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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Enter to Win Jennifer Weiner's FLY AWAY HOME

So Many Books, So Little Time is giving a copy of Jennifer Weiner's new book,  Fly Away Home.
Contest details here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday Five- Volume 4

This week's Friday Five are five things that made me go WOW.

1. Broadway Boys-  Broadway Boys are six Broadway singers, all tenors, who sang  the most beautiful rendition of "Defying Gravity" from Wicked that it gave me goosebumps. I saw them at the Sirius XM Radio's Live on Broadway taping on Wednesday, and I just saw that they are going to be at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Triangle on July 6th at 5pm. I will be there!

2. Million Dollar Quartet- the performers from Broadway's Million Dollar Quartet performed three songs at the CD signing at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Triangle, and they had the audience almost out of their seats as they sang Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On". I can't wait to see that show.

3. Skinny Cow's Chocolate Fudge Truffle Bar- I can't believe anything this rich and tasty is only 100 calories.  And it's Best Life Approved by Oprah's diet guru Bob Greene.

4. Emma Donoghue's upcoming novel Room- I got an advanced reader copy of Emma Donoghue's Room at BEA, and it took but a few hours to read this incredible, heartbreaking novel. Told from the point of  view of a five-year-old boy who is being held hostage in a room with his mother (who was kidnapped at the age of 19), it has drawn comparisons to The Lovely Bones, but I think it is even better.
The book comes out in September, and I will definitely be reviewing it before then. It is the best book I have read this year.

5. The lobster roll from Luke's Lobster- A new restaurant opened up a few blocks from my apartment, on 81st between 2nd & 3rd Ave., and Luke's Lobster has the most amazing lobster roll. Just a touch of mayonnaise, a little butter and seasoned just right, this is a special lunch treat. It's a little pricey at $14, but worth it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Naughty Nellie Oleson

Though I wasn't  a big fan of TV's Little House on the Prairie, (I did however, love the books as young girl), I had heard such good things about Alison Arngrim's memoir Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being a Bitch, that I felt compelled to attend a book signing and discussion last week at Borders Columbus Circle store in NYC, and boy, am I glad I did.

The overflow audience was filled with uber fans of the show, and they showed their love to Arngrim when she arrived. Arngrim portrayed Nellie Oleson, the rich mean girl nemesis of adorable Laura Ingalls, played by Melissa Gilbert.

Arngrim enthusiastically greeted the audience, and asked if she should read from the book, or just take questions from the audience. Though most wanted to ask questions, she acquiesced and read from a few chapters.

Arngrim is a funny lady, and she has a standup act to prove it. She answered many questions from excited fans, who asked mostly about other cast members  of the show and where they are today. Most of  the cast seems to keep in touch, with the notable exception of Melissa Sue Anderson, who from reading Arngrim's book, should have played the stuck up Nellie Oleson character.

I immediately went home to read the book because Arngrim was so interesting at the signing.  (And who can resist that title?) Arngrim's parents were involved in show business; her mom was a very successful voiceover artist, working as the voices of Gumby and Sweet Polly Purebred from the Underdog cartoons.  Dad was a public relations agent, though not as successful. Oh yeah, and he was gay, but that was never really discussed too much.

After a start in Canada, they move to Los Angeles. Alison's older brother got work as a young actor, but when work dried up for him as he got older, he became abusive to his younger sister, beating her and sexually abusing her. Alison tried to tell her parents, but they did not want to hear it.

Alison survived it, and when she got the part of Nellie Oleson, she spent most of her days working and away from her drug addled brother. Argrim recalls getting the part because she understood that Nellie was a bitch. Creator Michael Landon and another producer of the show howled when Alison read a line in a bitchy tone that aced the audition for her.

Arngrim gives the reader an insider's view of working on Little House. She and Melissa Gilbert became good friends, visiting each other's homes. She describes working with Michael Landon, who fought for his vision of the show, and had his hand in every aspect of the show, from writing to costumes.

Landon has been described by others as difficult, and Arngrim doesn't shy away from sharing his demanding personality. But she credits him with teaching the young actors the importance of being on time, learning lines, and not expecting special treatment. He expected them to work as hard as anyone else, and they have a saying about how none of the Little House young actors succumbed to the troubled lives of other child actors: "No arrests, no convictions".

Arngrim is a terrific writer, and her her bubbly personality shines throughout the book. She shares the bad, as well as the good, and the fact that she forgives her parents, shows her strength as a person.

Over the years, Alison has used her celebrity and time for good causes. When the actor who played her husband on the show died from AIDS, she became involved in helping raise awareness of that disease. She works tirelessly to get laws passed that help to protect children from sexual abuse and works to get more money for law enforcement to battle child pornography.

Confessions of a  Prairie Bitch is at times sad, funny and moving. You don't have to be a fan of Little House on the Prairie  to appreciate this wonderful book, but fans will be rewarded with the wealth of insider information from this delightful writer.

Rating 4.5 of 5


The storied Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan is the backdrop for a unique novel about the secrets that women carry. Based Upon Availability by Alix Strauss ties eight women's stories into the hotel, with Morgan, a sales manager at the hotel, at the center of the story.

Morgan's life seems to revolve around a tragedy that occurred in her youth. Her older sister Dale died when she was just eleven years old, after a long, protracted illness. Her sister's death has held the center of Morgan's life. Morgan is angry when no one, not even her parents, remembers the anniversary of her sister's death.

Morgan has idealized a relationship with her sister, imagining all they would have shared had Dale lived: boyfriends, husbands, being an aunt to her sister's children. This imagined sisterly relationship is contrasted with an actual sisterly relationship between Robin, a real estate agent, and her sister Vicki.  

Vicki is horrible to her sister, treating her worse than one would treat an enemy. She uses Robin, who only wants a close relationship with her sister. Vicki tortures Robin incessantly. The tables are turned in a horrible incident that takes place in the hotel. One has to wonder if Dale had lived, would their relationship be more like the idealized one Morgan imagines or would they have a dysfunctional sisterly relationship as Vicki and Robin do.  

All of the women harbor secrets, and try hard to hide their dysfunction. Morgan surreptitiously takes room keys from the hotel, and during the day, lets herself into rooms to rifle through guests's belongings. She imagines the kind of life they lead, and when she finds a sexual item, she steals it, hoping no one reports it missing.  

Anne works at the hotel and desperately tries to hide her obsessive-compulsive disorder. Through online dating, she meets an artist who works with "found objects", and he proves to be her undoing.  

Franny was my favorite character. She is in her late thirties, a Southern belle who relocated to Manhattan. She works as a seat filler for award shows and Broadway openings, an exciting, though lonely, occupation. At the end of an exhilarating evening,

getting on a bus or sitting alone in the back seat of a cab dressed in other's people's gowns she'd purchased at consignment shops and on EBay, with no one's hand to grasp, was devastatingly lonely. At home, though she could sit anywhere she wanted, she never found a comfortable spot, a place where her body could just relax.
Sometimes when novels had many characters, they can all blend together in the reader's mind, but Strauss excels at creating unique, individual women with words like that. Of Honor Kraus, a high-powered "PR icon to the stars", Strauss writes "she wears success like the wash boys in the kitchen wear their cheap cologne-strong and powerful-". From those words, you get who Honor is right away. 

 All of these women are sad, and their relationships with themselves and those they love is tenuous. Ellen wants so badly to be pregnant that she convinces herself she is, driving her husband away. Morgan wants a sisterly relationship with Trish, a gallery owner, who has a complicated relationship with Olive, an artist. Franny falls for a neighbor, and wants deeply to be a part of all of her neighbors's lives. 

 This is not a happy book. But the women in it will haunt you, as you ponder what secrets the women you know harbor within themselves. It may even cause you to look inwards at the secrets you keep about yourself.

Rating 4 of 5 stars.

Happening This Week in NYC- Vol. 3

This week is filled with lots of music, and I hope to get to most of them.

Tuesday, June, 22 Pop star Cyndi Lauper signs her new CD, Memphis Blues at J&R Music on Park Row at 12:30pm.

Tuesday, June 22 The cast of the Broadway show Million Dollar Quartet sing and sign copies of the cast recording at Lincoln Triangle's Barnes & Noble at 4pm.

Wednesday, June 23 Author Colson Whitehead discusses his latest book, Sag Harbor: A Novel at Bryant Park's Word for Word Series at 12:30pm.

Thursday, June 24 The cast of Broadway's Promises, Promises, including Sean Hayes, Kristin Chenoweth and Tony winner Katie Finneran sing and sign copies ofthe cast recording at Lincoln Triangle's Barnes & Noble at 5pm.

Friday, June 25 Singer Alicia Keys tapes her CBS Early Show concert at the 59th St. location near the Apple Store at 11am.

Friday, June 25 The cast and creators of Broadway's Next Fall speak at Lincoln Triangle's Barnes & Noble at 5pm.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday's Five- Vol. 3

Broadway's Tony awards were handed out this past Sunday, so this week's Friday's Five is:

Five Favorite Broadway Performances- Comedic Category

1. Bill lrwin in Bye Bye Birdie This revival, starring John Stamos, was a bit uneven in my opinion, but two things stood out: the energy of the young performers and Bill Irwin in his role as Harry McAfee, the put-upon father of the teen girl chosen to get a kiss from pop star Conrad Birdie. Every time Irwin opened his mouth, comic gold came out, and his physical schtick was priceless. No one moves like Irwin.

2. Valerie Harper in Looped Harper portrayed the original Hollywood bad girl, Tallulah Bankhead, in this three person comedy. She nailed Bankhead's unique voice and style, yet seemed to make the role her own. Harper deservedly earned a Tony nomination for her role, though unfortunately, the show did not last long on Broadway and people don't have the chance to see how brilliant she was.

3. Jan Maxwell in Lend Me a Tenor Maxwell has but a few scenes in this revival of a farce, but boy does she make the most of them, earning a Tony nomination. She plays the tenor's Italian wife, and her screaming scenes with Anthony LaPaglia, her husband, the tenor, are screamingly hilarious. Her physical comedy excels as well, particularly when she uses a pillow, or rather, it overcomes her. The author should have written her into more scenes.

4. Justin Bartha in Lend Me a Tenor Bartha makes his Broadway debut in this show as Max, the jittery assistant who assumes the identity of Tito, the Italian tenor. Bartha more than holds his own among the talented cast (Maxwell, Tony Shaloub, and Anthony LaPaglia among others), and actually shines. His best scene is the one where LaPaglia teaches him warmup exercises. Bartha just goes for it, and it pays off huge.

5. Katie Finneran in Promises, Promises Finneran won the Tony for best featured actress in a musical for her role. She only has two scenes, but from the moment she opens her mouth in the opening of Act II as blowsy, brazen Margie, she owns the audience. She and Sean Hayes act and dance the hell out of that scene, and I wish they had shown that one on the Tonys. It may have been the funniest scene on Broadway this year.

Feel free to share your favorite comedic performances on Broadway in the comments section.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last Week In Review

Last week I started posting about fun events happening in NYC. I managed to get to a few of them, and here are my thoughts.

On Tuesday, June 8th, I was invited to a book launch party for Alix Strauss's book, Based Upon Availability, held at the Four Seasons Restaurant on 52nd St. I met some interesting people, including the author who is my neighbor across the street. Alix's mother was there, and we chatted about Broadway, as she is a big fan.

I met Val, an editor at Crain's New York, a business paper here in the city. She is an urban gardner, and I was fascinated by how many different vegetables she manages to grow (tomatoes, eggplant, even lettuce) on her city terrace. I met a few other authors there as well, including Shari Goldhagen, who wrote Family and Other Accidents and Jennifer Belle, author of Seven Year Bitch.

The hors d'ouerves were delicious, and the cocktails, furnished by Crystal Head Vodka, were delightful. Two original concoctions, The Morgan Martini and The Unlimited Lou, based on two characters from the book, were tasty.

The gift bags were fun, featuring something that represents each main character in the novel. It was a clever idea. Thanks to Alix for the invite, and my review of Based Upon Availability will be posted soon.

On Wednesday, June 9th, I saw The Daily Show's Samantha Bee talking about her book, I Know I Am, But What Are You? at Bryant Park's Word for Word Series (pictured above signing books). Sam is very pretty, and I didn't realize that she is pregnant with her third child. Her book is a memoir of sorts, and she talked about how as a young girl, she put herself in dangerous positions with men. More than once, she accompanied a man back to his apartment when she was thirteen. Yikes!

She talked a bit about her work on The Daily Show, and told one howlingly funny story about a man she interviewed who was, shall we say, very well endowed, and how they fought with the network to show what made this man such an interesting interview.

Good Morning America held it's Friday concert at Central Park with Sarah McLachlan and Norah Jones (pictured above right) singing songs from their new CDs. Both ladies were in fine voice, and it was in striking contrast to the last GMA concert I attended- the Whitney Houston fiasco. I really like Sarah's new song, Loving You Is Easy, from her first CD in seven years. The ladies each sang three songs, and it was a great start to the day.

Also on Friday, the Broadway show Hair celebrated its 500th show by giving away 500 free tickets for that evening's performance. I'd never seen it before and it was fantastic. The songs were wonderful, the energy was amazing, and Diana DeGarmo (American Idol) has a powerful, amazing voice. The actors really got into their parts, and Josh Lamon was hilarious in his dual roles as Dad and Margaret Mead, as well as being part of the Tribe.

I feared that the show, set in 1967 and filled with hippies, would be anachronistic, but it is anything but. It is vital, and happy and just a great show. It closes June 27, so hurry and see it; you won't regret it. Oh yeah, Paula Abdul was there that night, dancing on stage at the end with the cast and audience members during the curtain call.

On Saturday, June 12th, my husband and I went to see the new Joan Rivers documentary, A Piece of Work, which is incredible. It gives you a first hand look at what it takes to make in show business. The opening scene of Joan's naked face being made up is a brilliant start to a movie that strips away all of the artifice to show how hard show business is.

Joan is very honest, and love or hate her, she is a fascinating woman. She works very hard, and she seems like such a lonely woman, as I'm sure many women here age (77) are. She has lost her husband and many of her friends have passed away. When she said that no one has ever told her that she was beautiful, it struck me: that is why she has so much plastic surgery. If you don't think it is difficult to be a woman in comedy, you will after you see this movie.

A Piece of Work is so good- go see it if you are lucky enough to have it at your local theater.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Happening This Week in NYC- Vol. 2

This week's events in NYC include the following:

Monday, June 14th- 80s rock icon Pat Benatar signs copies of her autobiography at Barnes & Noble Fifth Ave. store at 12:30pm.

Tuesday, June 15th- Deadspin's Will Leitch signs copies of his book, Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball, a humorous look at baseball that would make a good Father's Day gift, at Barnes & Noble 86th St. store at 7pm.

Wednesday, June 16th- Star if Bravo TV's Kell on Earth Kelly Cutrone talks about and signs copies of her book If You Have to Cry, Go Outside at Bryant Park's Word for Word Series at 12:30pm.

Wednesday, June 16th- Author Carolyn Parkhurst reads from and signs copies of her book Nobodies Album at Barnes & Noble 86th St. stores at 7pm. I really liked her books Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found.

Thursday, June 17th- The cast of the Tony nominated Lend Me a Tenor, including Tony Shahloub (TV's Monk), Justin Bartha (The Hangover) and the fabulous Jan Maxwell discuss and sign copies of the script at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Triangle store at 5pm. I saw the show last week and it is hilarious.

Thursday, June 17th- Author Sara Waters discusses and signs copies of her Gothic mystery Little Stranger at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Triangle at 7:30pm.

Friday, June 18th- The cast of the Tony winning musical Fela! perform from and sign copies of the CD cast recording at Borders Columbus Circle store at 5pm.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Readin', Ridin', No 'Rithmetic

While reading fellow BEA book blogs, I came across The Zen Leaf blog by Amanda (a really great blog, by the way). She had a post about books she saw people reading on the subway, titled Books in Transit. I liked it so much, with a tip of the cap to Amanda for her fabulous idea, and since I live in NYC and travel by subway and bus often, I am instituting a new regular feature. When I was a little girl, my Dad asked us if we were learning "readin', writin' and 'rithmetic" in school, and it always made me laugh. So I'm calling this:

Readin', Ridin', No 'Rithmetic

This week I saw the following:
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson, seen on the 6 train
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, seen in Bryant Park
The Pirate King by R.A. Salvatore, seen on the 6 train
A Rogue of Her Own by Johanna Lindsey, seen on the 6 train
Light a Penny Candle By Maeve Binchy, seen on the 6 train
The Real Inspector Hound By Tom Stoppard, seen on the 6 train

The only I have read is Maeve Binchy's. I like her books, and have read many of them. Everyone is reading the Larsson trilogy, I have not yet succumbed.

What have you seen people reading on buses, subways and in parks?

Friday's Five- Vol. 2

In honor of the season finale of GLEE (sob!), this week's Friday Five is the

The Five Best GLEE Songs- Season 1

1. Defying Gravity sung by Lea Michele and Chris Colfer. This is the best song from the Broadway show Wicked, and the two best singers from GLEE team up for this soaring rendition. The producers need to give Chris Colfer more solos.

2. Maybe This Time I love that GLEE gives people more exposure to Broadway shows. This song, from Caberet, is also sung by Broadway's best- Lea Michele and Kristin Chenoweth, now performing with Sean Hayes in Promises, Promises.

3. Dream On Matthew Morrison (Mr. Shue) and guest star Neil Patrick Harris belt out the Aerosmith classic. It totally rocked.

4. Faithfully/Anyway You Want It/ Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' sung by the cast. They saved the best mashup for last- a medley of Journey's best songs. A nice nod to all of us 40-somethings who love GLEE.

5. To Sir, With Love sung by the cast. I loved this because it gave most of the cast a chance to get at least one solo line- we heard Tina, Santana, Artie, Kurt in addition to usual soloists Finn, Rachel, and Mercedes. I sobbed when they sang this beautiful Lulu song from the movie of the same name.

What are your favorite GLEE songs this year?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BEA Roundup Part IV- The Authors,- Adriana Trigiani- Swoon!

Celebrities are fun, but it's our favorite authors who make readers swoon. At last year's BEA, I got to meet Adriana Trigiani, author of The Big Stone Gap books, (which I love!) and her newest trilogy features Valentine Roncalli and her crazy, lovable family who live and work in New York City and make gorgeous shoes. My reviews of the first two books Very Valentine and Brava,Valentine are here.

I also saw her at a book signing at Barnes & Noble on 86th St. in February and she was so funny and charming and sweet!

This year, Adriana was again signing at BEA. All of us in line who had met her before were sharing stories of how wonderful she is, when she came down the line with hugs and kisses for all of us. I am amazed that she remembers me, but she does. People at her publishing house said that she truly treasures her readers, and it shows. She makes us feel like we are her friends. She asked if I will be blogging again about this and then said that we have to make sure and get a good photo for the blog post. (What do you think?)

One woman in line had never met her before and after she got a hug, turned to us and said, "Who was that?" We laughed as we told her that was Adriana. "That was the author?", she said, in shock that Adriana would take the time to visit us before the signing.

Adriana is working on a nonfiction book about her family, and I am so looking forward to reading it when it publishes. My favorite part of BEA is always seeing Adriana, and I was very envious of the five bloggers who got to have tea with her after winning a contest. Lucky ladies!

BEA Roundup- The Celebrities- Part III

Celebrities are always a big draw at BEA, garnering long lines of eager fans. I stood in line with many 40-something women to get a photo with 80's rocker and General Hospital star Rick Springfield. We were all 20-somethings again. He popped his gum, put his arm around each woman, smiled, took a photo, signed a CD and off to the next woman. (first photo)

If you can sing, you can draw a crowd. Neil Sedaka also had a huge line, albeit with an older crowd than Rick Springfield's. Broadway diva Patti LuPone drew a large line of theatre aficionados for an autograph on an excerpt from her upcoming autobiography. (FYI- I am not a fan of standing on line for an excerpt of a book. It bums me out when I don't get an entire book as a reward for standing in line.) LuPone was very kind to all of us, not exhibiting the diva behavior we have all heard about. I did enjoy sharing favorite Broadway experiences with friendly fellow fans in line. (second photo)

Political junkies got to see Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough from MSNBC's Morning Joe show. They are exactly as they seem on screen, and very friendly. She is lovely, with fabulous legs. But the funny thing to me was that Joe signed copies of Mika's book! Mika's book is All Things At Once, her story of being a wife, mom and TV anchor. It was fun to meet both of them and hear their banter in person but odd that he autographed her book. (third photo)

Tim Gunn from TV's Project Runway took so much time with his fans, taking photos, chatting, that they had to move his signing line when he went over his one-hour time limit. After all, the guy that wrote the book about growing marijuana has his fans too. (But I'm betting they didn't even realize that his signing was behind schedule.)

If you wanted to find Sarah Ferguson's signing line, just look for the paparazzi flashing away. The day after the story broke about Sarah taking money for access to her ex-husband the Duke of York, she was scheduled to MC the Children's Breakfast and sign copies of her book. All of us in line gave her credit for not canceling her appearance. (fourth photo)

Sports were big too. You couldn't get near Tony Hawk, the skateboarder and there was melee at soccer star Pele's signing table.

While it is interesting to see celebs at BEA, for most of us, it is the literary stars who gets us all excited. That post follows.

BEA Roundup- The Celebrities- Part II

The Adult Author Breakfast held on Thursday of the BEA featured the Daily Show's Jon Stewart as MC, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and authors John Grisham and Mary Roach on the panel.

As we waited in line, Stewart walked by with a wave and loud greeting for so early in the morning. His opening remarks were hilarious, as expected. He thanked the audience for their "tepid response" and poked fun at the "muffin basket" that people paid a lot of money for at the breakfast tables. He also joked about the Javits Center being in one of New York's finest neighborhoods, and that he tapes his show nearby.

He commented on Garrison Keillor's controversial remarks that print books were dead in that day's New York Times. Stewart said that he thought that was funny because he thought that Keillor himself was dead, and that comments like that from someone who tapes a TV show for radio are ironic. He also said when he read the remarks, he thought "Great- I won't have to show up (at BEA) today."

Stewart and his cohorts at The Daily Show have a new book coming out in September titled Earth the Book: A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race. He said that it is "the summation of the totality of the human experience- in 224 pages." It is similar in style to their previous best-selling book America.

Stewart then said that he would read from the science chapter. He opens the book, reads silently to himself and giggles. Then he told us that "the Boat Show moves in at 2pm so, get the hell out".

He introduced former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whom his show has frequently lambasted, by saying that "I'm not familiar with her work, but I hear good things- Dr. Rice".

Dr. Rice opened humorously by saying that she "now can read the morning papers and I don't have to do anything about it". Her upcoming book is Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, which is about her grandparents and parents, and how they instilled in her the belief that education has transformative power.

Her grandfather was a Presbyterian minister. He became one because he was a sharecropper who wanted to go to college. Someone told him that the Presbyterian ministers gave scholarships to students who wanted to become ministers, so he got a scholarship and became a minister. And that's how the Rices became Presbyterians.

When her parents tried to vote in Alabama, they were subject to a poll test. Her mother was asked who the first President of the United States was. She answered and voted. Her father was told he had to guess the exact number of beans in a huge jar. He didn't get his question right and couldn't vote. He heard that the county clerk was Republican and trying to register Republican voters in the Democratic South, so he registered Republican. "And that was how we became Republicans" said Rice.

Rice's parents told her that "she could become President even if she can't have a burger at the Woolworth's counter." She found a photo of her standing in front of the White House when she was eight years old. Her parents told her that she said at the time "I may be out here today, but I will work in there (pointing to the White House) someday." She laughed as she told this story, because she did not remember saying that.

Growing up in the Jim Crow South during the 1950s and 1960s, her parents and grandparents instilled in her the belief that if she got an education, she could do anything, and she did. She spoke eloquently from the heart about her family, and if her spoken words translate as well to the written page, this will be a moving book.

When she finished, Stewart stood up, and said tearfully, "Don't. Make. Me. Like. You! That was marvelous. When is the other book coming out?", referring to the book she is writing about her years in the Bush administration.

John Grisham spoke about a book he is working on, a fictional followup to his first non-fiction book, An Innocent Man, about a man falsely convicted of murder and just hours from execution when he is found to be innocent. This next book, The Confession, is a novel about a man who committed a crime that someone else was sent to death row for. Grisham asks in this book, "Do you have the guts to watch someone executed for your crime?" I really liked The Innocent Man, so I have high hopes for this fictional account.

The BEA Roundup 1- The Celebrities (Part 1)- Barbra Streisand's Keynote Address

I know that my roundup of BEA (Book Expo of America) is late, but I hope you will think it worth the wait.

I could not attend many of the early week panels, but I did snag a coveted ticket to the keynote talk with Barbra Streisand interviewed by O Magazine's Gayle King.

It was a coup for BEA to get such a huge name like Streisand, who was promoting her upcoming book My Passion for Design: A Private Tour, which will publish in November. She had a slideshow of a few photos from the book, many of which were taken by Ms. Streisand.

The photos were breathtaking. She has a millhouse, with a huge water mill in front. She brought photos of her Red Barn, which is huge (and gorgeous) as well.

Gayle King seemed very nervous, starting the interview by stating that she had planned on wearing an orange dress until she heard that Streisand hates orange. Streisand told King to NEVER wear orange- or certain shades of yellow. King said that she even had her assistant take out the orange post-it notes that King had placed in her copy of the book she was using as reference on stage. And she changed her orange toenail polish.

I think that King was trying to be funny, but it came off as a little desperate to not incur the wrath of Streisand. (It put me in mind of a literary reference- The Emperor Has No Clothes.) King seemed to fear saying or doing the wrong thing. As the interview progressed, she calmed down.

Streisand has the rap of being a perfectionist, and she did nothing to dissuade the audience from that perception. She spoke of her difficulty in finding architects on the west coast who understood her wish for an east coast-style home in California. She went through several different contractors, including one who tore up a hillside to put in a boulder stairs. Streisand did not want the hillside torn down, and insisted that it was unnecessary in order to create the stairs, no matter what the contractor believed was sound engineering. He was fired.

She stated the importance of the outside garden flowers complimenting the color scheme inside the house. It is an affront to her that someone would have flower colors in their garden that clashed with the inside decor. I said to the woman sitting next to me that I would not want to be Streisand's husband. Her reply: "I wouldn't want to be her daughter-in-law." Funny but true.

She opened up a bit about her childhood and her parents. She clearly idolized her father, who died when she was a toddler, and is less kind about her mother. I get the feeling that if her father had lived, he may have disappointed her as well. Her early years were marked by poverty, and she said that the lack of a couch in her mother's apartment led to her homes today being filled with couches.

Streisand's need for perfection means that this book will be fabulous. It will make a great Christmas gift for people who love design.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happening This Week in NYC

New York City is filled with lots of fun things to do, and every Sunday, I'll list some of the events I hope to get to each week.

Sunday, June 6th- The 3rd Avenue Community Benefit Festival- 10am-6pm from 66th St. to 86th St.

Monday, June 7th- Taste of Times Square- 5pm-8:30pm West 46th St. between Broadway and 9th Ave.-restaurant tastings and the cast of Broadway's Rock of Ages with Constantine Maroulis performs

Tuesday, June 8th Summer Stage 25th Anniversary Celebration at Central Park-8pm at Rumsey Playfield- various performers (Shawn Colvin, Aimee Mann, Paula Cole, Loudon Wainwright III and more) celebrate the music of Simon & Garfunkel.

Wednesday, June 9th 12:30pm-1:45pm Bryant Park's Word for Word Series Samantha Bee from Comedy Central's The Daily Show discusses her book, I Know I Am, But What Are You? at the Reading Room at Bryant Park 42nd St. & 6th Ave.

Friday, June 11th The highly buzzed about documentary, Joan Rivers- A Piece of Work opens at Cinema 1,2,3 on 60th St. and 3rd Ave.

Saturday & Sunday, June 12th & 13th Big Apple BBQ Block Party at Madison Square Park 11am- 6pm.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday 56

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Storytime with Tonya and Friends at http://storytimewithtonya.blogspot.com/
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

My book is Alix Strauss's Based on Availability, the story of eight women and how their lives intersect at the storied Four Seasons Hotel in NYC.
My sentence is:
My interaction with Ellen has left me unsettled, but I push the feelings away and make room for the ones I hope Honor will create.

Friday's Five

To give everyone something to think about before the weekend, I'm initiating Friday's Five.

Every Friday I'll list five things that captured my attention- books, TV shows, best places to find books, places to go in NYC- the possibilities are endless.

My initial list is BEA (Book Expo of America) related. It's
Five Books I'm Most Excited About Getting at BEA

1. As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs. She is one of my favorite authors, and her Compromising Positions is one the first grown-up books I read. I got to meet her and get her autograph- what a thrill!

2. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. This book has had good buzz and it is one that I have meant to pick up, but did not for some reason. I was pleased to meet the author and get my book signed.

3. Ape House by Sara Gruen. Water for Elephants was her big breakthrough novel, so I guess she figured books with animals are a good sell. I loved Water for Elephants and again, I was so happy to meet her.

4. West of Here by Jonathan Evison. This book was one of the Editor's Buzz books at the panel this year, and Chuck Adams, the editor at Algonquin Books said he has been in the business since 1969 and this is the best book he has read. Algonquin means quality, so I know it will be great.

5. Room by Emma Donoghue was another book at the Buzz panel, and people have compared to The Lovely Bones. It's about a woman and her 5 year-old-son being held in a room by the man who kidnapped the woman and is the father of the boy. Everyone was talking about it, and the subject matter seems timely and serious.

What are your Friday Five books?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Talbots celebrates BEA

I was walking by Talbots clothing store on 3rd Ave. & 72nd St. after the big Book Expo celebration (BEA), and saw that Talbots has used a literary theme for their summer line. It's called Novel Ideas and it features stacks of books. Great timing on Talbots part!

I took these pictures and it put a smile on my face.

I'm working on my BEA recaps and will have them ready by the beginning of next week. It was a fabulous week; I learned so much at the Book Bloggers Convention, met terrific authors, and brought back way too many books according to my sons.