my book expo experience: thursday

I did it! I made it through Book Expo, day 2! Book Expo is definitely an exciting privilege, but it is also very stressful and overwhelming, especially when you have anxiety. I am really proud of myself for going at all, even though I’m not doing everything I set out to do and not everything is going as expected. I’m trying to let myself enjoy most of it and let myself be proud of being able to do it since for the past few years I would’ve never imagined being able to go to Book Expo for many reasons.

Anyway, onto the Thursday Book Expo experience!

things that happened

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me, slightly more tired than on day 1. also I woke up at 5am.
  • I met up with a cool coworker. I knew one of my coworkers was going to be at Book Expo but forgot to get her number before we left, but she somehow got it from someone and texted me about meeting up, so we hung out for a few hours at Book Expo yesterday. It was definitely nicer not being completely alone and to have someone to look for after waiting in a million lines, and comforting to see someone from home who I like.
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is it bad that I didn’t know what book to put on the book that changed your life wall? There are just so many!
  • I went to a couple panels. Okay, really I went to about five minutes of two panels. One was about raising a reader and a book of the same title, but I thought some of what they said about children and encouraging kids to read was kind of BS, and I’m not even a children’s librarian. It was somewhat interesting to hear a different perspective but I don’t know if it’s one I’d subscribe to. I also saw a bit of Rick Riordan’s panel with two of his authors and they talked about what they hope readers will gain from reading their books, which was cool. I wish I’d seen more of it but I was starving and had a lack of protein and caffeine headache.
  • I saw more book celebrities. The first day was famous booktuber day, and day 2 was the day I saw a couple of bloggers I’ve followed in the past, including Alexa of Alexa Loves Books. I thought about saying hi but we were in a signing line a lot of people away from each other and I didn’t want it to be weird, so I did not say hi.
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the HUGE Alice Hoffman line!!
  • MORE SIGNINGS. Honestly, I mostly went to signings on Thursday. Mary H. K Choi and Julia Drake were too beautiful to exist, and Mary H. K. Choi complimented my hair. I also met Alice Hoffman, whose books I loved as a kid but have not read much of as an adult. I got her book for my mom because my mom LOVES Alice. I debated going to a couple of other signings but I already had eARCs for them so I decided to let other people who didn’t have the books at all get a chance. But it made me so happy that Mary H. K. Choi’s line was so super long because so many of my blogging friends love her (and omfg I really need to read EMERGENCY CONTACT I am terrible).
  • I hung out in my hotel room. A few people from home encouraged me to go out and do things in NYC, but as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I hate NYC and find it super dirty, which heightens my anxiety, and also very overwhelming, and honestly, going to Book Expo already put me at my anxiety limit and I want to make it through the whole trip without crying so I decided to just rest and relax and prepare for the last day. Plus, my entire body was too sore to walk around or do anything but sit and lie down.

 

day 2 haul

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  • The Empaths Survival Guide – I don’t know if I really believe empaths are a thing, but if they are I definitely am one, and I thought this seemed like an interesting book about dealing with life as a highly sensitive person, which I also definitely am.
  • A Match Made in Mehendi – I told my coworker if I didn’t get this at the ARC drop for Little, Brown, I would cry. I got it so I did not have to cry.
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Mostly got this one because it was pretty. I don’t know much about it other than it’s semi-historical magical realism and about a mysterious house with a magical book.
  • Wicked As You Wish – I picked this one up on a whim, but it doesn’t seem like my thing now that I’ve had time to look at it and I think I might give it to another coworker.
  • Permanent Record – I was so excited to get this book even though I didn’t know about it pre-Book Expo days. It’s about a college drop out and a will they won’t they romance with a pop star.
  • The Last True Poets of the Sea – I don’t remember what this one is about to be honest, but I remember reading about it and wanting it so I went to her signing and Julia Drake was so feckin’ beautiful OMG.
  • The Fountains of Silence – I LOVED SALT TO THE SEA and was excited to get this one. I actually missed the official ARC drop, but the Penguin guy saved a few copies and gave me one. Thank you, Penguin guy!
  • Monster, She Wrote – Also picked this one up on a whim from Quirk because it’s bios of female horror writers!! It sounded cool.
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my book expo experience: wednesday

I must be a very Good and Committed blogger, because the first thing I wanted to do when I got back to my hotel on Wednesday aka First Day of Book Expo was to blog about the experience. Okay, so the need to sleep overtook my desire to blog and I started writing this in the morning after about 11 hours of sleep, but I think it still counts. Anyway.

Here is what happened on Wednesday, the first day of Book Expo:

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me getting ready for book expo
  • A LOT of waiting in line. I got to Book Expo at 9:00 on Wednesday because I assumed the floor opened then, but nothing opened until 12:00, so I basically waited in line for three hours. The most exciting thing about that was that I recognized two very famous book tubers, Emma Reads and Clockwork Reader. I was too shy to talk to them. A couple people in line asked me if it was my first time there, which it was not, so apparently I looked as anxious as I felt. Someone also very rudely accused me of cutting the line when I asked someone to save my spot so I could go to the bathroom, which was not great, but apparently that person had just cut a bunch of people in line which I found out later, so that was not a huge deal in the end I guess. It was just unfortunate that someone would be so rude.

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cool signage for Stephen Chbosky, Sarah J. Maas, SLAY, and REBEL

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Me with CRESCENT FREAKING CITY in the background!!!!
  • Missing Leigh Bardugo’s signing. I didn’t know that her signing for NINTH HOUSE was ticketed because nothing I read said it was, and even though I got to the booth by 12:04, all the 100 tickets were already gone, so I didn’t get to go to her signing, which was a HUGE disappointment because that was half the reason I wanted to go to Book Expo this year.
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Leigh Bardugo from really far away. Oh, and her last name means “executioner” DOESN’T THAT EXPLAIN SO MUCH???
  • Seeing Leigh Bardugo speak. I did get to see her discussion of NINTH HOUSE, which was super interesting, especially the parts about being a Jew but feeling disconnected from it, which is something I feel in my own life, so I am very excited about that aspect of the book. She was so weird and cool and Goth and I want to be her when I grow up (I am an adult already but whatever, I can still say that). Leigh Bardugo also admitted that she was casually racist when she was writing SHADOW AND BONE, which was why it was not diverse, and why she was so on board with making it more diverse in the Netflix show. I thought her explanation and discussion of race in her books was really interesting and thoughtful.
  • Being the first person in Phil Stamper’s line. Since I didn’t get to the NINTH HOUSE signing, I got to go to two other signings I’d wanted to go to, including Phil Stamper’s signing for his debut, THE GRAVITY OF US, for which I WAS FIRST IN LINE!!!! I was so awkward and nervous. He was also awkward and nervous because apparently it was his first signing ever, so I felt really special for being queer and being the first person he’s signed at a signing.
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my face after about 2 hours of being overwhelmed at Book Expo.
  • Being too scared to talk to people. I think I was actually more comfortable talking to people and publishers the first two times I went. This time I felt so much pressure to make sure I had an amazing time and got a million books, and I think that actually made me more anxious and I felt pretty incapable of talking to publishers and by day 2 still had not figured out how to ask publishers about books. I didn’t want publishers to think I was just there for the ARCs and I wanted to have a perfect time and that ended up paralyzing me a bit from just doing things I wanted to do.

 

wednesday book haul

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sorry about the shitty hotel room lighting
  • Serpent & Dove | Shelby Mahurin – aka witch/holy war book of my DREAMS!! I’m SO happy I did not miss the ARC drop for this at HarperCollins.
  • All-American Muslim Girl | Nadine Jolie Courtney – I picked this one up on a whim at a librarian giveaway for Fierce Reads because the cover was pretty and I did like the author’s first book, ROMANCING THE THRONE, so we’ll see how it goes.
  • Winterwood | Shea Ernshaw – This was actually the very first book I picked up at Book Expo! I was psyched. I still need to read WICKED DEEP, though.
  • The Truth Is | NoNequia Ramos – I was supposed to get this for my coworker, but I am definitely keeping it for me. It’s about a girl from a conservative Puerto Rican family who dates a trans boy. Very excited for this one.
  • Nocturna | Maya Motayne – I was a little happy I could go to this signing even though I missed NINTH HOUSE because I love this cover. I have an ARC of this but really want the full version.
  • The Gravity of Us | Phil Stamper – YES for queer author at Book Expo and being the first in his line. Go me.
  • The Desire Map – I picked this one up on a whim because I do enjoy self-help books every now and then and this one is about goal setting which I am working on, so it seemed like a good one to pick up. Plus the booth person pointed out that it matched my hair and then I could not say no.
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my book expo to do list

So in case you missed it…I’M GOING TO BOOK EXPO THIS YEAR!!!!! I am so super excited because I’ve never been to real Book Expo, only Power Readers (I am oooooooold) and the first year of BookCon, which was a STRAIGHT DISASTER, and I’ve never gone in a professional position for work-related reasons either, so I am PSYCHED. I had to go through this whole process of getting my funds approved so I can have all my hotel and travel and food and train paid for by my library job, but THEY SAID YES and now I can go to Book Expo practically for free and DID I MENTION I AM EXCITED?!?!?!! (if you can’t tell by all the caps and screaming…idk what to say).

BUT let me tell you…I have a lot to do before Book Expo actually gets here, so today’s post is mostly me being excited and also me trying to get myself organized and figuring out what I have to do before Book Expo.

Here are some of the things I am doing to prep:

  • Plan my outfits. This may not seem important to some people, but I gotta look cute for meeting cool bookish folk and meeting authors like LEIGH BARDUGO and honestly I mostly have to look on Wednesday for the NINTH HOUSE signing and getting a selfie with Leigh Bardugo and the rest will be fine.
  • Get cool makeup. Not going to lie, I did buy two makeup items specifically to look adorable at Book Expo, namely some glitter hair/body spray so I am sparkly and fairy-like, and also blue eyeliner that hopefully I can figure out how to use in time?? I’m really bad at eyeliner, folks.
  • Favorite all the exhibitors I want to see. Publisher’s Weekly came out with a roundup of all the cool ARCs to get at Book Expo, so I used that to help me make a list of all the vendors I want to see when I go there. I have secret hopes that some of the publishing contacts I’ve been emailing over the past year will be there so I can hug them and thank them profusely for making my bookish life bliss.
  • Make a schedule of the panels & signings I want to go to. The main reasons I cited in my work paperwork for Book Expo was a bunch of the panels and how I thought they’d help me professionally, so I will actually be going to panels at Book Expo this year. I’m glad I have three full conference days because otherwise I’d be worried I wouldn’t get enough time with the exhibitors. But there are a lot of panels I want to go to about diversity issues, particularly some LGBT panels, and I am very interested in them. I’m also going to Book List’s Shout and Share because I am leading a Shout and Share panel at an event at work for a big con-type thing next month.
  • Make a packing list. And also pack. Usually I’m not a packing-list type person, but I am for some reason so stressed that I’m going to forget something I need or want or will help make me feel more comfortable so I’m making one.
  • Make a playlist. A couple people suggested to me that I make a playlist of happy music for when I’m inevitably stressed out and panicking in NYC, so I am definitely making a playlist of happy and/or badass songs that make me feel like a queen/boss. Most notable artists on the list thus far include Sigrid, Lizzo, and K. Flay.
  • Finish the books I’m currently in the middle of. I want to be reading as few books as possible when I go to Book Expo so I can start my Book Expo books immediately. I want to be free of any reading commitments so I can fully immerse myself in my Book Expo loot.

 

So, yeah, basically…I’m gonna be super busy this week. My week is already going to be super hectic with various work things (ugh, save me) and then I have to do…all this. So, if you are a kind soul, please send me some good vibes to get through the week and then doing all this stuff so I can have a successful Book Expo with as little stress as possible.

Oh, and by the way, I’m going to be on hiatus until I get back June 1. I may even be emotionally dead after that, so I’m not sure when you’ll be hearing from me next after this post. So, wish me luck, light, and books, and I’ll see you all on the other side!

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unexpected // hope and other punch lines

Title: Hope and Other Punch Lines
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Pages: 320
Date published: May 7, 2019

Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing.

Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope.

Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

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If I had to pick one word to describe my reaction to this book, it would be “unexpected,” because honestly, I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. I hate to say it because it sounds insensitive, but I was not down for or interested in reading a book about 9/11. 9/11 is such an important and life-altering event in the United States, but honestly, I was never much effected by it, and besides that, living through it in general made me a lot less keen to consume more media about it, even if that media was fictional. Honestly, if this book had not been written by Julie Buxbaum, whose debut, TELL ME THREE THINGS, I adored, I probably wouldn’t have looked at it twice.

This book definitely taught me a lot I didn’t know about the aftermath of 9/11. When it happened, I was in second grade and living far enough away from the event that I didn’t even know anyone who’d been directly affected by it, so honestly, other than the resulting increase in racism towards Muslims, I didn’t think much about the effects. Before reading this book, I knew nothing about the World Trade Center cough or all the resulting health problems, and had no idea how it affected the communities that lost so many people. This book made me realize that maybe I was being a little naive and insensitive not to think about how deeply 9/11 affected people, not just on a political level, but a personal level.

Outside of learning a lot, HOPE AND OTHER PUNCH LINES was also just a really well-crafted story. I was especially impressed with how vivid Julie Buxbaum made the world of the Baby Hope photo, which, even though it was a fictional photo, I could totally see happening and being taken in the real world. Buxbaum did a great job portraying how the photo influenced Abbi’s life, but also showing how Abbi was a separate person from the Baby Hope photo. She really emphasized that Abbi was not just a symbol and was a real person, both in Abbi’s narration and in how Noah’s thoughts and feelings about her changed as he got to know her outside of being famous for the Baby Hope photo.

I also really appreciated all of the portrayals of the different friendships in the book. I especially loved Noah’s friendship with his best friend, Jack. Jack was so charming and he also told Noah when he was being a lot and being ridiculous, and we all need friends like that. I liked watching Abbi become better friends with Julia, another counselor at the camp where they all work, and putting that in comparison with her ex-friendship with Cat. I was impressed at how well Buxbaum depicted Abbi and Cat growing apart even though it didn’t happen in the part of Abbi’s story that was in the book, and how we really got to know how deep their friendship was and what the complications were.

Something else I liked was the way Julie Buxbaum wrote about how 9/11 affected all of the characters, both the main two and their parents, as well as all the people in the Baby Hope photo who were interviewed. No two stories were alike, and some were more harrowing and heartbreaking than others, but other characters tried to find positivity, and even humor in the situation. Noah spends a lot of the book trying to come up with the perfect 9/11 joke (he wants to be a stand-up comedian; he’s not a heartless jerk), and I felt like that really went with the message of the book of trying to find what works for each individual to put themselves back together after tragedy.

Basically, this book ended up far exceeding the meager expectations I had for it, and I’m a little embarrassed that I expected so little of it just because of the topic of the book. After reading HOPE AND OTHER PUNCH LINES, I will never doubt another Julie Buxbaum book, and may have to go back and read my ARC of WHAT TO SAY NEXT before I go through withdrawal while waiting for her to announce another book. Julie Buxbaum is a criminally underrated YA author, and I hope that people will start discovering her more soon because she is definitely someone to watch out for.

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how my mental health affects my reading

I feel like two thirds of what I talk about on this blog is books and witchy stuff and the remaining third is me being too open about my mental health struggles. Honestly, sometimes it feels like two thirds of what I talk about is books/witchy stuff and half of what I talk about is mental health, even though that math obviously does not add up.

Sometimes I do worry that I am too open about my struggles with mental health on this blog, because I do put it on my resume, so if you came to this post via that, hi, I struggle with mental illness, but I am fully capable of any job I set out to do and always do my best. Anyway. I think it’s important to be open about one’s mental health struggles if you can because there are lots of other people going through the same thing who might benefit from reading about it, and I think talking about it can ultimately help start removing the stigma from it. So that’s why I do it.

Moving on.

While I was writing my post on my reflections about my reading for 2019, I started realizing a lot of my reading habits and feelings about reading are being strongly influenced by my mental health right now, so today I’ll be sharing how my anxiety and depression is affecting my reading habits.

 

it affects what i read

For a while now, I’ve been mainly interested in reading fantasy books and contemporary fluffy books. I used to read really gritty contemporaries that would crush my soul, but also, I read books like that because I wanted to read about my struggles and feel validated and not so alone. For the past few years though, I’ve gotten to a stage in my mental health where I don’t want to be thinking about it all the time in everything I do, and I’ve started using reading as much more of an escape from my problems. I find I don’t want to read a hard-hitting serious book with lots of tough feelings, because I am already feeling a lot of tough feelings and just need a break from them when I read.

 

i’m more appreciative of content warnings

I have always understood the importance of content and trigger warnings, but up until a couple years ago never really utilized them for myself when reading other bloggers’ reviews. I’d skip past the trigger warnings because I thought I could handle serious and upsetting stuff and be fine, but lately, I’ve just wanted to avoid reading books that upset me or trigger emotions relating to past traumas. Therefore, I find any trigger warnings, especially about topics like suicide, grief, death, and sexual assault really helpful. That way, I don’t have to put myself in a situation where I can be set back emotionally by what I read.

 

my concentration really sucks

…which drastically affects how much and how fast I read. I learned recently that trouble concentrating or focusing can be a symptom of anxiety and also persistent depression or dysthimia, which I have. I find it a lot harder to sit down and read a book for a few hours, and can no longer binge read a whole book in a couple hours like I used to be able to. I also can’t read and watch a movie at the same time like I used to always do. This means I read a lot less during the year because I can’t focus on reading a book fast. I used to be able to read upwards of 100 books a year, and now I’m lucky to get to 50.

 

i feel really guilty about my reading

Having super low self-esteem is one of the symptoms of my depression, and that makes me beat myself up about things a lot more than probably someone without it might. I don’t know what to do about it, but I feel super guilty about how slow my reading has gotten, and also how little I read compared to how I used to read. I know I still read faster than the average person, but that does not comfort me very much. Reading has unfortunately somewhat become another thing I use to beat myself up and bring myself down, and I’m not sure what to do to fix that.

 

it affects my investment in the story/characters

I don’t want people to think that all depressed people have this problem, but for me, I’ve noticed that as my depression has gotten more consistent that I’ve had more trouble feeling fully invested in and connected to stories and characters. I used to feel super passionately hinged on characters in a story, and now I feel like there’s a wall between me and characters I read about. I think its because I’m trying so hard in other aspects of my life to feel disconnected from what I’m feeling, but I really miss feeling deeply connected and emotionally invested in a character or story.

 

In short, being a book lover with mental health issues has been a TASK lately. I’m not trying to say that all people with mental health struggles have these issues when reading or that I even have them all the time, but as of now, this is how being depressed is affecting my reading. If anyone has similar struggles or has any tips on dealing with these things, please feel free to sound off in the comments!

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queer books i need to read

In my recent post where I reflected on my reading, I realized that I have somehow not read ANY queer books this year. Given that queer books are seriously my jam, this is an utter travesty that has made me look at my TBR list again to figure out how many queer books are on it, which queer books are on it, and try to figure out when I want to read all the queer books.

So today I am sharing with you a list of some of the queer YA books that are on my TBR that are being released in 2019.

 

  • Wilder Girls | Rory Power – This book is basically a queer Lord of the Flies where a girls’ school is put under quarantine when everyone starts to die from a strange virus. I am so here for plague books, plus THAT COVER!!!
  • Like A Love Story | Abdi Nazemian – This book is set in the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and is about a gay Iranian teen. I am very curious about this book because I haven’t read many with Persian characters, and I’ve never read about the AIDS epidemic from the perspective of a non-white male.
  • Orpheus Girl | Brynne Rebele-Henry – I downloaded this on a whim because I am very into books about mythology, as this one is. It’s somewhat of an Orpheus retelling about a girl in a small conservative town who is sent to a gay conversion camp when she’s found in an intimate position with her female best friend and crush.
  • Going Off Script | Jen Wilde – I’m SO excited about this one yet keep forgetting to read it??? I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Anyway. I LOVED Jen Wilde’s last book, THE BRIGHTSIDERS, so obviously I HAVE to read GOING OFF SCRIPT. It’s about a tv show intern who tries to get her boss to not ruin the lesbian character.

 

  • The Devouring Gray | Christine-Lynn Herman – I’ve been curious about this book since it’s getting a lot of buzz. I don’t know how it’s queer, but if it’s queer and about creepy forests, it is definitely a Mel book!
  • The Meaning of Birds | Jaye Robin Brown – I adored Jaye Robin Brown’s last queer book, GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT, and have been planning to read her next queer book, and look, here it is! So obviously this one must be read.
  • The Lost Coast | Amy Rose Capetta – I’ve talked about this one a lot on the blog already, but QUEER WITCHES. Okay, I’m done.
  • Hot Dog Girl | Jennifer Dugan – I requested this one kind of on a whim but it sounds super cute and is about a girl working at a theme park and I’m pretty sure she’s bi? Obviously this bi girl has to read all the bi girl books.

 

  • Tell Me How You Really Feel | Aminah Mae Safi – In this book, a cheerleader and overachieving film director hate each other but of course fall in love. I am all about hate-to-love romances so I am very into this book already.
  • We Set the Dark on Fire | Tehlor Hay Mejia – I need to go back to finish this book that I thought would be too depressing, but since finding out it gets gay, I obviously need to finish it. This book is set in a Latinx, Handmaid’s Tale-like world where girls are taught to be either the emotional support of a man or the business support of a man, and men each get two wives, and the two main wives in this book fall for each other.
  • The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali | Sabina Kahn – I can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet even though it came out in January and I was psyched for it. Rukhsana is an Indian girl who tries to be good for her conservative parents, who send her to Bangladesh when they catch her kissing her girlfriend.
  • These Witches Don’t Burn | Isabel Sterling – Yes, I’m predictable; queer witch blogger reading about queer witches, what can I say?

 

Are any of these books on your TBR? Which one should I read first?

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the artist’s way week 2 wrap-up

This week I participated in the second week of The Artist’s Way course. Here is my intro post about what The Artist’s Way is in case you missed it!

 

weekly thoughts

I don’t feel this week with The Artist’s Way was as successful for me as last week, mainly because I didn’t put as much effort into being creative as a I did the first week. When I did the activity where I chose five other lives I’d like to have and “lived as a poet,” I was a lot more motivated to do things to inspire creativity and be creative. I wanted to choose “romance writer” to be this week, but honestly I was a little tapped out after last week and had a lot on my mind, so I just didn’t feel like doing it.

I also spent time thinking about how I spend my time in general, and realized I don’t do a lot of the things I like to do anymore since I started my first full-time job last year. I have always been a major advocate for self-care for other people in my life, but when it comes to myself, I tend to be of the gogogo mindset and prioritize thinking about work during the week and don’t think about anything else. I definitely want to make changes in how I spend my time, but currently I’m at a bit of a loss for how to do that since I’m always so tired during the week and work and then go to sleep.

 

weekly check-in

1. How many days did you do the morning pages?

I did my morning pages all 7 days this week. I found there were a few days where I really didn’t have much to say and just rambled, but it has actually been somewhat helpful to have a bit of a brain dump each morning.

 

2. Did you do have your Artist’s Date this week? How did it make you feel?

I did not have an artist’s date this week. Honestly I was so out of it over the weekend that all I wanted to do was sleep or just lie down for long stretches of time. The weekend is the only time I have available to do an artist’s date, and I just didn’t feel like doing it this week. To be honest, thinking about having to do an artist’s date stressed me out a bit this week because I have so much on my mind with some personal emotional stuff I’m dealing with and preparing for Book Expo and freaking out about having to work basically an entire week with no day off next week because of doing outreach stuff (don’t worry, I’m getting paid extra for the extra time, but I still have to do it so…ehhhh.) So artist’s date this week was…not. A success. Or existent.

 

3. Were there any significant developments in your creative recovery this week? Describe them.

Honestly nothing of note happened for me creatively this week. I should’ve done “romance novelist” as my “other life” this week, but I just didn’t have the energy after living as a poet last week, but I think I might try to make up for it and do it next week instead.

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bi-weekly update // 5-18-19

It’s time for another bi-weekly update. Prepare for updates on my personal life and on my reading, and probably some other stuff too.

 

life updates

  • I’m feeling way better about my job. I’ve noticed I tend to go through phases of being somewhat okay with being a librarian and then periods of hating being a librarian and looking for other work, but overall lately, I’ve been feeling more positive than even just okay about my job. I’m getting a lot better at it and everyone keeps saying how much I’ve improved and my coworkers all seem to like me a lot, and most importantly, I’m forming a lot of significant relationships with my kids that really make my world go around. Even though I’ve thought about leaving my job, I’ve realized it would be super hard for me to do that even if it paid more because I love my kids so much and I really like the people I work with, and I might not have those things even at another library job.
  • I’m preparing to go to Book Expo!! I’ve been spending a lot of time at work browsing the education sessions and the signings at Book Expo and getting super psyched for my conference experience. I’m most excited to meet Leigh Bardugo and have her sign NINTH HOUSE. I’m also really excited to be going to NYC by myself when my anxiety is better than it’s ever been, because I’ve only ever been to NYC when it’s bad which drastically affected my experiences with the city. I also realized that everything is within walking distance to each other to all the places I’ll need to go, so I might not even have to take the subway unless I go on excursions after the conference.

 

reading life

After writing my post reflecting on my reading in 2019 and feeling down about reading, I’ve actually been feeling better about it since trying out reading multiple books at once. I feel like I’m reading somewhat faster and more this month than I have been reading, probably because I’ve read a lot of poetry collections this month. But I think reading multiple books is helping me feel less serious about reading and helping the problem of my focus and concentration.

 

what i’m reading

I’m reading two romances right now, and they’re making my heart so happy. The first one I’m reading is THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE, the companion to WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI, which has restored my love of Sandhya Menon after the disaster that was FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE. I love the romance in SWEETIE and ship Ashish and Sweetie so much. The one thing that kind of bothers me is that so far all Sweetie thinks about is her weight, but that is kind of the point of this book that she’s dealing with her own feelings about herself and her weight and what other people, especially her mom, think about her. It’s also kind of hard for me to read at times because I struggle with issues about weight, but I’m still really liking it and actually like both characters and feel bad for initially assuming Ashish would be a jerk.

I’m also enjoying Alisha Rai’s book THE RIGHT SWIPE. It’s such a well-crafted, well-written romance and I ship Samson and Rhiannon so so much. I like both character’s narrations a lot, even Samson, and I never thought I’d want to read a book about a retired football star. This book is so positive about so many issues about modern dating without beating you over the head and makes discussion of dating issues fun and clever. It’s such an empowering story and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

 

books i’ve hauled

I’ve hauled 3 books I’m excited for lately. I’m really excited to read Renee Ahdieh’s next book (even though I haven’t read any of her others yet…oops) because it’s about VAMPIRES in historical NEW ORLEANS!! I haven’t read a vampire book in so long, and my teens are still very much interested in vampire books, so I definitely need to read it. I’m also somewhat interested in FRANKLY IN LOVE by David Yoon, mostly because he’s Nicola Yoon’s husband and it has a cool cover (yes, I know that’s shallow). I’m also PSYCHED for A RIVER OF ROYAL BLOOD, an African-inspired fantasy about two sisters who have to fight to the death to win the crown.

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intergalactic charm // geekerella

Title: Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Pages: 320
Date published: April 4, 2017

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

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I’m not gonna lie: I was not expecting a whole lot from this book. My only experience with Ashley Poston’s writing was her first book, THE SOUND OF US, which was DREADFUL and not an experience I hoped to repeat, so let’s just say my expectations of this book were…low. HOWEVER I was very pleasantly surprised by this book and have a lot of positive thoughts about it. First, let’s get the negative comments out of the way though:

what i didn’t like

  • The pacing was really weird. At first I didn’t notice it, but about two thirds of the way in I realized A LOT was going to have to happen to tie up this romance, and a lot did happen in the last third of the book, though not the way I thought it would. It bothered me a bit that there was SO MUCH buildup to the romance, yet we only get to see our main couple together for approximately two seconds before the book ends. That irked me a little bit even though I liked the romance and the author was obviously going for a more strict Cinderella retelling where they only get together at the end of the story anyway.
  • I was so bothered by the texting. Specifically that Elle was texting someone she’d never met the whole time and falling for them!! This is probably just an “I’m an adult” thing, but I would be so concerned for her safety in real life. It stretched my believability a bit to believe that Elle and Darien just happened to text each other and think each other was pretty and also that they both happened to be teens. This would never happen IRL and as an adult who works with kids I was internally screaming to myself about how unsafe this was and how much I would not ship them IRL. But again, this is a slight me thing rather than an issue with the book or writing.

 

what i liked

  • Both narrators. Usually when I read a dual-narrated romance, I favor one character over the other, and usually that’s the female protagonist in hetero romances. However, in GEEKERELLA, I found myself really looking forward to Darien’s chapters as well. I found both of them so relatable and wanted to hug them and tell them things would be okay. Both characters had distinct voices and were well-rounded and well-written just all around, which made them both very interesting to read about. Having two narrators also really added to the story and made it well-balanced and more suspenseful.
  • The Starfield talk. STARFIELD definitely put me in mind of Doctor Who, which of course made me like the book even more. It was obvious Ashley Poston really thought about the trajectory and world of the show, and the world building of Starfield was great even though we only hear about it second hand. It also obviously added a lot to the romance as well and to both Darien and Elle’s characters. They had different reasons for being connected to it, but that connection made their connection and the story in general even stronger.
  • Sage. Sage was one of my favorite parts of the book and I was so disappointed to realize that THE PRINCESS AND THE FANGIRL is not about her and Jessica Stone getting together, which would have been my ship. However, I did like Jess and want more of her queerness in that book. But also, Sage is such a good and understanding friend, plus her mom is adorable and supportive and great.
  • All the family issues the book discussed. Family is important in both Elle and Darien’s lives, though for different reasons. I thought the author did a great job portraying Elle’s relationship with her dad to the reader. All the scenes with Catherine and the twins totally killed me though and made me so mad. I was glad Elle started to have a somewhat okay relationship with Cal at one point, though I kind of predicted that would happen because in Cinderella retellings there is usually one stepsister who feels empathy for the Cinderella character. Anyway.
  • So much geekiness! I lived for all the geek references and was shocked by how many I understood. The LOTR references were all my faves and they made me want to watch the movies again since I haven’t in quite a while. I loved that geekiness and nerding out about things you’re passionate about was a big theme in this book because I think that’s something a lot of teens are shy about and it’s good to show them that showing your passion is okay and can lead to positive things in your life (though maybe not always a romance with a hot celebrity, but idk, it’s their lives).

Overall I was just really impressed with GEEKERELLA and totally charmed by the romance, the portrayal of nerd culture, and pretty much everything. Ashley Poston’s writing was really addictive and fun, and the whole story simply delighted me. I am very much looking forward to reading the companion novel to this book and hope it is just as good as GEEKERELLA.

 

 

 

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www wednesday 5-15-19

WWW Wednesday is a book blog meme hosted by Taking On A World of Words where book bloggers answer these questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What are you reading next?
  • What did you just finish reading?

 

just finished

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I just finished HOPE AND OTHER PUNCH LINES, which was a surprisingly good book. I guess it’s not *that* surprising since I did love Julie Buxbaum’s first book, TELL ME THREE THINGS (which is even referenced in this one!!) so much. But I have to be honest and say I was not expecting a lot from this book because I wasn’t super sold on it being about 9/11, which is maybe insensitive, but I lived through it so I’ve never felt a desire to read or watch something about it. However, Julie Buxbaum managed to craft a really meaningful story that changed my thinking and educated me about 9/11, but not in an overly preachy or annoying way. It was also just really well-written and the romance was of course very shippable, and basically, I really liked this book.

 

currently reading

I am still experimenting with nonmonogamous reading. I am currently reading THE RIGHT SWIPE, about two rival dating app company people, and THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE, a companion to DIMPLE and about a fat girl! I am liking THE RIGHT SWIPE so far, but need to stop comparing it to THE KISS QUOTIENT, which is thus far my only positive experience with adult romance. I’m not sure yet about THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE because I’m not a huge fan of Ashish I think and am worried he’s going to be a jerk to Sweetie, which I am not here for, but we’ll see. I’m just worried I won’t like it as much as WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI because I just adored that book and then hated her second book, but again, we’ll see.

 

reading next

I checked out LAST THINGS on a whim even though I still have my eARC of it because I know I’ll forget to read it otherwise. I forgot about this book, but when I read about it after processing it at the library, I knew I HAD to read it. LAST THINGS is about a talented local music star, and when strange things start happening to him, he blames a fan who always seems to be around. The blurb on the back also talks about creepy woods, as does the cover, and I am always here for atmospheric books about forests and music.

I’m also kind of curious about NOCTURNA. It’s a Latinx inspired fantasy about a face-changing thief and a prince who doesn’t want to be in line for the throne and dark magic. Apparently this one gets creepy and kind of horror-y, which I am SO down for. I’m a little skeptical about it for some reason, but I’m still thinking I might give it a try since I got an ARC from the publisher.

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