Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bits and pieces

I'm back from BEA.  I won't be making a lengthy report, although I will say that historical fiction was out in full force, and I mailed home a large box.  It was great to meet up with many book friends and publicists, and the shelves where I keep to-be-reviewed books are full and have moved on to an overflow area.

Historical fiction shelf extravaganza!  Click to enlarge.
The books in the photo are a mix of ARCs for the Historical Novels Review (to be assigned and mailed in early July), personal review copies for the blog, recent purchases/trades, and more.  I honestly can't recall ever being so overwhelmed with literary goodness, and I haven't even shown you a photo of my desk, which has books piled 2' high around my monitor and 3' high on the floor on either side.

This was the 3rd year of the Book Blogger Con, now renamed the BEA Blogger Conference.  Although I attended in 2010 and 2011, I didn't attend this year, and from all I've been reading, this was a wise move.  My husband and I met up with my fellow HNR reviews editor Andrea Connell for dinner last Monday night at Rosa Mexicano near Union Square, and she told me about her experience.  Read her take on it at The Queen's Quill Review: Part 1 and Part 2: "Critical Reviews" Saved the Day.  Sigh.  If this is what we'll be seeing now that BEA has taken over the blogger con, I'm more likely to go to the blogger unconference than the sponsored event, if I attend at all.

Moving on from BEA:  ALA Annual is coming up in less than two weeks, so I have to get my mind in gear and think once again about hotels, shuttle buses, exhibits, panels, receptions, and my presentation.  I'll be speaking on the "Readers' Advisory for Town and Gown: Academic and Public Library Partnerships for RA Services" panel on Monday, June 25th, from 10:30-noon at the Anaheim Convention Center, Room 213D.  It got a nice preview in Library Journal. My contribution will cover my university library's popular reading collections, staff development programs I've run on readers' advisory tools, and what it's like to share a collection of OverDrive audiobooks and e-books with a consortium of mostly public libraries.

Also at ALA, on Saturday morning:  "Historical Fiction @ Your Library," which takes place from 10:30am-noon; speakers include Regina O'Melveny, Gail Tsukiyama, Jeri Westerson, and Jean Zimmerman, moderated by LJ's Barbara Hoffert.  This is the same time as the "Browsing for Pleasure in the Digital Age" readers' advisory forum, which I'd been planning to attend. Too much to do at once; this always happens.

On Monday, Mary Tod of A Writer of History interviewed me for her site on the subject of historical fiction reviewing, genre trends, why people blog about historical novels, advice for writers on marketing, and lots more.  I went on at great length in response to some of her questions, so jump on over to the site if you're curious!  The interview forms part of an interview series that Mary's conducting with bloggers and authors as a followup to her spring historical fiction survey, which garnered over 800 responses.

Last year, I wrote up a review of Dori Jones Yang's Daughter of Xanadu, a YA historical novel about the fictional granddaughter of Khubilai Khan and her romance with foreign explorer Marco Polo.  The sequel, Son of Venice, is out now.  My schedule prevents me from participating in the upcoming blog tour, but it should be worth checking out for those interested in out-of-the-ordinary settings or who simply want to read the second half of Emmajin's story.

RIP, Barry Unsworth (from the NY Times).  I had the pleasure of reviewing his The Ruby in the Navel and Land of Marvels for BooklistRuby was a quintessential example of why the 50-page rule doesn't always work!  It was an assignment (and by a former Booker winner, too), so I had to keep reading, but with pages and pages of semi-dense narrative, I was starting to wonder what the point to it all was... until the narrator's voice and story finally clicked around p.75. My review can be found on Amazon, in the Editorial Reviews section.

Finally, the Historical Novel Society has been publishing a series of essays on the 2012 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction, which will be awarded this Saturday.  Here's the last of eight articles, which predicts the overall winner and links to the assessments of the six shortlisted works.


  1. Thank you for sharing Andrea Connell's BEA posts. It was nice to read her perspective!

  2. Anonymous10:10 AM

    ALA is too big for me but the RA-related programs sound great. I hope they have handouts posted, as well as summaries afterwards.

    Thanks for the catch-up on all things RA and historical fiction!

    Sarah Other Librarian

  3. Oooh, love that bookshelf pic! I love swimming in new books to read -- enjoy!

  4. Thanks for the mention, Sarah. Lucky woman with all those books ... the mind boggles.

  5. @Meg - I agree. I was worried the blogger con was getting less blogger-focused, and it seems those concerns were warranted. Oddly, I didn't see many bloggers at BEA, either, although I'm sure they were there.

    @Sarah - I'll be posting my powerpoint after it's over. Hope everyone else does so too. ALA is awfully big, and aside from my own events, I'll be sticking to events around the convention center to keep things manageable. I don't usually attend unless I'm presenting or it's in Chicago.

    @Audra - swimming is a good way of putting it. It's hard to know which ones to grab onto next!

    @Mary - the quantities can be dangerous sometimes (hurt my back carrying the BEA box into the house earlier in the week). I'm feeling much better now that I'm back from my chiropractor visit :)