Sunday, October 22, 2017

Top Ten Book Convention Musts


Hello, Ladies and Gents!

On 
Oct. 27th-29th, Love N. Vegas will be making its annual appearance! This is one of the most prominent book signing conventions, bringing the most influential authors together in one location. In honor of this event, I thought I'd write up what I'd hope to see at a book convention, while I stare jealously at those of you who get to go! If you haven't already, you can get tix over here, and find some awesome travel discounts here!


Believe it or not, I have never been to a real-live book convention. I know, right? I live in a small country and while people read, it's just not a thing.

But hey, we all want to make a difference in this world, right?

So behold, all the things I would have at my future first-ever Israeli book convention:

1. Coffee stations. Numerous ones. And little cafes. Because what is any event without refreshment?

2. Round tables - this I think would be the main event. From what I've been told, the best thing about book conventions for most people is meeting fellow readers and fangirling discussing their favorite books and getting excited together. So how great would this be if you could do it sitting down at small, intimate round tables (about 4 people per table) with drinks and thought-provoking questions? Afterwards all the groups would join together and a representative of every group would present to the wider attendance their conclusions or questions and opinions. I think this setting would also be more comfortable for those of us who may get overwhelmed by big events or have social anxiety and have difficulty striking conversations sometimes.

I personally would love this. It would be a wonderful way to make new friends, express your thoughts and hear other's opinions as well.

3. Improv sessions and stand-up comedy - okay, this one is a little far-fetched. But hear me out.
The way I imagine this is like live fanfiction. Readers acting out their favorite scenes, embellishing them, and playing drama class games like picking a pair of characters out of a hat and then a situation out of another (i.e. characters - Percy Weasley. Situation: at a strip club against his will. Or: Jace and Clary. Couples Counseling). HOW HILARIOUS WOULD THIS BE? This event could develop into so many different directions. A way to showcase talent, run wild with our imaginations and get stomach aches from laughing. Guaranteed to make you walk away from the convention smiling and reenacting with your friends when you get home.

4. Lectures and personal stories - something for the nonfiction lovers out there. I'd invite prominent memoir writers to tell us their stories, and historical/historical fiction writers to present their research and share their learning with us. Likewise scientific or other documentary writers and researchers. This could also help them promote their books to wider audiences, with slides and pictures.

5. Cosplaying fashion show. With a runway.  And a competition with prizes.

6. Classes and workshops - themed cooking workshops, dance classes, fencing. Fight with a Sword like Percy Jackson. Alice's Eat Me Cakes. And of course, creative writing.
(in the picture - gladiator fight at the Icon Geek Festival in Israel)

7. Panels and interviews. It's not a convention without it :)

8. Social media picture stations - huge wall posters, stages to jump from, lifesize cardboard cutouts and wax statues, things to stick your head through, a red carpet backdrop, you name it. And a REALLY AWESOME SNAPCHAT GEOTAG PLEASE.

9. Book sales and giveaways, preferably outside the venue itself in a way that it can attract people who are not necessarily convention-goers and may have just been walking by.  The sales should be advertised so that the public will know and come.

10. A social project - I would love for there to be a way for people to donate tickets (fully or partially) for book lovers who would not otherwise be able to come. There would be an application process for the free tickets and those who donated would be eligible for perks. Likewise, there would be scholarships available for international readers to fly in for the event, therefore giving people who may not usually get to these events a chance to come, and the opportunity to diversify the convention!

And to finish up (bonus no' #11? ) mainstream media presence! What better way to promote reading in the greater population than reporting about it and photos reaching newspapers and new sites (as opposed to blogs and fan media)?

Here's to hoping that one day I make my dreams come true. In the meantime, what are IRL book conventions like? Which ones have you been in? How do you prepare. Let me know in the comments. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Esty

Friday, October 13, 2017

Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy pt. 2


Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman
collection of Shadowhunter stories!

Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten short stories give an epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide glimpses of what’s in store in the Dark Artifices.

PALE KINGS AND PRINCES

Helen Blackthorn comes to SA and tells her story - as she knows it. We later are treated to the real version courtesy of Lady Narissa's POV. Gives you a lot of perspective on TDA, not overly emotional or anything to me. More interesting is the Sizzy going on- failed dates and Simon stupidity, but a really good conversation about the Cold Peace. I found that the Shadowhunter situation with the faeries has a lot of parallels in real-life politics, and both Simon and Izzy made good, thought-provoking points. Feelings of frustration about it that I was really able to relate to. I even wondered if Cassandra Clare was maybe alluding to my country. 

Also, Sizzy finally becomes a thing again. YESSSS

BITTER OF TONGUE

While this was a good story, it also made like no sense. George leads a mission of SA students to do... what? It was never clear. When they get there... what happens? Also didn't understand. All I know is that Simon gets imprisoned by himself by a faerie and has a lot of funny "WHY is it always ME" memories. And then Mark Blackthorn shows up and gives me all the feels. I admire that character so much. Also, Simon has nice, simple line. 

There's more to both sides than the worst. 
The conversation between the two was a good and important one, if a little all over the place when it comes to topics- something I find is regular occurrence in Cassandra Clare writing. 

This whole story and the mission failure is a HUGE foreshadow to the end of the book. DID ANYONE ELSE MISS THIS COMPLETELY? If you stop between story to story and contemplate, you probably won't though. 

And then- the wedding. Simon becomes very perceptive for purposes of us getting a glimpse of the Blackthorn children and their dynamics. He also continues the process started in the previous story of beginning to fit in with himself and his friends, which is nice to watch and also kind of a learning thing for all of us trying to find ourselves. 

THE FIERY TRIAL

Talk of Parabatai. Funnily enough, only in this story did I realize how unrealistic the whole thing is. It is LITERALLY like finding someone to IRREVERSIBLY MARRY BEFORE THE AGE OF 18. I'm not a commitment-phobe, but that seems like too much for kids. Yeah yeah, I know they live short lives, but still. 

Also, cameos. 

BORN TO ENDLESS NIGHT

THIS ONE. 

Magnus Bane is the other thing besides 19th century London that I read Shadowhunter books for. EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS STORY WAS SO GOOD. Everything. Alec's confidence, Magnus's sexiness, everyone's reactions to Magnus's sexiness, BOTH MAGNUS AND ALEC TOTALLY GETTING WHAT HAD BEEN COMING TO THEM FOR YEARS NOW IN TERMS OF WALKING IN ON PEOPLE, A BABY, everyone's reactions to the baby, everyone getting all baby-lovesick. The feels. Magnus and his history. Millions of baby jokes. FAMILY BUILDING. LOVE AND HAPPINESS AND EVERYONE'S RIDICULOUS PERSONALITIES ON DISPLAY. Tears and laughs. By far my favorite story. 

And then, even more miraculously, it gets better. We find out about all the work Alec, Lily Chen,  Maia and Magnus have been doing for all the Downworlders (and Shadowhunters) of New York, a little, properly-balanced Council they have going on. Unofficial Accords based on mutual understanding and a will to help each other. All the hope. 

Oh, and Simon and Alec reconciliation. Jace and Clary future baby talk. Sizzy. Robert Lightwood displays massive change and process. Magnus begins to forgive the former Circle members, and bonds with his parents-in-law. Name significance. And other things I can't spoil for you. 

ANGELS TWICE DESCENDING

George's wistfulness reminds me of myself when graduation from boarding school. And Cassandra Clare. Once again. breaks your heart. just. because she can. 




Sunday, October 1, 2017

Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy pt. 1

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman
collection of Shadowhunter stories!


Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fireleft him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.
So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.
But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.
Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten short stories give an epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide glimpses of what’s in store in the Dark Artifices.
If you can, read this in the order in which it was meant to be- right after TMI and before TDA. AND PREPARE TO DEAL WITH FEELINGS.

WELCOME TO SHADOWHUNTER ACADEMY:
It had never occurred to me how weird Simon would feel now. I remember my utter heartbreak when Simon lost his memories, feeling like he died in a way. I've since been healed, having read Lady Midnight before these and seeing all the great things he has going on there. But here I forgot about all that and just felt for Simon. Not knowing who you are, being told all these great and terrible things - friends you've had who died, your mother's betrayal, a best friend you had since you were six but don't know now. That you are a hero, but don't know how or why. That you loved a girl and she loves you but you just can't believe it.

But don't worry, there isn't much time to dwell on that. We get mercifully thrown right into Simon being Simon - geeky and mundane and utterly hilarious. Shadowhunter Academy is no Hogwarts, and it makes me laugh that everyone expected it to be. SA reminded me more of my own boarding school experience - rodents, bad food, teachers you grow close to and friends you originally hate but then are your sisters-in-arms for life.

THE LOST HERONDALE:
The story of Tobias Herondale and SA students being sent to carry down the Law on a rogue vampire. Expect cameos. Heartfelt talk about following the law and doing what's right. Catarina Loss is a Boss. Clary is a sweetie.

THE WHITECHAPEL FIEND
Simon and George are the cutest roommates. I love George - his innocence, his fierce love, his ridiculous comments. Jace shows up - not gonna lie, Jace's lines throughout this whole book were a bit forced. Obviously he's grown and developed, but I miss his olden-days real sass. It's possible the writing may feel different because CC is not the only writer.

CUE LONDON 1888. The real reason you (by which I mean I) read shadowhunter novels. To experience Will Herondale. Ahhhh. Such love. Such happiness. Probably first time I properly loled this read. Back at the London Institute. Wessa as parents, which made me swell with happiness and broke my heart at the same time. Cecily and Gabriel. WILL AND GABRIEL AT IT AGAIN. Little James. Jessamine cameo that practically made me cry. Historical fiction at it's finest.

NOTHING BUT SHADOWS
Marisol is cool and a badass. While I love her, I wish the writers had taken more time to flesh her out a bit more. Show us all of her, not just a one-dimensional badass female - it seemed too agenda central and not real enough.
MORE HILARIOUS WESSA PARENTING. And William Herondale. James is adorable and weird.

"Oh, Mr. Herondale!"
Shadowhunter ladies of many ages said that to his father: three words that were both sigh and summons. Other fathers were called "Mister" without the "Oh" prefix. 
 I, like James, didn't quite get Matthew Fairchild at first and like him, mistrusted him. I was so happy with what came out of that. Loved watching James grow into himself even if only a bit, take a stand, make friends. Literally cannot wait until TLH.
And Ragnor Fell. Man, I missed him. Loved how he handles the shadowhunter kids.

THE EVIL WE LOVE 
K this one was not my favorite but truly fascinating. Robert and Isabelle come to guest speak at SA and we get a story from the Circle's time at the Academy. It was SO COOL to finally get to understand Valentine's influence, the dynamics the members had with each other. It's creepily similar to Nazi Germany in miniature, or Dumbledore and Grindelwald. There was also an interesting plot-twist that really kept me on my toes. The Evil We Love is definitely a page-turner out of all the stories.


Will be back soon with the other 5 stories. If you haven't yet, READ THEM ASAP SO WE CAN TALK SPOILERS. Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review: Cabinet of Wonders

Cabinet of Wonders (Kronos Chronicles #1)
Marie Rutkoski
middle grade historical fantasy

Petra Kronos has a simple, happy life. But it’s never been ordinary. She has a pet tin spider named Astrophil who likes to hide in her snarled hair and give her advice. Her best friend can trap lightning inside a glass sphere. Petra also has a father in faraway Prague who is able to move metal with his mind. He has been commissioned by the prince of Bohemia to build the world’s finest astronomical clock.
Petra’s life is forever changed when, one day, her father returns home—blind. The prince has stolen his eyes, enchanted them, and now wears them. But why? Petra doesn’t know, but she knows this: she will go to Prague, sneak into Salamander Castle, and steal her father’s eyes back.
Joining forces with Neel, whose fingers extend into invisible ghosts that pick locks and pockets, Petra finds that many people in the castle are not what they seem, and that her father’s clock has powers capable of destroying their world.

This book didn't look like much at first, but like all quality fantastic middle grade fiction, it quickly sucked me in. Set in 16th century Bohemia, the environment is already special and exciting. Also, the fantasy is unique. No vamps, wolves, angels and demons - introducing metal come to life. Artisans like glassblowers and metalworkers who have magic they add to their craft. It's different and artsy! I loved it. 

As for the characters- I liked Petra. For once, a MC who herself is not very magical (though around her everyone is) but relies on her bravery and wits to get the job done. About her decisions - they are very childish. I couldn't tell if this is a character flaw or something that exists in all children's fiction that I'm only aware of now (haven't read any new middle grade stuff in a long time). Let me know what you think. However, she does understand her mistake in the end after her father's anger... 

It's actually kind of nice to read about a 12-year-old acting like a 12-year-old and being reprimanded by her father. 

The supporting characters are also pretty cool. Includes some history on gypsies - or Romani, as they prefer to be called. Tomik/Neel could be a potential love triangle should the series progress until they're older. I'd like to meet more Tomik - a super talented boy, the-best-friend-all-Petra's-life character. I feel like there is so much more of him to enjoy that we didn't get. 

All in all, great book in and of itself, and also great introduction to a series (you can stop here, though. Pretty much ties itself up with the option to continue) if you can overlook Petra taking the adventure as a not-entirely-necessary risk.  



Have a wonderful beginning of summer!
Esty



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Review: A Long Way Home

A Long Way Home
Saroo Brierley
Memoir 


This is the miraculous and triumphant story of Saroo Brierley, a young man who used Google Earth to rediscover his childhood life and home in an incredible journey from India to Australia and back again...
At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.
Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.

When my aunt first recommended this book to me, I didn't expect much. I mean, it's a cool news story, but what more can there be to it than what's in the blurb? 

So first off, I'll say- there isn't. Don't expect any crazy plot twists or surprises. However, I found A Long Way Home a sweet, fast, and easy read. It was intriguing to hear of his overseas adoption, of integrating into Western society as a child. I also moved halfway across the world at the age of seven, so for me personally it was interesting to compare the ability to remember. 

The issues of loving two families, of memory, of reconnecting to people you've lived a lifetime without - were unique and emotional. In general, I found this memoir one worthy of publication and thought-provoking for us the public. Recommended! (I've heard the movie has some scenes not for children- the book is completely PG.) 

Have a wonderful week!
Esty


Friday, April 28, 2017

Review: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling)
Informational 

An approved textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry since publication, Newt Scamander's masterpiece has entertained wizarding families through the generations. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an indispensable introduction to the magical beasts of the wizarding world.

You can read my review of the 2016 movie here. 

Turns out I've been blessed with a truly magical boyfriend, who upon returning from vacation to visit family showed up with the new, revised, hardcover edition of this wonderful Hogwarts textbook. 

The only downside of the beautiful tome is that it seems the 2017 edition doesn't include Harry, Ron, and Hermione's notes. However, it does include an additional foreword referencing some of the events in the movie and some interesting hints at what's to come. Also- extra animals! I believe the new ones added were some of the beasts representing the Ilvermorny school houses; but the puckwudgie (my house) was left out. 

What was a wonderful surprise was how easy and fascinating a read FB was. Considering it's an informational textbook, you'd expect to use it only when looking up a specific beast, and otherwise dull. But Newt Scamander scattered anecdotes and even when he didn't - each and every one of these creatures had so many fantastic traits that I truly enjoyed it the entire time. 

A wonderful gift for your Hogwarts student- if they don't already have one.