Book Event

What a delightful book event with Oxford Exchange Bookstore about Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young.

It was interesting how such a simple book could bring about so many different layers of conversations. One of the layers we went into was the authenticity of a towns and how the author captured that in many areas. Some of the areas she captured that were when it came to tourists, the orchard, relationships, meetings, and the want for things to stay the same.

One of the ways that things in the real world may stay the same when it comes to small towns, like it did in this book, is when someone is around the people they grew up with and then fall back into that mindset. Which may be a younger aged mindset. Then comes the question of if you grow up with those people all around you, do you still fall into that mindset sometimes, do you ever really grow up, or do you need space in order for nostalgia to grasp you and turn you young again?

Everyone agreed that this book was a dark cozy mystery, like a campfire story. And everyone loved the vibes. Many expected more magic and kept trying to find it within the pages, while others enjoyed the light magic and undercurrent of it, saying that it felt more real that way.

I feel like the most interesting conversation that was had was about how to differentiate YA versus Adult fiction. Many agreed that this book felt like a YA read, but it was a YA author’s first Adult novel. Was the YA-like-feel in the way the book was plotted out and in how the author held the hands of the readers through the mystery? Or was it because it was in the minds of characters who were reliving the past, a period when they were teens? Or was it because of the pacing, the themes or lack thereof, the topics, or the relationships? What makes an adult read an adult read, besides the main character in the present timeline’s age?

All very interesting questions worth hours long of conversation.

Book Event

Books are Magic hosted an event with Camryn Garrett about her book Friday I’m in Love.

The author came dressed in a dress similar to the main character on the book cover! So that was cool! Friday I’m in Love is about a girl who decides to have a coming out party to announce her queerness to her friends and family. Friday I’m in Love is Camryn’s third novel, but first rom-com. She grew up writing lots of ghost stories and wrote this book in high school when she was eighteen. According to the interviewer, she really captured the teenager spirit in this book and it only took the interviewer under 24 hours to finish the book because she loved it so much.

The idea came to Camryn Garrett when she thought about how her friends would have thrown her a party if she had come out when she was younger. She wanted to express that you don’t need to know who you are at sixteen. She explained that parties during milestones like coming of age and sweet sixteen parties are important because it shows that the people who are there care for you, so she wishes there were coming out parties also.

They talked about the music mentioned in the book, social classes in real life and in books, also how different it is writing screenplays compared to books.

Here are some cute, fun, and funny facts from the interview. According to Camryn’s mom, all the characters in Friday I’m in Love are Camryn. Haha. One of Camryn’s favorite tropes is enemies to lovers, but with low stakes. No ‘you killed my brother or you tried to kill me’ “because that’s just wrong”. Haha. Her least favorite trope is second chance lovers because, most likely, if you didn’t work out the first time, you shouldn’t try again. Haha.

This interview was a fun, lighthearted, and uplifting. Thank you, Books are Magic for hosting it.

Book Event

All The White Spaces by Ally Wilkes was a book to have an interesting conversation about.

The vibe everyone got from the book was gothic-ship/ gothic-Antarctica because there was such emotional trauma and desperation coming from those places displayed atmospherically.

Most of the people in the book club loved the book, but a lot of Goodreads reviews were not a fan of what everyone in discussion loved about it.

Below, when I say “others” I am mainly talking about reviewers and the smallest amount of people in the book club.

Some found it not slow-paced at all, while others found it too technical and too slow. Some found it didn’t present the LGBTQIA+ community enough because of the technicalities being in some areas while not in others, while others thought that the emotional social aspects of the story and the journey did. Some found it scary, others didn’t. Some liked the balance of suspenseful events, others wanted more.

Definitely conflicting opinions with this one. I think after listening in depth to readers it comes down to whether a reader likes a character-driven-slow-burn book or not.

Book Event

Oxford Exchange Bookstore hosted an event to talk about The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec. It was great seeing what worked for everyone and what things other readers knew about the author and this book after researching.

Everyone loved the snake in the story! All the way from when the snake was a baby to when he was a giant adult snake. Everyone liked the visions, especially in Loki’s point of view. And everyone, of course, liked how the author portrayed Loki. She did an excellent job.

One of the most interesting things about this conversation was how much Marvel influenced everyone’s reading. Everyone imagined Loki the same way because of the movies. We also had a hard time splitting the real mythology from the cinematic mythology that Marvel has brought us. Many didn’t know what Hel looked like in the actual mythology stories and were confused at how she was related to Loki because of the movies. Same with Odin and other characters.

A couple interesting facts that readers pulled from research was that the author combined three different stories to make the main character. Also, that back in time, the heart was seen as something that held memories instead of the brain, and that may be why the heart was represented the way it was in the book.

Jumping back to Loki. This book was marketed as a sapphic book. It was not a sapphic book, or if it was, it gave very little to the relationship that could have been defined as sapphic. But in our conversation, we thought it was interesting that the author went the way she did about it, by not ever really letting Angrboda and Skadi be together, when we thought that Loki would have been more than ok with her being with Skadi and himself, especially since he was doing the same.

Another interesting thing for readers who have not read the book, the book is structured with no chapter breaks. There are only three parts. The first part is about half of the book. For some readers, this bothered them, but for others, especially if listening on an audiobook, it didn’t bother at all.

Very thankful for the awesome conversation and for Oxford Exchange hosting this event.

Book Event

Oxford Exchange Bookstore hosted an event talking about the book The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling.

The most awesome part of this discussion was dissecting the horror genre a little. Everyone agreed that The Death of Jane Lawrence did not feel like horror, but that it had some horror elements and gore that was very well described that set the tone for the story.

This book brought about the discussion that the horror genre is great because different horror books can be at a different level of scary depending on the reader and may mean different things to each individual reader, even if it is the same book.

But maybe the best definition of horror I heard tonight was that horror is something that instills a new fear and throws someone off. I feel that like definition resonates with me when it comes to what I am looking for when I read a horror book.

The theme of shame was brought up. A reader found that theme in this book. Shame may be something for readers to think about and grasp onto while reading this book.

Everyone loved the bone wedding bands in this!! Some even would have wanted one for a wedding band themselves. Also, some liked the main character and some didn’t. The ones that didn’t couldn’t find her relatable in marrying a guy she barely knows and then being surprised about his lies. The ones that did had said that the things the main character did were things they would have done also. So that goes back to the beginning of this in how horror books are seen differently by different readers, maybe even more so than most other genres are.

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.