Friday, March 03, 2017

Judy Blume is a Person

I'm going to date myself here, but I didn't have the internet until I went to college. While I am glad for so many reasons that I didn't grow up with Facebook and Twitter, sometimes I realize how much I missed out on because of it.

As a young teen girl, I found out about the world around me from my magazines: Seventeen, Sassy, and YM. I learned about music from MTV and the arts from my grandmother's hand me down Smithsonian magazines that I obsessively cut up for scrapbooks I never made. I found out which celebrities I shared a birthday with by waiting until February 17th each year to see that episode of Entertainment Tonight.

When I was in high school I excelled in music, but never knew where a love for that could take me. I assumed all music majors had to be proteges at their instruments otherwise your only other option was to be a teacher. I majored in Biology in college because I had a really wonderful teacher my junior year and wanted to combine it with my love of tennis to become a sports physician. I signed up every year for career shadowing day, but there was never anyone to pair me with. I shadowed a Nurse Practitioner one year and learned a lot about the reception area of the doctor's office.

What I love about 2017 is that so many more things are accessible. I went to an author signing this week for a writer whose work I am completely in love with. Her books inspire me and, because I follow her on twitter, I get to see some of the behind the scenes parts of the process. I went to another signing a few days later for an author who gives out course-loads of free (and amazing!) writing advice and I was able to thank her in person for that.

When I was a kid I loved Judy Blume books so incredibly much, but I had no idea who July Blume was. She was just this name on the cover of these books I devoured over and over. And it never occurred to me that I could do that, too. That writing a book wasn't just sitting down at a typewriter (remember, this is pre-computers everywhere, kids!) and creating something wonderful in one try. My love for reading never translated to writing when I was growing up and I was terrible in my english classes.

A few years ago I was watching an awards show and a celebrity wore a dress in the most beautiful shade of yellow/green. I tweeted to Judy Blume (who I knew was also watching) and said it looked chartreuse to me, a color I learned about in her book JUST AS LONG AS WE'RE TOGETHER. She wrote back in agreement and pre-teen Scarlet was ELATED. (Who are we kidding, adult Scarlet was freaking out, too.) You guys...Judy Blume is a person. She sit at the computer like the rest of us and strings together words, whether they're on twitter or in a word doc to create a book. And this woman, this sensational writer whose books I have loved for most of my life interacted with me. It was cool!

I was thinking about this the other night at my second book event in a week and about how maybe just 10 years ago I said I didn't really care about meeting authors. "It's not that exciting to meet someone who wrote the book. I'd rather just read it." 2017 me laughs so hard at this, but also, 2007 me didn't have the same connection with so many of my favorite authors: the internet...and twitter specifically.

I drove to Pennsylvania last year to meet Sarah J. Maas because I love her books so much, but also because I follow her online and it seems like we both cry all the time at stuff we love. I love when she posts on Instagram about seeing a ballet and sobbing by the end of it. (I, too, can't control my tears!)

I went to Susan Dennard's book signing last night because I love her Witchlanders series, but also because I relate to her as someone who has interests in science and the arts and because she gives the best writing advice!

I left work early last Sunday to go to Victoria Schwab's event not only because I am obsessed with her books, but because we share a love of Scotland and I admire her work ethic. I know these things because I follow her on twitter.

I've always been a lover of the arts (books, music, films, etc.), but more than with musicians and actors, authors were always a little more inaccessible. I would walk into a bookstore and look for the latest installment of my favorite series, but it never went much farther than just thinking about what their last name was to find them on the shelves or reading their short bio on the last page. Twitter changed that, and while there are, of course, cons to being so out there, I, for one am so grateful to have learned more about books and writing.

I was always going to be a lifelong reader, but in the past decade I learned I could create something, too. I discovered so many different ways to explore and share my love of books and creativity.  I may never have a published book, but I learned that writers are just people. (Talented, creative, awesome) People who sit down and do the work. I love that the internet has provided me that knowledge.

It may suck that I never knew paid internships existed in college or that there are career paths for non-protege clarinet players, but it's okay because it's 2017 and if there's one thing the internet has taught me, it's that anyone can have success and at any age.


Book Boos: February 2017

5. THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood. (Audio) Obviously this book is hella good and thought provoking and super why is it #5? Well...mostly because something has to be and it's not any less good than my other four reads this month, but I'm all about escapism with my reading lately and this one just hits too close to home right now. However, I am REALLY looking forward to Hulu's adaptation of it! 

4. A GATHERING OF SHADOWS by V.E. Schwab. (Audio). Let's be real: this book is incredible, but it, and my next two books on this list, were rereads, and I want to give newer books some higher placements this year. This series lends itself so well for rereads because you can focus on the wonderful words instead of just noting plot like we often do on read one. I love love love Kell and his interactions with just about every other character are so golden.

3. A COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas. Yep, still my favorite book. I had a Night Court-inspired birthday this year so I reread ACOTAR and ACOMAF in preparation for it. I also did a fun project where I put rose stickers on the lovely Tamlin parts in book one and star stickers on the many many many wonderful Rhysand/Night Court moments in book two. I plan to do a separate post on this soon. When I first read ACOMAF I was in the middle of a super crazy work schedule and assumed it was my near exhaustion that made me a weepy mess during most of the book. But nope, my reread left me super emotional, too. The only way I can describe it is as if Maas's words are the perfect fit for my synapses. I will say, I got a lot more out of the overall plot with Hybern on my reread, so that was definitely awesome!

2. HUNTED by Meagan Spooner. (ARC). I love a good Beauty and the Beast retelling and this one was so good! It had just enough changed so that it didn't read as more of the same and I really liked the main character. 

1. A CONJURING OF LIGHT by V.E. Schwab. (Print and Audio). WOWOWOWOWOWOOWWO! The final installment in the Shades of Magic series was perfection. I loved how the story ended, of course, but also loved how it got there. Victoria said it herself when I saw her at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA, but the books are a series of smaller and smaller stories under the umbrella of the book as a whole. ACOL reads so well in that format and I loved all of the pieces that came together...I also loved all of the increased interactions between our favorite characters...especially those on the ship...

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Book Boos: January 2017

6. A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness. (Audio.) This was actually a spectacular book that made me cry in the end. The only reason it's 6 on my list is because it just wasn't totally a Scarlet book. I read it and appreciated it and yeah, the ending hit hard, but that was it. I'm very curious about the movie now! 

5. THE GLASS MAGICIAN by Charlie N. Holmberg. (Audio.) I really like Holmberg's stories and writing style, but I was a little disappointed the two main characters (or are they just main in my own head??!!!) were separated for much of the story. I loved the ending of THE PAPER MAGICIAN and kind of wanted more of that:)

4. RED RISING by Pierce Brown. (Audio.) This was a tough one. I was SO into the beginning of the story and the premise, but somewhere in the middle I got a little bored...but then, at the end, it grabbed me again! 

3. TRAITOR TO THE THRONE by Alwyn Hamilton. (ARC.) REBEL OF THE SANDS was one of my favorite books of 2016 and I have been telling people to read it since I turned the last page. I am so happy to report that book two in the series is awesome, as well! The sequel is MUCH longer and brings in more characters in new situations. Amani continues to be a super badass main character. I am here for of her adventures.

2. WINDWITCH by Susan Dennard. (Audio and Print.) The only reason this ranked above #3 is because I got really into the build up to its release by Susan and the Witchlanders community. I looooooooove this series! Iseult and Safi are so so so cool. I love that everything is about them being threadsisters and, while book two does separate them, it works so well! Dennard has created a world and a cast of characters that are so fantastic. 

1. DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING by Tricia Levenseller. (ARC.) And the only reason DotPK ranked higher than 2 and 3 is because it read so dynamically and quickly and made me laugh and swoon and cheer for the action. Alosa is a really awesome main character and I look forward to more adventures with her. (And hopefully with you know who!!!)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Winter Wonderland

People give me a hard time about the weather. Like because I know what I like (COLD) and am 100% happy when I get to wear layers and scarves and hope for snow that I'm weird. I literally never complain about it being cold. Never ever.

But when it's January and 71 degrees out, people act like I'm a monster because I'm upset. It's not just a little warmer today, it's ridiculously warm. The average temperature in January around here is 32. So we're ~40 degrees warmer than that today. Unacceptable.

"But doesn't it feel good after it being so cold?"

No. You know what feels good? A cashmere sweater.

You know what doesn't feel good? Having to work in an overly heated building because it's 40 degrees warmer than what the thermostats are set for.

Also, it's not like we get this same unseasonable weather in the summer. The average temperatures around here for June, July, August, and September are 80, 80, 89, and 86 respectively. Also in the past few years, the coldest average day has only been 19 degrees cooler than the average. 19. Not 40.

So, come back to me when it's going to be a high in the 40s in July. Then we can talk. Or when it's going to be 20 degrees above the average for multiple days.

Give me back my winter. It's already too fleeting.


Sunday, January 01, 2017

2016: Book Boos in Review

2016 Year in Books

73 read

4 were re-reads

47 were YA (64%)

26 were adult (36%)

38 had fantasy elements

1 was non-fiction

49 are parts of series (whoa!)

34 were published in 2016

1 will be published in 2017

Top 12** (in read date order):
  • THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab
  • UNHOOKED by Lisa Maxwell
  • CAPTIVE PRINCE by C.S. Pacat
  • A COURT OF MIST AND FURY* by Sarah J. Maas 
  • UPROOTED by Naomi Novik
  • OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon
  •  CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber
  • EMPIRE OF STORMS by Sarah J. Maas
  • CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo
  • THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller
 *Favorite of the year.
**Based on top book from each month. In some cases, book two of each month would have made this list if done differently. 

Signed copies:
  • TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN by Lauren Graham
  • EMPIRE OF STORMS by Sarah J. Maas
  • QUEEN OF SHADOWS by Sarah J. Maas
  • OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon
  • CROWN OF MIDNIGHT by Sarah J. Maas
  • THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater
  • THE CROWN'S GAME by Evelyn Skye (bookplate)
  • A COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas
  • HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer
  • GLASS SWORD by Victoria Aveyard
  • UNHOOKED by Lisa Maxwell
  • THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab
 Other reads of note:
  • GAME. SET. MATCH by Jennifer Iacopelli (A book about tennis!!! AHhhh!)
  • TRUTHWITCH by Susan Dennard (I love this book! Can NOT wait for WINDWITCH and also, Susan is The Best online with her advice and excitement for life.) 
  • REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton (I was hooked from the first paragraph and didn't shut up about this book for months. Hoping to meet Alwyn in Arlington this spring!)
  • AT THE EDGE OF SUMMER by Jessica Brockmole. (Fan for life. Love her books with the incorporation of letters and (so far) inclusion of Scotland.)
  • FOLLOWED BY FROST by Charlie N. Holmberg (Beautiful!)
  • IVORY AND BONE by Julie Eshbaugh (I regret not going to her release party (bc of bad weather) because this book was awesome!)
  • I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS by Iain Reid (Awesome thriller you must read!)

 A great reading year and I look forward to 2017!


Book Boos: December

4. THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M.R. Carey. (Audio). I liked the beginning of this book a little more than the back half. The plot changes a bit about halfway through and it took me by surprise and I found myself missing the beginning plot. But still, very creative take on the subject matter! 

3. THE SHADOW QUEEN by C.J. Redwine. (Audio). I liked this story a lot! It's a great take on the Snow White story with great magic, adventure, and romance. I am definitely looking forward to book two!

2. TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN by Lauren Graham. (Audio and Print). Did you know I have a Gilmore Girls podcast? Well, I do. Go listen to it! I'm a HUGE Lauren Graham fan after loving her fiction book, SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY MAYBE, I've been looking forward to her memoir since it was announced. I even went to NYC to her book talk with Michael Ausiello, which was AWESOME. She was hilarious and sweet and sincere in person and all of that comes through in her writing, too. If you're a fan of Gilmore Girls or not, this book is really fun. 

1. THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller. (Audio and Print). Stunning. Epic. Heartbreaking. This book, a retelling of the Iliad, is incredible. It's not only super creative in its storytelling, but the words and sentences used are beyond beautiful. Also, some people will hate this, but I totally imagined Brad Pitt from Troy as Achilles while I read this and that was oh so lovely.