Sunday, April 19, 2015

A great visit with six authors--all in one day!!

CHG Book & Author Luncheon
Friday, April 17, 2015

I just had the most amazing experience this past Friday...well, it actually stemmed from an amazing experience one year ago, in April 2014!! I did not post about attending this event last year, though I was so thrilled with it! So I'll make up for that'll learn (Probably more than you ever wanted to know!) all about this annual event that brings close to 1,000 readers and 4-6 authors together for a time of camaraderie and sharing each other's company! 

Firstly, in February of 2014 one of my coworkers asked if I would like to use her ticket to attend a "Book Author event." Well...of course...I really, well, I just really had to take a look at my rather crowded social calendar to determine whether this would fit into my schedule or not... Okay, not! I'm lying! I IMMEDIATELY said YES!!! (And yes, I may have YELLED it!) What is it? When? How much does it cost, etc., etc., etc. I'm sure she was sorry she'd ever offered her ticket to me within those first few minutes! But really...what else could she expect from a book nerd like me! 

As it turned out, she is a member of the Christamore House Guild (CHG), whose sole mission is to raise money to support the Christamore Houselocated just west of the IUPUI main campus in Indianapolis, Indiana. Inside this rather innocuous looking building, life teems with learning, helping, respecting, and most of all, conscientious caring! This is some of what I have learned in one year's time about this organization. It is much more than a community center, or preschool, or home for the elderly; it is a safe haven for community children in those after-school hours with many opportunities to expand and develop intellectually and socially, and engage in civic enrichment activities. 

What more could you ask from a non-profit? It is as all-inclusive as any such organization I've seen, and considering my employment in social work, I've seen a few! But it was just one event last spring that initiated my interest in membership. As I investigated that opportunity, I became convinced I could spare some time and money to help this Guild support this community center's worthy endeavors! What is more noble or effective than helping people improve their lives? Nothing, in my humble opinion. What began as a totally self-indulgent event for me, became so much more...and I am so grateful for this unique opportunity to give to and help others! 

So, last year's Book & Author Luncheon included (Listed alphabetically, to avoid any suggestion of favorites!):

Krista Bremer--My Accidental Jihad
Carol Cassella--Gemini
     I also loved Oxygen!
Robin Oliveira--I Always Loved You
     I adored her historical fiction novel My Name is Mary Sutter!
Chris Pavone--The Accident
     Also loved The Expats, the first in this series.
Ayelet Waldman--Love & Treasure
     Though I did read and review Red Hook Road

It was too late for me to actually read many of these books prior to attending the event, though I had been lucky enough to meet Carol Cassella on March 17, 2014, at the Gemini book release party held at The Elliott Bay Book Company while on vacation in Seattle, Washington. I was also able to meet so many others of my absolute favorite authors at that event! (But that's a whole 'nother blog post just waiting to be written!) I did read some other books written by some of these authors, but not THESE books specifically. Just not enough time! 

I did much better this year, particularly since I had advance notice of the authors to be included and their latest releases. This year's event included these authors/books:

Marisa de los Santos--The Precious One 
     She is listed first due to "seniority"/longevity--I have read and adored all her other 
     books, as well as this one!
Dwight Ritter--Growin' Up White
     Second because this is one of the best books I have ever read! Period!
Bryan Reardon--Finding Jake
     Third because initially I felt Ritter's book hit me a bit harder than Reardon's, though in
     the aftermath, I believe these two could tie for second! :)
Elizabeth Berg (The Dream Lover)
     Fourth because I have read and really liked Open House with my book club. 
     Unfortunately, this book was only released two days prior to the event, and I was 
     unable to take time off work to read it... :( But it will be high on my TBR list to read 
     and review as soon as possible. I'm excited, because I believe this is her first historical 
     fiction novel and I love historical fiction!
Jane Green--Saving Grace
     Fourth because this is the only book of hers I've read, and while it wasn't as creepy as
     I feared it might be, it just wasn't a theme with which I was enamored, from the 
     start! Though I really appreciated her writing and will definitely read more of her 
     books, including The Beach House which she claims to be her own favorite!
Amanda Eyre Ward--The Same Sky 
     I loved speaking with Ms. Ward and listening to her speak about her writing process 
     and research for this book. This is a very timely issue and a heartbreaking one. I just 
     prefer much more detailed characterization and didn't feel as if I got to know these 
     characters as well as I would have liked to. But the good news is...I am definitely in 
     the minority since it is currently rated 3.89 with 1,421 ratings on Goodreads! I have 
     marked another one of her books and intend to read it, just to compare--maybe it was 
     just this specific book...

Admittedly, I feel as if I've "cheated" by just using my Goodreads reviews for almost all of these books, but I like to process and take time with my blog posts of reviews, so those are still being composed! To be released in the (hopefully very near) future. :)

My point here is that sometimes life leads us to surprisingly pleasant and fulfilling experiences in the most unexpected ways. I try to keep myself open to new ideas and opportunities to expand my horizons, and this has proven to be invaluable in the enjoyment of my life! And next year, I will have had a much more active role in this event as a 2nd-year CHG member! 

Have you read any of these books? Have you met any of these authors? Obviously, I have some catching up to do with regard to reading last year's books! 

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