Book Event

I got to listen to an author that I am finding interest in, Nnedi Okorafor, as she was interviewed by Wanuri Kahiu during a virtual event hosted by Powell’s Books. I had chosen to listen into this event because I thought her new upcoming book Akata Woman sounded very intriguing, but after having listened to her conversation, I now want to buy all of her books just because she was such a cool person to listen to with the coolest experiences!

Nnedi Okorafor has apparently written lots of books and even a graphic novel. Her book Akata Witch was named in the list of The Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time. She is a Nigerian-Amercian writer who writes fantasy and science fiction for children and adults. Okorafor expressed during this interview her never ending gratitude to her cover artist and designer Greg Ruth. It was really cool to listen to how they work together to design her covers. She said how she believes that each cover he does gets better and better because the process to design them becomes so much more in-depth when discussing her characters with him.

Her newest book Akata Woman is the third book about a girl named Sunny. Okorafor explained how in each book she has written Sunny continues to become more intriguing to her in her growth and independence, so much so that she feels like the books are starting to write themselves. In the third book with Sunny Akata Woman, which Okorafor said will not be the last, something she did not even expect to happen happened when all the pieces started falling together. Just listening to her talk about writing in general, you could hear the passion for the craft in her voice and you could tell how much she cares for and loves her characters. Well, except for Phoenix in one of her other books. Although that may be a favorite character to some, like Wanuri Kahiu, Okorafor said that Phoenix always felt very mean to her and that Phoenix would even be in her dreams when she was writing her book telling her to get up because she wasn’t done talking yet.

Nnedi Okorafor apparently writes the books that she writes because of the experiences that she had in Nigeria growing up. I loved hearing her stories and how fun and full of wonder her childhood was! Apparently, she started going to Nigeria when she was seven-years-old and during her trips she would have to take in things as they were without any context. For example, the masquerades who she had and has become obsessed with, would chase her in the dark throughout the streets sometimes and she didn’t know what was going on. She would listen into the meetings that the village had to try to hear the drama and gossip. She even caught a painted grasshopper that she thought was something out of a fantasy, although it may have been common to her people there. It is so amazing that she got to experience true wonderment.

The fact that Okorafor’s childhood comes out in her books and the things that she writes, is more than enough to make me want to read her books. I personally cannot wait to read one of them to get to experience the same kind of astonishment mixed with admiration that she had through her characters!

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.

Book Event

Macmillan Publishers gave readers an awesome event with Marissa Meyer for her newest book Gilded hosted on Crowdcast. This event was very involved with polls, questions, and interactions in the chat box. It also had a great timeline to keep the conversation flowing with various avenues of interviewing.

Gilded is a novel based off of Rumpelstiltskin, which sparks interest in many readers. I find it so interesting how many people love that fairy tale, including myself. Marissa Meyer said that what drew her to it was how whimsical, weird, and interesting the story is, but most importantly the mystery of it. In my opinion that is why everyone loves that fairy tale. There is so much left to the mind and left unsaid in that story, like why did Rumpelstiltskin want that child? Another opinion of Marissa Meyer’s in that original story is that the King was the bad guy. I thought that was an interesting take.

From what Marissa Meyer was describing of Gilded, her main character is a liar. I am so very interested to see how she gets readers to feel sympathetic for this character and gets them to like her. Another interesting thing about her newest book is that it sounds like the character who represents Rumpelstiltskin is a poltergeist!!! A very interesting concept!

For a very special treat, Marissa Meyer had brought on two very special guests. The first one was Rebecca Soler who has done Meyer’s audiobooks since Cinder. It was very cool to get to hear from an audiobooks reader’s experience and what she does to prepare. Rebecca Soler apparently is a huge fan of Marissa Meyer, so her dream job has been fulfilled in getting to be the strong women that Marissa Meyer writes. To prepare for a read, she first reads the book as a fan to get to live in Meyer’s world and then she jots down names, settings, and places that she needs to googles the origins of and pronunciations. Her favorite character that Meyer’s created is Cath from Heartless. Listening to her describe that character and book had me putting that book down on my wish list. Then before Soler left, she read us a small part of Gilded where the main character first meets the king, which was really cool to experience!

The last guest that Meyer had on was Anna-Marie McLemore. In an anthropology that Marissa Meyer is editing and that is coming out in January, they are one of the authors in it. The anthropology is called Serendipity and it is a collection of ten short stories that are based on different romance tropes. Anna-Marie McLemore is a YA author who has written many romances already so Meyer wanted to hand-select them to work with her on this anthropology with a few other authors.

Marissa Meyer was a great speaker in this event and I loved how she came dressed in tainted gold that I thought was perfect for the launching of Gilded. Near the end of this event, we got to listen to Meyer tell the story of Rumpelstiltskin that many know and then lay out the different endings that there are out there. An interesting fact that she gave about herself is that she usually doesn’t write in her writing studio but more so in her reading chair. And a word of advice that she gave us viewers was find joy wherever you are in your writing journey. She explained how she was so focused on getting published when she was younger that she would bring herself to tears about it because she was so worried about it instead of just enjoying the process. She wishes that she would have just let herself enjoy those years she could have been writing and growing instead of stressing so much.

This event was very enlightening and entertaining. I loved the set-up with all the different things that had happened in the hour and thought it was very well planed out and organized. I had already pre-ordered Gilded, so I cannot wait to get it and read it, and I am currently working my way through Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. I actually just finished Scarlet a couple of hours before this event took place. It was so nice getting to see and listen to Marissa Meyer and I am so thankful to Macmillan for setting up this event on her launch tour.

Book Event

Attended an event this evening with Oxford Exchange Bookstore to tackle in discussion the book The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henerson. It was such a great night to talk about this book which sounded like it definitely left us all unsatisfied and needing some real creepiness to talk about around Christmas. It was fun at the end to try to figure out a creepy winter book to read for December.

I am so thankful for this group of people we had tonight in the book club. It is hard when you read a book and you wonder if it is only you who saw certain things wrong with the book you read, but when a group of people come together who have the same issues with the same book, it gives you a certain satisfaction to know that your mind isn’t entirely broken.

One of the many things that we agreed on was how the book felt rushed. Absolutely everyone wanted more. We all felt like there was not enough world building, that the consequences for people were not enough, and that the book was too soft when it promised to be stimulating and moving in some way. Also, everyone wanted and needed to know and learn more about the witches.

No one liked the ending. It had confused everyone when it came to tying up the plot the way it had because the book had not led the reader in that direction at all. We all felt that things needed to be clearer throughout the story to make a more impactful ending and that the author needed to take the next step and dive deeper into things on multiple occasions. The book was set up with the opportunity to unpack so much, but instead broke away from things before they were thought into.

It was interesting though how this book tackled witches compared to many other witch books. This was brought up in conversation and it was something that I hadn’t even realized. This book was a nice break and gave us a view of someone looking at witches instead of looking into them. What I mean by that is that it had the main character getting affected by witches instead of really interacting with them. So that was a cool way to approach the witch trend.

I love to see differences in readers. Some of the differences in our opinions were about the romance in the book. I was not a fan along with a few others, but some mentioned that the romance kept them going and kept them wanting to read the book. What everyone agreed on though is that no one likes romances that go from zero to one-hundred within a few pages, which had happened in this book. Another difference was that although no one liked the explanation of the main character’s mom, they didn’t like that scene for two opposite reasons because they each viewed that scene in two completely different ways.

Lastly, I think it is amazing when everyone thinks that a certain scene was the most impactful one. The second labor scene was a favorite of everyone’s. It is always so incredibly fascinating how so many people can have different opinions about scenes or parts in books, but then other times everyone can come together to agree that a certain thing was their favorite part and they all thought and felt the same way. This is why I love reading and discussing!

During this event it sounded like we were all pretty much on the same page when it came to this book, which was fun to dive into and really just vent about how frustrating we were about not being satisfied after reading it. Thank you so much for the fun night Oxford Exchange!

Book Event

Last night’s event was hosted virtually by an independent bookstore in North Carolina called Bookmarks presenting Meg Cabot talking about her newest romance book No Words. The reason I attended this event was because when I saw the name Meg Cabot, it was instantly recognizable to me, not from The Princess Diaries like it is for some, but because of one of my favorite series I had read when I was younger which was The Mediator. I was excited to see what Meg Cabot has been up to in all the years since I’ve read The Mediator series and what kind of books she typically takes her time to write now. What gave me the courage though to attend this event, even though I haven’t read Cabot’s newest book, was how Bookmarks marketed their event. They stated that it is not a book club event necessarily, but an event where the book would be discussed without spoilers and the attendees could dive into the romance genre in general. That way everyone would feel welcome even if they hadn’t read the book. That worked for me since I love talking about different genres in general!

First off, I was blown away by how many books that Meg Cabot has apparently written! The host of this event said that she has read 57 of Cabot’s books and that there are many more she still hasn’t read. That was amazing to me and I have to say that I loved the host for this event. You could tell that she was a super fan of Meg Cabot, carried the conversation so well, was enjoyable to listen to, had such great questions, and was able to get us all involved. I loved her testimony also to how much she had loved The Princess Diaries and how carries the character Mia in her heart forever.

After the discussion, I have to say that the book No Words sounds very interesting after hearing the author describe it. It is apparently about a writer who goes to a book convention and thinks that her arch nemesis isn’t going to be there, but it turns out that he is anyway. I loved hearing how this book had turned into the book it had turned into. Cabot had said that before covid the setting was going to take place at a firefighter convention but because she could not properly research that because of covid, she decided to have the setting at a book convention instead, which worked out very well for her because in this book she was able to incorporate advice, personal experiences, and even personal pains that she has gone through. One of those was how in the early 2000s herself and a couple other authors had been plagiarized.

One of the great pieces of advice that was apparently demonstrated in her book was that when at a festival or convention or anywhere, to always make sure you go to the parties and the dinners. Those are the places you meet great people. When she was a younger writer, she spent her time in her room writing instead of socializing and she wishes that she would have done that differently.

It was very cool to see in this conversation how many readers love when a book is full of diary entries, text messages, emails, and other forms of communication that help them feel even closer to the characters and help the story feel relatable to them. Personally, I have come across books that I like the text format back and forth, but never thought about it too much because it isn’t one of my favorite things in books, but it is always interesting to see what things get which readers most excited.

Of course, Meg Cabot talked about The Princess Diaries which always gives inspiration, especially since it had apparently been rejected everywhere in New York until finally years later the industry realized that YA books can have an entertainment element that could be specified for women readers. It was fun and really cool to hear her talk about her experience with the actress in the movie who played the main character and very settling to hear how she sees the movie and her books as two different universes.

I loved Meg Cabot’s passion! I have now added her newest book along with a few others on my wish list, even though I hadn’t been planning to at the beginning of this event since I’m not a big romance reader. Cabot was such a joy to listen to. I loved how funny she was and her great unique personality that wasn’t afraid to say what she wanted to say. I thank Bookmarks so much for putting on this event for us.

Book Event

Attended yet another amazing book discussion tonight with some of my absolute favorite book people to discuss The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas hosted by Oxford Exchange bookstore.

To describe the love that the members have for this discussion group, one of the regular members attended with us while at the airport about ready to board her plane. It was great chatting with her before she headed to Salem!

One of the things we discussed about this book was how all of us enjoyed the length of it. For many of us, it was a breath of fresh air to read a shorter length book, and while some of us wish we had more, many of us were blown away at the character development that Victoria Mas could do for all the characters in such a short amount of time. The book while not feeling forced at all, was able to incorporate so many things and even mirror lessons within its subplots to the overall plot and the book itself. We all felt that it was a great feminist book showing women’s strength even in times when they had no control over their lives. Although the book was sad, and was such a harsh reality, it was empowering in a sense and gave validation to those who needed it.

An interesting question that was brought up was whether or not we thought that the Asylum was a good place for the people who really needed it. In reality, we decided that it wasn’t and it did more harm than good. That even if it did help a few people in some way, it hurt others way more, even their mental and physical health with the experiments being done on them. The fact that it was run by men who didn’t even understand women, especially in the burdens, hardships, and emotional sense really pushes the sense that there could have been a better place for women to actually grow and get better without feeling trapped.

One of the women who was torn up the most mentally and physically by the men in her life had one of the most impactful character developments in the story and it seemed like from our talk, everyone else had the same opinion about that also. It was very moving how a girl who most of us would have guessed would have turned out broken in the end, ended up one of the strongest of all and a symbol of strength for all the other women.

One of the things that is very beneficial when it comes to group discussion is that someone brings up something that others may have forgotten about. For example, the time period and how children, even boys, were not allowed to speak out. This helps in realizing that although at first, we may have been irritated with a character and their being compliant as a bystander, that it goes deeper than that, and we have to think about the time period and culture they were raised in.

Lastly, although there was so much talked about, something that I found so cute and I hear often enough to mention is how readers sometimes interact with the characters by speaking out loud to them or even calling them out for things. The most interesting part in that interaction is the satisfaction a reader gets if the character calls himself out for the same thing the reader just had. I have had that satisfaction myself! For example, when you call a character a weak fraud and then not too long later the character thinks about how much of a weak fraud he was. Apparently, I am not the only one who finds that such a wonderful feeling.

I was so thankful for another awesome event that made my night. This book is a must read that is perfect for discussion but does contain triggers. If you do not mind spoilers, feel free to read my review about it on Goodreads.

Book Event

Tonight I got to listen to a new author for me during an event with Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse as they interviewed Heather M. Herrman for her book launch of The Corpse Queen. It was an interesting interview and I enjoyed hearing Herrman’s journey in writing The Corpse Queen.

One of my favorite parts of writing as an unpublished author is all the research, and I love to hear other authors say that it is also their favorite part. Apparently Herrman had to do a lot of research for this book since she wrote this book not knowing the jobs or the places that she was writing about. It makes me very curious to see later how she pulled all her research into her story and if she was able to make it believable. I am also very very interested to read about grave-robbers since from the interview it sounded like a portion of the book will be centered around some historical facts about grave-robbing.

They also talked about characters in general. Herrman stated that her main character Molly was one that she always pictured being the main character, but who kept blocking her from really getting to know her as a character in the writing process. I thought that was very interesting, relatable, and may even show how stubborn Molly is in the heart of her character. Herrman also had said that many of her characters ended up taking different paths than she had expected, which is something I have heard many authors go through. The interviewer also brought up the fact that one of Herrman’s bad guys was a very great character because they were not just bad to be bad but had motive. Those are my favorite types of characters, so I found that to be such a great compliment to Herrman!

From the thoughts and discussions about editing, it sounds like it is always a bitter sweet gift for published authors when they have professional editors to give them an expert’s advice on making their books closer to perfect. Authors discussing parts of their editing process always calms my nerves and I appreciate hearing how much a manuscript can change. Herrman apparently had to change a decent part of her manuscript because she had a lot of focus on Molly and what had happened to her before the story, but the editors wanted her to focus more on the grave-robbing and autonomy aspects of the story. I cannot wait to see if, for myself as a reader, focusing on those aspects more so in the story works to draw me in more.

I loved hearing Heather M. Herrman’s passion when it came to death and how beautiful it is to her. She made very great points that death should be honored and that it is just a way of life. She was stating that at a time death was more talkable and approachable in a sense, but that now it feels untouchable and uncomfortable to talk or think about with many people. She said that her book is definitely scary and about death, but that it is focused more on life and living to claim your life. To Herrman horror is hopeful. She says she wants to find the meaning of life, what makes humans tick, and wants to get the point across that a body is just a body. There is more to death than sadness and a beauty to the spirit.

The interviewer ended the interview with a cute game of Would You Rather with Heather M. Herrman about her book. It is always interesting to hear an interview like this one tonight and how the writing process was for the author. After hearing all of this I am excited to see how it all came together. I can’t wait to read it!