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The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was held on the sunny USC campus over the weekend of April 18-19th. The festival has been taking place for 20 (!) years now, and reader Kathy Jund has been going for 12 of them. Here, the seasoned attendee tells us all about the LATFOB (which she humorously refers to as her “Disneyland”) --- including her favorite panels, Billy Idol, and why she’s so pleased that there’s a greater YA presence at the event. Considering the festival took place in Los Angeles, we couldn’t help but ask about its Hollywood visitors, and Kathy was more than happy to indulge us! Scroll all the way down to view our gallery of Kathy's wonderful photos.
This year's Eisner Awards nominations are in --- and, as anyone following the ups and downs of the comics world in 2014 surely knows by now, we're looking at quite a list. But let's not make much ado, even if it's about something (Happy Shakespeare Day!). Below are the series and books that will vie for Eisner fame in San Diego in July:  
“Fun, sun and literary soirées…” The First Annual Palm Beach Book Festival kicked off last weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida. Award-winning author Sandra Balzo --- best known for her Maggy Thorsen mystery series --- was in attendance and was kind enough to do some sleuthing for us. Here, Sandy shares what made the festival such a huge success, her favorite panels and panelists, and what an honor it was to represent her late fiancé, crime writer Jeremiah Healy, who had served on the festival’s advisory board and to whom the mystery panel was dedicated. She also took tons of amazing photos, which you can view in the gallery below.
Over the course of two decades, John Hargrove worked with 20 different whales on two continents and at two of SeaWorld's U.S. facilities. In 2012 he resigned his position with SeaWorld, and currently contributes his expertise to an advocacy movement that is convincing legislators to prohibit keeping killer whales in captivity. Hargrove appeared in the controversial 2013 documentary "Blackfish," and his book, BENEATH THE SURFACE: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish, is now available. In it, he paints a compelling portrait of killer whales as highly intelligent and social creatures, and argues that SeaWorld's popular programs are both detrimental to the whales and unsafe for trainers. Here, Hargrove shares his experience with one orca, Takara, with whom he formed a true bond --- and the fascinating story of how she saved his life.
Journalist Bethanne Patrick, one of Flavorwire's “35 Writers Who Run the Literary Internet," tweets as @TheBookMaven and began the #FridayReads book discovery meme. Bethanne received her MA in English from the University of Virginia and lived in Charlottesville twice; she has been involved with the Virginia Festival of the Book since 2000 and regularly moderates its Agents Panel. She also was on a panel about book groups, which had a wonderful turnout! The veteran attendee was kind enough to share her experience at the event this year, including her favorite panel and the most surprising thing she learned.
Mary Pat Kelly knows a thing or two about being Irish American. She wrote GALWAY BAY about her great-great grandmother, who fled Ireland in the 1840s to avoid starvation. Its sequel, OF IRISH BLOOD --- just published in February --- picks up in the 20th century and examines the next generation living in America. Her enthusiasm extends beyond her work; she participated in not one but three St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this year --- in Chicago, Boston and New York City. Talk about the luck of the Irish! Here, Mary Pat shares with us a bit about those experiences and what being Irish in America means to her.
This past weekend, March 14 – 15, the University of Arizona campus was overrun with book lovers of all shapes and sizes, as people gathered to attend the Tucson Festival of Books. With more than 250 exhibitors and new and veteran authors including Lisa See, Deborah Harkness and William Kent Krueger in attendance, there was plenty for attendees to see. Luckily, Edy Alderson is an experienced festival-goer, and she was kind enough to navigate the scene for us. Here, Edy shares --- with infectious enthusiasm --- her favorite panels, event highlights, and which book she’s most looking forward to reading.
Jonathan Odell's deeply moving novel, MISS HAZEL AND THE ROSA PARKS LEAGUE is set in pre-Civil Rights Mississippi. It's the story of a town, a people and a culture on the verge of a great change that begins with small things, like unexpected friendship. Jonathan himself grew up in Mississippi, and here he shares his journey, as a "recovering racist," toward a greater empathy and understanding of others who are like and unlike him. Read on for his story, and click here to watch a video where he further explores the issue of race in America.
The Savannah Book Festival took place last weekend, from Thursday, February 12th through Sunday, February 15th. The Festival is a free annual event that celebrates the written word and its role in the human experience. Lucky for us, reader Nancy Bader attended the event and was kind enough to share with us some highlights, including favorite panels, most colorful speaker, and the books she absolutely cannot wait to read.
Not only is Lynne Hinton a New York Times bestselling author, she’s also a former hospice chaplain and church pastor. Her latest book, SISTER EVE, PRIVATE EYE, is the first in Lynne’s Divine Private Detective Agency mystery series --- where God is not the only thing that’s mysterious. In this season's last Holiday Author Blog, Lynne shares a more solemn holiday story from her time as hospice chaplain: a story of grief and hope; brokenness and unity; and some ill-chosen, well-intentioned gold glitter that unexpectedly illuminated a somber memorial service.