Book Event

Had a panel event this evening with Brookline Brooksmith presenting three incredible authors. The authors were Ayana Gray who has written Beasts of Prey, Kalynn Bayron who has written Cinderella is Dead and This Poison Heart, and Namina Forna who wrote The Gilded Ones. All three have sequels out or sequels that are coming out soon.

Ayana Gray described during this event how she had a harder time writing her second book than her first because of the deadline. Trying to promote while writing the second book with a deadline, had cramped her style, but what did make some parts easier was having a world already built and a magic system.

Ayana Gray said that she loves writing fantasy because she loves reading fantasy to learn from and escape into, so she loves providing that for others. She also loves tackling and thinking about the idea of fatalism in her books.

Kalynn Bayron said that when it came to her first book This Poison Heart becoming a duology, it was because she had let the story take her where it needed to go. She had wanted it to be a standalone, but it did not work out that way. She said that drafting the second book called This Wicked Fate was a challenge, but she had fun. She wanted to make it compelling and she believes that she did.

The reason why Kalynn writes fantasy is because it has a potential for the fantastical. She loves how her recent books are set in a real place with an undercurrent of the fantastical so that she can use pop-culture references. She has found that in her writing, she has the theme of destiny in all her books. She believes it is because of something she is working through personally as an author. A wall she keeps encountering in her own life when trying to find information about things like her family and past that should be simple to find, but is not simple for her since she is a black woman living in America and grew up in the deep south.

Namina Forna’s sequel took a lot out of her, but with how the book has been resonating with the readers, she says that it was worth it, although she would rather do standalones from now on. How she typically likes to write is by starting with a one-page quick story, then diving into a year of research, doing an outline after that year, and then starting on writing out the pages.

Namina Forna loves to write fantasy because she is a fantasy lover herself. When it comes to fantasy, she has no standards. She loves just about anything fantasy. She also loves how while writing fantasy, real-life issues can be tackled in them making it easier for those issues to be related to. The reason she wrote The Gilded Ones’s world the way she did was because she wanted to make an Africa that is true. She is an immigrant that came to America when she was nine years old and hates all the lies that are told about the amazing country.

One of my favorite answers to one of the questions was Namina Forna’s answer to what would happen if your main characters were put in a rom-com. She said that it would not matter if it was at the beginning or end of her main character’s development, her main character would think she was in hell if she was placed in a rom-com.

Thank you so much Brookline Brooksmith for your support and this panel!

Book Event

Oxford Exchange Bookstore hosted a book club event today discussing Gallant by V.E. Schwab.

Here is a link to the summary of an interview I attended where the author talks about this exact book: https://adoramichaels.blog/2022/03/10/book-event-20/

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.

Book Event

Tonight, I got to listen into an awesome book event between three authors hosted by Book People for Pride Month! The authors were Jason June presenting his book Out of the Blue, Brian D. Kennedy presenting A Little Bit Country (a debut), and Lyla Lee presenting her book Flip the Script.

The authors were dressed for pride! So that was cute! And the first question to them was how they like to spend Pride. Some of the answers were with parades, family, friends, and sunscreen!! Hahaha.

I thought it was interesting and so heart-warming how Brian D. Kennedy wrote his book set in the south, while making sure that he did not have the main character viewing the south as a bad place. He wanted to show how it can be different coming out in different places, especially someplace that is not as ready to accept it, but he wanted to show that there are ways to still live authentically even if you live in one of those places or come from one of those places.

Lyla Lee set her book in South Korea where there are no gay rights. Her book is set in a big city where it can be dangerous to be at Pride. She wanted to write two queer teens falling in love in that context because she needed that as a teen growing up, but she made sure she didn’t make it too idealistic.

In Jason June’s book, he had two settings, but in the Blue, everyone loves who they love and who they are. It is very intriguing how all their settings are so different from one another and was very interesting listening to them talk about it!

Jason June brought up the fact that in the books that Lee and Kennedy wrote, the main characters are public figures being watched as they are trying to explore their identity. Which would be so hard! That led into favorite queer and gay icons. Layla Lee’s favorites are Halsey and Lady Gaga.

It was really cool listening to Kennedy’s passion with this being his debut. His passion lies in country music. He talked about how he loved diving into country music and getting to nerd out about it while building his own world.

They all would love to see more diverse voices because they believe that people need that. When they were growing up, they NEEDED that to feel less alone and less confused. They would also love to see more queer rom-coms to bring about more fun and happy reads to queer books. I could not agree more!

Book Event

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.

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

I got to listen V.E. Schwab talk with Melissa Albert about her newest book Gallant hosted by Kepler’s Literary Foundation! It was such an interesting conversation to listen to because V.E. Schwab is such an interesting person who is very self-aware.

A few really cool things about the book Gallant before getting into V.E. Schwab is that it apparently has Coraline vibes according to Melissa Albert. The main character is nonverbal. It is also partly told in illustrations that we were shown during the interview also, which look very interesting! The chat was very active during this interview and someone had said that when the purpose behind the illustrations become clear that it gives the reader goosebumps. Also, the book is for younger children, teens, and adults. Meaning it can be experienced in a variety of different ways depending on the reader’s age! She wanted to write an ageless book where each age can come away with something different. But this book did take her five years to write because she could not figure out what was beyond the wall in the novel.

This amazing person, meaning V.E. Schwab, gave us a look into her life. When writing novels, she has so many ideas, but they need time to seep. Some of her books have taken 10-15 years to seep in her mind while she slowly adds ideas to them throughout the years. When she writes, the first character she makes is usually the setting.

Interestingly, the reason why she is so obsessed with death is because she is an only child who was so scared to lose her parents because her dad was diabetic. It made her feel powerless toward death and become overwhelmingly aware of it. Since she still scares easily, she likes to write scary stories because she is the god of those worlds and won’t be caught unaware of what will happen or what is going on.

Also, although she is very well known and has found success in many areas now, it was not like that at first. She published her first novel in 2011 called The Near Witch but it went out of print 18 months later. It wasn’t until 6 years after that, that it was brought back out again and became a bestseller. So, she was not an instant best seller. She had many small successes and many down times at the beginning, but then worked her way up.

Thank you so much Kepler’s Literary Foundation for this insightful event!

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.