Kids Author Carnival: ANNOUNCEMENT!

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Hello, friends!!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may know that I am heading to BEA again this year and I could not be more excited to see everyone!! This year, in addition to attending BEA, I am also working at the Kids Author Carnival. For those of you who don’t know, the Kids Author Carnival was inspired by the Teen Author Carnival and is being organized by the wonderfully talented Claire Legrand. It is a huge event being held on Saturday May 31 from 6-8:30pm at Jefferson Market Library. There are going to be some pretty amazing children’s authors there, and fabulous things going on for younger readers. I encourage you to grab your younger sibling and head on over to Jefferson Market Library. Make sure you say hi if you do stop by, I would love to meet you!

Happy reading! Continue reading

Book Hoarders Anonymous: Best of 2013

I haven’t done a Book Hoarders post in a while so I thought to close out the year I would do a little survey like I did last year and focus on some of my favorite personal literary moments of the year! Sorry in advance..it’s link and picture heavy 🙂

Book that reminded me that I love to read: The Sandman series did this for me. The graphic novels are so different from anything that I have ever read and I found myself enamored at the inclusions of different character from history popping up into stories. It really made me think and remember what knowledge I had of these historical figures, or superheroes, etc. and that made me love it even more.

Favorite BAMF: I think Daenerys takes the cake for this one. She is so incredibly young but so fierce. I love her so much. Especially when she says things like “Dracarys!”

Favorite companion: Ravens! Though not technically “fantastical” by nature but some of the ones I read of this year were pretty amazing. Matthew, from The Sandman series and Fiacha from my (ahem 4th? 5th? re-read) of Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite companions, EVER.

Favorite debut author: For sure Cat Winters, the author of In the Shadow of Blackbirds. The book was absolutely fantastic and heartwrenching. Ms. Winters was so gracious and lovely after I reached out to her upon finishing the novel, and she moved quickly to the top of my auto-buy authors.

BFF: Hands down Sybella from Dark Triumph. She was so dark and brave throughout the novel, I couldn’t help but love her. Truly, some of my closest friends describe her as my “spirit animal,” and I can’t wait to see what she and the other ladies get in to in Mortal Heart.

Most swoon-worthy lad: Okay, I am doing it, I’m cheating. I tried to look elsewhere but the title of most swoon-worthy lad goes to Captain Carswell Thorne, hands down. I can not tell you how many pictures I took of his lines and how many flailing texts were sent to my friends while reading Cress. He has made my top 5 of best swoons EVER, and that is saying A LOT.

Favorite pick found while perusing: Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde. I was handed this by a bookseller at The Book Barn because she noticed that I like Patricia C. Wrede and assured me that this title was a readalike. I was pleasantly surprised over the nostalgia, I obviously also loved the strength in the main lady and the swoons in the main dragon!

Fantastical creatures: Not sure if he counts but, Death personified! He was breathtaking in Keturah and Lord Death and I look forward to reading more novels with him in the center!

That bad boy you shouldn’t love, but…: UMM hello? THE DARKLING 4EVA. I love, love, LOVE him so very much…from his quartz like eyes to his brooding demeanor. I just picture him controlling darkness and I get all “humina humina” to MAH BONES. *swoons* Honorable mention goes to Morpheus from Splintered by A.G. Howard

Favorite male lead: KVOTHE. Ohhhh Kvothe…I spent so much time with him this year (umm..over 50 hours of audio – which reminds me, OH HAI, Nick Podehl <3) and my heart sang and broke for him at times. He is so interesting and witty and hello, he’s a ginger, how can I not love him so?!

Favorite female lead: Eleanor, from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. For the good and the bad, she reminded me of me when I was in high school.

Best summary in less than ten words: Scary vampires in an Amish setting. (Thanks, Ame!)

A return to an old favorite (title, genre, etc.): WOO! ROBIN HOOD, BABY!! I chose Robin Hood as my focus for our Classics Retold event and I am so glad that I was able to go back to the story that I love in Hood by Stephen Lawhead. I am excited to read book 2 and 3 in the series as soon as possible!

So glad I judged by it’s cover: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. The piercing gaze of the girl on the front and the ethereal being behind her, I had to have this book. I am so glad that I jumped to request this from Netgalley upon seeing it because it was one of my favorite reads of the year.

Broke my Heart: The Fables installments from this year really got to me. I have become WAY too invested in the characters and have fallen in love with the story, I love these graphic novels so much but boy did they crack my heart a little. Let’s not even get started on A Song of Ice and Fire…

Heightened by the narrator: For sure A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket narrated by Tim Curry is first in my mind when thinking of narrators who make the series for me. I started reading this series years and years ago and never finished because as I grew older I had a hard time making it through these novels in print. However, the audiobooks are absolutely stellar. The parts that I tended to read over because of annoyance or lack of interest, sprouted from my speakers and made me smile and laugh out loud.

Gave me the creeps (which I love): The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki, I sincerely hope that this author starts writing adult horror because he is FANTASTIC.

It’s in the words..: The Woodcutter by Kate Danley was so lyrical and beautiful that I found myself bookmarking every few pages. It was a simple, yet gorgeous read.

Biggest disappointment: Hmm probably Towering by Alex Flinn. I have heard a lot of good things about this author and it might have just been a wrong book, wrong time sort of thing but I did not enjoy this novel AT ALL.

Worth the hype: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. First, I was lucky enough to meet Rainbow at BEA this year and she was so fantastic, she also has great hair. Second, I am not a contemporary reader, and the sickly sweet romances are not usually my thing…HOWEVER Eleanor and Park was recommended to me by so many people that I trust and I fell so deeply in love with it, I immediately added all of Rowell’s books to my TBR. Never has hand holding been so romantic.

Newest addiction: Audiobooks!! As some of you may know, I am incredibly picky when it comes to audiobook narrators. Jim Dale is an obvious love and I fell into loving Neil Gaiman as soon as I heard his free audiobook Click, Clack, the Rattlebag but I had a hard time finding someone else to enjoy. I seem to have a problem with the jarring tone of a female narrator and and I felt sort of lost for a while until Heidi and Amy convinced me to try Nick Podehl, the narrator of The Kingkiller Chronicles. Well WOO BOY am I happy that I gave him a listen! over 50 hours of audiobook later and I am IN LOVE! I was also lucky enough to find some audiobooks narrated by Tim Curry, The Series of Unfortunate Events and a lovely version of Dracula, while perusing!

Favorite villain: Krampus wins this one, I think, though I don’t know for sure that he is considered a villain despite his “evil” ways. This novel by Brom is absolutely enthralling, I read it almost a year ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it.

Favorite laugh out loud moment: Like last year, I have to go with a Duncan moment from the second installment of The League of Princes: The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle. “Oh, I disagree,” Duncan added. “It makes me think of cow-owls. And those are horrifying. MOO-WHO! MOO-WHO!” This series is honestly fantastic and I can’t wait for book three!! Honorable mention goes to the final installment of A Tale Dark and Grimm: The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz, this one had me laughing out loud as well!

The kissy bits: WOO Shadow & Bone had some yummy moments, as did Dark Triumph by LaFevers, Splintered by Howard, and Eleanor and Park had some epic hand holding (also CRESS because seriously..*faints*) Seriously, you guys…*FANS SELF*

Biggest ugly cry moment: Ya know, I didn’t really have any ugly cry moments this year..I don’t usually read those kinds of books so I somehow missed out. I did, however, tear up a few times while reading Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. They were both lovely books, though I did not love them or get as attached as other readers.

Favorite new to me genre/book: Historical fiction! Between In the Shadow of Blackbirds, and The Caged Graves, I quickly jumped on the historical fiction bandwagon and asked Hannah and April for some suggestions. Needless to say, my TBR pile grew a lot and I am excited to move into some non Tudor England historical reads!

Mind. Blown.: Man, I feel sorry that I can’t explain myself better here but…that THING that happens in A Storm of Swords (and it’s not the thing you think)..yeah, I did NOT see that coming. I am so thrilled that I read this series, I can’t even begin to explain how worth it it is to take on the epicness that is A Song of Ice and Fire.

Thank you, Netgalley!: Splintered by A.G. Howard was a titled that I found on a whim while looking through Netgalley. The cover was gorgeous and the synopsis sounded awesome – a twisted fairytale, Alice in Wonderland meets Tim Burton in novel form? Sign me up! The world was vivid and the swoons were aplenty.

Non-bookish THINGS that I loved in 2013:

LOKI: Now, you all know that I love the villains SO MUCH and Loki isn’t really NEW on my radar since I have read and LOVED Norse mythology for as long as I can remember, but I started working hardcore on my WIP this year and…well..there are some Loki like bits in there. That got me delving more into his character, which only made me love him more. Also look how cute my new shirt is…

Game of Thrones: Again, not so new, but some of you may know that I participated in a Song of Ice and Fire Read Along this year and though it was very time consuming…it was AWESOME. Honestly, it is totally worth it, the series is so epic and you just fall so into the world, I definitely recommend giving it a go.

Neil Gaiman: Okay, I may have mentioned him a time or…five..but I was lucky enough to see Neil Gaiman THREE TIMES this year, and I MET HIM FACE TO FACE a few months ago and it was just a once in a lifetime experience. He is so amazing and gracious, and genius. Also his wife, she is pretty fantastic as well. No words.

Literary Lushes: I started a second website with my best friend Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide) which focuses on ARC tours and Twitter chats. It has been such a great experience working with someone that I love and it has really opened me up to new bloggers and experiences which makes me incredibly happy!

Going forward I would like to introduce some new fun features on the blog – (including a new review feature!) and obviously share some wonderful reviews with you all! What about you guys, what can you tell me about your favorite literary moments of the year? I look forward to seeing you all in 2014!! As always, thanks for reading!

Author Interview and Giveaway!

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Hello, my lovelies!! I have something very fun in store for you today! You might remember that I read and loved Amber House a while back, and I recently had the opportunity to read its sequel, Neverwas. Well, I am excited to announce that today we have the authors of this lovely trilogy answering a few burning questions about the series AND to celebrate the release of Neverwas they are allowing some of us bloggers to help them in hosting a giveaway for a signed first edition of Neverwas! First, an interview with the lovely ladies behind the trilogy!

Let’s get the basics out of the way, what can readers expect from Neverwas?

A very different side of Amber House.  The House functions as a prism through which Sarah can examine varying facets of herself and her family.  Book I Sarah was in a darker place emotionally — more lost, more isolated.  That contributed to a manifestation of the House as being more eerie and haunting.  After time changes at the end of AMBER HOUSE, Sarah has a different life, and a different host of issues to face.  The House, obviously, reflects that.  This book is more suspenseful and psychological — it deals directly with the ramifications of Book I.  Questions of free will versus destiny, duty to those we love versus duty to self, that which survives and persist versus those things that must fall away, and how one person can impact countless others.

There are so many scenes that stick out in my mind from both Amber House and Neverwas, the echoes in particular stand out for me, do you have a favorite scene from either of the novels?

There are a few scenes we really wish we could just magically be in.  In AMBER HOUSE, the boat race, and the masquerade for Sarah’s birthday.  In NEVERWAS, the heist probably tops the list.

If I was describing Amber House I would use words like gothic, paranormal, mystery.  Neverwas has these same elements but to me, it really feels more like a work of historical fiction. Was the writing process different for each novel? Did you find that one came more easily to the page?

AMBER HOUSE was originally a much longer novel, and set in the NEVERWAS dystopian timeline.  The decision was made to excise the NEVERWAS elements, so readers could focus more clearly on Sarah and the (admittedly large) cast of supporting characters.  But AMBER HOUSE was always building to NEVERWAS and its storyline, because its mysteries and revelations are necessary to the third act, OTHERWHEN.

It is also a goal of ours, that each book represents a different genre or focus.  While the core themes certainly stay constant, the unique properties of the House afford us the opportunity to plop our characters into starkly different environments.  That’s part of the fun of a time travel series.

I read up on how the idea of the Amber House Trilogy came to be (thank goodness Tucker was hunting after some ancestry information!), and it seems like the idea really grew out of all three of you collaborating. Can you talk about the writing process; do you think it is easier or harder to have three minds working on something so huge? Do you all have your own areas of expertise?

The House as a time-altering device, the time-defying romance between Sarah and Jackson, the dark ties binding the Harris, Hathaway and Parsons families together — these were additions to the early draft of the story found in that 30-old-box in the attic, which we can honestly say only evolved after long discussions in our living room over cups of coffee and tea.  Our plan of attack, as it were, is usually to cloister ourselves away, work and re-work an outline until we all agree on the elements, and then delegate out scenes to write.  When it comes to this project — a central mystery with clues hidden throughout thirteen generations’ worth of character story lines, in addition to an alternate history and the world-building that goes hand-in-hand with that, all underscoring the protagonist’s emotional arc — having three people (plus an editor) helping to keep track of everything goes a long way toward getting these books done in a year or so, rather than two or three years.

In Neverwas, I noticed that Jackson was described as a type of “guardian angel,” and an unwavering partner to Sarah as she searches through the past. I think it shows that Sarah and Jackson’s relationship goes beyond teenage romance.  Were there any partnerships that you had in mind while writing theirs?

Jackson and Sarah’s lifelong friendship-type connection is based on one within our own family — Lundi and Loré Moore, the couple we dedicated the books to.

But there is one obvious difference: the thing about Sarah and Jackson’s connection in Books I and II is it is built on the foundation of Jackson’s visions:  he has seen Sarah and himself live a lifetime together.  He knows Sarah better than she knows herself; he has seen her at her best and at her worst and loves every aspect of her.  For Jackson, his relationship with Sarah isn’t just a “teenage romance,” or a means to an end to get his parents back.  Every vision he has ever had at Amber House has revolved around her — he has grown up knowing Sarah is the one true love of his life.  In that way, there relationship may echo those of classic Gothic romances, where the couple are bound to each other beyond time.

I know we are looking into the future here, but do you have any ideas on what is next after The Amber House trilogy concludes? Do you think you will continue to work together on future novels?

We’re working on solo projects, but can state for certain that two stand-alone collaborations — one a fantasy with a male protagonist, and one a romance-adventure set against the backdrop of Greek mythology — are in various stages of completion and are part of a larger all-encompassing fictional world we intend to establish as the setting for all our projects, past and future.

EEP! I am so excited for ALL OF THE THINGS. I cannot wait to see how the series concludes. Now, for the clue and information regarding the givewaway…

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In NEVERWAS, Sarah must piece together the mystery of her forgotten past with the help of clues left behind by her great-grandmother, Fiona Warren.  For readers interested in the chance to win a signed first-edition hardback of NEVERWAS — with an exclusive hint for what’s in story for Sarah in the final book, OTHERWHEN, hidden inside — visit each blog on the tour for the month of December, collect the various lines from the poem, arrange them in the proper order, and submit the final sonnet by New Year’s Day for a chance to win the special copy of NEVERWAS!

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KELLY MOORE is a New York Times best-selling author, former litigator, and single mother of three. Her latest project, the young adult fiction series THE AMBER HOUSE TRILOGY, co-written with her two daughters and based loosely upon her own family history, examines fourteen generations of Maryland women and their ties to the past, present, and future.  The first book in the series was nominated for the 2014 Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award for its realistic portrayal of characters with autism; Moore is outspoken about her inclusion in the autism spectrum, and is dedicated to autism awareness.

TUCKER REED is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction writer.  She has been recognized on the national level for her short stories, essays and poetry.  She is also a notable political blogger and has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC and HuffPost Live, as well as featured in articles published by TIME magazine, Marie Claire magazine, Ms. magazine, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian, among numerous others.

LARKIN REED is a professional photographer, currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in filmmaking. In 2013, Reed established her own multimedia production company, and has subsequently produced and directed several short films.

Whew! Exciting, am I right?! For more information about the series, or the giveaway, visit The Amber House Blog! Make sure to check out the other blogs to gather your clues! The next stop on the tour will be at Annette’s Book Spot! Oh, and stay tuned for my review of Neverwas! Happy reading, my friends!

Fortnight of Fright Guest Post by Dianne Salerni

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I am SO EXCITED to be featuring one of my favorite authors on the blog today!! Dianne Salerni is the author of WE HEAR THE DEAD, THE CAGED GRAVES, and THE EIGHTH DAY (a forthcoming series from HarperCollins) and some of you may remember that I gushed about her earlier this year after devouring THE CAGED GRAVES. Today, Dianne is here to talk about real caged graves, the spiritualist movement, and happenings that stemmed from both of these unique bits of history.

Graves in Cages and Spirits in the Basement

My first two novels, We Hear the Dead and The Caged Graves, are both better categorized as historical novels than paranormal or horror stories. However, each one originated from something creepy – and true.

The Caged Graves was inspired by two real graves in an abandoned cemetery in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. The graves belong to sisters-in-law who died within a couple days of one another in 1852 and whose family – for some reason — chose to enclose their burial plots in iron cages.

Grave of Sarah Ann

Grave of Sarah Ann

The story behind these graves has been lost to history. The most often cited explanation for the cages is protection from grave robbers – especially medical students seeking fresh cadavers for anatomy practice. But one has to wonder why only those two graves needed protection. Why did the family of these women consider them likely targets for grave robbers? And, more importantly, why erect a decorative, permanent structure for a danger that would only last a few days?  The bodies wouldn’t be desirable very long.

There are some other strange things about this cemetery.  On my second visit I noticed that all the graves belonged to women and children. It’s possible some headstones have been lost or broken to pieces, but it seems strange that not a single marker for an adult male survived. Not even the husbands of the two women! (I only discovered this after I wrote my novel, so the book doesn’t include this little mystery. That might have to wait for a future story!)

Grave of Asenath Thomas

Grave of Asenath Thomas

While the historical facts behind The Caged Graves have been lost to time, the inciting incident that inspired We Hear the Dead is well documented by a pamphlet published a few weeks after the events. In May of 1848, in a one-bedroom, rented house in Hydesville, New York, a persistent but unexplainable rapping sound kept the tenants up several nights in a row. The adults, Margaret and John Fox, searched in vain for the source of the noise, while their two daughters, Maggie and Kate, insisted the rapping was caused by a “spirit.” After a few sleepless nights, an exhausted Margaret Fox complained that it must be the Devil himself.

That’s when the youngest girl, Kate, sat up in bed and said, “Here, Mr. Splitfoot*. Do as I do!” She snapped her fingers three times — and was answered by three sharp raps.

Kate and Maggie enticed the mysterious noise to imitate them several times and finally to answer questions by rapping once for yes and twice for no. By this means they determined the raps were caused by the spirit of a man who’d been robbed, murdered, and buried in the basement by a former tenant.

This creepy little incident was the beginning of the spiritualist movement – or rather, when Kate and Maggie’s older sister decided to take the girls on the road as spirit mediums – that was the beginning. The Fox sisters went from entertaining/scaring the neighbors in Hydesville to contacting wealthy patrons’ dead relatives for money all over the country. The younger girl, Kate, became the Lindsay Lohan of the 1850s while her sister Maggie was caught up in a star-crossed celebrity romance with a famous Arctic explorer.

Was it a hoax? There is evidence both for and against that.  One sister admitted to fraud forty years later, but only after she was well paid for the confession. The other sister never recanted.

It’s a shame Maggie and Kate were never asked to contact the women buried in Catawissa’s caged graves and get the scoop on what happened there!

*Mr. Splitfoot is a 19th century term for the Devil.

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I bet that you didn’t know that We Hear the Dead was the inspiration for a short film called The Spirit Game, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes film festival! The trailer to the film can be found below, but also stay tuned for my review of We Hear the Dead, coming soon! Dianne, thank you SO MUCH for joining us on Books Take You Places, I loved reading all about the facts behind your books! Readers, head on over to Brittany’s blog to see what she has in store for you today!

The Spirt Game Trailer from Craig Goodwill on Vimeo.

Fortnight of Fright – Guest Post from Danielle Shipley: Scary-Good Times as a Scaredy-Cat

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Welcome, welcome!! It is day two of Fortnight of Fright! For those of you wondering what Fortnight of Fright consists of, head on over to the intro post and take a gander! I am so excited to have so much excellent blogger and author participation this year, we are going to be bursting at the seams with Halloween happenings! Today I have a lovely lady featured on the blog, Ms. Danielle Shipley! Danielle is a pretty fabulous person, and author so go check out her blog or twitter after reading her post on Halloween from the views of a “scaredy-cat!” Take it away, Danielle!

As a general rule, I dislike being spooked, and anyone who goes out of their way to startle a scream of fear out of me is likely to end up on my black list for quite some time. But every so often, over the course of my life, I’ll come across something that inspires my fear… and my happy fascination.

Sometimes, it’s a song. As a youngster, I got a pleasant tingle up and down my spine every time I heard the ghost story set to music, “No Such Thing”. (Anyone of my generation out there who remembers that little number from the Olsen twins? Talk about ‘90s nostalgia.) And there was something about Men At Work’s “Who Can It Be Now?” that reminded me of my one (and in the foreseeable future, only) viewing of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” – but in a good way! If I’d owned something as futuristic as a CD back then, I would have had these tracks on replay, shivers and all.

Then there are the movies. For someone who lacks the nerve for horror films, I was shocked at how much I loved the moonlight reveal of the zombie-like crew of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl”. And even though its vampires and werewolves made me physically sick with terror, “Van Helsing” made it onto my list of all-time favorite movies. (Leave to a quirky Dracula to suck me in. …pun only realized after the fact.) I’ve lost count of how many times I put these DVDs in just for the heck of it; just for a few scenes, even; just for the chills.

Have I ever enjoyed a reading scare? There was that time I found myself entranced against my will by the “Haunting of Derek Stone” books by Tony Abbot. It was “evil dead people”-palooza, up in there, and I still read it all the way through to the end. No other series can boast that. And I once managed to thoroughly creep myself out in the writing of a short story. Even knowing from the start how it would end, I hadn’t expected experiencing it to shake me up that badly. So you know what I did with the creepy antagonist? Wrote that bad boy his own novel, that’s what! (Complete with yet another scene that made me shudder.)

All of which just goes to show, even us scaredy-cats can have fun with a fright, from time to time.

And no, that is not an invitation for you to try to scare the cookies out of me. I am serious. I will end you.

We asked a few or our participants to answer some questions about Halloween…

Why do you love Halloween? Because it’s one holiday closer to Christmas!

Any fun Halloween memories? One year my birthday (October 30th) coincided with the Halloween Costume Day held by the elementary school at which I was then a librarian. I got offered sweets all day while dressed up as Ralphie from “The Magic School Bus”. It was pretty awesome.

What was the best costume you ever had? (Or if you don’t have one, someone else’s) I’d say the Ralphie outfit made me happiest. Green jeans, green T-shirt with a big red “R” pinned to the front, red baseball cap worn backwards. That’s how little it takes to make me feel like a boss.

Do you prefer mild scares or hair raising horror? Mild, please!

Favorites:

Halloween Candy? I’ve always been a Snickers fan.

Paranormal creature? (ghouls, gobilins, vampires, witches, etc) Gotta give this one to the vampires. The fangs have a certain charisma.

Halloween Movie: Going back to the Olsen twins, my childhood Halloween favorite was “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble”.

Halloween TV episodes or TV Shows: Can I say “Scooby-Doo” as an overall premise? The Mystery Inc. gang pretty much had to deal with a dash of Halloween every day!

As always, head over to Brittany’s blog to see what she has featured and check back Monday for a scary book review from a fellow blogger!

Fortnight of Fright (2)

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Hello my friends!

Two awesome things coming your way…

First, you may remember that last year Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide and I hosted a two week event called Fortnight of Fright, where we shared different posts on ALL OF THE HALLOWEEN THINGS. This year we are working together again to showcase different creepy books, movies, author interviews, and other excellent autumn and Halloween related goodies! The best part is that we get to work together with some awesome bloggers to make this happen, and the more the merrier, so if you think that you want to assist in ANY way, even if it is just telling us your favorite thing about Halloween, sign up via the Google Doc down at the end, below part two of this post!

Some fun posts from last year included:

The Scary-Funny Sweet Spot by Heidi at Bunbury in the Stacks

Favorite Villains

Favorite Halloween Shows

…and so many more!!

All Hallow's Read

Second, you may also remember that I told you all about All Hallow’s Read, which is a lovely new tradition started by Neil Gaiman where people give each other BOOKS instead of CANDY. Doesn’t that sound AMAZING?! Brittany, Amy and I are all participating and we are gifting each other Halloween-y books for us to read and review during the month of October. I can’t tell you how excited we have all been to choose books for each other (and um we are obviously psyched to receive those books as well!!) and you have time before Halloween so I suggest that you get together with some friends, and give each other books, because WE ALL LOVE BOOKS. For more information on All Hallow’s Read, head on over to their website, and I will keep you all in the know as well because last year Neil Gaiman gave away a free short story via Audible and it was PHENOMENAL.

Happy reading, my friends!!

Event Recap: Or, How I Met Neil Gaiman and Didn’t Touch His Hair

So I saw Neil Gaiman this year. Twice. That’s right twice; weeks apart from one another and mostly in promotion for his new book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I know, it isn’t too crazy when you take into account that I often exclaim “Oh my Gaiman!” in lieu of other Godly beings. It isn’t crazy, no, but it was slightly overwhelming for the senses. In the sense that, though I saw him over a month ago I am just now able to come down and let you all in on my FEELINGS about the whole thing…I will do my best to recap the two events and drop some blurbs here and there from Mr. Gaiman throughout :]

 “I wrote this book accidentally. It started because I missed my wife, and I wanted her to see the world through my eyes when I was seven….I don’t do feelings…because I’m English…and I’m male.”

First, there was the event at Book Expo America when I got to listen to him speak about why fiction is dangerous. Without being a bore, let me quickly walk you through it…in a nutshell: my morning was insane. We missed our train and then had PROBLEMS ON THE TRACKS mere weeks after the whole train crash debacle, and I literally RAN into Javits hoping beyond hope that I hadn’t missed my chance to hear Neil speak. My dear friends Heidi and Asheley saved a seat for me and I was so giddy from anticipation that when Neil came out, I cried real tears. The absolute awe I felt was entirely too much to handle. You see, this is the voice that got me through some incredibly rough times. The voice that allowed me to gain enough courage to drive through rush hour for the first time without becoming so frozen with fear that I had to pull over until my panic attack subsided. Reality hit and I became so overwhelmed with gratitude and utter happiness that I couldn’t contain myself.

 “Kids don’t need to be told what it’s like to be kids, they’re already there! It’s the adults who forget…”

Some quick things to note about Mr. Gaiman, he is a genius with words, and he is hilarious. Make you laugh out loud, hilarious. For example, when asked if he would ever consider another career, perhaps as a “hot librarian,” he answered that, “Hot librarians are apart from anything else, a very different gender than me…but yeah, the two professions that I fantasized about, that I could actually imagine wanting when I was a kid growing up were an English teacher and a librarian. They were the people that I loved and respected and the things that I was good at…well, I didn’t know that I would be good at being an English teacher or a librarian..BUT…when I was seven, all of my books…alphabetical order. The amount of worry I gave to Roger Lancelyn Green, over whether that man belonged in the L’s or the G’s…WHAT. What are you Roger Lancelyn Green?! Why are you writing these books and tales of the norsemen? Why can’t you just be Roger Green, or Roger Lancelyn, then I would know where to put you. Well, I put him in the L’s, and later discovered I was wrong!”

And then…well…this happened…

 

photo 

and my life was basically made…

“We don’t think of ourselves as names. I don’t walk around saying, oh look at what I am doing in my Neil Gaiman way!” 

Then just three weeks later I drove three hours to Saratoga Springs to listen to Neil speak again, and this time I got to meet him. To be honest it is nearly impossible for me to explain what it feels like to meet someone so incredible and important. If you haven’t experienced it, I really can’t put the feeling into words. Basically, I listened to the wonderful man speak about his new book, and he read bits of it to us in which the beau, who drove 3 hours  just to watch me react to my favorite author speak, became an instant Neil Gaiman fan. True story – he has gone through my entire Gaiman library at this point and is starting on the audiobooks. Then, and this is the best part, I got to actually meet Neil and tell him how amazing I think he is, TO HIS FACE. As you see in the picture above, there is an ongoing joke between my friend Amy and I that I need want to touch Neil’s hair, and I had every intention of reminding Neil of that tweet and informing him that I am not the kind of gal who just goes around touching people’s hair, but it didn’t all go according to plan..

Looking up and smiling, politely ignoring my flails.

Looking up and smiling, politely ignoring my flails.

Alyssa waiting in line: *bounces up and down* *makes girly noises*

Alyssa still waiting in line, 3 hours later: “OMG I can see him, he is right there * points * I promise I won’t cry!”

Nice woman assisting Neil with the signing: “You wouldn’t be the first one who has.”

Alyssa approaching an exhausted Neil Gaiman: *in awe* “Hello.”

Neil Gaiman: “Hello, thank you so much for waiting!” *smiles in his Neil Gaiman way*

Alyssa: *stares at Neil Gaiman*

* Neil Gaiman is handed The Sandman: Dream Country to be personalized *

Neil Gaiman: *caresses the page with Puck’s face* “Oh.”

Alyssa: IT’S BECAUSE I LOVE THE CHARACTER OF PUCK. HE IS MY FAVORITE CHARACTER IN LITERATURE!! (The beau says I did not yell at Neil Gaiman but in my memory I surely was not using an indoor voice.)

Neil Gaiman: *looks up and smiles* “Thank you so much for saying that, I enjoy him as well!”

Alyssa: *GASP* “Thank you, thank you so much for being you. OMG. Thank you!” *floats out of signing room*

Isn't it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful?

So yeah, overwhelming. He looked so tired and was still so charming and gracious, I could barely handle it. Then I drove the three hours home, while listening to the Evelyn, Evelyn CD we were given at the event, and became an immediate Amanda Palmer fan, so there’s that.

“How many secrets can you keep in your hair, and is that where the metaphors come from?”
“All of them.”

To sum up, go hear Neil Gaiman speak at your earliest opportunity, it is an absolutely fantastic experience that I can hardly put into words. Oh and read ALL THE GAIMAN BOOKS. No, seriously.

Related Posts:

Neil Gaiman, I Love You

Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Book Expo America 2013 Recap

YAY my second year that I was lucky enough to head to Book Expo America! Can you believe that this year was even better than last year? It was less focused on getting ALL THE BOOKS and more focused on meeting all of the amazing people. I am going to try and be as coherent as possible but excuse me if I tell you of the FEELS and sound a little AHHHFLAILSBEAAHHH!

Wednesday 5/29

B&A

My “trip” started a little early than most (and a little later than those of you who attended BBC) since Brittany (from The Book Addict’s Guide) flew in to Boston and I drove to pick her up to start our festivities! It’s always a tad unnerving meeting new people, and though B and I talk every day, there were still some moments where I was all “OMG what if we hate each other…” as I was driving to the airport. THANKFULLY, that was not the case and meeting B IRL just better reiterated that you can find your best friends later in life, and that things do happen for a reason, and ya know, feels. SO anyway we decided to save some cash and stay in CT and take the train in to NYC every day for BEA. Yeah, that meant we had to get up a few hours earlier than some, and yea we weren’t able to see as much of the city and attend ALL THE EVENTS, but that will be another trip. We got sangria at dinner, and then bought a bottle of wine for the hotel room all while networking with the dude who worked at the liquor store. Skill.

Sangria

Sangria out of mason jars, yeah buddy!

Thursday 5/30

EARLY start to the morning, but totally worth it. We spent some time looking in awe at ALL THE BOOKS and then headed over to see Kendare Blake and pick up Antigoddess, which I can’t wait to read. Shortly after we headed over to wait in line to meet Victoria Rossi who is, by the way, one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen, and we were like SCOREWERULE because we were told that we were first in line!!! Yeah… that was a lie. Turns out things weren’t as organized as they had hoped over in the BEA autographing area so while we were told that we were number one, so were (lots of) other peeps over on the other side of the hall! So anyway, we got in the special roped off line and totes thought we had MADE IT, and then they ran out of time and cut us off right after Britt! EEP! I was super sad, mostly because I wanted to tell Ms. Rossi that Aaron said hi and that he may or may not be sending us to stalk her, but really, I get it, and felt lucky to even have the opportunity, plus I was able to make a new friend (Hi, Shelver M!) and that is always awesome. A particular highlight was meeting Adam Gidwitz, I told him how I am currently reading A Tale Dark and Grimm out loud to Stan and how I wanted to get a copy for my love, so he signed it with a very sweet and personal message…

A Tale Dark and Grimm

*I* love Adam Gidwitz

The best part about this day was meeting some fellow bloggers, a very distinct highlight of my day was when Jamie (from The Perpetual Page Turner) literally hopped and ran across the hall to flail at us (seriously love her), and of course meeting Anna (from Anna Reads), Alexa (fromAlexa Loves Books), Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence), Mandee (from Vegan YA Nerds/The Bookish Manicurist), and of course my IRL dear friend, Heidi (from Bunbury in the Stacks).

B and I headed home after a long and successful day, I was actually surprised at how huge (and awesome) my haul was!

BEA day 1 haul

Yeah! Signed books up top!

Friday 5/31

Friday was a tad more chill than Thursday and I spent a significant amount of time standing in line waiting to see some of my favorite authors. Specifically, Elizabeth Wein, and Victoria Schwab, also super awesome shoutouts to my girl Amy (from Tripping Over Books) who fangirled with me a bit, and Betty (from Book Rock Betty) who I was able to very quickly exclaim with (and share sads that we didn’t get to spend more time together)! WOO!

Vicious

SO excited for this one, and check out those cards!

I’ll be honest, I felt really crummy on Friday, and wasn’t in the best of moods, which was sad because I was enjoying myself immensely but was still bogged down with the grumpiness, and not feeling my best. Highlights included seeing Grumpy Cat, WHO I LOVE, she is so tiny, and being able to spend some time with Heidi! B and I headed home early on Friday, which means that we skipped out on the Book Blogger’s Picnic, which SUCKED, but we both felt so crummy so it all worked out that we got some extra sleep!

Day 2

Day 2 haul! Signed ones up top!

Saturday 6/1

Saturday was the most chill and also most EXCITING. Exciting because I GOT TO LISTEN TO NEIL GAIMAN SPEAK FOR ONE WHOLE HOUR. It was amazing. I plan on doing a recap of the event early next week so stay tuned but in a nutshell: SWOONS. It was the most chill because it was really more focused on friend time and less on GET ALL THE BOOKS, so we only stayed at Javits for a bit and then headed INTO THE CITY! Britt, Heidi, Mandee, Asher, and I headed to The Strand which is amazing and a bit overwhelming. I picked up a lesser known (by me, at least) Gaiman book, and We Hear the Dead by Dianne Salerni, which I am so excited about. We were also lucky enough to meet up with Estelle from Rather Be Reading!!

The Strand

All of us minus Estelle, because she was awesome enough to take the picture!

After The Strand we headed over to eat some “New York Pizza” which was really more like regular pizza that I can find anywhere on the East Coast but equally delicious, and then we hung out for a bit because it was HOT and we wanted some time to chat together. We decided to head over to Books of Wonder because it has THE WIZARD OF OZ THINGS and as you know, I am obsessed.

I am excited to be around OZ THINGS!

I am excited to be around all of the OZ THINGS!

I obviously had to buy the signed copy of Chu’s Day, and signed copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, because of reasons. Soon after we said our goodbyes and headed back to Magnolia Bakery Connecticut to rest up after a very eventful three days.

Day 3

Day 3 BEA haul! WOO!

Sunday 6/2

Sunday was a sad day, I had to say goodbye to Britt with the knowledge that we have no clue when we will see each other again, and the fact that it honestly might be a year before we are reunited, but let’s not dwell on it, because I am so thankful to have been able to spend as much time with her as I did.

Hideous picture of me, but we are rockin' our "KEEP CALM AND READ ON" shirts!

A less than flattering picture of me, but we are rockin’ our “KEEP CALM AND READ ON” shirts!

Once I got home I was able to relax and it has taken me a few days to even comprehend the amazing-ness that was this conference. I feel so lucky to have been a part of it, the best part wasn’t the books I brought home or the swag I received, but sheer excited-ness that I felt (and felt from others) over meeting each other and expressing our love for all things literary. Also Neil Gaiman. Always, Neil Gaiman.

Final Haul

My final haul picture ❤

Top Ten Tuesday (28)

Top Ten Books and Authors I Am Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish which I adore and therefore chose to adopt into my weekly blog posts!

L. Frank Baum and The Wizard of Oz series – To give me a fantasy land to escape to before Harry Potter, you will always be my first love.

J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series – Without a doubt this is the number one series I am thankful for in my life. Let me just say that I had a pretty…rough… childhood and Harry and I were alike in quite a few ways. I think I was 12 when Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets came out and it was at that point that I randomly happened upon book 1. My grandmother asked me if I was interested and I kind of shrugged. You see, I was a creature of habit and at that point I was obsessively re-reading both The Wizard of Oz series and The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Fast forward a few days (or hours) to me curled up in my chair in my tiny room crying over Harry receiving his Hogwarts letter. Seriously. Years later I was lucky enough to work at Barnes & Noble and I was working the midnight release party for HP7. I remember getting home after 1am and reading until I fell asleep. I finished the book that day and though I was overjoyed at having another piece of Harry’s life in my hands, I cried and cried. I cried because it was over but I also cried because we both prevailed over the terrible circumstances in our lives, Harry and I. I cried because in fact, happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Patricia C. Wrede and The Enchanted Forest Chronicles – Ahh the first “no nonsense” princess I ever fell in love with and the first character I can remember relating to as a young reader.

Juliet Marillier – You all saw this coming, didn’t you? Marillier was the first “adult” author that I read as a “young adult” and it was the first time I can remember becoming so engrossed in a story that I could shut out anything and everything going on around me. There are a few books and a few series that I can re-read over and over but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized just how much I love this author. Of course I knew that she was my favorite but I had forgotten just how strongly I react to her words. I am re-reading Daughter of the Forest (and the rest of the Sevenwaters series) to prepare for Flame of Sevenwaters and I am having all of these FEELINGS that are nearly impossible to describe. You’re all book people though, you get it, right?!

Neil Gaiman – I was lucky enough to read Neil Gaiman for the first time this year and I just love everything about him. The more I read the more I love. Mostly, I am thankful for his amazing storytelling skills because I LOVE the audio books that he narrates. You know what, just go read this post because really it is all about my adoration for the man.

Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Trilogy – For getting so many “non-readers” to read! Also for being one of the first books my beau read before me and ADORED.

Christopher Healy and The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom – For reminding me how fun it is to read and for proving to me that MG novels are worth it.

Bram Stoker and Dracula – For being the first vampire I ever loved.

Gertrude Chandler Warner and The Boxcar Children – For making me feel like less of an orphan.

The Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Andersen – Just because.

Neil Gaiman, I love you.

‘What kind of story would you like me to tell you?’ ‘Well,’ he said, thoughtfully, ‘I don’t think it should be too scary, because then when I go up to bed, I will just be thinking about monsters the whole time. But if it isn’t just a little bit scary, then I won’t be interested. And you make up scary stories, don’t you?’

Many of you know that this year was the year I had my first experience with Neil Gaiman. Everyone had stressed to me how fantastic Gaiman was and everyone had ideas on which book I should begin with and I decided to go with Stardust as my first read. I was already familiar with the story (and obsessed with the movie) and therefore knew that I would be happy with the outcome. My ideas on Stardust are for another time. This post is about my first experience with Neil Gaiman as a storyteller. That’s right, into audiobooks I delved.

I mentioned All Hallow’s Read and Neil Gaiman’s free audiobook in a prior post, and I encouraged you all to go download it but I never told you that I downloaded it, and obsessively listened to it for days. Because friends? Neil Gaiman is the shit. I know, I know. You all told me how fantastic this man was but I was wary, my friends, because how often does something or someone live up to the hype? The best part about this whole situation is that it isn’t just the books that I love. Oh no, it is the audiobooks, the ones narrated by this master storyteller himself.

The ones that made me change my whole perception and made me realize that being read to is in fact a glorious past time.

I won’t go in to what Click Clack the Rattlebag is like, except that it was wonderful. Neil Gaiman asked us listeners to keep the storyline to ourselves and I for one am abiding by that. Just know that it is creepy and intriguing and really keeps you listening intently. Currently, I am listening to Gaiman’s Neverwhere and it is so amazing that I find myself driving around in circles, taking the long way home, and sitting in my car long after arriving to my destination just to continue listening. In fact, as I sit at my workstation I am counting the hours until my long drive home whenI will be soothed by Gaiman’s lovely narration.

I encourage you all, old fans and new, to take a listen to Neil Gaiman’s works as he is an excellent storyteller and heightens any listening experience.

Move over, Jim Dale, methinks I have found a new narrator husband!