over email. I made Heather read Sandie’s book before coming to the party and she was not disappointed. (Read our book club discussion of The Opposite of Maybe.)

Thien-Kim and Susan Rieger-From Left to Write

Susan Rieger author of The Divorce Papers

I also met Susan Rieger, author of our March book club feature  The Divorce PapersI love my virtual book club and discussing From Left to Write members’ discussion of their books. Susan has plenty of her ideas for her next books, and I’m looking forward to reading them when she’s finished.

Thien-Kim and Bevery Miranda-Whittemore-From Left to Write

Beverly Miranda-Whittemore, author of Bittersweet

Our book club members had very strong feelings about Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. The novel touched them in unexpected ways. Miranda enjoyed reading how her novel inspired everyone and even mentioned a particular post she read. Gotta love authors who make a point to connect with their readers.

The event was jammed packed, thanks to the sudden cool New York weather. It was just too chilly and windy to hang out on the terrace. Still, I had a chance to chat with the cool folks at Crown Publishing. It’s nice to chat in person when we just exchange emails most of the year.

This is just part one of my BEA recap. Stay tuned for Neil Patrick Harris photos! Plus I have some coveted copies of his book excerpts to give away!

13 Tips for Book Expo America Attendees

Tips for Book Expo America Attendees-From Left to Write

Tips for Book Expo America Attendees-From Left to WriteIt’s that time again! I’m excited once again to head to Book Expo America to learn about new books, talk to authors, and get an inside look on the publishing industry. If you’ve never been, it’s a HUGE conference with many concurrent events. I’m looking forward to meeting authors that I’ve stalked tweeted with this past year. Not to mention the authors we’ve featured as our book club selections.

This will be my fourth year at BEA and I’ve learned the hard way to not accept every book thrust at me. These are my tips for Book Expo America attendees from last year, but they are still valid for BEA 2014:

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. This is non-negotiable. The Javits is HUGE. You’ll be walking miles in your shoes. It’ll feel like you walked a mile just to get to the expensive food court full of greasy food. Don’t buy new shoes the day before you leave. Buy them now and break them in. Bring some talcum powder for your shoes. It’ll keep your feet from sweating and smelling bad after a long day of strolling the Javits.
  2. Business cards. Bring more than you think you’ll need. Keep them inside the badge for easy access and replenish as needed. You never who you’ll meet in the autograph line. It could be the next hot author or a kick-ass blogger. You want to stay in touch! I met author Alma Katsu last year during Book Blogger Con ad we still stay in touch.
  3. Don’t take every book handed to you. Really, it’s ok. I know it’s hard to turn down free books, but be honest with yourself. Are you going to be able to read all of them? You might take one to give to friends, but be realistic. Besides, your shoulders will thank you.
  4. Bring a tote bag. You’re going to receive a lot of galleys. My first hour at BEA last year, I received over 10 books. Without asking for them. Some of the publishers will giveaway tote bags but they might not be very big or comfortable. No rolling bags are allowed on the expo hall. Make sure your tote bag has wide comfortable straps.
  5. Or bring a rolling suitcase and check it in the luggage check. It costs around $3 a day per bag and you can revisit your bag as often as you want during the day.  Stop by periodically and drop your books off in your suitcase. Your back and shoulders will thank you. At the end of the day, just wheel your bag home or to your hotel room. Empty and repeat for the next day.
  6. Or start a box in the shipping room. The shipping area is basically a huge full of empty boxes. You can claim a box by writing your name on it. Fill it up throughout the week. When it’s full, you fill out the paperwork and pay for shipping. Boxes will be unsupervised, so if you got  Chris Colfer’s signed galley, keep it on your person. Last year the carrier was UPS. Just note that it won’t be cheap because of union rules. Last year there was a surcharge for $25 per box on top of shipping costs. You won’t be allowed to remove the box from the shipping room. Alternately, there is a FedEx location in the Javits as well, but they won’t hold your books for you. Javits during BEA
  7. Make an author must-see list. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re walking the many booths during the expo. Write down the day, time, and location of your favorite authors and set reminders so you won’t forget. Depending on the author, the line may start an hour before their appearance. You can also download the BEA Mobile app (iOs an Android) to make your schedule.
  8. Pack a backup battery for your smartphone or tablet. You don’t want to be without a camera if you run into Jane Lynch or Justin Cronin. You need evidence that you met them! I’m using my smartphone to keep track of my meetings, author events, and BEA parties. It’ll also be my primary way to stay in touch with my fellow book bloggers. I will be tweeting updates and photos while I’m there too. Follow me on Twitter for updates.  You’ll be on the go all day and don’t want to tethered to a wall outlet while your phone charges. I love my s New Trent backup battery  and my iPhone friends love Mophie Juice Pack.
  9. Pack clothes that work for both day and evening. This mostly applies to us ladies, but I’ll be on the go as soon as I walk out of my hotel room. Since I have meetings during the day, I’ll wear something business casual that won’t look out of place during happy hour. Think layers or accessories that you can keep in your bag. Dresses are also perfect for this. It’ll also be hot and humid in New York City, so plan in accordingly if you will be doing a lot of walking (which most New Yorkers do).
  10. Pack snacks and a reusable water bottle in your bag. Like I mentioned before the food court in the  Javits isn’t the best. Pack nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, whatever you like to snack on until you can get some real food. Some of the publishers’ booths have food or candy, but I didn’t want to chance chatting with the Dianetics people for some candy. Same with water. Pack a water bottle and fill it up at a water fountain. A 20 oz bottle of water from the Javits kiosk cost around $6 if I remember correctly. I even pack some Emergen-C  or Starbucks VIA Refreshers to mix with my water.
  11. Leave the Javits for lunch. If you can’t, at least go outside for some fresh New York City air. Besides, lunch at the Javits food court is not exactly superior quality or inexpensive. The vibe on the expo hall gets frantic sometimes. It’s nice to take yourself out of the hustle and bustle of the expo and relax a little bit.
  12. Attend a session or stage event. This is my advice to myself. Instead of just wandering around the expo floor all day or wait in line for author signings, I’m going to attend a couple of sessions. I’m planning on attending sessions on e-publishing and social media.
  13. Most importantly, meet new people! While you’re in line to meet an author or get a book, chat with the people around you. You’d be amaze by the interesting people you’ll meet. Who knows? You might make a friend for life!

If you’re attending Book Expo America in May, who are you looking forward to meeting?

This post contains affiliate links.

Meeting Amy Tan at Book Expo America

One of the highlights of Book Expo America for me was meeting Amy Tan. Ok, maybe meeting might be too strong a word. I said “Hi” to her as she signed her book and slid it over the table to me.

Amy Tan holds a special place in my teenage years. Prior to The Joy Luck Club, I don’t remember reading any contemporary books about the Asian American experience. Especially books about mother-daughter relationships. Like any teenager, my relationship with my mom was fraught with drama and battles of being Vietnamese versus American. Being first generation Asian American has its unique challenges. The Joy Luck Club comforted me because I realized I wasn’t alone in my challenges. It was also the first book I read about the Asian American experience that wasn’t about refugees and war.

For some reason, when you’re Vietnamese, people want you to read books like “The Boat People.” Not exactly a subject I could relate to since I was born and raised in rural Louisiana. Her book gave me the motivation to search for more books about the Asian American experience, with emphasis on the American.

I’ve been a fan of Amy Tan every since. From the book to its film adaptation that gave so many Asian American actors their break.

During her BEA talk, Amy Tan discussed her writing process as well as her inspiration behind her newest book The Valley of Amazement, due out in November 2013.  I keep talking about how The Joy Luck Club resonated with me as an Asian American. However, the themes in the book are universal. I think many mothers and daughters can relate to the struggles in the novel. In fact, the audience during the talk was very diverse, in ethnicity and age. That is a true testament to Amy Tan’s work.

You can watch the official video of Amy Tan’s talk. I started to take one on my phone, but there were so many people walking up to take photos of Amy Tan, my video isn’t very good.

Which author or book made an impact on your teenage years?

Book Club Picks from BEA 2013 (Video)

I had fun making my last Book Expo America top picks video, so I thought I’d make another one. These are books I think will create good discussions for book clubs. I would definitely read them, book club or not. (I tried to fix the sound so it was louder but only managed to make it a wee bit louder. I apologize for my tech fail on that part.)


Here are the books I mentioned in my video (affiliate links)

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L Silver (releases 6/11/13)

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (releases 6/4/13)

The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden (September 2013)

A Beautiful Truth by Colin MacAdam (September 2013)

Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman (October 2013)

Any of these book sound interesting to you?