As I’m currently listening to Kitchen Confidential and crying randomly about how the world is worse off without Anthony Bourdain’s storytelling, I’ve been thinking more and more about the nonfiction that has touched my heart just as much as works of fiction.
Since I’m at the beach, I figured I should do a beach reads post! I tend to gravitate towards YA fantasy for quick reads (my goal is always a book a day and I usually get it) and books that I know I’ll love. (All pictures taken at a beach)
It’s been a crazy week. I haven’t actually finished a book in over two weeks, and didn’t write my last two scheduled reviews… and I’m getting ready to leave for London on Tuesday to spend some quality time with my sister. Needless to say, my head is spinning a bit with everything that needs to be done both at work and at home before I go. But I just can’t stop thinking about how great it will be to actually take a trip in less than a week. So for that reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite UK based books. Some of my favorites (seven) are below, in no particular order, and all titles link to the review!
While the first book in the series doesn’t take place in the UK, the entirety of the second and third books do so it is very worthy of inclusion on this list! Setting: Primarily London, various countryside locations
A Darker Shade of Magic features not just one London, but three! The original London is set during the reign of mad King George, known to us colonials as the king we fought against for independence, the other two are parallel magical Londons with a third waiting in the wings. Setting: Historical & Alternate Universe Londons
In the last few months I’ve been incredibly lucky to meet some spectacular authors and I can happily report that they were all spectacularly down to earth human beings. Below is an ode to four amazing women.
Years ago, Ben, my husband, found a book at the indie bookstore I now work at called City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte, handed it to me and said he thought it’d be perfect for me. I loved it – it’s one of my all-time favorite books (and probably one of the moments that confirmed that he totally “gets” me). Flash forward quite a few years to last week when I’m running an author event with Christina Lynch at the bookstore and low and behold, she mentions that she’s one of the two authors who wrote the book under the pen name Magnus Flyte. I proceeded to freak out, called Ben and he, in true spectacular husband form, found the books on the shelf (no small feat) and braved First Friday traffic in our town to bring them over to the store and make my reading life complete. Christina could not have been kinder and more gracious and thanked me for recommending her books (even if I didn’t realize it at the time!)
One of my pen pals, Sophie, and I read Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy when each book came out together. So when our event coordinator at the store told me that Deb was coming to the store, well, let’s just say I freaked out a bit. She’s an absolutely delightful human being and I can’t wait to run into her again in August when I run the All Souls Con 5K!
If you don’t already follow L. E. on WordPress, you should (her name is the link above). She is not only a wonderful YA author and the top selling debut author at the Towne Book Center, but an amazingly strong and inspiring woman. Every time she agrees to stop by the store and help me out with a project, plan her book launch party, or volunteer her time with our young writers, it makes my heart sing. Travelerwas one of my favorite reads of 2017 and L. E.’s voice is a fresh addition to the YA fantasy realm.
Continuing the theme of remarkably sweet and kind authors who are generous with their time, Laini Taylor! My coworker Jennifer and I have both read the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and while we were wandering around BEA last week, we spotted her chilling in her publisher’s booth and, not wanting to take up too much of her time, but still wanting to say something, I simply thanked her for writing her books. She then proceeded to talk books with us for over 5 minutes (which in that setting is an eternity) and even agreed to a picture. An amazing lady she certainly is.
Get exclusive ARCs/Galleys – this one is less important for booksellers and more of a highlight for librarians and bloggers who primarily attend BookCon held immediately after Book Expo. As booksellers, we just email our reps afterwards and ask them to send us the ones we saw/heard about at Book Expo.
Sidelines – while Book Expo isn’t nearly as big as the Gift Show, it does give us bookstore buyers some neat opportunities to look into different sideline items to bring into the store.
Meeting other booksellers – the ABA (American Booksellers Association) is a pretty tight group and most of us get to know each other within just a few years of entering the world of Indie Bookstores.
Highlights from This Year
Within 10 minutes of walking into the Javits Center in NYC, we were standing in front of Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman trying not to completely freak out. Nick called my coworker Mary a Book Expo virgin when she mentioned it was her first time at Book Expo and then he exclaimed he was happy to take her Book Expo virginity – what a fun pair of authors! We thanked them for coming out to NYC to visit with us and he thanked us for selling his books and recommending them to readers!
Bumping into Laini Taylor, author of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy while she was chilling in the Hachette booth – she was spectacularly delightful and took time to talk with us about her books and bookseller life!
The sheer scope and size of Book Expo was remarkable less overwhelming this year for what I perceived to be one very marked difference. The vast majority of attendees were educators and booksellers – not book bloggers and members of the general public (booksellers who are also bloggers, like me, fall into the first category for these purposes) – meaning tomorrow and Sunday will surely by crazy for BookCon. I attended BookCon only once, back in 2015, and I will never do so again. Book Expo, on the other hand, was far more organized and enjoyable this year than it was last year.
My reasons for failing to finish a book are wide and varied. Below are some of the few I actually feel guilty about abandoning.
1. Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I feel guilty about this one. I wanted to finish it, I wanted to know what happened. But I just couldn’t connect to either side of the protagonist’s life – and while I want to be able to recommend this book to many, when they ask if I enjoyed it, I don’t know what I’ll be able to say.
2. And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer
This is a book that I just wasn’t in the mindset for when I started reading it and alas, I have not returned to it as I promised I would. It is one that I hope to finish one day, just not anytime soon apparently.
3. Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My coworkers love Backman, the bookstore customers love Backman, everyone loves Backman. The first of his books that sounded like it would appeal to me was Beartown, because, ice hockey. Sweden. Dreams of Henrik Lundkvist. Sign me up! It wasn’t entirely what I was expecting and falls into the same category as And After the Fire – I hope one day I’ll finish it.
4. Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman
When I told my sister my husband was getting a motorcycle, she freaked out and started quoting safety statistics (well, not really, but her concern was warranted). Then, I made her sit down and watch one of her favorite actors, Ewan McGregor, ride motorcycles around the world. Wouldntchyaknow, now she loves the idea. She loved this book, I would rather watch the adventure than read the book.
5. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
I enjoyed Uprootedand I love the Rumpelstiltskin tale, but alas, I could not get into Spinning Silver. I had promised a rep a blurb about it and unfortunately had to disappoint. It comes out in July and I’m sure lots of book bloggers will be raving about it, I just won’t be among them.
6. The Rules of Me by Melanie Moyer
Last but not least, the one I feel most guilty about. Melanie is a friend of mine and this is her debut novel, fresh of the presses. She went the traditional route, is not self-published (which is important to me), and I couldn’t finish her book because I couldn’t stop crying. She tackles something very big, something that I have come just shy of experiencing, and she does it so well that I couldn’t get past the past memories. So this book, I will enthusiastically recommend, even if I cannot finish it myself.
One of the best parts about reading is losing yourself in the place and time of a book. Below are my & Laura’s top 5 places in books that we’d love to visit. Only one is a real place, but for another two, we had the chance to visit the film set!
1. Hogwarts (Harry Potter)
This should require little explanation – as a pair of now later 20-somethings, Harry Potter is a defining factor of our generation and we sat at home many days hoping an owl would show up with our acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Our 11th birthdays were hugely disappointing in that regard. Though our mom did take us to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when it first opened, so we’ve gotten about as close as we can to Hogwarts!
Image via Celebration of Books Instagram
2. Neverland (Peter Pan)
I have, and always will, love Peter Pan. I’ve dreamed of Neverland for as long as I can remember, pretended to be Peter Pan, everything, the works. If anyone knows of a surefire was to find oneself some pixie dust, please do let me know!
3. Guernsey (Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society)
The obsession with Guernsey was Laura’s at first, and then when she found out I have a pen pal on the island, it intensified greatly. When the movie was announced and I decided to read the book, we both got very excited. And, as opposed to Neverland and Hogwarts, this one is actually real so we might eventually get there!
4. Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit)
So this one is a slight cheat because a, we haven’t actually read LotR or The Hobbit, and b, we’ve already been to the set of Hobbiton from the movies. But! It was 12 years ago and we want to c, read the books, and d, go back because the hobbit holes are more than just white washed plywood these days.
5. Velaris (A Court of Mist & Fury)
To anyone who has read Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series this one should be a big old “duh.” It is described in just normalcy and beauty and with a bright starry sky, who wouldn’t want to go there? Downside, it’s not a real place so this one will forever exist in my dreams.
TODAY is the ONE YEAR anniversary of this particular iteration of Celebration of Books on the Interwebs! Geez, what a mouthful! And what a wonderful year of books it has been!
A BIG GIGANTIC THANK YOU!
When I first started transitioning the old site onto WordPress, I didn’t really have any real expectations of what I wanted out of it. My sister and I had always thought of Celebration of Books as just that, our own celebration of the books we read and if other people happened to like reading the reviews, that was strictly a bonus. Well, boy did all of you lovely readers surprise us!
This week hasn’t been the greatest, but my super awesome friends have made it better. And while I wouldn’t trade a one of them, if I had to pick 5 characters to bring to be BFFs with, these lovelies would be the ones!
It’s not often that a character in a new adult romance makes me think too deeply, but Penelope is the best sister that Sarah could have ever had. She made her step out of her comfort zone, but also stayed with her and defended her when needed. Truth be told, I’m probably more like Penelope and my sister is more like the protagonist, Sarah.
A Court of Mist and Fury is so crazy friendship heavy it is absolutely amazing. Probably the closest resemblance to me and my friends that I’ve found thus far, and boy am I lucky to be able to say that!
Imagine you are a person who loves your favorite books with a fiery passion and want nothing more than to share that love with others. Then, you’re scrolling through the world of Bookstagram (#bookstagram) on Instagram and you stumble across this really cool collection of bookmarks and posters celebrating classic books advertised by this company called Nerdy Post, and they’ve featured, in particular, the great Pride and Prejudice. What do you do? Obviously, you subscribe immediately and then ask them if you can write a blog post about them!
Authorial Note: I am writing this post because I genuinely love and enjoy subscribing to Nerdy Post. I am not a rep, nor have I been paid to post about this company. I genuinely love them and what to share their awesomeness with fellow booklovers!
Welcome to the Fandoms
When I used to think of Fandoms, I thought of groups of people who shipped certain characters, spoke to each other in a language those outside the fandom couldn’t understand, and cosplayed at as many conventions as they could. This description is also an accurate description of my and my sister’s love of Harry Potter, our first foray into the fandom world.
I have a friend who holds a yearly Harry Potter weekend at her house – everyone is sorted, plays house trivia, Quidditch pong, eats from the HP cookbook, dresses in robes, etc. I thought we were slightly insane, but when, over the course of the last 2 years, Nerdy Post has done 4 different renditions of Harry Potter from the original books to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I realized we are far from alone! When it comes to fandoms, the HP one can be very divided, particularly along house lines, but in general, as HP is the book of my generation, most set aside any differences and embrace what J. K. Rowling did to bring the Wizarding World to millions of children around the world.
When I first started reading Throne of Glass years ago, I wanted everyone I met to read it. I’ve waxed eloquent before about how amazing Sarah is and while I kind of wish I could have kept the fandom to myself for a bit longer, I’m glad this one has attracted many wonderful artists, like Alexis of Nerdy Post, because the fan art for her two series, Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses is absolutely amazing! Now I just need some SJM Funko Pop figures and my life will be complete!
But Sarah, you’ll say, you told us you didn’t like Sherlock Holmes back when you reviewed A Study in Scarlet. Ah, yes, this is true. However, I have loved just about every Sherlock Holmes adaptation I have found and read or seen, so I think I can count myself a member of the fandom. One of my favorite things about Nerdy Post is that if a book has been turned into a movie, both are included in the monthly box of that particular theme.
Favorite Fandom #4: Peter Pan
I have loved Peter Pan for as long as I can remember. I’ve acted out scenes, forced my best friend as a kid (a dude) to play Wendy to my Peter Pan, obsessively watched Mary Martin perform on stage as Peter Pan, my obsession runs so deep, my husband bought me tickets to the Arden’s children’s theater production for Christmas. It was the two of us, and 100 families with small children. Needless to say, my love knows no bounds, even if Peter can be a bit of a twat. This is also my official pitch to Nerdy Post to do a Peter Pan themed box!
As an avid Dungeons & Dragons player, I find it only fitting that I love the material from which the RPG draws a great deal of inspiration. I have tried many times to make my way through the books, but alas have yet to be successful in such endeavors. However, I have watched all the movies, repeatedly, and visited Hobbiton (aka Matamata, New Zealand) and I love what the other fans of Lord of the Rings have created. The Nerdy Post box dedicated to LotR was by far a favorite!