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.
Astoria Bookshop hosted a launch interview for Adrienne Tooley’s newest book Sofi and the Bone Song. This book is about a girl named Sofi who has trained very hard and is ready to inherit the title of music like her father has. In this world only certain people can play music and through years of training, Sofi found love in it and has made it a part of her identity, until she loses the title to a girl who had never played before.
Tooley said that the idea came to her from her want to know what it would be like in the life of a bard mixed with her life, since Tooley is big into music. Tooley even used to write music and music is how she met her wife.
Apparently, according to the interviewer Allison Saft, there are many really cool magick systems in this book. Tooley explained how one of the magick systems were created just to make Sofi angry. Sofi is a perfectionist much like the author who after writing the first draft of this book and sending it to her editor, didn’t like how many questions the editor had, so she started it all over and wrote it again.
It was cute hearing how this book is a rivals to lovers book between Sofi and the girl who took her title, and it was interesting to hear the author talk about why she chose to stay in one point of view for this book. The reasoning was because she wanted to focus on Sofi’s story and she thought that having the other girl’s point of view also would be too much of a distraction from what she was wanting to get across.
It was easy to tell in this interview how much work that Adrienne Tooley puts into her books. I hope that this book is enjoyed world-wide.
Hosted on Facebook Live by Murder By The Book bookstore in Texas, Deanna Raybourn was interviewed about her newest book An Impossible Impostor from the Veronica Speedwell Mystery series coming in at book number seven.
Deanna Raybourn was such a great speaker! She didn’t seem nervous at all and was so welcoming. I loved how she brought up how great virtual events are because readers who can’t travel and who do not know about certain bookstores can join in. How many (like myself) may never have found out about how awesome Murder By The Book is. Tonight, there was a worldwide audience viewing all the way from other countries like New England and Australia.
Raybourn talked about how she loves to write in first person and why. It goes all the way back to when she was growing up. The books she read were first person and she fell in love with that style, especially reading Sherlock Holmes.
Interestingly in the first book she wrote in this series she had displayed a lot of one of her character’s past, but her editor told her that her doing that was for her and not for the reader so that she needed to take it out and lay it out throughout the series, which she thought was genius, so she was so happy that she did that.
The main character Veronica sounds like such an interesting character to write in the author’s point of view. She said that Veronica is not good with vulnerability even with the readers, so over the book series Veronica slowly reveals herself to the readers by being more and more honest with her past.
Awesomely, a viewer asked what the two main characters Veronica and Stoker’s astrological signs were, and the author said that she always knows the signs for each of her characters. Apparently, Stoker is a Taurus and Veronica is a Cancer, but it was really hard for her to pinpoint those for them.
Raybourn’s two characters Stoker and Veronica are very smart, and Veronica knows a lot about butterflies as a butterfly hunter. Raybourn said when asked that it is easier for her to do the research she needs to do because the books are set in the Victorian Era. If there is not a butterfly that had been named before that time, she cannot use it. She has created some butterflies for her books though, and she knows a decent amount about butterflies because she used to raise them. Interestingly butterflies apparently smell horrible when they are hatching from their cocoons! Ha-ha. But she still gets nervous when she gets calls from people who have butterfly collections but feels at ease when they tell her that she got it right.
It was so great getting to listen to and know Deanna Raybourn who was so fun and upbeat. She is on contract for nine books in this series. Thank you Murder By The Book for hosting this 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!
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!
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!
This event started with a great and warm welcoming from the host! Right away I felt calm and then excited. Thank you BookPeople. I enjoyed the experience that your bookstore provided with Lauren Tarshis and Alan Gratz.
First off, I have to say that the reason why I joined this event was because my oldest daughter is in love with the I Survived books. When I came across this event, I couldn’t pass it up because I was interested to get to hear from the author. I was so pleasantly surprised by how inspirational Lauren Tarshis is and how great of a role model she is also. She talked with so much love and inspiration. As an aspiring author myself, I loved to hear that I Survived The Galveston Hurricane, 1900 is the 21st book she has wrote in the main series, that she also writes graphic novels, and oversees a magazine. Not only all of that, but she also has four kids and is able to travel and does so much research for her books to give her readers truth in the experience. It also made me happy to learn that she listens to her readers, if she hears from them that she should write something, then she goes and writes it, which was how I Survived The Galveston Hurricane, 1900 was written.
I learned so much about the Galveston hurricane from this conversation. I had not known about it at all and that there was a city in Texas right on the water that was on track to being the 3rd largest city in Texas until it was hit and ruined. It was so interesting to know that the hurricane was one of the deadliest natural disasters for America in history and that it isn’t that well known outside of Texas. It is crazy to think how something like what had happened changed the history of Texas. That even after Galveston was hit, it didn’t fully recover and Houston took its place for growing the faster and largest. It is terrifying to think about how back before technology not many knew about natural disasters and that it was harder to know hurricanes or anything were coming to be able to warn people. Even after it had happened, it is even crazier to think on how they couldn’t let the world know that it had happened because there was no good way to communicate the way we do now. Lauren Tarshis talked about so many facts flawlessly. She definitely does her research. It is amazing to me how historical fiction writers can put history in a great personal format. One of her examples to focus further on times back in the 1900s and how many reacted in certain areas, she brought up that Galveston had always flooded, so when it started doing it again, to the kids it was cool and exciting and an adventure, until it went too far. That focus helps put the reader further into the minds of the characters and how they use to live and how their thoughts were shaped about the oncoming disaster.
I found through this conversation how important historical fiction is for children because it helps them grow to be empathetic by giving statistics a face. These authors are really doing the world a favor by bringing history to life for children outside of textbooks and helping them see how much things can change after an event and showing how things can get better. It also helps children learn in a way not to repeat history and helps the tragedies that the world and many have felt never be forgotten and the impact the events had in the change of history always be recognized.
Now for the conversation! It was so brilliant of BookPeople to bring two historical fiction writers together. The conversation between Lauren Tarshis and Alan Gratz was so wholesome. They talked and laughed about their struggles and their enjoyment they find in their research and writing processes. One of the things I could relate to was having a character or thing they really wanted to plug into their plot, but trying to find room or space for that character or thing without it feeling forced. It was interesting how much harder it is for them as historical fiction writers to do this because they have to make sure they match up two timelines. They also discussed how hard it becomes to make sure their characters are not flat when they have so many characters to flesh out over all their books. My favorite part of the conversation was Alan Gratz’s gushing over the way Lauren Tarshis uses sound effects because he does the same thing and they even had favorites that the other used in each of their books and asked each other to borrow them for future books. It was so cute and such a heartwarming exchange between the two authors. You could feel the respect and understanding they each had for each other. I am happy they have each other to really talk to and dive in deep about writing historical fiction.
I highly enjoyed listening into this launch event! I have the book coming for my daughter, so I am excited for her to get to read it. I am also excited to have another author to suggest to her that she may like. I loved really getting to see how inspirational these authors are and I loved the feeling of happiness I got knowing that my daughter is reading books from an author who is kind and cares about her fans. This was such a great and insightful event and I couldn’t be thankful enough for finding it. Thank you again BookPeople for putting it on for us, especially on Zoom so many more could attend.
Please support authors and independent bookstores.
Oxford Exchange Bookstore hosted yet another amazing book club event featuring The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. Tonight’s book conversation with these amazing people turned into my favorite book conversation I have gotten to have so far with a group of readers.
Everyone in the book club LOVED the book, so that helped us all get to open up and gush about the writing, the author, the cleverness, the characters, and really dive down deep into the structure and plotting.
Here are some things I have said about this book in a Goodreads review before I dive into a little bit of the conversation we had and interesting things I had learned.
“-pieces of her writing and words shoved me through the page until I was there and had to blink away the vision, shocked that words could grab me so. Not talent, no. But the ability to craft a reader to a writer’s soul.”
“Addie, I found was a strong character! To never give in, to always push back, and to see the manipulation she was under until she started wearing thin. I also found she developed a lot by the end.”
“It then became more than just a deal. It became manipulation and displayed what a true narcissist is. It started with taking everything from her and giving her bits of him at a time. Starting with more until he worked to give her less. He made sure he was the only one who could give her what she needed. To hear her name. To have someone remember her. To make her feel a sense of real and self. Then he came less, making her crave him until she withered down and felt like she truly needed him and might have loved him. Slowly over many years he puts thoughts and words in her mind and mouth.”
In my honest opinion this book is a must read and must discuss book for young adults and new adults because it is a perfect example of showing what a toxic relationship is and how to see through all the manipulation. It really shows the difference between when someone actually loves someone and when someone only loves the possession or control of that certain someone instead.
Now going into our discussion tonight using my last point as a base, one of the topics we discussed was the narcissism. It was cool to see how the other members of the group were able to point out some things that I missed when it came to how he worked his manipulation. One of the things was how he used her own name against her and another was how he made himself her only touchstone to her past to make sure he was needed.
As always one of the most interesting things to me is everyone’s differing opinions to relationships in a story, the characters, and the plot. It seemed like everyone viewed Addie in such a different way and her relationship with Luc in such a different way also. Some saw it as love, some as lust, some as manipulation, and some as a game. It makes you wonder where each members’ opinions come from in their own past. The way I saw the relationship was a toxic one and personally I wanted her to destroy him, whereas others wanted them to end up together and for him to change for the better. But at least everyone could agree that the ending was absolutely perfect. Everyone also agreed that they were in a panic until the very end because they were worried the author was going to take this perfect book and end it in a less than perfect way.
Another interesting difference between the members was that most of the members did not like the character Henry, except one. I was one of those members that did not like him, but one of the members was extremely blown away by this character. What caught her attention and heart was how relatable he was to her. It really showed me that relatability is really important and can help people love certain characters and grab their hearts. It was so amazing to see this member vouching, standing up, and talking about this character with such a full heart for him.
There were a few other things that were brought up that I had never considered to think on until our collaboration. I will name two. One was that there was a shift in Addie from her looking to her past to instead looking to her future. That was an important and subtle change that was worked into the arc and an important observation that I will need to look out for in other books. The second one was how far Luc’s manipulation went by matching Addie with Henry and working his curse. Luc knew that no one really liked who Henry was before his curse and that Addie wouldn’t have either. He knew the same would have been for Henry when it came to Addie. By placing them together, Luc made it to where really, they only cared for each other because of their curses and because they could give each other the only thing they were needing at the moment because of him. Luc knew it would never be real love and he used that. That observation cut my heart deep.
This book was amazing and OE Book Club was just as amazing for giving us a night to discuss it. V.E. Schwab must be doing something right when everyone was absolutely in love with her book and no one had a single bad thing to say about it. We all even joked about ordering a special edition and reading it again for next year. I know I would.
The streaming for this event didn’t start until 6:06 pm!! Which was such a relief. I am thankful they waited until more people logged on, since I came running from dance lessons and gymnastics, so I didn’t miss a thing.
To start off this book launch event with Kew & Willow Books for the book Weird Kid by Greg van Eekhout, they had the author Greg van Eekhout talking to another middle grade author Matt Wallace. It was such a fun, comical, and witty conversation between the two authors that felt very comfortable to listen to, like I should have been sitting in a big comfy leather chair by a fireplace during this event.
One of the topics that they talked about was how self-care before a book launch is very important to do. Which is such a good reminder that through all the stress to make sure you are looking to take care of yourself. Also, as supportive authors do, they commented on the fact that their books should not be bought off Amazon, although they can be. Individual bookstores’ support is so important to authors but apparently even more important for middle grade authors. That I was not aware of since I do not normally buy or read middle grade books.
Weird Kid is Greg van Eekhout’s 9th published book overall. It is about a kid who is an alien and came to earth as a blob who can shapeshift, but in puberty the alien named Jake starts to lose his ability to control his shapeshifting. There is also an interesting sounding subplot about a certain hum in the town he can hear, sinkholes, and other strange things. The book focuses on difficult transitions, empathy, and friendships. The author commented that when he had been asked if the dog on the cover lives, his answer was “Yes, the dog lives. I’m not a monster.”
Another interesting topic that was explored in this conversation was theme and how sometimes without noticing authors tend to fall into certain reoccurring themes. A few other people attending the event pointed out some Greg van Eekhout’s regular themes, but a big one that was brought up which seems to be a central theme for many of his books is isolation. He explained that he believes it is because he feels it is important to explore personhood through dogs, aliens, robots, and things that are not humans, so people can learn to love and accept others even if they are different and so readers can question and figure out what it means to be a person exactly.
A question that was asked was how to make a book funny. Matt Wallace brought up that not everyone is funny in real life and how tiring it is to see dialogue all the time that goes back and forth trying to force comedy. Being authentic to the character is the most important. If you have forced dialogue or forced humor, it can take the reader out of the reality of the book.
A piece of advice from Greg van Eekhout was that every book is a journey and sometimes writing a particular book is harder than it was writing others, but that doesn’t mean that it is the writer’s fault. When writing is difficult, you have to be kind to yourself and know that if you make it through and finish it, it builds your confidence as a writer. He stated this because this particular book he was launching was hard for him to write.
Another echo of wisdom from Eekhout was that every writer’s process and brain is different. The important part is making sure as a writer you are having fun since most of a writer’s life is at the keyboard, so a writer needs to make sure they find a way to make it enjoyable. Also be consistent. Greg van Eekhout stated that what gets him through to the end of his books is his consistency.
As can be seen from the paragraphs above, this author cares about children, humanity, bookstores, and other writers. I highly enjoyed listening into this conversation and I am excited for his book to get shipped so I can read it.
Another great conversation with Oxford Exchange Bookstore and this time about The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. The things we talked about were all across the board. There were so many amazing things about this book and a complexity to it that was a joy to be able to take apart and discuss. One of the topics that was discussed was why the impurity of the girls in the society was such a touching topic to many of us readers. We took the time to equate it to the life we live in now and how maybe in some aspects it hit a little close to home. We also discussed some plot holes that we found that were maybe only placed for convenience of the plot, and along those lines, we talked bout how the ending felt a little rushed and confusing. It is always nice to have an opinion but then to see that others were having the same problem. There are many things that we were trying to figure out, but we knew collectively that many of the questions may be answered in the next two books, since this book is the first of three. Although there were some parts that we were confused about in the book, everyone seemed to love the book and said they would pick up the next one. Which shows their trust for the author and the entertainment they received.
A very interesting thing that was discussed was how everyone pictured the shrieks. No one pictured them the same way! One pictured them looking like giant walking cockroaches, some like birds, one a tetradactyl, and a few like monsters that they had read or seen in other pieces of art. It is amazing what the mind can come up with when given only key points of description and how different everyone’s minds are.
Two of the most helpful things I had learned during this meeting was how readers sometimes seek comfort from books in a knowing what will happen way and how important to some it is to display the main character in a certain way so there isn’t a disconnect. I rarely read for comfort, so I was unaware that the reason why many love to read romance is for the familiarity and the comfort in knowing that everything will turn out to be happy and ok. As for the disconnecting, I had realized that I didn’t feel connected to the main character of this book at the beginning, until I experienced with her some of the trauma that she went through, but I didn’t really think into it why that may have been. One of the girls had brought it up and suggested that if we would have known more of her story beforehand that disconnection could have been avoided and we may have cared more and felt more emotion watching what the main character went through at the beginning. It was also brought up that too much focus was on the main character which also brought a disconnect. The main character to some felt too special. Rarely does the reader feel like the special one in life, so it is harder for the reader to be able to relate to a character in some ways when that happens. Also making the main character extra special takes a little away from the other characters making them seem like they don’t matter as much to the plot of the story.
I love discussing books and the best part is when a discussion is with good people and when it is with others who also love the book. Personally, I cannot wait to see what else Namina Forna will and can do. She may turn into one of my favorite authors. I appreciated this book and this event and loved how everyone seemed to love it also.