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.
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.
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.
Loyalty Bookstore threw an awesome jerk-free event for the book Weightless by Evette Dionne interviewed by Aubrey Gordon. I found it absolutely insightful and fascinating.
First off, they explained how to them the word fat is just a descriptor. It is not a bad word. Not a judgment. But people should use the language that others use for themselves. It is only respectful to meet someone where they are at.
Aubrey Gordon gave an amazing testimony to the book, explaining how it is a book for fat people to be able to see more fat experiences and for others to understand. She said it has a variety of fat experiences and that the book has incredible complexity and vulnerability woven together. It choked her up several time and also made her laugh out loud many other times. She said it was one of the most honest and moving pieces she has ever read about fatness.
Evette Dionne explained that one of the best parts of her childhood was her very supporting parents that did not force her into dieting. Her parents advocated for her relentlessly and were committed to her being a kid. They didn’t want anything to steal her joy. But even with her parents being like that, her mother still dieted.
One of the topics of this conversation was Weight Watchers. Evette talked about how when she was 22 and was in grad school on a full-ride scholarship, she was depressed. She didn’t recognize that it had to do with her mental health though and not her weight, so she started going to Weight Watchers. She explained how very conscious she was about how heavy her clothes were at the time of meetings and how she would not eat too much on the day of weigh in. Aubrey commented on this section of the book saying how real it all felt, because she had been there too. Evette realized that going to Weight Watchers was bad for herself when she was in therapy. She questioned why she was doing something she dreaded that didn’t make her happy and only more depressed. It was supposed to be helping her fight depression, not the other way around.
Other topics that are in this book are dating as a fat person and forming a relationship with another plus-sized person. Also, how life as a fat person is always influenced by strangers and family member’s off-handed comments.
Interesting topics they brought up in conversation were ways they notice anti-fatness in themselves and how they are working on getting rid of it. Evette grew up surrounded by fat people her whole life and she says she still passes judgment while watching TV. She said that her journey is an unlearning journey, not a perfect journey. Even now, how she thinks about and treats her own body is bad. If her partner catches her, he goes “I know you aren’t talking about MY partner!” She was very honest about how hard on herself she is even in this part of her journey. That she is working on being present in her body. And working to continue to grow.
They dove in deep about movies and media. They said that there are slim pickings when it comes to good media representation. They recognize that representation isn’t everything, but it is something. If represented well, it can help watchers realize they are not being treated right.
The movie that just came out called The Whale, they talked about it having maybe only one fat person who is critic, if that. How is the movie authentic if not fat people are judging it on its merit? All critics are doing are looking at how great the acting is and pushing away all the social issues because it is Brandon Fraser’s come back. They even mentioned how it lost the plot once a fat suit was introduced.
They see body positivity as being useful in terms of going to the store and buying clothes and being able to see things that make them feel great on an emotional level. But that it is only being used to help sell things. There is no movement to actually break and fix the system. They want people to be trying to find a functional way to look at roots to see what is causing fat-phobia and what is actually working when it comes to body positivity and what is not.
The healthcare system was another interesting hard topic. How a thin person can go into a doctor and get a diagnosis right away, instead of the doctor trying to treat the patient’s weight and not really what is wrong.
Evette’s brother is thinner and they worked and worked and worked until they figured out what was wrong with him. Which was heart problems. Evette had to almost die for them to realize what was wrong with her heart.
Through this, they expressed how anti-fat issues within the medical field can do a lot of harm.
Aubrey and Evette talking to each other was very uplifting and cute. I loved the very memorable things they said and their discussions. Like the saying: what makes you resilient can also break your heart and how we live in a world where thin people are seen as experts on fatness.
I found this event very insightful. I cannot wait to read the book when it comes in. This event also had me reading an article Evette Dionne wrote awhile ago called The Fragility of Body Positivity.
The link to the article is below if anyone is interested in reading it.
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.
Rediscovered Books hosted Marissa Meyer’s virtual launch event for her newest book Cursed which is the last book in her duology after Gilded, a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. It was cool to hear that Rediscovered Books hosted one of Marissa Meyer’s first books she ever launched.
Many attended this virtual event where Meyer came with golden tinsels in her hair to represent the book! She started by sharing her inspirational photos that she used to develop the story. Apparently, she creates boards on Pinterest for all her books. This duology’s board was filled with pictures of creepy atmospheric settings, images, monsters, and creatures. Anyone can check out her boards on her Pinterest!
How Meyer came up with her retelling was something she brought up. Her thought process was that the main story was pretty lame when it came to happily-ever-after. She also found it obvious that the king was the villain of the story. So, she made the king the villain of her story, to do the original story justice, and decided, because she is her, that it needed a romance. That is when she came up with the brilliant idea of Rumpelstiltskin being the romantic interest. Also, funny fact, she wanted people to swoon for the king and then feel shame for swooning for him in this second book, so hopefully that worked haha.
She had her audio book narrator come in, which many people said that her books wouldn’t feel like Marissa Meyer books unless they are read by her, Rebecca Soler. This narrator said when doing a series, she has to go back and listen to herself and take notes on who is who, who wants to kill each other, and how she did the voices before. She also jots down adjectives to describe a character to be able to form a voice around them.
After the audio read, Meyer gave fun polls, where we learned that The Runaway Pancake is actually a classification of folktales. Also, that Rumpelstiltskin’s classification falls under Name the Helper. Another fun fact, scholars believe his name might have originally meant Little Rattle Ghost.
If she could change anything in her books, she said what haunts her the most is that she didn’t give Prince Kai a last name. Also, that she didn’t have more LGBTQIA+ characters in The Lunar Chronicles.
Her favorite world to build was the world for Gilded and Cursed because she loves fairytales, lore, and researching. She said she could research and do nothing else, but at some point, knows she has to write the book.
The easiest world she built was for Instant Karma because it is her only contemporary and there wasn’t as much world-building involved. Now, she is working with Locksmith Animation, which is an animation company in the UK, who are looking to adapt The Lunar Chronicles into a tv series. She is very enthusiastic and optimistic because during her meetings with them, she said that she could tell they knew what she was trying to accomplish with the series and why readers liked it.
Excitingly, Meyer said that she held onto lots of things for book two that she didn’t put in book one of this duology. I can’t wait to dive in and read all the reveals and twists that she had set up in book one but didn’t present. And more excitingly still, she revealed the title of her next book, which will be With a Little Luck. It is a companion book to Instant Karma and a ‘careful what you wish for’ kind of story. On top of that fact, she has many things in the works, including, more fairy tale retellings, graphic novels, swag, and more.
Thank you so much Rediscovered Books for the amazing event and letting many people from all around the world to get to attend.
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.
Mysterious Galaxy hosted an event with Brandie June to discuss Curse Undone, which is the sequel to Gold Spun. This duology is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with the main girl character being a con artist and Rumpelstiltskin being a hot fairy boy. She made it that way to make it different, distinct, and to be able to think about the characters in a different way who are normally flat.
June explained how in order to not get stuck, she writes a note to make an epic battle or anything else she needs to add and then moves on. She actually has to write an entire really bad first draft before she goes back and edits. For these two books, in the later drafts, she had to figure out how good or bad she wanted Rumpelstiltskin to be as a whole and in parts. One of the scenes she remarked seeing very clearly was the golden ball.
To answer a question asking about why she likes retellings, she said that she loves how retellings customize their own worlds. One of her favorite Rumpelstiltskin retellings was Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.
June thought that these books would be a trilogy at first. She knew that not everything would fit in one book, but then it was decided, based on her arc, that a duology would be better and make sense. She had a huge rough draft for the trilogy and had to cut in half and make an ending for her deadline.
June explained how she went through a lot of rejections and how her first book did not sell. But without that happening, she never would have written Gold Spun. Now, she is re-querying again with a new project because she had to part ways with her agent. What she finds works with the stress of querying is to keep working on other projects. Continually working is something she can control and manage and writing more helps her become a better writer.
Brandie June was so nice, easy to listen to, and very insightful. I enjoyed the event carried on by the awesome staff at Mysterious Galaxy and June’s great personality.
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.
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.