Interview with Tere Hyfield from Red Stick Reads

 

1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?

Without a doubt, my favorite part of our bookshop is our children’s section. Although our shop is teeny tiny, we try hard to make the best, most creative, use of our space and the kids section was created with SO much love. Given that our shop is small, we needed to find a way to make it feel cozy and inviting even to our tiniest of customers and many hours were spent dreaming up how to best host the children that visit our shop.

2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?

Unlike the previous question, this one is actually a lot harder to answer. There are SO many beautiful book covers out there, but if I had to narrow it down to one… or two… I’d say my current fiction favorites are Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Last Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleaton. Both of these covers TOTALLY caught my attention and are a big reason I was drawn to the books to begin with. They are gorgeous! I’m not necessarily proud to admit this, but I totally judge books by their covers, and a lot of times, this does not prove to be a good idea. But fortunately, in the case of these two books the outside cover matched up with what I thought about the inside. Beautiful inside AND out 😉

….And because I can’t help myself, I will mention just one more beauty! I am a HUGE fan of the Little People, Big Dreams children’s series and will always have them front facing in our shop. Their newest, Treasury of 50 Little Dreamers, is a fast favorite we have showcased front facing in the shop.

3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?

My husband and I would probably answer this question very differently, but I’ll share my current picks and right now it would be Jodi Picoult’s new release Wish You Were Here. I just finished this one myself and am selfishly recommending it so that I can have someone to discuss it with. It’s the first novel I’ve read set in the pandemic and I have SO many thoughts about it. And she threw in quite the twist to boot. Jodi Picoult, in general, is a great rec. As far as a backlist pick, I love recommending both The Seven Husbands of Eleanor Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six. They are both written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and she’s become a new favorite for me that I love sharing because I have enjoyed all of her books so far.

4. Do you have a strange customer story?

I have a great customer story that comes to mind, but it’s not so much strange as it is just awesome. We decided to open on Christmas Eve, but only for a couple of hours. The very first group that walked through the doors proved to be one of the most memorable, and fun, moments we’ve had to date! We hadn’t been open very long, when a group of about 10 people walked in. And because our shop is so small, they basically filled up the whole space. A couple of adults, and LOTS of kids varying in ages from 5ish to young adults walked in and immediately started scurrying around the store in what appeared to us to be some kind of scavenger hunt. One of the adults explained that all of their grandkids had just pulled names of the adults in the family, and they were on a mission to find each one a book from our shop as a Christmas gift, and they were on a time constraint. Immediately we jumped into action and the kids started calling out names, and information to us about each adult. I knew this group would be fun when I asked one of the kids to tell me a little about the person they picked and he looked at me and said: Do you have anything involving a drug cartel? I looked at grandma and she said…. let me explain. Let’s just say, we laughed the ENTIRE time they were in the ship and I’m proud to say we found a book for all of the adults.

I know we’ll always look back on that family and enjoy the gift of joy they gave us. I hope they come back next Christmas Eve

5. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?

Our first author event comes to mind right away. We hosted a really fun evening at the shop with local author, Stephen Andes, to celebrate his book Zorro’s Shadow. Stephen read from Chapter 1 of his book, while being accompanied by a friend on guitar, and guests sipped on wine, while sitting in comfy chairs. It was such a wonderful way to introduce the book to our readers. Stephen was a great narrator and had such great timing. The guitar accompaniment was the cherry on top. We definitely look forward to more author events like this one, especially highlighting local talent whatever possible.

6. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?

That you get to read wistfully while in the shop working. I totally pictured myself reading, sipping on coffee, while sitting at the register and occasionally helping someone find their next great read. I giggle thinking of that now. The reality is that since we opened up the book shop I have NO time to read. The irony hasn’t escaped me, but fortunately, being the bookworm I am, I still find a way to squeeze a book in here and there.

7. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?

Least favorite: data entry/inventory. For such a tiny shop, we sure can pack in the books ;).
Favorite part: getting to know, and connect with our customers over a shared love of reading, and all things books. Their support has been an incredible gift.

Tere Hyfield is the co-owner of Red Stick Reads in Baton Rouge, La.

Interview with Christine Bollow from Loyalty Bookstore

  1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?
    I love all the sections but I find myself gravitating towards the speculative section the most, especially when it comes to browsing for myself. I also love that we have a whole section dedicated to the romance genre. It’s really lovely working somewhere that celebrates genre fiction just as much as literary fiction!
  2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?
    Okay this is hard because there’s so many awesome book covers and Loyalty always does a great job of having a lot of books facing out on the shelves! It always makes me happy when we have books by Filipinx authors facing out, such as Fairest by Meredith Talusan or Insurrecto by Gina Apostol. Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine is one of my favorite books and book covers, so I always like to have that one facing out or on a table display.
  3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?
    Things I Have Withheld by Kei Miller is an incredible essay collection that came out last summer. It’s an exploration of the silences held within the body and in conversations, those things left unsaid, family secrets, and more, from the perspective of a queer Black man from Jamaica. It was one of my favorite books of the year and deserves way more attention! I also love Barb the Last Berserker by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson, a graphic novel for middle grade readers. It’s funny and full of adventure and friendship and bravery – perfect for fans of Adventure Time. A backlist book? Hmm…I’ve been recommending Miracle Creek by Angie Kim a lot lately and of course anything by Octavia Butler!
  4. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?
    I was so starstruck getting to meet Min Jin Lee virtually! She is one of my all-time favorite authors and I aimed high and decided to shoot my shot asking her to participate in the Stop AAPI Hate fundraiser event I organized at Loyalty last spring. She generously agreed to be part of the event and I got to meet her briefly in the green room before the event started and legit lost my ability for words for a moment there. I might have cried from joy after she left the green room because I was so overwhelmed but like, in a good way! I’ve been able to host so many fun virtual events with Loyalty – seriously, I love getting to host authors and support them and their work and it’s my favorite part of my job. A few memorable events are getting to host Yaa Gyasi and Brit Bennett, Ocean Vuong and Alok Vaid-Menon, Thien-Kim Lam and Lyssa Kay Adams, and any time we get to do an event with Kwame Mbalia, I know it will be a blast!
  5. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?
    That you just get to read all day. Sadly, that is not the case. I of course still read a ton but it’s all done outside of working hours.
  6. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?
    Lifting or moving boxes! My favorite part about working in a bookstore and at Loyalty specifically is that we center books by BIPOC, queer, disabled, and other marginalized authors and that everything we do supports that mission. I love that the work I do for Loyalty’s events and marketing contributes to the store being an inclusive and intersectional space for our community.

Christine Bollow is the Programs & Marketing Manager at Loyalty Bookstores in Silver Spring, MD.

Interview with Angie Sanchez from Old Town Books

1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?
Anywhere that the white ladder is. I’m short, so it always comes in handy and I can have my own Beauty and the Beast moment on the daily.

2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?
I’m a sucker for shiny foil on covers, so Piranesi by Susanna Clark is one of my favorites. The paperback is still pretty, but I especially love the hardcover because when you take off the (also beautiful) dust jacket, you see that the title is etched into the book in gold. I also love the cover of Elatsoe by Little Darcie Badger, with the teal blue foil on the title and the movement of all of the pups in the background. Both of these books are also fantastic reads.

3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?
New release: Fault Lines by Emily Itami. It has a fabulous Sex and the City vibe, but it’s set in Tokyo with a Sally Rooney-ish narration – I LOVED it.
Back list: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I would call this dystopian fiction, but it’s more accurately a way too scary look at the direction that our world is going in with one of the strongest protagonists in fiction. This should be considered essential reading at this point.

4. Do you have a strange customer story?
Ha, so many. Book people are weird people, ya know? Myself included. But I think one of the more recent ones is a customer who seemed just a little *too* excited to find the book Dark Archives by Megan Rosenbloom and started talking to us about how his girlfriend, who’s a mortician, should get into this. The book is about the history of using human skin for bookbinding.

5. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?
I virtually got to meet Mira Jacob at an event that the bookstore hosted and the wonderful Lupita Aquino moderated. I was a nervous mess but Mira was as cool as a cucumber and so kind.

6. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?
It’s still a retail job and comes with all of the physical and emotional labor as other retail jobs. Some people think all I do is sit behind a counter and read all day, when in reality I’m lugging around boxes of books, receiving new inventory, processing orders, and doing a lot of other behind-the-scenes work. Bookselling has fun aspects to it, but at the end of the day it’s still a job that shouldn’t be romanticized 🙂

7. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?
My least favorite part is running boxes of books up and down the stairs haha, books are HEAVY. Also dealing with rude customers in a pandemic who won’t comply with face mask policies.
My favorite part is giving out book recommendations and then having the customers come back and tell me how much they enjoyed said recommendations.

Angie Sanchez is the assistant manager at Old Town Books in Alexandria, VA.

Book recommendations based on your favorite Christmas movie

It’s the time of year when I just want to lie around reading and watching Christmas movies, so I’ve matched some of my seasonal favorite films with books!

If you like Elf,

Read Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

It’s funny, it’s charming, and it’s overwhelmingly sweet. You’ll want to rewatch and reread.
Follow Casey on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like While You Were Sleeping

Read The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Falling for the brother of the person you were initially interested in? How often does this happen?
Follow Mia on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

If you like It’s A Wonderful Life,

Read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Both explore what life would be like in different realities, for better or worse.
Follow Matt on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

If you like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,

Read This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Too much family time can be catastrophic and hilarious, whether it’s for Christmas or for a funeral.
Follow Jonathan on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like Die Hard

Read Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

A hero who isn’t exactly clean cut, in a heist-type situation that may end badly.
Follow S.A. on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like Happiest Season

Read The Perks of Loving A Wallflower by Erica Ridley

Sapphic romances in which the women in love are forced to hide their relationships by circumstances beyond their control.
Follow Erica on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Read A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman

Exploring why a grumpy loner is the way that he is.
Follow Fredrik on Instagram.

If you like Home Alone

Read Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

In both the book and the movie, you’ll wonder how a young boy has so many tricks up his sleeve.
Follow Eoin on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like Last Holiday,

Read A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

Facing terminal diagnoses, these women decide to take their lives into their own hands.
Follow Alix on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like The Holiday

Read The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Both of these convinced me that switching houses with someone would solve all my problems!
Follow Beth on Instagram.

If you like The Best Man Holiday,

Read The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

All the feelings of being a grown up disappear when we reunite with old friends.
Follow Meg on Instagram and Twitter.

Books to read if you can’t stop watching Spider-Man movies

With the new Spider-Man movie on the horizon, we are, of course, thinking about what books you might like. Whether you’re an original fan of Tobey Maguire, get emotional with Andrew Garfield, venture into the Spider-Verse with Shameik Moore’s Miles Morales, are a Tom Holland supporter, or if you’re first in line for tickets whenever an awkward teen dons the spidey suit, you’ll find something to love on this list.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the OASIS, a vast virtual world where most of humanity spends their days. When the eccentric creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a series of fiendish puzzles, based on his obsession with the pop culture of decades past. Whoever is first to solve them will inherit his vast fortune–and control of the OASIS itself.
Then Wade cracks the first clue. Suddenly he’s beset by rivals who’ll kill to take this prize. The race is on–and the only way to survive is to win.

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara. A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts. But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right? After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.” Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy–he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand. Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist–who seems to know a lot more than she lets on–and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

Faith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove. So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly…. When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith’s reality as the show relocates to her town, she can’t believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her. But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren’t enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. Only Faith seems able to connect the dots to a new designer drug infiltrating her high school. But when her investigation puts the people she loves in danger, she will have to confront her hidden past and use her newfound gifts–risking everything to save her friends and beloved town.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City–and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky. In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life. Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together. And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

Dark Rise by C.S. Pacat

Sixteen-year-old dock boy Will is on the run, pursued by the men who killed his mother. Then an old servant tells him of his destiny to fight beside the Stewards, who have sworn to protect humanity if the Dark King ever returns. Will is thrust into a world of magic, where he starts training for a vital role in the oncoming battle against the Dark. As London is threatened and old enmities are awakened, Will must stand with the last heroes of the Light to prevent the fate that destroyed their world from returning to destroy his own.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected–she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way–and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Books to go with some of Adele’s greatest hits before 30 drops

Adele’s 30 releases November 19th. While we all wait to learn the lyrics to every song, we’re staying busy by reading some of these books that we’ve matched with her previous hits.

Easy on Me
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes: Evvie Drake is having a rough time — her husband passes on the same day she was planning to leave him, and she struggles to navigate the grief.
Follow Linda on Twitter and Instagram.

Hello
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: From her titular seven marriages, it’s easy to tell that Evelyn isn’t exactly lucky in love. But the deeper story of her true love is much more complicated.
Follow Taylor on Twitter and Instagram.

Rolling in the Deep
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa: Carolina is a wedding planner whose fiance sends his brother to leave her at the altar — understandably she has a few bitter feelings.
Follow Mia on Twitter and Instagram.

Make You Feel My Love
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang: I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a person more devoted to their love than Quan is. He is steadfast and true throughout very difficult times.
Follow Helen on Twitter and Instagram.

When We Were Young
Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan: Twenty years after growing up together, Kimba and Ezra are drawn together again, but this time it’s in a much different way.
Follow Kennedy on Twitter and Instagram.

One and Only
First Comes Like by Alisha Rai: Jia has been so focused on building her influencer status and makeup empire that she hasn’t focused on love at all. Enter soap opera star Dev Dixit.
Follow Alisha on Twitter and Instagram.

Sweetest Devotion
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry: Poppy and Alex become fast friends in college, and through many stages of life and living in different cities, they always manage to find their way back to each other.
Follow Emily on Instagram.

Rumor Has It
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: The book opens with a dead body, but no one is talking about what happened and who is involved.

Daydreamer
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: Orphaned librarian Lazlo Strange has always dreamed of the lost city of Weep, and he’ll find it exceeds his expectations when he gets a chance to travel there.
Follow Laini on Twitter and Instagram.

Hometown Glory
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett: The small, Southern, Black community where the Vignes twins grow up shapes their identities in many different ways, for better or worse.
Follow Brit on Twitter and Instagram.

Find these books in a list at Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/lists/books-to-go-with-some-of-adele-s-greatest-hits-before-30-drops

Celebrate national sandwich day with a book and a bite

Much like Great British Bake Off contestant Tamal, I think about sandwiches quite a lot. And, of course, I spend most of my time marinating on books. So for National Sandwich Day on Nov. 3, I have put together a books and sandwiches pairing that I hope you’ll enjoy.

BLT

The Guncle by Steven Rowley: A fun pairing that seems like light summer fare on the outside, but fresh ingredients and ideas takes them beyond an ordinary sandwich and novel.

Cuban

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton: The split-time narrative fits perfectly with the presence of the two main ingredients of roasted pork and ham in this sandwich, and the mustard gives it a little kick, just like romance in the book.

Meatball sub

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown: This book takes place in Italy, birthplace of the humble meatball, and is hearty, comforting, and kind of a mess. Plus dads really like both!

French dip

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: You’ll need this sandwich of sliced roast beef served with hot broth to keep you warm while reading this book about a cold village being split in half over a tragedy.

Reuben

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by by Olga Tokarczuk: This is an immensely satisfying sandwich and read, with a little extra depth from the sauerkraut and the fairy tale elements.

Fried shrimp po-boy

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins: There are many twists on both the classic shrimp po-boy and Jane Eyre, but it’s hard to go wrong with either of these.

BEC (bacon egg and cheese)

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams: Deliciously messy and hot, I’ll go back to both again and again and never get sick of them. Plus, the bagel and the buried trauma gives the reader a little something extra to chew on.

Grilled cheese

The Book of Delights by Ross Gay: When you just need something to soothe your soul, both of these are perfect fits.

Tuna melt

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Both the book and the sandwich are incredibly polarizing classics that people either love or hate.

PB&J

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser: Children will love the fun antics, and adults will enjoy the heartwarming family and the feeling of being a kid again. Best enjoyed with a glass of milk.

Bánh mì

The Mountains Sing by ​​Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai: Both the book and the sandwich incorporate years of rich history and have bright, intriguing flavors and storylines.

Sloppy Joe

Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer: Alyssa (the book’s protagonist), is the best but can be a little (or a lot) messy. Regardless, this is one of those books and one of those meals that I’ll be in the mood for whenever someone brings them up in conversation

Philly cheesesteak

Long Bright River by Liz Moore: An intriguing and heavy book and sandwich that has an underlying warmth — you’ll get lost in both.

Muffaletta

The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You: Stories by Maurice Carlos Ruffin: A quintessential New Orleans writer for a quintessential NOLA sandwich. The many flavors marinate together in the sandwich to create a masterpiece, just like the many stories in the book.

Croque monsieur

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles: This book has been described as a love letter to Paris, and I feel like you could say the same thing about this sandwich.

Smørrebrød

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen: These Danish open-faced sandwiches are classically prepared on dark, heavy bread, and this police procedural set in Denmark is also dark and heavy.

Cucumber sandwiches

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn: I can picture myself in a London tea room enthralled in this WWII novel and snacking on a cool cucumber sandwich.

Katsu sando

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: The sandwich and the book seem simple and even delicate from the outside, but once you get into them, you’ll find that they’re both more than they first appear.

Club sandwich

Nothing To See Here by Wilson: It may seem like there are too many elements in this book or sandwich, but once you read it and once you try it, you’ll find that they all fit perfectly together.

Hot chicken

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams: A spicy romance and sandwich both found in Nashville — yes please!

Jambon Beurre

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: There’s so much soul in the story of people fighting to survive WWII and in this sandwich of crusty bread, butter and thinly shaved ham.

 

Semi-spooky reads if you’re a wuss like me

I just can’t do horror books — I have tried. Much like with scary movies, I spend so much time hiding my eyes that I end up missing very important plot points. But it’s the spooky season and if you’re like me, you’ll want to read something witchy and magical. If you’re looking for some books that won’t leave you shaking in fear, try one of these stories!

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

Georgina Fernweh waits impatiently for the tingle of magic in her fingers–magic that has touched every woman in her family. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come. Over the course of her last summer on the island–a summer of storms, falling in love, and the mystery behind one rare three-hundred-year-old bird–Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother, Fox, from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training. In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha–one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he’s secretly fascinated with a series of children’s fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined.

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

In the town of Danvers, Massachusetts, home of the original 1692 witch trials, the 1989 Danvers Falcons will do anything to make it to the state finals–even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. Against a background of irresistible 1980s iconography, Quan Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season. Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity. Through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship, this comic tour de female force chronicles Barry’s glorious cast of characters as they charge past every obstacle on the path to finding their glorious true selves.

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

Katrell can talk to the dead. And she wishes it made more money. She’s been able to support her unemployed mother–and Mom’s deadbeat-boyfriend-of-the-week–so far, but it isn’t enough. Money’s still tight, and to complicate things, Katrell has started to draw attention. Not from this world–from beyond. And it comes with a warning: STOP or there will be consequences. Katrell is willing to call the ghosts on their bluff; she has no choice. What do ghosts know of having sleep for dinner? But when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go. Only magic isn’t free, and dark forces are coming to collect. Now Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two. That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all. Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back — almost as if by magic.

The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith

In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet–her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there. Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing–she is a free agent with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them combat a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, but now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic; the storms, more destructive. All hope lies with Clara, a once-in-a-generation Everwitch whose magic is tied to every season. In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic–losing the ones she loves–is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather. In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference. In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses. In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves…before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good. So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton–if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real. Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny–especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

Making the most of a festival appearance as an author

Attending a festival or book event as an author can seem intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. But it can be so much fun, and hugely helpful to your writing career! As things (maybe) start to be in-person again, here are some tips to help you make the most of your time.

Before the event

  • Connect with previous attendees: ask them what they enjoyed last year and if they will be there again this year.
  • See if the event has a list of people who will be there this year, and reach out to anyone you’re excited to meet and tell them just that. Try to set up a time to meet for coffee or something similar.
  • After registering, see if there is a panel or discussion you can take part in. If you don’t see one, email the organizer to let them know what you can speak on — it can’t hurt to try!
  • Look at the schedule of events ahead of time to plan your days. You will likely not be able to do everything, so you want to maximize your time.
  • Check the social media hashtag for the event and engage with fellow attendees.

During the event

  • Have an elevator pitch for your book. You are likely to meet a lot of people and not spend a ton of time with each of them, so you need to be able to sell yourself quickly.
  • Bring lots of business cards, bookmarks, postcards or other swag that people will hang on to! Networking is likely to be one of the most valuable things you can do at a book event.
  • Get contact info from people you meet or speak with, when appropriate, so you can follow up with them later!
  • Support your fellow authors — buy their books, join their mailing lists and talk with them! They’ll likely want to support you as well.
  • Share photos and videos from the event on your social media – allowing your readers to follow along with you!

After the event

  • Follow up with anyone you met with, thanking them for their time and referencing something specific you spoke about if possible. Make sure to have a link to your website in your signature, and encourage them to reach out if they have any questions about your book.
  • Post recap photos to social media – and tag the appropriate people, publishers, etc. in them.

Ahoy! Books to read if you like pirate stories

From vampires to werewolves and beyond, if you love reading fantasy books, you’ve likely seen literary trends come and go. But one of my favorite tropes to read about are the slightly amoral pirates sailing the high seas. Luckily, pirates are making a comeback and there have been quite a few books to feature them recently. Here are some to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day on Sept. 19. Check out these great stories if you are … in the same boat as me. Wink.

Daughter of the Pirate King by ​​Tricia Levenseller: Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map–the key to a legendary treasure trove–seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world. Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Fable by Adrienne Young: As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father. But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems.

Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo: The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it–until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall: The pirate Florian, born Flora, has always done whatever it takes to survive–including sailing under false flag on the Dove as a marauder, thief, and worse. Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, a highborn Imperial daughter, is on board as well–accompanied by her own casket. But Evelyn’s one-way voyage to an arranged marriage in the Floating Islands is interrupted when the captain and crew show their true colors and enslave their wealthy passengers. Both Florian and Evelyn have lived their lives by the rules, and whims, of others. But when they fall in love, they decide to take fate into their own hands–no matter the cost.

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton: Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up. Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard: Corayne lives at the end of the world. Year after year, she watches her pirate mother sail away to adventures she’ll never share with Corayne. So when a mysterious immortal and deadly assassin appear on Corayne’s doorstep telling her she is the last member of a dying bloodline, and the only one who can save the world, Corayne seizes the chance to have her own adventure. But the world is in graver danger than they ever imagined; Corayne and her rag-tag group of allies are alone in a world that is slowly coming apart at the seams with little but their fading hope to guide them. Now is not the age of heroes, but courage can bloom even in the darkest corners. And it just might be enough to save everything.

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most–a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and or remain a human forever. The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby–it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good–but can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee: The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry. But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure–the plunder of a thousand ports–that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey. Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea–and especially those who sail it–are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb: Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships–rare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. Now the fortunes of one of Bingtown’s oldest families rest on the newly awakened liveship Vivacia. For Althea Vestrit, the ship is her rightful legacy. For Althea’s young nephew, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard the ship, the Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the ship — and the Vestrits – -may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider: the ruthless buccaneer captain Kennit, who plans to seize power over the Pirate Isles by capturing a liveship and bending it to his will.