Calm and collected
while I’m shaking inside.
Courageous and brave
when I just want to hide.
What I display to you
is what I want to be.
My persona is a cover
to hide the real me.
Calm and collected
while I’m shaking inside.
Courageous and brave
when I just want to hide.
What I display to you
is what I want to be.
My persona is a cover
to hide the real me.
The streaming for this event didn’t start until 6:06 pm!! Which was such a relief. I am thankful they waited until more people logged on, since I came running from dance lessons and gymnastics, so I didn’t miss a thing.
To start off this book launch event with Kew & Willow Books for the book Weird Kid by Greg van Eekhout, they had the author Greg van Eekhout talking to another middle grade author Matt Wallace. It was such a fun, comical, and witty conversation between the two authors that felt very comfortable to listen to, like I should have been sitting in a big comfy leather chair by a fireplace during this event.
One of the topics that they talked about was how self-care before a book launch is very important to do. Which is such a good reminder that through all the stress to make sure you are looking to take care of yourself. Also, as supportive authors do, they commented on the fact that their books should not be bought off Amazon, although they can be. Individual bookstores’ support is so important to authors but apparently even more important for middle grade authors. That I was not aware of since I do not normally buy or read middle grade books.
Weird Kid is Greg van Eekhout’s 9th published book overall. It is about a kid who is an alien and came to earth as a blob who can shapeshift, but in puberty the alien named Jake starts to lose his ability to control his shapeshifting. There is also an interesting sounding subplot about a certain hum in the town he can hear, sinkholes, and other strange things. The book focuses on difficult transitions, empathy, and friendships. The author commented that when he had been asked if the dog on the cover lives, his answer was “Yes, the dog lives. I’m not a monster.”
Another interesting topic that was explored in this conversation was theme and how sometimes without noticing authors tend to fall into certain reoccurring themes. A few other people attending the event pointed out some Greg van Eekhout’s regular themes, but a big one that was brought up which seems to be a central theme for many of his books is isolation. He explained that he believes it is because he feels it is important to explore personhood through dogs, aliens, robots, and things that are not humans, so people can learn to love and accept others even if they are different and so readers can question and figure out what it means to be a person exactly.
A question that was asked was how to make a book funny. Matt Wallace brought up that not everyone is funny in real life and how tiring it is to see dialogue all the time that goes back and forth trying to force comedy. Being authentic to the character is the most important. If you have forced dialogue or forced humor, it can take the reader out of the reality of the book.
A piece of advice from Greg van Eekhout was that every book is a journey and sometimes writing a particular book is harder than it was writing others, but that doesn’t mean that it is the writer’s fault. When writing is difficult, you have to be kind to yourself and know that if you make it through and finish it, it builds your confidence as a writer. He stated this because this particular book he was launching was hard for him to write.
Another echo of wisdom from Eekhout was that every writer’s process and brain is different. The important part is making sure as a writer you are having fun since most of a writer’s life is at the keyboard, so a writer needs to make sure they find a way to make it enjoyable. Also be consistent. Greg van Eekhout stated that what gets him through to the end of his books is his consistency.
As can be seen from the paragraphs above, this author cares about children, humanity, bookstores, and other writers. I highly enjoyed listening into this conversation and I am excited for his book to get shipped so I can read it.
Therapy doesn’t work like I thought it would. I don’t leave a session crestfallen, but broken, memories on the surface of my mind. But sometimes you need to rebreak something to heal it right. Sometimes the hardest part of healing is rewiring your brain to love yourself.
Every evening at a certain time the fates are delivered a prompt, and with that prompt, they make stories that determine our fate. Some stories are full of laughter, some sorrow, and some things that only the gods will laugh at.
Another great conversation with Oxford Exchange Bookstore and this time about The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. The things we talked about were all across the board. There were so many amazing things about this book and a complexity to it that was a joy to be able to take apart and discuss. One of the topics that was discussed was why the impurity of the girls in the society was such a touching topic to many of us readers. We took the time to equate it to the life we live in now and how maybe in some aspects it hit a little close to home. We also discussed some plot holes that we found that were maybe only placed for convenience of the plot, and along those lines, we talked bout how the ending felt a little rushed and confusing. It is always nice to have an opinion but then to see that others were having the same problem. There are many things that we were trying to figure out, but we knew collectively that many of the questions may be answered in the next two books, since this book is the first of three. Although there were some parts that we were confused about in the book, everyone seemed to love the book and said they would pick up the next one. Which shows their trust for the author and the entertainment they received.
A very interesting thing that was discussed was how everyone pictured the shrieks. No one pictured them the same way! One pictured them looking like giant walking cockroaches, some like birds, one a tetradactyl, and a few like monsters that they had read or seen in other pieces of art. It is amazing what the mind can come up with when given only key points of description and how different everyone’s minds are.
Two of the most helpful things I had learned during this meeting was how readers sometimes seek comfort from books in a knowing what will happen way and how important to some it is to display the main character in a certain way so there isn’t a disconnect. I rarely read for comfort, so I was unaware that the reason why many love to read romance is for the familiarity and the comfort in knowing that everything will turn out to be happy and ok. As for the disconnecting, I had realized that I didn’t feel connected to the main character of this book at the beginning, until I experienced with her some of the trauma that she went through, but I didn’t really think into it why that may have been. One of the girls had brought it up and suggested that if we would have known more of her story beforehand that disconnection could have been avoided and we may have cared more and felt more emotion watching what the main character went through at the beginning. It was also brought up that too much focus was on the main character which also brought a disconnect. The main character to some felt too special. Rarely does the reader feel like the special one in life, so it is harder for the reader to be able to relate to a character in some ways when that happens. Also making the main character extra special takes a little away from the other characters making them seem like they don’t matter as much to the plot of the story.
I love discussing books and the best part is when a discussion is with good people and when it is with others who also love the book. Personally, I cannot wait to see what else Namina Forna will and can do. She may turn into one of my favorite authors. I appreciated this book and this event and loved how everyone seemed to love it also.
So I messed up and regrettably had to miss this event that I was looking forward to. I had thought that California time was two hours ahead from my time and then found out instead that they are two hours behind. So instead of the event being at 5pm my time, like I had thought, the event was going to be at 9pm my time. Normally, I would have attended anyway and wanted to, but I have to wake up very early this next morning for an entire day long bachelorette party in another state. Knowing that book events get me hyped up, I knew that I would not have been able to fall asleep until hours later.
Instead, I had tried to have discussion/ questionnaire time with my husband about this book because I was sad that I couldn’t discuss it with anyone else because this has turned into one of my favorite books I have read. It had almost everything I could have wanted in a book thanks to the amazing worldbuilding and complexity. Upon trying to discuss it though, I realized that it is too complex of a book to try to explain and discuss the book it in detail with someone who had not read it and doesn’t normally read. So that was very frustrating.
I have decided to post down below my Goodreads review I had done for this book. I am hoping that this coming Tuesday I will get to go to my other event because I desperately need a to attend a book event for my soul.
Warning: There are spoilers below about the book.
I loved In the Ravenous Dark by A.M. Strickland. I felt like it gave me just about everything I needed in a book. It gave me a dark world that was trying to survive, an awesome magick system, some decent vivid scenes of theatric gore, a complex plot, awesome dynamics, a main character that was different and intriguing, and pansexual representation!!!! It also gave representation to other members of the lgbtq+ community which I appreciated fully!
The beginning started with a great opening. In the opening the author was able to show the readers some interesting world building, beliefs that circulated in the book, and the different stances that the characters took on things compared to society.
The world building was great! I enjoyed the magick system tied into it and how they both came together or in some areas were not able to come together. I loved how the dead were forced guardians that drained the lifeforce of the bloodmages. I loved how the author had Rovan’s weaving tie into her magick. I loved the way this world wasn’t bothered by anyone of different sexual orientation as long as it didn’t get in the way of the royal line and that all of them were not scared to just be who they were. And I loved that there was a whole other dead world. The veil to protect against the blight was cool also, especially with how it tied into the plot.
I loved the main character. I loved how unique she was. It was so refreshing reading something with someone who acted the way she did. I also loved just about all the characters, although my favorite was Japha. I loved how flawless I felt they all were woven in their flaws, and I appreciated how they were not ashamed of who they were.
The relationships were such a joyride. I could not get enough of the dynamic between Rovan and her ghost Ivrilos. I also loved Rovan and Japha’s relationship and then how they all came together at the end as a family with once again all different dynamics since so much had changed since the beginning. It left my imaginations running wild in delight at all the possibilities and I cannot express enough how much I appreciated the poly relationship and representation.
The LGBTQ+ representation in this book was heartwarming. All the gender diverse characters all felt natural and not forced at all. It made the world feel more real, made the royal scenes and dynamic of the family more complex and interesting like they normally are in real life. And once again I cannot stress enough how much I loved that they had no fear of being who they were. They accepted themselves, which I feel is very important to young readers to understand and have role models for.
The plotting I thought was complex and terrific. I did not know what to expect and was led into twists and turns layered in hints that I wasn’t able to catch until after the reveals.
The imagery was so satisfying, especially at the end. I loved the vividness of the heart getting pulled out and when Rovan sat on the throne and the walls were melting.
The tension was amazing and kept the pages turning.
Let’s not forget to include how cool adding the dark page in was.
The ending was very satisfying to my heart. I loved the new dynamic between all the characters. I felt like all the loose plot threads got tied up into beautiful bows. I loved how I found if I took a step back it was all a story inside a story. I’m happy that after 400 years Ivrilos got his revenge and happy ending.
The only things I did not care for in the book was how Rovan seemed to care for and love Bethea at the beginning and I felt they had such a strong relationship, but then Bethea was forgotten about for a big chunk of the book. I would have thought it was just in Rovan’s character, except that Rovan kept thinking about her mom. Her mom and Bethea were both brought into the palace at the same time, so I didn’t understand how she could think about one person but not the other. But by the end it didn’t bother me too much since Bethea ended up getting a happy ending. The other thing was that after the dark page, I felt like things were rushed and the pacing was incredibly different than a large part of the beginning of the book almost like the author was running out of space and time. Making it a duology might have fixed that issue, but with how the author tied up the ending, it didn’t bother me too much at all.
I loved this book, and even with the few issues I had with it, I thought the author made up for those issues. The prose were fantastic, I was excited to go from page to page with all the tension, and the plotting was complex enough to keep my interest. I needed this book to take a break from the tropes I have been reading lately. I will be picking up the other book A.M. Strickland has out and cannot wait to read it.
I have a secret if you want it.
It may sound nice to have a soul that is filled with vanity. To love yourself the most of all.
Sounds like a happy existence.
But there are no awards for these selfish hearts in the afterlife.
Be a better ghost.
Thousands of windows
Beat white in the golden sun
Thrumming against the quakes
That erupted the city like clockwork
There, the colossal poleaxe
Threatening in the giant’s hand
Swung an arc 20 floors deep.
The city’s cries were silent in the giant’s ears
For all he heard was his rage
I got the opportunity to have another joyous time having a deep conversation, pulling apart, and diving into the book The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune with the Oxford Exchange Book Club. The main directors of the book club were excellent once again in directing the conversation. The first topic was about the cover and how it may or may not represent the book and how some of the readers used it as a reference. This particular cover was used by multiple of our readers. We also dove into the hard question of what exactly defines YA and what category this book falls into. It was nice because working together the majority had decided that although it is an adult fiction that reads as a middle grade book, it can fall into the category of YA because it is a book that can be read by everyone depending on a wide range of maturity.
It was very interesting to see how many people loved so many of the characters and had a hard time picking which ones were their favorites, which was a similar issue that I had. Secondary characters even came out as being favorites to some and characters that didn’t completely speak to me spoke the most to others. Discussing this is always one of my favorite parts about book clubs. I love being able to see and hear how different everyone is and the different things they had taken away from the book.
Going deeper, the OE had us look at what the book represented as a whole, what issues, and what groups it may have been trying to tackle in representation. I think the author would have been enthused at how talented many see him in being able to cover a wide range of topics and issues.
Another take away I got from this book event was the question on why the ending of the book or any book may be satisfying for some but not for others. Not just that, but should we always be satisfied with the ending of a book? When does full satisfaction take away from the world and from the message of the story? What truly needs to be addressed at the end of a story and what can be left out? The ending fully satisfied some, while it didn’t others. This is interesting because it brings forth one of the most interesting questions of when should an ending be judged on how it is received compared to what was right for the story.
Thank you so much to the Oxford Exchange Book Store for giving us another terrific event.
Spin me a conundrum
A question of sanity on a thread
Twining in my nightmares
Twisted moods of dread
The answers nowhere near
Driving touch of lunacy
To make the Game of Fear