Unmissable Weekly: May 26, 2017

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

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Neil Gaiman, bestselling author of American Gods and Neverwhere, has offered to stage a dramatic reading of Dr Seuss’s Fox in Socks, if fans pledge $1m (£769,000) to help refugees. The British author made the offer after accepting a previous challenge to read out the menu of a US dessert chain in exchange for $500,000-worth of pledges to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Neil Gaiman. Award-winning artist. Top-notch human being.

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An 11-year-old boy called Malcolm Polstead – who lives in an inn on the banks of the river Thames in Oxford – will be at the centre of the first volume of Philip Pullman’s hotly anticipated new trilogy. The Book of Dust will be a companion trilogy to his global bestselling series His Dark Materials. Details of the first instalment, La Belle Sauvage, were revealed on Friday by Pullman’s publishers Penguin Random House Children’s and David Fickling Books.

It appears La Belle Sauvage will shift between Lyra’s birth and a period of 10 years after the denouement of The Amber Spyglass.

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An insider account of the HIV/Aids epidemic hailed by Edmund White as “epoch-making” has scooped a major prize for LGBTQ+ writing. David France’s How to Survive a Plague tells the story of how a grassroots movement of activists, some of whom faced their own struggle with the illness, forced through legal and scientific change that turned HIV from an almost certain death sentence to a manageable disease where drugs are available.

Congratulations, David France, for winning the Green Carnation award!

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“Enemies to the East. Enemies to the West. Enemies to the South. Enemies to the North. Whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it.” HBO has dropped the official trailer for the highly anticipated Season 7 of Game of Thrones.

This looks EPIC. But, serious question: who among your favorites will have to go next?

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

138 Nerdy/Pop Culture References, 16 Anxiety Attacks, and 4 Compulsions: Adam Silvera’s ‘History is All You Left Me’ by the Numbers

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Remember when I counted all the f-bombs in Andrew Smith’s Winger? Gosh. That feels to me like a lifetime ago. But here I am once more, serving you some fanboy realness.

Adam Silvera’s latest novel History is All You Left Me handles its very serious subject matters with sensitivity I’ve grown accustomed to expecting from the author. It’s a surprisingly quiet, thoughtful exploration of friendship, grief, love, and loss. But another subject that is consistently woven in the narrative is the main character’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Like Griffin, I tend to obsess over things and act compulsively; I have, after all, a self-diagnosed OCPD. Unlike Griffin, I don’t get anxious over odd numbers. So join me as I break History is All You Left Me down by the numbers, puzzle piece by puzzle piece. Here, you’re welcome:

4: Compulsions
Griffin’s way of making himself feel that he’s in charge is through his compulsions: gravitating towards everyone’s left side; favoring even numbers; listening to a song on repeat (no, your LSS stands no chance against his two-week streak); and never getting on an airplane. These compulsions inevitably result to:

219: Even Counting
From waiting ‘til it’s 8:34 to giving examples in evens to counting pairs, our MC pretty much has everything on lockdown.

20: Griffin on the Left Scenarios
Did I mention Griffin doesn’t ride shotgun? Go figure. All these, however, don’t prevent:

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16: Anxiety Attacks
Anxieties stemming from, well, being on someone’s right side (2), odd-numbered stuff (8), flying (1) (shh, no spoilers), and habitual uneasiness (5).

3: Times OCD is Called What it is

50: ‘History’ Word Count
Save for the title.

14: Puzzle Designs
This is all in possession of Theo, Griffin’s best friend and ex-boyfriend—minus one—and includes Pompeii, a Doomed Pirate Ship, a chained dragon, Empire State Building, and a 3D soccer ball, among others, which, oddly enough (pun not intended), are all mentioned in odd-numbered pages, excluding his sister Denise’s family of three turtles (p 264). Also? I probably used up my allowable usage of comma.

32: Instances Griffin is Shortened to Griff
The verbal analogy of ‘Griff’ and ‘grief’ is not lost on me.

4: Graffiti in Brooklyn

28: Times Condom is Mentioned
Because why not.

5: Moments Wade Got the Sentiments Right and the Words Wrong
“You don’t have to be a psychic to have seen this coming. Your chemistry was all over my face.” Uh…

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1: #Beckminavidera Easter Egg (and in case you aren’t aware, this is the Frankenstein-monster name of Becky Albertalli, Jasmine Warga, David Arnold, and Adam Silvera)
Surprise, surprise!

0: More Happy Than Not Easter Egg
Unfair.

138: Nerdy/Pop Culture References
This is an Adam Silvera novel, duh. This includes—and bear with me because this is an absolutely intricate web—13 from the music industry (e.g., Katy Perry, Icona Pop, and The Postal Service), 27 from video gaming (those are 2 gaming stores, 7 console models, and 18 actual games, including 6 from Tetris, Theo’s favorite), 18 comic book characters (with a compelling argument why Ant-Man “was so emotionally and physically abusive”), 2 board games, 52 films and TV series (which cover E.T. to Frozen to Edward Scissorhands to Game of Thrones and out of which 10 are from Harry Potter, Griffin’s favorite, and 18 from Star Wars, Theo’s), and 26 general references (insert vampires and Instagram and crossbows and Netflix).

1: Times Griffin Wore a Black Suit
You’re wrong. It isn’t during Theo’s wake.

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14: Today Chapters
A neat even number.

13: History Chapters
Not even. Also, one of my favorite numbers. Not that that’s relevant. Then again, none of this is relevant if you’re not going to pick up this vivid, heartrending novel.

So, tell me: do I win the Ultimate Fanboy Award or do I really win the Ultimate Fanboy Award?

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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REVIEW: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Publication: April 11th 2017 by Balzer + Bray
Source: Bought from National Book Store
Genre: Fiction—Coming of Age, Contemporary, Realistic, Romance
Other classifications: LGBTQIA, Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is.

Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

Review

I’ll go ahead and tell you that Becky and I are friends. So you can be all Simon Spier with my judgement and “take [this] with about a million fucking grains of salt.” I mean. I’m just saying. But her sophomore novel is honest and funny and nuanced and charming. There is no way a teenager would pick this up and not see himself somewhere in the pages.

It centers on seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso and the fact that she’s had twenty-six crushes and exactly zero kisses. And how she is possibly losing her twin sister, Cassie, who is falling in love—for the first time—with cute new girl Mina. Enter funny, charismatic Hipster Will, who happens to be Mina’s best friend, and everything should be fine, right? Except there’s also Molly’s coworker Reid—awkward, geeky, Cadbury-mini-egg-loving Reid—who maybe likes her. Okay, I am literally Molly. I’m twenty-four and I’m Molly. I’m a prolific crusher but haven’t actually kissed anyone—at least not kiss kiss. I’m careful. Too careful. Heck, she’s even had more action than me and that’s, well, tragic. But that’s why I connected deeply with her story; that’s why Molly freaking out next to a cute boy or feeling self-conscious next to people she’s known her whole life resonated with me. Because all the crushing, all the wanting, all the unrequited-loving, and suddenly here is an author affirming emotions I’ve been trying to make sense of all these years, and boy was that unraveling.

“But I spend a lot of time thinking about love and kissing and boyfriends and all the other stuff feminists aren’t supposed to care about. And I am a feminist. But I don’t know. I’m seventeen, and I just want to know what it feels like to kiss someone.
I don’t think I’m unlovable. But I keep wondering: what is my glitch?

Like the author’s debut, The Upside of Unrequited captures the immediacy of and renders articulately the teenage experience. How everything feels like it’s either the end of the world or the beginning of it; the elations and heartbreaks of first love; the innate, underlying fear of not mattering. I was an idiot to worry I wouldn’t love this book as much as Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (and in fact, fans of Simon vs would find themselves a treat or two). That’s unfair and unfounded and ultimately, as it turns out, untrue. Both are brimming with heart and humor, because Becky has an acute understanding of voice and how awkward and exciting and scary it is to be a teen. With Upside, as it was with Simon vs, I’m not just reminded how careful and at the same time hopeful I was at seventeen, I am seventeen-year-old me, careful and hopeful.

“”Why are you making zombie faces?” he asks.
“What?”
“Just relax!”
“Zombies are relaxed.””

There is something to be said about how great narratives aren’t always solely about the lead and that is true for Upside too. I’m certain many teens, as well as then-teens, would feel for Molly and her anxieties and journey to self-confidence; it’s both an absolute delight and comfort to follow her but the secondary characters are just as vibrant. Each character is fleshed out, so much so that the reader can easily see the other characters’ stories unfolding outside the curtains. The novel also touches on positive representations of body image—it’s central to how Molly views the world and herself, even if often self-deprecating—and intresectional diversity. Molly is a fat, white, Jewish girl with interracial lesbian and bisexual mothers; there’s a Korean-American pansexual character and there’s a gay couple; and everything feels organic. As organic as Molly and Reid’s chemistry. There’s effortless draw and almost inevitability in the progress of their relationship; it’s warm and fuzzy and at times nauseating. It’s hard not to root for Reid! Plus, without the aid of a spoiler, I like that the author could’ve conveniently gone one way with Molly and This Other Character but didn’t.

“And suddenly, I feel like crying, but not in a bad way. More like in the way you feel when someone gives you a perfect present—something you’d been wanting, but thought you couldn’t ask for. It’s that feeling of someone knowing you in all the ways you needed to be known.”

So, in the parlance of Molly and all of us millennials, my verdict is: ALL THE HEART-EYES EMOJIS.

5.0 out of 5

Author

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Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. She is a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with children and teens. Becky now lives with her family in Atlanta, where she spends her days writing fiction for young adults.

Twitter | Tumblr | Website

Have you read this one? Have I convinced you to? Because, really, it’s just such an adorable, smile-inducing read! Also, tell me about your first kiss fictional crushes! Or, you know, your current read(s).

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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Unmissable Weekly: May 19, 2017

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

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When Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey’s Black Panther & The Crew launched earlier this year, it proved that big publishers like Marvel can, in fact, still tell timely stories about real world issues, like how police brutality devastates black communities. But now, after a mere two issues, Marvel has cancelled the series.

Oh boy, weeks after Marvel’s VP of Sales David Gabriel blamed women and diversity for the company’s dip in sales… Now THIS.

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As a Colorado community mourns the loss of seven students who recently killed themselves, a school district official ordered librarians to temporarily stop circulating a book that’s the basis for Netflix’s popular new series “13 Reasons Why,” which some critics say romanticizes suicide.

Others would call this censorship.

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Have you ever been inspired by a friend’s book collection and wanted to immediately add a slew of her books to your Want to Read list? Or, maybe you’d like a way to quickly check a book’s ratings on Goodreads as you browse through the stacks at your local bookstore or library?

Well, now you only need to point your phone at a book to add it to your Want to Read list, rate it, or see its Goodreads’ reviews. Goodreads recently added a fun new feature to our iOS smartphone app: The ability to scan book covers and barcodes. And as a bonus, several of our readers also seem to like the sparking blue dots feature for their selfies!

Very neat, Goodreads.

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And there’s more. We had four scripts in development when I arrived in LA last week, but by the time I left we had five. We have added a fifth writer to the original four. No, I will not reveal the name here. HBO announced the names of the first four, and will no doubt announce the fifth as well, once his deal has closed. He’s a really terrific addition, however, a great guy and a fine writer, and aside from me and maybe Elio and Linda, I don’t know anyone who knows and loves Westeros as well as he does.

So you thought there will be four Game of Thrones spinoffs? WRONG. There are five and GRRM prefers you call them “successor shows.”

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REVIEW: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Title: History is All You Left Me
Author: Adam Silvera
Format: Paperback, 294 pages
Publication: January 17th 2017 by Soho Teen
Source: Bought from National Book Store
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Realistic
Other classifications: Depression and Mental Illness, LGBTQIA, Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | Fully Booked

Synopsis

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Review

In History is All You Left Me, Silvera delivers a surprisingly quiet, thoughtful exploration of friendship, grief, love, and loss.

The book alternates in story lines between ‘History’, where we see Griffin and Theo falling in love and transitioning from best friends to boyfriends, and ‘Today’, where we see Griffin navigating through a Theo-less world. As is the case with More Happy Than Not, the author does what he does best: writing everyday moments with a severe awareness of human connection. It doesn’t matter whether Griffin, Theo, and Wade are browsing the shelves of Barnes & Noble or they’re exchanging gifts or Griffin is talking to Theo’s family, it’s compelling and laced with pockets of emotion. The parents—and all the main characters have parents—are very much a part of the story, to boot, and I like how Silvera doesn’t pull away from the infinite paradoxes of familial love. Sometimes Griffin would adore and hate his parents in one page or he would be annoyed with his dad for being too cold to Jackson but at the same time be annoyed with his mom for being too nice to Jackson or how Mr. and Mrs. Jennings, his parents, only want what’s best for their son but also operate on their own definition of what’s best for him. We still do not often see parent involvement in YA, but I’m glad there are authors like Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli who are gradually taking down the barriers.

“He shrugs, which I know he doesn’t mean as a dismissal. He’s doing that thing I’ve done before where I try to shrink my own feelings, try to make my problems sound smaller to others because sometimes people just don’t get it.”

Two of the many important themes of the book are grief and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I am not personally familiar with the former. The closest to family I’ve lost is my uncle’s wife, and I was eight. But the empathy with which Silvera looks into grief is palpable. You follow Griffin and the messed up things he does and not once do you question if this is uncalled for or unlikely. He is hurt and grieving and confused and lost and seventeen, and this ultimately affects all the relationships he has around him. And then there’s the latter. This, I am not not personally familiar with. I have a self-diagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)—yes, those two are different and not by the mere addition of ‘Personality’—and I commend how consistent and consistently woven in the narrative OCD is. It plays a big part in Griffin’s story without ever taking center stage. It isn’t an item the author checked off in his list for inclusivity; it is a constant struggle for the MC and this is reality for people dealing with this mental disorder.

“‘I’m ready,” I lied. I’m hungry, I’m drained, I’m over it all, and I’m not ready.”

However, perhaps my favorite element of the whole novel is the dialogues. I don’t exactly know how to classify Silvera’s writing style. It isn’t lyrical but it also isn’t just straight-cut contemporary; there’s something rhythmic about how he plays at words, a cadence poetic all its own. Here is a person with an utter sense of language. And this is evident with the exchanges between the characters, not just between Griffin and Theo, although those are my favourite scenes. Plus, did I mention this book is filled to the brim with nerdy and pop culture references? You don’t need to be a Star Wars fan or a Potterhead, if you’ve felt passionate about something or someone, you speak Griffin’s and Theo’s language. You speak nerd. Or fanboy. Or whatever you wish to call it.

““You’re not someone that just memorizes facts for exams and forgets them the next day. You don’t just have lucky guesses in pop quizzes. You bring textbooks with you into the shower. Basically, you’re a really weird superhero.”
He forces a smile. “One day, Batman is going to take off his mask and, boom, it’ll be me.””

Silvera’s sophomore novel is quieter than his debut but it is no less vivid and heartrending.

4.0 out of 5

Author

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Adam Silvera was born and raised in the Bronx. He has worked in the publishing industry as a children’s bookseller, at a literary development company, and as a book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, received multiple starred reviews and is a New York Times bestseller. He lives in New York City and is tall for no reason.

Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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The Boy Who Came Back to Life

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No, I am not Will Byers, and no, I do not fancy a sojourn in the Upside Down, but I definitely came back.

Hello, my beloved bookish community! How I’ve missed you so. It is that time of the year again where I take a break from sailing the seven seas and traipsing around the globe—I’m making my job sound grander than it actually is but, shush, let me assume it is. Unlike the previous one, I’m on a much longer break and staying in the country for the rest of 2017.

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I was fortunate to be offered another contract with Norwegian Cruise Line and to be on the same ship that I was on last year, which is the Jade. It meant going through basically the same itinerary—with the addition of a handful of new ports—but also reuniting with some of my friends. So, I revisited Venice and Santorini and Cozumel and Mykonos and, in more ways than one, it felt to me like I was going back to my hometown but at the same time, in a lot of senses, it almost seemed like I was seeing these places anew. Especially with Venice. Suddenly, I was finding myself in the back alleys on my way to Pasticceria Tonolo—easily my favourite pastry shop in all of the cities I’ve been to during the eight months I was abroad—or sitting by the Canal Grande with my friends, sampling different kinds of cheese and sipping wine, which by the way would’ve cost us thrice in our country and would’ve been considered a luxury but is just an everyday commodity, a lifestyle in Italy. Or that time we spent two hours in Palazzo Ducale and left feeling alive but also like there’s still so much to see. Or when I celebrated my birthday by having a solitary trip to Ca’ Rezzonico, this 18th-century museum of Baroque goodness that boasts exuberant apartments and gilded ballrooms and sumptuous salons. Or, just, the afternoon walks in this quaint, magical floating city, immersing myself in a rich blend of culture and history and arts.

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I went back to Barcelona and Athens, to boot, where I took a tour of the Acropolis—THE Acropolis, empirical even in ruins. But my new adventures brought me to Florida, Málaga, Rome, and Costa Maya, among others. I found myself inside the Museo Picasso, in the city where one of the most revered artists of the 20th century was born. I made a wish in the Trevi Fountain and stared in awe of the Colosseum, which was mainly why my friend Ian and I missed our train going back to Civitavecchia, which, again, is funny now but in retrospect was hella scary. I discovered the warm, laidback Costa Maya, instantly becoming my favourite part of the week. I fell in love with Key West, where I visited Ernest Hemingway’s house. I got introduced to new friends and some more new friends. These lovely and fun and amazing people who helped me either a find the right booze for me (beer will ALWAYS suck) or b feel more comfortable in my skin. I basked in the sun. I danced. I read the first half of the Harry Potter books. I said yes more freely. I went to my first bonfire. I got drunk. I marveled. I cried. I laughed.

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And now we are here, back to my country. Back to Angeles City. Back to blogging. I’m still trying to get back to writing and creating a routine. In fact, this post took me a week—a painful, hair-pulling week of stumbling and reassessing and introspection. But, as one of my life heroes once said, “seek out what magnifies your spirit.” And I know this community does just that.

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So, what did I miss, lovely bookish people? Let’s catch up!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

The Bookworms are Back

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And so, #BookwormsUnitePH was a success! Thank you thank you thank you!

If you can recall, a group of blogger friends and I had this flighty, spontaneous idea last year which gave birth to Bookworms Unite. It was absolutely fantastic and I had so much fun. So much so that I particularly remember wanting it to be an annual thing. In fact, people were actually satisfied; the feedback was a resounding let’s do this again! And yet, I didn’t think it was likely.

What an unfounded thought, I soon recognized. Because Bookworms Unite 2.0 happened last Saturday and I’m still in a happiness hangover!

Bookworms Unite 2.0 03Group shot! (c) Faye

Bookworms Unite 2.0 04Bookish people are the best people.

Bookworms Unite 2.0 05One of the masterminds, Inah, during introductions.

With the addition of JM, loud and eager JM, and I articulate this in the most endearing way possible, and Raffy, innocent Raffy, the usual suspects reunited (wink, wink) to bring another afternoon of bookish awesomeness to the Filipino reading/blogging community. There were familiar faces and the program was basically a replica of the previous one but we had a bigger crowd, a bunch of first-timers, and twice as many books (!!). And something else. President Snow would’ve been proud. Because it was apparent that the chance to win an ARC of Gemina (and other coveted titles) could possibly kickoff the 76th Hunger Games. I mean. I’m just saying.

Like last year, being one of the organizers ruled out the possibility of me snapping photos here and there. Unlike last year, I didn’t even get to HONY the attendees. But I’m not complaining. The amount of gratification stunts the cons and I’m a happier snowman for it. Plus, Miss Honey de Peralta of Penguin Random House and Filipino ReaderCon fame graced us with her presence (DID I MENTION SHE’S A HUGE HAMILTON FAN?) and I scored a copy of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and YEEESSSSSS! (JM might have an anecdote for this.)

Bookworms Unite 2.0 06Some of the titles that were up for grabs. (c) JM

Bookworms Unite 2.0 07Who is Cricket Bell?!!

Bookworms Unite 2.0 08The future organizers: Jem and Kim a.k.a. THE winner.

Just, I want to thank every single one of you who braved the weather and hung out with us, who joined us for the Twitter chat the night ere. I want to thank—and I did hug them—my lovely co-hosts—Hazel of Stay Bookish, Dianne of Oops! I Read A Book Again, Inah of The Bibliophile Confessions, JM of Book Freak Revelations, Raffy of Eccentric Everything, Faye of The Social Potato, and Jasmine of Jasmine Pearl Reads—for awaiting my return, working intently on orchestrating Bookworms Unite 2.0, and the endless and often hilarious Twitter group DMs. I want to thank our generous sponsors, for whom the celebration wouldn’t be half as exciting, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and Fully Booked. And thank you Tweedle Book Café for housing us in; I adore your strawberry milk foam!

Will Bookworms Unite run for its third year? I believe I speak for the whole gang when I declare we’d love to. But it’s too soon to promise anything. However, the enthusiasm is overwhelming and doesn’t go unnoticed. So maybe

Bookworms Unite 2.0 09Here’s me being super stoked. Or depressed. I don’t know, you decide. (c) Jem

You can read on with these recaps:

Were you at the event? Link me up with your story! Or you can tell me about your weekend.

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