Tag Archives: a sort of book event

in which I go to BEA

Next week a thing is happening called BEA.

It is big. It is bookish. And I will be there!

And you might be there too! And I want us to be friends!

I will not be at BEA in an author capacity–I’m going as part of my day job–HOWEVER this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t LOVE to meet you and talk about author things. Or not author things. Mostly I love talking about Star Wars and sweaters and Mary Shelley best of all. But also we can talk about THIS MONSTROUS THING. If you want.

So if you are going to be at BEA and want to get in on the monstrousness, here’s a few ways you can:

  • If at some point you happen to stop by booth 3246, I might be there selling other people’s books…but I would love to talk to you about mine1
  • There should be galleys of THIS MONSTROUS THING at the Harper booth at some point probably, and if you get one and come find me I will sign it for you/write you a secret code inside of it and also give you exclusive cool monstrous Frankenstein-y swag!
  • If you don’t get a galley but still come find me, I will give you swag and probably a hug. Though maybe not because sometimes hugs make me uncomfortable
  • I am going to try to be at the blogger-author meet up happening on the 28th at 3 pm. And maybe at some other things too. But that’s all I know of right now. If there are other partying and shenanigan things I should be at, tell me!

So come say hi! I am anxious but excited about BEA (anxcited, a word I’ve found myself using over and over again during my debut year) so please make me less anx and more cited by coming and saying hello.

  1. You will know me by my ferociously red hair, my round glasses, and the eccentrically patterned textiles I will likely be wearing.
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in which I recommend some books

So I have not been great at blogging lately….

….is a gross understatement.

I’d rather not talk about life things right now. Honestly I’d rather not talk about writing things either.

So let’s talk about book things!

Because over these past few months, some totally brilliant books that I love with all my heart have come out. And I want to tell you about them. And then I’m going to give one of them away. So stay tuned.

  1. Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee

I refuse to shut up about this book. Because it is about zero gravity boxing on the moon1. And if that doesn’t make you want to drop everything and run to your local independent bookstore to get a copy, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.

  1. Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis

On an ordinary night a few months ago, I sat down on the couch while dinner was in the oven2 and had the following conversation with myself:

Me: I will read one chapter of Bones and All while I make dinner.
Me: Well that was the most disturbing first chapter ever and now I have completely lost my appetite and will probably have to read another chapter.
Me: Oh look at that, I’ve read half of this book.
Me: My legs are starting to cramp because I have been on the couch for so long and because I keep curling them up to me the more horrified I get.
Me: Oh, it’s midnight and I finished this book in one sitting without even meaning to.
Me: AND I LOVED IT.

If you are a fan of Stephen King but with a little more emotion and a lot more feminism, this is a book for you.

  1. My Near-Death Adventures (99% True) by Alison DeCamp

If you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this book is for you.

If you don’t like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this book is also for you. Because it’s way funnier than Diary of a Wimpy Kid. And also set in an 1800s lumber camp3.

  1. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

So basically I wept my way through this book. Which was bad news, because I mostly read this book on public transit. The writing reads like jazz and the characters feel like people and this book is as pretty as its cover. It’s a thing you should read if you have good taste.

  1. Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

So I’m cheating because this book isn’t out for a few weeks but GUH THIS BOOK.

Here is a dramatic reenactment of me reading this book in Switzerland:

Marx: Um, Mackenzi, why are you being so gloomy and sad today? And why are you curled up on the floor, wailing, with your eReader clutched to your chest?
Me: THIS BOOK! THESE FEELINGS! MAKE IT STOP, IT HURTS.

In honor of these excellent, excellent books that I love with all of my big, stupid heart, I am giving away a signed copy of BONES & ALL! It can be yours! All you gots to do is fill out the little rafflecoptery thing below and then cross your fingers. Because trust me, you want this book in your life.

Click this thing! This is how you enter!

  1. It is also about sports and marketing and celebrity and racism and honesty and one of my all-time favorite young male protagonists.
  2. Okay fine it was in the microwave.
  3. If you want to know more about how I feel about this book, I made it my staff pick at Porter Square Books! Also this book is aggressively read aloudable, mostly because there is so much grown up appeal and ten-year-old appeal living side by side in it.
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in which I do book-related things

First and foremost, THIS MONSTROUS THING is now available for preorder on Amazon and also from the HarperCollins website! What!? My book is a real thing you can exchange money for now and get an actual copy of in nine months! It will be a delightful surprise when it shows up on your doorstep. Or you can do what I would do, which is wait a few months longer, at which point I will be doing a signed preorder campaign through my favorite indie bookstore and then you will get a SIGNED copy AND support your local indies. Win win. Plus I might just draw a dalek in it.

So yay preorder! And yay book!

And now more stuff about the weird books I write!

First of all, let’s establish something: by nature, writing is very solitary.

It is mostly you, the writer, alone in a room with your computer, or your paper and pencil, or you stretched animal skin and fingerpaint1. Sometimes you get to have email conversations about your work with other people, like your editor or your agent. Occasionally these conversations are in-person and extremely uncomfortable for you, the writer, because nothing is more awkward than saying your weird ideas out loud. But mostly it’s quite lonely, and is mostly a relationship between you and a paper/screen/tanned animal skin.

So I was very lucky over the course of the last two weeks to get to expand my sphere of writerness into two different places.

First: I got to do some very fun research2. A few days after Christmas, which I spent with my family in Utah, where I’m from, I got to shoot antique firearms with a friend of my father’s who also happens to be an avid collector of guns, many of which predate this century. He was kind enough to let me run my grubby little hands all over his priceless collection and ask a slew of really stupid questions. And then I got to shoot some of the guns Annie Oakley would have used3 and learn all about how to load, fire, and care for your antique firearm. I also learned that my father’s crack shot gene was not passed on to me, though I did turn heads when I hit a moving clay pigeon on my second shot. I did not try again, for fear that I had just written the book on beginner’s luck.

use me

Second: we made a book trailer4! When I lived in Salt Lake, I did some theater and film, and I am lucky enough to have a friend who is an incredibly talented indie filmmaker who is still based there. And I am luckier that when I said, “Want to make a steampunk Frankenstein book trailer with me?” he said yes5.

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And then I basically called in every favor I had. Can you help me find costumes? Could you hold lights? Could you let us paint gruesome bloody wounds all over your naked body and then lay still on a table for two hours? And amazingly, because they are all crazy, my friends said yes, and last Saturday, we packed up and headed to a freezing, abandoned mill in the foothills of greater Salt Lake and filmed a steampunk Frankenstein book trailer.

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my lovely trio

And, I might add, we had a marvelous time. In spite of the frigid cold.

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the steampunk workshop.

I am very lucky to have friends who, in spite of only seeing them once a year when I come home at Christmas, are willing to give up their time and their beards and the feeling in their toes to help me out. My takeaway from the Christmas holidays has been how many exceptional human beings I have in my life, and how very lucky I am for that.

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The crew, clustered around the dead monster. Who was not yet allowed to move.

  1. I don’t make assumptions or judgements about how other people write.
  2. Which I spent all break steadily and consistently avoiding.
  3. At targets she would not have used, like a Diet Coke can, though I’m now the proud owner of a Diet Coke can full of bullet holes I put there.
  4. A book trailer being a short video pitch of your book which can be used to entice readers into picking it up, if they’re not really into that whole synopsis on the back thing.
  5. Blooming Studios—check them out! These guys are exceptional human beings and extremely talented artists.
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Project: Bookshelf with Kylie Brien

Welcome to PROJECT: BOOKSHELF, a continuing series in which Mackenzi Lee tries to read every book on her bookshelf in the course of a summer while friends, writers, and readers drop in to tell us about their respective shelves. This week, we are joined by Kylie Brien, a bookseller, writer, and fangirl with a serious addiction to buying books. 

But first, let’s take a look at my reading wrap-up.

This week, from my collection of unread books on my shelf, I read…

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

  • Genre: YA Gothic/pseudo-historical fantasy
  • Where I got it: Advanced reading copy sent to the bookstore
  • What I thought: You might not know this, but I have been praying for a Gothic, steampunk reimagining of The Phantom of the Opera with a little bit of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle thrown in. And that is exactly what Sarah Fine delivers. I loved this book. Very creepy, very visceral, very smart retelling.

Bloody Jack by LA Meyer

  • Genre: YA historical fiction
  • Where I got it: Free books from work!
  • What I Thought: Not sure how I haven’t read this book before, because it is everything I love. Voicey historical fiction with a smart ass protagonist who does the right thing in spite of thinking herself cowardly. Also cross dressing. And sass. Did I mention the sass?

And now, meet Kylie and her bookshelves! 

Working at a bookstore became the catalyst for a book-buying problem—well, some (i.e. my coworkers, family, and friends) would say problem. I say “I just really like books” and everyone else says “but Kylie, you have like fifty that you haven’t read.” Except for my dad who gently reminds me, “Kylie, you have to pay rent.” The most important thing here is that I don’t consider the entire bookshelf of unread books a problem. I think of it as an investment.

Bookshelf1

Everything on this bookshelf is unread.

I’m building towards having my own library one day when I’m a homeowner. I’m talking like a Beauty and the Beast style library that I will present as a grand gesture of love and friendship…to myself.

Beauty and the Beast

While I’m slowly plowing through my investments, I have a shelf full of read books that hold some of my favorites.

Bookshelf2

This is my shelf of read books and textbooks.

I’ve compiled a list of books I’ve loved that have made it from the unread shelf to the read shelf in the past year:

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: This book is gorgeous. I want to live inside of this book. I have a grand plan to run away from home and join the Night Circus. I think I would make a good mime. I’d even help clean up after the lions or something.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami: This is the first Murakami book I’ve ever read and from it, I learned that I love his writing. I want to read anything and everything he has ever written. I just don’t want to run. Like ever.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak: This book is full of smart and funny stories. Reading this collection has solidified my giant crush on B.J. Novak. (No, but really, B.J. if you’re reading this: wanna take me on a date sometime?)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Someone out there gets me and every other girl who spent the better part of her teenage years writing fanfiction at a time when fanfiction was still fanfiction and not—well, I’m sure you’ve all seen the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer by now.

Matilda by Roald Dahl: This book and every adaptation of it hold a special place in my heart. To this day whenever I eat cereal, I put on Send Me On My Way and try to use my mental powers to help me eat it. (It only works sometimes.) I just really relate to the voracious reader in Matilda but also, I want magic powers.

I highly recommend all of these books. Read them. Go. Go out and buy them right now—or if you don’t have an addiction to investing in books like I do, borrow them from your library. This option is probably better if you have to pay rent.

Kylie PhotoKylie M. Brien is a writer, reader, and bookseller who lives in Boston and has great aspirations to travel to Wonderland, Oz, and Hogwarts but settle down in Neverland (most likely she’ll be a pirate). You can follow her blog. And occasionally she tweets. 

Thanks for tuning in! Join us next Friday for more Project: Bookshelf.  Can’t wait that long? Visit the Project: Bookshelf archive.

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Project: Bookshelf with Rebecca Podos

Welcome to PROJECT: BOOKSHELF, a continuing series in which Mackenzi Lee tries to read every book on her bookshelf in the course of a summer while friends, writers, and readers drop in to tell us about their respective shelves. This week I am hosting none other than my fabulous agent, Rebecca Podos, who is not only an agent to the stars but an author with her debut novel, The Mystery of Hollow Places, coming out in 2016. What’s so awesome about her library? Let’s just say it’s a little Gorey…

But first, let’s take a look at my reading wrap-up.

This week, from my collection of unread books on my shelf, I read…

Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Where I got it: Purchased for myself, since this is published by the imprint that will publish my novel and I am trying to familiarize myself with their list
  • What I thought: This book was outside my usual genre, but I really loved it. It was complicated and messy and sort of riveting. Also I loved the exploration of both online ethics and young women coming into their sexuality.

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

  • Genre: YA….adventure? Spy novel? Thriller?
  • Where I got it: Snagged off the free books shelf at work
  • What I thought: This book had a little bit of Chuck, a little bit of Taken, a little bit of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and I loved every page of it.

Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan

  • Genre: YA magical realism
  • Where I got it: ARC from the bookstore
  • What I thought: This is the YA brothers book I have been searching for! Not a YA sibling story that actually ends up being about a love interest. Not a sibling story that really doesn’t have anything to do with siblings other than two of the characters happen to be them. This book was really truly about these two twin boys, and I adored it for that alone. Plus it was so creepy and gut-wrenching and heartfelt. The plotting could have been a little tighter, but the two boys at its core and their relationship are just outstanding.

And now, meet Rebecca and her bookshelves!

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This is what my library looks like from the doorway, with my back smashed up against the hallway light switch so I can photograph as much of it at once as possible. Welcome. Let us begin! Because my bookshelves are tentatively organized by genre, that shelf on the right is a sliver of my Anthologies/ YA section. Unsurprisingly, this section is the biggest – I almost never get rid of a YA book, am always collecting new ones, and spend my pennies on childhood favorites (shout out to the amazing Book Barn in Niantic, CT, where you can find a copy of Number the Stars inside a gutted vegetable stand.)

2

This is our Adult bookshelf. Notable pieces: an extensive Stephen King section (Bachman books too), Lots of undergrad Eggers, the copy of On the Beach I read one million billion times in high school, and my husband’s unlikely Anne Rice collection. He and I actually combined our bank accounts before we combined our libraries; my main objection was that he was going to displace so many of my books with his Anne Rice. So we got a bigger Adult bookshelf. Marriage is a compromise.

3

My library is the tiniest room in the house – and yet it just had to have the litter boxes in it – so there are clumps of books all over to maximize space. This is the favorite-childhood-fantasy-series-and-favorite-grownup-fantasy-series clump. They hang right next to my Bob’s Pit armchair for easy access.

4

Here’s the Literary Journals/ short story collections/ graphic novels section. It’s pretty slender – a weird mix of Bradbury/ King/ Gaiman/ Proulx. That empty bottom shelf is an access tunnel for the cats to get to their litter boxes, and I have to keep it that way, so I must carefully ration the collections I bring on.

5

This is definitely the jewel of the room, accumulated through library sales, book shows and probably e-bay. It’s the Edward Gorey section! Within two seconds of meeting me, it’s pretty obvious that Edward Gorey is my favorite illustrator (I don’t always permanently affix pictures to my skin, but when I do, they’re Edward Gorey drawings.) If I had to pick one out as the treasure among treasures, it would be The Curious Sofa: a pornographic work by Ogdred Weary. It is not pornographic, but it is suggestive:

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picRebecca Podos is a graduate of the MFA Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College, whose debut YA novel THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES will be published by Balzer & Bray in 2016. She’s also a literary agent representing Young Adult and Middle Grade at Rees Literary Agency in Boston, and is thrilled to represent books by talented clients like Mackenzi Lee!
Note from Mackenzi Lee: I did not bully her into writing that last line.
Join us next Friday for more Project: Bookshelf.  Can’t wait that long? Visit the Project: Bookshelf archive.

 

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Project: Bookshelf with Anna Staniszewski

Welcome to PROJECT: BOOKSHELF, a continuing series in which Mackenzi Lee tries to read every book on her bookshelf in the course of a summer while friends, writers, and readers drop in to tell us about their respective shelves. This week, Anna Staniszewski, queen of the quirky middle grade novel, joins us to celebrate the release of her new book, The Prank List, which is out nowAnna’s is a home with more bookshelves than people, one of which is a shrine to what I think is the greatest movie franchise of all time. Which movie? Read on to find out…

But first, let’s take a look at my reading wrap-up.

This week, from my collection of unread books on my shelf, I read…

Lincoln’s Graverobbers by Steve Sheinkin

  • Genre: YA nonfiction
  • Where I got it: Won in a book design contest in one of my classes
  • What I thought: So if you know me at all, you know I am a sucker for stories from history that nobody ever tells. This is one of those stories. So cool, so interesting, and really well written and well presented. Fantastic read.

That’s it. Light reading week for me. So let’s not waste anymore time–here are Anna and her bookshelves! 

I’m generally a pretty organized person, but you would never know it by looking at my bookshelves. There is a bit of a method to the madness, though. This, for example, is my “teaching bookshelf.”

bookshelf 1

These are many of the books I use when teaching courses on writing and children’s literature (with a few titles from grad school thrown into the mix). The top shelf is my particular favorite because it’s full of books on the craft of writing. These are the books I come back to over and over if I find myself stuck with a project or in need of inspiration.
And here we have what I think of as the “owl shelf” (for obvious reasons).

bookshelf 2

It’s currently weighed down with many of the books I’ve picked up at conferences and other recent events. I’m hoping to make some serious progress with these books over the summer, much like Mackenzi’s bookshelf challenge!

Here is what I consider my “overflow shelf” since it’s the newest addition to our shelf family.

bookshelf 3

One section is dedicated entirely to picture books. (It bothers me that picture books are a totally different size from other books, so I like to put them on their own.) And below that is my “Polish shelf” which includes some of the books I grew up with. This one by Jerzy Ficowski (the title translates to A Branch from the Sun Tree) is a collection of Polish Gypsy folk tales that I was obsessed with when I was young.

bookshelf 4

You might have noticed some photos displayed in the middle of the bookcase. Those are collages that my husband and I made for our wedding a few years ago, so we could showcase some cute and embarrassing pictures of ourselves from when we were young. And in between them is one of my prized possessions: the award I received from the PEN New England Discovery Award committee back in 2009–the illustration was done by Lois Lowry!

bookshelf 5

Now we move on to what I’ve dubbed the “public bookshelf.” This one stands in our living room so we actually have to keep it in some kind of order.

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It’s full of some of our prettiest books, and it also serves as a temporary dumping ground for library books, recently purchased books, etc. It’s also where I like to keep a stack of my own novels so that I can look at them sometimes and grin like a fool.

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Finally, we have the messiest (but arguably the coolest) shelves in the whole house. These are full of books from years and years ago that my husband and I don’t read very much anymore, but on top of those shelves is pure gold.

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Yes, that is a Lego Star Destroyer. It was a wedding present to ourselves, and my husband and I spent hours working on it. Above it is another prized possession–a Polish movie poster for The Empire Strikes Back that we received as a wedding gift.

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And what Star Wars room would be complete without a Star Wars pop-up book? (And a Transformers one, for added fun.)

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So to sum up: I’m messy with a purpose, I like to keep embarrassing photos of myself kicking around, and I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. Clearly, bookshelves reveal all!

Anna StaniszewskiBorn in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. Currently, she lives outside Boston with her husband and their crazy dog. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time reading, daydreaming, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series and the Dirt Diary series. Her newest book, The Prank List, releases on July 1st from Sourcebooks. You can visit Anna at www.annastan.com.

Happy book release to Anna and The Prank List and thanks for checking out Project: Bookshelf!

prank list cover 2

Join us next Friday for more Project: Bookshelf.  Can’t wait that long? Visit the Project: Bookshelf archive.

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Project: Bookshelf with J. Anderson Coats

Welcome to PROJECT: BOOKSHELF, a continuing series in which Mackenzi Lee tries to read every book on her bookshelf in the course of a summer while friends, writers, and readers drop in to tell us about their respective shelves. This week, we’re hosting J. Anderson Coats, whose book, The Wicked and the Just, should be on the reading list of everyone who loves historical fiction. Or Wales. What does she have on her bookshelf besides some creepy-ass candles? Read onto find out! 

But first, let’s take a look at my reading wrap-up.

This week, from my collection of unread books on my shelf, I read…

Us Conductors by Sean Michaels

  • Genre: Adult historical fiction
  • Where I got it: Purchased for myself after the author did a reading at Porter Square Books, complete with a theremin demonstration by a local thereminist. What is a theremin, you ask? Aside from being the first electronic instrument and the subject of this novel, it is the weirdest music making device you will ever come across. You can find video here, and I encourage you to watch and be mystified.
  • What I thought: This book is stunning and haunting and I’m so glad I read it. The language is beautiful and poetic without ever feeling trite. However, like so many adult books in this genre, there are huge stretches of time where I felt like nothing was happening. It wasn’t happening beautifully, but I still got a little weary. It read very slow. But still highly recommended!

Marco Impossible by Hannah Moskowitz

  • Genre: Tween contemporary
  • Where I got it: Picked up during the great Simmons book grab of 2014
  • What I thought: While the emotional landscape of this book is impressive, there was too much going on. Too many characters. Too many emotional journeys. Too much wrapping up of those emotional journeys. In the end, it felt muddled, and the emotional impact was lost in the amount of it. Also the ending was so corny! Lots of over the top eye rolling was happening on my end.

Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

  • Genre: YA fantasy
  • Where I got it: Snagged from the free books shelf at work
  • What I thought: This book is so funny! Contemporary fantasy in the style of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. And Jennifer Strange is much like her fictional sister, Thursday Next, in her unfailing practicality.

And now, meet J’s bookshelf! 

I’m a bookshelf decorator. As in, my home has a lot of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to spare me needing to paint the walls a nice color or purchase art or really expend any effort whatsoever when it comes to decorating.

2014-6-2 Project Bookshelf #0 Decorating I2014-6-2 Project Bookshelf #0A Decorating II

I’m also a librarian by profession.

You’d think this would mean my books are organized in some way.

But they’re not. By and large, they’re organized in one of two ways: 1) order of acquisition; or 2) size.

2014-6-2 Project Bookshelf #1 Order of Acquisition2014-6-2 Project Bookshelf #2 Size

There are some exceptions. One of them is a small but growing collection of books by people I know*:

2014-6-2 Project Bookshelf #3 People I Know

*If I know you and your book isn’t here, it’s probably because I gifted it to someone. Please don’t throw things. :)

Another is a two-shelf unit across the hall from my bathroom known as the medieval bookshelf.

“Medieval bookshelf” is somewhat of a misnomer, as there are books about street ballads, historical artisans and craftspeople, and folklore that live there. But it is where all the books I use for research live, and they are organized by place and/or subject. Some of my most favorite things live here, notably a copy of Brut y Tywysogion (Welsh: Chronicle of the Princes) that came from Japan of all places and cost something like 17,000 yen.

2014-6-2 Project Bookshelf #4 Medieval Bookshelf

Another is my husband’s textbooks from back in 2006 that haven’t been read since but apparently have been legacied onto this shelf:

2014-6-2 Project Bookshelf #5 - Textbooks

(The creepy-as-hell candles need to be regifted STAT)

Also, here’s another legacy. When my son was little, he was allowed one shelf in the living room to keep whatever books he wanted so he didn’t have to keep running to his room to bring his favorites. He’s sixteen now, but this is what was left on the shelf from the last time it was used:

2014-6-2 Project Bookshelf #6 - Kid Shelf Legacy

(And yes, Skepticism and Animal Faith was placed there by him, at age ten or so.)

And here’s why we’re about due for another bookshelf:

2014-6-2 Project Bookshelf #7 - Overflow

Being surrounded by books is comforting, which is why I’m not keen to impose an order. They remind me of people I know, people I love, so it really doesn’t matter where they are as long as they’re easily at hand.

Coats - Author Photo 200J. Anderson Coats is the author of historical fiction for young adultsthat routinely includes too much violence, name-calling and pettyvandalism perpetrated by badly-behaved young people. Her first YA novel, THE WICKED AND THE JUST, was one of Kirkus’s Best Teen Books of 2012, a 2013 YALSA Best for Young Adults (BFYA) winner, and a School Library Journal Best Books of 2012 selection. It also won the 2013 Washington State Book Award for Young Adults. 

 Thanks for tuning in! Join us next Friday for more Project: Bookshelf.  Can’t wait that long? Visit the Project: Bookshelf archive.

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Project: Bookshelf with Amitha Knight

Welcome to PROJECT: BOOKSHELF, a continuing series in which Mackenzi Lee tries to read every book on her bookshelf in the course of a summer while friends, writers, and readers drop in to tell us about their respective shelves. This week, we’re joined by Amitha Knight, a fellow Boston-area kidlit writer and Susan Bloom Discovery Award winner! She’s here to tell us about her bookshelves, and one special book that stands out. 

But first, let’s take a look at my reading wrap-up.

This week, from my collection of unread books on my shelf, I read…

Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine

  • Genre: YA historical fantasy
  • Where I got it: Thieved. But I won’t tell you from where.
  • What I Thought: Oh this one started out so strong. The writing and the setting are so, so pretty, but pretty isn’t everything. It lost steam about halfway through, and the plot drags, with too much of it is packed into the last eighty pages.

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne

  • Genre: Middle Grade Steampunk
  • Where I got it: ARC picked up from the bookstore
  • What I thought: I think my expectations were too high for this one, because it did absolutely nothing for me. Unobjectionable writing, but I had zero emotional investment in anything that happened. The world was underdeveloped, characters were flat, and there was none of the imaginative charm factor I was hoping for. The prettiest thing about this book is the cover.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

  • Genre: YA fantasy
  • Where I got it: Purchased for myself to complete the trilogy
  • What I thought: I really love this series, and while this wasn’t technically a bad ending, it just left me sort of unfulfilled. So much of what could have been done….wasn’t. Argh. I’m beginning to think there’s no such thing as a good way to end a series.

Guys, I am in such a reading slump! I am not liking anything I have picked up recently!

….And on that vaguely depressing note, meet Amitha and her bookshelf! 

We have several bookshelves in our house: my writing/research bookshelf in my office, my kids’ bookshelves in their rooms, a scifi shelf, and not to mention the growing pile of books at my bedside table. But our largest bookshelves sit in our living room, where we can see them, admire them, and be appalled at what a haphazard arrangement of books it is.

Amithasbookshelf

Once upon a time, our bookshelves were organized by author with a few categories separated out (my books from India that don’t have barcodes, his scifi collection, and my rapidly growing children’s literature collection), because my husband, the son of a former librarian, downloaded a program that allowed us to scan in our books and organize them. So we had all our books in order and cataloged on the computer…

…And then we moved. In our haste to unpack and feel moved in, we thought we’d just empty the books onto our shelves and then reorganize them later. That was a few years ago now and of course, “later” still hasn’t happened. Ah well.

Dragon

As far as the books themselves, I go to a lot of book signings and have numerous signed books from children’s authors (Shannon Hale, Gene Luen Yang, and Neil Gaiman, to name a few of the more famous ones), but one of the books I love the most is a book I tracked down and bought used online: a copy of The Secret Garden. This book isn’t particularly valuable (and I was dismayed to discover that it is abridged), however this specific edition has a lot of sentimental value.

Secret Garden

The Secret Garden was one of my favorite novels as a child almost certainly because I fell in love with this specific book cover. I remember checking this book out from the library and thinking it was one of the most beautiful books I’d ever held. Obviously, I had to return the book, but for a few years afterward, whenever I went to a bookstore I would look for this specific edition of The Secret Garden, just to see if it was just as pretty as I’d remembered. Many years later, I tracked it down online. Interestingly, the thing that had fascinated me the most—the sundial—was actually on the back of the cover, when in my mind it had been embossed in gold and on the front of the book, instead of the girl. While the actual cover (which is still lovely) isn’t as amazing as my memory of the cover, just looking at it brings back one of my very favorite reading memories of rocking in our backyard hammock over summer vacation and being so caught up in this story that I never wanted to put it down. Little kid me would be so excited to know that I found this book. Grown up me thinks it’s pretty cool too.

broAmitha Knight is a full-timer writer, a doctor, and a mother of two. She was named a winner of the 2012 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award and received a Letter of Merit for her writing from the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in 2011.  If you’re interested in children’s author signings, she maintains a calendar of events for the Boston area (also on Facebook). Follow her: Twitter / Google Plus /Goodreads

 

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In which the book deal is announced

If you have been around me at all this past week, you might have found yourself asking questions such as, “Why does Mackenzie seem so happy?” “Why has all her usual grump and cynicism been replaced by aggressive cheer?” “Why is she smiling at me like that? It’s creepy. Make her stop smiling at me like that.”

Well at long last, I can tell you! I can finally explain why I have spent the last week vomiting happiness on everyone I came in contact with.

Two words, friends: book deal.

Book. Deal.

I’ll let the official announcement from today’s Publisher’s Marketplace1 explain further:

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So this is happening! It is a real thing and not just the fever dream I have sustained for the past three years!

What does this mean for you, my lovely friends? Well, two things, really. One, you all are going to have to put up with my Frankenstein obsession for at least another year and a half, so prepare yourself for every conversation we have—online or off—to include some sort of tangential reference to Shelley. Two, and more importantly, it means that at some point next fall, you will be able to walk into your local independent bookstore, mosey over to the YA section, and pick up a shiny hard-backed edition of my incredibly weird post-modern revisionist steampunk-lite meta-gothic-horror Frankenstein reimagining2.

My novel is going to be published3!!! There are not enough exclamation points in the world to convey how I feel about this!! I have been dancing to myself all week, and now you all can dance with me!

young-frankenstein-dancing-young-frankenstein-26789782-500-265

Friends, I am SO EXCITED. And even that is an understatement.

 

  1. Publisher’s Marketplace! I feel so fancy and legit!
  2. And at an undisclosed time after that, you will be able to buy ANOTHER book of mine. Because did you see—two book deal! That means I get to write another one!
  3. By, in case you missed it in the PM announcement, Katherine Tegen Books, a YA imprint of HarperCollins. You might have heard of them. They publish a little book called Divergent.

 

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Project: Bookshelf with Heather Marie

Welcome to PROJECT: BOOKSHELF, a continuing series in which Mackenzi Lee tries to read every book on her bookshelf in the course of a summer while friends, writers, and readers drop in to tell us about their respective shelves. This week, we’re joined by the fabulous Heather Marie whose novel, THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME, comes out this August from Curiosity Quills Press. She is here to share with us the story of a hard-won bookshelf and the volumes that populate it.

But first, let’s take a look at my reading wrap-up.

This week, from my collection of unread books on my shelf, I read…

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

  • Genre: YA Zombie Post-Apocalyptic
  • Where I got it: A graduation gift from the MT
  • What I thought: This book, sadly, didn’t work for me. It was by no means a bad book, and I thought the zombie world building was excellent, but overall the characters didn’t resonate and their emotional arcs peaked too fast for me.

This was a light reading week for me. Some other things happened and I was distracted, plus the new job has me reading a lot of manuscripts at work, leaving me not wanting to read when I got home from work. I promise I will do better!  

And now, meet Heather and her bookshelf!  

I’ve always dreamed of having a room filled to the brim with books. Over the years I’ve collected hundreds of them, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t seem to hold onto them. Either I didn’t have the space, or I was moving for the hundredth time and had to donate them to local stores and friends. It always made me incredibly sad parting with them, especially when I’d become so dependent on the comfort they brought me. There’s something about the colorful spines with their elegant script. The beautiful covers that you could stare at for hours. I love the feel of the pages between my fingertips, and the crisp sound of the paper with each turn of the page. But most of all, I love plucking a book off the shelf, curling into a ball on the couch, and absorbing its words until the late hours of the night.

I’ve moved so much these last few years, which meant my book collection suffered dramatically. I went from two mini bookshelves, to none. Then I went from several boxes  stuffed into storage, to only a few with the books I couldn’t part with. As time went on, I told myself that I’d build my collection again. I begged and hoped someone would help me purchase another bookcase to display all the wonderful books that meant so much to me.

I knew I couldn’t afford a bookshelf. It was never something I’ve been able to fit into my tight budget. But last Christmas brought me the best gift, when my adorable husband went out and got me the perfect bookshelf. I nearly cried when I saw it. It came in this huge box and weighed a ton. I sat next to it all night and silently hoped we would head home soon to assemble it. No one in the room knew how attached I’d become to this gift, or maybe they did. I certainly didn’t hide my excitment. By the time we got home, which was pretty late, he asked if I needed help and I said no. For whatever reason, I wanted to put it together on my own. So I did.

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It took me all night.

When it was done, I dragged all the boxes out from storage and sorted the books on the shelves in no particular order. It didn’t matter to me where and why, it just needed to be.

When I stepped back and observed, my heart danced in my chest. I wanted to hug my arms around it and never let go. It was much taller than I thought, which meant more books! There was so much space needing to be filled, and there still is. But at the time, I knew it wasn’t complete until I added one particular book.

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver was a book I read in high school. It stuck with me all these years. There were times when I couldn’t even remember the title, and I’d find myself on the Internet scouring Google in hopes of finding it. And when I finally came across it, I promised myself I would buy it as soon as I could. But I never did.

Last year, out of the blue, I stumbled upon the book on the For Sale shelf at Tower Records. It was so random. In fact, I was struggling so much at the time financially, that I couldn’t even afford the sale price. My husband could see on my face how much the book meant, and, you guessed it, he bought it for me.

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I haven’t read this book since that first time in my 12th grade English class. And to be honest, I don’t even think I need to. I think we all have a book like this. Something we’ve read that changed us so much. Something that made you feel like nothing you’ve ever read before. A part of me thinks that reading it again will change the way it made me feel all those years ago, and all the years after. It’s something I don’t ever want to lose; that feeling of overwhelming emotion that one single book has brought to me.

I don’t know. Maybe someday I’ll read it again. Maybe to myself when I’m all alone and needing that comfort, or maybe to my future children when they’re ready. But, to me, just having it on my new bookshelf is enough for now. And maybe it always will be.

Heather-AuthorPhotos-3-WEBSIZEHeather Marie lives in Northern California with her husband, and spends the majority of her time at home reading. Before she followed her dreams of becoming a writer, Heather worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist for several years. Although she enjoyed the artistic aspect of it all, nothing quite quenched her creative side like the telling of a good story. When the day had come for her to make a choice, she left behind her promising career to start another, and never looked back. Visit her online on her website, Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter

Thanks for tuning in! Join us next Friday for more Project: Bookshelf.  Can’t wait that long? Visit the Project: Bookshelf archive.

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