Spotlight: Ten Organisational Tips From Professional Organisers + Giveaway

Do you want to be more organised this year? Well keep reading and you might actually achieve it.

Top Ten Organisational Tips

1. Knowing who you are is the key to organization mainly because if you’re pretending to be someone else, it’s hard to remember where that pretend person put something!

2. Change is hard, so be honest about organizing tasks. People who never hang up their coats in a closet, probably never will; get a coat rack and call it a day.

3. Perfect isn’t real. Magazine perfection is styled by a professional whose job it is to make everything perfection for the millisecond it takes to snap a photo.

4. No shame, no blame! You liking clear, spotless surfaces doesn’t make you OCD (it’s not a personality disorder), it’s your personality type.

5. Later Box It. When you can’t part with a useless item, store it away in a box and revisit that box in a few months (a year), whatever you missed keep, whatever you forgot … dude, let it go.

6. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Change is hard (see #2!) so if storing TP right next to the toilet works for you, do it, but for heaven’s sake try to make it look nice—unless you live alone on Antarctica then who cares.

7. Organizing at its core is about retrieval. Period. Can you easily find and get things when you need them. Everything else is an argument about aesthetics.

8. One-step solutions are golden. Hanging up your coat is a five-step process whereas popping it on a hook is one-step. Light bulb (at least it was for us!)

9. Be loud & proud. So, you write important To Do’s on your hand in a pinch. Who cares? Don’t apologize, defend it and tell any scolds where they can go.

10. There’s no best way to organize—just the best one for you!

Their book

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Stressing over the mess? Discover YOUR personal organizing style—and stay organized forever!
Organization isn’t one-size-fits-all. Different people need different solutions. Fortunately, Katie and Kelly McMenamin—the organizing gurus behind PixiesDidIt!®—have found the key to making organization stick, with strategies that work for every personality.Whether you’re OCD or a little less fastidious, Katie and Kelly will help you discover your organizational style, using unconventional approaches or sticking to what already works. Along with personality-based solutions for every space in your home, they offer advice on solving strife between different “PixieTypes.” So you can keep the stuff you love . . . and the peace!

Author Biography

Katie McMenamin and Kelly McMenamin are sisters, professional organizers, personality-type experts, and founders of PixieDidIt! Their business is an outgrowth of buttoned-up hedge fund analyst Kelly spending 30-odd years trying and failing to get her messy older sister Katie, a writer, to be more organized. Countless fights ensued until they had an idea: What if there is more than one way to organize? Today, they spend the bulk of their time organizing for clients, writing for their website, and giving talks on how to organize according to your personality type. Kelly lives in NYC with her husband and three sons and Katie lives in their hometown, the Land of Champions, aka Cleveland, OH, with her husband and three daughters.

Giveaway:

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js” target=”_blank”>1 Finished Copy of ORGANIZE YOUR WAY (US Only)
 

Unboxing: The December Book Boyfriend Box 

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Let me just start by saying that I know this unboxing is coming late. I am aware of that. It’s just that the box arrived quite late because of where I live and by the time it had come, I was swamped with assignments and exams and life was so hectic that I just had no time to sit down and write it.

I did unbox it on my Instagram though so if you were following me (@twentythreepages) you might have seen it on my story.

But since the Book Boyfriend team very kindly sent me a box, I wanted to still put up a full review. So here it is:

We Are Tornados By Michael Kun and Susan Mullen

It’s the summer of 1982, and for Scott and Cath, everything is about to change.

Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends for most of their lives. Now they’ve graduated high school, and Cath is off to college while Scott stays at home trying to get his band off the ground. Neither of them realized that their first year after high school would be so hard.

Fortunately, Scott and Cath still have each other, and it’s through their letters that they survive heartache, annoying roommates, family dramas, and the pressure of figuring out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they’ve ever wanted to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should think about being more than friends? One thing is clear: Change is an inescapable part of growing up, and we share unbreakable bonds with the friends who help us navigate it.

Goodreads

The book that came with this box was We Are Tornados by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen.

It’s a young adult contemporary book and it looks so good!

I’ve actually heard so much about this book before it was even published and I’m sure it had a lot to do with the gorgeous cover. Anyway, this is a hardback copy (you guys know I have a soft spot for hardbacks) and I literally can’t wait to start reading it.

A Signed Book Plate

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Inside the book, I found a signed bookplate by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen, the authors of the featured novel. So that was really cool. I’ve actually only ever gotten one other signed postcard so this was cool.

Other Cool Paper Things

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In addition to the signed book plate, there was a postcard with a playlist from the book, a handwritten letter from Michael Kun and Susan Mullen to the Book Boyfriend subscribers, a card with readathon dates, a postcard with February’s theme on it and a signed postcard by R.S. McCoy, the author of Blossom and The Beast.

Literary  Tea

The next thing in the box was a packet of tea from the First Edition Tea Co. The tea was Pride and Prejudice themed and it was a citrus-y type of tea that honestly tasted amazing. As tea goes, I never really get how they can be literary except for the packaging but I thought this was super cute.

A Jane Austen Notepad

Next, we have a notepad with a Jane Austen quote on it as well as some blue roses. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I have literally fallen in love with it. And the best part is that it goes perfectly with the next item in the box.

A Feathered Ink Pen

In the box, there was a plastic quill pen that is actually a ball point pen. Mine was gold though I think some people got different colours. Regardless, how cute is it? I can’t wait to use it to write on my notepad.

Pride and Prejudice Soap

Now this was my absolute favourite part of the entire box and I have to say that I could smell this soap before I even opened the  box and after that, all I wanted to do was to sit there and sniff this beauty.

So in the box, I found a lavender soap from The McBath. They do really natural soaps with quotes on them. This quote was obviously from Pride and Prejudice. The soap was lavender and it had little exfoliating things in them.

Now usually, I hate bar soaps but with this one, I have been absolutely obsessed and I’ve been in love with it since receiving it. I use it almost everyday actually.

A Literary Coaster

The final item in the box, and another favourite, was this cute coaster. It’s a solid coaster with a page from a book in it. What I really like about it is that it is very sturdy and will not spoil if you put a cold drink down. It’s very durable and I love it. It looks gorgeous on my night stand.

So there you go! Everything that was in the December Book Boyfriend box. I apologise that this is coming late but guys, Book Boyfriend literally have the best boxes that I have ever received. They really provide you with value for money. I mean just the hardback alone is worth the price you pay.

If you would like to find out more or to order your own box, visit The Book Boyfriend’s website. Their June box will be going on sale on April 12th. You can also use my special discount code, ’23PAGES’, to get 10% off of your first box at checkout.

Once again, a huge thank you to The Book Boyfriend Box team for sending this treat my way!

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#BuySingLit

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What is the #BuySingLit Campaign?

#BuySingLit is a campaign to get Singaporeans to read more local literature. Through book sales, book signings and events, the National Arts Council is hoping that more Singaporeans will take an interest in local literature so that we can push our authors up and encourage more people to write.

How Does HYPE Magazine Fit Into This?

If you guys have been following me on my other social media, you would know that I spent the last five months (my final semester) working with the editorial team to put out the February 2017 issue of HYPE magazine.

Now the unique thing about this issue is that it coincided with the #BuySingLit campaign that most of the major local publishers, authors, editors and the National Arts Council are backing right now.

So of course we did a whole huge spread on SingLit in the magazine.

I was privileged enough to be assigned the cover story of our SingLit feature with another writer and because of that, I ended up organising the interviews of nine differnt local authors with our team of writers, I organised each of these author’s individual photoshoots (logistical nightmare, I swear), I organised and planned the HYPE cover shoot with these authors and in the end, thanks to a flaky writer, I got to take over the individual interview of Daryl Yam.

I’m pretty proud of this okay don’t begrudge me my spotlight 🙂

What about the National Book Development Council?

A while ago, The National Book Development Council reached out to me. They wanted to send me a press kit as well as to host a giveaway.

In the press kit, they sent me some local reads as well as a press release about all the events that will be taking place.

I will be reviewing some of those books in the days to come to get you psyched for #BuySingLit so keep an eye out for that.

The Giveaway

The giveaway ended up being put in HYPE magazine so look out for that also if you live in Singapore and want to win $100 worth of #BuySingLit vouchers. There will be five winners and you can spend that money on our local literature at the book sales. Very cool stuff.

Till then, don’t forget to check out #BuySingLit’s Facebook page. You can find out all about the events that are happening over there.

And of course, come and support our local authors especially if you live in Singapore. I know we Singaporeans can sometimes have a bit of a stigma against local books. We never think that they are good enough especially compared to international books but I’ve had the immense pleasure of reading some local books as of late and I have to say that they are actually really good.

Some of our local authors can really go head to head with some of today’s most popular international authors but the only reason why they are not topping charts is because their very own people, us Singaporeans, refuse to support them. And that is honestly so sad. I don’t know about you but I want to see a Singaporean author on the NYT bestseller list one day. It just will never happen if we don’t lend them our support and promote and rave and recommend their books.

So because of that, over the next few days, I will be putting up some reviews of local books that you can check out and hopefully that will inspire you to get some local books either from the sales or online (if you live overseas).

Till then, keep reading!

Photo credit: #BuySingLit

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Unboxing: Carpe Librum’s November Book Box

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Hey guys! It’s that time of the month again where Carpe Librum releases yet another one of their amazing book subscription boxes!

So if you didn’t know, Carpe Librum is a bi-monthly book subscription service that costs $35 (including local shipping)and comes with a paperback novel and a number of other little bookish goodies.

This time, as a Christmas special, Carpe Librum gave us the option of choosing between two themes (or getting both). The themes were: Happiness & Love Yourself. I got the Love Yourself box because obviously.

Anyway, today, I will be unboxing it and reviewing each item.

1. Holding Up the Universe By Jennifer Niven

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Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Goodreads

Okay I’ll be honest, I read this book and finished it in the week that it was released. But, I read the ebook so I don’t actually have the physical copy and I have been trying to decide if I should just buy the physical copy for the longest time.  So this completely solved that problem for me. I can’t wait to put in my shelf right next to my beloved All The Bright Places.

Also, if you’re wondering, the book is incredible and a review of it will be going up on Youth.SG next month so I’ll certainly link you guys up as soon as it’s out.

2. A Tote Bag

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Do you even know how much I love tote bags? I love them. And this one is so adorable. I won’t lie, I did wish it came in black because black goes with everything but I love it all the same.

And, if you look closely, you’ll see Carpe Librum’s little stamp at the bottom because they actually came up with this themselves. I feel like a proud mama not gonna lie.

3. A Mug

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Ever since Carpe Librum put in a mug in their May book box, I’ve been waiting and waiting for them to put in another mug. I mean I used the last mug religiously every single morning.

So I was so excited to open my box and to find a cute little mug. It’s adorable and my only problem is that now I’m going to have such a hard time figuring out if I should use this mug or the mug from May in the mornings.

*tea not included

4. Six quote cards

This month, we got six little quote cards with a little wooden stand to prop them up on. I really love these cards. Especially the one that says ‘Eat like you love yourself’. I think that was the best and most powerful line out of all the cards. I don’t know I guess a lot of times we need to remind ourselves that we do actually love ourselves and we should treat ourselves like we would someone we love.

I don’t know about you but I would never withhold food from someone I loved. I would never beat someone I loved over the head for a small mistake. So just remember to love yourself. It was such a great reminder.

5. Drink coasters

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I love coasters and I was so excited to see two of these bookish ones in the box this month. However I am concerned about the quality. The coasters were a little sticky like the paint hadn’t dried properly yet and it just doesn’t look very durable. They are gorgeous no doubt but I don’t think they are too functional.

So there you have it. Everything that was in Carpe Librum’s November box. I am honestly so impressed with this month’s selection. I’m so glad that they finally delved into the young adult genre because I’ve personally really been wanting to see that show up in the boxes.

I also really like how Carpe Librum experimented with making their own products this time. They usually do a lot of collaborations but this time, I was very excited to see their own little stamps on some of the items.

If you want to get your hands on the next box, you can visit Carpe Librum’s Facebook page or their Instagram page to find out more.

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Guest Post: The Sioux People By Andrew Joyce

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My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Camillia for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the Sioux people. The people we know as the Sioux were originally known as the Dakota, which means ally. The name Sioux came from the Chippewa and the French. The Chippewa called them Nadonessiou, which means adder, or enemy, and then the French shortened the name to Sioux.

Every culture has an origin myth. We in the West have Adam and Eve. The Ancient Greeks had Gaia. According to the Norse people, Odin and Ymir founded the earth. If you will allow me, I’d like to tell you the creation story of the Dakota.

In the beginning, before the creation of the earth, the gods resided in the sky and humans lived in darkness. Chief among the gods was Ta՜kuwakaŋ, the Sun, who was married to Haŋyetuwi, the Moon. He had one daughter, Wohpe. And there was Old Man and Old Woman, whose daughter, Ite, was wife to Wind, to whom she gave four sons, the Four Winds.

Of the other spirits, the most important was Iŋktomi, the devious trickster. Iŋktomi conspired with Old Man and Old Woman to increase their daughter’s status by arranging an affair between the Sun and Ite. His wife’s discovery of the affair led Ta՜kuwakaŋ to give the Moon her own domain, and by separating her from himself, created time.

Old Man, Old Woman and Itewho was separated from Wind, her husband—were banished to Earth. Ite, along with her children, the Four Winds, and a fifth wind—the child of Ite but not of Wind—established space. The daughter of the Sun and the Moon, Wohpe, also fell to earth and later resided with the South Wind. The two adopted the fifth wind, who was called Wamŋiomŋi.

Alone on the newly formed Earth, some of the gods became bored. Ite prevailed upon Iŋktomi to find her people, the Buffalo Nation. In the form of a wolf, Iŋktomi went beneath the earth and discovered a village of humans. Iŋktomi told them about the wonders of the Earth and convinced one man, Tokahe, to accompany him through a cave to the surface. Tokahe did so and, upon reaching the surface, saw the green grass and blue sky for the first time. Iŋktomi and Ite introduced Tokahe to buffalo meat and showed him tipis, clothing, hunting clubs, and bows and arrows. Tokahe returned to the underworld village and appealed to six other men and their families to go with him to the Earth’s surface.

When they arrived, they discovered that Iŋktomi had deceived Tokahe. The buffalo were scarce; the weather had turned bad, and they found themselves starving. Unable to return to their home, but armed with a new knowledge about the world, they survived to become the founders of the Seven Council Fires.

The Seven Council Fires . . . or Oćeti Šakowiŋ . . . are the Mdewakanton, the Wahpeton, the Wahpekute, the Sisseton, the Yankton, the Yanktonai, and the Lakota.

After Tokahe led the six families to the surface of the earth, they wandered for many winters. Sons were born and sons died. Winters passed, more winters than could be counted. That was before Oćeti Šakowiŋ. But not until White Buffalo Calf Woman did the humans become Dakota.

Two scouts were hunting the buffalo when they came to the top of a small hill. A long way off, they observed the figure of a woman. As she approached, they saw that she was beautiful. She was young and carried a wakiŋ. One of the scouts had lustful thoughts and told the other. His friend told him that she was sacred and to banish such thoughts.

The woman came up to them and said to the one with the lustful thoughts, “If you would do what you are thinking, come forward.” The scout moved and stood before her and a white cloud covered them from sight.

When the woman stepped from the cloud, it blew away. There on the ground, at the beautiful woman’s feet, lay a pile of bones with worms crawling in and among them.

The woman told the other scout to go to his village and tell his people that she was coming, for them to build a medicine tipi large enough to hold all the chiefs of the nation. She said, “I bring a great gift to your people.”

When the people heard the scout’s story, they constructed the lodge, and put on their finest clothing, then stood about the lodge and waited.

As the woman entered the village, she sang:

‘With visible breath I am walking.

A voice I am sending as I walk.

In a sacred manner I am walking.

With visible tracks I am walking.

In a sacred manner I walk.’

She handed the wakiŋ to the head chief and he withdrew a pipe from the bundle. On one side of the pipe was carved a bison calf. “The bison represents the earth, which will house and feed you,” she said.

Thirteen eagle feathers hung from the wooden stem. White Buffalo Calf Woman told the chiefs, “The feathers represent the sky and the thirteen moons. With this pipe, you shall prosper. With this pipe, you shall speak with Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka (God). With this pipe, you shall become The People. With this pipe, you shall be bound with the Earth for She is your mother. She is sacred. With this pipe, you shall be bound to your relatives.”

Having given the pipe to the People, and having said what she had to say, she turned and walked four paces from the lodge and sat down.

When she arose, she was a red-and-brown buffalo calf. She walked on, lay down and came up as a black buffalo calf. Walking still farther, she turned into a white buffalo and stood upon a hill. She turned to bow in the four directions of the four winds and then she vanished.

Because of White Buffalo Calf Woman, the Dakota honor our mother the Earth; they honor their parents and their grandparents. They honor the birds of the sky; they honor the beasts of the earth. They know that Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka resides in all animals, in all trees and plants and rocks and stones. Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka is in all. They know that Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka lives in each of us.

Because of White Buffalo Calf Woman, they have become Dakota.

 

My Dream LootCrate

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Hi guys! So recently, I learned that Loot Crate is looking for people to participate in a cool project that they are doing.

If you don’t know, Lootcrate is a subscription box that targets gamers and geeks (their words. Not mine). They have a lot of very cool items in their boxes and they have their boxes monthly.

So this month, LootCrate is are basically giving people the liberty to create their own dream Lootcrate.We get to choose the theme and the items and they will be picking the best one to turn into a real life crate! How exciting!

So the theme that I decided to choose for my box is very simple one: Netflix Originals.

Basically it would be a box that contains stuff related to some of the famous Netflix originals that we have.

Gilmore Girls: In Omnia Paratus Necklace

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You guys know that any box of mine has to include anything and everything Gilmore Girls. So I’ll start with an In Omnia Paratus necklace from Shopkreativestudios on Etsy. If you didn’t know, In Omnia Paratus is what they say in the Life  & Death Brigade which is a group that Logan is a part of and that Rory was in for the duration of a weekend. It essentially translates to ‘ready for all things’.

I chose this particular necklace because I think everyone needs to remember that they are capable of anything and everything. When I see that quote, I think of Rory standing on top of that huge structure with an umbrella. I think of how if she let her rational side win, she would have missed out of this amazing opportunity and I think everyone needs to remember what they could stand to lose once in a while.

Gilmore Girls: Stars Hollow Candle

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In my opinion, no subscription box is complete without a scented candle. So I think a Stars Hollow scented candle from InTheWickOfTime is perfect. It’s a vegan and soy handmade candle and according to the description, it smells like maple leaves, apples, toasted marshmallows and fall spices. All my favourite things and all the things I associate with Stars Hollow.

Stranger Things: Mug

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Stranger Things! We have to have something to honour Netflix’s best original show to date! So we have this adorable but hopelessly accurate mug from Frenchteese. It’s just essential okay. Don’t even question it. I mean how cool would you look sipping from this in the morning?

Netflix: Button

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This was just a cheap little something to throw in because how cute would this little button from LazyMiceLazyMice look on your tote bag?

Gilmore Girls: POP Funkos

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One of the most exciting things to ever happen in the whole universe was POP Funko announcing their Gilmore Girl’s funkos that were coming at the end of the year. So in my dream LootCrate, I would put in the funkos. I would alternate between Rory and Lorelai so that some people will get Rory and some will get Lorelai. I’m excluding Sookie because I mean the girls are the stars and realistically, they are the ones that people (me) would want to receive.

So there we go! The contents of my dream LootCrate! I’ve probably gone hopelessly over the budget but apparently, sky was the limit. Honestly if this box came to life I think I would cry because how amazing a curator am I? Just kidding (not really) but yeah. It’s pretty awesome no?

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The Art of Book Cover Creation By Kristin Bartley Lenz

Hey guys! Today I have something a little different for you. The author of The Art Of Holding On And Letting Go, Kristin Bartley Lenz is here today to talk about how book covers are designed and created! I’m sure you guys will love learning about how your favourite covers have come about just as much as I enjoyed it. So here’s Kristin!

As a reader who is also a writer, I tend to be as interested in the summary, blurbs, and reviews as much as a book’s cover. But I’ve watched my daughter scan the shelves of bookstores and libraries choosing and rejecting books by their covers alone. Social media has opened up new avenues for publishers to tailor their cover designs, such as Swoon Reads/Macmilllan, which asks readers to vote for their favorite of several cover directions for their debuts. https://www.swoonreads.com/blog/category/cover-creation/
It wasn’t until my own novel entered the publishing process that I truly saw the behind-the-scenes making of a book cover. I was fortunate to be involved in many of the cover decisions, including choosing from four initial cover concepts, all very different.

Here’s what my cover designer, Amanda Schwarz, shared about her initial process with my book:

“When designing a book cover I search for a way to visually represent the emotion of the novel while not outright telling the audience what it’s about. After reading the book I realized that the heart of the story is the lead character coming to terms with where her life has taken her and accepting change. In particular the Annie Dillard quote at the end of the novel struck me, “Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will. The creeks are the world with all its stimulus and beauty; I live there. But mountains are home.” To me, this sums up the feelings of the book. Cara, by the end, comes to realize that no matter where she is in her life, the mountains, along with Uncle Max, will always be a part of her. They are inside of her and a life that she can return to one day.

So while not referencing climbing directly, I felt having mountains represented in the covers somewhere is very important as Cara comes to hold on to the important aspects of her previous life, but also learns to let go of others as she grows in the story. It captures the tone but there is also the mystery of what exactly the mountains represent to the story.

While working on the preliminary designs I also decided to use handwritten or script text for the covers. Since we spend the entirety of the book seeing the events from Cara’s perspective, anything that isn’t handwritten felt too impersonal for a very personal story. I chose fonts that have similar characteristics but also contrast to emphasize the emotions of the title especially “Holding On and Letting Go.”

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More layers were added after the initial direction was determined – the images of the mountains, trees, the cityscape, and starry night sky. Later, there were more choices with colors and fonts, and the back cover design as well. Mysterious notes play a role in Cara’s story, so the back cover blurbs are featured on a sheet of wrinkled paper to correspond with this aspect of the plot. If you look closely, you’ll also see the mountains on the back cover carrying over from the front.

I was delighted by other little details right through to the finished design. There’s a small image of a carabiner on the book’s spine, and the inside of the front cover is green to match the trees on the front.

Now that my eyes have been opened to the possibilities, I look at book covers with a new appreciation and notice details I previously overlooked. Even more fun, my publisher is tweaking the cover of The Art of Holding On and Letting Go for a second printing, and this time we get to include a shiny gold sticker thanks to the Junior Library Guild!

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Want to learn more about the art of book covers? By the Cover is an ongoing feature at Book Riot, and Publishers Weekly has a new column devoted to book covers.

Excerpt: Fish Wielder by Jim Hardison

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Fish Wielder is kind of like Lord of the Rings, set in Narnia, if it was written by the guys who made Monty Python and the Holy Grail while they were listening to the music of They Might Be Giants.

In ancient times, the Dark Lord Mauron cooked the most powerful magic chocolate dessert ever made, the Pudding of Power. One thousand and two years later, the evil leader of the Bad Religion, the Heartless One, is trying to recover the lost pudding in order to enslave the peoples of Grome. Only the depressed barbarian warrior Thoral Might Fist and his best friend, Brad the talking Koi fish, have a chance to save the world of Grome from destruction, but that’s going to take a ridiculous amount of magic and mayhem. Thus begins the epically silly epic fantasy of epic proportions, Fish Wielder–book one of the Fish Wielder Trilogy.

Goodreads

Chapter 1

It was the anniversary of something bad.

Thoral Mighty Fist, perhaps the toughest, most mysterious and manly fighter in all the mystical world of Grome, sat in the Inn of the Gruesomely Gashed Gnome in a dark corner,

weeping into his tankard of warm ale. He hated ale, especially when it was warm, although he’d been swilling the stuff since before breakfast. Now it was well after dinner, and all he’d eaten the entire day was a piece of dry toast and a couple of olives as black as his mood. He raised his mug for another bitter sip and the jeweled hilt of the magic broadsword, Blurmflard, poked him in the side like a reminder of past mistakes. It was awkward to sit at a table with a broadsword at your belt, but the mighty barbarian had kept Blurmflard with him at all times ever since the blade was lent to him by his wizard mentor, Yiz. He even slept with it.

As Thoral sat brooding and trying to adjust his position to more comfortably accommodate the blade, a twelve-inch-long orange koi fish walked into the bar on his tail fins. Standing in the entryway, the koi peered around the crowded, dim interior until his bulging eyes fell on Thoral. The fish frowned.

At six feet, Thoral was a head taller than most other human inhabitants of the world of Grome and was so powerfully built that he barely fit at the heavy wooden table at which he sat. He was dressed pirate-style, with a black leather vest buttoned over his otherwise bare chest, tight, plum-colored breeches and knee-high, iron-toed boots. A wide crimson belt bore the magic sword as well as an assortment of leather and velvet pouches. A less attractive or more effeminate man would never have been able to pull off such an outfit, but for Thoral it was no

problem. He had chiseled features and a head of thick, golden hair that curled to his massive shoulders. The few strands of gray made him even more handsome–in a seasoned and mature

way, of course. His glorious hair notwithstanding, his most striking feature was his piercing gaze. So intense, so smoldering was his stare, that those on the receiving end often felt the need

to look away for fear that they would catch fire. There was no word in Gromish for the vibrant purple color of his eyes, but they were violet.

The koi contemplated the warrior. Given his charisma, strength and fighting abilities, Thoral could easily have conquered his own kingdom. But Thoral didn’t seem to care about that

kind of thing. He mostly liked to drink and fight and brood and wander around in forests looking at trees. As the fish watched, the mighty warrior burped. The hot gas seemed to sear his manly nostrils so that he blinked as his striking violet eyes watered.

Thoral looked up from his drink and squinted around the bar to see if anyone had noticed his tears and if there was anyone worth fighting. He failed to detect the fish, who was hidden behind the legs of a passing barmaid. The other patrons were humans, except a few half-elves and a handful of drunken gnomes. He could take them all on single-handedly, but he knew from experience that he’d feel even worse after beating them. Especially the gnomes. It was better to do nothing, to sit and drink and wish things were different.

Thoral closed his eyes and hunched forward to lay his tawny-maned head on the table. The rough-hewn planks, though, smelled as if they had been wiped with a mildew-y rag, so he

sat back up. He fumbled in one of his many belt pouches for the last of his dried herbs, crushed them between his long, calloused fingers and inhaled their fading minty fragrance. It wasn’t quite strong enough to clear the lingering scent of the mildew.

As Thoral sniffled at his mint leaves, the fish sighed. Shaking his head, he stalked across the sticky floor on his tail fins. The barbarian noticed him with a wince.

“This is the end, Bradfast,” Thoral grumbled at the fish in his outlandish accent, his rough voice heavy with melancholy. Thoral tended to transpose the sounds of v and w and to pronounce th at the beginning of words as z because he was foreign.

“Here we go again,” Brad commented dryly, leaping up onto the bench and then the table. He picked his way across the tabletop and stopped before the warrior. “This isn’t the end,

Thoral. It’s just the beginning…or maybe the middle or something. The point is, it’s not over. It’s never over until you give up—or you’re dead.”

“I dost wonder about death,” the barbarian said, as if to himself. He also used outdated words like dost because he spoke High Gromish even though most everybody else spoke the low version. This was also because he was foreign. “Would it truly bring an end? Or just a transition to another world?”

“You’ve had too much to drink, Thoral,” the fish cautioned. “You always get morose when you drink. It’s time we get moving. Maybe go on another adventure or something.”

“I am tired of adventures,” the warrior sighed. “I wish only to go home.” He burped again, and the fish staggered back, blinking.

“Come on, pal. Let’s get out of here,” Brad suggested, fanning himself with a fin. “We’ll fight a monster or go on a quest or steal the jeweled eye from an idol or something. It’ll be fun.”

“My heart is too…” Thoral trailed off. “What is that word that means when something has substantial weight?”

“Heavy,” the fish supplied. Thoral always had trouble remembering that one.

“Heavy. Yes. My heart is too heavy for adventure,” Thoral complained.

“Well, maybe if we pick something really hard, you’ll get killed,” the fish offered.

“A hero’s death?” Thoral asked, perking up just a bit.

“Yeah, sure. A hero’s death.”

“And then I couldst be done with this world,” Thoral murmured.

“Exactly,” Brad affirmed.

“Then let us go,” Thoral said, “this very instant.” He slammed his drink down on the table so hard that some of the ale sloshed out of the tankard, splashing at the fish. The koi danced back, just missing a soaking.

“Up to bed first and we’ll hit the road in the morning,” Brad countered, stepping around the puddle of spilled drink.

“No, we will leave now.” There was a dangerous edge to the warrior’s tone that drew the attention of everyone in the room even though he had not raised his voice. The bar went silent.

“Look, Thoral,” the koi answered, “it’s getting late. I’m tired. You’re drunk. We could both use some sleep. Let’s not make a rash decision that might lead to all kinds of unexpected

complications.”

Every eye turned to see the barbarian’s reaction. “We will leave now,” Thoral insisted. The warrior and the fish stared at each other.

“Be reasonable,” Brad tried again. “Just give me one good reason why we shouldn’t wait

until morning.”

“We will leave now,” the barbarian declared, “because I am Thoral Mighty Fist!

Everyone gasped. Brad sagged, defeated. Once Thoral noted that he was Thoral, there was no point in arguing further. Everyone knew it. That’s just how it was.

With that, Thoral drained his pewter tankard and crushed it one-handed. He got unsteadily to his feet, massive muscles rippling under sun-bronzed, battle-scarred skin, and

transferred Brad from the tabletop into a belt pouch. Then he tossed a gold coin to the hideously disfigured gnomish innkeeper to pay for the mug he’d ruined even though it couldn’t have been worth more than a few coppers. The gnome had been engrossed in restocking a spice rack over the bar, so the coin struck him in the head and then clattered to the floor. He stepped on it with his clubfoot before it rolled away and then pinched it between his stubby, ring-clad fingers.

“Many thanks, Fist Wielder,” the innkeeper croaked, his one eye glittering from his gashed face as the warrior strode past him. “Where are you headed now? Not to the Godforsaken

Swamp, I hope. You should steer clear of that place for a while. There is nothing there but death.”

“I am eager for it,” the barbarian whispered as he strode past the gnome, who frowned and wrung his tiny hands.

Thoral staggered from the bar into the dark, filthy street. Although it was well past sundown, the city was still bustling with all kinds of criminals and cutthroats and that sort of

riffraff. They all cleared out of the big barbarian’s way. Three figures, cloaked and hooded in the black robes of the Bad Religion, watched from the shadows as Thoral went to the tavern’s

hitching post to untie his massive tiger-striped steed, Warlordhorse. He fumbled with the knot, his fingers clumsy from the ale. He shook his head and tried again.

“Let us attack now,” the leader of the Dark Brothers whispered. “We will take him unawares.”

“Uh…are you sure?” one of his subordinates asked, his voice quavering. “Have you heard the stories about him?”

“We have our orders,” the leader countered tersely. “Besides, he is inebriated, there are three of us, and we have the ultimate advantage…” He trailed off, sliding a dagger from a fold of his robe. The curved blade was slick with oily, black poison. He leered at his minions for a moment, and they reluctantly drew their own poison-coated daggers. The three of them started toward the barbarian while he was distracted.

Thoral was still having no luck with Warlordhorse’s tether, and grew frustrated. He put his face close to the rope, trying to get a better look in the dim light of the moon, and made

another attempt. The Dark Brothers crept closer, raising their poisoned blades in unison. Just one scratch and Thoral would be paralyzed before he even felt the wound. Agonizing death would follow within hours, but not before they had had time to drag the warrior before the master of their order to find out how much Thoral knew of their plans.

The Dark Brothers closed in on the unsuspecting champion, swift and silent as death itself.

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Unboxing: Carpe Librum’s July Box

Hey guys! It’s that time of the month again where Carpe Librum releases yet another one of their amazing book subscription boxes!

So if you didn’t know, Carpe Librum is a bi-monthly book subscription service that costs $35 (including local shipping)and comes with a paperback novel and a number of other little bookish goodies.

This month, Carpe Librum’s theme was Made In Singapore. Presumably because our country’s 51st birthday  is next month and National Reading Day falls at the end of July.

So the box featured a whole bunch of truly Singapore goodies and today I’m going to be unboxing and reviewing each item that was included in the box.

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A signed copy of Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao! by Sebastian Sim

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“I don’t aspire to be nice. I do what is necessary to get what I want.”

Born on the night of the nation’s independence, Gimme Lao is cheated of the honour of being Singapore’s firstborn son by a vindictive nurse. This forms the first of three things Gimme never knows about himself, the second being the circumstances surrounding his parents’ marriage, and the third being the profound (but often unintentional) impact he has on other people’s lives.

Talented, determined and focused, young Gimme is confident he can sail the seven seas, but he does not anticipate his vessel would have to carry his mother’s ambition, his wife’s guilt and his son’s secret. Tracing social, economic and political issues over the past 50 years, this humorous novel uses Gimme as a hapless centre to expose all of Singapore’s ambitions, dirty linen and secret moments of tender humanity.

Goodreads

As is fast becoming Carpe Librum’s signature style, there was a beautiful, signed copy of Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao! by Sebastian Sim in the box.

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Now I’ve never heard of this book primarily because I don’t read or bother with local literature. I know I probably should but I just can’t make myself care enough. But I’m really excited about trying this book. It looks really interesting and I’m hoping that it will push me to read more local novels.

A Notebook

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There was a beautiful red notebook in the box that said, ‘I am not kiasu. I am Singaporean.’ This notebook is from Epigram Books and I love it. It has blank pages and it is the perfect size to stuff into a small handbag or even a pocket if you are a boy and have the wonderful privilege of actually having functioning pockets on your clothes.

I actually have a notebook exactly like this one from a random shop. It’s a a plain black one and I use it or when I interview people or when I need to take notes for an article. I was actually running out of space and I know I’ll certainly use this one as a backup.

An IKAT Handwoven Bookmark

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Who doesn’t love bookmarks am I right? This gem is limited edition from Gypsied and it is absolutely gorgeous! I love the colours and the material. And speaking of the material they used, I have to say that for a cloth bookmark, I was very surprised to find that it was actually quite sturdy. I will certainly be using this all the time.

Singlish Stickers

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Okay this one is something that you will 100% not get if you are not Singaporean and that is precisely why I love it so much.

So in Singapore, we have this slang that we call ‘Singlish’. Basically it’s a mix of Malay and English and Chinese that forms phrases that are super common here but that pretty much no one else understands or can accurately say.

So these stickers from Zinkie Aw  have some of our more popular phrases and I really love it. Though someone needs to explain what ‘Hanar Hanar’ is because even I’ve never heard of it before.

“Complain King” Pencils

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This is another thing that I love because it is so uniquely Singapore. This beautiful set of six pencils have some famous Singaporean complaints on them and I am in love with them. I only wish I used pencils more often because I would totally use these everyday if I did.

Discount Vouchers

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And of course, because I am Singaporean, I have to complain now. I really didn’t like the fact that Carpe Librum put discount coupons in the box. This month, Carpe Librum gave us a 20% discount for Books Actually and a 15% discount for Epigram Books.

Now I love discounts. But not in a book subscription box. The idea of the box is to get tangible stuff. You mean I now am forced to go spend more money (on top of what I’ve already spent for the box) on two different stores to get books I may not even really want (Epigram only has local books)?

And of course I have to use the discount codes because let’s face it, I’m Singaporean and I need to get my money’s worth right?

Hmm… The more I write the more I think that the coupons were an excuse to let our inner Singaporean shine through our complaints and ‘kiasu-ness’…

Anyway, that was the only not so fantastic item in the box.

As usual, I really enjoyed Carpe Librum’s book box and I am so grateful for the team who work so tirelessly to curate the boxes each month and to deliver them to each and every person who orders one.

I’m especially grateful this month because I was covering the National Day Parade preview on the day that they were delivering the boxes and I needed Huda to deliver the boxes earlier because of it and she very kindly did it for me even though their schedule was packed.

If you want to order the next box, you can visit Carpe Librum’s Instagram page or their Facebook page where they have all the details you will need to order a box.

I know I can’t wait for them to announce their next box because I will be first in line.

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Unboxing: Carpe Librum’s May Book Box

Hey guys! Guess what arrived on Saturday! Carpe Librum‘s May book box!!

So if you didn’t know, Carpe Librum is a local book subscription box that comes once every two months. It costs $35 (including local shipping) and it comes with a book and a bunch of other bookish items.

This month, Carpe Librum’s theme is Books & Tea and today, I’m going to be unboxing and reviewing the box for you.

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beasley (Signed and Personalised)

Sisters Cassie and Sid Sunday have not done a bang-up job of keeping in touch. In their defense, it hasn’t been easy: life veered in sharply different directions for the once-close sisters. Today, beautiful and big-hearted Sid lives an expat’s life of leisure in far-off Singapore, while harried, iPhone-clutching Cassie can’t seem to make it work as a wife and a mom to twin toddlers in Manhattan.

It doesn’t help that Sid spurns all social media while Cassie is addicted to Facebook. So when Sid issues a challenge to reconnect the old-fashioned way—through real, handwritten letters—Cassie figures, why not?

The experiment exceeds both of their expectations, and the letters become a kind of mutual confessional that have real and soul-satisfying effects. And they just might have the power to help Cassie save her marriage, and give Sid the strength to get her life back on track.

But first, one of Cassie’s infamous lapses in judgment comes back to bite her, and all of the letters wind up the one place you’d never, ever want to see them: the Internet…

Goodreads

This was the book that was featured in this month’s book. I’ve never heard of it before but apparently it’s partially based in Singapore so that’s really cool. I can’t wait to read it!

Also, I opened the book and found a little surprise. Carpe Librum had actually got the author to not only sign but also personalise each book! I mean seriously! How amazing are they?

A Mug

This was my absolute favourite item in the box. It was a cute little bookish mug that said, ‘Drink good tea. Read good books’. How adorable! I loved it and fun fact, I actually have been looking for a nice bookish mug so this came at the perfect time.

Tea

Of course the Books & Tea box would not be complete without some lovely tea. This is from Literary Tea Co. and it’s a relaxing black tea with loads of little fruits and stuff. I brewed some yesterday and it was heavenly!

Chocolate Chip Cookies


You can’t have tea without some good old chocolate chip cookies can you? These little yummies come from De Cookies Lab and they are incredible! My aunt who is an awesome baker actually made some chocolate chip cookies last Christmas and these cookies taste so similar to them it’s unreal.

Socks

I don’t wear socks very often because of the horribly hot weather here but these socks from Sock Avenue are incredible. They are really soft and long so they are perfect for Bookstagram (look at me getting that promo in there). So I’m really happy with these funky socks.

So there you have it! Everything that was in Carpe Librum’s May book box. I’m so excited to curl up in my socks with my tea and cookies and A Court Of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas because that’s what I’m currently reading and it’s amazing.

Thank you once again to the Carpe Librum team for putting together this wonderful book subscription service. If you have yet to try it, follow them on Instagram and keep an eye out because I’m sure they will be announcing their next box really soon!

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