So BEA is now DONE! Three days of insane book-related madness, hustle and bustle. Overall, as my first con/expo, I would say it was an interesting and “fun” experience, but also one that I think is a very acquired taste… Will I go again? If I’m in New York next year at the same time (please-oh-please let me be here), then certainly – the chances to meet authors, publicists and editors who I know only via email or Twitter has been great, and it’s always nice to prove you are a real person.
So, without further ado, here’s the haul from the second and third day, with synopses, artwork, and some comments… [Day One Here]
As you can see, I restrained myself on Wednesday!
I only came in for one-and-a-half reasons: the first was that I wasn’t sure if Scott Snyder was signing or not (one programme had him on Thursday, one on Wednesday), so because I woke up early enough, I headed down and ended up at the front of the line… Which was kinda cool – he’s certainly one of my favourite comics writers, and I’ve really enjoyed his run on Batman so far. So, very happy to get The Court of the Owls signed (it’s the first volume of the New 52 Batman series).
The main reason I came in, though, was to get a copy of Libba Bray’s new book for Alyssa – I had hopes to get her to sign it with “To Alyssa, Happy Birthday”. I even had a plan and strategy, which proved to be UTTERLY INEPT AND UNSUCCESSFUL, and when I saw the monstrous line I chickened out (all was not lost, though – see Day Three, below). That line was, frankly, immense. And it formed within minutes of the signing, too. That’s a pretty great endorsement of the author’s talent.
Instead, I picked up: James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge’s Zoo (Little, Brown), which looked kinda fun – and despite my general rule of not reading the stuff Patterson co-writes with others anymore, I thought this one could be interesting enough to break the rule. Here’s the synopsis:
Total World Destruction
All over the world, brutal attacks are crippling entire cities. Jackson Oz, a young biologist, watches the escalating events with an increasing sense of dread. When he witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa, the enormity of the violence to come becomes terrifyingly clear.
With the help of ecologist Chloe Tousignant, Oz races to warn world leaders before it's too late. The attacks are growing in ferocity, cunning, and planning, and soon there will be no place left for humans to hide.
Clockwork Angels by Kevin J. Anderson (ECW Press) – this is a novel inspired by and based on Rush’s new album. This is just a sample, but Mr Anderson was there and signed it for me. I don’t think I’ve ever consciously heard a Rush song and known it was Rush. But this is a pretty cool idea, so I if I like the sample, I’ll get the novel. Simples.
A remarkable collaboration that is unprecedented in its scope and realization, this exquisitely wrought novel represents an artistic project between the bestselling science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson and the multiplatinum rock band Rush.
The newest album by Rush, Clockwork Angels, sets forth a story in Neil Peart’s lyrics that has been expanded by him and Anderson into this epic novel.
In a young man’s quest to follow his dreams, he is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. He travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life. The mind-bending story is complemented with rich paintings by five-time Juno Award winner (Best Album Design), Hugh Syme.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Prisoner of Heaven () – this was an accident, as I was chatting with Michael “Mad Hatter” again, and he was after this one. Naturally, being me, I joined him in the queue and picked this up. I’ve never read any of Zafon’s books, but he’s apparently very good.
THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN returns to the world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere & Sons bookshop. It begins just before Christmas in Barcelona in 1957, one year after Daniel and Bea from THE SHADOW OF THE WIND have married. They now have a son, Julian, and are living with Daniel's father at Sempere & Sons. Fermin still works with them and is busy preparing for his wedding to Bernarda in the New Year. However something appears to be bothering him. Daniel is alone in the shop one morning when a mysterious figure with a pronounced limp enters. He spots one of their most precious volumes that is kept locked in a glass cabinet, a beautiful and unique illustrated edition of The Count of Monte Cristo. Despite the fact that the stranger seems to care little for books, he wants to buy this expensive edition. Then, to Daniel's surprise, the man inscribes the book with the words “To Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from the dead and who holds the key to the future”. This visit leads back to a story of imprisonment, betrayal and the return of a deadly rival.
That credit-card looking thing is actually a USB thumb-drive, but built into a card. I had hoped it contained the eARC of the novel, Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (Grove/Atlantic), but it’s just got a 20-page PDF of press materials and information. The book sounds kind of cool, though, so I may hunt this down after it’s published:
In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the State’s electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line. Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the head of State security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground. When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen.
(June 19th 2012)
So. That was Wednesday.
I hadn’t actually intended on picking anything up today – I was just going to go through to say hi to Myke Cole at his signing, and maybe pester a couple publicists, etc. Instead, I found an awesome collection of books! I’ll work down the pile…
Jon Meacham’s Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power (Random House) – I found out Meacham was signing this morning at about 8:45. His signing started at 10am, and was going to go on for one hour. Could I make it? Bearing in mind I’m up in Spanish Harlem (nearest subway stop is 116th Street on the East Side, with the Javits Centre at 34th waaaay on the West Side), this was cutting it very fine… And you know what? I did make it! So, from 9:00 (I spent some time humming and hah-ing about whether or not to try), I showered, got dressed, and made it to BEA and the signing for 10:15! I’m a big fan of Meacham’s history books and also his journalism, and have been reading his stuff for years, so it was really nice to pick this up – doubly excellent is the fact that Jefferson was a fascinating man and president, so I’m looking forward to diving into this book relatively soon.
But, after the Meacham signing, as I walked into the Hachette area, the queue for his signing was only seven people long (it was drawing to an end, rather than unpopular!), so I asked him to sign it for me, which he did. So that was nice. I really am interested in reading the book, too, so expect a review relatively soon… I’m being better about varying the genres I cover and mixing up the reviews a little bit more, so I will slot this into the schedule soon-ish.
This does mean I have a spare, so… Giveaway to-be-posted tomorrow! Watch this space!
William Martin’s Lincoln Letter (Macmillan) – I missed the signing session with Martin, but as I passed Macmillan’s booth, I saw a copy of it prominently displayed on one of their tables. I asked if they had anymore, and the lovely publicist said I could have this copy. Win! Martin’s a novelist I’ve been interested in reading for a while, but he’s quite established, so I had intended to start at the beginning of this series (The Lincoln Letter is book ?? in the Fallon & Carrington series), but I may just dive right into this one. Here’s the synopsis:
Peter Fallon and Evangeline Carrington head for adventure in Washington D.C., the sleek, modern, power-hungry capital of America, and the crowded, muddy, intrigue-filled nexus of the Civil War. Their prize? A document of incredible historical importance and incalculable value: Abraham Lincoln’s diary. What if Lincoln recorded his innermost thoughts as he moved toward the realization that he must free the slaves? And what if that diary slipped from his fingers in 1862? When a recently discovered Lincoln letter suggests that the diary is still out there, Peter and Evangeline must contend with forces that will stop at nothing to find it. Some want the diary for its enormous symbolic value to a nation that reveres Lincoln. But others believe it carries a dark truth about Lincoln's famous proclamation — a truth that could turn elections and change the nation. Peter and Evangeline must beat these villains to the prize, or risk a future that corrupts the vision that Lincoln fought for. From William Martin, the New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Constitution, The Lincoln Letter is a breathless chase across the Washington of today as well as a political thriller set in our besieged Civil War capital. It is a story of old animosities that still smolder, old philosophies that still contend, and a portrait of our greatest president as he passes from lawyer to leader in the fight for a new birth of freedom.
W.G. Marshall’s Enormity (Night Shade) – this was a pleasant surprise. I’d seen a few mentions of the novel online and on Night Shade’s website, and I thought it looked… distinctive, if odd. So naturally my interest was piqued.
ENORMITY is the strange tale of an American working in Korea, a lonely young man named Manny Lopes, who is not only physically small (in his own words, he’s a “Creole shrimp”), but his work, his failed marriage, his race, all conspire to make him feel puny and insignificant – the proverbial ninety-eight-pound weakling.
Then one day an accident happens, a quantum explosion, and suddenly Manny awakens to discover that he is big – really big. In fact, Manny is enormous, a mile-high colossus!
Now there’s no stopping him: he’s a one-man weapon of mass destruction. Yet he means well.
ENORMITY takes some odd turns, featuring characters like surfing gangbangers, elderly terrorists, and a North Korean assassin who thinks she’s Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. There’s also sex, violence, and action galore, as Manny battles the forces that seek to seduce or destroy him.
Who will survive? Who will be annihilated? Read ENORMITY and find out!
Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue (Harper) – I have only ever read Chabon’s articles, and none of his fiction, despite how often Alyssa insists I read Kavalier & Clay (which I do really want to do!). This seemed like a perfect starting point, though. So, as soon as Alyssa’s finished with it, I’ll give it a read.
A big-hearted and exhilarating novel that explores the profoundly intertwined lives of two Oakland, California families, one black and one white. In Telegraph Avenue, Chabon lovingly creates a world grounded in pop culture — Kung Fu, ’70s Blaxploitation films, vinyl LPs, jazz and soul music — and delivers a bravura epic of friendship, race, and secret histories.
Libba Bray’s The Diviners (Little, Brown) – success! I approached a person at the Hachette booth, batted my eyelashes (translation: politely begged), and was able to get Alyssa a copy of the book! Woop! So, huge thank you to them! I’ve never read any of Bray’s fiction, but I must say this sounds like it could be kinda fun:
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City – and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult – also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn't catch her first.
Dustin Thomason’s 12.21 (The Dial Press) – a pile of these was just on the ground in the middle of the Random House booth/area, and it caught my eye because I’d seen it around the internets recently, but also because of the Vince Flynn blurb (I’m a big fan of Flynn’s novels). Thomason is one of the co-authors of The Rule of Four, which I never read. This sounds pretty interesting, though, and early buzz has been very positive.
For decades, December 21, 2012, has been a touchstone for doomsayers worldwide. It is the date, they claim, when the ancient Maya calendar predicts the world will end.
In Los Angeles, two weeks before, all is calm. Dr. Gabriel Stanton takes his usual morning bike ride, drops off the dog with his ex-wife, and heads to the lab where he studies incurable prion diseases for the CDC. His first phone call is from a hospital resident who has an urgent case she thinks he needs to see. Meanwhile, Chel Manu, a Guatemalan American researcher at the Getty Museum, is interrupted by a desperate, unwelcome visitor from the black market antiquities trade who thrusts a duffel bag into her hands.
By the end of the day, Stanton, the foremost expert on some of the rarest infections in the world, is grappling with a patient whose every symptom confounds and terrifies him. And Chel, the brightest young star in the field of Maya studies, has possession of an illegal artifact that has miraculously survived the centuries intact: a priceless codex from a lost city of her ancestors. This extraordinary record, written in secret by a royal scribe, seems to hold the answer to her life’s work and to one of history’s great riddles: why the Maya kingdoms vanished overnight. Suddenly it seems that our own civilization might suffer this same fate.
With only days remaining until December 21, 2012, Stanton and Chel must join forces before time runs out.
In addition to all this book discovering, it was great to meet up with publicists, authors and other bloggers and bibliophiles. It was also nice to develop my reflexes, as I became rather adept at dodging the people with wheelie-suitcases and carts for all the books they were picking up. So, until next time.
Which of these books catches your eye?