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 . . .
When I saw August’s theme, and Cait’s awesome gifs to go with it, I just knew that I had to drop the Seven Sisters in favor of another extremely important character in Red as Blood: Sull’s stepmother, the formidable model, dancer, and actress “Calla Fay.”
No Snow White retelling would be complete without it’s “evil queen,” and since this BP was all about appearances, it’s too perfect.
But first, a little bio:
Name: Phaidra Yu, nee Callas Nickname: Calla FayAge: 25 Height: 1.82 meters Weight: Really?
Phaidra Callas burst onto the modelling scene at the young age of fourteen. From the beginning, her startling beauty, poise, and charming sweetness made her a star, and agencies were practically fighting to sign her. Nevertheless, she kept her current manager (her mother) until her mother's tragic passing in a freak accident when Phaidra was sixteen.
Phaidra disappeared (presumably in mourning) for a month, and then came back as "Calla Fay" the female face of SnøFall - the groundbreaking fashion line by young designer Yu Hayato (유 하야토). This was the first time she met Yu, and his motherless son, who was the other face of SnøFall. Phaidra's star continued to rise, and she made further news by marrying Yu four years later. The "King and Queen of Galactic Fashion" were unstoppable - or so everyone thought.
Give a brief overview of their looks. (Include a photo if you want!)
Hair: Natural black Eyes: Lavender-grey
Skin: Flawless ivory
2. Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.
Well – I don’t actually have a snipped that describes Phaidra right now (since I’m playing around with first person), but I will share one of the random snippets I wrote about her as a practice exercise/character development tool. Note that it probably won’t be part of the book and it’s completely unedited, but it gives you a little taste –
The woman was undeniably beautiful, with her doe-eyed expression and milky white limbs curving through the swaths of silver and gold, but it was the child who stole your breath away. It was hard to look at the woman with him there, this creature of nearly indeterminate gender, whose dark eyes held more sorrow than any child’s should. It was then, after looking close, that you might notice the woman again. You might see how her hand rested on the child’s shoulder, a little too heavy for comfort. You might note how her long, silky black hair draped onto the child, mixing with his own locks in a tangle of confusion. Then you would notice how even the extra fabric from her dress somehow shrouded the child, framing his small body and miring his feet in a swamp of exquisite silk. Last of all, you would look back into her eyes, so clear and crystalline that they might have been liquid, and you might feel uncomfortable when you saw how empty they were. And you would turn away, and try to forget their expressions – but you couldn’t get their frozen stares out of your mind. It’s just an ad, you would think to yourself, it doesn’t mean anything.
3. What is the first thing people might notice about them?
Phaidra’s eyes. They are piercing, crystalline lavender grey, with extra long lashes and an extraordinary sparkle to them. Though she has been (quietly) accused of enhancing them, no records exist to prove it.
4. What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)
Phaidra’s only “imperfection” is a tiny, heart-shaped mole under her left eye. Otherwise, her skin seems poreless, and her features are suspiciously symmetrical.
5. How tall are they? What is their build (Ex: stocky, slender, petite, etc.)
Phaidra is around 5 ft, 10 inches tall (just a couple of inches shorter than her husband).
Delicate bone structure, immaculate features, and a perfectly proportioned, long-limbed, graceful body made Phaidra one of the most galactically popular models of all time. She has been voted the “Most Beautiful Woman in the Galaxy” for the past six years.
6. What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?
Phaidra carries herself like royalty. She is the queen of a fashion empire, after all. Her posture is perfect, and she moves with an unhurried grace that has been compared to large, predatory cats.
7. Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?
Minimal makeup and exclusive designer loungewear that cost more than some average citizen’s house. One of the perks of being married to a designer is that Phaidra is never wearing the same thing as anyone else.
8. Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?
Phaidra’s trademark is a pair of silver crown shaped earrings that she never removes. They were rumored to be a gift from her mother, but she has never explained their origin. However, she refuses to take them off, so designers and stylists have had to work around them. Other than these, Phaidra wears whatever accessories are dictated by her current job.
9. Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!
Phaidra’s “perfect” looks have been under scrutiny ever since she debuted at fourteen as the face of a popular perfume. There has been a debate over everything from plastic-surgery to rumors that she was forced into modelling by her mother. However, ultimately it all comes down to how she looks. Despite the criticism and harsh accusations she’s received over the years, Phaidra seems to glow brightest when she’s being attacked, almost as if she welcomes any attention at all . . .
10. Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?
Yes. Phaidra has said that she would rather die than be ugly, and that her looks are really all she has. The only thing she would change is her age – though she’s only twenty-five, she lives in constant terror of her looks fading and wilting with age. There is an entire lab (funded by Phaidra herself) devoted to finding products and routines that will hold back her aging process as long as possible.
So that’s Phaidra, folks. Since this was all about looks, I feel like we only just scraped the darkness and complexity of her character – but that’s just too fitting. Most people (okay, characters in my world) have evaluated/judged Phaidra by looks alone. As you all know, this can lead to misconceptions, misjudgments, and be a terrible mistake.
So what did you think? How important are appearances to your current characters? Red as Blood is the first project of mine to have appearances be pivotal to the plot!
Did you all do this month’s BP? If so, leave a link so I can check yours out!
In the monthly Beautiful People (hosted/originated by Cait @ Paper Fury and Skye @ Further Up and Further In, and you can read all about it HERE.), I’ve been exploring the rather large cast of my current WIP, Red as Blood. And though I started to do the July feature back in, well, July, I never finished it – so I’m posting it today. Check back soon for BP Part II, which will feature the August questions and another pivotal character from Red as Blood.
So, if you need a refresher on Red as Blood or some of the major characters, check out these posts, and for more on the Seven Sisters, here’s the link to their general bio.
Next up is the third sister – Ayan Stonefist – more commonly known as “The General.” Here’s a photo and a quick recap of her bio:
Don’t be fooled by her small stature - she can, and will, destroy you. The General has one of the best tactical minds of the last century, and it’s a mystery why she’s working at an out-of-the-way food joint. Actually, most everything about her is a mystery, and she’d prefer it stay that way.
Age: early forties (or so the Sisters guess)Occupation: Assistant Manager of Henpecked Bar & Grill. But that’s just what it says on paper . . .Height: 135 cm? Weight: Unknown Race: Human?Weakness: *whispers* Don’t even tell her we asked.Weapon of Choice: Throwing knives or a good spearLikes: Order, cleanliness, and quiet. Sharp blades. Maps. Dogs.Dislikes: Bad manners. Insubordinate people. Disorder. Cats.Favorite Food: Strawberries (she has a surprising sweet tooth)
Of all of the sisters, Ayan is the most reserved and forbidding. However, she exudes calm and excels at managing diverse and difficult personalities. Sull tries to avoid her as much as possible, yet he admires the way she carries herself – as if she’s twenty feet tall and all corded muscle – anyone in her way will be ten feet under . . .
So, now, let’s attempt to get to know The General a bit better.
Does she want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?
This isn’t the sort of thing the General thinks about, to be honest. She’s never desired children, and she has zero interest in any sort of life partner or romance. Still, she isn’t opposed to mentoring a young person, and she did very well as the leader of armies. As a general rule, Ayan feels that children are a nuisance, and that they are a danger to everyone if their parents didn’t really want them. Sull basically affirms everything that Ayan believed about kids. 😛
2. What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)
I answered this in her profile (throwing knives or a spear), but the General is one of those people who can use anything for an effective weapon. Her brain is her other favorite weapon though 😛
3. What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for someone else, and why did they do it?
When Ayan had command of a particularly large group of young men (soldiers), she caught one of them stealing food from the stores. Normally, that sort of thing was punishable by discharge and the removal of a hand, and the General had not hesitated to carry out the sentence before. However, after investigating the situation, she discovered that the soldier had taken the food for a group of orphans that had lost their parents in the current battles. Ayan looked into this and allowed the soldier to go with only extended latrine duty. She then set up a fund for the children, and personally found them all homes, despite her general dislike of children. When asked why she did it, all the General would say is that war “wasn’t right, and that no one but the instigators should suffer the consequences.”
4. Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?
She is the General – so 99% of her existence has been in the more violent spheres of life – but she isn’t violent without cause or reason. Rather, she only uses physical violence as a last resort.
5. Are they a rule-follower or a rebel?
While Ayan is usually a rule-follower (she believes that rules exist for a reason), she isn’t afraid to color outside the lines, so to speak. If she truly believes an action is right or wrong, she won’t hesitate to act accordingly.
6. Are they organized or messy?
Highly organized. The General despises anything remotely disordered or messy.
7. What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?
The General believes that love is like down comforters or a good mattress: comfortable and a life enhancement, but not necessary for a fulfilling existence. Her soldiers usually loved her, but she discouraged it, as she thought it encouraged an unnatural level of risk-taking and devotion (when she was in a dangerous situation).
8. What do they eat for breakfast?
The General strives for balance in every area of life, so she makes sure that her breakfast is nutritious and balanced, with just the right amount of calories to keep her going until the next meal. That being said, she’s partial to strawberry pancakes.
9. Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened?
While Ayan tries to maintain a professional distance between herself and those around her, she has witnessed the deaths of many young soldiers. The General feels personally connected to every soldier under her command, and every loss or death has made her strive to be a better commander.
10. What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?)
The General has a sweet tooth, so she will occasionally indulge in one of Dumpling‘s famous strawberry shortcakes. But only if she has had an extremely stressful day, or she feels quite satisfied with herself.
So that’s all for today- do you feel like you know the General a little bit better? (She’s rather enigmatic). Did you do July’s BP? How is your August going, and what are you writing/reading?
So this week’s TTT is a chance to go back and do a Top 10 that you missed. I have missed A LOT of the recent Top 10’s, but the one I felt the most need to participate in was just a couple of weeks ago. “The Top 10 Things that Books Made Me Want to Learn or Do” is a topic that I haven’t written as much about, and as a writer*, there are a ton of things I have attempted or wanted to attempt because of books!! The difficult part was narrowing it down to just ten 😛
So – without further ado:
The Top 10 Things that Books have Made Me Want to Learn or Do:
Forge a sword
If you’ve ever read a fantasy novel, you probably have read about that pivotal blade for the hero, or magical smith character. I have been fascinated by swordsmithing ever since I was little. The first book that made me think about it though? That’s tough. I’d probably go with The Lord of the Ringstrilogy. Aragorn’s sword is reforged from the shards of Narsil, a legendary blade of his ancestors. And it’s Aragorn’s remade blade Andúril that marks him as the “true king.” Now that, is a sword.
2. Become a samurai.
Since I am A. Not Japanese, and B. Live in the 21st Century, the viability of this one is . . . err, nonexistent. But everything I read about these fascinating warriors always made me want to be them. In particular, Chris Bradford’s Young Samuraiseries sealed the deal. (After all, it’s about gaijin samurai).
This is one that I actually went out and did. While I’m not a crack shot or anything (especially with my bad eyes), I’m not terrible. And I still love archery. It’s therapeutic. And I can blame Roger Lancelyn Green’s Adventures of Robin Hood for this one! (With LOTR’s Legolas in a close second)
4. Celtic-style Illumination
I don’t recall when I discovered the children’s picture book Marguerite Makes a Book, but I was probably about six or seven. Anyhow, Marguerite is a young girl with an illuminator for a father. Marguerite dreams of illuminating a manuscript, and when her father needs help finishing a book for a noble lady’s birthday, it’s Marguerite who comes to his aid. I still love this book, and I have spent many an hour practicing calligraphy and illuminating bookmarks and other things!
5. Riding in a horse race
While I did take horseback riding lessons for a few years (and I went to a horse camp), and I do enjoy the occasional trail ride, I have yet to race a horse (or own one). I’m not really the jockey build (or height). But betweenBlack Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, and Walter Farley’s novels, owning a horse and racing it was something I always wanted to do. Still, I did learn to take care of a horse and ride one because of books!
6. Knit a sweater.
There isn’t a single, specific book that made me want to do this. Rather, it was an idea that grew after reading enough historical fiction. So many of the heroines were skilled in weaving, crocheting, or knitting, that I was determined to figure it out. After a few failed attempts, I finally got the hang of it, and I’ve knit more than one sweater now, and designed my own patterns! It’s a skill that I’m really glad I worked at developing. A recent-ish book that really made me want to knit would be Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. It’s the hero, not the heroine, who is the expert knitter of this fun little fairytale retelling. It is also, to date, the only book I’ve read where the villain was dispatched via knitting needle!
7. Go on an epic journey by foot, horse, ship, and/or wagon.
I haven’t done this – yet! But I plan on having some hives someday (if I ever land somewhere permanently, that is). I have helped a beekeeper do their rounds, and studied bees and the homeopathic uses of honey. My fascination with the subject is pretty old, but one of the primary factors was Chaliceby Robin McKinley. The Secret Life of Bees probably helped too 🙂
9. Go to a masquerade ball.
Err, doesn’t everyone want to do this? I love the idea of a fancy dress ball – but everyone knows that a masquerade is the most exciting (or frightening) type of costume party. So many things are revealed when your face is concealed, and all that jazz. Notable examples would be The Phantom of the Operaand Much Ado About Nothing, but there are a lot more!
10. Become an archivist in a crazy library.
To be honest, I’m halfway there. Every befuddled-looking, dusty person in lumpy clothes – a staple in fantasy novels, is a little (lot) like me. The library in the Abhorsen series, the library in The Thirteenth Tale, the library in Harry Potter, the Archives in the Kingkiller Chronicles – those are the places I want to go/live in the most. Maybe this will be my ultimate bucket list item?
THAT WAS HARD. There are so many things that books have made me want to do, or convinced me to learn. It’s one of the reasons I love books so much, to be honest.
*In the list of things I have learned/am learning how to do because of writing books – we can add learning Korean, dance tutorials, writing with my left hand, and living without modern conveniences, to name a few!
So – what sort of things have books made you want to do or made you do?
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?
Last month, I featured Mollie, one of the Seven Sisters of Henpecked Bar and Grill (Red as Blood) and I decided to continue that theme this month as well. This time around, I’m featuring Doctor Marjorie Pierce, the owner and manager of Henpecked, and the oldest Sister. Just for a recap, here’s her bio and reference pic again:
NICKNAME: THE DOCTOR.
Yes, otherwise known as Doc, or just Boss. While she isn’t a Timelord, Doc is a medical practitioner. Despite her healing tendencies, she’s a vicious warrior in her own right. And you’d have to be a strong personality to have all of the Sisters submit to your rule (a loving dictatorship). She’s a motherly figure, though she never had any children of her own (though there are rumors of a scandalous, tragic love affair in her youth . . .)
Age: A lady never tells – but she’s north of 40 and south of 60
Height: 127 cm Species: Human
Weakness: Orphans of any species
Weapon of Choice: Bola
Likes: Feeding People, Sharpening weapons. Being Needed.
Dislikes: Whining and Complaining. Inefficiency.
Favorite Food: Fried Chicken and Biscuits with Gravy and Strong, Black Coffee – and Chocolate Cake. She’s not a health nut . . .
Marjorie is the first person to meet Sull in the narrative, and she (presumably) takes a shine to the battered, skinny boy with haunted eyes and too pretty of a face. He needs food.
As Marjorie is the oldest major character, I thought it would be interesting (and helpful) to explore her childhood a bit, since it’s something she never talks about to the other sisters, though it obviously shaped her life.
What is her first childhood memory?
Marjorie’s parents were tenant farmers, and her mother was the farmer’s midwife. They all lived with Marjorie’s two younger sisters and grandmother in a longhouse with the other tenant farmers, so Marjorie’s first memories are of lots of noise and people. It was like having a very, very, large family.
2. What were their best and worst childhood experiences
Best: When Marjorie turned twelve, she had her official Welcoming Day. It signified that she was an adult, and fully capable of taking on an occupation like the other tenant farmers. However, what Marjorie liked about it was how she was finally the center of attention, and how her parents managed to make her a real fruit pie, and an almost-new dress that made her really feel like an adult. She felt loved, appreciated, and happy, and she often wishes she could go back to that moment.
Worst: A rival warlord took over the plantation where Marjorie and her family lived. In the chaos, her entire family was killed. Coming back and finding everyone dead or gone was the worst moment of her life.
3. What was their childhood home like?
The tenant farmers lived in a series of longhouses – which are exactly what they sound like – long buildings with almost zero privacy. Families would put up rough curtains between sections, and sleep in a small space on shared pallets. The average number of occupants in each house was around 20, with families that often included grandparents or great-grandparents. The farmers worked long hours, with plantation duties in addition to their other jobs (such as mechanics, android supervisors, medics, etc.) Though many of the farm chores were done by mechanicals and robots, human workers were needed to run things.
4. What’s something that scared them as child?
As a child, Marjorie was frightened of the alien warlord who (basically) owned her parent’s as indentured servants. Though she never really saw the warlord, or his wife (who actually supervised and ran the entire estate), Marjorie heard too many stories about what happened to tenants who broke the rules.
5. Who did they look up to most?
Marjorie had a good relationship with both of her parents and her grandmother, but she looked up to her mother most. Marjorie remembers her mother as a loving, giving, and genteel but capable woman, who never raised her voice above a yell, but was (almost) always obeyed.
6. Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?
Favorite: Other than fried chicken and chocolate cake, Marjorie always loved anything with fresh fruit. Fresh fruit that wasn’t synthetic was a rare luxury that her hardworking parents could hardly afford.
Least Favorite: Slurry. Slurry was the all-purpose name given to the “leftover soup” fed to the tenant farmers twice each day. Morning’s offerings were usually grainy and bland, while evening slurry often had strange, unidentifiable chunks in it. It was so bad that Marjorie never speaks about it, to anyone.
7. If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?
Marjorie would change a lot of things. She’d help her parents more, and daydream less. She would pay more attention, and she would have found a way to get her parents out. That’s what she tells herself, anyway.
8. What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?
Marjorie was distracted and flighty. She was curious about the world around her, and frequently disrespectful of her elders. Despite this, she was very caring, and she was devoted to her younger sisters.
9. What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?
Marjorie loved her whole family, but she felt like they were always disapproving of her, and that she couldn’t be as good as them. Her father was very quiet and stern, and they rarely had conversations, but he silently gave up everything to make his family’s lot a little better. Marjorie’s grandmother and mother were two in a long line of midwife/healers, and they imparted a great reverence for life to Marjorie. They taught her everything they knew, and encouraged her apprenticeships with the other longhouses’ healers. Marjorie’s little sisters were twins, and four years younger, so Marjorie frequently had the care of them. Since their parents were normally working, it was up to Marjorie to feed, bathe, and watch over her sisters on a daily basis. Marjorie resented it at times, but it also made her incredibly close to them.
10. What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?
Marjorie wanted to study medicine off-planet, though she knew her parents could never afford such a thing. She always dreamed of running away, becoming a famous doctor, and coming back with lots of money to redeem her indentured family.
Due to the traumatic events in #2, Marjorie’s interests turned from healing to revenge. She was thirteen when the rival warlord wiped out the plantation, and she fled for the neighboring plantation. There, she convinced the tenant farmers to take her in as one of theirs, and she enrolled in the warlord’s guard. Through cunning, knowledge of anatomy and herbals, and determination (and aided by her small stature), Marjorie developed a reputation as a capable assassin. She finally caught the attention of the Matron (formal title of the warlord’s wife), and after many successful missions, her indentured servitude was lifted, and she was formally employed. Having achieved this goal, Marjorie set to undermining and destroying the warlord who had wiped out her family. She did eventually receive her medical training, and become a renowned doctor, but the planet she left behind never knew her as anything resembling a healer.
Well – that was darker than anticipated. That’s what I get for writing a book about a bunch of assassins-turned-restaurateurs taking in a troubled runaway . . .
Did you do BP this month (or do you plan to?) – if so, leave your link in the comments so I can go read it 🙂
What do you think about Doctor Pierce? Does she sound like an interesting character to you? Anything else you’d like to know about her/like clarified?
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)