Book Event

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

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

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

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

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

Book Event

Had a panel event this evening with Brookline Brooksmith presenting three incredible authors. The authors were Ayana Gray who has written Beasts of Prey, Kalynn Bayron who has written Cinderella is Dead and This Poison Heart, and Namina Forna who wrote The Gilded Ones. All three have sequels out or sequels that are coming out soon.

Ayana Gray described during this event how she had a harder time writing her second book than her first because of the deadline. Trying to promote while writing the second book with a deadline, had cramped her style, but what did make some parts easier was having a world already built and a magic system.

Ayana Gray said that she loves writing fantasy because she loves reading fantasy to learn from and escape into, so she loves providing that for others. She also loves tackling and thinking about the idea of fatalism in her books.

Kalynn Bayron said that when it came to her first book This Poison Heart becoming a duology, it was because she had let the story take her where it needed to go. She had wanted it to be a standalone, but it did not work out that way. She said that drafting the second book called This Wicked Fate was a challenge, but she had fun. She wanted to make it compelling and she believes that she did.

The reason why Kalynn writes fantasy is because it has a potential for the fantastical. She loves how her recent books are set in a real place with an undercurrent of the fantastical so that she can use pop-culture references. She has found that in her writing, she has the theme of destiny in all her books. She believes it is because of something she is working through personally as an author. A wall she keeps encountering in her own life when trying to find information about things like her family and past that should be simple to find, but is not simple for her since she is a black woman living in America and grew up in the deep south.

Namina Forna’s sequel took a lot out of her, but with how the book has been resonating with the readers, she says that it was worth it, although she would rather do standalones from now on. How she typically likes to write is by starting with a one-page quick story, then diving into a year of research, doing an outline after that year, and then starting on writing out the pages.

Namina Forna loves to write fantasy because she is a fantasy lover herself. When it comes to fantasy, she has no standards. She loves just about anything fantasy. She also loves how while writing fantasy, real-life issues can be tackled in them making it easier for those issues to be related to. The reason she wrote The Gilded Ones’s world the way she did was because she wanted to make an Africa that is true. She is an immigrant that came to America when she was nine years old and hates all the lies that are told about the amazing country.

One of my favorite answers to one of the questions was Namina Forna’s answer to what would happen if your main characters were put in a rom-com. She said that it would not matter if it was at the beginning or end of her main character’s development, her main character would think she was in hell if she was placed in a rom-com.

Thank you so much Brookline Brooksmith for your support and this panel!

Book Event

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Event

Oxford Exchange Bookstore hosted a book club event today discussing Gallant by V.E. Schwab.

Here is a link to the summary of an interview I attended where the author talks about this exact book: https://adoramichaels.blog/2022/03/10/book-event-20/

Since the author wrote this book for all ages and for each age group to be able to come away with something different, it was very interesting to hear how differently everyone approached the book when reading this. One of the big discussions was how some readers found it too spooky, while others found it not spooky or dark enough at all.

Something that everyone agreed on was how they had sympathy toward the main character Olivia and LOVED her spunk. They also had sympathy toward Mathew. We also found it very interesting how the two characters had to communicate with each other since one was unable to speak and the other did not know sign language. It was very nicely done!

EVERYONE loved the structure of this book, especially with the pictures involved in it. What was very interesting was hearing that some readers listened to the audio book and did not know that there were pictures connected to the book at all. This seemed insane to me since the pictures seemed so instrumental to the story, especially since the author herself felt they were needed for the story. But to hear that people still loved it through the audio book (some gushed at how well the audio book narrator did and were excited to see that there were pictures later on) was amazing and mind-blowing.

Everyone had different feelings about the very end scene of the book though. Some found it happy enough, some found it not happy at all, and some found it just plain sad and lonely. The takeaway though is that the ending fits the tone of the story and compared to where the main character was at the beginning, she is not truly lonely and it is in a way a happy place after all.

Book Event

Tonight, we talked with Oxford Exchange Bookstore’s Book Club about These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong.

One of the things I found the most interesting is that one of the people in the group who normally does not like romance, really liked the romance in this book. Another interesting thing was seeing how the different povs for secondary characters displayed in this book worked for some of the people in the group, while it did not work for others.

I loved hearing about how Chloe Gong was nineteen when she wrote this and that since it is a very dense book with so much going on, many in the group believe that she will amount to great things. It was also really cool hearing how although some in the group could not relate to the storyline at all, there was someone in the group who connected with the story because they were able to relate to the storyline because of how they grew up.

A few things that everyone agreed on were that they all wish that there had been more fantasy elements or at least more of the monster, that the action was fantastic, everyone loved Kathleen, and that they wish there was a prequel about the past events that had occurred that this book talks about in length.

If you can’t tell, my favorite part about discussion tonight was seeing and discussing what worked about this book and what didn’t for the different people in this group.

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

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.

Book Event

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!

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!