Tonight, I got to listen to a panel between June Hur, Kristin Dwyer, and Axie Oh to celebrate Susan Lee’s debut Seoulmates.
It was cute how all four of them gushed over K-dramas. It was also funny that Susan Lee admitted that how she writes stories is by following the beats of K-dramas and if she gets stuck, going back to the episodic beats. She said because of that she feels like she is writing fan fic.
It was interesting to hear Susan Lee and the others talk about how most times they get too much in their heads with worry about if what they are writing is too risky and unrealistic, but then they remember that they are writing K-dramas.
When they asked Susan Lee what K-Drama she wished she had written, she said What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim because it is a great example of being formulaic.
Something I learned from this was that K-dramas were usually formulaic, but now are staring to lose their way because episodes will be added as they film after they see how popular they are and what they need to add or not. So, because of that, it takes away from the formulaic feeing that used to let watchers know what they were getting. Now a lot of it feels added on or stitched together.
Had an interesting conversation with Oxford Exchange Bookstore about The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. The Atlas Six is a huge conversation starter for many reasons including plot, mechanics, story, characters, morals, and theme, so the conversation was a long and full one.
It was interesting diving into everyone’s favorite character when there were so many. But everyone’s favorite was mostly the same, except for a couple people had different answers. Most people loved Reina. Everyone also was in agreement that they believed Parisa was the author’s favorite character.
Almost everyone had the same take on the ending and are waiting until the next book to have some questions answered and things explained. The ending though threw some for a loop, while for one other they had guessed the twists right away.
One of the most interesting conversations we had was about gate keeping knowledge. We voted that gate keeping should not be allowed because then people would also have the knowledge to protect themselves if they needed to and knowledge is for all.
Everyone liked this book and the cool ideas it brought with it. I know I am excited to read the second one.
Since the author wrote this book for all ages and for each age group to be able to come away with something different, it was very interesting to hear how differently everyone approached the book when reading this. One of the big discussions was how some readers found it too spooky, while others found it not spooky or dark enough at all.
Something that everyone agreed on was how they had sympathy toward the main character Olivia and LOVED her spunk. They also had sympathy toward Mathew. We also found it very interesting how the two characters had to communicate with each other since one was unable to speak and the other did not know sign language. It was very nicely done!
EVERYONE loved the structure of this book, especially with the pictures involved in it. What was very interesting was hearing that some readers listened to the audio book and did not know that there were pictures connected to the book at all. This seemed insane to me since the pictures seemed so instrumental to the story, especially since the author herself felt they were needed for the story. But to hear that people still loved it through the audio book (some gushed at how well the audio book narrator did and were excited to see that there were pictures later on) was amazing and mind-blowing.
Everyone had different feelings about the very end scene of the book though. Some found it happy enough, some found it not happy at all, and some found it just plain sad and lonely. The takeaway though is that the ending fits the tone of the story and compared to where the main character was at the beginning, she is not truly lonely and it is in a way a happy place after all.
Tonight, we talked with Oxford Exchange Bookstore’s Book Club about These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong.
One of the things I found the most interesting is that one of the people in the group who normally does not like romance, really liked the romance in this book. Another interesting thing was seeing how the different povs for secondary characters displayed in this book worked for some of the people in the group, while it did not work for others.
I loved hearing about how Chloe Gong was nineteen when she wrote this and that since it is a very dense book with so much going on, many in the group believe that she will amount to great things. It was also really cool hearing how although some in the group could not relate to the storyline at all, there was someone in the group who connected with the story because they were able to relate to the storyline because of how they grew up.
A few things that everyone agreed on were that they all wish that there had been more fantasy elements or at least more of the monster, that the action was fantastic, everyone loved Kathleen, and that they wish there was a prequel about the past events that had occurred that this book talks about in length.
If you can’t tell, my favorite part about discussion tonight was seeing and discussing what worked about this book and what didn’t for the different people in this group.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!