Independent Bookstore Day

What a day. If you’re a book nerd (which you’re here, so I’m gonna assume that’s a yes), you know that April 30th was Independent Bookstore Day which basically as you can tell from the name, celebrates our indie bookstores. It started in 2014 as California (hells yeah) Bookstore Day, but quickly the whole nation got jealous on board with the awesome. I’ve been going to my local indie Bookshop Santa Cruz from the first year. Usually there are exclusive items you can only buy on that day, games to play, prizes to be won, and other fun activities. This year BSC kept up their reputation for awesome. There was a wheel to spin if you bought at least one of the exclusive items and were a part of their reader’s club that awarded fabulous prizes. I won a tote which I swapped to my bestie for a 20% off one item since she wanted a tote and I have approximately one million of them.

The exclusive loot
The exclusive loot

We also did a fun scavenger hunt around the bookstore where they gave us a partial thumbnail of  several book covers and hints where to find them around the store. We ran into a few problems when books had been moved from their places, but I worked with two of my buddies (and fellow Ladies Reading Speculative Fiction members) and we prevailed. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it.

Then there was the photo booth! I gathered part of the book club and we got our glam on.

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I’m a little sad you can’t see my bunny ears!

After an afternoon of haircuts and other fun errands, we gathered back at Bookshop for Trivia Night. Armed with free beer from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, six of the Speculative Fiction book club came and we almost conquered. After three rounds of literary trivia, we came in second place. I’m pretty proud of that. We won the third round after a tie breaker and won fabulous BSC mugs.

Some sample questions:

  • Richard Bachman is the pen name of what famous author? (I spit out almost half his bibliography before I could remember his name.)
  • A round robin where the teams in turn had to name all 24 of the characters who had a POV chapter in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. We won that one by pulling out Areo and Arianne.
  • What family from Harry Potter lived at 12 Grimmauld Place?
  • Another round robin where we had to name the author of the book our Trivia Master Thomas gave us. Kon-Tiki was our downfall.
  • Name a book that won the Pulitzer Prize in the last three years.
  • What was the secret identity of the pulp hero Don Diego de la Vega?
  • What Dr. Seuss book character had 5o0 hats that he sold for 500 gold coins?
  • Who put a fatwa on Salman Rushdie?

Without googling see if you can answer these! Put your answers in the comments. If you love me though, you’ll skip the GoT one though.

IMG_1263 trivia scoreboard

How did you celebrate Indie Bookstore Day?

 

Upcoming May Books

Every month I try to make a list of all the books coming out that I’m excited to read. Let me know in the comments about any you’re excited about. Here’s what’s coming up in May.

 

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero (May 3). I love celebrity biographies, yet this one is especially important as Guerrero (you’ll recognize her from Orange is the New Black) recounts her family’s experiences in being undocumented workers in the United States.

 

 


We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Heisler (May 3). I have this one preordered since someone declared May to be feminist manifesto release day and I’m here for it. I like Bitch Media and feel like there’s going to be a lot to say in this one.


Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen (Six Tudor Queens, #1) by Alison Weir (May 5). I have to confess something. I have an addiction. I am addicted to books about the Tudor reign in England. Doesn’t matter how many books have been published about the fickle king and his doomed wives and daughters, I’m there for it (Henry the VII is a little less on my radar atm). Alison Weir is a great source  for this era so this is sure to be a great read.


The Inquisition (Summoner, #2) by Taran Matharu. (May 10).  I really liked Matharu’s first book The Novice (which comes out in paperback this month as well if you missed it) so I’ve been waiting patiently for the sequel. If fantasy is your genre of choice, I suggest picking this series up.

 


The Crown’s Game (The Crown’s Game #1) by Evelyn Skye (May 17). I may be a bit biased about this one since Evelyn is a friend of a friend and a local Bay Area author, but I hope that doesn’t stop you from picking her debut YA novel up. Taking place in Russia, there is magic and intrigue afoot along with a bad ass lady main character.

 


How May We Hate You: Notes from the Concierge Desk by Anna Drezen (May 17). As someone who travels at least a couple times a year, this title fascinated me. I have a love of behind the scenes sneak peeks, whether it be a documentary about backstage  at Disneyland, a tweet about Book Riot/Slack shenanigans, or a book about hotel hooliganism (whether it be from the staff or the guests).

 


Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2) by Lisa Kleypas (May 31). I have to say, you really can’t go wrong with a Kleypas romance and I have a feeling this is going to be no different. The hero is not a duke or an earl or even a viscount, but a self-made man which is a fun change from the aristocratic world we usually see. The heroine is a shy lady with a secret. I’m ready to see what these two will get up to.


The Geek Feminist Revolution: Essays by Kameron Hurley (May 31). Did you hear that? Those were all my bells ringing. I’ve been hearing good things. This one is already on preorder as well.

 

 

*edited to fix a publishing date error.

Dewey Wrap Up

I don’t want to say I failed the readathon, but I definitely didn’t do as well as I usually do. I lost my whole morning and after dinner, I was just not feeling it (also we were watching the last two episodes of Sense8 and omfg, I love that show).

Here’s the wrap up survey from the site.

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Not sure. I wasn’t really keeping track of what hours matched up since I started late.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, American Housewife by Helen Ellis, and Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes are some recent favorites. Especially if you do the last one on audio!
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season? The only thing maybe is to keep encouraging people to cheer at other people. I seemed to have pretty decent interactions, but I saw more than a few people say they didn’t.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I loved following the Twitter prompts.
  5. How many books did you read? Read 4, finished 2.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Winterwood by Jacey Beford, The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales (finished), All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, and What a Rogue Desires by Caroline Linden (finished).
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? I liked Winterwood. Just need to get back to it.
  8. Which did you enjoy least? The Regional Office is Under Attack! Not that it was bad because I enjoyed it, just not as much as I thought I would.
  9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Definitely participate again. Probably as a reader again. Who knows? Might volunteer to host.

Now to get ready for Bout of Books.

How did you guys do?

Hour Twelve Survey

Phew. After a bit of a delay, I was able to start the readathon. Deb Nance from ReaderBuzz had this midway survey for us.

1. What are you reading right now? Just started All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
2. How many books have you read so far? started 2, finished 1.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Adding wine to the mix.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?  Got a late start as I went to yoga and had brunch with two of my girlfriends. Mostly haven’t had any interruptions though.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I’m bummed I started late. The morning plans were a last minute addition so I haven’t read as much as I usually do.

 

That’s it for now. Gonna read a bit before I have to scrounge up dinner.

If you’re participating, tell me how your reading day has gone so far. If you’re not, tell me anyway.

Dewey!!!

It’s that time again, friends! The Spring 24 Hour Dewey Readathon. Saturday, April 23rd is your day to make a book pile, pour some Bailey’s into your coffee or hot chocolate, and huddle down into your blanket fort for as long as you can. I say that because you know I can’t do the full 24. Kids and all make sleep a necessity. They know when you’re weak from lack of it and that’s how you find yourself tied to a chair while they run around making war cries, covered in chocolate, while drawing on your furniture. I digress. I plan to do as much as possible. Also Bout of Books is also coming up on the second week of May so make sure you block out that week!

I just made my preliminary print TBR and have dabbled with one on my Kindle app. This feels like it’s going to be pretty fantasy heavy.

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As usual, I’m not going to get to all of these, but I like having some to choose from. A few picks I think will definitely make the cut:

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye. I have heard nothing but rave reviews from my best book recommenders. I have never read Jane Eyre (stop, you don’t have to yell at me. I’ll get there eventually. Maybe. When people stop putting out new books.), but I’m told I don’t need to for the story to make sense. Which is a relief.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Magic and the apocalypse? Let’s do this. Also Anders is a Bay Area author and I like to support our local talent.

The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzales. This one rings so many of my bells. Lady assassins? Sold.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. I’m usually not into lit fic during a readathon, but I’m making an exception here because I tore through Mambo in Chinatown like a demon.

Winterwood by Jacey Bedford. I’ve actually already started this one and the fact the main character is a cross dressing lady magician pirate is basically my wheelhouse.

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Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh. I’m actually a bit ashamed I haven’t gotten to it yet. I got lost in historical romance, that’s all I have to say for myself. Also the sequel The Rose and the Dagger is out on April 26th, so I need to get cooking here.

Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep. This series is usually a quick read, mostly because I skip a bit because she does a lot of repetition on who the characters all are which is frustrating when it’s the fourteenth book in the series. However, I’ve come this far, I want to see the thing through.

Borderline by Mishell Baker. Another that I’ve been meaning to read for about a month now. I just got another goose from a friend of mine who just finished it and needs to express her feels.

Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya Rodale. I’ve been in historical romance heaven lately so there is a slight possibility this one will be read before Saturday. I’ve really liked Rodale’s books in the past. I hope this one will be no different.

 

If you’re participating, what books are you reading for the readathon? If you’re not, what books are you thinking of reading for funsies?

 

 

April TBR

Since I had so much fun reading nonfiction last month, I decided to keep it going. This time I’m focusing in on history books. I’m also trying to get some books off my shelf that have been loaned to me from friends (don’t judge, they have my books too!). I’m also trying to make sure I read those hardbacks that I bought because I had to have them before they come out on paperback. Then there are some on my iPad that are begging for me to get to as well. Some are left over from last month that I just didn’t have time to get to.

Physical Shelf

Digital Shelf

Of course, that’s not counting all the books that are coming out this month that I’m gonna probably pick up, but this is my rough draft. I’ll let you know how I did!

What books are you hoping to get to this month? Have any been sitting on your shelf for longer than you would have liked?

March Book Club Favorites

March’s book for the Ladies Read Speculative Fiction Book Club was Passenger (Passenger, #1) by Alexandra Bracken and April’s book is The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin if you want to read along with us.

Here’s what the Spec Fic Ladies loved this month.

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of WWII by Mitchell ZuckoffThis book. Holy hell THIS BOOK. It’s fantastic. I find that the term “gripping” tends to be overapplied, but it’s accurate in this case. I read this out loud with my boyfriend, and we both choked up at several points while reading; this is an intense and occasionally heart-rending story, one which makes nothing seem so perfect as a quiet and ordinary life. There’s plenty of laughter as well, and anyone with an appreciation for history – especially WWII history – or Arctic adventure will have a great time with this. Whole-heartedly and enthusiastically recommended. Anie 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang. It’s the story of a woman who, after a lifetime of passive acquiescence, stops eating meat to the distress of her family. Short but fascinating, The Vegetarian is packed with rich and strange detail and no small amount of trauma. It’s a testament to the power of a sparse writing style (not to mention a great translator). Highly recommended. – Clara

 

 

 


The Case for God by Karen Armstrong. Possibly the most important scholarly work of the present day, certainly one of the most important messages I’ve heard. Looking at religion as it has been practiced throughout the millennia brings contemporary spirituality into sharp contrast with its original purpose, context, and practice. The divisive literalism so prevalent in several sects today is apparently, for the most part, a very recent development and not part of their mainstream traditions. I found the epilogue alone to be worth the price of admission; it’s a summation that brings home her point about looking to the past for the value of “unknowing” and the importance of practice to bring meaning to the mystery. My intellectual curiosity about religion has now warmed into a greater respect. – Juniper 


All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister.  It’s thought provoking and at this point in the book, I’m kind of shocked at how much I didn’t know, and how recently  some of the rights we enjoy today were put into effect. Even more disturbing are some of the battles still going on today. I recommend reading, based on what I’ve read so far, if only to get a history lesson you don’t learn about in school.  -Karly

 

 


As for me, A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of  Magic, #2) by V.E. SchwabSo far, Schwab has set up a world that reminds me (in a good way) to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. The characters are flawed which makes them interesting. I love Lila, the now pirate thief (or is that thief pirate?) and her attitude. Then there’s Kell with his loyalty to his brother which conflicts with his wish to be free of the situation he’s in. The new characters add instead of congest the story which sometimes happens in ensemble narratives. 

 

What were your favorite reads last month?

Upcoming April Books

Here are some books in April that I’m looking forward to!

Lumberjanes, Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevenson. (Apr 5). Holy Michelle Obama! It’s time to see what the girls at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types are up to. Will there be shenanigans? Of course there will.

 

 


Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Apr 5). I would say I worship at the altar of Seanan McGuire, but honestly she scares me a bit. In a good way. But really, I love her prose and wit and expect no different from this novella.

 

 


Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Apr 12) – Do I really have to say much on this one? This is going to be a hardback purchase so that I can dream one day I will get Lin-Manuel and cast to sign it.

 

 


The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. (Apr 26). I keep finding myself picking up YA fantasy novels! The addition of this being inspired by Indian mythology is pretty much extra catnip. I love retellings and if I don’t know much about the source material it leads me to research (said as I cackle and rub my hands together Mr. Burns-style).


The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn, #2) by Renee Ahdieh. (Apr 26).  I can hear my friend Janani squeeing from Chicago. I have yet to actually read the first book in the series which is based on 1001 Arabian Nights (remember what I said about retellings?), but I know I’ll have read it before this one comes out. I have a plan, guys. Why are you laughing? Come back…

 


 

How the Duke Was Won (The Disgraceful Dukes, #1) by Leonora Bell (Apr 26). This is a debut author who I’ve heard good things about. Even though I’m not a huge fan of ladies vying for the attention of a guy, I’m interested to see how the concept is going to be applied here especially since the heroine is supposedly not who she seems.

 

 

What books are you looking forward to in April?

 

My Month of (Mostly) Reading Nonfiction and Urban Fantasy

While it seems like a huge difference in genre, I found rotating my nonfiction titles with my urban fantasy worked out really well. I did get a few other genres in there (including bingeing most of Johanna Lindsey’s Malory-Anderson series for the first time in 10 years), but I tried to clear both my physical and my digital shelves of their titles of truthiness and pages of paranormal snark and violence. I think I did pretty well.

Nonfiction

United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good – Cory Booker. This man is such an optimist. I love it though and can’t help be hopefully for everything he hopes to see in our country happen. I’m hoping Washington doesn’t break him. I was super inspired by all that he’s accomplished for Newark as mayor and now New Jersey as a senator. He has so many good ideas.

 

 


The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan – Kim Barker. I’m seriously bummed that Tina Fey seemed to screw the pooch with her movie adaptation of this woman’s story. It didn’t need to be embellished or have a love story added. I really enjoyed Barker’s narrative about her experiences.

 

 

 


All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation – Rebecca Traitor. I’m a happily married woman, but I have a lot of lady friends who have to deal with the “When are you getting marrieds?” and the like. This book points out so many good facts. I think it’s good to read by all women, no matter their marital status. I wanted to highlight and write on every page. My favorite was the chapter on female friendships.

 

 


Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget – Sarah Hepola. Both uplifting and heartbreaking, I really enjoyed this memoir of a woman who has struggled with alcoholism in an age where we don’t talk about it in young women, at least not young professional women. The stereotype that I’ve seen for women is lower income, middle aged, troubled. No one wants to point out even women who seem to have their shit together, could be struggling with it and not necessarily because they’re unhappy and had a bad childhood as we see portrayed in media.


How to be a Tudor: A Dusk-to-Dawn Guide to Tudor Life – Ruth Goodman. I am a big fan of the Tudor era. I started with the historical fictions by Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, I’ve touched on a few nonfictions, but Goodman’s How to be A Tudor is fantastic. It follows both men and women of all classes from waking to bedtime in their daily routines. There is a lot of detail on how to get the perfect ruff. Yeah, that thing you saw around people’s necks in the time of Elizabeth I.

 

 


Love, Loss, and What We Ate – Padma Lakshmi. I adored this book. I heard a lot of buzz and had to pick it up. If you’ve followed long enough, you know I love a good food memoir (<3 Julia). I didn’t even know who Lakshmi was, but now I need to go back and binge Top Chef. I loved reading about her stories about growing up in India, her relationship and then marriage with Salman Rushdie, her experiences in modeling, and her love of her daughter. I really enjoyed how she talks about coming to accept her body after years of modeling and then the struggle of it changing due to filming Top Chef.


All About Love: New Visions – bell hooks. Wow. My first bell hooks book and I’m not disappointed. hooks talks all about the different ways we can bring love into our lives. There’s even an essay on friendships that resonated with me. I’ll admit I mostly skipped the last essay regarding love and angels, but otherwise I feel like I’m going to come back to this one. Now to get my own copy since this one was the library’s.

 

 

 

Urban Fantasy

The Others series – Anne Bishop. Yes, the whole thing, starting with a reread of the first three books and ending with the newest Marked in Flesh. I love this series so much. I wish I could explain exactly why, but I can’t. Not helpful for you guys so I’ll try. A lot of the time (and in the following books I’ll mention) the female protagonist is snarky and physical. Meg isn’t these things. She’s soft, vulnerable, and not the most physical character in the book, however, she’s not weak by any means. She is able to answer the call in the face of danger. She’s not perfect, she makes mistakes, but she’s kind and apologizes when she’s wrong. This series is also a play on the whole shapeshifter mythos as well. Instead of humans becoming animals, we have a swap here and even that is not exactly what they are or what they are doing.


Chaos Choreography (Incryptid, #5) – Seanan McGuire. The fifth book in McGuire’s Incryptid series, we come back to the protagonist from the first book, Verity Price and her smoking hot ex-Covenant hubby Dominic, as Verity re-enters the world of televised dance competition where there is something creepy going on. I was thrilled to see Verity again, but totally didn’t get enough of banter between her and Dominic. I also was hoping to see the whole Price family get to interact. Also Grandma Alice needs to go play cards with the Luidaeg from McGuire’s other series.

 


Midnight Marked (Chicagoland Vampires, #12) – Chloe Neill. I am a shipper of Ethan and Merit. They have highs and lows and work their business out, much like a healthy couple does, albeit they do it more with katanas and fangs, but to each their own. I’m a bit bummed this is the second to the last book in the series, but I’m also a proponent of end it while it’s still good.
 


Midnight Taxi Tango (Bone Street Rumba, #2) – Daniel José Older. I might forgive him for giving me the creepy crawlies because this book was that good. I love his ability to voice a teenage girl with authenticity. Kia is my Patronus. Also that cover? Fucking gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

What did you read last month? Any nonfiction or urban fantasy?

The Not so Long and Very Short of It

February. The month where I declared I would read a bunch of essay and short story collections. I did! I almost cleared my physical shelves. I never actually got to any on my Kindle. C’est la vie. How many did I actually get to, you’re probably asking. Seven. Four essay and three short story collections. And knowing me as you do, that six books is not all I accomplished, you’re now asking, what else did you read? Five nonfiction books…and a lot of romance novels. Also there were a couple lit fics in there as well and a graphic novel. I can’t help it. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I am giving up on short stories and essays as I enjoyed the ones I did read, but they definitely aren’t my one true love.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. I love Lahiri. So much. This collection of short stories was no different. I actually forget how much I love her, then read something of hers and am blown away. My favorite were the three linked stories at the end. Heartbreaking, but poignant.

 


 

Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due. It’s been forever since I’ve been scared by a book. While not at the level of nightmare inducing, I was definitely creeped by Due’s stories. From ghosts to zombies, the stories were excellent. Ghost Summer, the title story, was one I’ll think about for awhile.

 


 

 

Naked by David Sedaris. My first Sedaris. I’ve been wanting to get started. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but maybe Sedaris isn’t for me. There were some funny things, but then some that missed entirely for me.

 

 


 

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris. Try, try again. This one felt a bit better, however none of the stories stood out for me.

 

 


When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. I decided to get them all done at once (I still have Me Talk Pretty One Day, but I’ll save it for now). Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls was better than this one. I found myself drifting off pretty easily.

 


 

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazoo Ishiguro. I have read a few Ishiguro. I’ve liked them. This is the first I’ve really loved. I loved the theme of music. Pardon the pun, but the writing was lyrical.

 


 

How to be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much: by Samantha Ellis. This was recommended to me from a bookseller. I wanted to love it. A lot of the fault is going to land on me here, since I haven’t read most of the classics she mentioned. I was hoping to get some extra insight so that maybe I would want to? This only happened in a couple situations. I’ll be honest, I skimmed the second to the last two essays, I just got kind of bored. However, she ended strong with the last one.

Did you read any essays or short stories?