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.

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

Had a meeting last night with Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore discussing Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao. The setup was very interesting and one I hadn’t done before. I was on zoom with one other person while the meeting was in person in the bookstore. The attendees in the bookstore had masks, so sometimes it was hard to see who was talking and it was also hard to wait for cues to speak up and know when to make a comment, but it was a good experience and very friendly. I was very happy with the experience since there isn’t many bookstores around where I live just like the other person on the zoom who lives states away had said about her location. It was a very accepting and kind group and open enough that someone was allowed to even bring a baby!

The meeting opened with the question ‘what is your useless talent’, which was a nice ice breaker. The meeting then went right into talking about how murderous the book was, which was a topic that the discussion kept going back to. It was interesting to hear everyone’s different opinions on that subject and how it ties in with the book.

Something that everyone loved that got everyone hooked right away in the book was when they had thought the book was going to be an enemies to lovers kind of book, but then the author tied up the revenge plot in the first fifty pages and there was still so much of the book left. People wanted to know, what now? Then were pleasantly surprised with all the other shocking turns the book took.

In the meeting everyone formed an inside joke together about the triangle, making a triangle with their fingers to represent the awesomeness of the polyamorous relationship in the book. That was fun and cute and brought joyous laughter whenever it was used.

We discussed how badly everyone wants the book to make it onto TV. The interesting part was the differences in opinions on what it should be rated, either R or MA, and how it should be displayed, a series or a movie. The biggest want from everyone is to see the unique fighting on screen. One of the attendees even had a very interesting want for the series to be made in Mandarin so that it would be more impactful and certain elements could carry more weight.

Lastly, we discussed what we want or expect from the duology. In my opinion, I thought that the second book needs to be just as extreme as the first one to fit in well, since the first book was so extreme. A few others are worried that since most of the time in duologies they don’t like the second book as much as the first, that they won’t like this second one. A real big fan of the book mentioned that the author is worried about writing the second book because they don’t want to let people down, especially since some of their fans have gotten tattoos and this is only their debut. Needless to say, everyone sounded excited to see what will be coming next. Maybe we will even get a whole different perspective.