Secret Keeper by Jane Alvey Harris: Exclusive Author Q & A

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What if the worst thing isn’t that they don’t believe you?
What if the worst thing is that they just don’t care?

Seventeen year-old Emily has accepted the truth of her past trauma and made peace with her battered egos. She’s won the first battle…barely…but the war in her psyche still rages. The same day Mom is released from rehab and Emily finishes detox, Dad announces he’s ready to be a family again, throwing Emily into panic. Determined to protect her younger brothers and sister from Dad, she gathers the strength to do the hardest thing she’s ever done: speak her Secret.

But it isn’t enough. Nobody will intervene. Emily is more alone and helpless than ever. Her therapist suggests that the key to resolving her crises lies within the mysterious First Realm, where Emily has access to her Fae abilities and where she can find her Champion…the one person with enough power to end the destructive cycle of abuse and help Emily transform from victim to survivor.

Desperate for guidance, Emily returns to the First Realm only to discover the Seven Kingdoms in total chaos. She has just a few days to find her Champion before Dad comes for her. Can she complete her task and return to the Second Realm in time to save her family, or will her dreaded premonition turn out to be true: that she is her own worst enemy?

Goodreads

Published: 20 March 2018

Hello folks! I’m back with a guest today.

Jane Alvey Harris, the author of the award-winning YA fantasy novels, Riven, is here to answer some questions on her latest book in the series, Secret Keeper.

Secret Keeper is the second book in Jane’s ‘My Myth’ fantasy series.

Q & A

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1. Secret Keeper features seventeen-year-old Emily, who we met in Riven, the first novel in the My Myth Trilogy series. Where is Emily when Secret Keeper begins, and what is the catalyst for this part of her journey?

Secret Keeper picks up right where Riven left off. Emily regains consciousness in the grove, surrounded by her siblings and extended family, only she isn’t sure which Realm she is in, the Second or the First?

At the end of Riven, Emily was able to accept her past trauma. But now that her dad is out of prison and ready to be a family again, Emily must once again gather her strength to share her secret in order to keep her siblings safe.

2. In Secret Keeper, Emily finds the strength to tell her family about her experience as an abused child. What is the reaction by the various family members and how are they typical to those in real-life abuse stories? 

Emily has an expectation that sharing her secret with her family will be the most difficult thing she has ever done or will ever do. She is tormented by what she anticipates their responses might be: What if they don’t believe me? What if they think I’m broken? What if they think I’m a threat? What if they think I’m crazy? It’s going to be his word against mine. These kinds of questions are what prevent victims from sharing their stories. Statistics show that you either know someone or are someone who is a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA):

·      The primary reason that the public is not sufficiently aware of child sexual abuse as a problem is that 73% of victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year. 45% of victims do not tell anyone for at least 5 years. Many never disclose. (Smith et al., 2000; Broman-Fulks et al., 2007)

·      Less than 12% of child sexual abuse is reported to the police (Browne, A., & Finkelhor, D., 1986),

Emily does share her revelation, 10 years after it occurs. The reaction of her extended family is typical, according to my experience and research, ranging from denial to suspicion, pity to support. But Emily learns it isn’t the reaction of her family she has to fear most, it is their powerlessness to intervene.

3. Like Riven, there are a number of fantastical elements to Secret Keeper, including the imaginary world of the First Realm and its Seven Kingdoms. What role does fantasy play in the storyline of this second novel?

When Emily discovers that her family can’t (or won’t) protect her and her younger siblings from their father, Emily’s therapist, Nancy, encourages her to return to the First Realm in search of a Champion who can. The First Realm acts as a buffered proving ground for Emily, where she can take all of the things she’s learning in therapy, all the input she’s receiving from the outside world, all her hopes, humiliations, wishes, fears, and actively work through them. When there is an external conflict in the Second Realm, Emily enters the First Realm, hoping to find answers and courage. Likewise, when Nancy provides her with theoretical insight into concepts such as consent and empowerment in the Second Realm, Emily is able to turn them into practical knowledge in the First.

4. Emily explores her feelings about body image during an initiation into the Shield Maiden Club with Teagan, Chloe, Twist, and Minali. What role does feminism play in Emily’s journey, and how does it affect her character development in the series?

Feminism plays a huge role in Emily’s journey to empowerment, and as her internal pendulum begins to swings from victim to survivor (and eventually thriver). To me, feminism has more to do with women embracing their individual personal power, and I definitely had an agenda in creating Emily’s feminist awakening. I am all about smashing patriarchal constructs which subjugate women and rob them of their voice or choice. From Emily’s early childhood, she has been indoctrinated both by religion and by her father into believing that the purpose of women is to be an object of pleasure for men – an idea that features heavily in Emily’s own retelling of the history of the Seven Kingdoms. She has also been isolated as a result of her dysfunctional family situation, and is basically afraid of her own shadow at the beginning of Secret Keeper. As Emily interacts with her self-assured female peers and embraces her feminine power, she begins to grow in confidence and in her abilities to take care of herself.

5. What are the main themes in Secret Keeper and how are they different from those explored in Riven?

Riven promotes themes of self-acceptance, self-mercy, and self-love, while exploring the damaging consequences of buried guilt and shame. The plot centers on Emily’s purpose: protecting her brothers and sister.

While Emily’s purpose drives the plot of Secret Keeper as well, Emily’s journey leads to an exploration into the behavioral impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on survivors, including re-victimization and the perpetuation of the abuse cycle. While there are many empowering scenes and messages throughout, the second book in the My Myth Trilogy is admittedly dark and sobering. It does not end in a healthy place for Emily, which is very realistic. In real life, learning to overcome trauma and to thrive while living with PTSD is far from simple. It takes effort, practice, determination, plenty of falling on your face, and ultimately getting back up again.

6. Much of Secret Keeper is based on your own real-life experiences. How does your personal story inform the novel and, more-specifically, Emily’s character? 

Without getting into specifics about my own experiences, I will simply say that Emily has my personality and shares my purpose. Emily’s siblings in the My Myth Trilogy are my children in real life, immortalized at the ages they were when I began writing Riven: 10, 14, and 15. My wonderful real-life therapist, Nancy, is the angel who suggested I write down the scenes in my head as a way of working through them. With her help, I have used EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) and hypnosis to process trauma, rewire internal pathways, and write personal scripts. Many of the scenes in the My Myth Trilogy come from these sessions. While I don’t claim all of Emily’s specific trauma, I will happily claim 100% of her reactions: her anxiety, her growth, her triumphs, and her mistakes. I say happily, because if sharing these books normalizes even one reader by shedding light on these too-often hidden issues, or informs a loved one of someone who struggles with something similar, I will be ecstatic.

7. Are you working on the third novel in the series and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

Yes, I am currently working on Primed, the final book in the My Myth Trilogy. I can tell you that Emily still has a lot to learn and a long way to go on her path to healing. “Prime” is a word that is used (along with “groom”) to describe the process in which a predator gradually gains the trust of an abuse victim. Primed deals with boundaries and triangulation, and will ultimately explore what the process of re-priming might look like. Think “Prime Positive.”

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Singapore’s Largest Book Event: BookFest@Singapore 2017 + Tips to Survive a BookFest

Hey guys! If you live in Singapore, take note.

Popular’s BookFest@Singapore 2017 has returned to Suntec Convention Centre from 15 – 24 December 2017!

Sprawling a massive conventional hall, readers can expect a whole host of events, products and bargains. From IT gadgets to books and stuffed whales (I found one and carried it with me during the entire 2.5 hours I spent there. I also named him Billy), this fair, truly has everything.  Whether you are a book lover, tech junkie, music fanatic, bargain hunter or otherwise, this 10-day event will be a one-stop extravaganza.

Trust me, when I was there yesterday, I was blown away by the variety. There was every single book you could ever want. Any candy, assessment book and gadget. There was even a pop-up cafe!

The biggest highlight for literary fans every year is naturally the renowned POPULAR
Readers’ Choice Awards 2017. This will be returning to BookFest for its 6th edition this year.

With a reader- voting system, it is the voice of the public and a huge reflection of the books that made their mark.

30 local works will be vying for the top 3 places in each of the three categories – English (Adult), English (Children), and Chinese.

Additionally, the “Citibank Book Cover Award” will also be presented to the publisher
with the best cover design, based on the use of graphics, creativity and visual impact.

While you’re there, don’t miss the first-ever Gadgets & IT Show housed in BookFest,
where you can get a sneak peek of the hottest and latest technology. From portable chargers to robot vacuums, there’s really something for everyone. Even me, who doesn’t really bother with gadgets of that calibre, found stuff that proved interesting.

And of course, the most important part of BookFest, the crazy deals! The Crazy Auction will be held on 4 different days at BookFest. With Gadgets & IT products with a starting bid as low as $1, gear yourself up to snag some delightful deals.

There are also books going for 3 for $12 or 3 books for the price of 2. For all you hardcore readers out there, nows the time to spend and not feel guilty! Yay!

So if you live in Singapore and have the time, I totally recommend going down.

Also, considering that I went yesterday, I thought I’d give you guys some tips on how to have the best BookFest@Singapore 2017 experience.

1. Go early and avoid peak periods

My best advice is to go early. As in, the second it opens early. When we were there, the crowds were already massive and there were queues to enter the venue. Mind you, it was a Friday morning at about 10am. So you can only imagine what the weekends would be like. So avoid the weekends or peak periods and always go early so you don’t have to waste time waiting in a queue

2. Go alone

Okay this sounds mean but it’s really not. I always feel that book sales or even just book browsing requires one to be alone with themselves and perhaps some music. So either go alone so that you can enjoy every section at your own pace and comfort, or bring someone who is equally passionate about giving all the books their undivided attention and who will be okay with letting you do your thing while they do theirs.

3. Make use of the trollies and baskets provided

Popular has very kindly provided loads of baskets on wheels and trollies to carry your books and gadgets and stationary in. Make use of them. Your stuff will be heavy.

4. Wear comfortable clothes

I cannot emphasis this enough. Wear good walking shoes and comfortable clothes because you will be walking and standing a lot. Additionally, try to eat before you come or have a bite at the pop-up cafe. This is so that your book experience isn’t interrupted by anything at all.

So there you have it. This year’s bookfest. I’m so excited about the selection and I can’t wait to hopefully go back for more.

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SG Book Deals: Books Box Sale 2017

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Hey guys! Guess what! SG Book Deals’s Books Box Sale is back for another year!

This is the third year that they are holding this glorious book sale and if you live in Singapore or will be in Singapore between the 4th to the 13th of August, you should check it out because this is the book sales of all book sales.

What will happen is that you will be given a huge box. You will then be able to pack in as many books as you possibly can. Once you’re done, you just go up to the counter and pay $50 for your giant box of books and you’re done.

How many books you take home completely depends on your packing skills and the size of the books you pick.

I remember I took home so many books last year that I couldn’t even count them.

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Books Box Sale 2017 (Public Sale)

Date: 4-13 Aug 2017

Mon-Fri: 1pm-6pm

Sat, Sun, PH: 10am-6pm

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Free Books for Students:

This year, in an attempt to get people into the habit of reading, SG Book Deals is giving away 100 books per day to students. You can get one book per student and it can be redeemed using your student pass.

Book Genres You Can Get:

  • Adult Fiction
  • Young Adult Fiction
  • Baby Toddler
  • Early readers for children
  • Intermediate readers for children
  • Activity/Novelty books for children
  • NonFiction
  • Selfimprovement
  • Business
  • Health Wellness
  • Parenting
  • Crafts Hobbies
  • National Geographic
  • Cookbooks
  • History
  •  Music
  • Academic
  • Christian

For more information, you can visit their socials here:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SGBookDeals
Instagram: www.instagram.com/sgbookdeals

I will be down for the sale and I hope to see you guys there!

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Guest Post: Putting the Readers Back in Charge of Publishing

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Imagine a YA publishing process without gatekeepers.  One where editors and agents read the manuscripts that readers love, not vice versa.  One where anyone with a knack for writing, a passion to succeed, and a little flair for self-promotion, has a fair shot at being published.

All too frequently, this isn’t the case.  Books often get rejected for reasons beyond authors’ control.  One editor turned down an ultimately successful book by saying, “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”  The book in question?  The Diary of Anne Frank.  Furthermore, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, only about 10% of all YA books accepted for publication feature “multi-cultural content.”  Clearly, there are some blind spots that need addressing in the publishing industry.

It’s with this vision in mind that Publishizer is launching its YA book proposal contest called Plot Without a Cause.  Publishizer is a startup seeking to fill a hole in the publishing industry through crowdfunding.  It works like this:

You write the book proposal.  You know the book proposal I’m talking about.  The one you’ve been daydreaming about for years.  The one that just popped into your head last week and you haven’t stopped thinking about since.  The one for the manuscript that’s been dearly loved by you but maybe not so much yet by the publishing industry.  That one.  Then you register (for free!) on Publishizer’s website and post your proposal in the Plot Without a Cause section (again—for free!).

Now this is when you’ll have to start hustling.  Crowdfunding runs on pre-orders, so you had better start promoting that proposal.  Reach out over social media, post on your blog, email your old roommates—whatever it takes to start building buzz.  If you get the most preorders by the time the contest ends, you’ll win $1000 dollars.  And if you don’t have the highest number of preorders, don’t worry—you’ll still be queried to major publishers who fit your proposal.

Previous Publishizer contest participants have gotten interest and landed deals with a variety of traditional publishing companies, including Harvard Square Books, She Writes Press, and Weiser.  Publishizer takes a small commission on pre-orders when you choose a publisher at the end.

Every year, thousands of books are rejected by the publishing world for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the book—they’re too mainstream or not mainstream enough, too similar to books already being published or too different from books already being published.  Or the literary agent just doesn’t stand to make much money on the deal so they pass on a perfectly good book!  Imagine how many brilliant YA manuscripts go unpublished every year thanks to frustrating rejections.  Imagine how many hugely talented authors quietly give up on their dreams, just because the gate to a traditional publishing path isn’t open to them.

With their new YA book proposal contest, Plot Without a Cause, Publishizer is seeking to level the playing field.  Publishing decisions shouldn’t be based solely on a literary agent’s judgement or how many friends you have in the industry. They should be based on quality of writing and how many readers the book attracts.

Great books get overlooked all the time, and this is an opportunity to show acquiring editors that yours is worth paying attention to.  Not to mention the readership and funds you could gain in the process.  Crowdfunding (or crowd-publishing, in this case) is growing in popularity and brings a personal touch back to book sales—for readers and publishers.  Are you in?

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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