Luck and Faeries

#DPotF and special note...

If you read my post Second Coolest Thing I’ve Ever Done, you might remember me mentioning getting to talk with author extraordinaire Holly Black about her then-upcoming book.

The Darkest Part of the Forest   is that book, and when I saw this on Twitter, I jumped on it:

December NOVLbox announcement, curated by Holly Black

December NOVLbox announcement, curated by Holly Black

I don’t usually have much luck with those kinds of contests, but I couldn’t pass up the chance. TheNovl.com was one of the sponsors of that special dinner, and here they were with a box full of goodies to give way, goodies that were at least in part picked out by, OR EVEN MADE BY, Holly Black Herself. So I entered. And hoped against hope.

Then I got the email that I was one of the lucky winners. ME. I ran around my house screaming like an idiot. My housemate, who happens to be my big sister, thought I had hurt myself, or seen a spider.

I waited expectantly. And waited some more. And sooner than the 2 to 4 weeks promised, a weighty box showed up on my door. It was here, at last!

My box contained:

A letter from TheNovl.com folks and Holly Black

A letter from TheNovl.com folks and Holly Black

A quill and notebook for "plotting against faerie monsters."

A quill and notebook for “plotting against faerie monsters.”

"The Darkest Part of the Forest" by Holly Black and "I Hunt Killers" by Barry Lyga, recommended by Holly Black.

“The Darkest Part of the Forest” by Holly Black and “I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga, recommended by Holly Black.

(You can get a copy of I Hunt Killers  here.)

"The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" by Holly Black complete with rave-ready glow stick necklace.

“The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” by Holly Black complete with rave-ready glow stick necklace.

A poster featuring a quote from #DPotF

A poster featuring a quote from #DPotF

a thenovl.com tote bag

a thenovl.com tote bag

And definitely saving the best/worst for last, a walnut hiding a secret scroll bearing a faery curse.

And definitely saving the best/worst for last, a walnut hiding a secret scroll bearing a faery curse.

The curse was especially poignant, as it is from the book (spoilery to explain more than that) and dementia/ memory issues are a curse of their own in my family. You could say my grandmother had a problem in that her usually scatter-brained self remembered everything, just not the right things at the right times, at the end. Kind of scary.

Since I already had a copy of The Darkest Part of the Forest ( #DPotF, purchased the day it came out) and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I decided to add them to my treasure trove of books and goodies to give away. But not just hand out to someone–no, this had to be special. So I decided for #DPotF I would hide them someplace green and tree laden, and set up a faerie themed quest. I would even include another, announced, secret book as a Faery Changeling, a decoy book.

All of which I did.

Earlier today.

After a series of announcements about the upcoming quest and what one could win from it, I posted the following set of video clues (in which my voice is HORRID because, until this morning, I had lost my voice completely due to a head cold. The pitiful thing you hear is all I got back so far.) on the Russo’s Books Facebook and Twitter accounts:

promo

The book, if you were wondering, is excellent! Much like when one falls into the inbetween land of Faerie, the book sucks you in, changes you, and spits you out again on the other side with your timeline shifted as much as your perception of the world around you. What I’m saying is, when you decide to read this book, clear your schedule, because you are going to want to do it in one sitting, and it is going to take you a while to stop thinking about it once you are finished.

I haven’t gone back yet to see if both books I hid have been found. No one has posted that they’ve retrieved them yet. Just in case you’re curious, or in case you’re one of the questers and are really stumped, this is where and how I hid them:

Both books are hidden here.

Both books are hidden here.

the Faery Changeling book...

the Faery Changeling book…

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman comes out in March, but can be preordered here.

...is more easily spotted in the crook of a tree.

…is more easily spotted in the crook of a tree.

#DPotF and special note...

#DPotF and special note…

...are hidden where the last video shows a faery saying "this is the perfect spot." Tricksy faeries!

…are hidden where the last video shows a faery saying “this is the perfect spot.” Tricksy faeries!

*A brief note on the spelling of “fairy” and “faery.” I used the spelling “fairy” on the Facebook posts, because this is the most widely known and accepted spelling, going with the assumption that it would make the most sense to the broadest spectrum of people. This spelling usually evokes those lovely, little, spritely, Tinkerbell-type flower fairies, who look adorable and harmless. They aren’t, of course, but that’s still what comes readily to mind. There are many more types of creatures who are of the Good Folk, however, many of whom are quite fierce and grotesque, so those in the know usually use the alternate spelling, “faerie” to denote that, as I have in my post. To some degree there is also usage of the “ae” spelling to denote the perceived reality of faeries, much like folk who use “magick” to differentiate the real stuff from the stage magic of performing magicians. (Imagine the shooting star Katy Perry borrowed for the Super Bowl and the copywritten “More You Know” slogan and song inserted here.)

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 520 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve gotten 520 views! And from places in Europe and Russia–how did they even find me?! But I hope my readers have been entertained. This coming year will have more posts, a contest or two, and of course, more Five Book Interviews.

Coolest Thing I’ve Ever Done

 SORRY TO KEEP YOU WAITING FOR SO LONG, DEAREST READERS. I WILL REWARD YOUR PATIENCE WITH NOT ONE, NOT TWO, BUT THREE CONSECUTIVE POSTS. IT HAS BEEN HARD TO HOLD THEM BACK FOR SO LONG– I LOVE THE PEOPLE I’M FEATURING IN THESE “BOOKERVIEWS” AND THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER DONE IS… WELL, COOL. TO ME, AT LEAST. I HOPE YOU THINK SO, TOO. THIS FLOOD OF POSTS IS BOTH A TREAT AND A TRICK, FROM ME TO YOU! HAPPY HALLOWEEN! HERE IS the final of the three:

If you don’t know me, this might be news, but I think it is no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a raging Neil Gaiman fan. I became a fan whilst a teenager, reading his comics Black Orchid and The Sandman. Then he wrote short story collections, and I read them. Then he wrote actual novels, and I read them. So, basically, now I will read anything he writes, anytime he writes it.

You know that idiom of “I’d listen to that person read the dictionary”?

Yeah, I’d read Neil Gaiman’s dictionary. There’s just this quality to the way he writes that gets me way down deep: the subtle layers of mythology and mystery, of emotion and philosophy, of humor and horror, that all exist simultaneously.

Mr. Gaiman has been a champion of various social causes and righteous struggles, but one of my favorites is his support of Independent Bookstores. It is this support that lead to the single greatest accomplishment, so far, of my life. THIS is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. THIS blows my mind, years later.

I, me, little old moi,  made THIS happen:

 

Now, when I say I made that happen, I of course did not make it happen alone. I had help, from many amazing people. But let me start at the beginning.

It was June of 2009, and I was reading Neil Gaiman’s blog. That’s when I saw THE POST. It went:

“Independent bookshop owners look at me wistfully and ask “How can I get you to come to my bookstore in Vermont/New Orleans/Florida/New Brunswick/Nevada/Alaska etc?” and I tell them I don’t know, because really I’m not going to take a couple of days off work (once you count the going and the coming back) to go and sign somewhere, no matter how nice the store and the people.
 This is how.
 You have a party. In your bookshop.
Better still. You have a Hallowe’en Party in your bookshop. You can have the Hallowe’en party anywhere in the month of October.
And you theme it around The Graveyard Book.”
You can read the whole thing by clicking the link embedded in “THE POST” above, if you’re curious. And if you were unaware, The Graveyard Book is an amazing, best-selling young reader book, that has won all of these awards: Newbery Medal, Carnegie Medal, Hugo Award, Locus Award, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book, Audiobook of the Year, ALA Notable Children’s Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice, Horn Book Fanfare, Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book, Time Magazine Top Ten Fiction, Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice, New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age, and the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award (Vermont). So far.

It opens with knife in the dark, and the dangerous man Jack. Nobody Owens gets raised by the denizens of a graveyard. There are near catastrophes, and adventure, and young love, and tragedy, and comedy, and scary moments, and beautiful moments, all brought to you by characters that, if you have even the smallest imagination, become as real to you as your real-life friends.

Do I need to tell you how good it is? Look at all of those awards!

Anyway, back to the contest. I was all over that. My favorite author, and one of my favorite books, and a contest involving them both AND my favorite holiday? This thing was MINE! So I talked my boss into letting me do it. We brain-stormed and schemed. We came up with how we could turn it into a fundraiser for books for local schools and the library. We made post cards to distribute and teaser videos for our social media accounts.

The rules said we had to have it on-site, but our store wasn’t very big. Right next door, sharing a wall with us, Color Me Mine had just moved out and the storefront was empty. We got permission from the landlord to borrow it for a couple of days, and we transformed that space in two short days. Paper covered walls were mural-ized. While we were working, a gentleman stopped in and asked what in the world we were doing. I explained, and he asked if we would like to borrow his hearse. Just like that. Of course, I said yes. We asked a local haunt attraction if they wanted to do some kind of promotion with us, and since it was October they were already busy but they gave us discount coupons and let us borrow props to decorate with. My friends kindly volunteered their friends to be my minions. It was happening!

We turned the main studio into a graveyard, complete with dilapidated church and the big gray horse from the story (by me), a curtained wall with a casket (loaned by local haunt Scream in the Dark), a banquet table with creepy foods (by friends with aspirations), arts and crafts stations for grave stone designing and a story station for our guest librarian story teller. The party room was transformed into a dance floor, complete with book store DJ, disco ball, and colored lights (loaned by a non-bookstore DJ.) The office turned into a game room where people could play for prizes. The creepy, dark room that had once held the kilns to fire the ceramics became a miniature haunted house attraction (using almost all of my Halloween decorations), complete with the Indigo Man. A hearse was loaned to us (from the owner of that local mortuary), and parked out front. Jacks roamed the party looking for victims. A costume contest was coerced into calling out, “We want Neil Gaiman!”

And it was all caught on tape, so we could whittle it down to just two minutes of video to submit for the contest.

We, of course, were not the only ones vying to win a visit from Neil Gaiman. You can read about what other bookstores did here. The creativity was amazing, and the competition fierce. All of the continental United States and Canada were in a brawl for this. We were a tiny bookstore in a big town most people from elsewhere only know because they’ve driven past it or heard something disparaging about it on the news.

I think it was a smashing success. We didn’t raise a ton of money for local schools and the library, but we raised some. We didn’t get thousands of people, but we got a couple hundred. We did, however, throw an AMAZING party. Here is our submission video, where you can see each thing we did, themed around each chapter from The Graveyard Book:

The waiting was intense. People kept calling to ask if we had won yet. Finally, the winners were announced.

You see that? Where the arrows are? That's US!

You see that? Where the arrows are? That’s US!

We won, but we didn’t win. These  guys here won.

Mr. Gaiman posted on his blog that it was incredibly difficult to pick a winner, and that was AFTER his publisher and his assistance whittled it down to the top couple of dozen. He ended up picking 11 winners. Two grand prize winners, one in Canada and one in the States, to go and visit, five first place winners to send a special, customized video and some doodled in, signed copies of The Graveyard Book, and four second place winners to send doodled in, signed copies to. It was more than he had originally planned to do, and I was happy. Not as happy as if he was coming, mind you, but I was realistic about our chances.

I think. I don’t know, you’ll have to check with Mike Russo.

So, I didn’t get him to come to Bakersfield, but I did  get him to say the name of our store. The store is now an office, but that video stands as a testament to the lengths our little independent bookstore would, and will, go to in the pursuit of a dream.

For more The Graveyard Book goodness, you can listen to the entire book, read by the author, for free here. Poke around mousecircus.com for more goodies, too.

Curious about that domain name? It references the also-amazing Neil Gaiman book Coraline, which was made into an amazing stop-motion feature by Laika. They also made ParaNorman (also a book, by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel), and The Box Trolls (based on Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow !)


As always, all books discussed here can be found at www.russosbooks.com or by calling (661) 665-4686. Tell them The Mean Bookstore Girl sent you and see what happens!

The 5 Books You Need to Know to Know: Renowned Magician Ron Saylor

SORRY TO KEEP YOU WAITING FOR SO LONG, DEAREST READERS. I WILL REWARD YOUR PATIENCE WITH NOT ONE, NOT TWO, BUT THREE CONSECUTIVE POSTS. IT HAS BEEN HARD TO HOLD THEM BACK FOR SO LONG– I LOVE THE PEOPLE I’M FEATURING IN THESE “BOOKERVIEWS” AND THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER DONE IS… WELL, COOL. TO ME, AT LEAST. I HOPE YOU THINK SO, TOO. THIS FLOOD OF POSTS IS BOTH A TREAT AND A TRICK, FROM ME TO YOU! HAPPY ALMOST HALLOWEEN! HERE IS PART THE Second:

Every so often I intend to bring you a “5 Books You Need to Know to Know” feature, where I interview one of our amazing local movers and shakers about the books critical to their lives. Today I bring you the books that you need to know to understand the singular amazingness that is award-winning magician Ron Saylor. In case you haven’t seen one of his shows (you’re missing out, if so!), or gotten a peak of him at the Celebrities of Magic, (where you can see world class magicians, right here in Bakersfield!) you can check him out at his website. Here is a little bit about him from it:

“Ron Saylor is a California based, Gold Medal Award Winning Professional Magician that will leave even the largest of skeptics in awe! From Close-Up Magic to Full Large Stage Illusions, from Private Parties to Theatrical Productions, or at The Magic Castle in Hollywood. All performances are Choreographed to Exciting Music with Volunteers used throughout the entire Show, so your Event will be talked about for years. It’s no wonder that Ron is the #1 Rated Magician by one of the World’s largest magic agencies. His love for the Magical Arts is clearly expressed in his enthusiasm during each and every performance.”


1) What is the most influential book you read as a child or young adult? 

In reading ahead, this has been the toughest of your five questions. It really shouldn’t be a tough question, but I am hung up on the phrase “most influential.” Surely, if I had a most influential book, it would be something about Houdini or magic. But, if I twist the question, I do have 2 books read as a child that “affected” me. Affected is close to influenced, right? Anyway, they would be, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Flowers For Algernon. About the only commonality in the books is they both have a main character named Charlie, but they also share, one told through a tragedy, the importance of being a better person.

 2) What is a guilty pleasure book or book genre for you?

Your easiest question. My guilty pleasure genre is Stephen King. I believe that King will be remembered as our generation’s Shakespeare. While almost all of his works are horror or thriller related, he has also written fantasy and comedy, short stories and 1100+ page epics, non-fiction and screenplays. More than 90 novels to date. Yes, I have an extensive Stephen King library. My favorite King books are: The Dead Zone, Cujo, Different Seasons and Misery.

3) What book do you think should be required reading for every adult?

1984. Not only should every adult need to go back and read this, but they should also be required a comparison report between the book and today’s current affairs. Maybe, we wouldn’t see scandal after scandal in our own government if this were the case.

4) What are you reading right now?

The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. (blogger’s note: Ron was one of my first book interviews, and so is likely on to a new book by now. If you see him, ask him how he liked this one!)

5) What is the last book you bought or gave as a gift?

Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings by Ron Burgundy


 If you would like to be a “Five Book” contributor, simply answer the questions above, include a little information about yourself and any links you would like included, and email with the subject line “Five Books About” to meanbookstoregirl at gmail dot com! As always, all books discussed here can be found at www.russosbooks.com or by calling (661) 665-4686. Tell them The Mean Bookstore Girl sent you and see what happens!

The 5 Books You Need to Know to Know: Radio Personality Robin Jones from KRAB

Sorry to keep you waiting for so long, Dearest Readers. I will reward your patience with not one, not two, but THREE consecutive posts. It has been hard to hold them back for so long– I love the people I’m featuring in these “bookerviews” and the Coolest Thing I’ve Ever done is… well, cool. To me, at least. I hope you think so, too. This flood of posts is both a Treat and a Trick, from me to you! Happy Almost Halloween! Here is Part the First:

 

Every so often I intend to bring you a “5 Books You Need to Know to Know” feature, where I interview one of our amazing local movers and shakers about the books critical to their lives. Today I bring you the books that you need to know to understand the always entertaining and sneakily brilliant Robin, KRAB Radio DJ, local celebrity, and socially savvy wunderkind. I met her many years ago at an art event, and was an instant fan of her intelligent commentary, witty quips, and positive energy. Then I found out she was on the radio and I’ve been a fan ever since. If Robin says something is can’t-miss, I know she is correct.

You can find her on 106.1 KRAB Radio, where she hosts The 90s at Noon! You can catch her on Facebook here, and begrudgingly on Twitter here!


 

1) What is the most influential book you read as a child or young adult?

Three books, actually! I’m feeling wordy.

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths

 

The actual cover of Robin's well-loved and tattered fave

The actual cover of Robin’s well-loved and tattered fave

My mom bought me this for my ninth birthday and I’ve been slightly obsessed with mythology most of my life. This is the book that taught me about how cool Artemis (my favorite) was, the family tree of Gods, and helped me correct a teacher when I got into the sixth grade. Yeah, I was that kind of kid. Beautifully illustrated and easy to read, I have loved this book to literal pieces for 22 years.

The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book

It was our first Calvin and Hobbes book and definitely not our last. My brother and I quickly became addicted to the strips and can probably give a little credit to all of the book releases for our sense of humor. It now lives in my brother’s bookcase and I have the “Complete” collection in mine.

James and the Giant Peach

This may have been the easiest and loveliest book to follow as a child. A boy escapes from his abusive aunts and lives in a peach with giant bugs. It sounds absurd, but it showed that, even when you feel your loneliest, you can still find your family- even if one member is a ladybug who marries a fireman.

Honorable Mentions: any of our X-Men comics, everything written by Beatrix Potter, Late Night with Conan O’Brien: If They Mated, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, and my mom’s collection of Marx Brothers books.

 

2) What is a guilty pleasure book or book genre for you?

I honestly don’t think I have any real guilty pleasures. I like what I like and have never been shy about my preferences. If there is anything to feel guilty about, it’s the fact that I don’t read nearly as much fiction as I had in the past.

 

3) What book(s) do you think should be required reading for every adult?

The books that you feel “forced” to read while in high school. If you somehow dodged those magnificent bullets, try getting hit by Of Mice and Men, Fahrenheit 451, and Grapes of Wrath. Also, if Stephen King’s Different Seasons was also somehow on your list of freshman reading options, we should become friends immediately.

 

4) What are you reading right now?

I’m currently re-reading both Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Harpo Speaks! Is it wrong that some of my most favorite authors are comedy writers and comedians? (blogger’s note- she is most likely on to other books by now, as I interviewed her a while ago. You should ask her how she liked these, when you see her next!)

 

5)  What is the last book you bought or gave as a gift?

A set of the alphabet Bob Books for my nephew, Ryan. He’s two and having fun learning his letters, so this was a pretty easy gift to give. His mom reads a lot, so I am pleased to say that he has a great reading influence in his life.

 


If you would like to be a “Five Book” contributor, simply answer the questions above, include a little information about yourself and any links you would like included, and email with the subject line “Five Books About” to meanbookstoregirl at gmail dot com! As always, all books discussed here can be found at www.russosbooks.com or by calling (661) 665-4686. Tell them The Mean Bookstore Girl sent you and see what happens!

Second Coolest Thing I’ve Ever Done

The front of the invitation.

It will serve as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a fan of vampire stories. My mother created a fiend in me by reading Tolkien to me as bedtime stories when I was very little, and I’ve been a bookhound ever since. She had to take me to the library all the time, and I would often check out the maximum amount allowed and bring it all back to exchange a week later. Mythology of all stripes was my chosen vice, and so at probably too young an age, I read my first vampire story.

Please pardon the hipster-ness of the following segment.

So many vampires...

So many vampires…

My first vampire story was, completely on accident, one of the first ever “mainstream” vampire novels.

No, not  Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Think farther back.

I’ll give you a hint: this vampire was a she.

Oh, too big of a hint? Yes, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla  was the vampire book I cut my teeth on. (I apologize for that, too, but I can’t resist a good pun.) It started me down the path of vampires and monsters, and not just in books.  Salem’s Lot! “The Lost Boys”! Every book in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Interview with a Vampire in particular about three times. (But, eww!, not the movie. I watched that dreck once and it was enough, and don’t get me started on “Queen of the Damned.”)

There are so many vampire books, short stories, and movies that I can not possibly list all of the ones I’ve read or seen without  making that its very own, very long post. I don’t even know if I can remember them all.  I was lucky in that my teens and twenties were the Vampire Years the way that the current era is the Zombie Years.

Lestat vs. Lestat, who did it better? Cruise or Townsend?

Lestat vs. Lestat, who did it better? Cruise or Townsend?

Just for the record, I even liked the Twilight books. If you don’t like the, that’s fine, but if you don’t like them simply because they became fanatically popular or because they are YA books, I think that’s a lousy reason. After all, Harry Potter  meets both of those criteria as well, but I think we can all agree how amazingly awesome those books are. (If you don’t like them either, I suggest you leave my blog before I use an Unforgivable Curse on you!)

Cedward!

Cedward!

So what does any of this have to do with the Second Coolest Thing I’ve ever done? I’m getting there!

One of my Favorite Authors of All of Time and Space is Holly Black. I got hooked by Tithe and her angsty Modern Faery Tale books (Valiant is my favorite of those, I think, even if Roiben doesn’t figure as prominently in it. Don’t know who that is? Go read Tithe and find out! You’re welcome in advance!), by the adventurous Spiderwick Chronicles, and I was completely done in by the Curse Workers series.

All right. That might not be entirely accurate. I was done in by Holly herself even before she got around to writing about Cassel Sharpe (again, if you don’t know who he is, go start the Curse Workers books. You’re welcome in advance, again.) I got to hear Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi  talk about writing and fairies at a special breakfast at a book convention. Mrs. Black explained how much of her inspiration came from her childhood and upbringing. A haunted, semi-dilapidated Victorian as a home, an artist mother with a touch of The Sight, and a voracious book appetite were highlights and made me an instant fan. I had her and Mr. DiTerlizzi sign my Spiderwick Chronicles trading cards. What I’m trying to get at is that she’s impossibly cool, and a great writer besides.

She is also a fan of vampires.

She had always wanted to write about vampires, and just never thought the time was right. She wrote a short story called “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” to tide her over. Then the furor over Twilight happened, and she realized that there was never going to be a good time, so she might as well write the vampire story she wanted to see. So the Coldest Girl in Coldtown became a full-on novel. An amazing, delicious novel.

coldest girl in codltown cover

She wrote it. Her publishers loved it. The publication date got set. Advanced Reader Copies went out. I got my grubby little hands on one and read it in two nights. I decided that when it came out, I had to throw an Epic Vampire Party at the bookstore and make sure EVERYONE read this book.

So that you, too, can get a feel for how blood-suckingly good this book is, here is the movie-esque booktrailer for it:

And then one day, mysteriously, a package arrived in the bookstore’s mail, addressed directly to me. There was another Advanced Reader, but this one was tied up with a beautiful blue ribbon. And between the book and the ribbon was a glow-stick, and an invitation.

The glow-stick on a lanyard.

The glow-stick on a lanyard.

The front of the invitation.

The front of the invitation.

The juicy part of the invitation.

The juicy part of the invitation.

I was dumbfounded. What was this? Was this real?

I immediately went online and started poking around, but could find nothing about the dinner posted. I read the Yelp reviews for Terroni, which were very intriguing in and of itself.  It was a hipster Italian restaurant with amazing food. The chef was very particular and wouldn’t let you change out sauces or allow parmesan cheese at the table, because you had to experience the food AS IT WAS, because they made it a masterpiece. They didn’t cut your pizza for you. They were amazing. They were Food Nazis. The confliction in the reviews read like a gripping thriller. Well, here, you can read it for yourself: Terroni.

I also wondered who had sent me the invitation, and why. Yes, our Publisher Rep knew I created and ran our Young Adult events, and had even sent me the entire Tithe series once for an event, so that I could bone up on them and then give them away as prizes. But this was something…else. We had only ever spoken on the phone, and even that was usually a series of messages back and forth. This was something special and mysterious. This was not something that got sent to small time fish in places like Bakersfield.

Of course I RSVP’ed! And since my sister also worked at the bookstore, I made her come with me as my coworker guest. I obsessed over what I was going to wear. I kept checking the internet for any news of the event. And then it was The Day!

Terroni is on a busy LA street, and so parking was nearly impossible when we got there. I handed the keys to my little hatchback over to the valet who had just come back from parking an exceedingly shiny Mercedes that cost more than five years of my pay. My sister and I nervously looked each other over and tucked away stray hairs and smoothed out wrinkles. Then we put on our brave smiley faces and went inside. We were shown to a back room that was lined with wine bottles and had a boar’s head mounted over one of the long tables arranged in the room. We were greeted by the West Coast heads of various bits of Little, Brown Publishers. We introduced ourselves to Department Head Librarians from all around Los Angeles, and Department Managers from Barnes & Noble LA locations, and owners and buyers of various other LA area bookstores and book industry people. And we were introduced, of course, to Holly Black, hair died freshly deep blue to match her book, due to hop on a plane after dinner, bound for San Diego and a panel at Comic Con.

Dinner was announced and we all found our place cards. I sat between a librarian and the events person for one of the Barnes & Noble stores. We discussed the book and Holly’s other works and various booky anecdotes while course after course was served This included the logistics of a Grumpy Cat appearance in an establishment that sells food. I did not have to get out my pizza cutting wheel I had stashed in my purse, because the various types brought out as a part of one course were already sliced. “Just this once,” the waiter winked at us, when we commented upon it. Salads, meats, pastas, pizzas, and even a desert course. Halfway through, Holly Black switched tables so that she could be sure to chat with everyone.

As food coma saturation was reached, and people got up to mingle and talk and take their leave, I found myself sitting across from Holly Black with, at most, two other people. Then just me and my sister.

I got to have a one-on-one conversation with her about her upcoming book and projects, about writing, characters, sequels (hint: she is not fond of going back and revisiting characters once she feels the story has been told), about the joys of snarkiness and the town in New England where she lives, about her family and her mother. We talked about our favorite vampires and the outrageous dinner we had just had. It was very intimate and copious and genuine and fascinating and one of the best conversations I’ve ever had. Plus, she was super-friendly and gave me a personal pep-talk in support of my own art and writing, unasked for but very gratefully received. Who does that?

It was the Second Coolest Thing to ever happen to me. Which is no small feat, as my life is filled with unexpected adventures, beauty, and wonderment, by some strange miracle. If you are very, very good, I will tell you what the Coolest Thing is sometime in the next couple of posts, as well.

For more Coldest Girl in Coldtown content, I can heartily suggest:

TheNovl.com’s content here. (Yes, they’re the ones mentioned on the glow-stick. Which glowed blue, like the book’s cover, if you were curious!)

An Undead Playlist of perfect music to go with the book here.

For a really fascinating look at vampires and why we love them, I can highly recommend Margot Adler’s Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side . Margot just recently passed away due to cancer, the same nefarious vampire that took her husband some years back and started her research into vampires. She read countless books, watched innumerable movies, and dissected piles of articles on the subject, becoming quite the expert on the ancient and the modern phenomenon of vampire lore and popularity. Her book is the summation of that journey, finished about the time her own cancer started to get really bad. She was amazing and I will miss her.

And just to get the tone back up to sinisterly happy, here is a delicious quote from Gavriel, a mysterious and very, very dangerous vampire from The Coldest Girl in Coldtown from lytherus.com:

coldest-girl-coldtown-feature

 

As always, all books mentioned here can be purchased from Russo’s Books by clicking their links or visiting the website at http://www.russosbooks.com. Tell them The Mean Bookstore Girl sent you and see what they do. And for fun, tell me who your favorite vampires are in the comments below, or by messaging me. I can’t wait to hear. Mine are, in order of favoriteness: Silas  (The Graveyard Book),  Gavriel  (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown), The Brat Prince Lestat   (against my better judegment!)  (Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and soon-to-be-released Prince Lestat.)

 

 

 

 

The 5 Books You Need to Know to Know: Journalist & Renaissance Man Steven Mayer

Every so often I intend to bring you a “5 Books You Need to Know to Know” feature, where I interview one of our amazing local movers and shakers about the books critical to their lives. Today I bring you the books that you need to know to understand the multi-talented Bakersfield Californian Staff Writer, Steven Mayer. You can find him on the Californian’s website here, on Facebook here, and on Twitter here.

You may know Mr. Mayer from his on-the-scene coverage of California Chrome at the Belmont Stakes, his breaking the story of the rescue of a historical building on Chester, his touching human interest pieces, his witty political coverage, his mad drumming skills or his on-the-nose, unofficial wine reviews. Intelligent, warm, and just slightly sarcastic, Mr. Mayer is a local fixture and one of the things that makes our town great.

 


1) What is the most influential book you read as a child or young adult?

George Orwell’s  Animal Farm hit me between the eyes as a teen. But I would have to say the stories and novels of Ray Bradbury were probably the most influential. I gobbled them up, one after another, for their lyrical, yet magical style and the way Bradbury had of holding up a mirror to us as humans and exposing us for our tendency toward self-destruction, our ready acceptance of injustice and our fascination with mystery, the grotesque and the unknown.

 

2) What is a guilty pleasure book or book genre for you?

I like to kick back with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books while enjoying my wine.

(Mr. Mayer’s real answer was “I’m too guilty to say.” So I’ve used deductive reasoning to ascertain the truth.)

 

3) What book do you think should be required reading for every adult?

One of the most beautiful novels I’ve read in the past five years is Cutting for Stone, by Ethiopian-born author Abraham Verghese. The prose is lush and delicious, and I was amazed by how much wisdom is embedded in the narrative. As I read it, I regularly wanted to write down passages and send them to friends or family.

Traveling to a completely different literary universe, readers would do well to check out the works of Don DeLillo, in particular, White Noise. This fine example of postmodernism is not a mainstream novel. One doesn’t fall in love with the characters. One doesn’t become immersed in the plot. And yet it’s a profound examination of the world we’ve created for ourselves.

 

4) What are you reading right now? (It doesn’t have to be a book.) 

As a journalist, I find, by necessity, I read much more non-fiction than fiction. I probably have five books or long articles going at any given time, but most will never be finished.

I’m currently reading a book by Los Angeles attorney to the stars Mark Geragos and Break, Blow, Burn, an examination of the great poems of the Western tradition by dissident feminist intellectual Camille Paglia. I’m afraid the time I spend on social media may be robbing me of some great literary experiences. I must tweet about this development as soon possible.

 

5) What is the last book you bought or gave as a gift?

I don’t give books as gifts very often. (Maybe I should.)(blogger’s note, yes, you should! Everyone should!) More often, I ask people what they’re reading and borrow a copy or find one on my own.

Finally, if you will indulge me for a moment, I would suggest every American read their community newspaper, and two or three others as well. I’m astounded by the number of people who rarely if ever read a newspaper, either a hard copy or online. If we value our freedom, if we value watchdog journalism, if we think it’s a good idea to shine the light of public scrutiny on government and those who hold the power and the purse, we must support journalism in our cities and communities.

Whew! That was intense. I think I need some guilty pleasure reading!


Future “Five Book” interviewees include magician Ron Saylor and radio host/DJ Robin from KRAB. If you would like to be a “Five Book” contributor, simply answer the questions above, include a little information about yourself and any links you would like included, and email with the subject line “Five Books About” to meanbookstoregirl at gmail dot com! As always, all books discussed here can be found at www.russosbooks.com or by calling (661) 665-4686. Tell them The Mean Bookstore Girl sent you and see what happens!