Book Event

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.

Book Event

Got to attend an event hosted by Oxford Exchange Bookstore discussing Elektra by Jennifer Saint.

What was really cool about this group tonight was that we had some more persistent readers of Greek stories who knew a lot of the character and we had some that did not. I am one of the people who does not know that much about the past stories, so I learned a lot of interesting things during this discussion. Like how Greek stories revolve around tragedy, death, and unfairness all the time. What left me feeling unsatisfied and hollow in parts when it came to what I saw as unnecessary deaths, the others that were more versed saw that those deaths fit the theme in different ways.

As someone who does not know much, it was cool following the story as a story and experiencing new things. It was also fun talking about why we sympathized or did not with some of the characters. It was also interesting that not many were fans of the first-person-point of view for the three different characters and felt a little distant from the story.

We all decided though that this was not a feminist book, just in the point of view of three women. We discussed a couple tweaks that would have made it a feminist book, which was one of the most fun discussions of the night.

I loved and appreciated everyone’s different view coming from different paths of reading when talking about this book.

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

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.

Book Event

I got to attend what felt like an exclusive event last night with Mysterious Galaxy interviewing Ben Riggs on his debut novel Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons which is releasing today. This was such a fun and interesting conversation to listen to full of secrets and D&D talk.

Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons is about the TSR company that rocketed Dungeons and Dragons to its success. It dives deep into why TSR started failing as a company and what happened for Wizards to buy the company. Riggs highlights many interviews in his work and mentions if he was told two different stories about one incident to make sure that he tells everyone’s story. Tom Thurman who was the person during this event interviewing Rigg described the book with high praise saying that it was not dry but very readable and that Riggs’s personality shines through.

I found Riggs to have a fun and quirky personality. He mentions that he could not interview Lorraine Williams because she refused. (Lorraine Williams was in control of TSR when it had failed). But he showed his optimism during this event that she may reach out to him and want to be interviewed because he had beautiful art of her made in his book. He did interview her brother though along with 50 plus others.

Riggs mentioned multiple times that he knows his success is all thanks to luck and timing. D&D is the most popular it has ever been in history. Stranger Things has been a help with that. He laughed and said that he did a local interview in his newspaper about his book and they did not put his picture on the article, but instead put Eddie’s picture from Stranger Things, which he is proud of. His favorite edition of D&D is the 2nd edition because that was the first one that he played and he sees the game as a cultural artifact.

Ben Riggs apparently has a podcast called Plot Points that has been up and running since 2013 where he takes a deep dive into role playing games including the influence and origins of those games. He was such a kind, gentle, and respectful person to listen to during this interview. Anyone could tell how deeply he cares about people and about games in general and how certain games have impacted culture.

I loved how much Riggs showed his love for creative geniuses in during this event and how much information he gave to everyone. I am excited to get his book and read his words. Thank you, Mysterious Galaxy for hosting him!

Book Event

After a change of events, today I got to join in on a conversation with Elodie Harper with Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. It was really cool hearing about her books, which I added to my wish list.

Elodie Harper has written two books so far out of a trilogy that she discussed during this interview. The two books are called The Wolf Den and The House with the Golden Door. The Wolf Den takes place in ancient Pompeii before the town was buried by volcanic ash. It tells of the story of a girl named Amara who is a slave and a prostitute in a well-known brothel. Harper wrote these books because she wanted to tell the stories of the brothel women without focusing on the sex work. She wanted to show that even the lowest born slaves can dream of new beginnings.

With the short time that Harper had during this interview, she discussed how she visited Pompeii with her best friend to research for this book. She described it as “the closest one can get to time travel” and explained how one can view the glassware, paintings, lamps, and marble countertops.

The host and Elodie Harper then went on to talk about Elektra by Jennifer Saint, who sadly was unable to join. Elektra is apparently told in the view of three characters who are each deeply affected by the war that is going on and who each have the power to influence it. The host and Harper complimented on how Saint was able to nail Greek tragedy in the book, how it felt fresh because she was able to dive into the gaps and motivations of the characters, and how well she was able to represent the gods and show how involved they are with the humans around them just like Saint did in her previous book Ariadne.

I appreciated this insightful interview, and although there were technical difficulties, I thought that they host and Elodie Harper handled it very well. Thank you Mysterious Galaxy!

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

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.