Book Event

Got to have an amazing conversation with Oxford Exchange Bookstore’s Book Club about Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. The wonderful hosts started off the club with a question about what tea would be served for everyone at the particular tea shop in the book. Some interesting answers were jasmine-green tea, orange tea, and mint-lemongrass. It was cute to hear the explanations of why those teas would be chosen and it led into even funnier topcs!

The best part about this discussion was learning how this book worked for different people just like how the book highlights how everyone is different so everyone needs different care and everyone will have a different path after death. The book also did amazing when it came to grief and being honest about it, especially how grief is soft and tender but also hard and harsh at times.

It seemed like out of all the characters many of the group’s favorite was Nelson, although a very interesting things was brought up on how a favorite character could not be chosen because all the characters felt like one unit. Another thing that was discussed about characters was how Klune did a terrific job in using the fear of the unknown when it came to the manager.

For my own personal take, I just want to make sure that I state that my favorite lesson in this book was the fact that your death is yours and no one else’s. I love that because it helps readers grasp control of their fear of the after-death.

Book Event

Oxford Exchange Book Club with the Oxford Exchange Bookstore gave us a great discussion on a very popular and well-known book, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

The club started out asking who everyone’s favorite character was. The top character who came in first was Rhysand and the second favorite was Lucien. It was very interesting and cool to hear that Amarantha was someone’s favorite character and why (because she was well established)! It was also really cool to hear how much everyone loved the masks that were worn throughout this book and that some did not want them to be taken off at all.

It sounded like a winning-majority’s favorite scene in this book was the giant worm scene because of the obstacles, how it had been developed, and how the task had not come easy to the character at all. That was a hot topic in the club on how important it is for readers to not feel like things come too easy for the characters and how readers want things earned. Although this is a fairy tale retelling, some found that certain parts in the book were too easily defeated or accomplished.

Many liked how the main character was illiterate and how she was challenged in that way. It was also interestingly pointed out how cool it was to see Feyre being the illiterate one instead of Tamlin when it comes from being a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

As for the ending, some loved how it gave the character more depth, some found it too easy and unbelievable, and some found it clever. It was very interesting to discuss preferences for readers, but even more interesting how in the end, everyone still found it entertaining and enjoyed it.

One of my favorite discussions was about the tv series coming out in the future for this series and how we hope they will go about capturing the beauty of this book and its imagery. My second was how differently everyone reads. For Sarah J. Maas’s books, I find myself unable to read them fast, my mind will linger on the images and the beauty of the words keeping me still, whereas some find it so compulsively good that they find themselves reading it fast and for hours nonstop until their eyes are strained. But adding to that discussion and the coolest part was how different everyone pictures characters in general. How some readers don’t picture images in their minds at all, how some feel more than see the characters like they are a type of energy or aurora, and how some do both or picture only a blur with a key feature.

I love these deep conversations with these great people and readers. Thank you, Oxford Exchange.

Book Event

Hosted on Facebook Live by Murder By The Book bookstore in Texas, Deanna Raybourn was interviewed about her newest book An Impossible Impostor from the Veronica Speedwell Mystery series coming in at book number seven.

Deanna Raybourn was such a great speaker! She didn’t seem nervous at all and was so welcoming. I loved how she brought up how great virtual events are because readers who can’t travel and who do not know about certain bookstores can join in. How many (like myself) may never have found out about how awesome Murder By The Book is. Tonight, there was a worldwide audience viewing all the way from other countries like New England and Australia.

Raybourn talked about how she loves to write in first person and why. It goes all the way back to when she was growing up. The books she read were first person and she fell in love with that style, especially reading Sherlock Holmes.

Interestingly in the first book she wrote in this series she had displayed a lot of one of her character’s past, but her editor told her that her doing that was for her and not for the reader so that she needed to take it out and lay it out throughout the series, which she thought was genius, so she was so happy that she did that.

The main character Veronica sounds like such an interesting character to write in the author’s point of view. She said that Veronica is not good with vulnerability even with the readers, so over the book series Veronica slowly reveals herself to the readers by being more and more honest with her past.

Awesomely, a viewer asked what the two main characters Veronica and Stoker’s astrological signs were, and the author said that she always knows the signs for each of her characters. Apparently, Stoker is a Taurus and Veronica is a Cancer, but it was really hard for her to pinpoint those for them.

Raybourn’s two characters Stoker and Veronica are very smart, and Veronica knows a lot about butterflies as a butterfly hunter. Raybourn said when asked that it is easier for her to do the research she needs to do because the books are set in the Victorian Era. If there is not a butterfly that had been named before that time, she cannot use it. She has created some butterflies for her books though, and she knows a decent amount about butterflies because she used to raise them. Interestingly butterflies apparently smell horrible when they are hatching from their cocoons! Ha-ha. But she still gets nervous when she gets calls from people who have butterfly collections but feels at ease when they tell her that she got it right.

It was so great getting to listen to and know Deanna Raybourn who was so fun and upbeat. She is on contract for nine books in this series. Thank you Murder By The Book for hosting this event!

Book Event

We were joined by a big group to discuss This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno with the Oxford Exchange Book Club today!! With the book being left up to interpretation, it was really cool getting to hear everyone’s different opinions on how they thought the book truly ended.

The beginning was interestingly in different taste for everyone. For myself, I loved how real the grief was at the beginning. I loved all the different aspects visited when it came to grief in the physical world and when it came to outsiders of the person who had died’s life. It sounded like everyone agreed, but because it was so real and so well done, some did not like the beginning because it hit too close to home and they did not want to be reminded of all the realness that compacts grief.

Another great discussion this book brought up was what happens after death! So many in the group believe that nothing happens after death. I was surprised by this since I have a hard time comprehending nothing happening. But many others believe in energy, in afterlife, in rebirth, and even in conjoining souls. It was cool to hear the concept of energies from the people in the group and how to some the author using ‘you’ throughout the entire book showed that his wife’s spirit was still active. Also, that if we thought about the book in an energy-given aspect how a certain kind of bad energy could have possessed him.

What was really fun about this discussion was getting to go down the different roads of interpretation. We went down the road of an entity, of energies, and even of self-possession of a mind going mad with grief and anger. I liked the clues someone pointed out about the cook and how he had to have been not physically real since he was off the beaten path so to speak. I loved how everyone had assumed this book was going to be a tech horror that turned into something vastly different. It was cool how many people loved the mother-in-law and son-in-law dynamic because it was so “weird” and different which made it cool. It was also really cool to learn how the most random things stick out the most for many people when it comes to horror books.

This book definitely brought many great conversations and topics to the table. I would recommend it for a discussion group. It was so great to have such a big group today with so many people with different backgrounds and demographics to hear all their thoughts on the afterlife, on possession, and on grieving in general.

Book Event

I got to listen to an author that I am finding interest in, Nnedi Okorafor, as she was interviewed by Wanuri Kahiu during a virtual event hosted by Powell’s Books. I had chosen to listen into this event because I thought her new upcoming book Akata Woman sounded very intriguing, but after having listened to her conversation, I now want to buy all of her books just because she was such a cool person to listen to with the coolest experiences!

Nnedi Okorafor has apparently written lots of books and even a graphic novel. Her book Akata Witch was named in the list of The Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time. She is a Nigerian-Amercian writer who writes fantasy and science fiction for children and adults. Okorafor expressed during this interview her never ending gratitude to her cover artist and designer Greg Ruth. It was really cool to listen to how they work together to design her covers. She said how she believes that each cover he does gets better and better because the process to design them becomes so much more in-depth when discussing her characters with him.

Her newest book Akata Woman is the third book about a girl named Sunny. Okorafor explained how in each book she has written Sunny continues to become more intriguing to her in her growth and independence, so much so that she feels like the books are starting to write themselves. In the third book with Sunny Akata Woman, which Okorafor said will not be the last, something she did not even expect to happen happened when all the pieces started falling together. Just listening to her talk about writing in general, you could hear the passion for the craft in her voice and you could tell how much she cares for and loves her characters. Well, except for Phoenix in one of her other books. Although that may be a favorite character to some, like Wanuri Kahiu, Okorafor said that Phoenix always felt very mean to her and that Phoenix would even be in her dreams when she was writing her book telling her to get up because she wasn’t done talking yet.

Nnedi Okorafor apparently writes the books that she writes because of the experiences that she had in Nigeria growing up. I loved hearing her stories and how fun and full of wonder her childhood was! Apparently, she started going to Nigeria when she was seven-years-old and during her trips she would have to take in things as they were without any context. For example, the masquerades who she had and has become obsessed with, would chase her in the dark throughout the streets sometimes and she didn’t know what was going on. She would listen into the meetings that the village had to try to hear the drama and gossip. She even caught a painted grasshopper that she thought was something out of a fantasy, although it may have been common to her people there. It is so amazing that she got to experience true wonderment.

The fact that Okorafor’s childhood comes out in her books and the things that she writes, is more than enough to make me want to read her books. I personally cannot wait to read one of them to get to experience the same kind of astonishment mixed with admiration that she had through her characters!

Book Event

*There will be spoilers for Near the Bone by Christina Henry in this post.

I got to have yet another amazing conversation with Oxford Exchange Bookstore’s Book Club about Near the Bone by Christina Henry! What a great pick for a spooky December, which was exactly what we were looking for. All of us could agree that we appreciated Henry’s style of writing and that not being able to predict what the monster looked like really added to the story. It was fun trying to describe what we all pictured the monster being. This book was great for a discussion in that aspect and in the aspect of what real monsters are and how you can make monsters scary in a story.

Most of us wanted a more gruesome death for the scarier monster in the story. We talked in detail about what would have been more satisfying of an ending for this character and step by step of what we would have rather have happened. One of my favorite discussions pertaining to this book was when we all began naming off a few things in the book that were awkward and did not fit well into the story. It was nice to know I was not alone in feeling the way I had about the drugs and about one of the character’s arms being swiped off.

Something that was brought up in the conversation that I hadn’t noticed and after hearing fixed the ending for me, was how the two monsters mirrored each other and how the ending reflected that. At the end the monster-monster was easiest to reason with, where as the man-monster could not be reasoned with at all. So that brought the story into an interesting take that the man was more of the monster than the monster itself.

Another interesting view that was brought up was how important it was for C.P. to survive against all the others. That happening showed how Samantha was starting to heal when it came to men in her life.

Lastly, before the conversation got too off topic, we discussed how interesting it is that some people cannot picture things in their head. For myself, when I read a book, it plays out like a movie! I cannot imagine that not happening. One person in our group cannot picture things in her head, so it was really cool to hear her point of view and how she sees and views stories. One of the funniest things that she had said was that when someone is like, “Why don’t you like this character, he is hot?” she thinks, “You can’t see him. How is his name hotter than the other name?” What a fun and interesting thing to discuss!

Book Event

I got to listen in on a conversation between Aiden Thomas and Margaret Owen discussing Margaret Owen’s newest book Little Thieves! I had just recently finished Little Thieves last weekend and it turned into one of my favorite books, so it was so fun getting to hear a little about it behind the scenes. The live conversation was on TikTok so that was a fun new experience also!

One of the best things I learned in this conversation was that Margaret Owen’s main character was based off of a Dungeons & Dragons character that she had that she never got to really do much with. It was really cool to see how much Aiden Thomas loved all the gods in Owen’s story. They were one of my favorite parts in her book also, especially the goddess of fortune and death. I learned that apparently when you write anything pertaining to Germany you need a lot of sensitivity readers and need to do a lot of research. I also learned that this was written as a standalone, but while she was writing it, she found that she could do so much more with it and plans to in the future! There will be another book!

Two things that made this book really stand out was the main character and the art that is displayed throughout this book. The main character was very unique, smart, hilarious, rebellious, and was not comfortable in her own skin. The character not being ok in her own skin helped make that character very relatable, and the rest of her characteristics made her a character that I loved being in the point of view of. The art displayed throughout the book was brilliant. The author put the art there to help create a fairy tale vibe and to bring the reader back to the fact that they were reading a fairy tale throughout the book so the reader could stay in that frame of mind.

I highly enjoyed the conversation between Aiden Thomas and Margaret Owen. I hope that more conversations like this spring up in the future on platforms like TikTok. Thank you Aiden Thomas and thank you Fierce Reads.

Book Event

One of the best conversations tonight with Oxford Exchange Book Club discussing She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan! Everyone absolutely loved this book. For some it became their absolute favorite and for others it really helped affirm certain characteristics they had or certain feelings that they had in their own journeys.

Everyone agreed that this author was incredibly crafty and after looking it up during book club, everyone was beyond surprised at how well this book was done when it is the author’s debut! So many in the book club felt that they didn’t just have a want to read it again but a need to revisit it again and even meditate on certain parts.

There were two things that I didn’t even think about that were brought up about this book. One was the fact that the main character’s name in this book was never stated and how that shows how powerful it is to choose your own name and also correlates to having a deadname and the respect of not needing to know it. The other thing was the lesson that if someone didn’t have the certain challenges that you had, that they will have a harder time understanding you and where you came or come from, which is a very great thing to keep in mind when it comes to someone accidently hurting you through not understanding you when you know that they still care for you.

The relationship in this book between Ma and Zhu everyone agrees was outstanding. It was pure romance that really built each of the characters up and blossomed them into accepting who they really were. Also, it was fun to discuss how the relationship between Zhu and Ouyang acted like a mirror and how they were great foils to each other.

It seemed that everyone had come to the same thoughts and conclusions with this book. Everyone hopes for more ghosts in the next one and everyone thought about Mulan and Avatar a little while reading this book.

This book was golden with complexity and a deep understanding of humanity. I loved discussing it with the group and I loved that everyone absolutely loved it. I am so thankful for the deep and meaningful conversations that this book brought us. It is definitely a book to help others understand and grow.

Book Event

Attended yet another amazing book discussion tonight with some of my absolute favorite book people to discuss The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas hosted by Oxford Exchange bookstore.

To describe the love that the members have for this discussion group, one of the regular members attended with us while at the airport about ready to board her plane. It was great chatting with her before she headed to Salem!

One of the things we discussed about this book was how all of us enjoyed the length of it. For many of us, it was a breath of fresh air to read a shorter length book, and while some of us wish we had more, many of us were blown away at the character development that Victoria Mas could do for all the characters in such a short amount of time. The book while not feeling forced at all, was able to incorporate so many things and even mirror lessons within its subplots to the overall plot and the book itself. We all felt that it was a great feminist book showing women’s strength even in times when they had no control over their lives. Although the book was sad, and was such a harsh reality, it was empowering in a sense and gave validation to those who needed it.

An interesting question that was brought up was whether or not we thought that the Asylum was a good place for the people who really needed it. In reality, we decided that it wasn’t and it did more harm than good. That even if it did help a few people in some way, it hurt others way more, even their mental and physical health with the experiments being done on them. The fact that it was run by men who didn’t even understand women, especially in the burdens, hardships, and emotional sense really pushes the sense that there could have been a better place for women to actually grow and get better without feeling trapped.

One of the women who was torn up the most mentally and physically by the men in her life had one of the most impactful character developments in the story and it seemed like from our talk, everyone else had the same opinion about that also. It was very moving how a girl who most of us would have guessed would have turned out broken in the end, ended up one of the strongest of all and a symbol of strength for all the other women.

One of the things that is very beneficial when it comes to group discussion is that someone brings up something that others may have forgotten about. For example, the time period and how children, even boys, were not allowed to speak out. This helps in realizing that although at first, we may have been irritated with a character and their being compliant as a bystander, that it goes deeper than that, and we have to think about the time period and culture they were raised in.

Lastly, although there was so much talked about, something that I found so cute and I hear often enough to mention is how readers sometimes interact with the characters by speaking out loud to them or even calling them out for things. The most interesting part in that interaction is the satisfaction a reader gets if the character calls himself out for the same thing the reader just had. I have had that satisfaction myself! For example, when you call a character a weak fraud and then not too long later the character thinks about how much of a weak fraud he was. Apparently, I am not the only one who finds that such a wonderful feeling.

I was so thankful for another awesome event that made my night. This book is a must read that is perfect for discussion but does contain triggers. If you do not mind spoilers, feel free to read my review about it on Goodreads.