Queen’s Park Book Festival 2018

June 19, 2018

Oh, to be in England in late June! June 30, to be exact, for the Queen’s Park Book Festival!

90 authors, 3 stages, 31 events…

Saturday 30 June – Sunday 1 July | Queen’s Park, Kilburn, NW6 6SG

www.qpbookfest.com | #QPBookFest

ZADIE SMITH | NICK LAIRD | CLEMENCY BURTON-HILL | GIORGIO LOCATELLI | NICHOLAS HYTNER

SIMON RUSSELL BEALE | RACHEL JOHNSON | STANLEY JOHNSON | SUSIE BOYT | RUSSELL NORMAN

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI | PHILIP HENSHER | JOE DUNTHORNE | ELEANOR CATTON | TESSA HADLEY CATHY RENTZENBRINK | LUCY HUGHES-HALLETT | STUART KELLY | LOUISA YOUNG | MELISSA BENN

STEPHEN FREARS | AMANDA CRAIG | FRANCESCA SEGAL | ELIZABETH FREMANTLE | AMOL RAJAN

IMOGEN HERMES GOWAR | ALI KNIGHT | NATASHA SOLOMONS | CAITLIN DAVIES | HUGH PYM

RACHEL HOLMES | RACHEL CLARKE | SARAH HILARY | DAVID SOLOMONS | BEN AARONOVITCH

IRENOSEN OKOJIE | JOHN PRESTON | MIHIR BOSE | CHRIS LEWIS | ADAM KAY

RICHARD WILLIAMS | GULWALI PASSARLAY

Events include:

REFUGEE STORIES | 70th ANNIVERSARY OF THE NHS | THE MAN BOOKER AT 50 | BAD GIRLS AND BRAVE WOMEN: REFLECTIONS ON A CENTENARY | REALITY POLITICS WITH RACHEL JOHNSON & STANLEY JOHNSON | TEN YEARS IN THE DEATH OF THE LABOUR PARTY

The Queen’s Park Book Festival is delighted to announce a packed weekend of literary celebration and debate in the heart of one of London’s favourite parks on Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July. 

Back by popular demand, the festival will bring together a mix of local, national and international writers and fresh literary talent led by the new Festival Director Thomas du Plessis. With over 40 events across the weekend there is something for everyone, with the programme covering current affairs, politics, fiction, stage and screen, sport, music, cookery, poetry and more, as well as free children’s events and family-friendly activities. The festival will also put local talent front and centre, shining a light on the extraordinary creativity of North West London.

Tickets on sale now at qpbookfest.com

PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS:

FICTION

Literary giants and local legends Zadie Smith (Feel Free) and Nick Laird (Modern Gods) join academic and critic John Mullan to talk about their lives in writing and to read from new works. Three novelists, Susie Boyt, Tessa Hadley and Lucy Hughes-Hallett,discuss the importance of reading to them as writers. Susie’s novel Love and Fame, Tessa’s short story collection The Past, and Lucy’s novel Peculiar Ground are all recently published in paperback. Man Booker shortlisted author Philip Hensher (The Friendly Ones) and brilliant young novelist Joe Dunthorne (The Adulterants) discuss their most recent books with John Mullan. Celebrating 50 years of the Man Booker Prize, 2013 winner Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries) interrogates the importance of prizes to writers with former Man Booker judge Stuart Kelly and member of the Advisory Committee for the Man BookerDerek Johns.

 Cathy Rentzenbrink (The Last Act of Love) and Louisa Young (You Left Early: a true story of love and alcohol) tackle the difficulty of writing about the loss of someone you loved. Amanda Craig (The Lie of the Land), Winner of the first Costa Book AwardFrancesca Segal (The Awkward Age) discuss happy and unhappy families in literature with Hannah Beckerman (The Dead Wife’s Handbook).

Three brilliant writers, author Gulwali Passerlay (The Lightless Sky: My Journey to Safety as a Child Refugee)author JJ Bola (No Place to Call Home: Love, Loss, Belonging) and artist Sophie Herxheimer (Velkom to Inklandt: Poems in my grandmother’s Inklisch) share their incredible refugee experiences with the journalist Emily Dugan.

Two of the finest writers of contemporary crime fiction, Sarah Hilary (Come and Find Me) and Ali Knight (The Silent Ones) reveal to renowned crime critic Barry Forshaw how closely guarded – and dangerous – secrets give their novels a chilling edge.

Elizabeth Fremantle (The Poison Bed) and Imogen Hermes Gowar (The Mermaid & Mrs Hancock) unpick the mesmeric nature of historical fiction. Nigerian British writer and Betty Trask award winner Irenosen Okojie discusses her short story collectionSpeak Gigantular with Shyama Perera. New York Times bestselling author Natasha Solomons talks about how she spins historical research into immersive fiction.

CURRENT AFFAIRS

Beloved local and former Tory MP Stanley Johnson (Kompromat) and editor, journalist, television presenter, author and daughter Rachel Johnson (Notting Hell) discuss the intersection of politics and TV. In this special event marking a hundred years since (some) women won the vote, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, award-winning journalist and author Caitlin Davies (Bad Girls: A History of Holloway Prison), acclaimed author Rachel Holmes (Eleanor Marx: A Life) consider the rich history of women and politics in Britain in an event chaired by journalist and author Melissa Benn (What should we tell our daughters?).

Celebrating the National Health Service’s 70th Anniversary, Health Editor for BBC News Hugh Pym (Inside the Banking Crisis: The Untold Story), Adam Kay (This is Going to Hurt) and Rachel Clarke (Your Life In My Hands: A Junior Doctor’s Story) will debate its future and how this cherished institution will need to adapt to survive. Broadcaster and journalist Michael Cockerelltalks to former Scottish Labour Party MP and journalist Tom Harris about his new book, Ten Years in the Death of the Labour Party. 

FILM AND THEATRE 

Bringing together our brightest stage and screen visionaries, English theatre director and film producer Nicholas Hytner(Balancing Act) and actor and music historian Simon Russell Beale allow their 30-year long conversation about Shakespeare to spill out on stage. Award-winning director Stephen Frears and author of A Very English Scandal John Preston will talk to Amol Rajan about the remarkable story of Jeremy Thorpe and the upcoming new BBC series adaptation of Preston’s book directedby Frears. A fringe event at the Lexi Cinema will host a special screening of the iconic 1931 horror film Frankenstein to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with John Sutherland(Frankenstein’s Brain: Puzzles and Conundrums in Mary Shelley’s Monstrous Masterpiece).

SPORT

BBC Sports Editor and author Mihir Bose (From Midnight to Glorious Morning?), former England cricketer Chris Lewis (Crazy: My Road to Redemption) & BBC presenter, editor and author Amol Rajan (Twirlymen: The Unlikely History of Cricket’s Greatest Spin Bowlers) discuss the latest scandals, developments and the future of the game itself. With the 2018 World Cup in full swing, former chief sports writer for the Guardian Richard Williams (The Death of Ayrton Senna), sports historian and local resident Simon Inglis and football writer Simon O’Hagan come together to discuss and analyse what we’ve witnessed so far.

MUSIC

English actress, novelist, musician, journalist and BBC radio 3 presenter Clemency Burton-Hill will discuss her new book Year of WonderClassical Music for Everyday with journalist and author Hannah Beckerman.

COOKERY

Restaurateur and award-winning author Russell Norman (Polpo) will interview Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Locatelli (Made at Home: The food I cook for the people I love) about his celebrated career and passion for cooking, as well as the secrets behind his latest recipes. For the intellectually hungry, there will be a literary brunch with veggie burger king, fractal artist and New Age entrepreneur Greg Sams (founder of Whole Earth foods, creator of the veggie burger, alternative thinker, published writer, entrepreneur), in conversation with local journalist and former Newsnight Editor Stephen Haggard.

LOCAL LEGENDS

The festival opens with an exclusive free event for the beneficiaries of the local literary charity Real Action, hosted by award winning children’s author David Solomons. Visitors will be able to find out the stories of the WW1 Servicemen of Queen’s Park who died in WW1 from local historians and experts from an exclusive investigation. The festival has commissioned local theatre company Palimpsest to create a special event with WW1 poetry readings and recitals for the festival. Author of Humans of Greater London, Cathy Teesdale has been commissioned to create an exclusive exhibition Humans of Queen’s Park, which champions and celebrates local residents of Queen’s Park. Local social enterprise Advantages of Age which celebrates growing old will present ‘The Tales from the Hot Tub’ with ten local writers and poets discussing their unique take on modern life, inspired by nights in a Kilburn hot tub.

POETRY

An event entitled ‘stormy waters’ will be a spirited and beguiling look at modern life through the eyes of three poets: Caroline SmithChrys Salt MBE and Dzifa Benson in conversation with Rachael Newberry. Local authors and poets will be reading from their own work and stories written specifically for Queen’s Park Book Festival, presenting their unique view of Queen’s Park including: Yvonne Bailey-Smith (writer and psychotherapist), Mary Daly (writer and Brent Labour counsellor), Duncan McDowall (writer and local autobiographer), Mulumba Tshikuka (debonair writer and performer). Hosted by local writer and festival organiser Hud Saunders. The 8 local short stories will be published in a pamphlet specially for the Queen’s Park Book Festival, that will be given out free to the audience on the day.

CHILDREN’S

There are free children’s events throughout the weekend with authors including Ben LyttletonAlex Bellos (Football School: The Amazing Quiz Book ), Yuval Zommer (Bugs and BeastsKevin Tsang (Sam Wu is NOT afraid of ghosts), Katherine Webber (Wing Jones) and Lou Kuenzler (Not Yet Zebra)Booking

Tickets on sale now to buy at qpbookfest.com. Attendees can collectively fund the free events and charity events at the festival when purchasing tickets via a small voluntary donation via the website.

 


BookCon 2018!

June 12, 2018

So happy to be able to share a few videos from BookCon 2018

 


DREAMS OF FALLING by Karen White

June 6, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for Karen White’s latest!

PureWowSouthern Living, and PopSugar have all chosen Karen White’s DREAMS OF FALLING (Berkley Hardcover, June 5) as a best beach read of summer! It also made the list at LibraryReads.

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Karen White crafts evocative relationships in this contemporary women’s fiction novel, set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, about lifelong friends who share a devastating secret.

On the banks of the North Santee River stands a moss-draped oak that was once entrusted with the dreams of three young girls. Into the tree’s trunk, they placed their greatest hopes, written on ribbons, for safekeeping–including the most important one: Friends forever, come what may.

But life can waylay the best of intentions….

Nine years ago, a humiliated Larkin Lanier fled Georgetown, South Carolina, knowing she could never go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she realizes she has no choice but to return to the place she both loves and dreads–and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home.

Ivy, Larkin’s mother, is discovered badly injured and unconscious in the burned-out wreckage of her ancestral plantation home. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly fifty years–whispers of love, sacrifice, and betrayal–that lead back to three girls on the brink of womanhood who found their friendship tested in the most heartbreaking ways.

Connect with the author:  Karen White

Praise for Dreams of Falling

“Three lifelong best friends. One dark secret that will reverberate for generations to come. Told in multiple timelines of the present and the past, this is Southern fiction at its best. A novel about dreams, friendship, and family, Dreams of Falling will make you long for home.”—PopSugar

“Intricate storytelling across generations and time periods, using eloquent language, makes for deep characterization alongside a brisk-paced plot. Full of family secrets and southern charm, Dreams of Falling serves equal helpings of drama and comfort to fans of Dorothea Benton Frank, Mary Alice Monroe, and Barbara Claypole White.”—Booklist

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DREAMS OF FALLING by Karen White. Berkley (June 5, 2018). ISBN 978-0451488411. 416p.

Kindle


Celeste Ng | What I’m Reading

May 31, 2018

Celeste Ng is one of my favorite authors – she’s only written two novels, Little Fires Everywhere (2017) and Everything I Never Told You (2014) but both books are fantastic! So of course I’m dying to know what she is reading.


The Great American Read

May 29, 2018

PBS rules! A two-hour television special about books? Who thinks of something like this? Only PBS. Not only a TV special, but several more episodes to follow in the fall.

What’s it all about? America gets to vote on their favorite novel!

A preliminary poll resulted in a list of 100 books. Now you can join an online book club,  share your story about which novel has had the biggest impact on your life and take a quiz to see how many of the 100 you have read (I’ve read 62, not as many as I would have thought!)

Much to my surprise, the list of books is in alphabetical order by title. The librarian in me found that odd, so I searched around and found that you can also sort it by author – except it is by the author’s FIRST name. That is so not helpful! (Obviously, a librarian was not involved in this process.)

So I created my own lists. The entire list alphabetical by author’s last name; then I created other lists breaking out fiction, science fiction & fantasy, young adult, children’s and Spanish. That is how my library does it, but your mileage may vary, etc. For instance, on the PBS special, the host, Meredith Vieira, noted that about 25% of the titles on the list were science fiction or fantasy. At my library, less than 10% are filed that way, most are in Fiction because they are considered classics or they are in Young Adult (like The Hunger Games & the Twilight books.) The Harry Potter books are the only books that straddle two specific lists, both YA and children’s, because at my library, they are shelved in both. And because I am a librarian and we love to spread good information far and wide, I’m sharing my lists here.

Great American Read Library List (complete list, alphabetical by author’s LAST name!)

AUTHOR TITLE
1 Achebe  Things Fall Apart
2 Adams  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy
3 Adichie  Americanah
4 Alcott  Little Women
5 Anaya  Bless Me, Ultima
6 Andrews  Flowers In The Attic
7 Asimov  Foundation (series)
8 Atwood  The Handmaid’s Tale
9 Auel  Clan of the Cave Bear
10 Austen  Pride and Prejudice
11 Baldwin  Another Country
12 Brontë, Charlotte  Jane Eyre
13 Brontë, Emily  Wuthering Heights
14 Brown  The Da Vinci Code
15 Bunyan  The Pilgrim’s Progress
16 Carroll  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
17 Cervantes  Don Quixote
18 Christie  And Then There Were None
19 Clancy  The Hunt For Red October
20 Cline  Ready Player One
21 Coelho  The Alchemist
22 Collins  The Hunger Games (series)
23 Conrad  Heart Of Darkness
24 Crichton  Jurassic Park
25 Díaz  The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao
26 Dickens  Great Expectations
27 Dostoyevsky  Crime and Punishment
28 du Maurier  Rebecca
29 Dumas  The Count of Monte Cristo
30 Ellison  Invisible Man
31 Fitzgerald  The Great Gatsby
32 Flynn  Gone Girl
33 Follett  The Pillars of The Earth
34 Gabaldon  Outlander (series)
35 Gallegos  Doña Bárbára
36 García Márquez  One Hundred Years of Solitude
37 Golden  Memoirs of a Geisha
38 Green  Looking for Alaska
39 Haddon  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
40 Heller  Catch-22
41 Hemingway  The Sun Also Rises
42 Herbert  Dune
43 Hesse  Siddhartha
44 Hinton  The Outsiders
45 Hunt  Mind Invaders
46 Hurston  Their Eyes Were Watching God
47 Irving  A Prayer For Owen Meany
48 James  Fifty Shades Of Grey (series)
49 Jordan  The Wheel of Time (series)
50 King  The Stand
51 Knowles  A Separate Peace
52 Koontz  Watchers
53 LaHaye  Left Behind (series)
54 Lee  To Kill a Mockingbird
55 Lewis  The Chronicles of Narnia (series)
56 London  The Call Of The Wild
57 Lowry  The Giver
58 Martin  Game of Thrones (series)
59 Maupin  Tales of The City (series)
60 McCammon  Swan Song
61 McMurtry  Lonesome Dove
62 Melville  Moby-Dick
63 Meyer  The Twilight Saga (series)
64 Mitchell  Gone with the Wind
65 Montgomery  Anne of Green Gables
66 Morrison  Beloved
67 Orwell 1984
68 Patterson  Alex Cross Mysteries (series)
69 Paulsen  Hatchet (series)
70 Peretti  This Present Darkness
71 Puzo  The Godfather
72 Rand  Atlas Shrugged
73 Rawls  Where the Red Fern Grows
74 Reynolds  Ghost
75 Robinson  Gilead
76 Rowling  Harry Potter (series)
77 Saint-Exupéry  The Little Prince
78 Salinger  The Catcher in the Rye
79 Sebold  The Lovely Bones
80 Shelley  Frankenstein
81 Smith, Betty  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
82 Smith, Zadie  White Teeth
83 Souljah  Coldest Winter Ever
84 Sparks  The Notebook
85 Steinbeck  The Grapes of Wrath
86 Stockett  The Help
87 Swift  Gulliver’s Travels
88 Tan  The Joy Luck Club
89 Tolkien  The Lord of the Rings (series)
90 Tolstoy  War and Peace
91 Toole  A Confederacy of Dunces
92 Twain  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
93 Vonnegut  The Sirens Of Titan
94 Walker  The Color Purple
95 Weir  The Martian
96 White  Charlotte’s Web
97 Whitehead  The Intuitionist
98 Wilde  The Picture of Dorian Gray
99 Young  The Shack
100 Zusak  The Book Thief

 

 

Great American Read Library List (Fiction list, alphabetical by author)

AUTHOR TITLE
Achebe  Things Fall Apart
Adichie  Americanah
Alcott  Little Women
Anaya  Bless Me, Ultima
Andrews  Flowers In The Attic
Atwood  The Handmaid’s Tale
Auel  Clan of the Cave Bear
Austen  Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin  Another Country
Brontë, Charlotte  Jane Eyre
Brontë, Emily  Wuthering Heights
Brown  The Da Vinci Code
Bunyan  The Pilgrim’s Progress
Cervantes  Don Quixote
Christie  And Then There Were None
Clancy  The Hunt For Red October
Cline  Ready Player One
Coelho  The Alchemist
Conrad  Heart Of Darkness
Crichton  Jurassic Park
Díaz  The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao
Dickens  Great Expectations
Dostoyevsky  Crime and Punishment
du Maurier  Rebecca
Dumas  The Count of Monte Cristo
Ellison  Invisible Man
Fitzgerald  The Great Gatsby
Flynn  Gone Girl
Follett  The Pillars of The Earth
Gabaldon  Outlander (series)
García Márquez  One Hundred Years of Solitude
Golden  Memoirs of a Geisha
Haddon  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Heller  Catch-22
Hemingway  The Sun Also Rises
Hesse  Siddhartha
Hurston  Their Eyes Were Watching God
Irving  A Prayer For Owen Meany
James  Fifty Shades Of Grey (series)
King  The Stand
Knowles  A Separate Peace
Koontz  Watchers
LaHaye  Left Behind (series)
Lee  To Kill a Mockingbird
London  The Call Of The Wild
Maupin  Tales of The City (series)
McCammon  Swan Song
McMurtry  Lonesome Dove
Melville  Moby-Dick
Mitchell  Gone with the Wind
Montgomery  Anne of Green Gables
Morrison  Beloved
Orwell 1984
Patterson  Alex Cross Mysteries (series)
Peretti  This Present Darkness
Puzo  The Godfather
Rand  Atlas Shrugged
Robinson  Gilead
Salinger  The Catcher in the Rye
Sebold  The Lovely Bones
Shelley  Frankenstein
Smith, Betty  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Smith, Zadie  White Teeth
Souljah  Coldest Winter Ever
Sparks  The Notebook
Steinbeck  The Grapes of Wrath
Stockett  The Help
Swift  Gulliver’s Travels
Tan  The Joy Luck Club
Tolstoy  War and Peace
Tolstoy  War and Peace
Toole  A Confederacy of Dunces
Toole  A Confederacy of Dunces
Twain  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Vonnegut  The Sirens Of Titan
Walker  The Color Purple
Whitehead  The Intuitionist
Wilde  The Picture of Dorian Gray
Young  The Shack

 

Great American Read Library List (Sci Fi & Fantasy list, alphabetical by author)

AUTHOR TITLE
Adams  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy
Asimov  Foundation (series)
Herbert  Dune
Hunt  Mind Invaders
Jordan  The Wheel of Time (series)
Martin  Game of Thrones (series)
Tolkien  The Lord of the Rings (series)
Weir  The Martian

 

Great American Read Library List (Young Adult list, alphabetical by author)

AUTHOR TITLE
Collins  The Hunger Games (series)
Green  Looking for Alaska
Hinton  The Outsiders
Lowry  The Giver
Meyer  The Twilight Saga (series)
Reynolds  Ghost
Rowling  Harry Potter (series)
Zusak  The Book Thief

 

Great American Read Library List (Children’s list, alphabetical by author)

AUTHOR TITLE
Carroll  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Paulsen  Hatchet (series)
Rawls  Where the Red Fern Grows
Rowling  Harry Potter (series)
Saint-Exupéry  The Little Prince
White  Charlotte’s Web

 

Great American Read Library List (Spanish book)

Gallegos  Doña Bárbára

 


Six Picks: Beach Reads

May 20, 2018

Very eclectic list!


How the Romance Genre Empowers Women

April 24, 2018

Romance writers on how the genre empowers women

Romance authors reflect on how the genre empowers, represents, and includes. Featuring Chanel Cleeton, Kate Bateman, Shayla Black, Tamsen Parker, Sarina Bowen, and Milly Taiden.


Faith Salie | What I’m Reading

April 8, 2018

I am a big fan of NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” and Faith Salie is one of the smartest guests they have on. In fact, she recently set a record with her high score. So I was curious to see what she is reading, and hope you are too! Plus she has a book….

Approval Junkie: My Heartfelt (and Occasionally Inappropriate) Quest to Please Just

Click to purchase

About Everyone, and Ultimately Myself

From comedian and journalist Faith Salie, of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and CBS News Sunday Morning, a collection of daring, funny essays chronicling the author’s adventures during her lifelong quest for approval

Faith Salie has done it all in the name of validation. Whether she’s trying to impress her parents with a perfect GPA, undergoing an exorcism to save her toxic marriage, or baking a 3D excavator cake for her son’s birthday, Salie is the ultimate approval seeker—an “approval junkie,” if you will.

In this collection of daring, honest essays, Salie shares stories from her lifelong quest for gold stars, recounting her strategy for winning (very Southern) high school beauty pageant; her struggle to pick the perfect outfit to wear to her divorce; and her difficulty falling in love again, and then conceiving, in the years following her mother’s death.

With thoughtful irreverence, Salie reflects on why she tries so hard to please others, and herself, highlighting a phenomenon that many people—especially women—experience at home and in the workplace. Equal parts laugh-out loud funny and poignant, Approval Junkie is one woman’s journey to realizing that seeking approval from others is more than just getting them to like you—it’s challenging yourself to achieve, and survive, more than you ever thought you could.


REVIEW: POD TOURS AMERICA

April 7, 2018

I’ve been a fan of Pod Save America (and Crooked Media) since their first podcast with President Barack Obama when they did his last interview before he left office. The podcast is described as,

A political podcast for people not yet ready to give up or go insane…a no-bullshit conversation about politics hosted by Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor that breaks down the week’s news and helps people figure out what matters and how to help.

That’s directly from the Crooked Media website, and I couldn’t have summed it up any better. These guys are smart, thoughtful, committed and funny as hell and they have kept me from sticking my head in the oven and helped me navigate the days since Trump took office. When I knew that the shit I was hearing from the White House didn’t make sense, or I didn’t understand how things in the West Wing* usually work, they explained. So when they announced a Miami stop on “Pod Tours America,” a live show of the podcast, I wanted to go.

*My only frame of reference for the West Wing is the TV show “The West Wing,” and my other favorite podcast, “The West Wing Weekly,” hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina.

Not only were they doing “Pod Save America,” there was a second show in Miami, “Lovett or Leave It.” Jon Lovett is smart and hilarious and does his podcast live every Friday night, usually in Los Angeles, and I often start my Saturday when the podcast becomes available. PSA is the more serious show, although it certainly has funny moments, especially when Lovett is on. Lovett’s show is my comic relief for the week. My husband and I bought tickets for both.

The shows were held in the Olympia Theater, a historic theater in Miami on April 6, 2018. On a side note, my husband works with a man who remembers going to that theater as a child. It was a movie theater back then, and he said they would pay a nickel to get in and spend most of the day there, watching cartoons, news, movies, etc.

First up was “Pod Save America” with the entire cast plus “Friend of the Pod,” contributor Akilah Hughes. There was a photo opp for a leadership group from a local Miami High school and Marco Rubio made an appearance (just kidding! But a giant Marco head did show up on stage.) Two seniors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Diego Pfeiffer and Delaney Tarr, were the guests.

The show was fantastic. A deep dive was taken into the news of the day (Trump, Scott Pruitt, Trump) and there was a great discussion about how Governor Rick Scott (boos were loud) has changed his politics as he readies for a run for the senate against long time Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who actually cares about his constituents and what happens to us. Marco Rubio was also discussed/made fun of.

Another segment was about news that was under the radar. Tommy Vietor’s passionate response to this question was a rant about Donald Trump and his recent attack on the caravan of immigrants moving towards the U.S. This was started by his getting erroneous information from the “entertainment show” Fox & Friends. Tommy said, “This is why I hate him (Donald Trump)…when he pounds on the people who have it the worst, he reveals his true character.” I love Tommy –  he was President Obama’s National Security Spokesman and has his own terrific podcast on foreign affairs called “Pod Save the World.”

When the MSD students came on stage, they were given a well deserved standing ovation, and Tommy Vietor and Dan Pfeiffer did a fine job interviewing them. It was truly inspiring.

As regular listeners of the pod know, the live shows tend to borrow a bit from “Lovett or Leave It,” specifically some of the games. This show did that, playing “Okay Stop” where they roll a film clip and the panelists shout out “okay stop” and comment on what they just heard. This one was a clip from Fox News featuring Tucker Carlson talking about the YouTube shooting and how the left wing media didn’t focus on the gun because it was just a handgun and didn’t fit their narrative. He neglected to point out that it was most likely because it was a handgun that the only death was that of the shooter by suicide. They also played a game with a member of the audience, Emily, a student at Florida Southern College. Once she said, “Go, Mocs” Jon Lovett lost his shit and thought she was cheering for shoes, and that started a whole discussion about water moccasins, what they are, school mascots, etc. and was pretty funny.

The show ended with a short Q&A from the audience, which doesn’t generally air on the podcast. They allowed the first three people who could get to the microphone to ask questions. Someone asked how to replicate fantastic schools like MSD. Unfortunately, there was no good answer to that. One, dare I say it, older lady, ran down there. She introduced herself an another kind of “senior”  and a Broward County teacher, and asked about FBI agent Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran in 2007. His son was one of her students. Despite the fact that it was over ten years ago, Tommy Vietor took that question, had all the available facts at his fingertips, and spoke eloquently and compassionately about what happened, the little that they knew, and how he wished they could have handled it better. I was impressed by his candor and depth of knowledge about something that happened so long ago.

I am a baby boomer and all these guys are millenials, as is most of their audience. I could probably count on both hands the number of boomers in the audience. I couldn’t help but feel like I may not quite be the past yet, but these guys are definitely the present and along with the students from MSD, they are the future. Knowing there are such smart people invested in what is going on in this country today and are revving up for tomorrow leaves me feeling hopeful. Hope and change, I still believe.

“Lovett or Leave It” was the late show. To be honest, I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been to the earlier show, there was too much repetition. That said, I adore Jon Lovett, despite his disparaging baby boomer comments over the past year and his one time negative comment about libraries. I have forgiven, but obviously not forgotten. Bottom line is he makes me laugh out loud and I think he’s brilliant. His show is always irreverent, and this was no exception.

The format of the show is different from PSA. Lovett is the host and he always has three guest panelists on. Lately, he has taken to announcing really unlikely, often bizarre people as guests, like Scott Pruitt, before introducing the actual guests and that is always good for some boos and some laughs before the panelists appear. The guests for this show were Natasha Del Toro, who made a documentary called “Wasteland,” an in depth look at Scott Pruitt, Alicia Menendez, a contributing editor at Bustle and Akilah Hughes made a return appearance after doing the first show. It was a good panel but I was hoping that maybe Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum would have made an appearance.

Lovett is much more laid back and casual than PSA. The format of the show always starts with “What a Week,” a recap of all the insanity of the news of the week. It is almost always overwhelming to go through seven days in Trump’s America.

The rest of the show is divided into different games. There are regulars, like “Okay Stop” which made an appearance on this show as well, featuring another Fox News film clip featuring Fox & Friends presidential fave, Steve Doocy (has anyone ever been more aptly named?) Doocy raved about white privilege, bringing on an African American man to discuss so they could have a completely racist discussion but it was okay because the guest was black? One of the panelists (Akilah?) pointed out that it was really a waste because the entire Fox & Friends audience probably turned it off once the “token” made his appearance. Most of the film clips for this game are from Fox News. It’s just easy pickings.

Other games included a new one called “Would More Paper Towels Help?” about Trump’s complete mishandling of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and a special for Miami edition about climate change called “Welcome to Waterworld,” where the tide rises to flood Miami if the panel gets the wrong answers. The show always ends with “The Rant Wheel,” and where it lands, rants begin. Topics are on the wheel included the film, “Blockers,” Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Border Invasion, Driverless Car Deaths and more. The panel actually ranted about most of the topics but usually only 4 or so make it to the podcast – I’m curious to see which ones do. Judging by the Lovett rants on the movie and driverless cars, I’d bet on those two for sure.

If I may be permitted my own minor rant for Jon Lovett – in case your mother didn’t tell you (yes, his parents were in the audience,) sit up! Stop slouching and sit in your chair like a grown up. You’re on stage in front of hundreds of people, have a little respect. Rant over.

It was a really fun night and I’m so glad we got to go to both shows. It all sort of ran together for me a bit, so I apologize for any erroneous attributions or anything I got wrong. I borrowed some of these photos from the Crooked Media website and Twitter.

After seeing the live show, I’m even more excited for the upcoming HBO Pod Save America specials. There are more live shows coming up, check out the Tour page for more info and how to buy tickets.


Spare Me the Sneak Peaks

March 26, 2018

Can I just tell you all how much I hate “sneak peaks” of books? It wasn’t really an issue when I was mostly reading crime fiction or literary fiction and before there were digital galleys. But once I started reading romance, it became a problem; the same with digital galleys.

If you’re not familiar, and really unless you are a reviewer why would you be, digital galleys are the e-book version of advance reader copies. ARCs are the paperback pre-published books that publishers mail out to reviewers usually months before the book actually hits store shelves. I still get a lot of print galleys, but no where near what I used to get prior to the end of the world as we know it, AKA e-books.

Now I am like a kid in a candy store. There are two main websites that distribute digital galleys and they are constantly updating them. Between the two, I can choose between literally thousands of pre-published books, most of which are mine for the taking. Some I have to send a request to the publisher, but they almost always approve it.

So when I saw Gayle Forman has a new book coming out, I clicked on “read now” before I read the fine print. She writes both “young adult” and “women’s fiction” books and while I don’t read many young adult books, I make exceptions for certain authors like Rainbow Rowell and Gayle Forman. The upcoming book is called “I Have Lost My Way” and I was still excited after I realized it was a young adult book. But then when I looked a little closer, I saw the dreaded “Sneak Peak” on the picture of the book cover. Luckily, the other website had the full galley available so I was spared.

Romance readers are undoubtedly used to this. You read a romance, get your happily ever after, then you turn the page and there is chapter one of the next book in the series or the first book of a new series or whatever. But just the first chapter, or sometimes the first few chapters.

With the advent of digital galleys, there are occasionally “buzz books” put together, a compilation of sneak peaks of several upcoming books. There are monthly versions and usually after a big conference, like Book Expo or the American Library Association annual conference, there will be digital “books” of sneak peaks of the upcoming books heralded at the conference. I still like the buzz books because they also include a roundup of upcoming titles, but I mostly ignore the excerpts now.

I used to eagerly read them, but then I noticed something, and maybe I’m the only one with this issue. When the book finally did become available in its entirety, I would start reading it and realize it was way too familiar – oh wait, I must have read this already. Then put the book down and move on to the next one. Occasionally, if a book becomes really popular or I keep hearing about it for whatever reason, I will look at it more closely, and once or twice I realized I hadn’t actually read the book, just a sneak peak!

So my solution now is to just ignore them. I don’t turn the page at the end of a romance, if I download buzz books to my e-reader I just read the roundups, and if I accidentally get a “sneak peak,” I’m not going to read it. I got an email from the marketing department at Grand Central letting me know that David Baldacci’s  next Amos Decker thriller, The Fallen, will be available on April 17. They included a link to a digital excerpt. I will not be clicking that link. I will wait, however impatiently, for the entire book.

Maybe its symptomatic of reading 4-6 books a week that I can’t remember that I read only the beginning of whatever book feels familiar. And I’m certainly not going to start scanning through the thousands of titles on my Kindle and iPad to see if it was in another book somewhere. If it took me weeks to read a book then I may not have this problem, but it doesn’t. I read most books in a day or two and almost immediately start the next one.

That is the beauty of the e-book, by the way, to have hundreds of books just waiting for me to read them. Just not the sneak peaks.