A Literacy Memorial for Orlando


I’d like to invite the bookternet and beyond to participate in an event to raise up positive stories that portray LGBTQA characters. A Literacy Memorial for Orlando was created by my friend Rebekah in the goal to “fill our communities with positive images and stories of the LGBTQA community.

Participation is simple. Donate books with a positive portrayal of LGBTQA characters. Donate them anywhere you feel they are needed. Schools, libraries, prisons, little free libraries, your coffee shop “give a book take a book” etc. It is asked that you add a bookplate or a inscription with the language below:

This book is dedicated in remembrance of those who lost their lives in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016. We hold those individuals in the LGBTQA community in the light and wish for a future of hope and understanding.

One of the easiest ways to create empathy for marginalized groups is to share our stories. We know that in reading even fictionalized accounts of characters with different experiences than our own it creates a greater understanding and acceptance. Change comes from going into our communities and showing them that we exist. We are their  neighbors and co-workers. We are the soccer moms and the doctors and the fast food cooks and the CEOs and the bus drivers and the clergy and the children who haven’t decided which of these they will be.




May 2016 Book Brief

Reading stats for May 2016

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Shrill by Lindy West
The Girls by Emma Cline

Total finished: 4
Owned: 3 (2 obtained from BEA)
Borrowed from library: 1
Women authors: 4
POC authors: 2
Audiobooks: 1

Favorite: The Girls is a major standout but I truly loved everything I read in May.

Summer book bingo time!

Let me start off by saying that I am incredibly sad to hear that Books on the Nightstand is ending their podcast in June after a super long run. Ann and Michael’s thoughts on the book world and their recommendations will be sorely missed. The fact that they announced this on the same day as summer book bingo probably saved a lot of fallen tears as many of us were too excited about downloading new bingo cards to cry for long.

For those unfamiliar with summer book bingo, you can download a card here. The object is to obtain a bingo by reading books that match the categories (open to your interpretation). In the US we have two holidays which bookend our summers, Memorial Day and Labor Day (if you are outside of the US think the last weekend in May through the first weekend in September). That is the time frame in which you have to play.

I am posting my card below. Leave a comment with your suggestions for what I should read in these categories!  Last summer I completed 3 rows, I hope to meet the same goal this year.


Tunesday – Shrill

What better to pair with Lindy West’s new humorous memoir, Shrill, than one of my favorite pop punk songs of the mid 90s? I present Libel by the band Tilt:

I think that some of my feelings about internet trolls can be summed up in the lyric, “You just want the chance to show. How little you really know.”

Shrill.jpgI was lucky enough to get a signed copy of Shrill at BookCon from the Hachette Publishing booth. It was pretty awesome that Lindy came out to do a signing right before the book’s release date, and we were given finished copies. While waiting in line one of the awesome Hachette representatives gave us some lovely Shrill branded megaphones.

It took me about a week to read Shrill, not because it was a difficult read, but rather because I wanted to savor and think about each essay.  There was so much thought packed into such a small book. From dealing with internet harassment, how the comedy scene can be toxic to women, to fat body acceptance, and dealing with the death of a parent. I related to much of what Lindy put out there, and what I couldn’t exactly relate to, I took  as an opportunity to be educated by an extremely smart woman. I laughed out loud multiple times, I growled in anger and I shed tears of empathy. A memoir that touches all of those emotions is so worth reading. I highly suggest picking up Shrill as soon as you can. If you ever have the chance of seeing Lindy West speak, do that as well. I saw her at the Women In Secularism 3 conference and she was spectacular. Her unapologetic voice is one that all should listen to.

A recap of BEA 2016

I’ve been home from Chicago for a week now.  Long enough to get all of my thoughts together about BEA and BookCon. Also, I was waiting to get my books I shipped back home, roughly 40 total from the trip.


Welcome to Chicago


I flew out of Richmond to Chicago on Wednesday.  I figured by the time my flight got in, I would get to BEA about an hour after the bloggers conference started.  Turns out that fog had descended upon Chicago and they weren’t allowing flights to land at O’Hare so we got delayed a bit. I ended up arriving at McCormick Place right around noon. It was relatively easy to get to by  train, and thankfully they had a bag check so I didn’t have to stop at the hotel first.

Studying maps is kinda my thing, a feature of my anxiety. I knew I’d need to go up to the 3rd floor to check in and then back to the 1st for the second half of the bloggers conference. By the time I made it back to the 1st floor no one was there. I supposed they went to get their lunches, and soon they began to trickle back in the room with food. I found someone who appeared to be in charge and they kept promising they’d get me my meal voucher in “a minute.” This happened repeatedly until I gave up.  Thankfully a kind blogger shared her curly fries and I had some snacks in my backpack. It was then time to break into table talks, where folks had a 30 minute stint at their choice of tables with a specific topic, repeated two more times.

This didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. But we still had really good conversation. I found some of the moderators to stray completely off topic or just chat with those near them and not conduct a group discussion. Some did really well in keeping everyone on topic. Not everyone’s strong suit is leading conversation, and I suppose the choice gets slimmer as we boil common interest down to bookish people who write blogs.  Overall, it was okay but I do not think it was close to $65 okay. BEA should think about getting rid of this fee or up the quality. But I am happy to have met many of the bloggers that I did. It’s good to make those connections, and it’d be harder to out on the show floor.

The show floor opened in the afternoon and I browsed around there, mostly to figure out the layout and my schedule for Thursday.  I flitted into the ABA lounge and ran into Sarah from The Book Jawn Podcast (and the whole reason I was able to go to BEA!) We gave tired hugs (yes, tired from only a half day of BEA) and browsed through the galley room. This is where I picked up Mara Wilson’s upcoming memoir, Where Am I Now?

I went back to my hotel and basically crashed (after a quick jaunt down the block to Shake Shack.) After looking through the books collected on day one, I am the most excited to read the aforementioned Where Am I Now?, Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven (she did a signing for just the bloggers con which was a nice surprise. Plus, I am interested to see if this books ends up as offensive as folks expect), and Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow.


Don’t you wish someone looked at you the way I look at Ann M. Martin?

On Thursday I rose early to ensure I’d get an autograph ticket to get Ann M. Martin’s new middle grade book, a retelling of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, called Missy Piggle Wiggle and the Whatever Cure. A Baby-Sitters Club fan like myself couldn’t contain my feelings in meeting her. I got a little teary eyed and blurted out, “I’m here because of you.” It’s true. That series hooked me on reading. It taught me that you can use your imagination to create a whole world.

I was also able to stop by the ABA lounge for their autographing session and was really happy to get a signed copy of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Also, Alex Gino signed a copy of George as a blog giveaway so stay tuned for that! I stood in line at the Penguin Random House booth in order to get a signed copy of Emma Cline’s The Girls. While that was going on a large line was forming for Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s upcoming look at race in, Writings on the Walls which I hadn’t planned on standing in. By the time I was done at the PRH booth, they were still allowing folks to jump in the Time, Inc line and I snagged a copy signed to my dad (don’t tell him, he can’t have it until I read it.) Meanwhile I walked all around over and over again, getting lost in the aisles of publishers.

Even as an introvert, I sometimes enjoy crowds because I can blend in and disappear. BEA was good for this. It helped that BEA crowds were book professionals and for the most part acted like it. (I didn’t witness some of the grabby hands others saw during ARC drops.) I was able to stop at some of the smaller publisher booths, where I didn’t feel like I was getting in the way of any important meetings. I had a great conversation with the fellow at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy booth about some hikes near to me but aren’t super busy trails. The folks at Housing Works were really great. They are a charity helping people effected by AIDS who obtain funding through thrift and used book shops. I plan on writing about them in the future. I ended up getting my hands on one more ARC that I absolutely cannot wait to read and that is Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings.
13217283_10154190183854803_6597462140659365806_oThis is getting rather long, so I am going to save a BookCon post for another day.  You may wonder what happened to Friday at BEA? I skipped it. As a lifelong baseball fan, and a girl who was born in Peoria it would be silly of me to not visit Wrigley Field when I was in Chicago. I took myself on a date to see a fantastic Cubs game… and they won!

Overall BEA was a blast. I would love to go again. If a trip to NYC is in my budget for next year I will be there. I know to wear comfortable shoes, take breaks, bring a refillable water bottle and eat! I never ever thought that I would be one who would forget to eat, but it happened. It was important to only have a loose plan going into the day. There is no such thing as FOMO (fear of missing out) when at BEA. You are going to miss some things, but the experiences  you do have will balance it all out. Plus, if you have pals who were there, you can exchange ARCs if you missed a drop! BookCon was a whole different animal. I’ll get to that soon.

Tunesday – Divergent

It was the fall of 2012 when Green Day’s album, Uno, was released. As soon as I heard the opening track, Nuclear Family, I felt as if I related to it. The thing was I wasn’t relating like I normally do with Green Day songs. They’ve been my favorite band since 1993. When I relate to a Green Day song strongly I am generally in a heap on the floor crying inconsolable tears. This was different. Like I was relating to some other part of me. A past life? A dream?

It quickly hit me. Tris Prior. Back in July of 2012 I had read Divergent by Veronica Roth and absolutely loved it. It filled the void that finishing the Hunger Games trilogy had left in me. A girl faced with saving her world from a corrupt system.

In the world of Divergent, one must pick what faction they are to become a part of and serve for the rest of their life. Will they stay with the faction they were born into or will they take their place in the world elsewhere? This is where the “death of the nuclear family” lyric comes in. This mother and father raised you, but you can break out from that family and essentially choose a family. No more mother, father, sister, brother. And can you not just see the obvious parallels of “riding the world like a merry-go-round/ like a ferris wheel like it’s breaking down.” Not to mention riding that Dauntless train through Chicago, “Can you hear the sound coming over the hill? Gotta move my feet, it’s coming in for the kill.”

If I had any skills in video editing, I’d definitely be making a music video of scenes from the Divergent film. No one likes a montage better than a kid born in the 80s!

Anxiety and Me (and BEA)


Coming from a Polish family, I am excited that Poland is the focus of the Global Market Forum at BEA. Plus, I can get real pierogi in Chicago.

I’m nervous. As Book Expo America approaches in just two days, I am not sleeping as well. This is usual for any big event that I am excited about. However, this is the first time I have ever attended a conference of this magnitude. I am well versed in conferences and conventions, but I’ve never been to this type of event. Mostly I’ve been to atheist/feminist/social justice conferences and seminars where I know lots of folks and have built in friends from all over the country and overseas. I am traveling alone to Chicago, but I do have my friend Sarah of the amazing Book Jawn Podcast who I will be meeting up with. I may need to warn her that if she sees me rubbing my legs that I’m on the verge of an anxiety attack and she should tell me to breathe and take an Ativan.

The thing I am most nervous about is keeping my anxiety in check during BEA. I tend to try to plan out my days and stick to a schedule to keep control of my anxiety. I am going into BEA knowing that my schedule will be changed, potentially at the very last minute. Saying that I have no expectations sounds harsh, like I think I’ll have a bad time. But for me, having no expectations simply means that I cannot count on obtaining certain galleys or getting a book signed by a specific author. It’s cool if it happens, but if it doesn’t that’s fine and it does not mean I wasted my time. I am so thankful to all of the book bloggers who have written excellent posts about their experiences at BEA. In particular, this one at Feed Your Fiction Addiction has been a lifesaver.

What I hope is that between utilizing Insight Timer and the information I’ve learned in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness For Beginners I can keep anxiety at bay or at least treat it as it bubbles up. If anyone has any ideas on decompressing after a day full of people in Chicago please comment or Tweet at me.

With all of that said, I’m still super excited. I see this as a challenge and something that will hopefully be a way to gather knowledge not just on the publishing industry and bookternet but also myself. If you see me around at BEA (and the bloggers conference) or BookCon please say hi! Small talk, when about books, is always welcome!