Author Meeting: Neal Shusterman

Last night I met my first NBA all-star!!! By NBA, of course, I mean National Book Award, not basketball (his joke, not mine).

But I’m getting ahead of myself because this man has won many awards, and he will tell you that after he got the call for the nomination for his biggest award, he had to go back to cleaning dog vomit off his kitchen floor like any other “normal” person. The person I am talking about, is the amazingly funny and humble Neal Shusterman (author of Challenger DeepScytheUnwind, plus he’s dabbled in film and TV writing/directing….). My fiance and I drove about 90 minutes last night to meet him and hear him and four other authors speak last night and it was a great experience. My fiance, Dan, is not a reader, but he is an avid movie-watcher with a great mind and a wild imagination, and if you can get him hooked on the idea of your book, then I’m impressed for you. Of course, Neal had him sold on Scythe in about 30 seconds. I own the book but have not yet read it. Dan plans on listening on the audiobook. Again, I am beyond impressed. Hats off to you, Mr. Shusterman!!

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The main point of my post is this: if you ever have the opportunity to hear Neal Shusterman speak, or to meet him and pick his brain, or to go to a book signing, or to find out about his backstory and his inspiration for his writing, or be near him or anything like that, jump at that chance. Even the other authors on the panel say that his bad ideas are good. Of course, being his humble self, Neal says that he is waiting for the day that his publishers “find out that [he] has been faking it all along.” He has an inspiring background and I don’t want to tell his story for him, for it is his to tell, but trust me when I say that there is a reason that he is a great writer. He really draws his words from the heart. So check him out.

My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human. There’s no version of God that can help us if we ever lose that.” – Neal Shusterman, Scythe

Listening to: “Moonlight” by Grace VanderWaal

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Moment of truth: When I first read the synopsis for this book, I had zero interest in reading it. Looking at the cover did not make me want to read it and the title did not feed my interest either. I ended up reading this book simply in order to give an honest review of it, and I did so by listening to the audiobook.

Going into the book, I felt like I still didn’t really know what the book was going to be about. I was ready to read it and get it over with. I was not expecting to really enjoy it or engage or relate with the characters in any way. Boy, was I wrong.

320756711The Hate U Give centers around 16 year-old Starr Carter, who is the only witness to her unarmed best friend Khalil’s murder at the hands (gun) of a police officer. This happens within the first few chapters, so the majority of the book focuses on Starr struggling with when, how, and how much to tell her friends, family, the police, and the courts. The book deals with a contrast between Starr and her siblings living in a low-income, violent neighborhood where rival gangs show their colors and riots break out nightly, and them attending a nice suburban prep school over an hour away where diversity is rare. Starr strives to live two lives but the situation escalates as everyone wants to know the truth of what happened that night.

“Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you go on even though you’re scared.” — T.H.U.G. by Angie Thomas

This book hit me hard. Hopefully it will hit everyone hard. I read on Goodreads that this book sparked a bidding war between 13 publishing houses! That’s how powerful this book is. Its soon to be made into a movie, but don’t wait for that. Read it now.

“That’s the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” — T.H.U.G. by Angie Thomas

Of course, there were times in the book where you want to shake the main character and say “COME OUT AND TELL THE TRUTH!!” But then again, you think of the consequences of telling the truth. Will the gang lord come after her parents? Will she be able to go outside at night? What are the consequences? There are also times when I yelled out “AMEN SISTER!!” in the middle of the book. Literally! I scared the crap out of my dog. T.H.U.G. has laugh out loud moments, cry out loud moments, shout and yell and be shocked and outraged moments….seriously, there is everything here. I always say I know I can give a book a solid 5-star rating (and I don’t normally give “1-5 star ratings”) if a book makes me feel the full spectrum of emotions AND I can tell it is a book I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. This is one of those. I am changed, at least a bit, because of this book. Thanks, Angie Thomas. Power to ya, girl.

Listening to: “Definition of a Thug” by 2Pac

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EpicReads Author Signing

swagToday was amazing! I was SO jealous of seeing all the buzz from bookcon in NYC over last weekend. All the swag, all the meetups with fellow bloggers and bookstagrammers, all the epic author signings….JEALOUS!!! Well, get a load of THIS you crazy New Yorkers. I got to meet up with authors Julie Murphy (Dumplin’ and Ramona Blue), Evelyn Skye (The Crown’s Game and The Crown’s Fate), Joelle Charbonneau (The Testing and Dividing Eden), and Kim McCreight (Reconstructing Amelia and The Outliers).

authorsHighlights of my little Epic Reads adventure included: talking opera with Joelle Charbonneau!! Plus she’s also from Chicagoland so she went to school around here so it was really easy to talk to her about local music and it was so fun. She is really quirky and silly…absolutely a singer. Next time we meet, we’re going to since. We are both Lyric Soprano’s, just in case anyone was wondering. Next, I got to talk to real life people about books. Not just my screen or myself because I don’t get to talk to my fiance or my friends really or anything. So that was so refreshing!! And finally, all of the swag pictured above! I love swag and new books and autographs and all around good stuff. The event was held at Anderson’s Bookstore, which has locations in Naperville, LaGrange, and Downer’s Grove. This shop is really neat–it has not only an awesome stock of book, but a great selection of gifts (I bought a Father’s Day gift, and an early Birthday present for my mom too).

I highly recommend looking up and reading these books if you’ve ever even considered any of them. These authors are great people and their books deserve your attention.

Listening to: “No Vacancy” by One Republic

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