Let’s Get Lost on a Starry Night as we are on a Conversion to Tease us into Falling into Place: Books of Wonder event

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On Sunday, September 14, 2014 I had the pleasure of going to Books of Wonder bookstore in Manhattan for the first time for their Debut YA Author panel event where I met the authors of, you guessed it, Let’s Get Lost, Starry Night, Conversion, Tease, and Falling into Place. What a panel! If you live in the NY Metro area, and haven’t been to Books of Wonder yet, my are you missing out! Books of Wonder specializes in Children, Middle Grade, and YA books. I came home with SEVEN books, all signed. Wait, you say, there were only five authors present. That’s correct. Books of Wonder carry an extensive collection of signed books that they do not charge extra for. I got two books signed by two of the authors present there that day (I’ll talk more about that soon) so I walked out with FIVE pre-signed books. I almost bought more, but this little piggy could only walk home with so many books.

The event, unfortunately, was rather small. Not too many people showed up to support these authors.  My friend Christine and I were still able to make friends with some great people, though. A crowd started to gather closer to the time the event was about to start.  I sat in the second row, so I was mostly able to see all the authors seated for the panel. Directly in front of me was Adi Alsaid, author of Let’s Get Lost– a road trip novel told in varying perspectives. It was one of the novels I got signed. I was very happy to meet him.  We’ll get to that later, though.

As the event started, the moderator immediately opened it up to questions.  The first question was “What inspired your novel?” Alsaid started first, as he was closest to the mic.  He spoke about being inspired by his own cross country road trip he took, from LA to Boston. Alsaid told a funny story where, on his travels, he met a homeless man he tried to give a glass of water to. The man proceeded to throw the glass of water at a tree, stating: “I have two rules: Never finish a drink. And never finish a cigarette.  He then continued to tell Alsaid that he was in the Guinness Book of World Records for Thumb Push-ups. As that isn’t really a thing, no one believed him. Construction workers now joining in on the fun. Eventually the man was paid over $2.00 to do said push-ups. He actually did ten thumb push-ups. Alsaid joked he has since tried and failed to do any.

He continued to talk about why he chose to have varying perspectives in his story, and none of them be that of his heroine, Leila. He said how you can’t get a complete grasp of a character if it is just his/her view. But, if it other people are giving multiple views on said character, you can truly understand her better. I really liked that idea, concept, and reasoning. I can’t wait to read the book when I’m not back logged with ARCs. His inspiration for Leila, which I loved, came from Amelie, the title character in the French movie of the same name. If you haven’t seen that amazing movie, you should!

Next up, was Isabel Gilles turn to speak. Unfortunately I have no interest in reading her book so I kind of tuned her out. Known for her memoir writing, Starry Night is her first foray into fiction writing, and young adult writing.  She talked about the difficulty she had writing it. She kept only writing two characters. Her editor kept telling her to write again. She also had parents appear in her novel often, joking, “I never realized parents are never in YA novels.” She said she wasn’t too familiar with reading them. For the male character, her inspiration came from singer Paolo Nutini, known for his hit song “New Shoes”.

Katherine Howe’s inspiration for her novel was one of the more interesting one’s as it came from an unlikely place– Meineke where she was getting her car repaired. There, she saw on the TV a news segment on a group of teenagers in Leroy, NY that were suffering from Conversion disorder, better known as hysteria caused on by too much stress. She couldn’t believe, even in today’s time with what seems like less things to stress about, Howe was saying, these teenagers were so stressed that they got hysteria. Hysteria! Something you rarely see happening.  This is the second book I bought and got signed. I am, again, completely looking forward to this. I loved her debut novel The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which is also about witches. Howe told me she even makes an appearance! I’m super excited.

Tease author Amanda Maciel talked about the real life incident that inspired her story. Her friend actually worked at the school at the time that the suicide happened. What really inspired Maciel to write the story, was the comment the friend made about everyone knowing the girl. That the suicide affects everyone. Maciel then wanted to write about not just the bullying, but how the loss of a student can be devastating to all, no matter how close you were to the student. Although I doubt I will read the book, I found what she said to be very interesting.

On the opposite spectrum, author of Falling into Place, Amy Zhang talked about her novel where her character, the school bully, tries to kill herself because of the fact. I read an ARC of this novel back in June and loved it! I also met her in June at BEA, so it was nice to see her again. She even remembered me! She talked about how her inspiration came about, with initially writing the novel as a short story with a love story with Isaac Newton (there is a lot of odes to him in the novel!).

As the questions went on, the panel grew more livelier. Topics covered were bullying, whether or not they would be friends with their protagonists, and writing in general. Finally the signings arrived! It was so great to finally talk to Amy Zhang, Katherine Howe, and Adi Alsaid. The three of them were super nice, friendly, and very good talkers. As I had been a fan of Howe’s for over three years now, it was great to finally meet her. I did a little fangirling. I did. I’ll admit.

 

Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!

*Stay tuned for more  event summaries coming soon. Next up is a Literary Scavenger hunt!*

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Not My Wedding Vows: Someone Else’s Wedding Vows by Bianca Stone Book Review

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Someone Else’s Wedding Vows

By: Bianca Stone

Released: 2014 by Tin House

Length: 88 Pages

Genre: Poetry

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via publisher

 

 Even in the window box we fit

even in the dog’s collapsed grave

even in the wreck

and everyday

-Even Moon

Someone Else’s Wedding Vows is poet Bianca Stone’s full length debut collection. A raw, emotional, beautiful collection of poetry that ranges from topics in varying degrees such as traveling to space, marriage, relationships, and being. She takes a simple concept and transforms it into something whole and immense. There wasn’t a poem in her collection I didn’t love. Her book is earmarked relentlessly.  There are hidden truths in her words. Meanings we have to look for, but have no problem doing so.

Her collection is one of the more cohesive collections I have read in some time. It flows beautiful. Each poem melting seamlessly into the next. They leave you wanting more. At the end, I was desperate for more. I earmarked the last page. I had to. I won’t share with you the last passage of Practicing Vigilance, but it really resonated with me. The whole poem, really.

She splits her collection up in three parts, my favorite being part two. Part two opens up with a rather long poem, Monsieur that I absolutely adore.

Isn’t it hard, monsieur, to speak

of anything except the moon anymore?

Like the room we just now

are leaving

like our mothers

refusing to blow a single fragment

off the ground

only when we look away

things flutter

 Monsieur

Aren’t those two great stanzas? The whole poem is wonderful. Beautiful, delicate, yet a little needy at times. There are so many emotions conveyed, it’s impressive. You read about a relationship that isn’t perfect; has flaws, beauty, and realness. It’s completely refreshing. As is her whole collection. To think this is just a debut! I can’t wait to follow her career.

I know I may sound vague in my critique of her collection. But there is just so much! It’s hard to include everything. When I finished with the first poem, maybe the second at most, I knew there was something special here. That I was reading one of the best collections I have ever read. It’s hard to describe why. To put into exact words and phrases why Stone’s poetry is so special. I can only hope you can trust my words when I say this book of poetry is not to be overlooked. It is raw, real, and truthful. She doesn’t shy away from anything. It’s fresh and imaginative. Go find this book. Buy it at your indie book store for it won’t be at a big one like Barnes and Noble. Believe me, it’s worth reading. It really is. The journey she takes you on is half unreal (living on another planet) and half devastatingly, beautifully real.

Enjoy!

Unlocking the Secrets to the Miniaturist: Discussion and signing with Jessie Burton

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On September 12th, I had the opportunity to meet Jessie Burton, debut author of The Miniaturist at the Barnes and Noble in Tribeca. She was in conversation with a blogger, Maris over at Slaughter House 90210. My eyes were all on Jessie Burton. As I loved reading her debut novel about a high middle class family in 17th century Amsterdam, I was excited to hear her speak about her novel: what motivated her, why she chose to write about a working class family rather than a more wealthier family, the motivations of the characters and the like. Although I didn’t like the person she was having the discussion with, I found Burton’s answers fascinating. But, you’ll just have to wait for that. First, she did a reading for us.

As I had already read the novel about a week or two previously, I was familiar with the chapter she chose. She decided to read the chapter called “The Gift”  where the protagonist, Nella, approaches her cold sister in law. They discuss tautly their places in the house–Marin putting Nella in hers. Even though every part of the book is good, I did think this was a great choice to read. I was at once drawn back into the story; drawn back into the muddled relationship of the two women. How neither really understood the other; nor, really wanted to. Nella wanted to fit in. but Marin would never let her. The chapter also touches on feminism, which is a big part of The Miniaturist.

When it got time for the discussion part, I was immediately impressed with how well Burton handled herself; and the somewhat insipid questions she would occasionally get from Maris. She talked about the inspiration behind the miniature house that Nella received as a wedding gift early on in the novel; which was based on a similar miniature house owned by a woman of the same name in the 1800s I believe. Burton also talked about how she hates how her book is being referred to as historical fiction because she doesn’t see it as such. Yes, it is based in an early century. But, not based on historical people. It’s based on people that could easily be people of today. With problems and relationship woes that could easily translate to today’s time. Without giving anything away, with the direction one of her plot twists goes, although it goes in a brutal, drastic direction, it still can and does happen today. Although, not in the exact direction, but very similar. She hits many relevant points while still writing in a past century. I agree with her about not classifying it as historical fiction, although I have. Why? I’m not so sure anymore.

What I was happy she touched about in her discussion was feminism, not just in her novel. She talked about it in a whole; from when she was acting in a male dominated world, to novel writing, and to society. It was great hearing her opinions. She was very well spoken and educated on this topic.

I was so excited that I got to ask TWO questions. I was a giddy school girl. I won’t say what I asked because it was totally spoiler included, but it was awesome. I tried to hide the spoilers and she revealed them. It was great. When the signing finally happened, I almost lost it. I was so happy to meet her. I talked to her for a couple of minutes; raving mad about her book and such of course. It was great. If she comes to a town near you, go visit her! She is great to meet.

 

Sorry about no pictures. My phone died that day. 😦

*Book review coming soon*

Happy reading! Thanks for stopping by.

While he Was Sleeping, Someone Fell in Love: Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho Book Review

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Althea and Oliver

By: Cristina Moracho

Released: October 9th, 2014 by Viking Juvenile

Length: 384 pages

Genre: YA Contemporary, Realistic

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via publisher

Imagine this: it’s your junior year in High School. Academics are getting harder. College is getting closer. Friends are becoming options other than friends. Your life is changing right before your eyes, but there’s a problem. You sleep through it. Literally.

Meet Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley, best friends since they were six years old. Althea is the whip-smart, sarcastic, artistic one, whereas Oliver is the studious, scientific one. What used to be an easy friendship has turned harder. Oliver has been sleeping through life, quite literally. Going to sleep for weeks at a time, forgetting everything in between. Althea has been clinging to him for so long, that she has developed feelings. True to a lot of opposite sex friendships, the friendship gets tested. Can it be repaired?

Although I never felt I got a total handle on Oliver, I loved Althea. She was smart, quick witted, and someone I could see myself befriending in High School. Their relationship was very relatable, albeit Oliver’s condition. I found myself instantly drawn in. I liked how they balanced each other well, but were their own person as well. Their journey was a good one. It felt real and true. I won’t spoil the end, but I was very happy with it! There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about this book. All of the characters, main and side, were developed in a way that was realistic, and still current in today’s time.

The plot developed nicely, never leaving you hanging. I liked the way it took me. I think if you are to gain anything from this book, it would be about identity, and what it means to be yourself. Yes, there was a love story. What I liked, though, was although the love story was a main focus, the concept of identity, and the characters actually going through a sort of major crisis took center stage; allowing the novel to be more universal rather than just about finding love, wanting love and so forth. I do like teen romances, but I enjoy when there is added depth to them, such as finding yourself within the romance like Moracho does with her two characters.

I would highly recommend this novel. More and more, I am finding myself impressed with this year’s debut authors. Moracho is no different. This reads like a second novel, not a first. It is excellent. Not a novel to be missed by any means. If you are a fan of John Green, Sarah Dessen, and Jennifer E. Smith, this novel is for you.

It’s a Wonder! Wonder Event with author R. J. Palacio

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On September 10, this past Wednesday, I had the pleasure to meet R.J. Palacio for the second time. However, this time she did a reading  and took questions, whereas last time she was just a panel member about bullying. As she stepped on the stage, she opened up about the origination of Wonder, her inspirations, and even why the title. As she spoke, she revealed that her inspiration came from a real life Auggie of sorts. A few years ago, while her eldest son was sent in to get ice cream for the family, Palacio and her three year old sat next to a little girl who, without Palacio noticing at first, who had facial deformities. Palacio immediately thought about how her son would react; she thought maybe to move somewhere else. As she predicted, her young son cried when he looked at the girl. Palacio then walked away. Embarrassed by her reaction and behavior, Palacio set out to right her wrong.  Another interesting fact we learned, the title, Wonder, comes from the song Wonder by Natalie Merchant that talks about being different. With lyrics such as And laughed as my body she lifted/”Know this child will be gifted/With love, with patience and with faith/She’ll make her way, make her way”

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R.J. Palacio as she is talking about the creation of wonder.

Picture this, thirty or so chairs filled with children and their parents, and me and my friend, plus one other adult on her own. The audience wasn’t that varied. Yet, we were all alike in how captivated we were once Palacio opened her new book, 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts we were all hooked. She read the section, “Your Actions are Noted”  about a bunch of mean girls who mock a girl during her stage debut while her mother tries to watch proud, holding back tears because of the bullies. It was a powerful chapter that demonstrated that what we do is constantly on display. We should be on our best behavior, respect our peers, and behave in a way we would like to be treated.

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R.J. Palacio reading from 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts

Palacio’s reading voice was captivating. Although I did not buy the book, at the time or now, I am seriously considering it after her reading. It’s not a traditional book with chapters or plot, but there are mini life lessons thrown in for each month. It does have me interested. Palacio said she had gotten the idea from the thousands of fans that had submitted their own precepts. As she had been a fan of collecting her own when she was younger, so came the idea for 365 Days.

After a somewhat long Q and A, with spoilers!, I was finally able to get my book signed. She was so nice. But, let me tell you, there was dra-ma! There was a woman who wanted a bunch of books signed, but not just signed with the author’s signature, no that was not good enough. With close to ten or more books, she dictated what Palacio should write in the books! The whole event, pre until the end, this woman was a pain. I think Palacio was relived not to have to write a long, personalized inscription once she got to me, as I was after the woman.

Overall, it was a great event. Although I still haven’t read Wonder, I definitely will now in the close future. It was great seeing her again. Hearing her read was fantastic. The event was a great success. I am so glad I went. I was up in the air with whether or not I wanted to go; I’m so glad I did.

Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!

Welcome to the Middle of September

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Welcome to the middle of September. Is it a little odd that I am sending you greetings sixteen days in? Why, yes, yes it is. But, I’m a little odd. With a purpose. I wanted to give you a little heads up with happenings coming your way, my way, our way. The middle to end of September is jammed pack with fun literary activities.  What are you doing, Indie? I’m glad you asked, random reader. This month, I am attending eight to nine book signings, two literary parties with authors and publishers, a scavenger hunt, and a book festival– oh my! Expect plenty of reviews, posts, and snippets from my fun adventures.  So, sit back, relax, and try not to be jealous. Just kidding about the last statement. Or am I… 🙂

 

Happy September everyone! I don’t want it to end. I’m having so much fun. I have already been to three! signings, meeting seven authors. Be on the lookout for those posts to be arriving soon. My first event was a reading and meet and greet with R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder and 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book  of Precepts. Look for that write-up coming very soon.

 

I hope I am getting you excited, because I sure am. Both to share and partake.

 

Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Deals for Nook Readers

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Hi there. I hope you are having a great weekend. I thought I’d share some great deals under $5 today from B & N if you are a Nook owner. I am a little bias towards e-readers since I have a Nook myself, hence this post. I will try next time to widen my search but I got this great email today that I thought I’d share some of the better finds with you.  I hope you see some books you might enjoy. Of course, if you own a kindle you can always check if amazon lowered their prices. I find their prices, even during sales, are often very similar.

 

Nefertiti

This title has been on my TBR shelf for some time. This is a great Historical fiction author. She wrote Madame Tussaud which was excellent. The price for Nefertiti is $3.79.

Eloise

Cover look familiar? That’s because I did a review on this title. At $1.99, this is a title not to be missed.

Ajax Penumbra 1969

For fans of Sloan’s fantastic novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore comes a short ebook based on Mr. Penumbra himself. You better believe I am picking it up. It came out in 2012. How did I not know this?!? Price is $2.99.

The Good Luck of Right Now

Another novel that has been on my TBR shelf for some time. I have been dying to read a book by this author. The price is $2.99.

Green Girl: A Novel

WANT. WANT. WANT! Couldn’t get it at BEA. I am meeting her next week, but to save money I may just buy the e-book. The price is $1.99. Don’t pass this up. It’s a modern day Bell Jar.

Bad Marie

Another book on my TBR list for a while. I think I am also meeting this author soon. But, again I have limited funds, so I may just buy the e-book now. The price is $1.99.

With 500 choices, in many different genres, you can imagine there are a bunch more. These are just the few I found particularly interesting.

Happy reading!

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