This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Re-makes, Re-tellings, and Repeats

Have you noticed that re-makes, re-tellings and repeats seem to be a trend? If it was done well the first time why would you try to make a better version? Is it even possible? Bad 70’s TV shows have been made into movies and were those movies any better? The only movie I can think that may have surpassed the original show would be 21 Jump Street and that is in large part due to Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s chemistry. Charlie’s Angels, my favorite campy TV show is being re-made with the third set of angels.  How successful does the first re-make need to be to make a re-make of a re-make?

It seems to be pretty normal for a great story to be re-told in a more modern manner. Jane Austen’s books have been re-told a great number of times. From the movie Clueless to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane’s stories are re-invented into fantastic new tales and genres quite frequently. Does anyone every get tired of all of these re-tellings and classic re-mixes? I’ll admit, unless the original title is quoted I usually miss the tie-in and just enjoy or hate the new story on its own merits. Maybe I’m not the most sophisticated reader/watcher…

Pride

In the past couple of years fairy-tale re-tellings and re-imaginings have gotten to be very popular in fiction. Do I like them? I have read a couple that have been well done and now that I’m looking back on them I think it’s because they didn’t stick to the story verbatim. As I mentioned above, I was able to forget it was a re-make and lose myself in the story.  I’ve also read a few that didn’t win me over because they stuck too close to the original and didn’t improve upon it. Should they have left well enough alone?  I know, that’s kind of harsh, but why re-create something that was done so well in the first place? It’s like on American Idol when someone chooses to sing a Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston song and they just weren’t as good as the original. Doesn’t the judge tell them that they were taking a huge risk? Yes! I believe the same thing applies to iconic stories like Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, etc. I do give them points for trying though.

Why can’t originality become a trend? That’s kind of sad isn’t it? Our world has so many talented, creative, and clever individuals who want to be noticed for their own originality. I want to help them rise to the top! Let me just finish this one last fairy-tale re-make…

 

Do you agree or disagree with my opinion on re-makes?

If you’ve read a re-telling that you think is just fabulous, please share! I love a good recommendation, as long as it’s not a re-telling of Star Wars or something….

Until next Sunday!

Deb

 

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Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Marie from Drizzle & Hurricane Books

When I read through my fellow bloggers posts I’m often inspired by their graphics, ideas, books to read, and discussions. When I read Marie’s posts I am all of those things but mostly I’m amazed at the amazing content she produces. This is a woman who has a full time job and still spends a few hours daily writing a blog. Her posts are incredible, well spoken, and unique. If you have never gone to her website and visited her blog, please do!

Click this link to enter. And BEWARE! Time will fly!  DRIZZLE & HURRICANE BOOKS

I’m sure we all feel like we know Marie pretty well, right? I hope I can learn something new from her answers to these 10 questions.

Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?

I live in the country of baguettes and croissants (and annoying strikes….), France.

Most blogs have a quirky name and a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name?

My blog is called Drizzle & Hurricane Books and I thought my reference here would be obvious, yet apparently it’s not, for many people, so…

I’m a huge fan of John Green’s books and my favorite book is Looking for Alaska. There is a famous quote in that book, about drizzle and hurricanes and… when I was looking for a blog’s name, I actually stumbled upon one of the quotations up on my wall, and saw that one. I thought it’d make a pretty name for a blog and…. when you think about it, some books have the same effects as drizzles, or hurricanes, so… 🙂

Describe where you write your blog. 

I usually write my blog posts on my couch at home, either with some tv on the background or just nothing.

Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack? 

I currently have three books waiting to be read :

Once and For All, A Quiet Kind of Thunder, and Little black dresses, little white lies

Marie's Bookshelf

In case you’d like to check out these books…

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

A girl who can’t speak and a boy who can’t hear go on a journey of self-discovery and find support with each other in this gripping, emotionally resonant novel from bestselling author Sara Barnard. Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Jandy Nelson.

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life. The condition’s name has always felt ironic to her, because she certainly does not “select” not to speak. In fact, she would give anything to be able to speak as easily and often as everyone around her can. She suffers from crippling anxiety, and uncontrollably, in most situations simply can’t open her mouth to get out the words.

Steffi’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to help him acclimate. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk. As they find ways to communicate, Steffi discovers that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. But as she starts to overcome a lifelong challenge, she’ll soon confront questions about the nature of her own identity and the very essence of what it is to know another person.

Click this link to purchase! A Quiet Kind of Thunder

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Is it really better to have loved and lost? Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically. But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really wants. Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.

Click this link to purchase! Once and for All

Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies by Laura Stampler

Harper Anderson has always thought she should have been born somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb.

Already resigned to working at a Skinny B’s Juice Press for the summer, Harper is shocked when the ultra-prestigious teen magazine, Shift, calls to say they want her to be their teen dating blogger for the summer. All she needs to do is get her butt to New York in two days.

There’s just one teeny, tiny problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a whole lot of dating experience. So when Shift’s application asked for an “edgy” personal essay, Harper might have misappropriated her best friend’s experiences for her own. But she can just learn on the job…right? Will the house of lies Harper has built around her dream job collapse all around her, or will she be able to fake it until she makes it in the big city?

Click this link to purchase! Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies

If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?

My go-to genre will always be young adult contemporary – whether it’s to lift up my mood, get me out of a slump or, just, you know, always. I just LOVE contemporaries too much, haha.

When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?

 

 

I graduated university back in 2016 and I’m currently working full-time. When I’m not, I’m reading, blogging, traveling when I can, watching tv shows and waiting for my next holidays. Or book in the mail.

My favorite blog post banner

What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written? 

 

 

This is such a hard question? I think I’d go with my blog post about the struggles of an international blogger, since it’s a topic I hold really close to my heart.

The Struggles of Being an International Book Blogger

Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?

 

 

I actually had never met any big authors up until earlier this year. I went to the biggest book fair in Paris and got to meet some of my favorite authors of all times: Sarah Dessen, V.E. Schwab and Marissa Meyer.

I kind of said hello and thank you a whole lot, even when there was no need to. Sarah Dessen told me she liked the book I took with me (The Truth About Forever) I said thank you, she said she liked the cover, I said thank you. Now, I’m like, WHY. I asked them about France and if they liked it there, but somehow I wish I could have expressed my love for their books a bit more?! I was just very awkward okay.

Do you have any blogging goals for the next year?

 

 

I’m not sure – I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, even if I love a good goal. I’d love to get more opportunities to work closely with publishers I admire. I’d love to help bloggers more. Most importantly though, I’d love to RELAX about blogging and just be chill and happy with what I put out there. And keep on loving it 🙂

If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question,  who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?

 

 

My favorite author of all times is John Green so, obviously I’d love to sit with him and have a slice of cake. I’d have chocolate cake, because it’s my favorite, but I have absolutely NO idea what the hell I would ask him, I’d probably be in shock or something. To be honest and practical, I’m thinking the first thing out of my mouth would be “how are you”.

Thanks Marie, so much for agreeing to answer my questions! FYI, I just read Sarah Dessen’s book myself, and it was very good! (review soon!) I am probably the only person who has not read any of John Green’s novels, but on your recommendation I may have to pick one up!

Has anyone else read any of the books on Marie’s bookshelf? If you’re a fan of John Green, which book is your favorite?

Thanks for reading my Blogger to Blogger post!

Deb

 

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Kat from Life and Other Disasters

This week in my Blogger to Blogger Series I am highlighting Kat from the blog Life and Other Disasters. Kat loves to talk about the TV shows she’s watching, the books she is reading and shares other tidbits about her life. Her blog is a lot of fun and when you check it out you will take a deep dive into Kats life and thoughts.

Check it out by clicking this link! Life and Other Disasters

Let’s get to the questions!

Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?

KAT: I was born and raised in Austria, where I still live to this day even if I do disappear for a couple months to go elsewhere every now and then. I could very much imagine moving away someday, maybe to an English-speaking country.

What is the view outside your front door? (Include a picture if you’d like!)

KAT: I live in an apartment complex, so the view really isn’t that great. I like that we are on the top floor, even though a lot of the surrounding area is now under construction with more apartments already there or coming soon, which has kind of ruined the view a little bit. I used to be able to see hills in the distance and that’s unfortunately not happening anymore.

Most blogs have a quirky name and a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name?

KAT: I wish there was a good story to my blog name, but I think that the movie title “Love and Other Disasters” just always stuck with me and I adapted it into “Life and Other Disasters” for my own uses, especially because I didn’t want the blog name to just be about books.

Describe where you write your blog. Include a picture if you’d like!

KAT: Hmmm … there’s definitely not one place in particular I tend to write my blog at. I sometimes lounge on the couch, other times I am at the desk in my room, then I just make it work on my bed and if I am in the right mood, I even write at Starbucks. Although I prefer to work on my book when I am there and not on my blog.
(I’ve included a picture that shows the backside of my closet with character aesthetics for my book “Arcadia” as well as some of the pillows on my bed)

writingspotbedKat

Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack? (Include a photo if you’d like!)

This is a mix of the books I am currently reading or about to read as well as my sketchbooks for drawing and painting.

nightstandbookKat

Want to check out the books on her nightstand? Read the Synopsis’ below!

Synopsis: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

Synopsis: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

First vicious shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

Synopsis: Only Human by Silvain Neuvel

Brilliant scientist Rose Franklin has devoted her adult life to solving the mystery she accidentally stumbled upon as a child: a huge metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. The discovery set in motion a cataclysmic chain of events with geopolitical ramifications. Rose and the Earth Defense Corps raced to master the enigmatic technology, as giant robots suddenly descended on Earth’s most populous cities, killing one hundred million people in the process. Though Rose and her team were able to fend off the attack, their victory was short-lived. The mysterious invaders retreated, disappearing from the shattered planet . . . but they took the scientist and her crew with them.

Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find a devastating new war—this time between humans. America and Russia are locked in combat, fighting to fill the power vacuum left behind after the invasion. Families are torn apart, friends become bitter enemies, and countries collapse in the wake of the battling superpowers. It appears the aliens left behind their titanic death machines so humankind will obliterate itself. Rose is determined to find a solution, whatever it takes. But will she become a pawn in a doomsday game no one can win?

If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?

KAT: If I had a bad day, there are generally two options for me. One would be to indulge the bad mood and go into something very emotional like a family drama or some sort of tragic love story. However, the other option would be to really just dive into a light and fluffy YA contemporary. Something that wouldn’t require too much thinking but mainly entertainment.

When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?

Admittedly, I do spend A LOT of time on my laptop. I am currently working on my own Fantasy book (it’s called Arcadia and if anyone is interested you can find more details on it here: https://lifeandotherdisasters.com/2018/02/05/lets-talk-about-arcadia/) and I am obsessed with TV shows, so I definitely have a screen with me at most times. I also really like to draw and have indulged in that hobby more and more lately.

What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written? Please include the link!

My favorite blog post banner

Last year I went abroad and didn’t have as much time for blogging during that time as I used to have. My content changed a lot and I struggled to know my place in the community, which lead me to write a post about “blogger identity”. It was something that really weighed on me at the time, but it helped me so much to put my frustration into words. I feel like I have found my way since, but the support at the time was really helpful.

Discussion Time: Blogger Identity

(I think we can all identify with an identity crisis on our blogs! I certainly have!)

Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?
I haven’t really met any of my favourite authors yet, as they don’t really tend to visit my country a lot. However, I have had the opportunity to see Nicholas Sparks and Cecelia Ahern, who were both very nice. There wasn’t really time to say much, as the line was pretty long and we were ushered along quickly. I am pretty sure I thanked them and told them which book was my favourite, but I don’t wish I had said something more.

If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question, who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?
I would give right about anything to meet Pierce Brown, so he would definitely be the author I’d want to meet. I am not sure which cake he likes the most, that would need some research I don’t have the resources for right now, but my go-to-cake would be the red-wine cake after my grandma’s recipe. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love that cake. And lastly the question, I think I’d go with something really stupid like “How do I get a part or job on set of the adaptation of your books?” and then I would immediately laugh it off and take it back, while in all honesty, I would love to be on that set.

I loved getting to know Kat a little bit better! I can see we share a love for YA and Fantasy novels. I have had both William Ritter’s Jackaby series and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series on my TBR forever! It’s always nice to hear how much someone loves an author, it makes me want to just reach for that book next, doesn’t it? Oh, and Kat, I’m dying to try that red wine cake. Would you share the recipe?

Thanks Kat!!

Do you share Kat’s taste in novels? If not, I’d love to hear what books are on your own nightstand!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Male Romance Character-istics

I wrote a post a few months ago about my pet peeves for female characters and thought I needed to follow up with a pet peeves about male fictional characters post just to keep the conversation even.

The Alpha Male- OK, I’ll admit, I kind of like the alpha males in romance novels. An alpha male is great in an emergency. They take charge of the situation, have a first aid kit on hand (always!) and know how to sew up a wound. Really!  I would hate to be a mom of an alpha male because how did they get that knowledge?!! Oh! The other thing I love about the alpha males is that they ALWAYS pay the bill. That’s both in and out of the sack. Their women get the big O, but they also don’t have to pay for their clothes, dinner or security systems! When you need a new security system look for an alpha male, seriously. Now, what are my pet peeves about the alpha male characters? Hmmm, the above has made me re-think things a bit. Searching, searching… Oh yeah! Alpha men are not very emotional. They do know what they want and reach out and grab it (and only let go upon death). However, they are big on the actions speak louder than words scenario. Usually at the very end of the novel you get those three words said, but throughout the novel he is showing his woman his love by performing manly actions; mowing the lawn, a few hundred big “O”‘s and of course saving her life and buying security systems. (My favorite alpha male of them all is in the book below!)

Motorcycle Man

The Indecisive Man- This one drives me crazy!  He likes her, then decides he isn’t ready, or his ex comes back to town, then gets cold feet and disappears for a while. He shows back up when his woman is in trouble or goes on a bad date with another guy. Then he’s all in. OK, I know men aren’t all like the alpha male who knows what he wants and goes after it two seconds after meeting his woman, but there has to be some kind of in between. My leading man shouldn’t take one look at me, stick his toe in the water (or something somewhere else) and then say “yeah, maybe not right now.” Then change his mind and come back. That’s a hard guy to go all in with! (I gave the main character the benefit of the doubt below, and he did deliver!)

Every Little Kiss

The Angry Male- A man with a little mystery is attractive, but when he emotes anger, bitterness, and doesn’t trust? I’m a girl who has to buy a house where I can see everything I’m getting. If I can’t see beyond that anger? I’ll admit, I probably wouldn’t stick around to dig through and find out why. But, I know many ladies love a challenge! (I actually loved the angry male in the book below, I’ll admit!)

The Gravity of Us

The I Love to Emote male- Then there’s the guy who is over compensating for all of the alpha and indecisive men in romance novels. This is the guy who is totally comfortable with saying he loves you, your kids, your bad credit and insane mother. The guy who sticks with your mile high baggage even though he should probably run in the other direction. Wait a minute, maybe this guy isn’t all bad! Maybe it’s me? I just don’t trust the emotional male who see’s beyond all of the chaos in his chosen queen’s life and says I love you anyway. Wow, maybe I do need to talk this one out with a professional. (said guy in book below doesn’t over emote but he definitely sticks with her mile high baggage!)

Do You Want

The Charming but Useless Male- Admittedly this male character is usually in historical novels or ya books, but he is hovering around the perimeter of romance noveldom and needs a mention. If you are asking yourself while reading the novel, “yes, he’s all that, but what else does he do?” Admittedly you’re probably insane, but I admire a woman who likes a man with a job, or in the case of a ya male, a high school diploma! Charm can get you a lot of places, but how are you in an emergency? Can you afford a security system? Sorry, got off track there, but there’s something fishy about humor, charm, and good looks. LOL. Not really, but I do like men with jobs! (OK, great book below, but Ambrose is pretty much spot on for this male!)

Once and For All

OK, now that I have admittedly unloaded my issues with men, not just fictional characters, I will say that romance novels do have a raison d’etre! (did I spell that right?) Every woman who reads a romance novel wants a different kind of man for the mood she is in while reading that romance novel. Sometimes, after a tough day making decisions and kicking office butt, I want an Alpha Male to take charge, deliver the “O”‘s and pay for dinner.  Sometimes a woman is in the mood for romance, charm, and doesn’t care if her hero has a job. I’m not usually ever in the mood for an indecisive man, but I’m sure some women go for that guy! (If so, then we need to talk!) The point is that reading is selective. We all want different things at different times. That’s why romance novels are so great! You’ve got five novels in front of you and you get to pick which man you want tonight. If only that applied to real life, right? (Sorry, hubby if you’re reading this! jk! I swear!)

Of course, with that man comes a romantic female lead, but if you want to hear my opinions on those ladies you’ll have to read my other post…

My Pet Peeves with Female Fictional Character Traits

What are your favorite or most hated leading male characters or traits? It doesn’t matter the genre!

Which romantic male lead is your favorite of all time? I think I’m a bit indecisive (Oh No!) on that one, but this morning I’m feeling the need for fun and charm.  I’m going to skim through my men, um I mean kindle, and take a look!

Until next Sunday!

Deb

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with The Orang-utan Librarian

When I started blogging one of the first bloggers I followed was The Orang-utan Librarian. She writes great reviews and has the most amazing discussion posts, I almost always jump in with my own ideas and answers. Her topics make me think and I LOVE that! When I came up with this idea to highlight my fellow bloggers I knew I wanted her to be my first interview.

If you haven’t checked out The Orang-utan Librarian’s blog, please go take a look!

THE ORANGUTAN LIBRARIAN 

10 Questions Blogger to Blogger with the Orang-utan Librarian

  1. Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?

TOL: Sunny England- except that it’s not even remotely sunny ;

2. Most blogs have a quirky name and a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name?

TOL: Yes, sure, I’m a fan of Pratchett, so I named the blog after his character The Librarian… who happens to be an orangutan 😉

3.Describe where you write your blog. Include a picture if you’d like!

TOL: Just at my desk or the dining room table. Annnd there won’t be pictures because *it is a mess*!!!

4. Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack? (Include a photo if you’d like!)

TOL: Hehe I have hundreds of books next to my bed… JK, I do have my kindle though and a couple of physical books I plan to read next (apologies for the dreadful photo). Although I say plan to read next, Curse of Chalion and Master and Margarita have literally been on my TBR for *years* (and this isn’t the first time I’ve put them on my bedside table to pressure myself to read them)

bedside table books blogger to blogger

Synopsis: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril returns to the noble household he once served as page and is named secretary-tutor to the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule. It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it must ultimately lead him to the place he most fears: the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies who once placed him in chains now occupy lofty positions.

But it is more than the traitorous intrigues of villains that threaten Cazaril and the Royesse Iselle here, for a sinister curse hangs like a sword over the entire blighted House of Chalion. And only by employing the darkest, most forbidden of magics can Cazaril hope to protect his royal charge — an act that will mark him as a tool of the miraculous . . . and trap him in a lethal maze of demonic paradox.

Synopsis: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita (Russian: Ма́стер и Маргари́та) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, written between 1928 and 1940, but unpublished in book form until 1967. The story concerns a visit by the devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consider it to be one of the best novels of the 20th century, as well as the foremost of Soviet satires.

5. If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?

TOL: Oh gosh on a bad day it’s got to be contemporary YA. That’s the best time for some lighthearted fluff.

6. When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?

TOL: Okay I’m going to try and answer this without getting majorly self-deprecating. The basic lowdown is: I have a job, write whenever I can and hang out with friends. When I’m feeling especially *wild* I read books (I know, I live dangerously 😉 )

7. What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written? Please include the link!

TOL: Oh gosh- that’s a hard question! Probably an unexpected choice, yet I’ll always love the satirical piece I did called “Why Satire is Evil”.

(Totally funny post! If you haven’t read it, click the link. Why Satire is Evil.)

8. Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?

TOL: Well I got to meet Malorie Blackman when I was 12 and that was awesome. That’s over ten years ago now, but I still remember a lot of what she talked about in her speech and jumping up to be first in line to get my book signed after. I can’t remember for the life of me if I said anything to her beyond squeaking my name- but I figure I’d probably do the same if I met any author now- so no change there. What I regret is not having her sign all my books (I was trying to be nice, cos there were loads of people behind me, but now I wish I all my Noughts and Crosses books were signed LOL!)

Books by Malorie Blackman:

9. Do you have any blogging goals for the next year?

TOL: Nope- other than the fact I’ve got to take a break soon, I’m thinking I’ll just wing it.

10. If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question, who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?

TOL: Hard question on every front- I mean, the only thing that’s harder than choosing just one author is picking just one type of cake! I want to say banana cake… but that would be a lie. Though don’t get me wrong, I love banana cake and that’d be a hilarious conversation starter, it’d be chocolate all the way. Lots and lots of chocolate! And the author would probably Philip Pullman, just because he’s awesome and I feel like he deserves some cake!

Thanks so much for answering my questions Blogger to Blogger!

TOL: Thank you so much for hosting me Deb!

I’ve learned a lot about The Orang-utan Librarian but I’ll admit that for every answer she gave I probably had two more questions. Maybe we should grab a virtual cup of coffee and have a real discussion sometime!

Is there a question that you’d like me to ask in my next interview? Write it in the comments and I’ll choose one of your questions to ask!

I hope you’ve enjoyed our Blogger to Blogger chat!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: A Mother’s Love for Books

Mother’s Day is one day in the year that we set aside to specifically celebrate, honor, and love our mothers. Yes, we do love our mother’s every day but we don’t always remember to tell them that we love them. I am not a mother myself, unless you count my dog and cat as children, but I do have a special place in my heart for my own mom. After all, she is the reason why I love books as much as I do!

My love of classic musicals came from watching them with my mother on Saturday afternoons at a really young age. I fell in love with Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz and their dancing and singing down that yellow brick road. My mother decorated my room in red gingham (yes, I know Dorothy’s dress was blue!) and started giving me copies of all of the Oz books by Frank L. Baum. I still have some of them sitting in my bookcase.

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She would read these books to me at night starting my long love of fantasy novels and transporting myself to other magical worlds. I had an older brother and sister who were reading “older” books and soon began asking for her to read books I knew they were reading like Robert Jordan and J. R. R Tolkien. She read the Hobbit to me every night for a year, a memory that lingers with me. I can hear Golem’s “precious” in my own mothers voice. In 1990 my mother gave me a bound copy of The Hobbit because she also loved that same memory.

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I can envision trips to the library with my mom where I would check out 5 books at a time. I had a small bookcase built into my closet that was filled with library books. A precursor to today’s book filled shelves and kindle! I have since wondered how often my mom had to pay the late fee’s on those books. I can’t remember returning them, although I’m certain we must’ve, but I can certainly remember the wonder of checking them out and the greed of having them awaiting me on my shelf.

Today, I am honoring my mother for showing me her love for books and passing that love on. She may have come to regret it because I am always asking her if she’s read such and such and what did she think, or pushing a new favorite into her hands. I think my mother should feel proud because she did such a great job in passing on that love. So, I want to say “Thanks Mom”! My life wouldn’t be the same without my journey through Oz and Rivendell. I’ve followed my own yellow brick road and it leads to a mountain of books that I have yet to read. When you’re ready to talk about that next book, you know where to find me…

XOXO and much love!

Discussion: What books did your own mother read to you? Do you have any special Mother’s Day book memories to share?

Until next Sunday,

Debs

fullsizerender-3 My mom.

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: This blogger’s musings about blogging

Recently I’ve thought a lot about why I started my blog. Originally I just wanted to talk about the books I was reading and maybe connect with someone who has read that same book and have a conversation. I was amazed that anyone even answered a question I asked or followed my blog. It was so much fun! My husband and family were probably thrilled because I stopped asking them if they’d read “that” book yet.  But, at some point over the last two and a half years I have gotten away from my original reason for blogging. The magic of talking about it with other people who have read the same book!blur-book-browse-256546.

Why have I gotten away from it? Well, besides having a full time job, trying to spend quality time with my husband and family, I guess the real reason is greed. LOL Really, it is so easy to get seduced by the books on NetGalley or Edelweiss. I can go on NetGalley and get lost for hours and before I know it I’ve requested 20 books that all have the same release date. Aarghhh!!! That’s the worst. Recently, I’ve tried really hard to cut back on requesting books and when I do, it’s usually to request from authors I really like or to read and possibly finish a book in a series I’ve started. Although I will say that when two or three authors books release in the same month or on the same day it can still get tricky. At times my brain goes into book overload, kind of like the whirlpool of books below.

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I also have a HUGE stack of physical books sitting in my shelves that are going unread. Some of which I don’t want to review, I just want to enjoy, you know? Lately though I feel like I need to review every book just so that I am putting out a post. It would be so easy to just let it slide and I really don’t want to!  The connections I’ve made with my fellow bloggers are fun, interesting, and keep my brain invested in something I really want to do. Have a conversation about books. How do I find that happy medium?

Here is my vow to, well, myself really, because I can’t imagine you all care about these musings… My vow is to read what I want to read, when I want to read it. Blog hop and join in on discussions with you guys, because, well, that’s part of the fun isn’t it? Write reviews because that’s what I really love to do, and hopefully inspire you all to interject with some comments.  I feel better already! Sometimes you just need to lay down the law with yourself. LOL.

Anyway, this is what was in my head this morning as I sat down to write. What’s going on in your own?

How do you all keep yourselves going?

I am always amazed at the hard work most of you put into putting out great content and discussions almost daily. How do you do think of all of these topics? Find the time to put in pretty graphics and pictures? That’s probably a topic for another day… 🙂

Until next Sunday,

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: The Thing About Fantasy Novels…

If you are a follower of my blog you know that I have a love for Fantasy novels. Especially if they have a hint of romance, but definitely if the book has some great world building that I can escape away from the realities of my regular world. Hmmm, interesting statement, right? Fantasy novels actually do a great job speaking to hot topics, but when it’s set in a new land, or deals with a magical race does that make it easier to accept the real message? I want to delve into a few examples of how Fantasy authors use their genre to voice an opinion and maybe in small part use their genre to shield them from criticism for tackling difficult topics.

  1.  Love: Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters novels do a great job introducing the subject of all types of romances. The most famous of which is the taboo of love between a brother and sister. Aren’t we glad that turned out ok? Let’s think about how we all reacted to that news. I was seriously distressed, kind of grossed out, and very uncomfortable, as I’m sure most of her readers were. When I look back on the sequence of events in City of Ashes, I realize that not only was that plot point a red herring moment but it happened as Alec was fighting his jealousy and romantic feelings for Jace. It introduced the subject of two men having romantic feelings for each other as safe, rather like Vanilla as a flavor of ice cream. Although to most of us a homosexual romance is quite normal, I’m sure there were some YA readers that may have needed that comparison. I LOVE her Dark Artifices novels the best. The emotional drama between men/men, women/men, trans/men and women/women (did I forget any?) kept my mind occupied and my heart racing. Great books!
  2. Bigotry: Fantasy novels often have multi race universes, however those races aren’t always differentiated by color. They may be humanoid, magical, beast-like, etc. Their relationships within their world are remarkably like ours. Cultures go to war with each other, they look down on each other and they denigrate each other. Our hero or heroine is usually fighting for equality, overcoming a dictator type king, or dealing with the bigotry of a multi-race romance. One of my favorite romantic fantasy novels is by Grace Draven. Radiance is about two species who inhabit the same world and are in neighboring kingdoms. One race, the Gaur is humanoid, awake during the day and sleeps at night, fair skin, etc. The other race, the Kai, is dark, has long pointy teeth, is awake at night and sleeps during the day. Our princess and prince of these two kingdoms must intermarry in order to retain peace between their countries. Brishen, our Kai prince finds Idilko, our Gaur princess, truly ugly, even though in her land she is gorgeous and refined. Idilko also find’s Brishen horrifyingly ugly, and those teeth oh so scary. When they marry Idilko has to move to Kai where she will be the only humanoid person among the Kai race. Of course, eventually they realize that they are both beautiful on the inside and actually find love for each other, but they have to deal with their blooming feelings for each other while also hearing others speak horribly about the person they are falling in love with. It is a really well told bi-racial love story, yet they are in essence two alien races. Brilliant. Small sidenote- I was disappointed that he didn’t have the big teeth in the cover though…Radiance
  3. Gender Equality: In Young Adult Fantasy novels there is a huge empowerment movement. Teenage girls have the power to save their world. I think having these role models for young girls and women are a wonderful thing. It is also wonderful that authors are introducing young people (and adults) to gender neutral characters. I read one novel last year that stood out for me because it was the first in this genre that I could recall reading that had a gender neutral main character. The book was Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller. Sal was a thief who wanted to leave that life behind to become a member of the Left Hand. The assasin team of the queen. Sal entered a contest to gain that spot with other characters and they’d all try to kill each other. The last one standing would become a member of the Left Hand. This novel had it all, exciting action, a love story and betrayal – and our hero was gender neutral. Each candidate had a number so Sal was addressed by number which made things easier, but the other characters were curious. Was Sal a boy or girl? How would they like to be addressed? All of these questions were the same that I as a reader was asking. What mattered was that Sal had honor even though they were a thief, developed all types of relationships regardless of Sal’s gender identity and that the story held up. This was one of my top 10 picks for 2017 and if you haven’t read it? You should.Mask of Shadows

These are only a few of the subjects that Fantasy authors have voiced their opinions or come up with their own solution. It is not always done in the correct manner or in ways that are acceptable to the average reader. Most notably Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark took a lot of criticism for portraying racism. Her world was a little too close to ours for some people and their lighter skin, darker skin comparisons may be too obvious. I did read this novel without reading any reviews and was pretty obliviousto those nuances, taking things at face value. Looking back, I can see it. I haven’t read the second novel but I’m going to take a guess that she takes care of some of these criticisms in the plot. I hope so anyway. I also hope it’s a better book. I didn’t love it.

If you are a fan of Fantasy, can you think of another novel you’ve read where a difficult real world topic is handled in a graceful way? Or another book where the topic may have been mishandled?

Have you read one of the above books? What did you think?

Until next Sunday!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Uppercase Box – April ’18 Reveal + #Giveaway

It’s that time again! I look forward to the middle of the month because I know my Uppercase Box will arrive. In case you aren’t familiar with it, Uppercase is a YA book subscription that sends you a recent YA book release. Sometimes the book is a fantasy novel, sci-fi, or contemporary. We’ve had a few fantasy-ish novels lately so I had guessed that April would bring a novel in a contemporary setting. Was I right? You’ll see if you keep reading. Sheesh!

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The Uppercase subscription actually comes in a bag, not a box but it doesn’t really matter does it? A book any which way it comes is a great thing. Oh no! I just realized you can kind of see the title of the book through the bag. Oh well. I’ll admit, I’m too lazy to re-take the picture.

There are always other bookish gifts in the bag. This month along with the note about the book was a reading journal. Very cute, but a little too youthful for me. I will be putting this one out in my Little Free Library for one of the neighborhood kids to enjoy!

Upper reading journal

The other items were these two cute book pins. I know there are quite a few bloggers who collect bookish pins. I myself have them on my rolling bag that I take to book fairs and conventions. It’s hard to see but the pin on the left shaped like a book says Read Past My Bedtime. I do that a LOT.

Bookish pins

On to the book in the bag! This month’s book is called Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. I have not read a book by Jenn Bennett before but I know she is very popular! There was a cute postcard for the book that also came in the bag that leads me to believe that this one is definitely a romance.

Starry Eyes

Synopsis:

In this romantic dramedy from the author of Alex, Approximately, a teen girl’s way-too-ordinary life is driven off the beaten path when she’s abandoned in the wilderness with her worst adversary—the boy who broke her heart.

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Wow, this book was just released on April 03! I’ll tell you what. I’m going to read this book in the next couple of weeks and give this copy of Starry Eyes- and the post card, away to one of my fellow bloggers. Wait, what??!! I can hear all of these excited gasps of excitement from all of you. LOL.

What do you have to do? Well, it’s easy. In the comments section below, please convince me why your favorite fictional romantic couple is so fabulous. They can be from any genre I’m not picky. I will randomly pick a winner! If my winner is in a country where it may be too expensive to mail I’ll send you this book in e-format and will pick another winner who lives in the US to receive the physical copy of the book.

I can’t wait to hear about your favorite fictional couples!

Until next Sunday,

Deb

This Chick’s Sunday Commentary: An Exclusive Book Signing with Mariana Zapata at the Inn Boonsboro

A few weeks ago I received a text from my sister saying that she’d put us on a waiting list for an exclusive meet and greet with Mariana Zapata at the Inn Boonsboro in Maryland.  Someone had dropped out and there was one room available. Did I want to take a few days off from work and go? I had just finished Mariana Zapata’s newest novel From Lukov With Love and loved it so I really didn’t have to think that hard. Umm, yeah!  Let’s do it!  This was a twofer! To get the chance to meet with one of my favorite authors and also stay in Nora Roberts Inn Boonsboro? What a treat!

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The Inn Boonsboro is only a little over an hour’s drive from Baltimore, the airport we flew into. On our arrival, we were given a tour of the Inn. A small library filled with bookshelves full of fiction and a couple of arm chairs in front of a fireplace was right around the corner from our room. I knew I was going to be making myself comfortable as there was also a Keurig in the corner where I could make coffee, tea or hot chocolate while looking at all the books on the shelves. There was also a small dining room, with delicious cookies on display, as well as a parlor where we were told our book event with Ms. Zapata would be taking place in another hour. When we were led to our room, we passed themed rooms with plaques identifying which romantic couple that room’s theme portrayed. My sister and I were placed in Eve and Roarke! As a huge fan of J. D. Robb’s In Death series I was thrilled at the decor, a mix of modern and historical pieces really gave it a unique vibe. The picture below shows the outside of the Inn that evening and our room before we totally wrecked the space with our stuff.

Inn Eve & Roarke

I noticed on the desk in the corner a notebook and curious, I opened it up. It was for guests to sign the page and to write their thoughts about their stay in that room. Look who wrote in the first page!

Nora signed

Later that evening I peeked into a couple of the other rooms and took quick photo’s, just so you could see how the themes were so different from each other and really lovely! They spared no expense in the creation of this Inn.

Inn rooms

To see more details about the Inn Boonsboro as well as their upcoming author events titled A Novel Adventure please click on this link to go to their website. Inn Boonsboro

Next up is YA author Cambria Hebert on 6/18. If you live in the area or are a short plane ride away, I really recommend this experience!

Mariana logoMariana Zapata is the author of multiple best selling novels such as Wait For It, Kulti, The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, etc.

At 5pm we were told to gather in the parlor for a two hour cocktail and conversation with Mariana Zapata. I brought my copy of Kulti and my sister had her copy of From Lukov with Love and we entered the parlor, not really sure what to expect. There were drinks, appetizers and a few desserts and only a few people. We saw Michelle, one of the Innkeeper’s and asked her how many people she expected and she said 13 in total. My sister and I looked at each other in shock. Wow! This really was exclusive! Mariana and her assistant Eva were the last two to arrive and the rest of us ladies were seated in chairs around the room.

My first thought was how Mariana was so sweet and young! She was small in stature, but she was outgoing, waving at everyone and asking how we were all doing. She had a purple (kind of orchid in color) rinse on her hair and started up conversation with the people on that end of the room. We were told that she’d sign our novels first and then we’d spend the rest of the time asking questions and she’d answer them willingly. As she signed our books she chatted briefly about where we were from and really I think I talked more about myself, forgetting to ask her any questions! LOL. My sister and I asked if we could have our photo taken, see below!

Mariana and us

After she finished signing all of our books she sat on an ottoman across from where my sister and I as well as a few other ladies were sitting Mariana signingand naturally started answering our questions. I will admit, I did not take notes, however my sister helped me recreate the questions and conversations and I will try to be as detailed as possible without too much embellishment. (Please take note, this is not a verbatim conversation.)

Q: Where do you get your inspiration with books? For Kulti, her inspiration came from watching a women’s soccer game, for Wait For It she was inspired by American History X, and Sons of Anarchy for Under Locke. Her husband is a musician and Rhythm and Chord was easy for her to write because of that. The group chimed in about Eli and Mason from Rhythm and Chord saying they’d love for them to have their own stories, but Mariana was pretty firm about not wanting to write another book about a guy in a band. I asked her about what inspired her to write Lingus, as romance novel about a porn star. She said she was watching a documentary about people who go to porn conventions and how normal they all looked. The idea intrigued her. Would writing a romance novel about a porn star work?

We also talked about the popularity of Alpha Males in some other authors books. She said she liked an Alpha Male but didn’t want to always write about one. It was really important for her to have each of the men in her novels be different from each other.They were all strong characters, but individual as well.

Q: Why didn’t people react well to her novel Dear Aaron? (If you haven’t read Dear Aaron most of the book is told by letters or emails between the two main characters, Ruby and Aaron). She thought it was because Ruby was not as in your face as Sal from Kulti and Diana from Wait For It. Ruby had her own strength but it was quieter. She still grew as a character, but for some reason readers just didn’t connect as much, she didn’t really understand it.

Q: I bet you hear this all of the time but I have to ask about the Toolbox in Wait For It. Why didn’t you ever resolve that part of the story in the book? Mariana seemed a little confused. She said she felt like she had resolved Dallas’s reaction. (The toolbox was her dead brother Rodrigo’s and her friend Vanessa painted it pink with flowers on it.) She said Dallas was upset when he saw the toolbox because he felt she should have someone who could fix things for her, but he wasn’t in the place where he could be that man for her, yet.

Q: When did Ivan and Jasmine in From Lukov with Love actually fall in love? Mariana actually never answered this question. She said she likes her readers to get what they need from a novel and she doesn’t like to spell things out for them. I mentioned to her that I felt like they fell in love after they became skating partners, but that my sister felt like Ivan had always loved Jasmine and was just waiting for his chance. It’s interesting how reading is so subjective and we can all get something different out of reading the same book. She nodded, seeming pleased at our reactions.

Q: Do you have a writing schedule? She said that yes, she does, but she learned pretty early on that she had to make sure she had a life. Make time to make dinner and eat with her husband, work out, etc. When asked about her next book, she didn’t give a whole lot of details other than that she liked to alternate between fun and serious books. She said Dear Aaron was a fun book, although people didn’t seem to agree. My sister and I tried to map out her books and we think it’s one funny to two serious? If that’s the case, the next one may be a serious novel because Lukov was serious.

Q: How did you start writing slow burn novels? She said that she finds the relationship much more interesting than the sex. If she reads a novel where the characters jump into bed too soon she ends up skimming those scenes and loses interest a bit. How they get to that point is so much more interesting isn’t it?

There were so many other topics of conversation but you can see from the above conversations that they ran the gamut of all of her novels as well as a little bit about her writing habits. She was charming and entertaining and very honest. This was an experience that I won’t forget and will hopefully be able to have again. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Inn Boonsboro’s website for future guests! Here is a group photo- you can see how small the group was!

Group

Oh, one last thing! Did I mention that Nora Roberts lives close by and her husband owns Turn The Page Bookstore across from the Inn? Here are a few photo’s of the bookstore and the Nora Roberts/JD Robb room inside.

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This was a fun one!

Until next Sunday,

Deb