Anyhow, I’ve been on unintentional school-induced hiatus since, well, September, and I’ve been itching to write a blog post. The problem? I have no time. Thanksgiving “Break” just started, and I have 3 papers to work on before I head in to work at 4pm . . .
Yet here I am – itching to give a bit of an update for anyone who might still read this!
How ARE you? I feel out of touch. How is your writing/blogging/reading? Are you doing anything fun during Thanksgiving?
Since the last time I wrote a blog post, I took on 16 credit hours of school and another job (at a Korean BBQ – more on that later). I also moved (temporarily) to Grand Rapids and obtained two awesome roommates. And I feel really, really old (this is all related, trust me).
Since it’s the eve of Thanksgiving, I’m not here to rant about any of that – or about anything that’s been happening in this crazy world since September.
Instead, I’m updating you guys on my general life, and writing about a few things I’m grateful for.
SO – school happened. I feel like I’m on a strange island populated by twentysomethings – or like an alien that crash-landed on campus (seriously, the looks I get when I say I’m 27, technically a freshman, and I have eleven siblings . . . hehehe)
Which leads into Thanksgiving:
I am incredibly grateful for the aforementioned roommates (both of whom are gems of humanity, and 25-year-old grad students, so around my age)
I am grateful for my Korean professor – she makes coming to class worth it every morning, even when I’m exhausted – and she encourages me to keep on swimming. Also, for my philosophy professor, who single-handedly made me rethink my whole scholastic pursuit by suggesting we think of them as spiritual disciplines – and for giving me an excuse to finally get around to reading Gandhi’s autobiography.
I am thankful that I have a car, a job, a roof over my head, shoes, and a bed to sleep in.
I am thankful that I have a job, and people who value me there.
I am thankful for every person in GR/Calvin that made a point of reaching out to me, remembered my name and made a point of saying hi, and for everyone that has been kind in any way to me – you will probably never know how much a friendly smile or a kind word can mean at the right time. Thank you.
I am grateful to have a novel under contract, even if it keeps getting delayed
I am thankful for the freedom of speech, the freedom to read whatever I want, and write whatever I want, and speak the truth – and the freedom to protest if any of those things are challenged
I am grateful for the wordsmiths that boost me up – whether they are singers, or poets, or writers, or just darn good speakers that lift your spirits or keep you going
I am thankful for the writers, readers, and bloggers that I have enjoyed reading or chatting with – you are beautiful people
I am thankful for my family – especially my parents, siblings, and grandparents – your love and support keeps me sane (ish)
I am thankful for the God of truth and justice, and for the Savior who makes all things unlovely to be lovely, and has compassion and love for the broken and unlovable
And now, since I am (for once) being completely serious and reflective – have some words to think on as we hurtle toward 2017:
“It is in times of security that the spirit should be preparing itself to deal with difficult times; while fortune is bestowing favors on it then is the time for it to be strengthened against her rebuffs.” Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
“Each of us, no matter how good, is fallen, and each of us, no matter how evil, is as beloved as the prodigal son . . . The line between good and evil doesn’t run between people, but down the center of every heart . . . St. Paul said we should do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than ourselves. This is the exact opposite of what we naturally want; we want others to count us better than them. . . loving ourselves is what causes all the trouble . . . We should love others the way we instinctively love ourselves.” Frederica Mathewes-Green, The Illumined Heart
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For you if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” (Matthew 5: 43-46b)
“So long as a man does not of his own free will put himself last among his fellow creatures, there is no salvation for him.” Gandhi, The Story of my Experiments with Truth
“Perhaps someone may say, But surely, Socrates, after you have left us you can spend the rest of your life in quietly minding your own business. This is the hardest thing of all to make some of you understand. If I say that this would be disobedience to God, and that is why I cannot ‘mind my own business,’ you will not believe that I am serious. If on the other hand I tell you that to let no day pass without discussing goodness and all the other subjects about which you hear me talking and examining both myself and others is really the very best thing that a man can do, and that life without this sort of examination is not worth living, you will be even less inclined to believe me.” Plato, Socrates’ Defense
‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’
As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
We all have a lot to be grateful for, and we can’t let ourselves forget it. Happy reading and writing, and have a safe and lovely Thanksgiving <3
SO, I figured out that my blog’s anniversary was August 13th . . . and then I worked a 65 hour week and didn’t think about it at all.*
So I’m doing a belated Blogoversary post for myself. That means I will use an inordinate amount of gifs and jibber about nothing for at least a page; you have been warned.
I’ve been blogging for a bit now, but I’ve only been consistent for about a year. In that time, I’ve made some awesome friends, and had a lot of fun getting some words out there. More importantly, I feel like the writing connection with others (and the helpful feedback) has made me a better writer, and made me a more efficient writer.
I answered a lot of the “Why do you blog” questions on this tag from blogger Victoria Grace, so I’ll skip that. Also, you probably have heard more random facts about me than you ever needed! So I’ll skip that too. Instead, I think I’ll write a bit about my past year in blogging, and where I see myself going.
As most of you probably know, I had my debut novel scheduled for August publication.
Unfortunately, it’s already September (yes, I’m screaming), and I have yet to hear back from my publishers on a new, concrete date. They haven’t done something terrible like close down or drop my book, they’ve just pushed everything back in their schedule because: LIFE HAPPENS. No one knows this better than me, but it doesn’t make it easy. In fact, it’s made my last couple months rougher mentally than I would like.
In the meantime, I’ve been trying to stay positive and work on the many writing projects (new and old) that I have. I’ve also kept myself reading – because my love of reading is what got me writing, and it’s still my favorite pastime. It’s also good to get other people’s’ words and ideas flowing through your head, just like it’s good to have conversations with various people and not always be stuck in your own brain!
A Few Things I’ve Been Working on Between Last August and Now:
Knight of the Blue Surcoat, my delayed but still debut novel – an Arthurian historical fantasy adventure starring King Arthur’s daughter Melora. More about it here.
The Last Coffee Shop (TLCS)- A snarky, post-apocalyptic adventure novel that involves a barista, a bounty hunter, a dancing thief, and a lot of aliens. Read more about it here.
Red as Blood – A genderbent Snow White retelling set in the same “world” as TLCS, just a decade or so later. It involves high fashion, corruption, food service, and quirky, damaged characters. More about that here, and in my current series of Beautiful People posts. September’s entry will be up soon!
Scads of research books for a planned Japanese folktale retelling, and a few for an epic fantasy idea that I’ve been tossing around.
ARCS – as many as I can get to, for my day job as a bookseller. Standouts include Vassa in the Night, Blood for Blood, and Patchinko.
Most recent reads: Tokyo Ghoul Volume 8 (<3t_t KEN!) and Malice by Keigo Higashino (Japanese mystery).
Korean, and lots of other things – to be continued below . . .
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my random kitchen projects. Kimchi-in-everything has been the theme. I’ve progressed to a proper kimchi storage container, so I can make as much kimchi jjigae (김치찌개) as I want!! Other things, such as Korean BBQ, fresh tuna sushi, Thai curries, the usual pies and scones, and many other things happened in my kitchen between work and other work.
Obviously, I haven’t had much time to watch anything. However, I did finish the Korean Comedy/Horror/Drama “Let’s Fight, Ghost!” and it was hilarious (and actually a little creepy at times). I also started watching Pinocchio, City Hunter, and a big-budget Chinese drama called Ice Fantasy. If you’re interested in hearing more about my tv watching habits, check out this post. AND PEOPLE – if you aren’t watching W: Two Worlds, you should! Not only do we get Lee Jong Suk being a fabulous action hero, it’s a reality-bending drama about being sucked into/out of a manhwa (만화 – Korean comics) and it has a rather Christopher Nolan-esque/postmodern feel about it that is pretty unique.
The last movie I saw was Suicide Squad – and I had very mixed feelings about it. It felt like two different movies competing with each other, and I thought that it would have been better off as a goofy heist-style movie. Everything from the message to the storytelling was muddled (and I seem to be in the 1% who thought the Joker was in there too much – and I’d thought he was the main villain from the trailers . . .). And honestly, the villain (Tia Dalma 2.0, supermodel edition) was completely underwhelming. That being said, the main cast was good and parts of it were very fun/funny – and there were some excellent soundtrack choices.
I’m really looking forward to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Miss Peregrine’s wasn’t my favorite book – I found it rather boring, and the romance was really the only unnerving thing about it, but the movie looks pretty cool. And of course I’m excited about Fantastic Beasts! It looks like breath of cinematic fresh air.
Also in music, I compiled an ultimate Last Coffee Shop Playlist (around 100 tracks) that gives you a great audio picture of the novel – and it includes a lot of the songs I listened to while writing TLCS as well.
Err, that. Back in February, I took on a second job at a new craft brewery, in addition to working part-time as a bookstore manager/head book-buyer, writing reviews for a women’s mag, and my own personal writing/reading work . . . so, yes. Anyhow, it’s been fun, but I think the crazy work fest might be over for the year.
Besides travelling to Nashville and back in three days, I’ve been to Pensacola (for a day, but well, it was a good day), Gulf Shores, Chicago (4 times!), Traverse City, Harbor Springs, and all that jazz. I manage to clock a lot of road hours for someone who is rarely away from work, 😛
I GOT A NEPHEW!!! I already had a niece (and she’s one of the most precious, sweet, and mild-mannered little angels ever), but as of the end of June, I have a nephew too. He’s adorable and cuddly, and I got to go see him way too briefly in July.
So you remember I was learning Korean?
Well, last fall, after some serious contemplation/soul-searching/finance-shuffling, etc, I decided I’d be interested in putting some of my savings toward a few more college courses (I have some credits, but that’s all). I’ve always wanted to travel, travel write, and make it to East Asia. Not to mention, my passion for Asian History has had me reading courses worth of books for years. SOooo, I thought, well, a degree in East Asian Studies? Worth it? Maybe a foray into International Relations, or a certificate for teaching ESL? My number one goal has always (and probably will always be) to be a published author, but that travelling/teaching/exploring side is loud too. I want to write, in other places. So this meandering paragraph just means, I’m going back to school, as long as I can afford it . . . At least I’ll have a whole class of people to practice Korean with!!
Related to this – readers might remember how my sister and I had to leave our rental and ended up back with our parents? Well, I’m going to move (at least till December) down to Grand Rapids, and commute to my bookstore job in between. So I can’t see the craziness letting up any time soon, but it will probably be a bit more organized now. *Gulp*
And while I’m on the subject of school, I’m attending a college that really is quite a nontraditional place for an adult student – and it feels like I’m in class with high schoolers – I feel so awkward and out of place. So there’s that. I thought about doing a series about what it feels like to go back to school at 27 (on a small enough campus to where you can feel it). So that might be a thing . . . It’s amazing how isolated you can feel when you’re surrounded by thousands of people. Don’t get me wrong, I love being by myself, but trading in 65hr work weeks for 65hr work-and-school weeks is kind of lonely, you know? But I know that I have you guys to talk to! (And believe me, it’s comforting)
So that’s it – that’s all there is in a nutshell. Happy Belated Blogoversary to me! (Also, happy 추석 to my Korean friends out there!)
(I love Lurch’s dancing because we can all do better – sorry Lurch)
If you blog, when’s your blogoversary? Have you ever thought about going back to school after leaving it? Would you read a series about going back to school as an adult student?
What have you been up to this September? Conversation is delightful ;P
*I didn’t forget my beloved Bigbang’s anniversary though (August 19th). Priorities, priorities . . .
Apparently, Fall TV is a thing . . . ? And I currently have access to some cable and internet . . .–
Anyhow, this week’s TTT is TV themed, and though I mostly just read for fun, I do find a little time to watch a select handful of shows. I tend to gravitate toward shows with twisty plots or great dialogue (preferably both), but I’ll stick with anything that has good enough writing/acting to make me care about the characters!
So what shows are interesting enough to get me away from the books?
TV Shows for a Bookworm (err, More than 10)
Mysteries and MURDER, JOHN!
I don’t think I’ve mentioned my great love of a good mystery, but those can be hard to find! If you grew up on Nancy Drew, love some Agatha Christie, and are always drawn in by the next Sherlock Holmes retelling, here are a few shows to try:
This anime is more of a drama than a mystery, overall. Still, the hero is a quiet student who is reminiscent of John Watson, aiding the mercurial and eccentric bone-fanatic Sakurako as she finds bones (nearly) everywhere. It’s beautiful and eerie, and the only thing I didn’t like about it was the fact that there isn’t a second season yet!!
Yes, it’s over-hyped, but it’s also really good! From the casting to the twisting stories, Sherlock deserves the praise for it’s clever writing and plots. Now if only there were more seasons already . . . *grumble, grumble*
Pushing Daisies is about a piemaker whose touch can wake the dead, but if he touches them again, they’re dead for good. Pair him with his resurrected childhood sweetheart and a mercenary detective, and involve a lot of brightly colored weirdness, and you have this show. It was cancelled after two seasons and I AM STILL MAD ABOUT IT!!
Adrian Monk is an obsessive compulsive, but brilliant detective, consumed with finding out how and why his wife died. After 8 seasons (including many crazy mysteries and loads of humor and heart), he finally achieves his goal. Any show that can come up with compelling mysteries for 8 seasons deserves an award!
5. Psych: If you haven’t watched Psych, who are you?
Shawn Spencer, a man with too little ambition and a brilliant mind, pretends to be a psychic and solves a case. But now he has to keep the act up or be exposed as a fake to the police, with very real legal consequences. Alongside his best friend Burton Guster (Gus), a pharmaceutical sales rep who is hilarious, and a quirky bunch of detectives, Shawn grows as a character in a great positive arc, and there are a ton of fantastic mysteries. And it’s still one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. And most quotable. (And they made a musical!)
Spies, Vigilantes, and Thieves
No, they aren’t necessarily good role models, but the less right side of the law pack tend to have some great representatives in the TV department.
So Chuck is more of a comedy/romance, but it is about spies. And your average, hapless everyguy who just happens to get a super spy software burned into his brain. Happens all the time. Fans of Firefly will appreciate Adam Baldwin’s comic turn as the “humorless” and trigger-happy Agent Casey.
This one goes in the BE WARNED category – it’s very violent and appropriately rated for Mature audiences. However, Daredevil (the first season) has some of the best writing, acting, and moral complexity I’ve seen on TV. More akin to a novel (and the graphic novels it was based on) in it’s pacing, Daredevil was one of my top shows of the last five years.
(anime, I haven’t tried the live-action)- Still worth watching if you’ve read the manga. Clever cat and mouse that lasts way longer than you thought possible? Check. Characters that make you question your judgement and give you conflicted feelings? Check. Lovely to look at? Check. This one is a classic for a lot of reasons.
9. White Collar
Another older show, but definitely worth watching. Smooth criminal Neal Caffrey becomes an (unwilling) consultant for the White Collar crime division, starting an odd-couple comedy meets crime show with a lot of style and great characters.
Just like the manga, the anime is short, beautiful, and very bloody. But don’t let that scare you away. It’s a the story of a gentle college student who becomes a monster in the most Shakespearean style of tragedy. From questioning morality to humanity, to what really makes us monsters, Tokyo Ghoul does it all. The score is also excellent.
These two shows have four things in common – they are Korean, they involve ghosts, the heroine has circumstantial amnesia, and the male lead is played by popstar TaecYeon, but that’s where the resemblance ends.
Who Are You (후아유) is a detective show with important supernatural elements – female Detective Shi On returns after a terrible accident (that she can’t remember), and finds she can see ghosts. As she is drawn in by the ghosts and their unresolved stories, she stumbles upon a web of corruption that is tied to the memories she lost.
Let’s Fight, Ghost!(싸우자 귀신아 ) follows student Park Bong Pal as he exorcises ghosts for money. When he meets a cute female ghost who is more annoying that malicious, he starts to question everything he believed about ghosts, and opens up to more people and experiences. There are a lot of Grudge-esque ghosts and a truly terrifying villain played by the talented Kwon Yool. This one is short and sweet at only 16 episodes, and it has a lot of hilarious moments to break up the ghost-chasing action.
This inventive crime show blends supernatural/fairytale elements and procedural drama in the story of Portland detective Nick Burkhardt – who also happens to be a Grimm. The Grimm are like supernatural police, humans with powers who keep the Wesen (non-humans of various varieties) in check, and try to keep the balance between the “worlds.” It’s clever and fun, with characters you’ll root for, and it’s a must if you’re a fairytale nut. And it’s on its last season, so you won’t be waiting around long for the ending.
This classic British show could probably have fit in any of these categories, and therefore, it doesn’t fit well in any of them. If you don’t know, it’s about a time-travelling alien (a Timelord) who wanders space and time with a human companion. Debates about seasons and Doctors abound, but everyone Whovian knows that it is worth the watch. From science to theology, to psychology, to downright silliness, there is a Doctor and an episode that has it.
A romantic dramedy that is reminiscent of My Fair Lady, if the Professor was an elf-like alien, and Eliza was a spoiled actress. The premise works surprisingly well, and good acting and writing, compelling characters, and the usual dose of hilarity make this show one of my favorites ever!
For acting, production quality, faithfulness to the material, and being compulsively watchable, few things can beat the Andrew Davies penned P & P. Jane Austen’s classic novel has never been treated better. Still one of my favorites.
I rarely finish shows, and lately I have watched more nonfiction or documentary programs, but there are a few other shows I have enjoyed that didn’t make this list for one reason or another –
Supernatural– the drama about two brothers who really can’t die (where the world is always ending), with terrible plot holes, contradictory morality and theology, and general frustration. While I can’t recommend it morally (and I gripe a lot about it as a writer!), the show has its brilliant moments.
The Flash – A fun superhero show that has too many episodes for me to finish yet. Great cast, fun premise, and some good writing.
Psycho-Pass– an anime with an intriguing premise and great moral questions. I can’t recommend it because I haven’t watched enough yet!
Ice Fantasy – A beautiful Chinese drama starring all of the people who should have been elf extras in Lord of the Rings. One of the most lovely things I’ve ever seen – from the scenery to the actors to the costumes. But there are TONS of episodes, and I’m not very far into it!
Pinocchio (Korean Drama) I love this show so far, but I haven’t finished it yet. If you like your heart being twisted into knots, adorable characters that have terrible things happen to them, and alternately nasty and hilarious reporter drama, then you should check it out!
Boys over Flowers – The Cinderella-esque Korean school drama. Despite the fact that the drama sometimes annoyed me, I loved it enough to buy it. A fun cast, a relatable heroine, and lots of humor made this show one of the most popular and widely watched Korean dramas. And I’m sure that Lee Min Ho didn’t hurt things, 😉
So, have you seen any of these shows? Do you watch much tv? Is there a fall show that you’re looking forward to? Do you have any shows that I should watch?
Also, if you did a TTT, don’t forget to post the link so I can check it out!
ANYHOW, there were a lot of reasons I wasn’t on the blog – and the biggest one was a forced relocation to my parents’ upper room. (See May Rewind). So my sister and I couldn’t find a place fast enough, and my parents were kind enough to take us back. The problem is, there are already a lot of people crowded into my parents’ small space, and it’s double the distance from both of my jobs. The perks? I love my family, and they have internet. *Proceeded to binge watch Tokyo Ghoul *
So it’s a little like living in The Burrow – only without magic.
That was the worst news of June (best news soon) – but I have also been extremely busy at both jobs. June – August is always a crazy period at the Book Nook, with Harry Potter Camp and two music festivals in that short period. June has the West Michigan Wine and Jazz Festival, which brings in jazz musicians and singers from all over the country. It’s a lot of fun (and great music), but rather exhausting.
And while I’m talking about music (which I do a lot, I realize), my sister and I had a break from the moving stress and went to see Fitz & The Tantrums at Meijer Gardens. They. Were. Awesome. The Meijer Garden’s Amphitheater is a huge outdoor venue (and it was packed), with rental seating, or you can bring low-backed chairs and sit/stand on the grass. Grace and I managed to get on the second step up, so about 10-15 feet from the stage, which was perfect. The evening started out with indie California rock band Finish Ticket. I’d never heard of them, but they were fantastic, with stellar musicians and an extremely powerful vocalist. They came out the gate with music and vocals that were completely on point and effortless. Needless to say, I bought their mini album/LP, and I’ve really been enjoying it.
But of course, I was there for F & T. I’ve never seen them live, but I’ve been a follower/fan since 2013 (when they released their second LP), so three years of loving their music made me anticipate the live show. I WAS SO EXCITED.
And guys – they were AWESOME.
Vocals, to energy, to crowd interaction, to general quality – it was in the top 5 performances I’ve ever seen on every level. Added to this, the sound quality, lights, and atmosphere were perfect.
And it was so much fun – “Fitz ” (with his co-vocalist Noelle Scaggs – who is a phenomenal soul/pop singer, and a handful of extraordinary musicians) wouldn’t let us sit still and be stodgy, complacent listeners (which my sister and I usually are). He got everyone on their feet in seconds, and Noelle’s dancing (and urging of the crowd to dance) was contagious enough for my sister and I to at least bob our heads and tap our feet.
*Hey, they got us to ‘handclap’ for Handclap, so they need an award here. I think it would take me about twenty years to learn the actual Handclap dance . . .*
So in short – if you like dance-y soul pop you should check out Fitz & The Tantrums!
And speaking of dancing – this crazy video also happened in June.
Every time I watch EXO dance, I am somewhere between awe and despair. HOW EVEN GUYS?? How can you move (or not move) like that? Cordinationally-challenged individuals like myself can only dream.
And on the subject of dreaming AND concerts – BIGBANG keep spamming innocent international fans with all of the cool stuff they’re doing for their 10th Anniversary in Korea, China, and Japan – and it all looks miserably awesome. And far away. Thanks guys.
ANYHOW – in non-music related stuff- I was in one of my best friend’s wedding the first week of June.
It was beautiful and everything went well, so that was an answer to many prayers. And no one fainted, though I actually locked my knees for the first time in my life 😛
I am still waiting to see all the pictures . . . I was too busy to take many myself. But the most important thing is that it all went off without a hitch, and that she is now happily married and relocated with her groom to Indiana (and now I have another person to visit on my spontaneous roadtrips!!)
BUT THE BEST JUNE NEWS OF ALL?????
I HAVE A CUTE NEPHEW. And thus, one of my lifelong dreams is realized: I now have a nephew AND a niece. William Charles was born on June 30th, and he’s absolutely precious. It is a great testimony to my willpower that i didn’t ditch work, jump in my car, and speed down south at once. Instead, I am consoling myself in many, many cute baby pictures. I will now commence buying adorable little boy clothes and biding my time until I can dart off to see him.
Well, Lord-willing, Knight of the Blue Surcoat is still set for an August release (though the publisher contacted me to tell me there might be a small delay . . .?), and when I know more, I’ll tell you.
And July – there’s Harry Potter Camp (prepping like a wizard studying for O.W.L.S right now), and a new Beautiful People (which I’ll use another one of the Seven Sisters for), and maybe, maybe, a cute nephew to go see?? (If I can pull time off out of my ears, maybe). And I’m almost done with my readthrough of TLCS, so I’ll enter the actual editing phase next (June didn’t happen). OH – AND BOOKS TO READ. I basically read a pile of manga in June. It was the only thing I had time/attention span for. But I’m hopeful for July (Blood for Blood – just started it!). And I’m still plugging along at my Korean studies and research (more about that eventually), despite having the attention span of a two-year-old and no time. I’m sort of hoping that I’ll just absorb it from the unhealthy amounts of music I listen to . . .
Despite my busy schedule, my parents’ internet means you’ll probably see a little more of me (though what state I’ll be in – that’s uncertain).
Happy July! Keep Reading and Writing!
Soooo – any summer/fall concerts planned for you? What are you reading or writing? Have you made it to the beach yet (sadly, I haven’t)? Any new bands or songs you’re liking? (Summer is the perfect time for windows down and speakers UP)
So, I was wanting to write a post, but none of my drafts looked appealing. I started reading other people’s posts instead, and I found out the Victoria Grace @ Wanderer’s Pen had tagged me! Thanks a bunch 🙂
***UPDATE*** Aaaand, then, as usual, life happened . . .
_Ahem_ Two Months Later . . .
Back to the tag – Victoria said that I could choose which tag I wanted to do, so I just decided to answer ALL the questions. So we have the “Secret Life of a Book Blogger” questions first, and Victoria’s questions from the “Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award” next. Savvy?
First, I am prepared to spill all my secrets *shifty eyes*
Secret Life of a Book Blogger
1. How long have you been a blogger? –
Let me look . . . err . . . and after much digging, I found my blog’s birthday!! It’s August 13th, 2012 (I always did like 13). And now that I found it, I’ll have to do a blogoversary post. So I’ve been blogging on and off for 3ish years, but I didn’t get serious about it until last year.
2. At what point do you think you’ll stop blogging? –
I guess I haven’t thought that far ahead? I don’t intend to quit blogging. Even if no one reads it, I’ll probably still be here. I’m like that.
3. What is the best thing about blogging? –
While it’s fun to share your thoughts with the world, it’s not nearly as cool as interacting with diverse people from all over the place. My favorite part is definitely following/commenting/conversing with all of you fabulous people.
4. What is the worst thing? What do you do to make it okay? –
The worst part – not having the time/energy to blog when you really want to!!! I’m still working on trying to make it okay, to be honest. But not worrying about it is helpful 🙂
5. How long does it take you to create/find pictures to use? –
Depends on the picture. I usually have a pretty clear image in mind that I want to use (see my extensive use of gifs). If I am creating an image, it takes me days to be happy with it, so I rarely do that.
6. Who is your book crush?
Tom Imura, obviously. (from Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry).
And forget the crush, I want to marry him.*
Tom is, to date, my only literary crush. As much as I love hordes of male characters, I am typically more inclined to want to be them than have a crush on them. (i.e., every man in LOTR.) And tbh, most of my favorite literary guys would be bad news (I’m looking at you, Howl, Mordred, Luthe, Hamlet, Peaceable Sherwood, etc, etc.). And I don’t have patience for that. Nope.
*sadly, even if he was real, I don’t think I’m Tom’s type, ;P
7. What author would you like to have on your blog? –
Robin McKinley. She was one of the first author’s to write books and characters that I fell in love with (outside of Tolkien. And I can’t interview him, for obvious reasons). Robin McKinley influenced me as a writer and reader, and I still love her books so much. It would be a huge honor to have her.
8. What do you wear when you write blog posts? –
. . .
Whatever I wear normally. For example, today I’m wearing jeans, an anime costume shirt, and clogs. What I want to know is, does anyone actually change what they wear for blogging purposes??
9. How long does it take you to prepare? –
Prepare for what? Work? The Zombie Apocalypse? This year’s election (I don’t think I’ll ever be prepared for that)? The Olympics (Err, never).
I’ll stop being a smartaleck now – as this probably means a blog post. It really depends. I’ve written a post off the top of my head, and taken about ten minutes. Other posts have taken weeks. But my average is a couple of hours.
10. How do you feel about the book blogger community? –
I like them a lot! We’re all united by our love of books and reading, so we have a big plot of common ground. On the other hand, you read a lot of unique voices and experience people from all walks of life, and that is one of the best parts of the community.
And now – The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award
Rules (which I will sort-of ignore)
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link their website (click it)
2. Use the award logo on your post (see above)
3. Answer the 10 questions provided by the blogger who tagged you (following)
4. Nominate 10 bloggers (I did this last time, so I’m flouting the rules. )
5. Ask them 10 questions (I’ll leave 5 questions for anyone who is interested)
Now that the rules are out of the way, Victoria Grace’s fabulous (but difficult) questions:
1.) What is your favorite fandom?
Favorite because I like it, or the fandom itself?
Well, my favorite fandom (that I’d consider myself a part of) will always be Lord of the Rings. It’s the earliest one for me. If we’re talking about the fans themselves – err, still LOTR.
2.) If you were in an epic fantasy battle what weapon would you use? (Magic counts)
This is so hard!! Just ONE?? I want to use all the weapons 🙁
If I HAD to choose, a sword. I’m all about those classic lines and a sophistication.
3.) If you could be any fantasy or alien race besides human what would you be?
An ELF (a la Tolkien). This is the easiest answer of them all.
4.) What Divergent aptitude are you?
I just went and did the official test to help myself out, lol. And I quote:
“YOUR CHOICES DEMONSTRATE THE VIRTUES OF MORE THAN ONE FACTION, SCORING HIGHEST IN ERUDITE AND DAUNTLESS TRAITS”
Guess I’m Divergent. I’m not sure what I’d pick, to be honest. I’d probably decide that I wanted to be Factionless. That’s what I kept thinking when I was reading the book. Sure, you’re a total social outcast, but you’re on your own. Seriously.
5.) Japanese manga, American comic books, or graphic novels?
Manga! That is pretty much all I read (other than research books) when I have busy months (like June)
6.) Have you ever been out of your country? If so where have you been? If not where would you like to go?
I have been to Canada – but I really want to go EVERYWHERE. Especially Japan, Korea, Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand.
7.) What element would you like to control? Air, water, earth, or fire?
URGH – another hard question! All of them? I want to be master of all the elements . . . but if I had to choose . . . air. Distractible, fickle, packs a heckuva punch but it would really rather play a game. That sounds like me.
8.) Favorite video game, card game, or board game?
*continues griping offscreen* Probably board games. I love cooperative strategy games like Pandemic or Zombicide
9.) Favorite piece of jewelry (with a pic)?
Currently? I really love earrings, and I got these super cute Mitoki ones in Chicago after the B.A.P concert (right side). The other ones are Bigbang earrings from that same store. I also love every piece of jewelry from the Fandom of the Month Club.
10.) Do you like your hair straight or curly?
When I straighten my hair, I look like Hugo Weaving (not that there’s anything wrong with what he looks like, for him). So I’ll pass.
So those were her varied and fun questions! Thanks Victoria!
Would you have answered the same as me, or opposite?
Oh – and before I forget – here are my extremely random questions, if you so desire:
1. In your opinion, what is the function of a rubber duck?
2. How far would you travel for a concert?
3. What is the strangest book you’ve ever read?
4. If you woke up tomorrow and were fluent in any language, what would you like it to be?
5. You are stranded in a warehouse that’s surrounded by enemies (zombies, rabid wolves, rival soldiers, rabid fans, take your pick) – what is the one fictional character you’d like to have at your side?
While I didn’t fall off the face of the earth (exactly), I have been pretty noticeably absent from the internet. Not on purpose. I just had such a busy month that it made April (see Aprilpocalypse) look, bland.
Not only was I traveling up and down the country in the first week, I have a lot going on. And no internet at home (I’ve mentioned this), which makes blogging tricky if you also have extremely limited spare time. For the record, I had all kinds of ideas for posts – which I didn’t write – and planned to do some tags – which I didn’t finish (does starting count?) – and you’re getting the picture.
So while I wasn’t online, I actually have a lot of things to recap in the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up, hosted and originated by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Click through to check out her lovely book blog and join the link-up/read some more monthly wrap-ups.
May started off with a bang – as I had to go on TV. I’m not a TV person. But hey, what can you do *shrugs*. But here it is, if you’re interested 😛
After I survived the TV – I immediately flew down to Pensacola, FL. Enroute (okay, at O’Hare Airport), my phone crashed and died and was no more (no idea why). So I had no way to contact my family, who had planned on picking me up later in Pensacola, to then drive us to Gulf Shores, Alabama, to meet up with the rest of my mom’s family. This was annoying, but providentially, my sister was just pulling a loop around the Pensacola airport (in my parent’s 15 passenger van, which is unmistakable due to the Oatmeal Savage bumper sticker – see below).
It’s full of fresh fish, but you can hardly even smell them, which means it’s incredibly clean. Fyi, if I lived within an hour or two of this place, I would shop there at least twice a week. The fish was gorgeous, fresh, and profuse. They also have a sushi bar and a bunch of cool and/or local ingredients. My sister and I purchased everything we needed for sushi (including a beautiful pound of tuna). We packed it on ice, and headed to the gulf.
I don’t know about you, but the sight/smell of the ocean immediately relaxes me. It’s the real vacation part (Having a dead phone and being <1,000 mi from work/home helps too).
Of course, there was a “dangerous sea creatures advisory” the whole time I was there (one guy saw a seven-foot shark – thankfully, I just saw a large stingray. Well. Two.) But this didn’t stop me from swimming. Fortunately, I never saw a shark. I’d love to see a shark – as long as I was nowhere near the water. But not in the water with me. No thank you.
At any rate, I ate my fill of fresh fish. And I made sushi! That tuna was so good, guys – velvety smooth and with the lightest taste and texture you can imagine. And now I’m hungry . . .
Other than my phone debacle (I wasted a couple of hours trying to fix it), everything was pretty good – until my ENTIRE family got really sick. My grandma and I were the only ones who didn’t get it, even though we were exposed to everyone. Because of the sick people, we were put behind schedule, and I ended up driving most of my family to Tennessee. They were all sickly and weak, but we made it. A good music playlist helped 🙂 (And it was hilarious to hear my littlest sister singing along to Bigbang’s If You – which is almost completely in Korean – and I had no idea she knew the song . . .). But my younger sisters’ favorite non-Disney song to listen to is the catchy, feel-good Just Right by GOT7:
Err, yes . . . anyhow – we survived the trip and made it to Nashville. I got to see my precious niece for a couple of hours (but she was sick too), and my brother and sister-in-law. It was still worth it, though. After this, I had my airport—->BEA 2016/Chicago Adventure, which I actually wrote a post about:
Synopsis: “Fourth grade is not going at all how Benny Barrows hoped. He hasn’t found a new best friend. He’s still not a great bike rider—even though his brother George, who’s autistic, can do tricks. And worst of all, he worries his dad’s recent accident might be all his fault. Benny tries to take his mom’s advice and focus on helping others, and to take things one step at a time. But when his dad ends up in the hospital again, Benny doesn’t know how he and his family will overcome all the bad luck that life has thrown their way.”
Thoughts:Just My Luck was a sweet, touching, and relatable little novel. The tone and writing were fabulous, and Benny’s voice was pitch-perfect. To be honest, I related more to him than I do to most YA/Adult protagonists! It made me laugh aloud, and I really was rooting for the Barrows family to overcome all their “bad luck.”As a bookseller, this is one of my favorite summer picks for MG readers (and their parents).
Synopsis: “Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.”
Thoughts: I loved the setting and the lush descriptions, but I’ve read so many Cupid & Psyche/Hades & Persephone/Bluebeard type novels that I have trouble keeping them straight. I was far more invested in the mythology and world than the story or romance, but that was to be expected. So I’m not sure if it was the book, or just me. Maya was a wonderful, strong heroine though!!
Synopsis-It’s no secret that most girls, at some point, love all things princess: the poofy dresses, the plastic tiaras, the color pink. Even grown-up women can’t get enough of royal weddings and royal gossip. Yet critics claim the princess dream sets little girls up to be weak and submissive, and allows grown women to indulge in fantasies of rescue rather than hard work and self-reliance.
Enter Jerramy Fine – an unabashed feminist who is proud of her life-long princess obsession and more than happy to defend it. Through her amusing life story and in-depth research, Fine makes it clear that feminine doesn’t mean weak, pink doesn’t mean inferior, and girliness is not incompatible with ambition. From 9th century Cinderella to modern-day Frozen, from Princess Diana to Kate Middleton, from Wonder Woman to Princess Leia, Fine valiantly assures us that princesses have always been about power, not passivity. And those who love them can still be confident, intelligent women.
Thoughts: While I never really disagreed with Fine in the essentials, I thought her take on things would be interesting. Regardless, this was a really fun read, and it was so hilarious that I kept stopping to read lines to my sister. I had definite ambitions to be a princess (specifically Princess Jasmine) when I was little too, and I completely understand the “longing to find the place where you belong, or your ‘people,’ so to speak” that Fine describes so authentically. The most interesting part was her bio list (at the end) of real world princesses. These women don’t sit around on their hands and look pretty!! In other words, this is my pick for a beach read 😛
Synopsis: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.
From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.
Thoughts: I really wanted to like this book. And to be honest, the mystery and setting were kind of interesting, so I finished it. But it didn’t work for me on any other level. Jamie was ok, but I found his admiration of Charlotte to be a bit more slavish than sympathetic . . . Granted, I love the original stories (and the show Sherlock), so I’m a tough customer. To be honest, just read Cait @ Paper Fury‘s review here. She’s 100% right about this book.
Synopsis: In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.
Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.
If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.
Thoughts:You can read my full review here – but I loved it! If you haven’t read these books, you need to. Memories of Ash was basically everything I was wanting (only it wasn’t about 600 pages longer). And I’m not complaining about length here, because it was already novel sized, which fulfilled my wish from Sunbolt.
Synopsis: Yato is a stray god. He doesn’t even have a shrine, not to mention worshipers! Hoping he’ll eventually raise enough money to build himself the lavish temple of his dreams, Yato accepts all kinds of jobs. Of course, he can’t afford to be picky; from finding lost kittens to helping a student overcome bullies, no job is too small for Yato, the god-for-hire! An eccentric story with a charming cast of characters!
Thoughts: Meh. It was funny and the art was good, but I just didn’t care. But that seems to be the case with a lot of first volumes in manga. I might read the second one, but I won’t go out of my way to try . . .
The Decent Proposal by Kemper Donovan – DNF
Urgh. Cutesy, kitschy, trite, twee, tepid – I could go on with the adjectives, but there’s a reason I didn’t finish this one. Adult Contemporary is the new YA – unrelatable characters, randomness, and everyone is stupidly attractive. And we’re supposed to swallow all of this with heaping tables of sugar. No. Thank. You.
The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye – I’m finally getting into it after several misfires. Once I got over the angsting and being-beautifulness of the first few chapters (and the magical duels started), the story really took off.
Your Lie in April, Volume #1 by Naoshi Arakawa – I got this for free, so I’m reading it. I don’t know how I feel about it yet. The art is cute though. And I’m extremely confused by the title.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – I just started this, so I don’t have any opinions. The first chapter is good! Regardless, I’m extremely excited about this one.
I’ve been reading through The Last Coffee Shop, and been pleasantly surprised – for a NaNoWriMo project, it isn’t nearly as terrible as I thought it would be!! That’s always awesome. At any rate, if I can get my act together, I might be ready for a few betas sooner than I thought – maybe this fall :0 I still love the world, story, and characters, and I want other people to make me more rational about it . . .
Other than that, I haven’t had much time to write (as my lack of blog posts will attest to).
Movies, Music, and More:
I saw Captain America: Civil War twice, and loved it both times. I think it did a great job of incorporating all the characters, the previous movies, and paying tribute to the comics. The acting was spot-on, Black Panther was epic, Bucky and Falcon as rivals/friends/enemies, and I love how the Russos write Black Widow. Now if we could just get that Black Widow movie . . .
I also saw X-Men: Apocalypse, which was a lot better than I was expecting. It wasn’t as good as the animated comic arc from the 90’s, but it was entertaining. And I loved Storm. Professor X and Magneto’s bromance was good as usual, and Cyclops was probably the least annoying he’s ever been, and Quicksilver was the best part of the movie. Period.
At the end of May, my sister and I went to see the touring production of The Phantom of the Opera. I’ve loved the musical since I was little, but I’ve never had the chance to see it live. It was incredible!! The staging and effects, in particular, blew my mind. There wasn’t a weak link in the cast, and everyone did a great job putting their own spin on these familiar songs and characters. FIVE STARS.
As usual, I’ve listened to a bunch of music, and while I didn’t discover much new stuff, I remembered why I loved 90’s Celine Dion so much (on that long car ride). OH, THE DRAMA!
But in all seriousness, her slower songs are so perfectly crafted for her voice. She’s a master of emotion, that is for sure.
I’ve been on the nostalgia train a lot lately, with mid 2000’s pop/rock and a lot of 80’s stuff on my current playlists. Here’s one of my favorite songs as a kid (my dad had a cassette tape with it that I would always request)
It’s still a favorite of mine <3
But because I am a complete and utter goofball, I will leave you with another frequent song on my playlists – Look at me, Gwisun by Daesung (a.k.a D-Lite) from Bigbang. It’s in Japanese, but if you look at a translation, you’ll see that the (hilarious) MV is basically interpreting the lyrics – literally. And be warned, this video is really, really, goofy (don’t blame me if it scars you for life, lol).
This is basically something you watch if you’re having a really bad day. (And what’s with the X-Men suit? Okay, not really X-Men, but that’s what it looks like . . . And GD’s cameo is my favorite thing)
I’ll stop with the videos so you can actually load this post, but there are lots more where those came from. They’re much better than cat videos, trust me.
I’m probably going to be a sporadic poster for the near future. I found out that my sister and I have to move out of our rental by the end of June, and we aren’t sure where we are going. So this has definitely upped my distraction and stress levels. Also, the summer tourist season is upon us at both jobs, so I have no idea how much blogging or blog reading I can do. We’ll have to see.
In the meantime, thanks to everyone who reads these wandering posts and tolerates my erratic attention! I love you guys and hope you are having a wonderful and productive June so far!
So if you follow me here or on various social media, you probably know that I was just at Book Expo America 2016, in Chicago, Illinois. If not, now you do.
What is Book Expo? It’s basically an annual 3-day convention that brings bloggers, press, booksellers, librarians, teachers, publishers, agents, sales reps, printers, AND SO MANY MORE BOOK PEOPLE together in a giant venue. There are educational sessions, author panels, vendors, autographing events, and a lot more. It’s crazy, busy, and a little overwhelming. But it’s also a lot of fun, and I’ve been fortunate enough to go twice now for work.
For those of you who didn’t get to go, I thought it would be fun to give you a taste of BEA16 through the eyes of a scattered bookseller/author/blogger.
DAY 1 (Wednesday, May 11)
I was in Nashville at my brother’s house (long story that I may or may not tell some other time), and he kindly got up with me at 4 am to take me to the airport for my flight. AAAAAND – my flight was cancelled . . .
We went to the airport anyhow, and I waited in a line of around 100 people only to find out the next flight was at 8 PM! I needed to be in Chicago by 10 AM to make the sessions I wanted to go to. According to the ticket agent, they always call when your flight is cancelled – but I didn’t know I was called because my phone crashed/died/imploded randomly the previous Friday (another long story I may tell later). I explained this to the ticket agent, and he managed to get me a refund (which was very nice of him, but it didn’t solve my flight problem).
Fortunately, I had purchased a Go Phone with my emergency cash, so I just logged onto a different airline site and snagged one of the last available tickets for Chicago. I had to wait an hour in the security line (for real), and my new flight didn’t make it there till 11am, but that was a lot better than missing the whole day!!
So I made it to O’Hare, which was a zoo. I quickly jogged downstairs and bought a Ventra card, hopped on the “L” train, and finally made it into Chicago. It was an easy ride to the McCormick Place stop (where BEA was), and I jogged a block, and arrived just before the exhibit hall opened at 1pm.
Instead of joining the crowd (stampede) rushing for the ARC drops and autographing lines, I took a few minutes to familiarize myself with the floor map and the show schedule. Next, I actually walked the building, to get the 3D version of the map in my head (hey, I’m actually a methodical person). And it’s just under 500,000 square feet of exhibit space, and that isn’t counting all the rooms for sessions and functions!
Once I had my bearings, I explored the many rows of shiny books and exciting, glittery things. It’s a bit like the booksellers’ equivalent of the fairy market, and it’s a really good thing that I bring home catalogs instead of buying things on the spot . . .
I am kind of bad about taking pictures, so I added one from BEA itself to give you a taste. It’s lines and lines of vendors from all over the world. I spent an inordinate amount of time in the Chinese publishing delegation’s section.
Day 1 for me was mostly spent in chatting with sales reps, publishers, and in snagging a few ARCs. I tend to be more adventurous, and get books from publishers and/or authors that I am less familiar with. In addition to books, there are always tote bags, bookish vendors (such as Out of Print Clothing Co.), and other exciting things to look at, so I usually reach sensory overload by the end.
Once I was thoroughly tired of hauling my overnight bag and books around, I headed back to the L, and from there to the commuter train. Riding the train is always fun for me – and besides, you can read! It was only about a 45 minute ride to the station, where my second cousin picked me up. We went to dinner, and then caught up over cups of tea back at her house. Tea is always amazing, but it’s even better after a long day!
DAY 2: (Thursday, May 12)
We were off bright and early – her to work, and me to the train again. I continued to read one of my ARCS (more about this later), and the ride seemed pretty brief. I popped on my headphones, jogged to the Clinton St L stop, and made it to McCormick’s about a half hour early.
I looked over the day’s programming, marked up what I wanted to see and who I needed to meet up with, and then I waited with the crowds until the hall opened at 9am. My first stop was the ABA lounge, where those wonderful human beings had coffee for ABA members the whole time.
I spent the earlier part of the day doing more networking, meeting up with some of the people I met at Winter Institute (including my awesome scholarship sponsors, Lerner). I went to a few panels – covering what was new/upcoming in Adult, Children, and YA lit, and then one on nonfiction. I also attended on on what editors were excited to see at BEA. I grabbed a few of the ARCs that I heard about (including a heist novel called Thieving Weasels that looks hilarious!)
After being a good, studious little note-taking bookseller, I finally stood in a few signing lines. My first one was for MG/YA author Brandon Mull! (Fablehaven, A World Without Heroes, Five Kingdoms, etc). It was really cool to meet him and to tell him (personally) what success the store has had with his novels, and how so many young boys read them. He signed a book for my sister Charlotte (a fan!), which was awesome of him.
Debut author Kerri Maniscalco signed her novel Stalking Jack the Ripper (about a forensics student who, guess what, is trying to solve the Ripper murders), and she was very sweet and demure, and I’m pretty excited to read it.
Next, I stood in line for Min Jin Lee’s novel Pachinko, a story about a Korean family in Japan, starting in the early 1900’s. I hadn’t read anything of Lee’s, but I was sold by the premise. Since the line wasn’t super long, I actually got to chat with her for a few minutes, and she was lovely. We got to talking about my lifelong love of Asian history and culture (from India to lower Russian, to all of East Asia), and my travel-bug, which made her laugh and ask if I was actually Asian and didn’t know it – and then she signed my book like this —>
Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite ARCs I picked up, and I can’t wait to start it!
But the day’s excitement didn’t end there – because I found the Disney booth . . .
AND GUYS, GUYS – THEN I MET EOIN COLFER AND ACTUALLY MANAGED TO TALK. I don’t know if YOU read Artemis Fowl as a teenager, but I did, and it was a big deal to meet this guy. Not to mention, I have shared his books with my younger siblings, and he signed the book for my brother Elijah. It’s a novel about Iron Man (yeah, that Iron Man), and this is doubly cool because Elijah was a very reluctant reader at first, and superheroes are what really got him reading.
Anyhow, Eoin Colfer was nice and funny, and so gracious to listen to me tell him what his books meant to me, even with a whole line behind me. Also, since this was Disney (and they pull out all the stops), there was a guy standing in for Tony Stark. He was handing out chargers and directing us to the line for mocktails (served in light-up glasses, no less), which were quite refreshing after the (very warm!) walk around the exhibit hall.
A few more ARCs and conversations later, and I was ready to quit the hall for the city. Hauling books all over a city is no joke, so I decided it was high time for some Chicago pizza.
Gino’s East was my destination, and though it was busy, a lone person can always grab a chair at the bar, so I did. I got an artichoke and spinach pizza with honey goat cheese (since I’m lactose intolerant), and it was so good. My mouth’s watering just thinking about it! I also tried some Chicago craft beer, which was good, but not as good as the pizza!
After the food, I walked all over, dragging my books behind me. My ultimate destination was Chicago 360 (I’d never been there before), and the Sourcebooks party! (Thanks again to the wonderful team at Sourcebooks!!)
Chicago 360 is on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building, and it offers exactly what the name says: a breathtaking view of the city from all around. There were hor d’oeuvres and drinks, which I didn’t try until later (see^pizza). But I eventually tried some wonderful chilled noodle dishes (since walking all over Chicago had made me hungry again), and a cocktail with green tea syrup. Next, I tried the Tilt (where you tilt at a 30 degree angle over the city), took pictures, and met a fabulous and interesting Columbian bookseller named Yolanda. We talked books and bookselling in US vs Columbia for around and hour, and I had so much fun hearing about Columbia!
This was all as amazing as it sounds, but the highlight was KRISTI YAMAGUCHI. Yes – that one. She was at the party promoting a children’s book, and I missed the sample signing. However, I spotted her before she left, and managed to work up the courage to approach. (She’s one of my childhood heroes, and I followed her skating journey with the fervor of any fan, so I was truly nervous). Everyone after asked why I didn’t ask for a picture, and I’ve had trouble explaining that meeting her, shaking her hand, thanking her, and telling her how she inspired me – that was more valuable to me personally. It’s something I will never forget.
When I finally made it back to the suburbs, I was giddy and way overtired, and I didn’t make it to bed until 1am. But no regrets here!
DAY 3: (Friday, May 13)
By now, I was thoroughly tired, but still excited about several galleys and speakers/sessions on Friday. Most importantly, there was a galley drop of Blood for Blood (sequel to Wolf by Wolf) right off, and I wanted that more than pretty much anything. I braved a swarm of people and managed to get a copy, and it was all that I could do to not sit and read it on the spot.
But there were more books to get and people to talk to, so I resisted!
I went to two panels that were really fun, one on YA with Veronica Roth as the moderator, and one on African American authors and fiction.
The YA panel was extremely entertaining (and I really want to read Veronica Roth’s new book now), but the second panel was spectacular. They talked about the importance of African-American lit written by/for African-American authors, and how the issue of an author’s race shouldn’t be an issue. A book is a good book, and we all want good books. Kwame Alexander is one of the most gracious, eloquent speakers I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing, and he’s really funny too!
Late afternoon brought the Children/YA Author and Illustrator Tea. This was the heaven it sounds: booksellers, educators, and librarians sat at a table with an author or illustrator and listened to them talk about their books. And we had tea and scones. I had to pay extra, but it was 100% worth it.
My three author/illustrators were Jeffrey Brown (*DARTH VADER AND SON, PEOPLE), Duncan Tonatiuh (incredibly talented Mexican-American illustrator), and MARISSA MEYER. It was awesome to sip tea and enjoy scones with these three diverse authors. And of course, we got copies of each book!
It’s hard to pick a favorite experience, but the tea was wonderful, and I’m so grateful to the ABA for providing the opportunity.
I had a huge pile of books by now, but my long-suffering sister (yes, Grace), was going to pick me up (driving my car down from Michigan), and I had time to kill. So naturally, I hopped on the L and did some exploring. Despite the books I was hauling, it was wet and rainy and I was pretty soaked by the time I’d walked around Chinatown. This was the only day I hadn’t worn my much-loved Timelord hoodie (uh, it had been all over the L, and BEA, and the train . . .), and the only day I’d dressed for warm weather. I’m smart like that. So I did the only logical thing – I went to K-Pop of Chinatown and bought a giant Bigbang hoodie that was like wearing a fuzzy blanket (and solved everything).
Needless to say, I now walked everywhere in the rain, and ended up at the Disney Store. Naturally.
Dear Grace eventually managed to find me, but she had to play taxi since it was so busy, and I quickly hopped in and drove us back to the suburbs.
Day 4: (Saturday, May 14)
Book Expo might have been over, but that didn’t stop us from spending a fun day in the suburbs with family.
We explored downtown Geneva, and went to the mall (why not?) and found an Anime store that delighted us far more than it should have. They were playing 1Am by Taeyang(never mind that he’s Korean and had nothing to do with anything), so we happily sang along and geeked out over plastic junk from Japan. As you do. But then we found these:
I got Itachi, which was awesome – but Grace got Sasuke, who was adorable (and Itachi’s little brother, so it was kind of perfect). They’re so tiny and cute!
We also went to a really cool store called Ragstock. They had vintage kimonos. We bought some vintage kimonos, and now felt perfectly fulfilled.
Back in Winfield, we went to bed to late, and packed up all of our stuff to leave in the morning.
Day 5: (Sunday, May 15)
We went to church, then came back to hang out for a bit before we headed home. We were pretty exhausted, but it was worth it.
And that was pretty much it. It was back to work (and Eastern Time) again early the next morning. I haven’t started in on any of my new books yet (I’ve been trying to finish the ones I was already reading), but I’m super excited about them!
So do you think you’d like to go to BEA? Have you been to Chicago (and what’s your favorite part)? Did you read all the way down to here? (If so, you deserve some cookies or something)
And here I was, thinking April wouldn’t be crazy . . .
April made my crazy March look -well- calm.
So now it’s May, much too soon, and high time for the month in review link-up hosted by Nicole over at Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Click the links to look at what participants have been up to, and/or to join up.
On the Blog:
While I was hardly online in April, I did get a few things up, in spite of myself.
I posted what happened in March – including a (slightly horrifying) pile of imported cds and dvds that . . . err, grew even larger in April. And everyone laughed at a rude waiter with me. That was fun.
And just when we thought (*I thought) that I’d disappeared from the internet and you would never read anything writerly from me, I decided to post a thoroughly involved post/essay/article on the differences between Villains, Antagonists, and Antiheroes.
I have been working away at my two jobs, which is a bit like juggling, but with all of yourself. I have been on bartending training shifts, which aren’t hard (since I have the experience), but they do involve longer hours. On the upside, I’m just living the life of my characters in Red as Blood (albeit with less space, and sadly, no aliens. Yet.)
I helped host a bridal shower for one of my best friends (cheers!), which made the imminent wedding seem, well, imminent . . . And my sister and I made many fruitless searches for bridesmaids’ dresses, as we’re both in the wedding.
My sister (the oft-mentioned Grace) made Hotteok (호떡) – or Korean sweet dessert pancakes/street food – which were amazing, but we ended up using them to make egg sandwiches because of the end of this video (if you don’t click through, it’s an interview with Bigbang, with a “cooking competition” at the end.) They aren’t exactly the same thing, but, whatever.
They were really good- by the way.
And while we’re on the subject of reality tv (sort-of), there is this new Korean show called “Fantastic Duos” and the concept is really fun (we should adopt it over here). A recognized artist records their part of a song, and then invites anyone and everyone to participate by recording the other part(s) as a duet on their smartphone. Some of the participants are chosen to perform later on the live show (with the artist looking on), and then one is selected to actually perform a live duet with the aforementioned artist. It’s a ton of fun to watch, and they’ve already gotten an incredible performance like this out of it:
I already knew Taeyang (from Bigbang) was a great vocalist, but this girl is crazy good, and it will be a surprise if she doesn’t land herself a record deal. Anyhow, you should watch this, as it’s beautiful. 😛
But I digress – when we weren’t cooking (how we spend the majority of our “free time”, for whatever reason) or watching snippets of reality shows, I was cram-reading to get ready for book club in May, and a local tv appearance (more on that some other time), and getting ready for Book Expo in May.
To be honest – most of April is a blur – but I actually remember the end of it, because that’s when my sisters and I went to Chicago for the weekend. We actually helped at my friend’s bridal shower, and then got in the car and drove straight to Naperville to check into our hotel. This went faster than expected, giving us plenty of time to stop at the H Mart that was (almost) next door. I mainly just ended up buying vegetables (because that’s what I usually end up buying, regardless). The most exciting one was a radish that was larger than the upper part of my arm . . . Naturally, we stowed the vegetables and things at the hotel before we went over to the Rosemont Theatre for our BAP CONCERT!!!
At the Rosemont, we somehow ended up with pretty good seats. We were in the top section (there’s only a balcony and a floor section – it’s pretty small – about 5K seats), and we were in the direct center, so we could see really well (even without the screens). The crowd was far more diverse (especially in age) than any other concert I’ve been to – ranging from little kids to couples my grandparents’ age. And it was a great crowd – minus the extremely annoying and immature girls behind us. They screamed for the point of screaming (and so loudly/high-pitched that they could have broken glass), and talked about the band members like they weren’t even human. I’m an old-fashioned grouch though – I go to concerts because I love the music and want to see the performers live – so I might have overreacted, but still . . .
Other than those girls – everything was awesome. B.A.P are energetic, incredible performers, from their dancing to their impressive vocal talent. Despite the (moderate) language barrier, all of the guys have great stage presence and senses of humor, and they were so much fun to listen to/watch.
To give you an idea, here’s a video from one of the girls in the front row (from Youtube.com)
This is one of B.A.P’s older songs (1004 Angel – released 2014), so most of the crowd knew the (mostly Korean) lyrics, and sang along. When you have thousands of people who don’t all speak a language singing along anyway, that’s pretty cool. Naturally, if you were there you could actually hear B.A.P a lot better, but off a cell-phone camera, not so much!
At any rate, we got back WAY too late at night, but managed to beat the traffic :). The next morning, we found the closest PCA church (which turned out to be a church plant – Restoration Community Church), and they were so welcoming and friendly. After church, we decided to go to Chinatown instead of driving straight home (because I’ve actually never been there . . .). We mainly walked around, as the weather was glorious. We did stop at the Kpop store there, to buy something for my sister Lydia (who had been bummed that she couldn’t go). A cute snapback with the logo of one of her favorite bands did the trick ;P
After that, we continued wandering around and people watching (there were a ton of families out in their Sunday clothes – so so many cute babies). I thought about going to the Disney store (one of my other favorite things), but then I decided it was too hard, and we made the trek back to my car. Walking all afternoon is a little fatiguing after going to bed in the wee hours of the morning.
We finally headed back to Michigan, tired but still amped up (partially thanks to my too-loud music and the nice weather). And then it was back to work as usual!
And now, as it’s May 9th, I’m sitting in a beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and finally having time to write an update. Why Alabama? I flew down for Mother’s Day weekend (as the rest of my family was down here vacationing). And then – most of my siblings got sick, and my phone crashed so bad that it might never be fixed – so I borrowed my brother’s laptop, and here we are. I had all kinds of pictures for this post, but they are on my phone – which is too bad!
On the upside – I am stranded at the beach – so I really can’t complain. Also, I have an eARC of Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani (sequel to Sunbolt).
I have to be in Chicago (again) for Book Expo on Wednesday, so we’ll see how things go. In the meantime, I might head back out to the water. The weather in Alabama is lovely, warm and breezy, and the swimming has been even better (though I did spot two stingrays while I was in the water). Or I’ll pull out The Last Coffee Shop and continue my read through. But here’s to hoping that everyone feels better soon, that I don’t end up with the virus, and I make it to Book Expo in one piece!!
Happy May! If you’re a Mom, belated Happy Mother’s Day!
How was your April? Do you have any big plans for May? What was the last concert you went to?
I’m getting around to the Monthly Wrap Up late as usual.
The biggest thing on the blog in March was THAT I MOVED IT. I have this shiny new site and I couldn’t be happier with it. Everyone has had such lovely comments about the new look, so thanks guys!
In March, I also:
–Introduced Sull, the MC of my newest WIP, Red as Blood, for this month’s Beautiful People.
I decided that I wanted to write as an angsty teenage guy, and listen to all of the same music I did as an angsty teen (with the addition of copious amounts of G-Dragon <3). It also reminded me that Castle of Glass (Linkin Park) never got enough love.
I added pertinent quotes, and let myself gush a bit about why these gems need other people to appreciate them 🙂
-And then I stole a tag (mainly as an excuse to use all the gifs I’d been hoarding) – and wrote a bit about my “writing process”- Behold, the #WritersLife tag!
-Just when I thought you’d never get another sensible, non-gif filled post out of me ever again, I decided to write an extremely sensible (for me) post on Writing What You Know.
All told, that’s 6 posts, which I’ll take with a smile. Between work, work, work, and moving the blog, I was surprised that I got anything up at all!
On Other People’s Blogs:
I always read quite a few posts (as it’s much faster than writing a post!), but I don’t always comment. I skipped around the blogosphere a lot this month, and I discovered some great posts. Here are a few highlights –
Well, I was rather down in the dumps in February (despite my general tendency to laugh at everything) – and I probably should have had my debit card confiscated. What does that have to do with March? Err – all the random stuff I purchased from overseas showed up this month. If you don’t know how exciting it is to get a package from Japan (or anywhere that isn’t in the US), I’ll give you a hint –
So, thanks to the buying-binge of February, I have A LOT of Cds . . .
And this – I’m still baffled by it, tbh.
Errr – it’s this intense random thing with a dvd, a calendar, a poster, weird card things that confuse me, and a photo book with 2 billion photos. What am I even supposed to do with it? (And I can hear you all saying, “don’t look at me, you’re the one who bought it!”) I did find one use for the photo book though – my sister and I used it as a makeup guide! Nifty.*
*Who’d have thought?
I also have a cute dress from the UK . . . but I digress.
So March was Music Madness. And of course, work madness. Two jobs take a lot out of my energy levels AND time, but it’s been nice to bump my savings back up a bit (despite the buying binge of February).
Other than working (and reading The Wise Man’s Fear), I started a whole pile of other books, including H is for Hawk. It’s very well-written and it’s a fascinating subject, but I’m only about halfway through so far.
On the writing front, I continued to add details to my plotting/scraps for Red as Blood, and I look forward to working on it in April.
For whatever reason, my sister and I ate out more during March. We discovered Sakura in Grandville – a Japanese restaurant with excellent sushi. However – the night started off with awkward hilarity after the waiter asked for my ID. He squinted at it, and then told me that I didn’t look like the same person – because (and he actually said this) – I wasn’t as pretty as the person in the picture, and we looked different . . . And while I had on my glasses and work bandana, and had no makeup on – I don’t think I looked that different??
Anyhow, my sister and I were a little startled, but then we had to focus just so we didn’t explode with laughter in his face. And our waiter – well, he quickly backtracked, and then we could hardly keep straight faces the rest of the time.
WHO SAYS THAT TO A PERSON’S FACE???
Still, on the bright side, I looked young enough to be trying to use someone’s ID. ;P And I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!
And then – at the very end of March – I came down with a dreadful cold. I did not pull a Howl-esque diva fit over it – I just bought some medicine and slept every free hour. And when I felt too bad, I just watched a bunch of really old BIGBANG videos on Youtube. While the latter part didn’t help much (with the cold), it did help my flagging spirits. So. Funny.
Ah, the awkwardness of youth . . .
Seriously, they’re still hilarious. (And it helps that I really love their music)
Okay, maybe not everything has changed, 😛
Stay awesome, guys.
Coming in April:
Starting Edit #1 for The Last Coffee Shop. In a departure from my normal haphazard ways, I decided to download Sara’s super helpful editing sheets. We will see if I can stick to this more orderly route.
You may remember this band from my songs that should be books post that I did back in February. No? Here’s a video to give you an idea:
So we have to drive to Chicago. That’s closer than most of the bands I want to see will venture!! (On that note, I found that one of my favorite US bands, Fitz and the Tantrums, is actually coming to Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids. Just not until June)
On the blog – we will see! I’ll do Beautiful People, but I’ll probably post as often as my work schedule and erratic internet availability allow me. And hopefully, that will include some book reviews!
I’ve considered doing a few Last Coffee Shop editing posts, but I’m still undecided.
And of course, there’s the general randomness that I produce from time to time 🙂
So how did your March go? Is it still snowing where you are (it is in Michigan!)? Do you have any big plans for April? What was the last book you read?
You may or may not have noticed that I was pretty absent for most of February. There are a few reasons –
First, I picked up a second part-time job a couple weeks into the month, and both my time and internet access have become even more limited than normal. That being said, I’m still here!
Working two jobs has also upped my caffeine intake, and made me seek out coffee from less savory places (like the gas station). I’m normally pretty spoiled because the coffee at the bookstore is amazing. Not so amazing at the gas station. But hey, it’s coffee. I think.
Secondly, I’ve been having an endless amount of annoying problems with Blogger and Google+. They are currently refusing to let me comment on anyone’s comments, or even read them when I’m logged into my blog.
Anyhow, after much deliberation, I’m considering moving my blog to a different platform, or possibly my own domain.
Which leads me to these important questions:
1. Is it worth buying an actual domain name?
2. What blogging platform do you use, and why? Do you like it? Is one better than the others?
Any advice/feedback would be really appreciated! (Oh, and since I can’t read your comments – note the contact form on the top right-hand side of the blog- thanks!)
And now that I have that out of the way – February in Review!
On the Blog and Reading fronts, my hectic schedule made hash of things – and I only managed 5 posts 🙁
My reading count for this month was even worse – I started about 15 books, and finished only two of them!
The first was Stars Above, and the second was The Guest by
Hwang Sok-yong. I’m not sure if I’ll review it or not. It’s about the 52 day massacre in the Hwanghae Province of North Korea during the Korean War. It was moving, disturbing, horrifying, and profoundly important if you’re looking to understand a little more of the North/South Korean relations, the relationship of Korea with the West (especially the U.S.), and the two huge “foreign guests” of Christianity and Communism. It wasn’t light reading, but I was glad I read it. I’m just not sure how to explain it in a review! (A funny place for a writer to be in, let me tell you).
I am also reading through a manuscript for a friend, so that’s taken plenty of time and attention.
And if you’re interested, here are some of the books I’m currently reading:
Without You, There is No Us by Suki Kim
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
The Star-Touched Queen (ARC) by Roshani Chokshi
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
Small Data by Martin Lindstrom
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Also in reading, Intisar Khanani’s (novel-length!) follow up to Sunbolt, Memories of Ash, has a release date!! This is easily one of my most anticipated books of 2016. It’s out May 30th – so just 3 months to wait!! In the meantime, there will be a cover reveal on March 16th, and it will be up for preorder on that day as well.
Off the Blog:
I started the second job (at a new local brewery)
I started yet another novel (I have very bad habits.) More about this in a minute.
I turned 27
I made lots of kimchi and discovered kimchi stew (soooo good. And kimchi fried rice is almost better!!)
I basically did a lot of cooking, now that I think about it . . .
One of my best friends got engaged and I get to be a bridesmaid (my second time)!
The only movie I watched was Pride and Prejudiceand Zombies (Because Matt Smith – Eleventh Doctor as MR. COLLINS)***, I watched none of the Oscars, and watched an unhealthy amount of YouTube videos when I should have been sleeping after 12-16 hour work days.
And to be honest, if anything else happened in February – I don’t remember it. I was probably sleeping. My ability to fall asleep anywhere on anything at anytime just turned into a superpower.
Hopefully I’ll finish a few of those books this time around, and have some time for reviews! I’m also thinking of doing a series of editing posts on The Last Coffee Shop – to help me actually edit it, and because it would be fun. Thoughts? My major goal for March is to do at least one edit through.
Oh, and that book idea I mentioned above) – it won’t go away. So I started writing it. It’s basically a vintage sci-fi + western + Hallyu wave + high fashion novel in the world of TLCS (though not a sequel). The MC’s voice is stuck in my head – he’s an angry teenage model (yes, that’s he) on the run from a truly freaky family situation. He takes refuge at a greasy spoon space diner, which is run by a posse of (former) warrior women who specialize in fried chicken. Because I just can’t write anything normal. If you’d like to see a glimpse into it, here’s the link to my Pinterest board.
Also, I plan on plugging away at The Butler Did It, and reading everyone else’s wonderful posts (I did a lot of reading posts in Feb, but rarely had the energy to comment, lol)
So that’s it for me folks. How was your February? Do you have any big plans for March? What are you reading? And please tell me your thoughts on the blog move idea/domain name 🙂 I’ll give you all the virtual cake if you do!
*From BIGBANG. SO MANY GIFSSSS
**Yes, I know he’s fake. No, I will not get over it.
***Not as bad as I thought it would be, and Matt Smith was hilarious.