Bookish Tuesday

Books to Finally Finish This Year

Now that I am finally in the mood to read fiction again there are a few books that I’ve made decent progress with in the last two years that I will hopefully now finally finish! 

1. Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Reason #1 for wanting to read it: It is a story about ice hockey! No one has written a decent fictional ice hockey story that is still in print – I spent years searching. #2, the world has been raving about Backman for a few years now and I’ve very much wanted to give him a read.
Book format: Advanced Reader Copy
Length of time since started book: 2 years.

Beartown (2).jpg

2. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

I bought the hardcover for this book right when it came out as I was hoping for a good book to break my Sarah J. Maas hangover.
Book format: 1st Edition Hardcover
Length of time since started book: 2.5 years


3. The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker

A tale of Viking adventure? That came out right as I was really starting to hit my stride with my own Viking adventure that I’ve been working on now for 6 years? Sign me up!
Book Format: Advanced Reader Copy
Length of Time Since Started Book: 1.75 years


4. Jackaby by William Ritter

Touted as a combination of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sherlock Holmes, I was enthralled immediately – a case of I put it down on day and couldn’t remember where when I was ready to pick it back up.
Book Format: Paperback
Length of Time Since Started Book: 3 years


5. And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer

On of my first ARCs, a mix of historical fiction and contemporary, And After the Fire is the dual narrative of two Jewish women tied together by a piece of music by J. S. Bach. The author is local to the area and the writing is beautiful – I took it on a trip and misplaced it upon my return and upon it’s rediscovery, I didn’t feel like reading fiction anymore.
Book Format: Advanced Reader Copy
Length of Time Since Started Book: 3 years

and after the fire

Bookish Tuesday

Books That Made Me Happy

Coming into the holiday book/gift buying season, I like to reflect on the books that brought me joy – very few people want tearjerkers as their holiday read! Below are just a few titles that are on my “holiday recommendations” shelf at the store!

Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath

Rejected Princesses

I can’t say enough how wonderful this book is. Equal parts cute and adorable and completely badass, it’s a great compendium of women throughout history who did wonderful and totally rad things!

Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

Notorious RBG

Another woman who has done, and continues to do, fabulous things, RBG is quickly becoming the hero of the millennials and liberals and we hold our breath every time she takes a spill. Whether you agree with her positions or not, she’s led a remarkable life and this biography of her is worth a read.

Royally Matched by Emma Chase

43-Royally Matched

I love a fun new adult romance – I read one a year around the holidays. They make me feel cozy and love the Prince Harry inspired Royally Matched for it’s approach to more than just romance – there’s friendship, mental health discussions, all sorts of worthwhile secondary characters – it’s worth judging by more than just the half naked dude on the cover.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Mr Penumbra

A fun, again millennial, story about bookstores and the people who work in them. The bookseller in me adores this book (I even convinced my boss to read it and he loved it), and it’s just a great relaxing read that really allows your mind to explore the Mr. Penumbra’s store in your head – it’s different for everyone and that’s one of the many things I love so much about it.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy

Jenny Lawson always brings a smile to my face. I bought a copy of Furiously Happy for my cousin-in-law who just started college last year and it has become a favorite gift for me to give to other young women (and men!) in the family.

Bookish Tuesday

The Age Old Debate: Book vs. Movie

is the question all book lovers are asked, “Well, which was better? The book or the movie?” And every good book lover knows that the correct answer, 99% of the time, is “The book, of course!” But sometimes, we book lovers must admit that the filmmakers did something well and the movie, is in fact, quite good. Below are some of each – my favorite films and television adaptations, as well as a few that completely missed the mark.

In Extremis & A Private War

While they are not directly related, the film A Private War is based on a Vanity Fair article, “Marie Colvin’s Private War,” their near simultaneous release dates and identical subjects make them inexorably linked. In Extremis is my favorite book of the year, and continues my great love of war correspondent books. Rosamund Pike plays Marie Colvin in A Private War and she does an absolutely tremendous job – Oscar worthy in my opinion. I give both book & film two very enthusiastic thumbs up!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

When I first sat down to watch the film adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I was so excited – a, it’s practically a Downton Abbey reunion, b, I was super curious about how they were going to adapt the letters into a cohesive narrative, and c, I wanted to see Guernsey. The cast captured the characters almost exactly as I imagined them and it was wonderful. However, on that fateful first watching, I ranted about how the filmmakers changed parts of the story. Which, as a filmmaker, I know you kind of have to when the source material doesn’t give a clear cut narrative structure for drama and tension. So now, I must think of them as two entirely separate entities, and, in that manner, I enjoy them both tremendously.

The Magicians

I was very excited about The Magicians television adaptation, and, well. I hated it. Quentin, oh my Quentin, you are perfectly cast. And Alice, I adore you. But WHY OH WHY DO WE NEED NEW CHARACTERS? And why does Julia have to have such a large role? It’s well done, I give the show runners credit for that. But I feel like the changes made were not wholly necessary. It captured the spirit for the most part, but when you have a cast of characters who are fairly apathetic by nature, it is hard to feel invested in a show. In the books, you can always hold out hope that they’re different in your head and create your own head-cannon.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

This is a tricky one – a true purist will tell you that the book is always best, followed by the original adaptation, then the remake. Which, technically, the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo could be considered a remake… but it is far superior to the Swedish adaptation, in style, plot, and depiction of Lisbeth. In my humble opinion of course, but as it is one of my husband’s all time favorite movies, I might be a touch bias.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Some movies are just so bad they’re good. I love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film because it’s just so bad. It’s not even a guilty pleasure, it’s just a really good bad movie. It’s funny and enjoyable and, so long as you don’t think too hard about it, a fairly accurate depiction of the book!

Bookish Tuesday

How to Publish… Advice from Your Local Indie Bookstore

At least once a week, someone will walk through the doors of the bookstore, or send us an email, asking us to have an event with them or carry their books because they’re now published! And they’re so excited. And then we ask who their publisher is. And they say Createspace. And we say, sorry, but no.

Getting Published

Those who love to read often enjoy writing. And when they read their favorite author’s works, they often think to themselves, I can do that. I’ve got a book in me. And then they sit down, and they crank out of draft, and are faced with a decision – how do they get their draft in the hands of readers. Three main options exist.

Option 1: Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing means that you send your manuscript out to agents in the hope that one will represent you, in a similar manner to those who are looking to get into the film business. Not sure how to find an agent? Check out The Writer’s Market, an annual publication that spells out the steps needed to get your book from draft to bookstore shelves. If you want to see your book on the shelves of a chain bookstore, Barnes & Noble in the US, Chapters Indigo in Canada, Waterstones in the UK, etc. Traditional publishing is the way to go. In the US, if you are traditionally published, it means that your book is distributed by one of the big publishing houses, Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Hachette, Houghton Mifflin, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster or Scholastic. There are a few others that stores work with, but these are the big ones.

Perks of going the traditional route – cost to you – minimal. The publishing house, once they accept your manuscript, you work with their editors, their graphic designers design your cover, the format your manuscript for printing, they promote your book, they make sure that their sales team knows your book is coming, and they in turn inform booksellers about how cool you are/your book is MONTHS before it even hits their shelves so that they can help spread the word that your book is coming.

Option 2: Small Presses

These are the indies of the publishing world and are often distributed by big printer and US nationwide distributor, Ingram. Small and university presses offer some of the same benefits as the larger publishing houses, such as editors, but often don’t have the same resources in house that the houses do. The print runs are going to be smaller, your book may go out of print more quickly, and it might not get any promotional assistance from the publisher. Upside here – if you go into an indie bookstore and ask them to carry it, they probably will. They’ve probably worked with the publisher, or at least Ingram, before. In this instance, you are more likely to see your book on an indie store shelf than a chain store shelf. However, if you want your book to be a major success if it’s published by a small press, you need to be prepared to do a lot of promotional legwork yourself.

A note about small presses and books being carried in a bookstore: Ask what their terms are with bookstores. Most independent bookstores are looking at the 45+% discount they receive from major publishing houses and the 42% they get from Ingram. And they want your book to be returnable to the distributor if it doesn’t sell off their shelves in a predetermined amount of time (most stores it’s anywhere from 12 to 24 months). Familiarize yourself with the term “consignment” and what that means to a local bookstore.

Option 3: Self-Publishing

This should be your last choice if your end goal is to have your book sitting on a bookstore shelf. If you want to publish only e-books, sure. Go for it. Self-publishing, by definition means you did it yourself. You may have conscripted friends into proofreading, or hired an editor, graphic designer, etc. but you fronted the costs. Once you agonize over whether or not your book is ready, you have to make a decision about who you want to print it.

You may entertain the following idea: Oh! Amazon does printing! I’ll publish it through their in house press, Createspace! If you ever want your book in an independent bookstore, DO NOT DO THIS. Indies have been suffering for YEARS because of Amazon’s book selling business practices. Indies will not bring your book in from Createspace because doing so directly lines the pocket of our biggest competitor.

If you insist on doing your own publishing AND having your book carried in traditional book stores, search out other options that aren’t owned by their biggest competitor. You can try Lulu, or one of the other options for self-publishing that exist out there – a basic internet search should help turn up a few options.

• • •

Note from the Sarah: I’m the manager and adult book buyer for a sizable independent bookstore. I get asked to explain the differences between publishing options on a regular basis and have found that the vast majority of those who are self-published didn’t want to put the time and effort into query letters and attempting to be published traditionally. Most of the time, their books are not of the same caliber as those that come in from the major publishing houses. I firmly believe that self-publishing should be a last resort if you want to see your book on the shelves of a bookstore.

Bookish Tuesday

Favorite Pages in My Book Journal

So I’ve decided to mix it up a bit in order to keep myself accountable for regular posts and moved Bookish Friday to Tuesday and made it, therefore, Bookish Tuesday! My book journal is pretty epic. As an avid reader, I’ve collected many book journals over the years and have now create my own, based on my favorite topics from all the previous book journals I’ve had. The Table of Contents for the current incarnation is a separate page located here under Bookish Lists, Reviews & How-To’s.

Books That Made Me Cry

The best books are the ones that make you feel. And while most of us don’t love to be brought to tears of sadness in our every day lives, some of the best books as the ones that made use shed many tears. Highlights include: The Nightingale, The Montmaray Journals, and most other WWII novels among others.

Signed Books I’ve Read

I love to go meet authors and hear their stories about how their books came to be. The best part is when I’ve read the book before meeting the author and already love it, but I also love being intrigued by an author and then reading their book and loving it! I’ve decided to include the book pictures below, but for my favorite author encounters, they can be found here and here.

Literary Crushes & Book Boyfriends

Yes, I’m happily married. Yes, I still get excited about a great fictional man. Favorites include: Rhys in A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Henry in Royally Matched by Emma Chase, and Hideo in Warcross by Marie Lu

Bookish Tuesday

A Book Buyer’s Top Picks for Fall

In my role as assistant manager/adult book buyer at an independent bookstore, I get to meet with sales reps from all the big publishing houses, as well as a number of smaller ones. Below are the books that they, and I, are most excited for this fall!

1. The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher

Kennedy Debutante

Publisher: Berkley Books, a division of Penguin Random House
Pub Date: October 2, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $28 list price
Genre: Historical Fiction, main character was a real person

I have been enamored with Kick Kennedy’s life for a number of years – I’ve read biographies of her, fiction where she is featured, and now she’s getting her very own historical fiction interpretation. It’s mostly the love story of her early twenties, but also paints a vivid portrait of World War II England and Washington D. C. Well known historical figures make cameos throughout the book, including the rest of the Kennedy clan!

2. Becoming by Michelle Obama


Publisher: Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House
Pub Date: November 13, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $32.50 list price
Genre: Memoir/Autobiography

She was in the White House for 8 years and is an overall inspiring woman. This book is definitely close to the top of my Christmas wish list and will be a gift that I give to most of the women in my family. Regardless of how you feel about her husband’s politics and policies, Michelle’s approval rating hardly wavered.

3. My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper


Publisher: Scribner Book Company, a division of Simon & Schuster
Pub Date: October 9, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $26 list price
Genre: Memoir/Autobiography

I, like most other female millennials, fell in love with Ellie Kemper of the adorably lovable and naive Kimmy Schmidt. And if you’ve never watched The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, you’ve probably seen her in The Office. I can’t wait to hear what stories she has to tell about her life. They’re sure to make me laugh!

4. The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar


Publisher: Harper, a division of Harper Collins
Pub Date: September 11, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $28.99 list price
Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism

When I tell you that this book was everywhere in the UK, it was in the front windows of just about every bookstore my sister and I happened upon in June. The advance copy is still sitting on my shelf at home, but I will get to it soon, hopefully before it’s actual release date here in the States! I always enjoy a good book with some magic thrown in and The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock seems like it would be right up my alley!

5. Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand


Publisher: Little Brown & Company, a division of Hachette Book Group
Pub Date: October 9, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $28 list price
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

After Lisa Scottoline, Elin Hilderbrand is our bestselling local author. But Sarah, I thought she lived in Nantucket? You’re right, she does. But she grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, where our store is located, and her mother is a regular customer and we do an event with her in some way shape or form each time a new book of hers is released. And for the fact that I’ve met her a half dozen times, I’ve never read one of her books so I figure now is the time to start!

What books are you looking forward to most this fall?

Bookish Tuesday

UK Bookstores

Bookish Friday is once again coming to you on a Saturday. I’m sorry. When Laura and I first started planning my visit last month to London (and Edinburgh, and the English Countryside), we decided to squeeze in as many bookstore visits as possible. As the manager of an Indie store, we tried very hard not to visit a Waterstones, but admittedly slipped up (we didn’t know Hatchards was owned by them…) Here’s a review of the ones we visited, all of which we loved!

1. Blackwell’s

We visited two Blackwell’s, one in Edinburgh, and the flagship in Oxford. A very well established, family owned chain, there was hardly a thing we couldn’t find here. Favorite part? The mystery books (not the genre, but books wrapped in brown paper pictured below).

Blackwells Oxford2

2. Daunt Books

The most Instagrammable of all the bookstores in London, Daunt is arranged geographically and includes not only travel books for all parts of the world, but literature from those places as well! A really cool store to browse.

Daunt Books2

3. Foyles

Foyles’ flagship store on Charing Cross Road in London is five floors, has an epically hipster cafe, and is the shop where I found one of our regular customer’s books on the shelf, along with all of Anthony Bourdain’s books that were all going through reprints here in the states.


4. Hatchards

The oldest bookstore in London deserved a visit, especially after Anthony Horowitz visited the bookstore I work at and told me it was his favorite in London. Downside, we learned it was owned by their chain, Waterstones, which was a bit of a letdown.


Bookish Tuesday, Non-Fiction

Favorite Nonfiction

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.

1. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

My first Bourdain. Like your first cocktail or boyfriend or first trip abroad or first food that you really, truly loved, you never forget your first Bourdain.


2. #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Need some inspiration? Decided it’s time to make a change in your life? Pick #Girlboss, Sophia does not disappoint.


3. The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

Thought you knew a lot about World War II? Think again. The stories these women share are absolutely incredible and many will shake you to the core.

20180527_142714 2

4. Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake was the book that first made me realize that I can read nonfiction and like it. He epitomizes the phrase “novelistic nonfiction.”

Dead Wake

5. Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

One cannot call oneself a feminist without having read about the greatness that is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Notorious RBG

Bookish Tuesday

Favorite Beach Reads

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)

1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

A fun heist set in a winter climate is the perfect book to chill you off on a hot day in the sun!

2. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

You can never go wrong with Tony in any season, but especially worth a read this summer.

3. Everland by Wendy Spinale

A fun Peter Pan inspires dystopian fantasy, Everland is readable in a single sitting.

4. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

One always needs an SJ Maas book for the beach!

5. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is always a favorite.

Bookish Tuesday

Favorite Books Set in the UK

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!

1. The Royal We by Heather Cox & Jessica Morgan

Basically, Will & Kate fanfiction, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.
Setting: Oxford & London

Royal We

2. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Could this list be complete without Harry Potter? No, I daresay, it could not.
Setting: Scotland, London, various countryside locations

Harry Potter (2)

3. The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper

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


4. All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Not only does the first book take place in Oxford in the present day, the second takes place in Elizabethan England!
Setting: Oxford, London, historical London, various countryside locations

Discovery of Witches

5. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

Set in an idyllic Scottish town, The Bookshop on the Corner is one of my favorite books about books.
Setting: Rural Scotland

Bookshop on the Corner

6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

I cannot wait to see this movie, will it please hurry up and come to the US already?
Setting: Guernsey, London

142-Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

7. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

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

Darker Shade of Magic