the babysitters coven by Kate Williams review

synopsis

 

Adventures in Babysitting meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this funny, action-packed novel about a coven of witchy babysitters who realize their calling to protect the innocent and save the world from an onslaught of evil.

Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it’s kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she’s good at it.

And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let’s just say she owes some people a new tree.

Enter Cassandra Heaven. She’s Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria food. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme’s babysitters club?

The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.”

Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they’re about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

 

babysitter

 

my review

 

3 stars

 

This is a book I had a really hard time getting into and it’s also a book I was really looking forward to reading. I absolutely adore this cover and I love the idea of this book a group of girls who babysit, who have magic and fight monsters and demons yes please.

 

With that said the book I got was not the one I was expecting, (which seemed to have happened to me a few times this year side eyes serpent and dove). The babysitters coven reads young I had a hard time remembering that the characters where in high school and not middle school. There were times I had to put the book down and just take a breath because of this before I could continue reading.

While I love Buffy and I love the nod to the show this book relies  very, very heavily on it (maybe a little too much)  the sitters (this worlds version of the slayers), counsel (which is this world version of the watchers) the way how they explain the portals (hellmouth) It felt almost like a fanfiction.

Despite all that I did somehow manage to enjoy this book after I had given up on what I was expecting and started reading it for what it was.

 

Things I didn’t like

. The characters I found most of the characters to be a little annoying especially Esme’s.

 

.the magic system okay by now you all should know how I love magic systems and world building a good magic system and world makes my heart sing and makes me want to live inside the world.

With the babysitters coven I had a really hard time with both of these things.  I found the magic very unbelievable and something maybe a child would come up with. They have spells like meat manipulation in the book and hair manipulation and they used items like erasers shaped like fruit and vape cartridges.

Even though I didn’t fully like the magic system it was one of the more originals things in this book and there were a few thing I did enjoy about it.

 

.the world building

 

.the ending I have mixed feeling about this like I do with the magic system, the last half of the book is where I started to enjoy myself and I like the big final battle but after that is where I have a problem with it. At the very end the council cleans up the mess, the bad guy is put away and it ties up the ending of the book a little too good and I just really hated that a little, I wanted more from the ending especially since we know there’s going to be a second book and I didn’t get that.

 

Things I liked

 

. I loved the background story from Esme’s mom I thought it was really interesting when we finally learn the truth about why she’s gone mental.

.Parts of the magic system, okay while I didn’t like most if the magic system and found it to be very silly and childish I did find parts of it fascinating I really loved that the way they talked to people in the negative (the world the demons come from) is a magic 8 ball and I also like that normal people can steal magic from sitters.

.The fact they have a demon named Kevin who works for the council.

 

. The romance/not romance I really liked that they started to do something and then it just never happened, not every book needs a romance in it and I like that this one didn’t.

 

In the end I did enjoy this book  it remind me a little of a Disney show but I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the second book.

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interview with Annie Sullivan-Tiger Queen

happy belated book birthday to tiger queen! yesterday i wasn’t able to get onto a computer at all so i’m posting the interview i did with Annie (who was amazing and let me do another interview with her for her new book) today.  i hope you enjoy!

 

synopsis

 

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

 

tiger queen 2

 

now for the interview!

 

1.Tiger Queen is your second novel how was it different then writing A Touch of Gold? Did your writing process change?

I think every novel is different from the one that came before it. I wrote Tiger Queen in a fraction of the time that A Touch of Gold took. I think that was partly due to just being a better writer. Plus, once you’ve written one book, it isn’t nearly as hard to write another one.

I also think Tiger Queen was a lot different because the main character, Princess Kateri, is very different from Kora in A Touch of Gold. Kora is a character who doesn’t know her own strength. She has to discover that through the course of the novel. Princess Kateri, on the other hand, has to fight suitors in an arena to win her right to rule. She’s brash and skilled with a sword. She’s a strong, formidable opponent. So it was really interesting to see how these two characters were so different from each other.

 

  1. Where did you first get the idea for Tiger Queen?

Tiger Queen is actually a retelling of an infamous short story by Frank Richard Stockton. It’s infamous because it has a cliffhanger ending. In the original myth, a princess falls in love with a peasant. The princess’s father isn’t okay with this, so he throws the peasant into the arena to face justice—where behind one door is a tiger ready to eat him and behind the other is a beautiful lady he’ll get to marry if he picks that door. The princess finds out what waits behind which door—and she learns that the beautiful lady is her biggest rival, the one she’d never want her lover to end up with. So when the peasant looks up to her in the arena for guidance, she points him toward a door. The door opens, and the story ends. You never find out what was behind the door.

I read that short story back in middle school, and the lack of ending has always bothered me. So I finally rewrote the story with a little bit more of a Robin Hood vibe, and I gave it the ending it always should have had.

Plus, I dedicated the book to my middle school English teacher who taught me the story because without her, I wouldn’t have written this book.

 

  1. What was your research like?

Since Tiger Queen is set in a very unforgiving desert that almost has a mind of its own, I did a lot of research into desert creatures. Although, I have to admit I wrote most of Tiger Queen while I was in Antarctica, which most people don’t know is actually one of the world’s largest desert because of how dry it is. I substituted the snow stinging my face for sand as I wrote, and that became the inspiration of my mythical desert. I did also work with a sensitivity reader just to be sure that my desert setting wouldn’t in any way be harmful or stereotypical.

 

  1. Without spoilers what was your favorite scene to write?

By far, my favorite scene to write is the ending—where I gave the story the absolute perfect ending. I took the myth and turned up the volume, giving the story and my readers the hardcore female protagonist they need.

 

  1. Describe Tiger Queen in 5 words.

Warrior Princess. Arena Fights. Deception.

 

thank you so much for doing the interview with me Annie!

 

 

the grace year by Kim Liggett review

synopsis

 

Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

 

the grace

my review

 

4 ½ stars

This has to be one of the hardest most heartbreaking books I’ve read in awhile. Right from the start we’re thrown into a world where men rule and women are expected to fall into line, where 16 year old girls are thrown into a camp away from society to cleanse themselves of their magic.
This book has been pitched as The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies meets The Hunger Games and it’s the perfect comparison.

Tierney James is about to start her grace year, the year when all 16 year old girls are thrown into the wilds in order to cleanse themselves of their dark sinful magic, a magic that can seduce any man but it’s not just the wilds or the poachers- men who are paid to hunt and kill the girls for there magic- they have to survive it’s each other to.

This book is horrifying and heartbreaking all in one the world felt so real that it could be set in reality and not just a dystopian novel. The grace year was a fast read despite it being more than 400 pages it’s fast paced, interesting and it kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happened to everyone.

Tierney is a headstrong character she wants to be in control of her own future and not let the men decided what she has to do with her body, she’s clever but naive at times and I felt so much for her. The girls in the camp are terrifying the longer the year goes on the more ruthless and blood thirsty they get even going as far as maiming each other and it was like reading a nightmare I would not want to be anywhere near the camp these girls are in.

I’m not sure if this was a popular or unpopular opinion but I actually really liked the romance in the book and while I can see that it might not have been super necessary and seemed to slow the book down (I always wondered in the back of my mind what was going on in the camp with all the other girls) I did enjoy it a lot and liked Tierney and Ryker as a couple. There were a few parts between them that really spoke to me.

I thought the religious aspect was interesting and a terrifying they blame eve for the fall of human kind (no unlike some religions) and because of that women are seen as evil sinners who need to be watched and controlled.

“In the county, there’s nothing more dangerous than a woman who speaks her mind. That’s what happened to Eve, you know, why we were cast out from heaven. We’re dangerous creatures. Full of devil charms. If given the opportunity, we will use our magic to lure men to sin, to evil, to destruction.” My eyes are getting heavy, too heavy to roll in a dramatic fashion. “That’s why they send us here.”

the ending, that ending ripped me apart so hard I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but it shows that some things can’t be changed in big ways like in some books let’s say the hunger games but can only be changed in small ways the ending is heartbreakingly hopeful.

There’s so much meaning in this book I don’t even know if I can write about everything I would definitely recommend the grace year to people. I also want to add really quick that my favorite parts of the grace year had to be the dreams and all there meanings.

waiting on Wednesday (Thursday) tiger queen by Annie Sullivan

 

I know it’s not Wednesday  but I wanted to do a quick post for  Tiger queen by Annie Sullivan and i didn’t quite know how to do it. Tiger Queen comes out September 10th and it’s one of my most anticipated books of the year I really enjoyed a Touch of Gold and I can’t wait to see what she dose with this one.

 

About the book

tiger queen 2

 

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger

 

You guys still have time to preorder and get these amazing preorder goodies

 

tiger queen 1

 

which queen would you be tell me in the comments along with if your excited for tiger queen. i’d be the rightful queen.

 

tiger queen

 

add to goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42281646-tiger-queen

the Jumbie god’s revenge blog tour

I’m super excited to be a part of the blog tour for the Jumbie god’s revenge! I have a expert of the book for you guys along with my review but first here’s a little about about the book.

 

Synopsis

 

In book three of the popular Jumbies series, Corinne must use her emerging supernatural powers to battle the angry god who would destroy her Caribbean island home.

When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.

Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.

 

Baptiste_Jumbies3_jkt_HC_2MB_HR

 

my review

 

I didn’t have time to read the other two books in the series and while I knew I was missing things the book was able to hold it’s own and I was able to enjoy it. Tracey Baptiste writing is amazing I didn’t really know what to expected when picking up this book I don’t normally read middle grade but what i got a was a well written book about friendship and family.

After a unexpected hurricane rips though Corrine island home she becomes suspicious that it’s something more it’s not hurricane season thinking it might be one of the jumbies she starts to investigate only to discover that it’s a god call hurracan who is determined to destroy the island and everything that lives on it.

The moment I picked up this book it drew me right in, the writing is very lush and the descriptions made me feel like I was on the island with Corrine. I could feel the ocean and the forest and the mountains and at time I forgot where I was.

I loved the folklore and mythology that Tracey used for this book (it’s the main reason why I said yes to the blog tour) it was interesting and different (it’s also a mythology that I have never studied before so I learned something new!). I loved hearing about Mama D Leau and Papa Bois and the jumbies and it made me very interested in learning more about them.

I loved how fleshed out the characters were they felt real to me and I loved how determined and strong willed Corrine was, I also loved that her friends and family always had her back.

I would definitely recommend picking up this series (though I recommend picking it up in order). If you like books like Percy Jakson and Aru Shah you will definitely love this one.

 

Now on to the expert!

 

1
The Horizon

Corinne La Mer leapt from one tall coconut tree to another. Nothing but air surrounded her and there was only the sand and a few sharp rocks below. She landed on the rough trunk of the tree, slapping it hard with her palms and then wrapping her legs around it. She slipped and felt a rush of panic rise to her throat until she got the soles of her feet flat against the bark to grip her in place.

Corinne looked down at the beach. Mrs. Duval, in a bright purple headwrap and a loose white blouse and colorful skirt, shaded her eyes as she peered into the tree.

“Don’t injure yourself before you get my coconuts, please,” she teased Corinne.

Next to Mrs. Duval was Corinne’s friend Malik. He shaded his face with a small hand, watching Corinne as she moved. His older brother, Bouki, wasn’t looking her way at all. He was focused on the road, hoping for one last customer before they called it a morning.

Corinne caught her breath and returned to her task. It was dizzyingly high at the top of the coconut trees. Even in the shade of their large fan-like leaves, and with the sea breeze blowing to shore, the heat had her drenched in sweat. She panted as she reached up for a thick, yellow coconut. She twisted and twisted it until the tough stem snapped and then looked down to see where Malik was waiting to catch it, but the coconut slipped from her sweat-slick palm.
“Watch out!” she cried. Malik stepped nimbly out of the way, but Bouki, busily counting Mrs. Duval’s coins, didn’t hear her warning. The coconut grazed the side of his arm and dropped near his foot.
“You nearly killed me!” he yelled.

“I said ‘watch out.’” Corinne carefully climbed back down the sloping trunk. She had skinned the insides of her thighs climbing down before and had learned to use the soles of her feet to keep her body away from the bark. When she was close enough to the bottom, she pushed off the tree and landed near Bouki, who had lopped off the top of the coconut with a machete and passed it to Mrs. Duval.

Mrs. Duval shook the coconut and screwed up her face. “All these coconuts dry, dry these days. I thought it was rainy season already.” She peered up into the tree again.“Aren’t there any more up there?”

Bouki patted the trunk. “We only have what nature gives us,” he said.

“And whatever else you can grab,” Mrs. Duval added.

Bouki put on a fake look of offense as he pocketed her money, but it was not news to anyone that Bouki and Malik used to be thieves.

“They’re reformed,” Corinne said.

“Hmm. Reformed,” Mrs. Duval repeated, looking at the boys out of the corner of her eye. She sniffed the opening of the coconut and first sipped, then tipped it back and drank long. When she finally came up for air, there was a look of satisfaction on her face, but only for a moment. “You should go back to selling oranges,” Mrs. Duval said to Corinne. “Nothing on the island compares to your oranges.”

Corinne blushed, but her gaze flitted over the waves, and the compliment faded quickly. “I can’t only sell oranges, Mrs. Duval,” she said. “It’s not good business.”

“Ah, of course,” Mrs. Duval said, smiling. She turned to the beach, where a band of children played on the sand. She waved at them to catch their attention, and then pointed with the whole length of her arm to a pink house. They all went running.

Corinne waved at Laurent, the oldest of the bunch, who played cricket with her when he wasn’t doing chores or watching his younger siblings.

“I can send him along later,” Mrs. Duval said. “If you want to play.”

Corinne shook her head. “Maybe another time.”

“You know,” Mrs. Duval said, leaning in close. “You can’t watch the waves forever.” When Corinne didn’t answer, Mrs. Duval picked up all her coconuts by the stems and walked behind her children to their house.

The sea was bright blue and the sun reflected off the choppy waves in dazzling silver and gold. In the line of fishing boats near the horizon, Corinne could just make out her papa’s, even though it was impossible to see its bright yellow color. She had memorized the shape of it, so she could always pick out her papa on the waves.

“He’s safe, you know,” Bouki said.

“For now,” Corinne replied.

“You worry too much.”

Corinne turned from the sea to look at her friend. There had been a time when she didn’t worry. That was before her orange trees bore their first fruit, when she and her papa had their routine. He would wake her up in the morning and tell her to be careful on land, and she would tell him to mind that the sea didn’t swallow him up, and they would both promise to be safe. But then Severine came. She was beautiful at first, dreadful at their
last encounter, and with her came all of the jumbies.

“You don’t worry enough,” Corinne told Bouki. She clutched the stone pendant of the necklace that hung near her heart, and rubbed its cracked surface with her thumb. Corinne hadn’t believed in jumbies before Severine followed her out of the forest. She thought they were only stories that grown-ups told to scare the children on the island, stories about things that came out at night so little ones would stay in their beds. But then she encountered creatures with backward feet, women who shed their skin, and men covered in spiky fur with teeth as sharp as daggers. There was a jumbie who cared for the woods, and one who lived beneath the waves who would turn anyone into stone at a glance and who ruled the mermaids in the sea. Corinne had seen them all. But worse than that, she had witnessed their power, and she understood just how easy it was to succumb to any one of them.

 

She had nearly lost her papa to Severine, and Bouki to Mama D’Leau. It was enough to make anyone worry.

 

Months ago, when Corinne had dragged Severine into the sea and left her there, she had been sure that it was only a matter of time before the sea spat Severine back out. “The sea doesn’t keep anything, Corinne,” her papa had told her. So today, and every day, she stayed near the shore watching the waves and waiting.

Corinne nicked the skin of her thumb on a sharp edge of her stone necklace. The stone had been her mama’s, and after Corinne had broken it, her papa had wrapped it in leather to hold it together again. In the months since, Corinne had rubbed some of the cracks smooth, but the stone did not soothe her like it used to.

“What is it we are looking for?” an old woman asked. She had appeared out of nowhere and stood next to them in the shade of the coconut tree.

“Witch!” Bouki said.

The witch picked up her walking stick and brought it down with force on Bouki’s right foot. The sparse few strands of her short white hair shook with her jab.

Bouki doubled over to nurse his foot and looked daggers at the white witch, but he knew enough not to say anything else.

“Good morning, neighbor,” Corinne said.

The witch knocked her walking stick on the trunk of the tree and squinted up at the fruit. “Any more good ones left?” she asked.

“All green,” Corinne said.

The witch nodded. “I don’t mind the young ones.”

Malik scrambled up the tree. The witch leaned against the trunk, letting her stick rest against its curve. She rubbed her left arm slowly.

Everything about the white witch looked like it was near expiration: the sun-bleached pattern on her dress, the threadbare wrap that tied her head, the few drooping twists of short white hair that refused to be contained in her headwrap. Even the skin of her body sagged loose around her bones as if it might detach and crumple around her at any moment. No one knew how old the white witch was. Even the oldest people in the villages remembered her as ancient when they were young.

Corinne watched the witch massage her damaged arm. It was even more shriveled and grayer than the rest of her, as if the life had been leached out of it. But at the end of her arm, her hand seemed more vibrant. Her fingers curled and stretched in short, jerking movements.

“Your hand is getting stronger,” Corinne said.

“There’s only two ways for a thing to go,” the witch said. “Better, or worse.” She stretched and bent her fingers as she looked out to sea. “What you looking out at the sea for? You already know what is under the water.”

Before Corinne could find an answer, Malik jumped to the ground holding a coconut with just the barest hint of yellow on the husk. He macheted the top off before presenting it to the witch.

The witch’s tongue jumped out in anticipation, flicking over her thin, dry lips. She took the husk in her good hand and drank deeply. Some of the water dribbled out the sides of her mouth, past a patch of gray chin-stubble, and down the dark, wrinkled folds of her throat, which made jerking movements like fresh fish bundled in a net.

She downed the entire contents in one go. Then she handed the coconut back to Malik. He moved to cut it open, but she shook her head. “There’s nothing there,” she said. She seemed to be discussing the sea, not the lack of jelly in the coconut.

Without another word, the witch shuffled off, kicking up pale sand.

“Didn’t I say that, brother?” Bouki asked. “Didn’t I tell her that nothing was going to happen?”

“Is that what I said?” the witch called over her shoulder. She maneuvered back around to face them. “Dunce. Who ever said nothing is going to happen?” She lifted her cane with some difficulty and gestured around her. Her loose dress rippled in the wind. “Something is always happening.” She moved her mouth in a way that made Corinne think she was rearranging her teeth before she continued. “Boy, nothing is as dull as you.”

“You think something else is going to happen,” Corinne said.

The witch shot her the same look of disdain she had turned on Bouki. “Something is happening right now,” she said. “And a moment after that something will happen again.” She cut her eyes at Bouki again. “Maybe you are spending too much time with this one. You were smarter when you were coming to the market alone. You will miss things if you keep wasting time standing guard at the sea. You think this is the only piece of shore? The only spread of water?” She stretched her ruined fingers again and muttered, “Only two ways for things to go, better or worse. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

They watched the witch as she bent the corner around a grove of coconut trees. It was only after she was out of sight that Bouki shouted, “She didn’t pay

 

Baptiste, Tracey LS credit to Latifah Abdur Photography!”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tracey Baptiste is a New York Times bestselling author who grew up in Trinidad and Tobago on jumbie stories and fairy tales. Moving to the United States at fifteen was one of the hardest and most exciting times of her life. Tracey is a former elementary teacher and editor. She writes everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels, both fiction and nonfiction. She currently teaches at Lesley University’s MFA program in Creative Writing. You can find her online at traceybaptiste.wordpress.com and on Twitter: @TraceyBaptiste

comic con 2019

.i feel like i’m always going to be late posting these but here what i did during comic con this year finally.

 

Even though I wasn’t able to get tickets for comic con this year (I’m really crossing my fingers for next year) I still found a few things to do around downtown. One thing I love about comic con is how the city really embraces the con every year I love watching the city come alive it’s so much fun and there are all sorts of parties and outside activations and art gallery, pop up shops and free swag outside that even if you don’t get a badge and live in the city it’s worth going down there for a day just to see everything.

 

This is what I did

 

Wednesday

 

I had bought tickets to the gathering comic con museum after party this year so  I headed down to downtown around 6 the party didn’t start until 9 so I hung out around sea port village for awhile before finally heading to balboa park to get in line for the party. They were a half hour late letting us in. once inside I looked around a little bit before grabbing some food they had sliders and chips. After I was done eating I looked around some more and took pictures of the batman props that were out.

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batman lego

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Around 10 the director of the comic con museum came out and talk about their goal for the museum and when they were hoping to open it (2021) before introducing  the entertainment  for the night DJ  Z-Trip who did a special video presentation along with his music for batman. It was awesome. Afterwards I went home (mostly because since I can’t drive I had to bring my mom with me and she didn’t like the music and partially because I was starting to get a headache).

 

Thursday

 

I got to downtown around 9ish and stood in line for the Amazon off-site, I was really interested in carnival row and what they did for it so really wanted to see that one despite having a terrible headache that morning.

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Once inside the Amazon off-site we were given small bag with coins in them and were told that we could buy the food in their small market with the coins which was cool. I immediately got in line for carnival row where they were handing out either human cards or creature cards (I got a human card.) when I got to the beginning of the line they split us up humans on one side and creatures on another and then i was able to enter.

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There was a door off to the side where someone would knock on the other side of the door to get our attention before sneaking us though one at a time. when I was finally snuck though I entered a dark room where there was a women performing on a stage in a corset and lace undergarments. I  was immediately greeted by some of some of the ‘fairies’ they asked me what my name was and shook my hand before they moved on to the next person, before I could sit down a women came up to me and told me to follow her so I did.  she pointed to a hole in the wall and told me to look before walking away. The image was of a women in a bedroom.

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Another ‘fairy’ come up to me while i was looking for a place to sit and whispered in my ear that he had to tell be something but it was to dangerous  to talk out in the open so to follow him. I followed him into one of the side closet that had a curtain tied to the side and told me to sit. after I did he asked if I was enjoying myself and I said yes and then he preceded to tell me about these murders that were happening in the city and that a great  darkness that was neither human nor fey had been release. He asked if I believed in magic, I told him  yes, He said good.  before I left the small space he told me not to forget what he told me. a few minutes after I stepped out of the space a girl ran into the room carrying  a flag saying she needed to hide before running into the corner closet to me another women stood in front of her  along with a few of the guests including myself. The police stated there ‘search’ and asked us if we had seen her someone by the bar shouted in the corner and a girl sitting in a chair by me said she hadn’t seen her after the police left everyone in the room started to leave and everyone hiding the ‘fairy girl’ was asked to stay few more minutes so I did.

 

After I was out I got into line for the expanse after an hour and a half waiting in line (my right side starting to have small tremors from the heat) I got in.

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we entered a long room with TV screens on top and were debriefed about our mission before the floor moved in rolling waves and the doors opened.  We entered this desert like area with metal sculptures  and red sand. we were then split up into teams to question the natives of the planet we had just entered. My group went off to question on of the ‘local men’ to see if they had seen anything and we were lead off by him after asking if we were UN he told us that his people just wanted a home and that no one had a right to take the planet away from them. he said since we were peace keepers we could help him and his people, my group all agreed to help. Suddenly a fight broke out in the middle of the area and we all made our way towards it before being rushed out after a few minutes of standing there watching what was going on.

By the time I got out of the expanse it was way too hot for me to wait in line and my right side kept trying to have tremors (which is not fun). So I contemplated about leaving the Amazon off-site but I really wanted to see the boys experience.

I always try to do everything as normally as I possibly can despite having MS, there have been times when i‘v stood in line for 5 or 6 hour in the heat or have done something when I knew I probably shouldn’t have just because I wanted to do it. I will push myself until I can’t function anymore because I want to be as normal as I possibly can but between having a really bad tremor on my entire right side a few days before comic con (I fell in the kitchen floor and it lasted a minute or two), the really bad headache I was having and the start of more tremors because of heat.  I went to ask someone if there was a way I could see the experience without standing in another hour long line, which they let me.

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I got into the boys pretty fast. The room was a crime scene the lights were flickering and the stuff on the shelves were on the ground there was a wall that had the imprint of a body in it. we had to figure out what happened they had us look for keys and a combination for a lock after all that they had us destroy a tape. At the end there was a confrontation between one of the guys and another one where he was fake killed.

 

more pictures from the amazon offsite.

 

 

 

Afterwards I headed out of the Amazon offsite and to where the her universe fashion show was going to be held they did the line up differently than the previous years where we just had to pick up wristbands and  they lined us up according to the number around 5. Which was a lot more chaotic  then the years before. I ended up at the back of the room on the right side this year. I was really glad I had brought my bigger camera with me because I was still able to get some pretty decent shots in..

 

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more pictures from after the show.

 

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Afterward I got food and headed home.

 

Friday

 

I was in so much pain and my MS was acting up so much I had to stay home.

 

Saturday

 

I headed to downtown around 8 once there I got in line for the pennyworth offsite it didn’t take long to get in.

 

 

The first room I entered was a nightclub they had a singer on the stage and a poker table off to the side and tables and seats spread though out the room so you could sit and relax. If you played blackjack you won a poster. everyone won because the dealer made sure you got 21 I mentioned this and she let me play for real I still won.

 

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The next  room was darker and more like a library we were handed postcards and told if we wanted to write one they would send it off for us.

 

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There was a shared office next and then a torture chamber which was a photo op.

 

 

Afterwards I headed toward the FX offsite. By the time I got to it I was glad I brought my cane with me because my right leg didn’t want to support my weight anymore. FX let me in almost right away after I explained to them that I wouldn’t be able to stand in a hot line. I immediately went to the American  horror story experience . I asked if they had strobe lights because I remember in the past they’ve had them  and was told yes  which made me sad because that meant I couldn’t do it, ( one of the triggers for my tremors is strobe sights). I took some pictures before going to the what we do in the shadows experience which was so much fun! It was the Vampires lair and they had three people dressed up as the vampires from the show. They gave us bloodsicle  and vampire teeth about 5 or 10 minutes after I sat down the cast showed up!

 

 

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I hung out there for awhile enjoying the air conditioning and the how funny the vampires were before heading to do the twilight zone offsite in petco Park .

 

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pictures from the Petco park interactive zone.

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Afterwards  I went to find out where the axe throwing was taking place I showed up  just in time to see the cast walk in and was told to come back after 5 since they were going to do a meet and greet. So  I decided  to go get dinner and come back.

I came back around 7 and got in line for the axe throwing which they told me that I couldn’t do it with open toed shoes on so I asked if I could take pictures of one of my new line Buddies who agreed. wordpress wont let me post the video i took so here the pictures.

 

 

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After I took pictures and a video one of the workers there asked if I wanted to try and I told him I had open toed shoes so they said I couldn’t he offered to let me borrow his shoes so I could try it. It was so much fun! There is something very satisfying about throwing a axe at a wall. I was not very good at it so he kept me a little longer then everyone else.  Afterward I thanked him for letting me borrow his shoes before heading home.

 

Sunday

 

I had been wanting to see the Pikachu  offsite all week but hadn’t managed  to see it yet so I went down just to see that. I got to downtown around 10 and once down there I got in line for it. I waited in line for about a hour and a half before I got in.

 

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Afterwards I got in line for Shazam since it was right next to it. At Shazam you were given one red ticket were they let you pick one out of three carnival games to play. I picked ring toss.  After that I went home.

 

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More pictures of the con.

 

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pictures from inside the con taken by my brother

 

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see you next year comic con.

some of the pictures are taken by me and some are taken by my brother.

 

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bright burning stars blog tour

i’m happy to be a part of the blog tour for bright burning star! today i have a expert for you along with my review.

 

first here’s the synopsis

Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

 

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my review

3 stars

I love books having to deal with ballet so when I was invited to join the blog tour I jumped at it. While I enjoyed this book I was expecting a little bit more of a murder mystery and maybe friends becoming enemies as they try to win both the boy and the number one spot what I got was something completely different, what I got was a story about two friends who are trying to keep their friendship even as the competition becomes cut throat and the people around them including themselves become manipulative.

Bright burning stars follows two girls Marine and Kate who have been best friends since they first entered the ballet academy and bonded over both their love of dance and their own tragedy. Now in there last year at the academy the competition is heating up and both girls are finding their friendship starting to fray as the pressure to be number one thus winning a spot in the company starts to eat at them.(only the number one boy and girl win the spot.) both Kate and Marine start to question what they would do to win and as the year goes on and the competition becomes fiercer they start to crack under the pressure and lose sight of themselves and eachother while they focus on one thing and one thing only ballet.

 

I’m going to be honest here while I enjoyed reading this book I had a very hard time telling the narrative apart both Kate and Marine sound almost the same and i had to go back several time to see who I was reading, with that said I still really enjoyed the book not because of the characters but because of the ballet (which was my favorite part of the book). I enjoyed reading about how competitive the school was and how manipulative the characters were and how they would do anything (and I mean anything, including seducing and sabotaging, drug use and not eating) to get what they wanted.

 

I loved the ending and it made me very happy, I loved how both girls found there place and where they wanted to be and how while frayed during the year that their friendship still shone brightly.

 

This book is a very heavy read it deals with eating disorders, drug use, pregnancy, abortion and suicidal ideation and at times I thought that it was a little bit overwhelming having so many heavy subjects shoved into one book. Because of all the heavy subjects I would caution people before they read this book so they know what their getting into before picking it up, But if you love dance and ballet I would definitely recommend bright burning stars.

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Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for sending me a eARC of the book and inviting me to the blog tour

 

now for the expert!

 

1

Marine

We stood outside the circular studio in the apex of the dance annex. Some of us obsessively rose
up and down in first position to break the soles of our shoes, while others, like the boys, tucked
their t-shirts into their tights and cracked their necks for luck. I didn’t do anything but clutch
Kate’s hand. Kate and I always held hands before the weekly générales. But before I could ask
her what she thought the new ratings would be, who would outshine whom on The Boards after
only a week and four days of ballet classes and rehearsals in our final year at Nanterre, my name
was called first. A bad omen: in six years of dancing here, the faculty had never switched us out
of alphabetical order before. Isabelle The Brooder always started. I danced third.
“Break a leg,” Kate said in English before I stepped into the studio, which made me smile
because saying things in her mother tongue was Kate’s way of showing love.
Inside the vast round room, three judges—judging deities really—sat erect behind a long
folding table. Valentine Louvet, the director, was on the left, her dark hair twisted into a loose
knot and rings adorning her fingers. She would sometimes look up at the giant skylight and I
would swear that her lips moved, that she discussed students with Nijinsky’s ghost through the
thick glass. Francis Chevalier, the ballet master, an older man with sweat stains radiating from
under his arms, was on the right. While you danced, he rhythmically jabbed the tip of his cane
into the floor. In the middle sat The Witch, aka Madame Brunelle, in glasses and a tight bun.
When she disliked a student’s movement, which was almost always, we all whispered that
worm-like silver smoke seeped from her nostrils and her ears.
I didn’t look them in the eyes for fear of turning to salt. Instead, I hurried to the yellow X
that demarked center, taking note of all the mirrors that wrapped around me like gauze. I tried

not to criticize my reflection, how I was one kilogram fatter than when I’d last performed in
May. I’d found out earlier this morning, courtesy of Mademoiselle Fabienne, the school
nutritionist. Weigh-ins here were like random drug tests. You were called and asked to step onto
the beastly scale whenever faculty felt like it. Now, all I could do was suck my stomach in and
pray it didn’t affect my score. I placed my right foot on the tape, my left in tendu behind, then
waited for the pianist’s introduction.
As I offered the judges my most heartfelt port de bras, I concentrated on the ivory of my
leotard, an atrocious color on me, yet a coveted symbol of my new elite rank. Seven other sixteen
year-old rat-girls and I had risen to First Division. The variation we were to perform today was
obscure, from The Three Musketeers, but I didn’t mind. Actually, I preferred low profile dances.
The pressure somehow felt less. I also liked the three-count waltz, the way the notes filled up
inside me, the rush of the C major melody, all making me zigzag across the studio. Music was
why I kept going, my ticking heart. As the piano filled the air, my arms felt fluid, my balances
sharp, and my leaps explosive. Even my hunger diminished. I steered myself from left to right
then from front to back. My spirits lifted and my nerves calmed. Vas-y. I can do this, I thought.
And then I remembered to give the judges my stage smile. Maybe I’ll rise from Number 3 to
Number 2. During a slow triple pirouette, I held my foot above my knee, balanced, and stuck my
landing in perfect fourth position, the number 2 floating like an angel’s halo above my head.
But then I forgot to anticipate the piano’s shift in keys, the sudden acceleration. Realizing
I was an eighth of a note off, I skipped a glissade to catch up to my saut de chat. Ne t’en fais pas,
I told myself. Adjust. Yet, at once, The Witch stood up and snapped her fingers, silencing the
music.

“I thought you were here because of your auditory gift, Duval,” Madame Brunelle said.
“Don’t students call you The Pulse?”
I looked down at my feet. I hadn’t gone through three fourths of the variation.
“They must be wrong. Would you like to have someone else come in and demonstrate?
Teach you whole notes from half notes?”
“No,” I whispered.
“Miss Sanders,” Madame Brunelle yelled.
Kate poked her head inside the studio. A joke, I thought. Kate was a dynamic ballet
dancer but well known for her lack of rhythm.
“Mademoiselle Duval needs help with her waltz tempo. Would you run the variation
through for her?”
What?
Kate nodded. She tiptoed into the studio, setting herself on the X the way I had done
earlier.
“Shadow her, Duval,” Madame Brunelle ordered.
She snapped her fingers and the pianist began again.
I danced behind Kate. We moved in unison, gliding into long pas de basques, arms
extended. Kate seemed weightless, her heels barely touching the ground. A genuine smile
fluttered on her lips. Her ivory leotard fitted her long narrow frame like skin. Blue crystal
teardrops dangled from her ears as she spun. They glittered like fireflies. All of Kate glittered.
The afternoon sun poured in from the skylight, lighting her up like a flame. The variation lasted a
million years. At every step, my face grew hotter. The studio door had been left wide open, so I
saw in the mirror’s reflection that other First Division dancers were peering inside and watching

our odd duo. A wave of humiliation nearly toppled me. Madame Brunelle did not stop the music
this time. She waited for Kate and me to finish with our révérence, then she dismissed us with a
flick of the finger.
I ducked out of the studio into the stairwell and didn’t wait for Kate. I could have sought
refuge in the First Division dressing rooms but that was too obvious a hiding place so I rushed
down three flights of stairs and into the courtyard. A mild September breeze blew. I fought back
tears. It would have been easier, I thought, if The Witch had picked someone else. Anyone else.
But Kate? Pitting me against my best friend? I wished I could keep walking past the trees,
alongside the fence, out of the gates, down L’Allée de La Danse, to the metro, all the way home
to the center of Paris and my mother’s boulangerie. There, inside with the warmth and the sugary
smells, I would find a tight hug, an, “It’s okay, Chérie. You don’t have to do this unless you want
to.” But I knew I wouldn’t. I’d have to go back to the dorms to change into street clothes or at
least take off my pointe shoes and then I’d see Oli’s battered demi pointes on my bed. Plus, I’d
come this far. Hadn’t I? Only 274 days until the final Grand Défilé. Judgment Day: when
everyone, except for two strikingly gifted students—one female, one male—got fired in the top
division. I plopped down into the middle of the courtyard and found the sky. How could I have
messed up on tempo? I closed my eyes and inhaled.
“Hey!” Kate yelled a minute later.
I started.
She stood at the entrance of the courtyard, breathing hard. “Do you think you could have
gone a little faster?” she said, crossing her arms. She was still in her leotard, tights, and pointe
shoes. Her neck flushed bright red from running. Wisps of blond hair framed her face. “You
hurtled down the stairs like a bat out of hell, M. I thought you were going to tumble and fall.”

Bat out of hell? I nearly corrected her and said that here we used comme un bolide—like
a rocket—but instead I replied, voice sharp, “Too bad I didn’t.”
“You don’t mean it,” she said. “Mistakes happen. You’re only human.”
Kate sat down beside me. She smelled woodsy, even after she danced. We watched as
pigeons flittered around the bright white buildings. On our left were the dorms with their
common rooms at the bottom. In front, the dance annex loomed. It was known for its grand
staircase, bay windows, cafeteria, and Board Room where all big decisions were made. On the
right was the academic wing with classrooms and faculty offices. Little pathways led from one
building to the others with awnings in case of rain. If I turned around, I could peek at the high
concrete wall hidden between oak trees. Sometimes I wondered if the barrier was there to keep
rats from fleeing or strangers from trespassing.
Kate squeezed my ankle then flashed me her best smile. “The Witch is an asshole.
Seriously. Don’t sweat it.”
At her touch, my eyes filled. The tempo mix up hadn’t been Kate’s fault. Only mine. I
quickly wiped the tears with the back of my hand.
“Have I told you that I dig wearing ivory?” Kate said. “Last night, I called my dad and
tried to explain it to him. How good it felt to parade around in this sublime color. I said it was
like receiving the freaking Medal of Honor but he didn’t get it.”
“Of course not.” I shook my head.
And just like that, the weird moment between us, the resentment I’d felt at having to
dance behind her, passed.
I was about to tell her that after what had happened in the circular studio I would
probably never wear ivory again, when younger rats came out into the courtyard, disturbing our

privacy. Everyone always whispered about everyone else while waiting for ratings. Within the
hour, the Board Room would open. Rankings would be posted on the wall. Rats who were rated
below fifth place might be sent home. Now and again, I’d see a parent waiting by the school
entrance and the wretched sight would make me flinch. But Kate, who was always at my side,
would loop an arm around me and say, “Face it, M. Not everyone is cut out for this.” Her thick
skin soothed me today.
“God, I can’t stand the sitting around,” Kate said. “Let’s play Would You.”
“I thought you and I banned that game,” I replied.
Kate laughed. “Things don’t go away just because you want them to, Miss Goody Two-
Shoes. Or because the stupid rules say so.”
I slapped her shoulder.
“Ouch. Loosen up. I go first,” she said. “Would you die for The Prize?”
The Prize. What every rat girl and boy was after: the large envelope with a red wax stamp
on the back, a single invitation to become part of the Paris Opera’s corps de ballet. The thought
of seeing that envelope made me dizzy with possibility. I almost said yes but she cut me off.
“If I close my eyes,” Kate said. “I feel the envelope’s weight in my hands, the warm wax
beneath my thumbs. It’s damn near euphoric.”
I looked away. Kate’s hunger for success, for being the Chosen One was sometimes so
acute that it frightened me. “Are you asking because of Yaëlle?”
The Number 3 rat from last year, a sweet girl from Brittany, once our roommate, had
been found in her tiny single, lying atop her twin bed, in her ballet clothes, bones protruding at
strange angles, eyes sunk deep in their sockets, dead a few days before Le Grand Défilé last
May. She’d starved herself in the name of The Prize. Ever since, we’d all been on edge. Summer

hadn’t changed the mood. If anything, getting back together after a few months away had
heightened the sense of dread.
“You’re not answering my question.”
“No,” I decided. “I wouldn’t die for The Prize. Would you?”
“Yes,” Kate said. “Absolutely.”
There was no hesitation in her voice.
“I’ve got another,” she said. “Would you hurt The Ruler for The Prize?”
Gia Delmar, the Ruler. Always Number 1 on the boards, she was our biggest rival but
this wasn’t the time to think about her. Not before rankings. “I wouldn’t hurt anyone,” I said,
then I added, “Would you rehearse night and day?”
“Yes. But would you do drugs?”
“Would you?”
“Rehearse night and day, sure. Drugs? Maybe.”
“Kate!” I said.
“Would you try to suck up to Monsieur Chevalier?”
“No. But maybe Louvet.”
Kate laughed. “I know. Would you sleep with The Demigod?”
The Demigod? I shivered. Like The Ruler, The Demigod was off limits. As a rare
conservatory transfer, he’d magically appeared in Second Division one sunny day last February
and had outdone everyone. I didn’t want to think about the leaders, the rats most likely to
succeed, even if they were supremely sexy. “No,” I answered. “Of course not. Would you?”
“Maybe.”
“That’s sick,” I said. “Sleeping with someone to climb the ladder?”

Kate lowered her voice. “The Demigod is different, M. You know. Everybody knows.
Even faculty. Look how they gawk at him. His talent is greater than the sun and the stars
combined. Proximity to him is—” she paused, searching for her words. “The key to everything.
Think of it as Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock’s lover, collaborating with him on a canvas. Except
that our canvas is four dimensional, made up of flesh, of bodies. Lee’s paint strokes had to
intensify, right? The Demigod’s balletic gift, his glow, rubs off like glitter on his partners.
Haven’t you noticed? Anyone who spends time with him in and out of the studio shoots up on
The Boards. M, he is The King. You know what dance is? The art of the sensual. Electricity,
entanglement, ease. You partner with him and you will blow the roof off this effing place. Plus,”
she sucked in her breath, kept me in suspense. “He’s got the hottest quads in the universe.”
I imagined Cyrille flying into splits, his thighs stiffening under silver tights, what his
hands might feel like clasping mine if I was ever asked to partner with him. My whole body
warmed. Kate was right. The Demigod was like food, like one of my mother’s pastries. You
knew that eating it was bad for you, but you just couldn’t help yourself. I was about to warn Kate
that the Greek demigods, as attractive as they were, ate their young and their lovers when
Monsieur Arnaud, the groundkeeper, walked over to the old fashioned bell and rang it. The
wooden doors creaked open and all the dancers scurried inside the Board Room. I still sat
outside, frozen. What if I was ranked fifth or lower and got sent home? I thought of Oli. My
promise to dance for him no matter what. Failing was not an option. Kate snagged my hand and
pulled me up.
“Come on, sweetie,” she said.
I reluctantly followed her in.

 

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A.K. SMALL was born in Paris. At five years old, she began studying classical dance with the legendary Max Bozzoni, then later with Daniel Franck and Monique Arabian at the famous Académie Chaptal. At thirteen, she moved to the United States where she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for one summer in Seattle and with the Richmond Ballet Student Company for several years. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, her puppy, and her three daughters, and practices yoga. Bright Burning Stars is her first novel.

wondercon 2019

 

I’m  sorry I’m posting this so late I wanted to post this earlier but have been dealing with a lot of fatigue because of my MS, which is not fun because It feels like I’m dragging my body around when it doesn’t want to move (i’v been forcing it to work the best as i can but even typing takes a lot out of me now a days). I was finally able to go to Wondercon this year! Last year I had planned to go to it but I ended up having a flair-up a week before so I had to cancel all my plans which I had been sad about. I am so happy I was able to make it this year despite having a lot MS problems and being in the hospital again for the third time at the beginning of March.

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I got into the convention around 11:30 I wanted to get in earlier but I had a horrible Headache that made me a little slow in the morning, once in I got my lanyard and schedule book and since this was my first time going to Wondercon I wandered around it for a little bit trying to figure out where everything was. My main goals for the day were to see the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D panel and the twilight zone panel.

 

After wandering around and looking  for the arena, (the panel room that was going to hold the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D panel.) I decided to get a seat in it early. I sat though their trailer park panel,  which is where they play all the trailers for upcoming comic/pop culture movies and TV shows and then it was time for the agents of S.H.E.L.D panel. They brought out the cast and they talk about the show for a little bit, eventually they ask us if we wanted to see the first episode of the new season and told us to put all  recording devices away they closed the door and showed us the episode,  It was amazing. After the episode they did a Q&A section of the panel and then it was over.

 

 

After the panel I walk around for a little bit and looked at a few of the artist before going to find the panel room for the twilight zone, I’m a huge fan of the original twilight zone so I really wanted to see this panel and get a feel on how the new series would be. I found the line for the panel and stood in it a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to get in because there were a lot of people in line. It moved quickly and I was able to get in, the panel was about a hour.

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Afterwards I got lunch before looking  at the rest of the artists and by the time I was done with artist ally the con was over for the day. I had a lot of fun and I will definitely  be going again next year if I’m able to.

In the Neighborhood of True blog tour

I’m honored to be part of the blog tour for in the neighborhood of true today, this book is beautifully written ownvocie book and i really loved it. Today i have a expert of the book for you along with my review.

 

first the synopsis

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

taken from goodreads

In the Neighborhood of True_jkt_rgb_HR

 

my review

4 stars

I really loved this book it was such a beautiful and powerful read Susan Kaplan Carlton’s writing is stunning and while the story was simple and straight forward, (it’s just a story of a girl trying to find herself there’s nothing big happening no end of the world stakes here it’s a quiet book but a powerful one ). It held a truth to it that I don’t see very often in books, (though that might be because of the books I tend to pick up). It’s a book that made me stop and really think and while the book takes place in the 50’s the subjects it tackles still ring true to today in some places.

 

Ruth Robb has just moved from New York to Atlanta after her Father’s death it dosn’t take long for her to find herself amid the world of pre- debutante/debutante balls, southern teas and etiquette classes wanting into be a part of  this new world she hides the fact that she’s Jewish, making a trade with her mom she’ll spend Sunday’s at temple for the new life she’s trying to fit into and it works until a violent hate crime rocks her world forcing her to come to terms with who she really is.

 

I can’t describe the way this book made me feel,  it’s a coming of age story about a girl who’s trying to find herself during a difficult time in history, it’s a story about first love and heartbreak, it’s a story about Activism against both  racism and anti-Semitism and standing up for what is right. The way everything is tackled is done very well It’s not in your face it doesn’t take away from Ruth’s story it’s a part of Ruth’s story but not her whole story.

 

I loved Ruth and her family and how real they felt, I felt all of Ruth’s heartbreak and hope and love while reading this book, I loved Davis because Ruth loved him and I felt for all the girls she made friends. It takes a really talented writer to bring to life characters that you feel so much for and feel like they could be real and I aplaude Susan for doing just that.

 

I’m going to be honest I don’t know much about the south or about Jews or the struggles they have been though and are still going though and this is one of the reasons why I picked up this book, I picked it up out of curiosity  for a people I don’t know  much about but would love to learn about. This is also a #ownvoice book which made me even more excited to read it.

 

I would highly recommend this book I feel like it’s a book that everyone should read and if you do decided to pick it up I hope you love Ruth’s story.

 

now for the expert!

1

The Whole Truth

1959

 

The navy dress was just where I left it, hanging hollow as a compliment behind the gown I’d worn to the Magnolia Ball the night everything went to hell in a handbasket.
I thought of Davis and his single dimple and how his hand had hovered at the small of my back, making me feel its phantom weight even when he wasn’t touching me. I thought of a diflerent day and a diflerent dress, this one with sunburst pleats-how he’d unzipped it and fanned it out on the grass that night at the club, how the air was sweet
as taffy, and how when we rejoined his family I’d wondered if every pleat was back in place.
“Ruth!” Mother’s voice burst into the closet. “Not the morning to dillydally.”

 

“Coming,”  I said, but I did the opposite of not-dallying. I put the navy dress on over my slip and sat, right there on the closet floor, not giving a fig about wrinkles. It was as if my nerves had pitched the world ten degrees to the left and I had to plunk down to
find my balance.

 

It was cool at the back of the closet-in what I’d come to think of as my New York section, the land of navies and blacks and grays-where the floor was concrete, smooth and solid beneath me.
When we’d first arrived here at the end of an airless sum­-mer, Mother, who’d changed from Mom to Mother when we crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, told her parents, whom we’d always called Fontaine and Mr. Hank, that Nattie and I needed wall-to-wall carpet to cushion our landing. Maybe we needed cushioning after the shock of our father’s death, or maybe we needed cushioning after moving from our apart­-ment in New
York to our grandparents’ guesthouse behind the dogwoods. Either way, the next afternoon, two men turned up with a roll of white carpet and stapled it over every square inch of the place, save for the closets.
Just like that, we were blanketed in an ironic, improbable snowstorm.
“Now, Ruthie,” Mother said, on the other side of the door.

 

I stood up and pulled in, feeling th e dread in my chest prickle from th e inside out.
The dress reminded me of Leslie Caron in An American in Paris, except I was an American in Atlanta , and in the six months I’d been here, my taste and I had gone from simple to posh to simple again. If th e girls in th e pastel posse were in th e
courtroom today, I bet they’d be in shades of sherbet, rays of sunshine against the February sky.
Today, I didn’t want to be sunny.
Today, I wanted to be Plain Ruth, teller of truth.

 

On the drive downtown, Mother said, “You be your­ self up there, R uthi e. It doesn’t have to get ugly.” Her short bangs curled down her foreh ead like a question mark.
Here, nothing was suppos ed to get ugly.
As we passed the putting greens on Northside, I wat ched the trees sway, thinking that wint er was difle rent- pretti er­ in a place where the trees cared enough about their leaves to hold on to them year-round. And also thinking that prettin ess had to be
planned, th at the sprinklers had to work hard to keep the perfect green lawn from turning back to plain red clay.
I cranked down th e window, needing to feel th e air.

 

We were twelve minutes late. Mother was often late, a leftover New York a:fiectation, but today my dallying about dresses had held us up. For a half second, I paused in front of the large door with FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT etched in gold, then inhaled and turned the knob gently, hoping to avoid a clang.

 

Clang.
A hundred or more heads swiveled in my direction .
Mother dropped her smile, but then she touched her pearls and reassembled herself. I followed her lead, hand to my throat, where my own string of pearls-along with my stomach and other major organs-had taken up residence.
The courtroom was impressive, with a soaring ceiling and sunlight flooding in from impossibly tall windows. It looked not unlike the temple at the center of the trouble.
The pastel posse was here after all. I tried to catch Gracie’s eye, but she was busy tugging her apricot twinset into place. Mother and I walked past Rabbi Selwick and his wife, both turned out in tweed, and I thought of him at our house with his daughter and
her gift of peach preserves. Behind them were women in fur and men in pinstripes. The couples­ probably from the Club-looked like they were waiting for a tray of martinis to glide by.
Mother stepped into the third row, and I slid next to her. Davis was five feet away, at the defendant’s table. The collar of his white oxford shirt, crisp and starched, poked out above his blazer. I couldn’t tell a single thing Davis was thinking, from looking at the back of his very handsome head.
T he attorney nodded to me and twisted his mouth . “You’re late.” To th e judge he said, “We apologize for the delay, Your Honor. We call Ruth Robb to the stand.”
My pumps click-clicked on the marble floor. A woman with coral lipstick motioned for me to sit in the witness chair, like on Perry Mason. Goose bumps inched up my arms. I wished I’d thought to bring a cardigan.
She turned to me and said, “Raise your right hand and repeat
after me.”
I raised my hand and noticed a sunburst carved into the paneling over the door I’d just walked through, a little moment of brightness.

 

“Other right,”  she said.
“i’m sorry.” I raised my other hand. “I’m terrible with left and right. I always-”
“Miss-” the judge said, looking down at a note card. “Miss Robb. No need to talk now.” He had gray hair and half-glasses, and he gave a half smile.
And I thought : But that’s why I’m here. Because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.
The woman picked up a Bible, and I placed my free hand over its worn leather cover. I knew there were two Bibles- one for whites and one for Negroes. I knew because Rabbi
Selwick was on a mission to have Negro witnesses use the same Bible as the rest of Atlanta. I thought about asking for the Negro Bible, even though every single person in the court­ room was white, but as the judge himself had “No need to talk now.”
“Do you swear on this Bible the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” the woman asked.
In the distance, I heard a sprinkler turn on. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I glanced at the Bible, the King James version, and it occurred to me I was swearing on the sacred text of another religion, that there wasn’t a Tanakh for Jews to pledge their truthfulness upon .
I wanted Davis to look up. I wanted to see if his tie was straight. I wanted to see if he’d nicked himself shaving. I wanted to see the constellation of freckles across his eyelids. I wanted to see how he looked when he looked at me.
And then he did-his true-blue eyes locked right on mine . I felt the heat slide up my cheeks. Davis, who taught me about the Uncivil War, and blowing perfecta smoke rings, and real honest-to-God French-kissing. Davis, who said he wanted us to get married
the second we turned twenty-one.
I swallowed. “I do.”

 

 

 

“The story may be set in the past, but it couldn’t be a more timely reminder that true courage comes not from fitting in, but from purposefully standing out…and that to find out who you really are, you have to first figure out what you’re not.”

    —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things

                                                                                                                                   

In The Neighborhood Of True

 

by Susan Kaplan Carlton

 

 

“Every character is memorable and complex, and the plot quickly becomes engrossing…the characters’ moral decisions are so complicated and so surprising that many people will be kept spellbound by even the tiniest detail. Riveting.”

Kirkus Reviews

 

“Carlton does an excellent job of mixing the personal with the historical here…Ruth crisply relays her conflicted feelings, the tense situations, and characters who are well shaded and occasionally surprising.”

Booklist

 

“A gorgeous story about a teenage girl finding her voice in the face of hate, heartbreak, and injustice.”

Nova Ren Suma, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Room Away from the Wolves

 

“Susan Kaplan Carlton’s snapshot of 1958 Atlanta is both exquisite and harrowing, and I will hold it in my heart for a long time.”

—Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone and Our Year of Maybe

 

“You might not think a book set in 1959 could feel wildly relevant, but wow does this YA set in Atlanta that explores anti-Semitism in the south during the Civil Rights era feel incredibly on point after the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.”

Barnes & Noble Teen Blog

 

 

“While it’s not wrong to say that historical fiction can be a great genre to read when you want to take a break from current events, these books can also be a gateway to re-examining and understanding the many ways that history can repeat itself unless people make meaningful, positive change happen. Susan Kaplan Carlton’s debut, In The Neighborhood of True, is a combination of both: romantic escapism brushes against harsh truths about discrimination and violence.”

Bustle 

 

 

When Susan Kaplan Carlton began to write In the Neighborhood of True (publication date: April 9, 2019; $17.95), she was inspired by historic events that had taken place in a synagogue where her family once worshipped. She never imagined that news in 2017 and 2018 would lend new relevance to the violent anti-Semitism she addresses in her YA novel. Partly inspired by the Atlanta temple bombing of 1958, In the Neighborhood of True is the thoughtful and provoking story of Ruth Robb, a young woman trying to fit in to the “in” crowd in her new hometown by hiding her Jewish heritage. Susan Kaplan Carlton’s past historical YA novels have been praised for their “believable, rich, likable characters” (Kirkus Reviews) and “important” (Booklist) topics relevant to teens’ lives. In this novel of the 50s Jim Crow South, Kaplan Carlton’s gorgeous prose invokes a time filled with sweet tea and debutante balls as well as cross burnings and hate crimes.

 

In the sweltering summer of 1958, Ruth Robb and her family move to Atlanta from New York City after the sudden death of her father. A fish out of water and grieving, Ruth meets the ruling “pastel posse” and their little pink book of manners. She quickly falls for the charming and popular Davis, who teaches her about football games and the Country Club, and is the perfect escort. Eager to fit in and to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a debutante, Ruth hides her Jewish heritage and her attendance at Sabbath services in a segregated Atlanta. Then a hate crime tears apart her community, and Ruth is forced to confront the prejudice head on and speak up about injustice.

Carlton’s family attended services at the Hebrew Benevolent Society, Atlanta’s oldest synagogue and a center for early civil rights advocacy, in the early 2000s. She says that watching her younger daughter volunteer “in one of the classrooms that had been bombed years before… stayed with me—the idea that the walls that held these kids had once been blown apart by white supremacists…it became really important to me to write this book about a girl who comes to do the right thing even when it’s hard and heartbreaking.”

 

Praised as “riveting” (Kirkus) and “wildly relevant” (Barnes & Noble Teen Blog), Carlton’s novel depicts an endearing heroine caught between two very different boys and the choice to fit in or speak out, and vividly evokes the temptation to turn a blind eye to injustice in order maintain the status quo. In the Neighborhood of True will have you immersed in its Southern summer, craving a Co-Cola by a picturesque pool with a relatable narrator, rooting for her to embrace her truth.

 

Susan Carlton Credit Sharona Jacobs_HR

 

Susan Kaplan Carlton currently teaches writing at Boston University. She is the author of the YA novels Love & Haight and Lobsterland. Her writing has also appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the finer points of etiquette from a little pink book and the power of social justice from their synagogue.

susankaplancarlton.com |      @susankcarlton |       @susankcarlton

 

 

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