Monday, May 16, 2016

Announcing Daily Winners: Day 5

Armchair BEA 2016 has now come to a close....

On a winner's list ?

All winners must be registered participants in order to claim their prize.

Please Note:  In order to help spread the love throughout the week, participants can only win a maximum of 2 prizes from the Armchair BEA sponsored giveaways.

The LAST daily winners!  Congratulations and thank you for playing!  
Please be sure to get your response in early!

Rissi @ FinF2:F23ding Wonderland
Miranda @ A Real Writer's Life
 Gaele @ I am, Indeed
 Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense
Lory @ Emerald City Book Review
 Kelly @ Wandering Through Books
 Grace @ Books Without Any Pictures
Melanie @ Orange Juice Edits
 Monica @ Newbery and Beyond
 Meaghan @ mwgerard. com
 Chantal @ CK's Reading Corner
Akilah @ The Englishist
 Ashley @Inside My Minds

I've won - How do I claim my prize? 
Review the list of Sponsored Giveaways and Pick your top 3 choices

  1. Complete the Prize Claim Form
A confirmation email will be sent within approximately 24 hours,
confirming which prize you have won as well as your email/mailing address,
depending on your prize

All prizes must by claimed by Monday, May 16 at 12 Noon EST

Questions? Email armchairbea AT gmail DOT com.

Armchair BEA Comes to a Close!

It is time for Armchair BEA 2016 to come to a close.

However, as we are wrapping things up here, don't forget to keep checking back over the next couple of days to see our final LIVE FROM BEA coverage coming your way.

Let's take a quick look at Armchair BEA 2016 by the numbers . . .

Approximately 185 participants registered for the event this year.

Almost 325+ link-ups from participating bloggers and authors.

2 FEATURED giveaways.

Almost 250 daily giveaways thanks to our amazing 30+ sponsors.

7 topics that got us talking and 1 day of blogger designated giveaways.

4 hopping Twitter parties.

4 Instagram Challenges, bringing out creative and imaginative photos.

21 Armchair BEA team members working hard behind the scenes.

All of this combined to make one week full of INFINITE FUN!!

Thank you to EVERYONE involved in Armchair BEA 2016!  Each and every one of you helped to make this another great year!

At the end of every event, we also like to take the time to hear your thoughts and suggestions on future Armchair BEA events.  Please take a few minutes to complete our closing survey below.

Until next year, THANK YOU from the Armchair BEA 2016 Team!  
Keep on spreading the literary love!!

Armchair BEA 2017 is scheduled to take place Wednesday, May 31 – Friday, June 2.  Tentatively mark your calendars, and be sure to be following Armchair BEA in one of the following ways to stay up-to-date on the exact dates and any other important Armchair news coming your way.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Deb from Readerbuzz closes her time in Chicago for Book Expo America!


Goodbye, BEA

Goodbye, Chicago. Goodbye, BEA.

All good things must come to an end. Sigh.

I am headed home to Houston, Texas early Saturday morning. I'm so tired I don't even know how many books I have. I had to mail home eighty-eight pounds of books but that doesn't count the suitcase of books I collected yesterday. Maybe you can do the math, 'cause I'm too tired.

But it's a good tired, a happy tired. The kind of tired you feel when you've been to the Disneyworld of Books. And that's BEA.

I'll be back, BEA. I'll be back next year.

LIVE FROM BEA: The Stacks of Books

Welcome Heather from Based on a True Story and another one of our on-site correspondents as she shares her final thoughts LIVE FROM BEA!!  


I went into BEA with a solid plan. I had a list of 34 books that I was interested in from the list of books that were going to be available. And then this happened.


A photo posted by @dvmheather on

I was at Blogger Con most of the day and only spent about 2 hours in the exhibit hall. Of these only Truevine and Emperor of the Eight Islands were on my radar. Truevine sounds amazing. It is nonfiction by the author of Factory Man about African-American twins kidnapped and forced to join the circus and their mother's quest to find them.


At the Adult Author's Breakfast these were on the seat.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

I'm most interested in Underground Railroad. Imagine that it was a literal underground railroad and every state is a station. Each state represents a different world - white supremacy world, black separatist world, etc. Then Thursday got insane. No one tells you how hard it is to avoid having books handed to you.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

I'm not even posting all the pictures. I ended up with 42 books on Thursday.


If I thought they were hard core on Thursday, they were really serious on Friday. I had been there 15 minutes when this picture was taken.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

The Other Einstein is historical fiction about Albert Einstein's first wife who helped develop his theories and who got no credit. Sounds amazing. I got an additional 49 books on Friday without trying. Even when I would try to refuse a book, the response would be, "You'll like this one and this one better then! Here, take these." I have books for me and books for my husband and my mother. I have prizes for blog events I run and gifts for my secret sister. So out of all of those books, what is my favorite?

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

Shambhala Publishing for the win with vegan ice cream recipes!

GUEST ARTICLE: International Cover Showdown

Please welcome back our amazing International Committee for compiling yet another great guest article!  Read on and be sure to chime in with your own thoughts as they request at the end.


International Cover Showdown

Today, we’re looking at those beauties sitting on our shelves and discussing which covers we prefer!

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Selected by Kelly (@kelly8434)

Here’s the original North American release cover vs. the UK cover.

I’m a fan of the original North American cover, and I kind of cringe every time I think of the UK one. Partly because I’m not a huge fan of photo covers, and also because it’s pretty misleading about what the story is about. They then changed the North American cover to something that’s kind of in between. It’s a photo cover, but doesn’t have the weird and kind of inaccurate PDA cover in the UK.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Geir

German edition, North American edition, Chinese edition. This one was originally in German and has been translated into multiple other languages. Complete with covers. I do quite like the North American cover, but I think the German cover suits the series better.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Selected by Dani (@dani_reviews)

I actually have both the UK and US hardcover editions, having bought the UK one first and then Jamie from Books and Ladders sending me a signed US just last week. I LOVE this book that much… I actually prefer the UK cover because it’s more striking to me. The middle almost glows. In second place, I would have to say the Polish one. My least favourite? That would be the Bulgarian edition. Something about the art style just doesn’t sit well with me…

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Selected by Melissa (@MeliRobles)

US               UK HB           UK PB     German

Daughter of Smoke and Bone has many international covers, but my favorites are the US, UK hardback, UK paperback, and German editions. And from these four, I like the UK paperback cover the best. It looks so pretty in that red and it’s a lot more fitting to the story than all the others.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

       US                   UK                   Dutch

I’ve always liked the UK covers better in the Throne of Glass series because Celaena looks a lot more fierce with the white background instead of the colors used in the US editions, but after looking into more foreign editions, I have to say that I love this Dutch cover. The  green color is so pretty and the model looks so much like the Celaena in my mind.

What are your favourite international covers? Do you collect different editions of any books for the different cover styles?

TWITTER PARTY ROUNDUP: A "First Book That . . ." Conversation

Another Twitter chat took place yesterday afternoon, and this is the quick recap for those who were unable to attend.  Thanks to Melissa Robles of The Reader and the Chef for making this available!

Announcing Daily Winners: Day 4


Day four, aside from being the next-to-last day of Armchair BEA, it also marks the end of the Instagram Challenge and the Twitter Parties... Are you feeling the giveaway love?

All winners must be registered participants in order to claim their prize.

Please Note:  In order to help spread the love throughout the week, participants can only win a maximum of 2 prizes from the Armchair BEA sponsored giveaways.

Daily winners - day four.  Congratulations!!   If your name is on the list, read on
to learn how to claim your prize

Lory @ Emerald City Book Review
Tina @ Tina The Bookworm
Meaghan @ mwgerard. com
Valerie @ He Said Books or Me
Lexie @ For the Sake of Reading 
Julie & Lynn @ Chapter Break
Emily @ Emily Reads Everything
Candace@ literarydust
Katherine @ Kokoba
Heather @ Based on a True Story
Rhoda @ Strupag
Akilah @ The Englishist
Rissi @ Finding Wonderland
Brian @ Books Buying Beauty
Ariel @ The Librarian's Bookshelf
Monica @ Newbery and Beyond
Rayna @ Reader Rayna
Jamie @ Vailia's Page Turner
Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense
Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts 
Chrissy/ Melissa @ Every Free Chance Books
Gaele @ I am, Indeed 
Natalie Patalie
Carrie @ The Lion is a Bookworm
Chantal @ CK's Reading Corner
Melanie @ Orange Juice Edits
Inside My Minds
Lindsey @ Lindsey Gray

Orange Juice Edits
Natalie Patalie
Books Buying Beauty

I've won - How do I claim my prize? 
Review the list of Sponsored Giveaways and Pick your top 3 choices

  1. Complete the Prize Claim Form
A confirmation email will be sent within approximately 24 hours,
confirming which prize you have won as well as your email/mailing address,
depending on your prize

All prizes must by claimed by Monday, May 16 at 12 Noon EST

Questions? Email armchairbea AT gmail DOT com.


Today is sadly our final day of Armchair BEA!  We thank you all for making it another great year, but we also want to ensure that we come back next year with another amazing event.  We leave you with a final linky today for you to share your wrap-up thoughts for the week.  But, don't forget to keep checking back throughout the next couple of days as we bring some last minute updates and news from Chicago!!

We also want you to come back tomorrow and take a few minutes to complete our closing survey.  We take your feedback and thoughts very seriously, and this year is no different.

Thank you again for a fabulous week!  We hope you have felt the same way we have!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

TWITTER PARTY ROUNDUP: Beyond the Books & Beyond the Blog

Another Twitter chat took place yesterday afternoon, and this is the quick recap for those who were unable to attend.  Thanks to Melissa Robles of The Reader and the Chef for making this available!

GUEST ARTICLE: Top 5 Fictional Worlds . . .

We are so excited to share a special guest article from one of our sponsors, Sara Dobie Bauer.  Sara is the author of the upcoming novel Bite Somebody and one of you can claim (or may have claimed) this book, set to be released next month!  Please give her a warm welcome as she participates in our daily topic of Surviving Fictional Worlds!


Top 5 Fictional Worlds I Love … 
and Would Never Live In (Plus an Extra) 
By Sara Dobie Bauer 

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman 
I like the idea of magic and angels and stuff but, um, no. Poor Richard! All the filthy, dirty stuff he has to wade through, plus the whole people trying to kill him thing. Oh, and let us not forget that you’d have to spend your life living underground. I’d love to visit London, but I don’t particularly want to visit its sewers. I suppose the Lady Door could give me some assistance, but I’d have to live long enough to find her first.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 
I wouldn’t mind hanging out with a bunch of children with super cool powers, but then, there are the hollows that want to suck my soul. I don’t know if I have the patience to live one day on repeat—I probably don’t, because I’m impatient when Jeopardy! is a rerun. Plus, time travel has always really confused me, so I’d end up trapped in a time loop anyway, trying to figure out which way to go.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 
Well, the biggest problem with living in this world is that I’d be burned to death with all my books on, like, page one, so The End. I could never live in a world where books are considered illegal contraband. I couldn’t live in a world where all I do is watch TV and have pretend conversations. (Well, I talk to my dogs a lot, but they listen, okay?) Give me books, or give me death.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor 
In a similar vein of the aforementioned book, you can’t go to the library in Night Vale because the librarians will eat you. That’s a problem. Then, there are the paranoid government officials, and I have enough of that in real life. I wouldn’t mind the bit about living in a state of confusion, because I do that already. However, all the rules would be a bit much, and I’d probably end up swallowed by the dog park.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 
I love the magic. I love the wizardry. I love the vampire Baz—which is the reason I would never force myself to live at Watford School of Magicks. I would spend all my time crushing on Baz, and he would be too busy with Simon to even notice I exist. I’d be setting myself up for certain heartbreak, and I tend to avoid such scenarios. It’s a wonderful world, but my Baz-crazy little heart couldn’t take it.

Now, for an extra: A Fictional World I WOULD Live In

Bite Somebody by Sara Dobie Bauer 
I created this world of awkward vampires, ocean swims, and cheap rum punches at dirty bars. I birthed Celia, Ian, and Imogene—and I want to hang out with them. I want to swim with dolphins at 2 AM and get drunk with my trio. They all make me laugh, and that’s what good friends do. I don’t think Imogene would suck my blood, only because Celia wouldn’t let her. Since we’re on the topic, Bite Somebody comes out June 21st. Have you pre-ordered your copy yet? Read all about it:


We are excited to bring you some extra prize opportunities this year in the form of FEATURED GIVEAWAYS!  These giveaways are run separately from the daily giveaways, offering a different opportunity to win some amazing bookish prizes.  Be sure to read through the directions of these giveaways thoroughly to ensure you know how to enter for these prizes!


Today, we bring you a special surprise from Candlewick Press.  One of the authors from Candlewick Press is Don Calame, and he has a new book coming out just in time for Book Expo America.  In fact, he is currently at BookCon in Chicago, signing books as you read this!

Our friends at Candlewick Press are graciously offering up two (2) full Don Calame complete sets: Swim the Fly, Beat the Band, Call the Shots and Dan Vs. Nature.  His latest funny novel is Dan Vs. Nature, and here is a little information all about the book:

From screenwriter Don Calame comes another outrageously funny and raunchy tale of teen boys whose plans go awry — this time, on a survivalist camping trip. 

 Shy and scrawny Dan Weekes spends his time creating graphic novels inspired by his dream girl and looking out for his mom as she dates every man in the state of California. Then his mom drops a bomb: she and her latest beau, Hank, are engaged, and she’s sending her "two favorite men" on a survivalist camping trip to "bond." Determined to trick Hank into showing his true — flawed — colors on the trip, Dan and his nerdy germaphobe best friend, Charlie, prepare a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks. But the boys hadn’t counted on a hot girl joining their trip or on getting separated from their wilderness guide—not to mention the humiliating injuries Dan suffers in the course of terrorizing his stepdad-to-be. With a man-hungry bear on their trail, no supplies, and a lot of unpleasant itching going on, can Dan see his plan through now that his very survival depends on Hank?

PLEASE NOTE:  This prize is only available to US & Canada residents.

To enter, simply fill out the form below. One winner will be chosen using this one form. The entry form is open until Monday, May 16 at 12:00 Midnight EST. The winner will be contacted via email as well as announced here on the site once all featured giveaway winners are confirmed. Winner will be required to confirm prize winnings within 48 hours, so be sure you are watching your email closely.

LET'S DISCUSS: BookCon What If?

BookCon is taking place today in the Windy City!  

With BookCon comes lots of excitement, especially for the general public.  The place is going to be packed, lines will be long, and static may actually be in the air!!  Even if we are enjoying the big event in Chicago from the comfort of our own armchairs, we can still play what I like to call the "What If" game.  

What if I was actually in Chicago and had the opportunity to attend one or more of these amazing panels?  Which ones would I choose?

What if I was actually in Chicago, with my comfy shoes on and ready to rock the autographs of all the amazing authors?  Which of these huge autographing lines would I be willing to wait in?

What if the Windy City was just down the street from me, and I could go exploring in the booth signing line-ups?  Which ones would I make a priority?

You know you want to play!  So, start exploring these lists and share in the comments which ones you would include in your own game of "What If!"

Announcing Daily Winners: Day 3

It's that time again... are you on the list? We've just passed the halfway point for the festivities - what better way to celebrate than with another round of winners?

All winners must be registered participants in order to claim their prize.

Please Note:  In order to help spread the love throughout the week, participants can only win a maximum of 2 prizes from the Armchair BEA sponsored giveaways.

Round Three - and we are MORE than Halfway to the end!!
Be sure to get your prize choices in early! 

Amanda @ Orandi et Legendi 
Suey @ It's All About Books
Wesley @ Library Educated
Katherine @ Kokoba 
Julie & Lynn @ Chapter Break
Mari @ Mari Reads
Nordie @ writing about books 
Julie & Lynn @ Chapter Break
Jamie @ Vailia's Page Turner
Melissa @ The Reader & The Chef
Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense 
Chantal @ CK's Reading Corner
Kaitlin Michelle @ Vivacious Hobo
Ayanami @ Whatever You Can Still Betray 
Sarah @ Exploring All Genres 
KristinaD @New Borrowed Used
Carrie @ The Lion is a Bookworm 
Ashley @ Inside My Minds
Katie @ Story Time Secrets 
Bee @ A Work in Progress
Lila @ The Bookkeeper's Secrets
Rory @ Fourth Street Review
Emily @ Emily Reads Everything
Laura @ Through Raspberry Colored Glasses
Melanie @ Orange Juice Edits 
Tina @ Tina The Bookworm
Elizabeth @ Book Babble
Rissi @ Finding Wonderland 
Jennifer @ Literate Housewife 
Grace @ Books Without Any Pictures
Gaele @ I am, Indeed 
Vivian @ The Book Diva's Reads 
Brian @ Books Buying Beauty 
Kaitlin Michelle @ Vivacious Hobo
Donna @ Girl Who Reads
Ariel @ The Librarian's Bookshelf
Reid @ Pop- Culture Spectrum 
Tia @ Videoclimber's Variations

Newbery and Beyond
A Cineaste's Bookshelf
Kim's Pensieve

I've won - How do I claim my prize? 
Review the list of Sponsored Giveaways and Pick your top 3 choices

  1. Complete the Prize Claim Form
A confirmation email will be sent within approximately 24 hours,
confirming which prize you have won as well as your email/mailing address,
depending on your prize

All prizes must by claimed by Monday, May 16 at 12 Noon EST

Questions? Email armchairbea AT gmail DOT com.

DAILY REMINDERS & LINK-UPS: Surviving Fictional Worlds & Giveaways

Welcome to Day 3 of Armchair BEA!  Are you excited to explore fictional worlds and a load of giveaways today from all of our other participants?!?  We sure are!!


1 PM EST Twitter Party: A "First Book That . . ." Conversation


Today we'll talk about surviving fictional worlds. We all know that sometimes, the worlds we love in fiction can be dangerous. Which fictional worlds would you want to live in? Which worlds do you never want to dive into? Which worlds are you content to stay behind the glass, so to speak, rather than wishing to dive through the page? And once you get there, what would you do?

It's also a day of giveaways. This is your time to post and share your own giveaways, hosted on your own websites. Blogger giveaways are separate from our own sponsored giveaways, and the link will be filled with opportunities for you to win even more goodies!


Please use the following format when linking up:

Name @ Blog Name - Daily Topic Represented For example: Sally @ Armchair BEA - Fictional Worlds OR Sally @ Armchair BEA - Fictional World & Giveaway

Please use only permalinks (links going directly to the designated post) when linking up. If you link directly to your home page, your link will be removed.

Friday, May 13, 2016

LIVE FROM BEA: One Little Fun Reason You Shouldn't Have Missed BEA This Year - Litographs

Deb from Readerbuzz brings us more content and pictures from the BEA floor today!


I saw the bowl first.

It was a bowl of tattoos.

Now I have resisted getting a tattoo until now. But, by golly, these were literary tattoos.

I took the plunge.

(Here's what it says, if you can't quite read it:
"And the Queen seemed to guess her thoughts,
for she cried, 'Faster! Don't try to talk.'")

Bonus points: Can you guess what book this quote is in?

It's not just a tattoo. It's not just a literary tattoo. It's a tattoo chain.

Here's how it works:

They are trying to write the entire book of...yes, you guessed it---Alice in Wonderland---in tattoos! 

And here's what they have so far:

​Crazy cool, huh?

LIVE FROM BEA: A Focus on Poland

Welcome Heather from Based on a True Story and another one of our on-site correspondents as she shares a bit more LIVE FROM BEA!!  



I love reading books set in other countries and love them even more if they were written by native authors. For years I've been interested in reading more set in Poland because I've been trying to explore my Polish roots. Most books in English set in Poland take place during World War II, which is important, but there is so much more to Poland than those years.

I was thrilled to find out that Poland was the featured international guest at BEA this year. I planned to haunt the booth and see if they would help me on my quest. It worked!

Zygmunt Miloszewski 

My first in booth signing was for Zygmunt Miloszewski. He is a best selling crime writer in Poland and his books are just being translated. He gave me the first two books in his series and promised that if I read them in the next hour and a half I could get the third in his autographing session. I didn't do my part but I got the third book anyway along with a sweet drawing of flowers and his autograph. His English translations aren't on Goodreads yet.

Andrew Sapkowski 

Polish fantasy? I want this! The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1)The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

"Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin.

And a cold-blooded killer.

His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world.

But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good. . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

The international hit that inspired the video game: The Witcher."

 Of course you can't escape World War II completely.

Agatha Tuszynska

Agatha Tuszynska Family History of Fear: A MemoirFamily History of Fear: A Memoir by Agata Tuszyńska

"The author was nineteen years old and living in Warsaw when her mother told her the truth—that she was Jewish—and began to tell her stories of the family’s secret past in Poland. Tuszyńska, who grew up in a country beset by anti-Semitism, rarely hearing the word “Jew” (only from her Polish Catholic father, and then, always in derision), was unhinged, ashamed, and humiliated. The author writes of how she skillfully erased the truth within herself, refusing to admit the existence of her other half."

Besides the Poland booth, there were other books set in Poland (all WWII) being given out.

  MischlingMischling by Affinity Konar

It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.

As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.

Irena's Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo was available. The adult novel isn't on Goodreads yet. This is the story of a woman who saved 2000 children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

All book descriptions from Goodreads

LIVE FROM BEA: Adult Author Breakfast

Welcome Heather from Based on a True Story and another one of our on-site correspondents as she shares a bit more LIVE FROM BEA!!


Quotes from the Adult Author Breakfast 

 Faith Salie On what she learned from interviewing people "Everyone has stories worth telling." On the importance of book sellers and reviewers "Every sale is a miracle." Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too MuchApproval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much by Faith Salie

"Faith Salie has done it all in the name of validation. Whether it’s trying to impress her parents with a perfect GPA, undergoing an exorsism in the hopes of saving her toxic marriage, or maintaining the BMI of “a flapper with a touch of dysentery,” Salie is the ultimate approval seeker—an “approval junkie,” if you will." Colton Whitehead "Genre distinctions don't mean much. There are only two kinds of books - books you like and books you don't." The Underground Railroad: A NovelThe Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead

"Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her of the Underground Railroad and they plot their escape. Like Gulliver, Cora encounters different worlds on each leg of her journey...Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors of black life in pre-Civil War America." Louise Penny "It is a bit of a handicap as a writer to have a happy childhood. I blame my mother." "Words can heal. Books can cure fear." On writing her ideal community "What's the most important thing in a community? Books. What is the second most important? Croissants" A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #12)A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

"When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes. Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must." Sebastian Junger "If you have a book in your hand or your pocket, you will be ok. The plane could be three hours late or the car could break down but you could put yourself in another world." "I very, very deeply believe in books... You can change society with a book"

 All book descriptions from Goodreads.


Ashley, blogger at Books Buying Beauty and one of our on-site correspondents, attended the BEA Blogger Conference yesterday, and today she is here to share a detailed account of her experiences.  You do not want to miss this!


Armchair BEA Blogger Con Wrap-Up

I arrived way earlier than needed to get our badges Wednesday morning. I left my great-grandfather upstairs while I headed to the keynote speaker for Blogger Con. This was my first year attending this part of BEA and I didn't really know what to expect.

The keynote speaker Erin Loechner was interesting. I loved how she used the analogy of a backpack for hiking when talking about what to carry- or not carry- with you on your blogging journey. After breakfast and her talk I then had the tough choice of which morning panels to go to. I ended up going to “Making the Right Connections: Publishers & Bloggers” All of the speakers were amazing and offered sound advice to listeners. When it comes to requesting an ARC make sure to include your address the first time around, keep things short and to the point, list your stats so they are easy to read, and most of all if you loved- or disliked- a book before to send in a link to your review.

The second panel I went to was “United: Blogger, Youtubers and Instagrammers.” In my head I thought I was going to learn different ways to interact or include everyone on all medias but instead we heard each person talk about their experiences on their chosen site as well as the limitations and achievements they've experienced.

It was off to grab a quick lunch and sit with everyone to mingle. Lunch although pricey (what convention food isn`t?) was tasty. From lunch I ventured toward the blogger table talks. These were new this year and I would say they were fairly successful. I didn't go to every table and I did leave a little early (regretting that choice). I went to the Blogger Burnout table to discuss ways to prevent or handle feeling like quitting. I realized I'm going on 5 years of blogging and sometimes I just feel like stepping away. I learned that it's alright to do just that- take a break. I then went over to The Bookstagram Workshop to get some pointers on props and editing my photos on my phone.

After such a long day I was ready to go check on my great-grandfather and head back to rest a little. Instead I got swept upstairs and got a few books on my want list marked off. Now comes the sad news...had I stayed at Blogger Con they had books for us downstairs :/

I`d say overall the Blogger Con was a success and I would be interested in doing it again. Feel free to head over to Books Buying Beauty for Armchair BEA posts from my Co-Blogger this week and next week read all my BEA Wrap-ups and Haul. I`ll also be posting later this week about road tripping out here with my great-grandfather from California for 37 days (BEA is day 12-15 on the trip)

Ashley Mullins
Books Buying Beauty

GUEST ARTICLE: Fiction that Promotes Social Justice Solutions

Let us welcome a special guest today, Robert Eggleton, author and one of our amazing sponsors of Armchair BEA.  He is here to talk about going beyond the book today with promoting social justice issues within fiction.  Enjoy!


Food for Thought – Fiction that Promotes Social Justice Solutions

Some fiction prompts one to think about life and the issues that it presents, while other stories entertain us by presenting a short-term opportunity to escape from life stress. Some are quick and easy reads, the story ends when the last page has been read. Other stories reassert messages that we appreciate for a lifetime. Both reading experiences are valuable.

I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist with a lifelong dream of becoming an author, but who didn’t begin writing fiction until late in life. I read in all genres, and I’ve tried unsuccessfully to write in several. Something more was calling me to become an author – social justice and the historical use of fiction to promote it. Maybe it was Tiny Tim in the back of my head yelling for me to do something impossible, like – Fix the World! Or, maybe it was group pressure from all of those great authors that I’d read during my idealistic youth: Orwell, Huxley, Wells….

I tried to ignore the voices in my head and continued to try to write the type of novels that I knew were most popular, especially romance and young adult stories. It didn’t work. What really kicked my butt and inspired me to write Rarity from the Hollow, my debut novel, adult literary science fiction, was a skinny little girl with long brown hair, a victim of child abuse – one of the strongest persons that I’ve ever met.

This article discloses how I came to write a novel that prompts reflection on social justice. In 2002, I accepted a position as a therapist for an intensive mental health, day treatment program for kids. Most of the children had been abused, some sexually. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions. One day in 2006 during a group session, I was sitting around a table used for written therapeutic exercises when a little girl, who instead of just disclosing the horrors of her abuse at the hands of the meanest daddy on Earth, also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future: finding a loving family to protect her.

My protagonist was born that day – an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe: Lacy Dawn. I began to write fiction in the evenings and sometimes went to work the next day without enough sleep. Every time that I would feel discouraged, when I felt like giving up, I would imagine Lacy Dawn speaking honestly about the barriers that she faced in pursuit of her dream of finding a permanent and loving home. To totally lock myself in to completing the project, I decided to dedicate author proceeds to the prevention of child abuse – a commitment that nobody could turn her back on.

As I got to know her, Lacy Dawn, like so many other maltreated children that I’d met during my career, just like real kids in their real-life situations – my protagonist became complicated. I tried to stick with a simple story, determined to make it inspirational since the real Lacy Dawn did find a loving home. (Super cool, huh?) Plus, I knew what an editor might instruct when I submitted my novel for consideration: “keep it simple stupid.” I also knew that an early reviewer of Heinlein’s masterpiece, Stranger in a Strange Land (Galaxy Magazine, Floyd C. Gale, 1962) had criticized the novel for biting off more than it could chew.

But, I just couldn’t oversimplify the truth when writing Rarity from the Hollow. Life is so damn complicated. With tragedy to parody, satiric dark comedy, the novel developed to include commentary not only about child maltreatment, but also about poverty, PTSD experienced by Vets, domestic violence, mental health issues, political issues (extreme capitalism/consumerism [Trump] vs. socialism [Sanders]), mental health issues…and so much more.

“…You will enjoy the ride with Lacy Dawn, her family and friends, but don’t expect the ride to be without a few bumps, and enough food for thought to last you a long time.”
— Darrell Bain, Award Winning Author

You see, even with a cause as pure as sensitizing readers about the prevention of child maltreatment through a comical and satiric science fiction adventure, so many other factors are related to that mission. In real life, Lacy Dawn’s father was a disabled Vet who experienced flashbacks and anger outbursts. Her family lived in an impoverished hollow with little economic opportunity. It all affected performance and behavior in school, which influenced peer relationships, including viewpoints on romance, teenage pregnancy….

“…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” – Awesome Indies

I wanted my story to be honest and it included social justice issues because I value meaningful contribution to society. Life is too short to spend all of one’s time escaping from it. But, at the same time I don’t write or want to read anything that is preachy. Heck, I don’t even think that religious literature, like the pamphlets that one finds on the floors of public toilet stalls, should be so preachy. I wouldn’t want to touch such content, even if it would have been delivered under more sanitary conditions. I want to write about important issues that one person may think support a particular position but the next reader finds the opposite. I don’t have the answers to the most important questions and challenges that humans face, and Rarity from the Hollow is not an instruction manual on how to prevent child maltreatment by acknowledging and addressing its complexities.

The SF/F backdrop for Rarity from the Hollow was selected because it was the best fit by process of elimination. While it is a fun read, the story does include early scenes and references to tragedies in contemporary America. As such, it was not a good fit to the historical or western genres, although the social problems addressed in the story have existed throughout history, and are not restrained by our world’s geography, cultures, or religions. I felt that biographical and nonfiction wouldn’t work because the story would have been so depressing that only the most determined would have finished it. The story had to be hopeful and I especially wanted it to inspire survivors of child maltreatment toward competitiveness within our existing economic structures, instead of people using past victimization as an excuse for inactivity. I didn’t think that anybody would bite on the theme of a knight on a white stallion galloping off a hillside to swoop victims into safety, like in the traditional romance genre. That almost never actually happens in real life, so the romance genre was too unrealistic as the primary. There was already enough horror in the story, so that genre was out too. What could be more horrific than child abuse?

Lacy Dawn and her traumatized teammates needed fantastical elements to achieve empowerment. But, as in life, one cannot overcome barriers by simply imagining them away. That’s where the science fiction came into play. It provided a power source. I tied the science fiction to capitalism because in today’s reality it will take significant financial investment by benefactors to improve the welfare of children in the world, and to invest in economic development. As symbolized in the story, I feel that our governments are unlikely to fund effective solutions to social problems in the near future because of the politics. The systems in place to help victims of these types of problems are woefully inadequate.

Further, historically, speculative fiction has fueled social activism, debate, and the adoption of evolving or devolving social policy depending on one’s values. In 380 B.C., Plato envisioned a utopian society in The Republic and that story represented the beginning of a long string of speculations: ecology, economics, politics, religion, technology, feminism…. The impact of speculative fiction on world view and politics was especially potent in the 1960s when Ellison, Aldiss, Herbert and others wrote about the stuff that many American teens at the time were reflecting upon, me included – social and political issues at a tumultuous time. Protests against increasing militarism during the Vietnam War were fueled by the writings of Ellison and Vonnegut. Speculative fiction back then was more than escapism, as evidenced by Ursula Le Guinn, who is commonly attributed with coining the term, “social science fiction,” winning both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970.

Speculations sparked by artists in every venue have at least a subliminal impact on each of us, an impact that transcends our own prejudices, traditions and belief systems. Popularized as genre fiction with a huge fan base, the Harry Potter stories were more than simple escapism, even if the messages slipped in through side doors. For example, Harry was a civil rights activist. In freeing an enslaved House Elf, he became a positive role model for zillions of adoring fans, thereby propagating a value that could potentially impact how the average citizen of several countries considers the current refuge crisis.

Even further, especially with increasing awareness of PTSD, such as that experienced by Lacy Dawn’s father, Rarity from the Hollow could provide hope to spouses of military veterans that the condition is treatable. By exemplifying the impact of treatment, this story could encourage readers with PTSD, such as Vets who have returned home from the war in the Middle East, to seek treatment. I certainly hope so. In my experience, PTSD and anger management concerns are related, and can potentially result in sudden anger at anything, including a defenseless child.

Rarity from the Hollow is speculative fiction written in colloquial voice that I call adult literary science fiction, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended. Of course, on the other hand, maybe it’s just another goofy science fiction story.

“…It is funny and irreverent but beneath the hallucinatory story of visits to shopping planets and interstellar shopping games, there is a profound critique of social problems, substance abuse, child sexual abuse and child murder that is quite eye opening… Rarity from the Hollow is very, very good…I'd recommend Rarity From the Hollow to anybody who likes a side helping of the lunatic with their science fiction and fantasy.”

The intent of Rarity from the Hollow was to take its readers who have also been affected by past horrors from their tragedies into empowerment. The flow of the story is modeled after a mental health treatment episode: horror that is difficult to face and to disclose about in beginning chapters leading toward empowerment with subsequent disclosures as one acknowledges that the past is the past, and that nothing controls or lives more than the decisions that we make in the present. As in real life, however, I did not insert an artificial resolution of the complex issues presented in the story. It is not a memoir. The evil is not destroyed and does not even admit its wrongdoings, Sometimes, we just have to move on with life, as has been the situation in the vast majority of child abuse cases that I’ve been involved in as a child advocate during the past forty years.

Another intent of the novel was to sensitize people to the issue of maltreated children the way that Charles Dickens’ Tiny Tim worked his way into the hearts of millions of fans.
Rarity from the Hollow recently won a second Gold Medal and an excerpt from that review is apt to the prevention of child abuse:

“…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity From the Hollow sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved….” Readers’ Favorite

Another prominent book reviewer appeared to have fallen in love with Lacy Dawn:

“…When Eggleton requested a review of Rarity from the Hollow, I was hesitant to accept. I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go. It is not every day that I find a kindred spirit in a book, but I found one in Lacy Dawn!...” On My Kindle

I am forever indebted to the real-life Lacy Dawn. Life’s funny, ain’t it? Sometimes when you lend a helping hand, you benefit many times over.

Author proceeds have been donated to child abuse prevention. Children’s Home Society of West Virginia is a nonprofit children’s services program. It was established in 1893 and currently serves over 13,000 children and families each year.

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