Young Readers League is back!

by Jessica on August 26, 2014

Thanks to a generous grant from indie bookstore champion and best-selling author James Patterson, we’re happy to announce a new Young Reader’s League program and selection!

This exciting program, in the spirit of One City, One Story programs was designed as a school-wide community reading extravaganza. Two years ago our first Young Readers League selection was Vroman’s favorite Savvy by Ingrid Law.

Young Reader’s League had 1,000 members join together to read this amazing book and participate in book clubs, essay contests, special events, turtle meet and greets, school visits by the author, and a Saavy Soiree finale at Vroman’s! Students all over Pasadena were reading, and answering the question, “What’s your Savvy?”

This year’s program promises to be even more exciting as we announce the
2014-2015 Young Readers League pick:

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This full color, funny, poignant, charming graphic novel for children, ages 8 to 12 (but really for all ages), introduces readers to El Deafo, our hearing impaired hero! It’s about feeling different, fitting in, making friends, and declaring one’s place in the world.

Everyone here at Vroman’s is in love with this book and the kids who helped us select this title could barely contain their excitement for it– reading it 2 and 3x and declaring, “Read it. It IS Amazing!”

Danielle, our Children’s Department Manager called it, “Perfect for children who loved Wonder or Smile.”

Heather, the creator of YRL, says, “El Deafo is a wonderfully smart and funny look at growing up with hearing loss. While Cece adjusts to wearing her Phonic Ear every day she is also challenged by many things we all face: making friends, first crushes and self acceptance. This is a lovely read that you will want to share with your friends!”

This is the kind of book that excites us as booksellers, and that we believe excites children about reading!

PRAISE FOR EL DEAFO:

“A standout autobiography. Someone readers will enjoy getting to know.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Worthy of a superhero.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This empowering autobiographical story belongs right next to Raina Telgemeier’s” Smile “(2011) and Liz Prince’s “Tomboy.” –Booklist

Watch the funny and heart-warming video of Cece Bell talking about El Deafo!

YouTube Preview Image

We call on all the children in the San Gabriel Valley to read this book! The book comes out September 2nd (we are accepting pre-orders now!) So pre-order your copy of the book at Vroman’s and start watching for event announcements.

Young Reader’s League will be bringing the author to local schools this fall, and in January, Vroman’s will be hosting all kinds of special El Deafo programs, events, including a special visit from Cece Bell, the author herself… in person!!

Sign up for our email list or watch our website for upcoming announcements and details!

You can also check out CeCe Bell on these platforms:

Website

Twitter

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September Events!

by Jessica on August 25, 2014

Can you believe Labor Day is just around the corner and that means summer is nearing a close? :(

Don’t get too upset though because this also means it’s almost fall! My personal favorite time of year and a really busy time in general for books.

We have a ton of great events coming up in September to help kick off the season with a bang! Mark your calendars. We can’t wait to see you in the crowd.

 

Friday, September 5, 7pm
Teddy Steinkellner discusses and signs Trash Can Nights

Jake Schwartz is back at San Paulo Junior High, completely unprepared for his new celebrity status as the-boy-who-survived-a-gang-brawl. Facing unwanted attention from both foes and fanatics, he and three other diverse students must tread the middle school waters of adversity, romance, insecurity, and popularity.  All of this and more is in the remarkable follow-up to the popular Trash Can Days.

 

Sunday, September 7, 5pm
John Scalzi discusses and signs Lock In

“When a virus blasts the nation, leaving most sufferers only feverish, a handful with acute meningitis, and an unfortunate one percent so completely locked in that they can’t speak or even move, scientists come to the rescue with two initiatives. One is a virtual-reality environment, “The Agora,” that allows the locked-in to interact with others. The other involves the discovery that a few folks have brains receptive to being controlled by others, allowing the locked-in to hop aboard and use the bodies of these people as their own.”- Library Journal

 

Monday, September 8, 7pm
Priya Rana Kapoor discusses and signs Give Yourself Permission to Live Your Life

In her new book, Priya Rana Kapoor takes you on The Permission Journey™, a step-by-step guide that will equip you with the strength and courage to have newfound self-confidence and live the life you’ve always dreamed. Told from personal experience, Kapoor explains how she battled her own demons and how you can do the same. The breakthrough techniques outlined in The Permission Journey™ have benefited a wide range of people, from executives of large international corporations, to recent graduates struggling to find their feet. Everyone struggles with self-worth from time to time, and this book lets us know that we’re not alone and what we can do to turn things around.

 

Tuesday, September 9, 7pm
Bill Bradley discusses and signs Los Angeles Union Station: Tracks to the Future

Los Angeles Union Station opened in May of 1939, an unusual time for such a grand station to open considering the more common ways of travel were by car or plane. Thanks to its early inclusion on the National Registry of Historic Places, this iconic Southern California landmark has stood its ground and is now the hub of the country’s newest light rail and subway system, serving hundreds of thousands of people each week. Author William Bradley provides us with little-known details about this beloved landmark and couples them with beautifully rendered vintage photographs to help transport readers into one of California’s most important stories.
Mike the Poet will open the evening with an introductory poem for Los Angeles Union Station: Tracks to the Future.

 

Thursday, September 11, 7pm
Alice Simpson discusses and signs Ballroom

Told in interconnecting stories, Ballroom is a beautifully crafted novel about a group of strangers united by a desire to escape their complicated lives, if only for a few hours each week, in a faded New York City dance hall. The glamour of the Ballroom is all but gone, but the small group of loyal patrons struggling to find passion, love, attention, and deferred dreams keep the dance floor alive. After all, it is their only way to mend their tired and unfulfilled lives. The way these varied characters come together are both touching and unexpected in this stunning debut novel.

 

Friday, September 12, 7pm
Judy Carter discusses & signs The Message of You
In Honor of the upcoming San Gabriel Valley Pride LGBT Festival, Vroman’s presents Judy Carter reading and signing The Message of You.

The Message of You begins with a simple belief – that your greatest speech already exists and that it has already been delivered in front of a live audience masterfully and powerfully by you. Best-selling author and international comic Judy Carter sets out to prove that The Message of You is in the advice you give to your friends; in the lessons you teach your children; in the stories you tell your family. It’s expressed through the volunteer work you do, the way you run your business, the way you turned your messes into successes.

The Message of You is a distillation of all of your experiences, both personal and professional, that form the narrative meaning of your life. A meaning that you can develop into a well-written, funny speech to inspire audiences, enhance your current profession, and launch a successful money-making career as a professional speaker.

San Gabriel Valley Pride LGBT Festival will be Saturday, September 20th from 11am to 6pm in Pasadena’s Memorial Park, Levitt Pavilion and Holly Street. http://sgvpride.org/sgvpride2014/

 

Sunday, September 14, 4pm
Darrell Miller discusses and signs The 16th Minute of Fame

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” This famous Andy Warhol quip has now become possible, in large part, due to the vast audiences of hundreds of channels of scripted television and unscripted reality TV shows. Author Darrell Miller characterizes fame as that defining point in your life or career that has the potential and capacity to actually take you to a higher level of success and to reach your personal or business goals. Throughout his career as an entertainment attorney, the author has observed many high profile people who have achieved their personal dreams. Miller’s primary goal is to make people stop and give real consideration to some of these issues in an effort to motivate them to understand that once they have reached a certain level of fame and fortune, it is extremely important to spend quality time developing basic plans and avoiding complacency in order to sustain their success.

 

Monday, September 15, 7pm
Elizabeth Silver & Erin Lindsay McCabe present and sign The Execution of Noa P. Singleton and I Shall Be Near to You

Noa P. Singleton never spoke a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ended with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, she sits on death row in a maximum-security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date. Meanwhile, Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing, claims to have changed her mind about the death penalty and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute Noa’s sentence to life in prison. There’s just one caveat: Noa must tell her side of the story. Linked by murder but with very different goals, Noa and Marlene wrestle with the sentences life itself can impose while they confront the best and worst of what makes us human.

Inspired by more than 250 documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near to You is the gripping story of Rosetta, who refuses to leave her husband’s side whatever the cost. Refusing to abide by cultural standards, Rosetta cuts her hair, hems an old pair of pants, and enlists as a Union soldier. The couple must face incredible odds to stay together, including gender conventions, constant danger, and the fear that her secret might become exposed. Above all, this debut novel tells a love story about what can happen when two partners face life’s challenges together.

 

Tuesday, September 16, 7pm
Stuart Rojstaczer discusses and signs The Mathematician’s Shiva

Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch and his family would like to mourn the passing of his mother, Rachela, with modesty and dignity. But Rachela, a famous Polish émigré mathematician and professor at the University of Wisconsin, is rumored to have solved the million-dollar Navier-Stokes Millennium Prize problem. Rumor also has it that she spitefully took the solution to her grave. To Sasha’s dismay, a ragtag group of socially challenged mathematicians arrives in Madison and crashes the shiva, vowing to do whatever it takes to find the solution. Written by a geophysicist, this debut novel tackles not only the human drive, but also human beings’ determination to solve the impossible.

 

Wednesday, September 17, 7pm
Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman discusses and signs The Golem of Hollywood

The legend of the Golem of Prague has endured through the ages, but the creature that has been lying dormant may not be any longer. Detective Jacob Lev wakes one morning, dazed and confused: He knows he met a mysterious and beautiful woman the night before, but can find no trace of her. But this mystery pales in comparison to the one he’s about to be called on to solve. Newly reassigned to a Special Projects squad he didn’t even know existed, he’s sent to a murder scene in the hills of Hollywood. There is no body, only an unidentified head lying on the floor of a house. Seared into a kitchen counter nearby is a single word: the Hebrew for justice. Detective Lev is about to embark on a globetrotting odyssey to solve a mystery that will change him, and the world, forever.

 

Thursday, September 18, 7pm
Ron Koertge discusses and signs Sex World

This collection of flash fiction will leave you in stitches as you read about a robot who claims that the sound of turbines is his lullaby, or how a fed-up daughter finds a foolproof way to do away with her horrible mother. Fans of the classic Persephone and Demeter story will love Koertge’s new take on the tale and you’ll also hear about a page from Lois Lane’s diary that reveals a surprising secret! Each story is more unique than the last and is told in a way that only Koertge can.

 

Thursday, September 25, 7pm
James Ellroy discusses and signs Perfidia

In this new novel, James Ellroy writes about Los Angeles in a way that he never has before. It is December 6, 1941, and America stands at the brink of World War II. Last hopes for peace are shattered when Japanese squadrons bomb Pearl Harbor. Los Angeles has been a haven for loyal Japanese-Americans—but now, war fever and race hate grip the city and the Japanese internment begins. The hellish murder of a Japanese family summons several Angelenos – a detective, a war profiteer, the only Japanese-American on the LA cop payroll, and a young woman looking for adventure – who must come together before the investigation rips them apart.

 

  Friday, September 28, 6:30pm
Aaron Becker discusses and signs Quest
In this follow up to the Caldecott Honor Journey, Aaron Becker tells of a king who emerges from a hidden door in a city park, startling two children sheltering from the rain. No sooner does he push a map and some strange objects into their hands than he is captured by hostile forces that whisk him back through the enchanted door. Just like that, the children are caught up in a quest to rescue the king and his kingdom from darkness, while illuminating the farthest reaches of their imagination.

 

Saturday, September 27, 3pm
Liz Climo discusses and signs The Little World of Liz Climo

Artist Liz Climo has charmed her fans with her comic world of whimsical animal characters, where grizzly bears, dinosaurs, rabbits, and anteaters grapple with everyday life with wit and humor. Through her comics, we discover that an armadillo can dress for Halloween, a dinosaur can be a loving parent … and a rhino can squeeze orange juice! This new collection features more than 100 of her comics, starring her beloved characters in all kinds of funny situations.


Sunday, September 28, 12pm
Local Author Day: Vroman’s introduces Benla Bennett and Jerilyn McIntyre
Benla Bennett reads from and signs The Land at the Top of the Stairs
A Note from the Benla Bennett: “These stairs were built by my father in the 1960′s to provide us access to the top of our property in order to clear brush. Over the years the question everyone, adults and children alike, asks when he or she walks into my backyard is: “What’s at the top of the stairs?” With that question in mind, I decided to write The Land at the Top of the Stairs from a child’s point of view. While turning this story into a book I decided it would be fun to let the reader illustrate the story. Children are so very creative. Each book would certainly be an original with the child’s illustrations.”

  Jerilyn McIntyre reads from and signs Paws in the Piazza
“Back home, I was content to be just an ordinary house cat. I didn’t get out much. But it’s different here in Venice.” How different? Harley quickly finds out after his family arrives in Italy. He takes up with a group of local cats who roam wild in the alleys and neighborhoods of Venice, and meets the mysterious Angela, a beautiful white Angora who steals his heart. Then he becomes embroiled in a fierce and ongoing war between his friends and a rival band of cats, and discovers the magical order that underlies life in the enchanting and historic city that is his new home.

Sunday, September 28, 4pm
Local Author Day: Vroman’s introduces Dublin Galyean, W. David Smith, & Clyde Derrick

Dublin Galyean discusses and signs Bougainvillea Blues
Bougainvillea Blues is the heartfelt coming of age story of Joey Norton, a twelve-year-old boy. Sex, love, and voyeurism: Joey is trying to figure it all out. When his world collides with the gorgeous Gloria, the boy who likes to watch is forced to participate in his own life for the first time. A smothering mother, neighborhood boys with their own code of sexuality, and a father with secrets that will stun the family and force Joey to make the first grown-up decisions of his life turn up the heat on a story of love and loss see in the breezy, warm air of 1960′s San Diego.

W. David Smith discusses and signs Above the Mountain
The poems of Above the Mountain are moments with private people and what they dream when life changes. Five lives open, the last a questioning child who experiences near physical death in the midst of laughing adults, then a manifestation of a death much bigger than his own. The book concludes with the actual demise of a friend in childhood and a glimpse of the humanity behind one person’s eyes the life of the vanished friend creates as years pass.

Clyde Derrick discusses and signs The Wash
With bold characters and exquisite prose, The Wash is a compelling addition to California literature. Clyde Derrick masterfully captures a time and place while telling the sprawling multi-generational story of a Western family as seen through the clear and loving eyes of Cluny Taggart, recalling his twelfth year.
Monday, September 29, 7pm
Steph Cha discusses and signs Beware Beware: A Juniper Song Mystery

Working as an apprentice at a P.I. firm, Juniper Song finds herself nose deep in a Hollywood murder scandal. When a young woman named Daphne calls looking for an eye on her boyfriend, Song takes the case. Daphne is an independently wealthy painter living in New York, and her boyfriend Jamie is a freelance screenwriter in Los Angeles, ghostwriting a vanity project for aging movie star Joe Tilley. Song quickly learns that there’s more to this case than a simple tail, and her suspicions are confirmed when Tilley winds up dead in a hotel room. Nonetheless, when Jamie becomes the prime suspect in the movie star’s murder, she agrees to help the charismatic couple discover the truth, even as the police build their case against Jamie. As Song chases leads, she realizes no one – not even herself – is safe from judgment.

 

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Our whole upstairs event space is being taken over by our HUGE ANNUAL CLEARANCE SALE!! We’ve been hard at work for the past few days getting it all set up. Take a peek at what we’ve got in store.

This Sale will be going on THIS weekend ONLY!

FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY

Aug 22, 23 & 24!

 

These ladies and gents are the best! They have been working so hard to get set up!

Another shot of the team!

The Entertainment Section is starting to fill up nicely.

The Children’s table! It’s so full it exploded onto the floor.

The Holiday Decor Table!

Another corner of the Holiday Decor Table!

We’re a little bit in love with this adorable Rosanna Venetian Lace Teapot. Perfect early gift idea!

A Work in Progress.

 

There’s a lot more where these came from! We can’t wait to see everyone here this weekend to check out this sale! Tell your friends…the more the merrier!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ANNUAL CLEARANCE SALE!

by Jessica on August 19, 2014

We are gearing up for our BIG Annual Clearance Sale!

FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY

AUGUST 22, 23, & 24.

Take an additional 50% OFF 1000s of books & gifts already reduced 50-75%!

 

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Vacation Reading | a post by Allison Hill

by Rachel on July 23, 2014

Today’s post comes to you from Allison Hill, CEO & President of Vroman’s Bookstore and Book Soup.  The original article  from 7/23/14 can be seen here on The Huffington Post.

As far as I’m concerned, there are only three necessary decisions to make when it comes to vacation: Beach or pool? SPF 15 or 30? And which books should I bring? More important even than my destination, are the books I’m taking with me.

These books will become my vacation soundtrack, and my ultimate contentment and satisfaction will be determined not by the choices made once I arrive — swim or nap, red or white, sleep late or sleep even later — but by the choices I make before I’ve even left home.

My process is always the same. I start with a practical “gatherer” strategy. I visit our guest room where the books we haven’t read yet live. A few of these books will start my list. But unconvinced that I’ve found the perfect vacation reading, I will continue and quickly adopt a “hunter” strategy.

I go to work and browse the bookshelves. Ask my fellow booksellers for recommendations. Buy more books. Then I evolve and start “surfing” online. Reading reviews and blogs. Spying on staff picks from other bookstores. The list of contenders grows.

By the time I start packing, there are 21 books next to my empty suitcase. One dress. Two swimsuits. Five shirts. And 21 books. For nine days.

In recent years the airlines have undermined this process with their tyrannical, anti-reading weight limits. More than a few ticket agents have me to thank for their summer reading as I reluctantly gave up novels to avoid paying the $25 overweight penalty. And a second bag for my books is definitely not an option anymore. So I spend an hour the night before we leave, reviewing the books, curating, whittling the list down to the final selection.

I know some of you are already composing your comments about how I need an e-reader. With a nod to Gloria Steinem, I need an e-reader like a fish needs a bicycle. I don’t want to stare at a screen on vacation, or worry about my battery life, or concern myself with whether someone is going to steal my electronic device while I’m in the ocean. That doesn’t seem relaxing to me; it feels like work. I want to grab a book, throw it in my beach bag, and head out for the day. I want the honeymooning couple next to me to ask if the book’s good, or tell me that they read it and loved it. I want to underline paragraphs I love so that when my sweetheart comes out of the waves, or wakes up from his nap, I can share the best parts with him. I want the satisfaction of leaving a good book behind for someone else to discover on their vacation, or, better yet, the thrill of discovering a book is so great that it’s worth taking home to live on my bookshelves forever.

Last year my soundtrack consisted of Julian Barnes’ exquisite novel Sense of an Ending; The Good Girl’s Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace; Mark Salzman’s moving memoir of anxiety and spirituality, The Man in the Empty Boat; Caitlin Moran’s hilarious How to be a Woman; and a couple of Michael Connelly’s (always great) mysteries. Then we happened to meet writer Randy Wayne White and his wife at a bar, and he gave me a copy of his Hannah Smith mystery, Gone. And we found a great little bookstore around the corner from our hotel! It was the perfect reading vacation.

I haven’t even started collecting books for this year’s vacation. As soon as I finish writing this, I’m headed to the guest room. My sweetheart has already picked out the tome he’s taking with him, a book long enough to last him the flight, the vacation, and the return flight home. Maybe now he’ll have time to help me cull my list, or, even better, maybe he’ll let me use some of the space in his suitcase.

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Today’s post comes to you from Allison Hill, CEO & President of Vroman’s Bookstore and Book Soup.  The original article  from 7/14/14 can be seen here on The Huffington Post.

I’ve never belonged to a book club. (Unless Oprah’s Book Club counts. Btw, still waiting for Oprah to call. #OprahIndieBkstoreTour.) But in my profession, I meet a lot of book club members. And I gotta say, they’re badass.

The gravity of choosing a club name. The ongoing battles to select titles. The no holds barred opinions and heated debates. Kicking members out for failing to read the book or stay on topic. The wine! These readers are the masters of their literary domain.

And they’re a force to be reckoned with in the publishing and bookselling world. “How do we reach the book clubs?” the industry cries. These dedicated readers who read at least one book every month. Some studies show that 24 percent of Americans don’t even read one book a year! And that includes Fifty Shades of Grey.

The names of book clubs are often amusing: Bookies, Happy Bookers, Book Bags, Cross Talking Bettys, Qwill & Swill, Literary Giants, Ladies of the Evening. (Though nothing can beat the book club in Lorna Landvik’s novel of the same name, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons.)

But there is also the underbelly of book clubs. Pretending to end the club, then starting again under a new name so as to get rid of a member. Members who treat the group like a drinking club with a book problem. The contention over who gets the book club in a divorce.

In the reading world at large, some book clubs have become legendary. Kathy (Patrick) Murphy founded the Pulpwood Queens Book Club in 2000 in her bookstore/beauty salon with six members. Fourteen years later they have 3,000 members and their annual event draws 500 girls who just wanna have fun, and read.

With smaller hair than their Texas counterparts and, well, less clothing, there’s the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society in New York. Although the group’s main objective is to promote toplessness, they have certainly made the idea of book clubs more (forgive me) titillating.

And a discussion of book clubs isn’t complete without mention of Goodreads, the book website with an estimated 20 million members. Goodreads may be an online book club, but based on some of the posted reviews and discussions I’d venture to guess that members imbibe just as much as their real world counterparts.

It’s estimated that over five million people belong to book clubs. So I wonder how an avid reader like myself somehow missed the boat. Why am I not in a book club? How are they not reaching me? Is there a void in the book club market? I thought about what kind of book club I would want to join. A book club for writers in need of procrastination. (“Let’s all read the book, a second time.”) A book club for insomniacs. (“Everybody available the first Tuesday of every month at, say, 3 a.m.?”) A book club that serves tapas and chocolate. (That one can’t be too hard to find.)

Then I started thinking, what if there was a book club just for famous authors? Like the Rock Bottom Remainders, the band made up of published writers — Stephen King, Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Barbara Kingsolver. I would love to be a fly on the wall when Chuck Palahniuk, David Sedaris, Anne Rice, Jackie Collins, James Patterson, and Zadie Smith get together to sip Two-Buck Chuck, nibble Brie, and discuss whether The Goldfinch is art.

For now I will stick with my book club of two: my sweetheart and me. We agree on the books to read. Scheduling won’t be an issue. And well, let’s just say, every book will have a happy ending.

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Last night, we had the absolute pleasure of welcoming Edan Lepucki to our store for her new novel, California. This was a much-anticipated event for many reasons. A few weeks ago, author Sherman Alexie recommended California while he was a guest on The Colbert Report. A few days later, Colbert mentioned the book again on his show, creating a campaign for readers to pre-order California through their local indie bookstores in light of the ongoing Amazon/ Hachette dispute. Support for Edan and California was overwhelming, and she later signed 10,000 pre-order copies of her book at the Powell’s warehouse in Portland, Oregon, proving that she is, in fact, a book-signing machine.


About California:
The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can’t reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.

Terrified of the unknown and unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.

A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind’s dark nature and deep-seated resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love. (Little, Brown and Company)

Vroman’s and Book Soup President, Allison Hill, introduced Edan to a room packed with guests, reminiscing about when she had first met Edan and when they had started working together. (Special thanks to Allison for making everyone in the room teary-eyed before the event had even started.)

Vroman’s and Book Soup president Allison Hill, busy making everyone cry during her glowing intro for Edan.

 Edan read a short passage from her book, detailing a transaction between Frida and August, the traveling salesman, and more information on Frida’s family and her past. I was taken with how Edan is able to write about remarkably bleak circumstances in such a lyrical manner. The discussion that followed was excellent; there were so many people with wonderful questions, and Edan had thoughtful advice for young authors and valuable insight on the writing process. It was apparent from the Q & A session why Edan is such a highly-regarded writing instructor.

Edan Lepucki reads from her new novel, CALIFORNIA at her event at Vroman’s Bookstore on July 9, 2014.

Edan is a former Vroman’s Ed writing instructor and a former Book Soup bookseller, so she’s a part of
our family here and we couldn’t be more proud of her.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by last night!

Congratulations, Edan— we’re so incredibly excited for you!

About Edan:
Edan is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and her short fiction has been published in Narrative Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, MeridianFiveChapters, and McSweeney’s, among others. She is a staff writer for The Millions, and teaches creative writing at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and for Writing Workshops Los Angeles, which she founded.

Visit her website.
Follow her on Twitter @EdanL

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Darren Farrell is a children’s book author and illustrator, whose newest book, Thank You, Octopus, is one of Vroman’s new favorites! Darren was nice enough to answer some interview questions and share some special behind the scenes info about Thank You, Octopus with us!

 
Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell
(pre-k-1st grade, Dial Books, 05/2014)
Ahoy! It’s bedtime, and Octopus is here to help his buddy get ready. First up is a bath (Thank you, Octopus) . . . in egg salad (No, thank you, Octopus)! Then it’s time to brush teeth…with paint brushes!  And don’t worry, Octopus made sure there were no monsters under the bed…because they’re all in the closet! No, thank you, Octopus!  Each page turn brings new wordplay and laughs in this hip, nautical-themed take on bedtime and friendship . . . ending with a great big surprise for Octopus and sweet dreams for two best friends.

“On a tugboat in New York Harbor, a boy lives with Octopus, his eight-tentacled au pair. On Octopus’s watch, bedtime doesn’t go quite as expected. A bath in egg salad? Tooth-brushing with paint? “Yuck! No thank you, Octopus!” says the boy, who is always polite. Farrell has a sophisticated urban style that should appeal to any children who wish they had as silly a sitter. Parents might decide to stay home after all to read aloud.” The New York Times

“This hilarious nautical comedy of errors will lure in unsuspecting listeners—right
up to the boy’s neat turnabout at the end.” Kitty Flynn, The Horn Book

1. What inspired you to create a story that features such a mischievous octopus?

Be warned: ALL octopi are extra mischievous. You may be able to keep an eye on a few of those wiggly arms, but there is NO way you can watch what all eight of them are up to. AND chances are, at least a few of the arms you cannot see are doing something incredibly mischievous at all times.

As an octopus, with this ability to be incessantly mischievous, how could you possibly resist?

The octopus in Thank You, Octopus is inspired by a good friend of mine named Pete Bregman, to whom the book is dedicated. He is constantly tricking people into drinking awful concoctions, swallowing Big Mac’s nearly whole in 7.2 seconds like a python, and popping out of specially glued together stacks of boxes to scare people – just to name a few of his favorite tricks. He is by far the most hilarious and the most mischievous person whom I have ever been friends with. Here’s a YouTube clip of him as his wrestling alter-ego Johnny LeDoux where he can even make drinking water oddly funny.

2.    The illustrations are so clever and it’s fun to find all the hidden details in each page. Could you tell us a little bit about your creative process? Do you work on paper or digitally, or does it tend to be a hybrid of the two techniques?

I work in pencil on paper and scan everything into the computer before my left-handedness has a chance to smudge all the hard work away. Then I color digitally. I enjoy layering in the little details, like each tiny window in the New York skyline and tucking sea creatures into the ocean here and there.

A friend in San Francisco said his daughters love to count each cracker in the tub of egg salad – so it is nice to know the teensy detailing is appreciated and accounted for.

3.    What was your favorite part about writing and illustrating this book?

The backgrounds in Thank You, Octopus are a love letter to New York City. I created this book in Seoul, South Korea where my family had recently moved after living in New York for a long, long time. Sitting in my favorite Korean coffee shop, I could relive my most favorite part of New York – the gorgeous skyline at sunset.
This is the view my son and I enjoyed as often as possible, he from his comfortable seat in the jogging stroller, me from the slightly less comfortable jogging-whilst-pushing-a-human position behind him.

We start on the endpapers, looking out at the Bronx and Yankee Stadium before gradually work our way down Manhattan, past Governor’s Island and on out to sea in the final end papers. There is even a glimpse of Hoboken, New Jersey, a town we lived in and love dearly. It appears in the window on the “robot language” and “rock n roll” spreads – and those Hoboken buildings are precisely what you would see if you looked off the opposite side of the tugboat, which is where the bedroom window is.

4.    At the very beginning of the book, Octopus is helping his buddy get ready for bed, so he runs him a bath… but it’s a tub full of egg salad! How did you decide this would be the appropriate food for Octopus’ bath time shenanigans?

Figuring out which food to fill the tub with was not easy. It had to be gross to the touch but not a meal a child might find appealing in any way. It had to be super yucky for a kid to imagine eating, but something they are also quickly familiar with. Ideally something smelly and ideally warm. And I had to be careful that the color and texture didn’t read as something really gross that occasionally makes an accidental appearance in a child’s bathtub.

My first idea was chocolate pudding. But, in addition to being something most kids might actually WANT to have a bath in, it looked a wee bit too much like a scene from Caddyshack (on steroids). After imagining Jello (cold and grosss), Kool-Aid (sticky), Mac&Cheese (gooey), Manhattan Clam Chowder (fishy) and Split Pea (gross in every way), I almost went with Guacamole. Then egg salad arrived! It is a perfect combination of stinky, gooey, sticky, warm and something nobody would want to have a bath in. Except maybe my Grandfather, he loved egg salad.

5.    I hear that you’re now living in Seoul, South Korea, and much of your new work on your website has to do with your experiences there. Where did you live before, and how has living in a new place informed your work as an author/ illustrator/ artist?
I grew up in North Carolina and lived in New York for twelve years before embarking on a family adventure to Seoul. We are finishing up our second year in Seoul and will be back for a third next year.

A little bit of Korea snuck its way into Thank You, Octopus. There is a pennant for my family’s favorite Korean baseball team on the wall in the bedroom of the “robot language” spread. It reads LOTTE. The Lotte Giants are a team from Busan, which is where my wife’s family is originally from.
We root for Lotte primarily because they have the craziest cheers. At some point in each game, plastic orange shopping bags are passed throughout the crowd. Each person fills their bag with air, ties the handles into a knot and places the blobby bag atop their head with the handles looping over the ears so it stays put. It looks like everyone has orange jellyfish on their heads and I have absolutely no idea what it means – but there is a special cheer that goes along with it. So much fun. How could that not be your favorite Korean team!?

6.    You mentioned on your website that you are hard at work on another story. Can you give us a little teaser about what we can look forward to seeing from you next?

I am hard at work on a new book starring a little bear and a big moon. The new book is set in Yosemite National Park so I have been busy making lots of mountains with loads of tiny trees. Like Thank You, Octopus, the new book will be incredibly fun to read aloud, and it has a very sweet, hug of an ending.

Learn more about Darren Farrell here:
www.darren-farrell.com
@MrDarrenFarrell

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Vroman’s is extremely excited to host the book release party for Lisa See’s latest title, China Dolls on Wednesday, June 3rd at 7pm! Lisa See is the author of Dreams of Joy, Shanghai Girls, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and many other bestselling titles. Please join us in celebrating the release of this stunning new book by one of our beloved local authors!

It’s 1938 in San Francisco and Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at a glamorous city nightclub.  Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest to seek out a life of stardom. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she stick to her roots. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her defiant attitude and no-holds-barred ambition.  The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.

Those wishing to get books signed will be asked to purchase at least one copy of the author’s most recent title from Vroman’s. For each purchased copy of the newest title, customers may bring up to three copies from home to be signed. This policy applies to all Vroman’s Bookstore events unless otherwise noted. Save your Vroman’s receipt; it will be checked when you enter the signing line.

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May seems to have been one of the busiest months for us and we just keep getting busier! On Saturday, May 17 at 5pm, we are very honored and excited to host  an event with food critic and writer extraordinaire, Ruth Reichl to kick off the annual Pasadena LitFest festivities. She will be discussing and signing her debut novel, Delicious!, outside on the Vroman’s stage at 5pm on 5/17.

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
In Ruth Reichl’s fiction debut, Delicious!, Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills.

To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love. (Random House)

Ruth Reichl, former chief restaurant critic of the L.A. Times and New York Times and former editor of Gourmet Magazine, is the best-selling author of memoirs Tender at the Bone and Garlic and Sapphires.

Ruth Reichl will be joined in conversation by Laurie Ochoa, Los Angeles Times Arts and Entertainment Editor and co-founder of Slake magazine.

LitFest on the Prowl
Usually presented as a more conventional festival in the park, LitFest on the Prowl is shaking it up a bit and taking you on a tour through our neighborhood, Pasadena’s lovely Playhouse District.

So here’s what you need to know:

- Start with us at Vroman’s with Ruth Reichl at 5pm. Have your books signed by her and enjoy refreshments including a special beef guanciale prepared by Robert Simon of Bistro 45 in honor of Ruth Reichl, and beverages from Everson Royce Wine & Spirits.

- Head across the street to the Pasadena Playhouse area from 6pm-8pm. Meet over 25 authors and visit the local businesses there.  Check out the complete schedule of authors on the LitFest website.

- We’ll be selling books for the LitFest on the Prowl outside our Colorado Blvd. entrance from 5pm-9pm, so that’s where you can find all the books you’d like to have signed by the featured LitFest authors.

- From  8pm-10pm, mix and mingle with everyone at El Portal in the charming Arcade Lane. It’s a wonderful way to meet so many amazing SoCal authors!

Where You Can Go:
- Monopole Wine
- little junebugs
- Pasadena Playhouse
- CM Peck
- El Portal Restaurant

Who You Can Meet:
- Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlain
- Steph Cha
- Cindy Chupack
- Brendan Constantine
- Lian Dolan
- Yvonne Estrada
- Frank Giradot
- Chuck Greaves
- Annabelle Gurwitch
- Denise Hamilton
- Michelle Huneven
- Michael Jaime-Becerra
- Detrice Jones
- Ron Koertge
- Victoria Patterson
- Gary Phillips
- Gabrielle Pina
- Ruth Reichl
- Thelma Reyna
- Chris Robertson
- Conrad Romo
- Mona Simpson
- Fred Smith
- Jonathan Swerdlick
- Jervey Tervalon
- Jinghuan Liu Tervalon
- Desiree Zamorona

 

 

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