Monday, November 25, 2019

The Starless Sea Launch Recap

I am so fortunate to attend the launch of The Starless Sea tour hosted by Brookline Booksmith and the Coolidge Corner School on Tuesday, November 5th. I left work early and met up with Ellie to walk over to Oath pizza for an early dinner. We met up with Rachel, Janella and Amanda. Thank goodness we ate when we did because we didn't leave the school until fairly late to head back home after the launch talk and the signing.

Erin Morgenstern has not released a book since her debut, The Night Circus, which came out in 2011. Erin was in conversation with Liberty Hardy. Erin talked about how she is never going to be a book a year person and not to expect another book from her anytime soon. She talked about how last year she turned 40 and she received two gifts that she treasures. She received a cat and also a Nintendo Switch. The Switch became her research for the video game component for The Starless Sea.

When Erin writes, she brainstorms the space first. In The Starless Sea, she had the labyrinth library pictured in her head before she wrote about the character or the plot. In The Night Circus, she brainstormed the circus before all the wonderful characters. Erin mentioned about how she has to write something wrong before she can write it right. She explores space and narrative. She then chooses what will stay.

Erin graced us with a reading from her book. She had three tarot cards of the sword, bee and key. Liberty chose the Sword. It was nice to sit back and hear Erin read from her latest book. Erin even ordered a sword online so she can have one in her office. Liberty asked Erin what her favorite character is from The Starless Sea. Erin mentioned how “everyone is me.” Each character represents a part of Erin. However, she said that Zachary is the closest character that acts like her. She spends more time with Zachary compared to the others. In The Night Circus, it was more ensemble like. The Night Circus has a visual language and it’s a visual person. The black and white with the red are prominent as well as the Victorian era. The Starless Sea is dark, underground and dipped in gold. The book centers on the bee, key and sword along with the crown, heart and feather.

Erin talked about writing about what you want to read. That’s how she approaches writing her books. The Night Circus is what she wants to go to. The Starless Sea poses the questions “what do I want to write and why?” With The Starless Sea, she keeps going back to stories. The novel has a complex narrative. Fantasy is the genre that she gravitates toward because it’s interesting to travel to places. She has been curating ideal fantasy spaces and the ideal introvert space. Erin is a reader of sensory details.

Liberty asked Erin about Erin’s next book when she hears rumors that Erin has another book in the works. Erin said it’s “not fair to call it a book yet.” Things are in the works. She mentioned about cherry blossoms and mud. The Night Circus is an autumnal book, The Starless Sea is a winter book and she finds it fitting that her next novel is a spring book. She told the audience she has been rereading a lot of Shirley Jackson lately. Erin keeps a lot of information regarding her books in her head. She doesn’t use Post-Its. She sometimes uses Scribner to help organize her thoughts in her head.

Liberty and Erin talked about when a woman writes a book, people assume that they are going to write a fantasy novel. For children, fantasy is very whimsical. Eventually that whimsicalness ages out. Erin plays to the sweet spot for a book that is adult but has a crossover for teens. A book that falls under the Alex Awards category.

In terms of reading reviews, Erin does not read reviews of her books on social media. She stays far away from the reviews. She exclaimed, “It’s not for me. The book is done.” She mentioned how on social media, she doesn’t get treated as a person. And when she talked about that, she said how people forget that she is just a person that happens to write books.

Liberty asked about whether a sequel to The Night Circus will ever be written. Erin says no immediately. But then she takes it back and says “never say never.” She has no plans to revisit it. But then jokingly said maybe in 30 years ala the Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments. Liberty asked if Erin abstains from fiction when she is writing. Erin talked about how it’s hard to read while writing. She tends to read more graphic novels and watches movies or even plays more video games. Erin immerses herself in stories in a different media/format. She talks about Dragon Age, shapeshifting and her cat named Vesper. And for those who don’t know, Vesper has an Instagram account you can follow. Her cat is named after a cocktail. Vesper's mom is named Mint Julep.

Liberty does a mini speed round with Erin. Liberty asked Erin which tent in The Night Circus Erin is most proud of creating. Erin responds with the Cloud Maze because it was inspired by the Boston Children’s Museum’s vertical maze. It’s an extraordinary version. She would love to visit the Ice Garden the most out of all the tents due to its exquisite detailing. This is how you feed creativity. How can you make the experience more and how to you elevate it? Erin discussed harvesting the details of something she sees and putting it away. "Then you pluck from them. It’s visual, tactile and it’s feeling you are there. You borrow things like I did with the Children’s Museum.”

When asked if Erin read The Night Circus since it came out. She said no. She won’t ever read The Starless Sea. She needs to let go. Erin used to be a theater major in college. She did things and took risks because she didn’t know what she was doing. Someone asked if she would want The Night Circus or The Starless Sea out in graphic novel format or she wants to write one. Erin said yes that she is interested in this idea. She would love it if there is a different illustrator for each tent.

The talk with Erin in conversation with Liberty was fantastic. Rachel and I ended up meeting someone from Australia who is studying abroad at Northeastern University. She is super nice and we had a great chat. We waited in the signing line for maybe a little over an hour. It was definitely worth the wait to meet and to chat with Erin. I ended up talking to Erin about tarot cards. Erin was super patient to meet all of her fans. She signed all their books and let everyone take posed photos with her. Overall, the event was wonderful.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Spur: A Wolf's Story by Eliza Robertson

Title: Spur: A Wolf's Story
Author: Eliza Robertson
Illustrator: Nora AoyogiPublisher: Greystone Kids
Publication date: September 17, 2019
Pages: 32
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher

Synopsis (from

This captivating tale will inspire children across the world to build compassion for an iconic yet vulnerable animal.

In award-winning author Eliza Robertson’s stunning debut children’s book, a young, brave wolf named Spur is looking for food with her brother when, suddenly, a flying beast appears in the sky. What was that thing? And where did her brother go? The next time the helicopter appears, Spur knows just what to do to save her wolf pack and reunite with her brother.

Stirring, gorgeous illustrations of wolves, snow, and trees illuminate this uplifting and empowering story, which offers a gentle message for protecting wild wolves in North America and beyond. Just like us, wolves have brothers, sisters, parents, and friends—and they very much need our help.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Spur: A Wolf's Story is a story about wolves who move in a pack from place to place depending on where they can find food. Lichen used to grow in the area where the wolves called home a long time ago which brought other animals to the area. However, because the lichen was depleted by large mammals during the winter, less caribou, deer and moose roam the area. Spur and her pack heard a rumor about a grove high up in the mountains where lichen flourishes. Upon locating this grove, they are being attacked by thunderflies. These thunderfly attacks are actually humans in helicopters attacking the wolves. A "beetle" hits Spur and she is injured.

Spur gets separated from her family when she got injured. However, wolves from another pack find her and offer to share their food. She stays with the new pack as she heals and they help her look for her family. The thunderflies return and this time, Spur is not afraid. She howls to warn others. While the wolves hide during the attack, she reunites with her family when she hears a familiar howl of her brother. All the wolves approach the lichen abundant grove safe and sound.

Illustrator, Nora Aoyagi's depictions of flora and fauna are always wonderful to see. She utilizes white spaces as a frame on certain page spreads. However, she will have some of the forest, sky and wolf shapes bleed off the pages on page spreads. The color palette includes cool colors of greys, blues, greens, browns and white.

I highly recommend Spur: A Wolf's Story as an educational and visual way to prepare children about parts of life and society that may be a bit more complex to explain. This picture book teaches young readers about the impact of humans trying to control wildlife populations. Natural habitats are being destroyed and wildlife is dying off due to lack of food or because they are being culled. This book can be used to educate young readers about the environment, the food chain and how human interaction impacts wildlife. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

Title: Mooncakes
Author: Suzanne Walker
Illustrator: Wendy Xu
Publisher: The Lion Forge
Publication date: October 22, 2019
Pages: 256
Source/format: Paperback//Library
Synopsis (from

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers' bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Nova Huang is a witch and her friend, Tam Lang, is a werewolf. For many years, the two haven't seen each other until one day Nova sees Tam out in the forest at night. A demon is out loose and a cult is about trying to fulfill these rituals using werewolves and magic. Nova saves Tam along with the help of her grandmothers, friend Tatyana and a group of animal spirits.

The Mooncakes narrative flows very well. The colors and the illustration style work harmoniously with the story plotline. Readers obtain enough information regarding the characters and their identities. Not only is there racial diversity in the graphic novel but Suzanne Walker acknowledges the usage of pronouns. Tam goes by They. Suzanne also includes how Nova has hearing aids and Wendy Xu makes sure to illustrate the hearing aids in each panel with Nova in it. Wendy also illustrates how Nova uses her hearing aids every day with Nova taking them off at night and putting them back on when she wakes up.

Nova lives with her two Nanas since her parents passed but her parents make a couple of appearances. Nova has a very supportive family. Tam has a very complex family dynamic that the graphic novel doesn't go into detail about. I would love to read some kind of prequel graphic novel about when Nova and Tam are younger.

Mooncakes is a lovable and inclusive graphic novel. It's the perfect read for the fall season. If you enjoy reading a sequential story about witches and werewolves, check out Mooncakes.

Monday, November 11, 2019

LeakyCon 2019: Day 3 Recap

I attended my first LeakyCon this year. LeakyCon 2019 (aka LeakyCon 10) was hosted at the Seaport Hotel and the World Trade Center from Friday, October 11, 2019 to Sunday, October 13, 2019. The first LeakyCon was held in Boston’s Park Plaza in 2009 and it’s fitting how LeakyCon 10 returns back to Boston for the 10 year anniversary. For those who don’t know what LeakyCon is, LeakyCon is a Harry Potter fandom convention by Mischief Management. It is also one of the annual conventions Mischief Management hosts. Earlier this year, during the summer, LeakyCon 9 ¾ was hosted in Dallas, Texas. Occasionally two LeakyCons will occur in one year. There have been some international locations such as Dublin, Ireland and London, UK.


The last day of LeakyCon was probably my busiest day at LeakyCon in general due to all the programming I wanted to attend. Overall, I enjoyed my time at LeakyCon despite not knowing what I was going to get myself into. The programming was fabulous and there was always something to do. I love how there is something for everyone. Even though I am not used to going to Harry Potter cons at this level in terms of the number of people, I have to say that I didn't really have to worry about waiting in too many lines.

I met up with Jess in the morning and we finally got a photo of us together. Legit, we didn't get any photos of us two besides a few in the morning with the LeakyCon stained glass window backdrop. There was a cauldron backdrop near the escalators but unfortunately, we did not get photos with the huge cauldron.

I browsed the Marketplace with Jess for a little bit before attending the Spotlight: Luke Youngblood event at the Main Stage. Luke plays Lee Jordan in the films. He always lights up the stage and is entertaining making everyone laugh. I grabbed a quick bite to eat near the food café area and to also rest a bit.

I ended up going to the Let's Discuss Ravenclaws for about 15-20 minutes and then popped into the Potter Puppet Pals Performance which was hilarious! Potter Puppet Pals never disappoint. Neil and his crew always put on a good show. I got to meet Neil way back in 2013 or so at ConnectiCon. I also attended several Yule Balls in the Middle East in Cambridge, MA where the Potter Puppet Pals perform annually. Neil framed the time for more of a Q&A. Attendees can come up to the mic at the front and ask the Potter Puppet Pals questions. The Harry Potter Puppet acted as the host and would "find" a particular character depending if the question was directed toward them.

The Spotlight: Dan Fogler was right after the Potter Puppet Pals. I moved further up to get a good seat. Dan is hilarious. I've only seen him in Balls of Fury and the Fantastic Beasts films but he is genuinely a super nice guy. He is so funny too! After the Spotlight, I want to line up for the photography session with Dan. I have to say that the lines and process to take the photo and obtain the photo was very well thought out and organized. Earlier during the day, I picked up a Nagini the Octopod that my friend Lorrie made. I even was able to bring Nagini the Octopod to the photoshoot which I was very excited about. It was so nice to meet Dan. Even though I spent alike two minutes with him, he was genuinely curious about Nagini and he loves meeting his fans which is awesome.

Jess and I met for our last panel of the day. In Defense of Prisoner Azkaban, the Best Harry Potter Movie which was very intriguing. We heard from the presenter about her thoughts and we also heard the audience's thoughts. Everyone discussed what they liked and what they didn't like. It was a good panel to end the day.

I was able to catch the end of Closing Ceremonies. Hufflepuff won the House Cup when a Hufflepuff ran to the front to submit a donation of $300! Legit it was crazy how they went right to the top to beat the other houses!

Have you been to LeakyCon or a Harry Potter fan convention before? What is your favorite part of attending a con? Do you cosplay?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Give Off Autumn Vibes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten books that give off autumn vibes. The following titles are in no particular order.

1. How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is the perfect book to read during the month of October. With Salem, MA as the main location in the book, readers will enjoy being transported to the Witch City. Join Sam Mather while she encounters witches and ghosts in this eerie, mysterious and ambient novel.

2. Sweep series by Cate Tiernan is one of my favorite series when I was a teenager. The first installment, Book of Shadows, starts at the beginning of the academic year. Here, readers can experience Mabon and the introduction of the foundation of the series. If you are looking for a fast-paced series about witches, check this one out.

3. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is perfect for the fall. Instead of waiting for your Hogwarts letter, join Harry and co. while they explore Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest and more! Discover the secrets of the castle and wander around Hogsmeade. Harry Potter is a good read for any time of the year but I love to read the series during the fall and the winter months. There is something magical about the end of the year.

4. Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco are wonderful historical fiction novels to read during autumn. While the air gets crisper and the days are shorter, the suspenseful novels will keep you guessing about who the murderer is in each novel.

5. The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett is an engrossing and horrific masterpiece. This novel is creepy and Liggett does not hold back with the kills in this horror novel. It's frightening and mesmerizing. Clay Tate will take you on an unforgettable journey through Midland, Oklahoma.

6. Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett is the first book in a duology. This is Hormance at it's finest. Beware walking through the corn in Kansas. If you enjoy the Qetisiyah and Silas arc in The Vampire Diaries, you will enjoy this novel. This novel is Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn.

7. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman is about the Owens women who are cursed for over 200 years. Join Sally, Gillian and the aunts for some magic this fall!

8. Little Elliot, Fall Friends by Mike Curato is a timeless picture book with Little Elliot the elephant and Mouse the mouse. The picture book is the fourth installment in the Little Elliot series. The best friends travel to the countryside, away from New York City, to enjoy what fall has to offer them. Discover the sights and smells of autumn in the country with Little Elliot and Mouse!

9. Killing November by Adriana Mather is about a girl named November who attends a boarding school to train assassins. November learns more about her heritage and learns the secrets of Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. Can I say kick-ass? Yes!

10. As I Descended by Robin Talley is a Macbeth retelling and paranormal thriller centered around students at an elite boarding school located in Virginia. They all want to win the Cawdor Kingsley Prize Scholarship. With an Ouija board, premonitions and a haunted plantation, you bet this is a novel to read during the fall.

What books give you autumn vibes? Do you go for horror novels, thrillers or mysteries? Or do you prefer books about the start of school or about the wonderful fall activities like apple picking, hayrides, pumpkin carving, etc.? I am a huge sucker for boarding school books and mystery thrillers. Some horror isn't bad either.