Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Book club recommendations

The other day I had the pleasure of meeting with another local book club that had read THE SMART ONE and, as always, had a blast. A big shout-out that Long Island group and to all the readers who made THE SMART ONE such a popular book club choice. It's a thrill to know you enjoyed reading about the three sisters--Bev, Clare and Joey--and discussing their journey. (Click here to read an excerpt, click here to read a review.)

If your book club hasn't yet discussed it, please know that I'm available for phone-in appearances, which are always so much fun. To sign up, click here to fill out the form, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. (If you're local, drop me a line and I'll try to visit in person.) To see discussion questions, click here.




Here are some other novels I think your book club will love ...

Allison Winn Scotch's book, THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND, is now available in paperback. If you ever thought the topic the breast cancer couldn't be handled with as much humor as poignancy, you should read this novel. The critics at Booklist said, "Scotch handles the topic of cancer with humor and hope, never dipping into the maudlin. The changes and realizations that the characters make are profound and moving. An impressive debut." You can read more reviews here.


Rebecca Flowers' stupendous debut, NICE TO COME HOME TO, is now in bookstores. I had a pleasure getting my hands on an advance review copy of this book, and it knocked me out. Sister stories are near and dear to my heart, and this is truly one of the best. I hope this book gets the attention it deserves. Click here to read an excerpt.

I mentioned Alice Hoffman's newest novel, THE THIRD ANGEL, in my previous blog entry, but I didn't want to miss this chance to recommend it for book clubs. It's a multi-generational story about three flawed and fascinating women with a tendency to self-destruct. It's richly constructed and beautifully told, and I loved every page. If you want to read what the critics are saying, click here.



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Author Brunch Recap

Today was the LIWA Author Brunch at Hofstra. In addition to being thrilled and honored to interview Alice Hoffman about her new book, THE THIRD ANGEL, I was excited to hear Larry Davidson interview Eric Van Lustbader and Victoria Lustbader. Larry was a terrifically colorful interviewer. Eric was so wry he could have a second career as a stand-up comic, and Victoria was utterly disarming in her candor. Fantastic!


Eric Van Lustbader, Victoria Lustbader and Larry Davidson



I got to see a proof for the cover of Eric's forthcoming FIRST DAUGHTER (Forge 8/08), and it looks astounding. (It's on my wishlist.) I already read Victoria's amazing debut, HIDDEN, which is now out in paperback, and am looking forward to her next one, STONE CREEK (Harper 5/08).


It was good to see old friends and new ones at this event. My bud, Carol Hoenig, was there. She's wasn't promoting anything, but she's a wonderful writer and if you haven't read WITHOUT GRACE, I highly recommend it. If you're an author, you should also check out her Guide to PLANNING BOOK EVENTS. Carol's a pro and has tons of valuable info.

I was very excited to meet my newest writer friend, Long Island homey Saralee Rosenberg. I had just read the ARC for her forthcoming novel, DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD, which I was more than happy to blurb, as it's rare to find a book that's so funny and yet has so much heart.

Big thanks to the friends who came, to everyone who introduced themselves, and to the gals from the Hofstra bookstore. A major shout-out to award-winning journalist Debbi Honorof for putting this event together. She astounds me.

Here are some shots Carol got while Alice and I were chatting ...





As you probably know, writers are my rock stars. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to meet Alice and find that in addition to being one of our most talented contemporary authors, she's kind, generous and down-to-earth. She made me feel like we were old friends.

That said, I hope you'll rush out and buy THE THIRD ANGEL not because I like Alice Hoffman so much, but because you'll love the book. USA Today sure did.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT

By Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

It's Girlfriends Cyber Circuit time! And I'm happy to be blogging about the feisty, funny MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga. Here's the press release description:

MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT is a comic, cross-cultural novel, out now, that has a mouth-watering pastry theme running through it that makes many a reader either head to the kitchen to start baking or just make a beeline to the nearest cake shop.

What happens when a young woman, fresh from Japan and too independent for Japanese society, finds herself suddenly lost in translation in San Francisco as she searches for her American Dream and the perfect dessert?

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga answers this question and more in her poignant comic novel, MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT, where we meet thirty-year-old Midori Saito, whose dream seems about to come true. A strong independent streak has always made her feel like a stranger in a strange land in her native Japan, but now she’s embarking on a new life in San Francisco. She’s about to marry Kevin, the perfect American man—six feet tall, with curly hair the color of marmalade. Unlike a Japanese guy who’d demand she be a housewife, Kevin doesn’t mind if Midori follows her dream of becoming a master pastry chef. Her life is turning out as exquisitely as a Caramelized Apple Tart with Crème Fraiche, until Kevin dumps her at their engagement party in favor of his blond, ex-fiancée, whom Midori never even knew existed.

Now Midori is not only on her own—with just a smattering of fractured English in her repertoire—she’s entered the U.S. on a fiancée visa that will expire in sixty days. Unable to face the humiliation of telling her parents she’s been dumped, and not wanting to give up on her American dream, Midori realizes she’s “up the creek without a saddle.” Her only hope is new acquaintance Shinji, 30, who long ago escaped Japan after a family tragedy, is a successful San Francisco graphic artist and amateur moon gazer, and who lets her share his apartment as a platonic roommate.

Soon Midori finds herself working at an under-the-table hostess job at an unsavory Japanese karaoke bar, making (and eating) way too many desserts, meeting a charming and handsome chef with his own restaurant who may be too good to be true, and trying to uncover the secret behind a mysterious bar hostess who looks strangely familiar. But Midori’s willing to endure almost anything to hang on to her American dream, and she just might find that the love she’s been searching for far and wide is a whole lot closer than she thinks
.

"Poignant comic novel" sounds right up my alley, so I was glad to see glowing praise from from critics and fellow authors. Here are some samples:

“Tokunaga depicts Midori's determination to create her own version of the American dream with exuberance [in this] delectably frothy debut.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Tokunaga suffuses the book with warmth and lightness. . .Just as the right dessert hits the spot, reading this delicious slice of escapism makes for a perfect afternoon. But instead of suffering a sugar crash afterward, you'll muse for days about the characters you've left behind and why they matter so much to you.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“[Midori by Moonlight] draws upon vivid imagery when defining traits of Japanese culture and really hits the nail on the head when depicting some American attitudes toward others.... witty and charming."—Charleston Gazette

“A surprisingly pleasurable read.”—Daily Yomiuri

“Midori is endearing, feisty, and funny: the novel is a delight.” – Ellen Sussman, editor of Bad Girls and author of On a Night Like This

“A delightful fusion of East meeting West, as if Banana Yoshimoto and Meg Cabot got together to create a romantic comedy.” - Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of Vertigo

You can buy MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT at your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Wendy's website at wendynelsontokunaga.com.

____________

REMINDER: Tomorrow (Sunday) is the LIWA Author Brunch at the Hofstra University Club. You can register at the door. Click here for driving directions.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Time Deficit

When your schedule is so crushing you don't have time to lift your head, it's easy to forget about the rest of the world. But today I took a few minutes to peruse The New York Times and realized that the time crunch I'm experiencing is a nationwide epidemic. But more on that in a minute.

Last weekend was my middle son's bar mitzvah. I would compare the planning to a rocket launch, only if I announced, "Houston, we have a problem," there'd be no mission control to respond back. I had to man every station myself. Okay, so I didn't have to learn a haftorah. But I honestly think my son had the easier job. (Which isn't to say I'm not proud of him. He performed so magnificently he surprised even me, and that's saying a lot. There are stars in these eyes.)

I thought my schedule would open wide after the bar mitzvah, but I haven't had a second to catch my breath. This Sunday I'm interviewing Alice Hoffman live at the LIWA Author Brunch at the Hofstra University Club. That meant dropping everything to read the ARC of her magnificent new book, THE THIRD ANGEL, so that I could prepare for the interview. I needed to rush through that task because I promised another writer a blurb for her book, and she needs it pronto. In the midst of all this, the page proofs for my next book, THE SMART ONE, landed on my doorstep. Of course, my publisher wants me to read it immediately and send it back.

While juggling all of the above, I had to find time for another event. Last night I did a book talk at the Junior League of Long Island. Of course, I had to do a bit of prep for the appearance, but mostly this was a lovely reprieve. I was honored to be asked and had a great time. The Junior League is an incredible organization, made up of women volunteers who give their time for the benefit of needy women and children in their community. I was very impressed with the kindness and intelligence of this group.

And guess what else? They gave me flowers! No one's ever given me a bouquet for a book talk before, and I was genuinely touched. Look how pretty they are!
A special shout-out of thanks to Tracy, Grace and the rest of the remarkable group!

Meanwhile, I'm typing this as fast as I can so I can get on with the thousand or so things I have to do with the rest of my day. But I don't want to sign off without mentioning what it was that surprised me in the newspaper this morning. It was about last night's Idol Gives Back. If you saw it, you no doubt noticed that the show was jam-packed with a star-studded cast of performers. What you didn't see, however, was a single presidential candidate, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain all taped fundraising pleas for the show. None made the final cut.

American Idol did not have time for the future President of the United States.

And to think, I feel guilty about ignoring my laundry ...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

World Autism Awareness Day


An organization called Autism Speaks has designated April 2 World Autism Awareness Day. For those of us who love someone with autism, it's an important opportunity to spread the word about this often devastating disorder.

According to the website:

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

For more information, visit autismspeaks.org.

To read a fictional story based on a mother's real life emotional response, click here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008