This is a blog post that I have been dying to write for quite awhile! Some of you may remember last year that I was included in a Blog Tour supporting Stephanie Garber’s new book / series, Once Upon A Broken Heart. It was a great opportunity for me, I got an advanced copy of the book and even got to interview Stephanie for my blog (she’s great)! Well Flatiron Books decided to do another blog tour to support the continuous of this story and asked me to join back in on the fun! I obviously jumped at this opportunity. Garber’s Caraval series is one of my absolute favorites – I loved the magical game of Caraval, the cast of characters plus the unique twists and turns. Once Upon A Broken Heart takes place in the same world as Caraval, so I recommend that you read (enjoy) that series before diving into this one. Once Upon A Broken Heart follows Evangeline Fox – an orphaned, hopeless romantic who will do almost anything to save her fiancé and get her happily ever after. I devoured this book last year and it ended with quite the cliffhanger. So… what did I think of The Ballad Of Never After?
I. LOVED. IT. To keep this review spoiler free, I won’t be discussing book 1 or any of the major plot points, so you can read this review without fear! Ballad picks up almost immediately after the events of Broken Heart. Many of our favorite characters return for an encore performance including Jacks, Lala and Chaos. Right from the start, there’s an interesting new plot that’s the main driver of the story. Evangeline soon finds herself not only on a new quest but with a dangerous new curse to contend with. The action starts from the beginning and does not let up until the final page. I found the chapters to be rather short which kept me turning the pages and saying “Ohhhh, just one more chapter!” a little too frequently. Garber has always had descriptive and flowery writing but I found there to be a lot more similes in this book than most of her others (as the book progressed they seemed to even out though). I’m not a big romance fan but I felt like the relationships in this one were well done and very fairytale-esque. I especially loved the ending of the book – there were some very unique and creative ideas used to really wrap everything up. I was worried how this was going to end since Garber has been very coy about whether this is a duopoly or a trilogy (and if you came here looking for that answer, I’m sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find out! If you’re a fantasy fan, who likes a dash of romance and a whole lot of action, I can confidently say this book will be RIGHT up your alley!
Once Upon A Broken Heart is out now and sold by all major book stores like Amazon. The Ballad Of Never After is out Tuesday, September 13, 2022! Preorder your copy today at all major book store or Amazon. A huge thank you to Flatiron Books for including me in their Blog Tour and for the ARC of The Ballad Of Never After.
As always, don’t forget to subscribe and make sure to stop back with your feedback after you’ve finished this one. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts on the ending!
As much as I hate to say this, and can’t believe it’s true, the summer is starting to wind down and I’m starting to have dreams of everything Pumpkin Spice! While I do enjoy the warmer months (I’m an avid golfer), the Fall is definitely one of my favorite seasons – I’m already starting think about some horror book I can read in October for Halloween! For the month of August, I received an ARC of one of my most anticipated releases of the year (more on that soon) but I decided to let that guide the rest of my TBR selections for the month. I’m going to be reading nothing but fantasy reads in August, so let’s dive into the books!
To start off, I’ll be kicking off the month with an ARC of The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber. This is the sequel to Once Upon a Broken Heart which came out last year and I also participated in a blog tour to support. I loved the Caraval series (well, Legendary was fine… too many descriptions of dresses). This new series takes place in the same world as Caraval, with some minor spoilers (so be sure to read those books first), and we get to revisit some favorite characters! I don’t want to go into too much detail here because this picks up immediately after the first book and I don’t want to spoil anything!
Next up, I’ll be finishing the last book from my “Judge A Book By Its Cover” TBR last month and reading Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. This is the first book in The Lost Hours trilogy. I’ve been absolutely loving Clare’s more recent Shadowhunter Chronicles releases. The Dark Artifices was absolutely fantastic and I’ve heard great things about this series too. Chain of Gold is a follow up to The Internal Devices trilogy. In these new books we follow the children of many of the characters we met in The Internal Devices. Again, don’t want to spoil anything so I’m going to go ahead and leave it at that!
After Chain of Gold, I’m planning to pick up The Spinner of Dreams by K. A. Reynolds. I’ve had this one on my TBR for years and I’m excited to finally get to it. This is the story of Annalise who was cursed as a child and embarks on an adventure to enter the Labyrinth of Fate & Dreams, defeat the Fate Spinner and finally rid herself of the curse. The plot was intriguing and it seems like something I’d enjoy, only time will tell!
Last up, I’m not sure what I want to finish off the month with. I have a couple options, so if you’ve read any of them, send me your recommendations. I’m considering The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare, All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody or Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody. I’m sure that no matter what I pick, I’ll be thoroughly entertained – all of these books have received pretty solid reviews on GoodReads.
What’s on your TBR for the month? Have any recommendations for me? Leave me a comment and, as always, don’t forget to subscribe!
I can’t believe the month is already over and we’re slowly sliding towards the end of summer. Where has the time gone?! I can’t be the only one thinking this, right!? I deviated slightly from my “Judge A Book By It’s Cover” TBR for this month but I’m planning to carry one of the books into August and the other into September! Overall, it was a pretty good reading month and I enjoyed everything I read.
First up was Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. I read this one while I was at the beach and this was a WILD ride. It definitely kept me on my toes and I didn’t see the twist coming at all. The premise is simple. You’re given the opportunity to move into this ritzy and glamorous apartment building as an apartment sitter. There are rules in place that you MUST follow otherwise you face eviction. I seriously tore through the page while relaxing by the pool – I had no idea where this was going and was definitely surprised by the end. Not my favorite Sager book but definitely a solid entry in his lineup!
Next up what The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. I LOVED Goldin’s debut, The Escape Room, and I’m not sure how but I think I loved The Night Swim even more. I ALMOST wish I started off with this one but I know I would’ve been so enthralled with this book that I wouldn’t want to stop reading for anything. I would’ve been sitting in our condo feverishly clicking the buttons on my Kindle. It was a great book to binge on the plane rides home though! This story was told from multiple perspectives (which I love) and there were the occasional “Podcast Episode” chapters which was excellent! The plot revolves around a reporter, Rachel, who goes to a small town to cover a rape trial for her PodCast, Guilty Or Not Guilty. Rachel begins getting letters from a resident of the town, Hannah, begging her to investigate the death of sister from decades earlier. The plot bounces back and forth from present day (Rachel) or decades earlier (Hannah). While the sexual assault storyline is difficult to read about, Goldin does it in a very tasteful way and the book is incredibly well done. If you’re going to take any of my recommendations, make it this one!
The last book I knocked out this month was Blue Haven by Lisa King. I joined Erik over at Breakeven Books on his Blog Tour supporting this book. Blue Haven was a suspenseful and surprising read. From the first few pages, I was HOOKED. The writing style was a little simplistic, nothing to write home about. From the beginning, I was flipping pages to see where this was going. It’s really best to go into this blind but to give you a taste of the plot: Aloe Malone is barely getting by until she hits the lottery and decides to move into the luxury compound, Blue Haven. Soon Aloe realizes that everything is not quite as it seems and she starts to see the cracks in Blue Haven’s perfect veneer. Sounds interesting? Definitely don’t sleep on this one!
How has your summer been so far? Read anything good? Keep your eyes peeled for my August TBR. I am partnering with Flatiron Books on Stephanie Garber’s new release, Ballad of Neverafter (one of my most anticipated releases of the year)!
Anyone who knows me, or has been around this blog for awhile, knows that I am a HUGE fan of thrillers. So much so that when I was out to dinner with a couple friends, we talked about me leasing space for book storage and one of my friends joked that it would just be a wall of thrillers… but she’s not wrong! I love how compulsively readable this genre is and whenever I’m feeling slumpy, I know a good thriller will get me back on track! When Erik, from Breakeven Books on YouTube, reached out to me able participating in the Blue Haven Blog Tour, I told him I wanted to do a little research before committing. That research took approximately 10 minutes. I hopped over to GoodReads to read the synopsis. From the first few sentences, I knew this book was right up my alley and happily confirmed! So without further ado, let’s dive into a quick summary and my thoughts!
Aloe Malone hasn’t had the best life. She’s orphaned with only a Grandma and Aunt that she tries to keep in touch with. She’s working late night shifts at a diner, trying to make ends meet, while living in a crummy apartment in the Lower West Side of Chicago. Aloe’s luck all changes when she hits the lottery and is able to finally escape her less than ideal situation for something a little more… upscale. Welcome to Blue Haven: A luxurious, secluded, living compound containing everything you need and more! The ocean is heated to always be the perfect temperature, the beach is covered with UV reflecting material giving you all the sun with none of the burn and there’s an endless supply of shops and restaurants for you to explore. The condos are cushy and extravagant so you can spend your days lounge in comfort. Aloe thinks she’s died and gone to heaven… until she starts to discover some cracks in the perfect Blue Haven veneer.
This book was a wild ride and I was hooked from the very start! The premise of Blue Haven was interesting and from the beginning you could tell it was too good to be true… but WHAT was too good to be true!? The story flowed well and the pacing was perfect. When I wasn’t reading, I found my mind still wandering back to the plot trying to work out what exactly was going on. The friends Aloe makes, while at Blue Heaven, were personable and distinct. Each character had a unique personality that really added to the dynamic (my personal favorite was Bibs, the over-the-top Opera since who is larger-than-life in every way possible). I also loved the shorter length chapters, too. I felt like that only added to the suspense and excitement of the novel. While the writing style didn’t blow me away, it was still a fun and addicting read! I don’t want to give away too many details here, but if you’re a fan of the suspense/thriller genre, definitely give this one a try!
Pick up a copy of Blue Haven by Lisa King on Amazon!
Today is the last day of the Blog Tour (I’m going to tell myself we saved the best for last), but you can also check out content from all of the other participants:
I can’t believe this year is officially half over – seriously, where has the time gone!? I’ve had a pretty awesome 2022 – lots of twists and unexpected turns but I’m enjoying the ride! I just got back from vacation (spent a week at the beach with my family) – it was the perfect mental reset that I’ve been so desperately needing! I also was able to get some prime reading time in which was awesome because I’m a little behind on my GoodReads goal. Thankfully, the books I picked out for this month have been solid and they’re getting me back into a nice groove and out of my slump. So without further ado, let’s talk about my July TBR and how it was selected!
I had this great idea earlier in the year to have someone else pick my monthly TBR. I thought it would be fun to have a couple of my bookish friends (Hi Mollie & Christi) pick out what books I would read for the month. They know me well and we have similar tastes, so I had no doubt they would knock it out of the park. This got me thinking. What if I had my Mum, who isn’t a huge reader, pick out my books based strictly on the cover images?! This seemed like too great of an idea not to pursue, so here we are! I took roughly 25 books that I’ve been thinking about reading, snagged all of their cover images and lined them up side-by-side. I showed this combined image to my Mum and told her to pick out 4 books for me to read this month based strictly on the cover images. She happily obliged and, spoiler, she picked out some good ones so far!
Her first selection was Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. I’ve read a few of Sager’s books and have always really enjoyed them. I love a good thriller and his writing style is very engaging. This was my first book I read while I was on vacation. It’s the story of Jules Larson, a down on her luck girl who happens to stumble into one amazing apartment sitting opportunity. She gets to live for free in a luxury apartment and get paid extremely well as long as she follows the eccentric rules and… hopefully doesn’t disappear like the other apartment sitters. This was a wild ride and while I thought the ending was a little out there, I enjoyed it overall!
My next book is The Night Swim. I loved Goldin’s debut novel, The Escape Room – it was fast paced, intrigued and compulsively readable! The Night Swim, so far, is following in its footsteps! This is the story about a Podcaster, Rachel, who shows up in a small town to cover a rape trial that’s about to begin. While she’s there, a local woman reaches out to her about investigating her sister death (which she thinks was murder). This book is told from multiple perspectives plus there are “Podcast” chapters sprinkled throughout. At the time of writing this post, I’m about 30% in and absolutely loving it. It’s addicting and I just want to keep reading to find out what’s going to happen!
The last of my “short” books is The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf. I actually just got this book for my birthday recently and am really looking forward to diving into this one! An author is snowed into a farmhouse, that she’s using as a retreat location, to finish her new novel. Secrets start to unravel, a small child shows up in the snow and she starts to realize that she’s not as alone as she once thought! This sounds like the perfect high tension thriller to round out this trifecta!
My final book on my TBR is Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. The Shadowhunter Chronicles have quickly become one of my favorite series (The Dark Artifices trilogy is chef’s kiss). Chain of Gold is a follow up series to Clare’s Infernal Devices series. I don’t want to go into too much detail here because a lot of the characters from the original series make cameos in this series as well (in addition to their children). I’ve heard great things about this new series and am excited to dive in. I already own the first two books in this trilogy with the final book coming out early next year!
So there you have it! A solid TBR lineup for the month of July that I am really looking forward to making my way through. I’ll be doing a mid-year check in to talk through some of my favorite books, least favorite books and goal progress, so keep your eyes peeled for that! How has your reading year been so far? Let me know in the comments and, as always, don’t forget to subscribe!
Today I am coming at you with a VERY special post… and probably one of my favorite posts I’ll ever write! I’ve been working with Flatiron Books for the last year and was offered an ARC of Margarita Montimore’s new book, Acts of Violet. I quite literally jumped at the opportunity to get my hands on this release early. For those of you who don’t know, I adored her last book, Oona Out Of Order, and named it one of my favorite books of 2020. It’s a captivating tale of Oona Lockhart who begins to live her life, one year at a time, out of order. On each birthday, she randomly jumps to a new age, going from 36 to 25 to 68 and so on. The only memories she has are those that she lived through and it left to fill in the gaps as so goes. It’s charming, filled with heart and so much personality – it’s impossible to not fall in love with the characters! Montimore is back with a new release, Acts of Violet, about a famous magician who performs the greatest trick of all time, making herself disappear.
I had the chance to chat with the lovely Margarita Montimore about her life, her books and everything in between! Without further ado, onto the interview!
Mr Geek: Margarita, thank you SO much for sitting down to chat with me – I’m excited to feature you on my blog! I can’t wait to talk to you about Oona and Acts of Violet but first, let’s start off with these crazy last 2 years. The pandemic was a life-changing event for all of us. What did you do to help keep yourself occupied and sane during the lockdown?
Montimore: I took the dog on lots of hikes, hung out with my husband, watched a ton of TV and listened to many podcasts, crocheted, played video games, and kept in touch with friends via phone and occasional video chats. Reading was a challenge during that time, but I still made an effort to get lost in books as much as possible. But what helped keep me busy and sane most of all was researching and writing a new novel, one about a famous magician…
Mr Geek: I also had a bit of a hard time reading during the pandemic, it really was an ebb and flow. There were times I barely read and others that I couldn’t stop! I’m excited to talk more about your new novel, Acts of Violet, and this famous magician but let’s chit-chat a little longer, shall we? You mentioned watching a lot of TV during the pandemic, any TV show or movie recommendations?
Montimore: Movie-wise, I recently saw Everything Everywhere All At Once and was utterly blown away—it’s the best movie I’ve seen in at least a decade. I don’t think I’ve been affected this deeply by a film since I first saw Amelie. As for TV, Severance is hands down the best show I’ve seen all year. I’m also a big fan of Euphoria and Succession, and rewatching The OA, one of my all-time faves, always inspires me. And I have to have occasional Dateline binges from time to time – for me, that’s the true crime gold standard, and Keith Morrison’s fabulous narration is unlike anything else.
Mr Geek: A friend of mine wanted to see Everything Everywhere All At Once and we couldn’t find it in a local theater. I also actually just started Euphoria, I’m only a couple episodes in so far but Zendaya is quite the actress!
Montimore: Isn’t she incredible? My husband and I have a running bet of who we think will win an Oscar first, her or Julia Garner – they’re both phenomenal actresses, but I think Zendaya has the edge, only because she’s been doing more film work.
Mr Geek: Ironically enough, a friend of mine just recommended I started Severance this past weekend – that has officially been added to my to-watch list as well! Speaking of the big and small screen, I love when books are adapted into either TV shows or movies. Would you ever want to see that for Oona Out Of Order or Acts Of Violet?
Montimore: I would love to see it adapted for television, and fortunately Amazon Studios is in the midst of doing just that. It’s been fascinating getting a peek into the development process and to interact with talented people who have brought high quality projects to the screen.
Mr Geek: This is INCREDIBLE news! I will absolutely be keeping my eyes peeled for more release details and will most likely be bingeing the entire season the weekend it comes out! Staying on the theme of your books, I’ll never forget the day I walked into Barnes & Noble and saw it sitting on the shelf – the cover immediately caught my attention and as soon as I read the synopsis, I was sold. I absolutely adored that book and it was one of my favorite reads of 2020!
Montimore: Thank you, that means a lot to me.
Mr Geek: I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true! Oona is filled with so many anecdotes, life lessons and meaningful quotes. One of my personal favorites was “All good things end, always. The trick is to enjoy them while they last.” Talk to me a little bit about what this quote means to you.
Montimore: The biggest lesson I learned while writing Oona was the importance of living in the moment. I’m a very nostalgic person, so it’s easy for me to slip into memories of the past, or to become preoccupied in planning for the future, but I’ve been making a more concerted effort to be present and appreciate each day for what it is. It’s such a simple thing, but it makes a significant positive impact on my sense of well-being.
Mr Geek: Hearing your explanation of that quote makes me love it even more – probably because I also tend to be a bit on the nostalgic side! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in past, or even the future, that you lose sight of what’s happening right in front of you. The present is where the magic happens and magic is the perfect segue for us to start discussing Acts Of Violet! I just finished reading Acts Of Violet and I absolutely loved it! Acts of Violet is your upcoming release about the Volkov sisters, Sasha and Violet. Violet is a famous magician who disappears during one of her stage performances and is never seen from again while Sasha is left behind to pick up the pieces. The characters were fun, well developed and relatable. Would you say that you’re more like Sasha or Violet?
Montimore: I think there’s a part of myself in every character I write, but I also strive to make sure my characters don’t resemble me too closely, so that they can develop in interesting ways. The quality in Violet I relate to most is her desire to inspire and uplift people through her creative work. I also share Violet’s embrace of synchronicities and penchant for magical thinking. When I was growing up, I did dream about having a big glamorous life like Violet’s, but now such an existence strikes me as exhausting and lonely. Which makes me lean more toward Sasha in some ways. I can relate to her devotion to her husband and child—though in my case, it’s husband and dog—and her contentment at living a low-key suburban life.
Mr Geek: I love that you incorporate bits and pieces of yourself into your characters but also give them room to be their own unique individuals! Plus, this give your readers a chance to also see themselves reflected back in the characters too – what an awesome approach! I’ve always loved reading from multiple perspectives and Acts Of Violet is told using several different writing formats: Podcast Interviews, Newspaper / Magazine Articles, Emails and Hand-Written Letters in addition to your classic chapter format. This was such an interesting mechanic and each format had a unique voice. What made you want to tell Violet’s story this way?
Montimore: Violet was always going to be this intriguing, unknowable persona, where the only way you could get a sense of who she was would be by collecting all these different accounts from people who knew her, whether in a personal or professional capacity. Plus, after listening to tons of podcasts, I thought that specific format would lend itself well to unfolding parts of the mystery, of who she was and what may have happened to her. Personally, I love stories that use a variety of narrative techniques, which offer a way to show multiple perspectives while creating an immersive reading experience. I hoped writing Acts of Violet would offer readers the same sort of experience. At the same time, I wanted to include narrative chapters from Sasha’s point of view to give the story more cohesion and reflect her more grounded character.
Mr Geek: To be honest, I had a tough time picking out which style I liked the best! I loved Sasha’s chapters, hearing what was happening in present day and how everything was unfolding but I also really liked the Podcast chapters which helped build out Violet’s backstory! Your writing flowed so effortlessly and I want to talk a little more about the multiple writing formats for another minute. Each style was used to convey a very specific part of the story – how did you go about plotting out when to use each writing style? Did you have to go back and rearrange those different parts to help the story flow?
Montimore: My plotting happens more instinctually, so while Sasha’s chapters flowed, for the most part, chronologically, I wrote some of the other media elements as they came to me. There was definitely some rearranging of articles and podcast episodes. I even had a giant “crazy wall” in my office to inspire me and help me keep track of the different sections and timelines as I went along. Here’s a peek at part of it!
Mr Geek: This vision board is INCREDIBLE! Having read the book, I can see several elements that you had mapped out and included in Acts Of Violets. It’s really awesome to see things all come together the way they did! The picture towards the bottom, Vanish, actually inspired my next question. Oona Out Of Order and Acts Of Violet are very different and unique stories that both include a little sci-fi magic! How would you say these books are similar and how would you say they are different?
Montimore: Great question! I do like to play around with magical/surreal elements in my stories. I would say with Oona Out of Order, you know pretty much from the start that the story contains time travel, whereas with Acts of Violet, there’s more ambiguity about the strange forces at play. Both books are similar in that they feature protagonists dealing with loss and complicated family dynamics. They’re also similar in that they ask the reader to accept a world that is a bit off-kilter without reason—the cause for Oona’s time travel “sickness” is intentionally undisclosed and some of the magic in Acts of Violet remains shrouded in mystery, also intentionally. While I like to provide a satisfying overall story experience, I think it’s important to leave some question marks hanging for the readers to puzzle out. I like to think that helps keep the story and characters alive in their minds, wondering about certain aspects instead of knowing everything conclusively.
Mr Geek: I think that’s what I love the most about your stories – you are able to seamlessly incorporate these magical moments into mundane, everyday life! It really makes me look for the spark in my day to day! Margarita, thank you SO much for taking the time to hang out and chat with me! Any parting words for my readers?
Montimore: Thank you for having me! I wrote Acts of Violet during lockdown, and it helped bring a little more magic into my life. I hope it has the same effect on readers.
This was such an incredible experience for me and I hope you also enjoyed reading along! Margarita is such an awesome person and I’d like to thank her again for taking the time to do this interview. Her new book, Acts of Violet, is available for preorder and will be released on July 5, 2022 everywhere books are sold (like here). I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it definitely added a little magic to my life!
It’s your favorite geek coming at you with a very special post today! Back in March, I randomly saw a tweet from Erik over at Breakeven Books on Twitter. Erik was recruiting people to join a Book Tour for Escaping First Contact by T. S. Beer. This is for the first book in a Science Fiction series called The Burnt Ship trilogy. I read the synopsis and it sounded right up my alley so I signed up for the tour!
Escaping First Contact is definitely a more unique take on Science Fiction. Beier does a wonderful job modernizing certain elements of this classic genre and really making them pop. She does an amazing job building a deep, intricate world that can sweep you away in a few short pages. The amount of thought that went into developing some of these back stories is truly jaw dropping!
From the first few pages, something is immediately made clear – this is a character driven novel. If you’re a fan of rich, well-thought out characters your going go love this book. In addition, there is a ton of representation in this book (which is always great to see). Beier created her own sets of “pronouns” for some of these different species with complex, compelling back stories.
If you’re a fan of the Science Fiction genre and are tired of the same-old story lines, consider picking up Escaping First Contact. I can almost guarantee that this will be the breath of fresh air that you’re looking for!
Thanks to T. S. Beier and Erik from Breakeven Books for including me on the Book Tour!
GoodReads Bio: T.S. Beier is a science fiction aficionado. Her first published novel, What Branches Grow, is her love letter to the post-apocalyptic genre. It was also the focus of her Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing. On top of her grad certificate, T.S. has a B.A. in English, a Certificate in Publishing, and a Certificate in Interior Decorating.
For more posts and information about Escaping First Contact check out the other contributors at their various sites below:
It’s hard to believe that today is the last round of Tome Topple! I’ll be hosting some reading sprints this evening (they probably just kicked off actually). I’ve had an insanely busy week but I’m almost done with King of Scars and BOY WAS THIS GOOD!! I’ll definitely be reading Rule Of Wolves over the summer to see how this all wraps up. Since we’re wrapping up Tome Topple, I thought it was only appropriate for my last interview to be with Sam from Thoughts On Tomes (the creator of Tome Topple)!
Mr Geek: Hey Sam! Thanks so much for sitting down to chat with me – let’s start off with the basics. Introduce yourself to my readers. What do you like to do other than reading? Have any fun hobbies? What do you do as your day job?
Sam: Hello! I’ve collected so many hobbies over the years in addition to reading. I love taking care of and collecting houseplants, witchy things like tarot, astrology, collecting insects, etc, video games… I also stream on twitch, board games, powerlifting, and hiking. I’m also about to take up roller skating! My day job is a psychotherapist.
Mr Geek: Wow, love how eclectic your hobbies are! I’m also a big video game person but don’t stream on Twitch, maybe I should look into that! Speaking of streaming, let’s talk YouTube for a minute. You’re Thoughts On Tomes on all of your social media accounts. What inspired this name? Have you always been a fan of big books? Also, while we’re on the topic of tomes, we’re prepping for Round 16 of Tome Topple. What inspired this read-a-thon and why did you originally create it?
Sam: When I first wanted to make a Booktube channel years ago, I really struggled with wanting to find the perfect name. There were so many channels with books in the title that I wanted to do something a bit different. I never really paid attention to book length when I was younger but I will admit that bigger books did intimidate me when I got back into reading. That’s what inspired Tome Topple. I wanted some motivation to read bigger books but so many read-a-thons were geared around reading as many books as possible so it tended to be about smaller books. I wanted to have a longer readathon and encourage reading those bigger titles we get intimidated by without the FOMO of seeing others reading way more because they are reading smaller books.
Mr Geek: I love that. I definitely still get intimidated by longer books, mostly because when I was younger, I would alway try to tackle longer books and it wasn’t a great experience. Not sure if I read meh books back then or what but I always lost interest and they tended to drag. I’m also really bad about binge reading series in a row but that’s a topic for another day! Tome Topple has definitely been a great way for me to start reading longer books and has definitely taken away some of the intimidation. I actually read Queen of Air and Darkness a couple rounds ago – that sucker was over 900 pages and I managed to finish it during the Tome Topple round! The Dark Artifices series was one of my favorites, I absolutely loved it. What’s your favorite genre of books?
Sam: Definitely Fantasy. It’s my favorite genre, I’m never bored, and most of my favorite books are in it.
Mr Geek: I’m also a HUGE Fantasy fan. Definitely one of my favorite genres, right up there with Thrillers and YA. I love being swept away into a fictional world. Especially after the last couple of years, it’s nice to escape for awhile! What were some of your favorite books from last year? Read any good Fantasy?
Sam: Ohh 2021 was a rough reading year for me. I read a lot of blah books that I didn’t feel strongly either way about because my brain couldn’t handle much else. Favorite was probably Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. Really looking forward to that sequel. Least favorite… Lore by Alexandra Bracken or possibly Dune.
Mr Geek: Ugh, I feel you on that one. I did NOT have a great reading year in 2021 either. I read many not great books too. I did read Legendborn and loved it – definitely excited for the sequel as well! It was such an interesting blend of Aurthurian and magic, very unique! I have both Lore and Dune on my TBR, so that doesn’t bode well for them. We’ll have to chat again after I finish them to compare notes. I have heard Dune is a “you’ll love it or you’ll hate it” kind of book. I guess only time will tell for me! Our time is winding down so one final question for you. Do you have any unique ways that you celebrate your love of books?
Sam: I’m currently working on a tattoo sleeve that represents elements of all of my favorite books. It’s a piece I hope to continue adding to for the rest of my life. So far I already have a tattoo inspired by the Night Circus and I’ll be adding the Starless Sea and Uprooted this month. I also have plans for designs for the Witchlands series and trying to think of some ideas for representing some other favorite series like The Daevabad trilogy.
Mr Geek: I don’t have any tattoos, not a fan of needles, but this is such a great idea! I’ve seen a couple of the finished tattoos on your Instagram and they are turning out great so far! Such a cool idea and it’s awesome that you’re planning to continue adding to this for the rest of your life. Thanks for stopping by and chatting, Sam!
That concludes both my Co-Host interview series and we’re going to be winding down Tome Topple here in the next few hours! Now’s the time to finish those books before the clock strikes midnight!
I’m back again with another co-host interview and today I’m chatting with Gaia from Lalettricesegreta on Instagram! Gaia is our main Instagram user and creates some incredible stories/posts. If you aren’t following her, you should absolutely change that! Now let’s get chatting!
Mr Geek: Hi Gaia, thanks so much for chatting with me for my blog. Let’s kick things off with you introducing yourself to my readers. What are a few things you enjoy doing outside of reading? Do you have any fun hobbies? What do you do as your day job?
Gaia: I have to admit that I’m a “late” reader. I discovered my love for books during senior year of high school. It took me almost three years to start sharing online, opening my blog and then my Instagram account. Before that, music was my soul and heart… and it still is today. I’ve took singing lessons for years! Can’t pass a day without singing or listening to Broadway show recordings! When I have to be serious — yup, sometimes it happens — I’m a psychology student at the University of Bari (Italy).
Mr Geek: I had no idea you were into music and theater! I actually grew up going to the theater once every summer. My Mum and Grandma would buy season tickets to 3 shows playing in the city and they would always buy me a single ticket to join them for a show. It was always a really fun, enjoyable experience and I definitely appreciate the arts more now as an adult because of it. And since we’re talking about art, I love your Instagram stories and posts! You’re @Lalettricesegreta on Instagram. What inspired this name? How did you first get started on Bookstagram?
Gaia: My nickname, La Lettrice Segreta, means literally THE SECRET READER. That’s exactly what I was at the beginning of my voyage through books. I didn’t have friends, at the time, that shared my passion – except for a group of online readers I met at some fantasy-related forums.
When I opened my blog, I decided to name it “The secret worlds of books” (translated in Italian “Le Parole Segrete dei Libri”). I had this idea of whispered emotions and words shared between just me and my books. It felt so poetic — it was the right choice. My nickname came along very naturally from that.
Then starting my Instagram was one of the best choices I ever made. I love photography, especially if it’s surreal and photoshopped – it’s so fun to create! The possibility of talking about books and taking pictures at the same time was just perfect for me!
Mr Geek: Love how your book related accounts are able to also incorporate some of your other passions – that’s awesome! You’re Instagram posts all have a sense of fantasy and whimsy about them, so you’re really staying true there! Since you’re our resident Instagram expert here at Tome Topple, when did you first get involved in the read-a-thon?
Gaia: I met Sam on Instagram during ROUND 9 of Tome Topple a couple of years ago. I remember tagging her in my stories with some reading templates I had created for myself — as I just said, I’m a graphical edits and photography nerd! She saw them and we talked a little bit. Some weeks later she asked me if I wanted to be the instagram host of the readathon. Of course I said YAAAAAS!!!
Mr Geek: It’s awesome how you just randomly connected with Sam on Instagram, very similar to how I got involved. I participated in Tome Topple for a couple of rounds and then reached out on Twitter to see if she could use another co-host. She said sure and the rest is history! As we are on the tail end of Tome Topple, if you could only pick one genre to read for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Gaia: This is SO hard. My heart right now is *painfully* divided between fantasy+scifi. Yup, obviously cheating and putting them together as branches of the same ginormous tree or literary fiction. I know I’m proving myself a 100% Libra with these awful decision making skills…. Oh well, I can’t choose! May the odds be ever in my favor!
Mr Geek: Well… I guess I can let this combo slide! I definitely consider Fantasy and Sci Fi as part of the same tree. Did you read any great Fantasy or Sci Fi books recently? What were some of your favorites from 2021?
Gaia: 2021 was a great reading year. Just to name a few of my favorites, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Normal People by Sally Rooney, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
Not a bad book, but one I was expecting a little bit more from and then didn’t blow me away as I hoped, was A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. Good book, but not life-changing for me.
Mr Geek: I read The Handmaid’s Tale back in college and really enjoyed it. Definitely a crazy book that really makes you think. I also own, but haven’t read, The Secret History. I’ve heard great things about this one, I’ll have to get to it soon! Have you ever considered writing your own book?
Gaia: Oh well, that is a BIG dream of mine! Right now I’m concentrated on my studies, both at university and outside, reading fiction and non-fiction, especially about creative writing. Fingers crossed!
Mr Geek: Well, if you ever write that book, I am expecting an ARC! The good news is, you have already have a bunch of bookish Tome Topple friends who are waiting to hype this up for you! Were there any particular books that inspired you to want to write your own novel or that had a big impact on you growing up?
Gaia: Yes! I would not be here talking to you if it wasn’t for The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. This was THE book that made me realize I could love books more than anything! I’m a book addict, a bookstagrammer, even a Tome Topple host because of it – well… it’s a thousand page book… a forerunner indeed! Then Little Women came, and it was the first time I saw myself perfectly portrait by a fictional character. Jo March is very close to my heart today, just like when I first read this book!
Mr Geek: Gaia, we’re winding down our interview but for my last question. You speak Italian as your native language but your English is outstanding. Do you know any other languages?
Gaia: Yes, Italian is my native language and I started learning English in kindergarten. I do my best to talk, read and listen in English as much as I can every week – thank goodness we have books, movies, audiobooks and TV shows! I studied Spanish during middle school, but can’t remember a single thing now that I’m 28. It has been too many years since, but I would love to study it all over again – it’s such a musical and fun language!
Mr Geek: This was such an interesting conversation and I definitely learned a lot more about you, as did our Tome Topple readers! Thank you so much for stopping by and chatting, Gaia!
There you have it – Gaia from Lalettricesegreta on Instagram! Hopefully you know a little more about Gaia and, like I said, if you aren’t following her on Instagram be sure to do that! Tomorrow is the last day for Tome Topple and I’ll be featuring my final interview – Sam from Thoughts On Tomes, the original creator of Tome Topple (talk about a great way to close things out)!
Tome Topple is officially into Week 2 and the finish line is in sight! I’m making excellent progress on King of Scars and am really, really loving it! Today’s interview is with Tori from Tori Morrow over on YouTube! Let’s get started and chat with Tori!
Mr Geek: Hi Tori! Thanks for taking the time to chat! To kick things off, why don’t you introduce yourself to my readers. What are a few things you enjoy doing outside of reading? Have any fun hobbies? What do you do as your day job?
Tori: Hey, Tome Topplers! My biggest hobby outside of reading is definitely playing video games. I’m big into open-world RPGs, action, and games with strong narratives. Some of my all-time favorites include: Fallout 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us, Control, Uncharted, and Bioshock. A hobby that I’ve started recently and have surprisingly been loving is hiking. It’s one of the few forms of exercise I’ve found I actually enjoy, but it’s also been amazing for my mental health in a way I couldn’t have imagined. The Chicagoland area has so many beautiful hiking trails and parks, and it’s been great exploring more of them and spending hours in nature.
By day, I work in non-profit recruitment in a senior project management role. By night, I’m a writer (currently struggling to clean up a terrible draft of my novel) and freelance short story editor.
Mr Geek: We’ve been co-hosting Tome Topple for awhile and I had no idea you were into video games! Also a big fan of Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted and Bioshock! I also didn’t realize you were writing a book which is very cool and a perfect transition over to BookTube! How long have you been a BookTuber? What inspired you to start your own channel? Have you always loved to read?
Tori: I’ve been on BookTube for 6 years. (No one go back and watch that first upload, please!) I was actually inspired to start my channel as a way to help with my public speaking. I’ve always been better at writing and getting my thoughts down on paper, but verbalizing them was something I struggled with from my pre-teen years into my early twenties. I used to speak faster than it’d take for my thoughts to fully form and would start rambling, so most of the time, I’d be too self-conscious to say anything at all. Talking to a camera, though, especially about books, and explaining what I enjoyed or disliked about something I’d read, really forced me to slow my thoughts down and be intentional with what I wanted to say. It’s been a journey, but the process of creating videos has been an amazing life skill for me and is something I use every day.
Yes, I’ve always loved to read! Growing up, my mom and grandma really cultivated my passion for reading, and books were a staple in our home. Even when we had moments that were a challenge financially, they still made sure I had something to read. They knew how much of an escape books were for me, and I remember they’d let me read for hours, completely uninterrupted, so I’d have time to get lost in a story. My mom also worked nights and was still in school when I was a kid, and I remember her coming home and somehow still making time to read with me. I was incredibly blessed in that way and was able to grow up on books and classic series that I still cherish now. My mom and grandma are definitely the reason why reading is still one of the biggest parts of my life today.
Mr Geek: I LOVE that you stared your channel as a way to help improve your public speaking skills! What an incredible idea. Being a strong presenter is such a great skill to have no matter what profession you’re in! It’s also great to hear that your Mom and Grandma really instilled reading in you at a young age – it is also nice to see that this is something you’ve enjoyed and have carried with you into your adult life! If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life, what would you pick and why?
Tori: Science fiction, without question! Since starting my BookTube channel, I’ve really come into my love for sci-fi, and I’m still amazed by the vastness of the genre, its sub-genres, and how some authors are defying categorization altogether. I’ve always had a fascination with the “what if”, in relation to technology, government, the environment, and even space, and I feel like that question is the foundation for a lot of great science fiction. It’s a genre that I’ve found really encourages big and exciting ideas, whether that’s done through a space opera, a futuristic setting, a dystopian, or even a literary sci-fi that’s a commentary on our modern society. Science fiction has allowed me to reflect on the world and my place in it, in a way that few other genres have been able to do for me. That’s something I’ll never get tired of reading!
Mr Geek: Sci-Fi is a genre that I don’t read very often but I usually enjoy whenever I do! What were some of your favorite and least favorite reads from 2021? Read any good Science Fiction?
Tori: My top ten favorites of last year were:
Jade War (Green Bone Saga #3) by Fonda Lee
Ring Shout by P.Djèlí Clark
My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown
Velocity Weapon by Megan O’keefe
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
My least favorite books were:
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
The Whisper Man by Alex North
The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He
Mr Geek: Should’ve thought about that question a little more before asking it! Like all of my other interviews, I didn’t think about the impact this question was going to have on my TBR. I’ve read about half of your Top 10 list and a few of those have been on my radar (like My Dark Vanessa) but I wasn’t sure if I should pull the trigger. I think I will! I as neutral on The Whisper Man but I didn’t like North’s most recent release, The Shadows. Very meh, in my opinion. Ok, as we wrap up here, what have been your favorite and least favorite books of this year?
Tori: My favorite read of the year so far is Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown. My least favorite is Mickey7 by Edward Ashton.
Mr Geek: If this conversation did anything, it firmly convinced me that I NEED to move the Red Rising series up on my TBR and get to that soon! It was great chatting with you Tori – thanks for stopping by!
And that Ladies & Gentlemen, was Tori Morrow from ToriMorrow on YouTube! I think I can confidently say if you like Fantasy or Science Fiction (among other genres), you’re going to love her channel! Be sure to check her out! I’ll be posting my final 2 interviews this week, so keep your eyes peeled!