May 2019 Curiositales Magazine with Sasha Alsberg, Lindsay Cummings, and Swati Teerdhala

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ON SALE APRIL 23

“A deliciously twisty cat-andmouse story that had me racing through the pages. - Natasha Ngan New York Times bestselling author of Girls of Paper and Fire





CONTENTS THE HIGHLIGHTS

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@ mariannareads_

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THE POWER OF

FICTION FOOD

Interview with Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Recipes from Nexus and The Tiger at Midnight

Interview with Swati Teerdhala of the The Tiger at Midnight

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FRIENDSHIP

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FEATURE

A PLACE BETWEEN WORLDS

FEMENISM IN FICTION

BOOKSTAGRAM CREATORS

BOOKISH CREATIONS

Recommendations for your TBR pile

Check out these three amazing Bookstagram creators

Elizabeth Sagan shows off her amazing bookish creations

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CONTENTS 11 Editor’s Letter

A note from the editor.

13 Contributors 14 16 26 28 34 42 48 60 84 94

Learn more about this month’s writers, photographers, and crafters. Giving Back Learn more about this month’s charity. The Power of Friendship Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings Seeking Contributors Like what you’re reading? Join our team! Fiction Food Recipes inspired by Nexus and The Tiger at Midnight. A Place Between Worlds Swati Teerdhala of The Tiger at Midnight. Swati Teerdhala | Share Your Shelf Swati’s tour of her favorite bookish things. Feminism in Fiction by Jun O. Bookstagram Creators Check out these awesome readers. Bookish Creations Elizabeth Sagan shows off her best bookish creations. May New Releases

96 Around the World

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@imthatreader


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FROM THE EDITOR

Letter From The Editor

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very month should be women’s month in my opinion. I was thinking that thought last month with all the wonderful posts people were sharing celebrating women. It wasn’t my intent for this issue. However, as I was going through, I realized that the theme was strong. A month late? I don’t think so. Right on time. I got to chat with Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings whose collaboration was built on female friendship and with Swati Teerdhala whose book will surely be an inspiration to Indian-American teens. And past contributor Jun O. (@geekly_yuniq) returns with a wonderful essay with some great recommendations on fiction feminism. Let’s remember to celebrate the women in our lives all year round. Happy Reading, Gillian St. Clair Editor-In-Chief

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CURIOSITALES New York, New York; USA

EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Gillian St. Clair CONTRIBUTORS Kelsey Bjork, Elle Jauffret, Jun O., Elizabeth Sagan, Juliet White

MARKETING & ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Vipul Kuchhal

ONLINE Curiositales is a digital monthly magazine. We also engage readers with a free newsletter. For your regular dose of all things bookish, subscribe at www.curiositales.com

COPYRIGHT Copyright 2019 by Curiositales Magazine. All rights reserved. This magazine or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in review.

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CONTRIBUTORS

Jun O. Essay, Femenism in Fiction

I’m Jun, your average Chinese Indonesian bookworm that reads a lot and occasionally writes reviews for fun. I take bookstagram pictures that seems to weird my neighbors out.

Elizabeth Sagan Photo Essay, Bookish Creations

Elizabeth Sagan is a fantasy junkie; she likes to stare at marked slices of wood for hours on end... she likes to read. She also likes to write. Through her art she hopes to share her love for reading and to make people give books a chance. Elle Jauffret Food Writer Elle Jauffret writes from personal experience about the culinary arts, mysteries, and France.

You can find her at ellejauffret.com or @ElleJauffret on Twitter and Instagram.

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GIVING BACK May 2019 | Issue 11

Every month we feature an organization that’s working to make change within the reading community around the world. When we each commit to change, the growth is immeasurable. Check out this month’s feature, and, if their mission statement is in alignment with your own beliefs, follow them online and help out however you are able.

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Jumpstart is a national early education organization that is fueled by the core belief that providing high-quality educational opportunities to all young children contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty. With more than six million children across the country living in poverty, the need for Jumpstart’s evidence-based program is at an all-time high. Jumpstart recruits and trains adult volunteers, college students, and community members who implement the Jumpstart program in preschools across the country where the need is highest. Our volunteers, known as Corps members, help prepare children for kindergarten, and set them on a path for lifelong success.

The Jumpstart program features a curriculum that is designed to focus specifically on building three domains and skills that research shows are critical in supporting children’s language, literacy, and social-emotional development: 1) Oral language (vocabulary, comprehension) 2) Book and print knowledge (alphabet knowledge, meaning and use of print) 3) Phonological awareness (rhyme awareness, phonemic awareness) The curriculum provides a balance of child-initiated and adult-guided learning opportunities. At the core of Jumpstart session plans is a set of 20 children’s books, carefully selected based on their connection to Jumpstart’s curriculum themes, the richness of the narrative, the ability to support vocabulary and comprehension, and their appeal to children. Each story serves as inspiration for the week’s learning activities. To maximize our impact and demonstrate true leadership in the field, we review our curriculum regularly and make adjustments to reflect the latest research and best practice. In a recent revision to the curriculum, Jumpstart has deepened its attention to the skills of vocabulary and comprehension, while also incorporating social-emotional language skills that allow children to better understand, identify, and talk about emotions in others and themselves. This emphasis enriches children’s oral language experiences and provides a basis for future social-emotional competence and academic success.

jstart.org

@jumpstartkids

/jumpstartkids

/jumpstartkids

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It’s been a really wild journey because we aren’t always together!

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ocial media has helped make connecting with others from all around the world so easy. It’s crazy to think that not very long ago the idea of instantly sending a message to someone across the street, much less across the world, was impossible.

THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Kelsey Bjork

Fast forward to today – there are so many incredible communities in the online world, and through them, countless friendships have been made. Some may dismiss internet friendships for not being as real as the ones made in-person, but sometimes the most cherished friendships can originate from a screen. Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings, co-authors of The Androma Saga, are proof of this. The two met when Cummings was a published author and Alsberg was a YouTuber. Alsberg had always dreamed of being an author one day, but her self-doubt kept holding her back. CURIOSITALES

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“It wasn’t until Lindsay humored me with the idea in 2015 that I actually pushed myself to try,” Alsberg said. “Working with someone with whom you set deadlines and goals really helped me make my dream a reality and showed me I COULD write a book.” Cummings said, “It’s been a really wild journey because we aren’t always together! We both live in separate parts of the US, so we’ve spent a lot of our creative time together online through Facetime or Google docs.” They eventually went the traditional route for The Androma Saga, but their first novel, Zenith, was originally self-pubbed. “I’m so happy self-publishing was my first introduction into the book publishing world,” Alsberg said. “It showed me what is possible if you have a little faith. That is what kept us going when we got a traditional deal. It was so exciting, fresh and new for me but it didn’t come without hardships, that with effort, we were able to overcome.” Cummings added to this by touching on the not-so-fun aspects of their careers. “Writing is a passion, but it’s also a job. When we signed the contract, we had a lot of super tight deadlines, which did take some of the creative joy out of our partnership, but ultimately, we pushed through together and reached the end of each deadline.” It’s not easy for someone to stay creative all of the time when it’s part of their job, but these authors are lucky in that they have great support systems. 18

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“There are tough days, of course, when your creativity feels deflated, when it feels impossible to boost sales,” Cummings continued, “but the readers and the other authors are what really help keep us going. At the end of the day, I’m still writing for a living and that’s something I never thought I’d be able to do. I’m blessed.”

I throw ideas at Lindsay and she catches the good ones and vice versa; it’s so fun!

Writing a book alone is difficult enough, but creating one with someone else requires major teamwork and cooperation. Thankfully, though, this writing duo has discovered that seeing things differently from each other is actually a good thing. “Lindsay and I are opposites and that just shows how opposites attract,” Alsberg said. “We’ve been working together for years now and with each year that passes, our skills evolve and transform for the better.” In order to be successful, those in relationships (of any kind) need to feel like they are able to be honest with each other. Clearly, Alsberg and Cummings understand this.


“I think having open communication between us helps to make sure our creativity still flows like a stream,” Alsberg continued. “And having such a great friendship helps make that possible. I throw ideas at Lindsay and she catches the good ones and vice versa; it’s so fun!” Working on a book with another person, especially online, comes with unique challenges, but Alsberg and Cummings have figured out what works for them. “We work in our own sections of the book, but get together to talk about the creative ideas online,” Cummings said. “And, of course, we meet up several times a year to just hang out, have fun, and talk

about all our ideas for the characters. It’s been a blast. Creatively, I think we both push each other to push our story to new heights. We try to always make our scenes unique and our characters relatable.” The Androma Saga follows the Bloody Baroness – a mercenary who is feared by many. But those on her starship simply know her as Andi. Although she is brave, she and the entire female crew are tested when a bounty hunter from Andi’s past shows up and a ruthless ruler threatens to tear the Mirabel galaxy apart. “It was really important for us to have strong women in the saga, but we wanted those women to lean on each other to

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overcome their struggles,” Cummings said. Their focus on strong female characters is reflective of their own lives.

It was just so vital for us to reflect our friendships in our fictional world. Not everybody has those kinds of friendships in reality, but they can have them in fiction “Because this partnership began as a and then try to find them in real life after friendship, I think we drew on a lot of that knowing what to look for. Yay, girl powto write the book,” Cummings continued. er!” “There are tons of inside jokes and things throughout the pages that our readers When creating such a tight-knit group, it’s may never realize were implanted from important that the characters mesh well our own experiences together.” with one another. “We created each character individually, because we wanted Alsberg added, “I went to an all-girls them all to truly feel like real people that school during my high school years. could stand on their own,” Cummings During those four years lots of hard said. “In fact, they are real to us for all the stuff happened, but what helped get me time we’ve spent creating them!” through those lows were my gal pals. Lindsay was one of them (although across Alsberg added, “I truly believe that them the country). having their own personalities and goals

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helped make them realistic to the readers negative reviews when they hadn’t even and mesh well with their fictional counter- read it. In fact, reviews for Nexus began parts.” in February 2018 while the book was still being written. Authenticity is an important trait for characters of a novel, but it’s also a vital trait for authors. However, being 100 percent authentic, especially in the public eye, is not always easy.

Both Alsberg and Cummings built online communities around books and writing. They are very open about they’re reading, writing, and personal experiences, and because of that, they have to find a balance between sharing too much and not enough. “Being your true self is so important, but knowing where to hold back is important too, not just for your privacy but also for your mental health,” Alsberg said. “I am all for showing my highs and lows. It’s how life is. Not everything is always perfect and showing that to your audience makes you human to them. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that authors are people too with emotions and feelings.” Cummings has the same mindset. “I have always, from the very beginning of my start in publishing, tried to be my true, authentic self. I’ve never been afraid to show people the real me, even with my ups and downs, and I think that’s why people have really rallied and come around this partnership.” Alsberg and Cummings have so many amazing, supportive readers. Just like every other author, however, they have critics as well. Their first novel, Zenith, ended up getting some negative attention on YouTube. This led to people leaving

People are allowed to dislike books they’ve read; it’s okay. But to hate and review books that you haven’t read is not okay.

“There are always more positives than negatives, or at least that’s what I’ve encountered,” Alsberg said. “But the negatives leave a mark way deeper than its positive counterpart. It’s a hard thing to try and counteract.” Every author gets hate, but dealing with it can be especially difficult when it’s so clearly unwarranted. “People are allowed to dislike books they’ve read; it’s okay,” Alsberg continued. “But to hate and review books that you haven’t read is not okay. I’ve known that truth way before becoming an author.” Thankfully, through it all, Alsberg and Cummings have each other. “This was one of the parts that Sasha and I both have tried very, very hard not to let get to us,” Cummings said. “We’ve leaned on each other a lot in those moments, and we’re CURIOSITALES

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super proud of what we created.” Alsberg added, “Encountering hate was very hard. It took a year for it to not cut me so deeply, but it’s not the end of you. Lindsay and I have been through this together, as a team, and that makes a world of difference.” Despite all of the negativity, they make sure to focus on the positivity. “We have a ton of amazing readers, and we’ve really loved their support!” Cummings said. “I think it’s ultimately, again, important not to allow your reviews to become your measure of how you view yourself and your career.” Speaking of the way Alsberg and Cummings view themselves, they each took a moment to reflect on how much of themselves they put into their own characters. “I think I have Andi’s determination and sometimes negative way of thinking,” Cummings admitted. “I wish I had her fighting skills, and I could use some of Dex’s confidence!” Alsberg said, “I think I have Valen’s passion for art and Gilly’s fiery attitude towards life. I wish I had the guts that Andi and Nor have, though, to speak their mind. I need to take a page out of their book!” Fans of The Androma Saga may be sad that the series is coming to a close, but Alsberg and Cummings have some suggestions on how readers can fill the void that comes from finishing a novel. Cummings said, “Well, of course I’ll tell readers to check out my other series, The 22

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Murder Complex and The Death Code, and I’ve got an upcoming 2020 YA book that I’m stoked about (alien horses!)” “Oooh, there are so many co-authored space books coming out!” Alsberg exclaimed. “Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff and Elizabeth May & Laura Lam have some coming out that I’m hyped to read! I’m also writing an urban folklore fantasy book (Project Red) currently and I cannot wait for readers to dive on into my Scottish world soon!” No matter the intentions of an author, every single one of their readers takes a different meaning from their novels – that’s just one of the many reasons why books are so magical. Even co-authors have different elements that they take away from their own stories. “I loved digging deep into what makes a person who they are,” Alsberg said. “Getting to create characters with so many layers really broadened my perspective for others and understanding people. There are so many shades of people; it’s not just black and white. It’s something I’ll take into everyday life and use to examine others in ways I wouldn’t have before.” “For me personally, I love the fact that family doesn’t just have to mean blood,” Cummings said. “Family can be so much more than that, and I love how Andi and her crew found each other from distant parts of the galaxy, but have come together to become this amazing family of their own. I hope readers see that, too.” The exciting finale of The Androma Saga, Nexus, will be released on May 7! Find out how you can get your hands on a copy right here!


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CONTRIBUTE JOIN THE TEAM

Curiositales Magazine is on the lookout for contributors. If you have an idea geared toward the YA readership, send us an email: contribute@curiositales.com. Our readers are creative and talented and we want to feature you. Send us an email to be considered for an upcoming issue. Cosplayers: 10 Full Page Photos featuring characters from literature. Payment $50 within 30 days of publication. 26

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SHORT STORIES COSPLAYERS ARTISTS EDITORIAL PHOTO SPREADS TUTORIALS ARTICLES FLASH FICTION HAVE AN IDEA? LET US KNOW!


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FICTION FOOD

By Elle Jauffret

NEXUS “The rich smells of roasted meats and spices drifted around them […]. […] crispy golden potatoes, green beans dripping in oil […]. […] “Now what?” Gilly asked, shoveling a hunk of cheese into her mouth.”

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ROASTED CHICKEN Stuff a small chicken (about 2.5 pounds) with 3 sprigs of rosemary, thyme and 3 garlic gloves (chopped). Brush chicken with olive oil and season with herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Place in a roasting pan (breast side up) and roast in a 375 degree-oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Baste with the juice, cover, and wait 10 more minutes before serving (the chicken is cooked when it reaches 165 degrees F).

CRISPY POTATOES AND GREEN BEANS Peel and slice 4 potatoes in thin slices. Fry slices in hot oil until golden brown. Salt and serve warm. Place 4 handfuls of green beans (fresh or thawed) in a small sauce pan filled with water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes (until beans are soft). Drain, serve and drizzle with olive oil. SWEET BRIE Stack small slices of Brie cheese onto a small plate. Sprinkle with walnuts and dried cranberries, and cover with your favorite honey. CURIOSITALES

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THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT “[…] he relaxed around Kunal, answering his questions as he fried up more lentil cakes. […] But he knew that she loved mangoes […]”

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the recipes FRIED LENTIL CAKES (4 servings) In a bowl, combine: 1 cup lentils (cooked) + 1 cup basmati rice (cooked) + 1 cup fresh spinach (chopped) + ¼ cup shallots (finely chopped) + 1 tbsp crushed garlic (about 4 cloves) + ½ cup cilantro (chopped) + 2 scallions (finely chopped) + ¼ cup fresh mint (chopped) + 1 tsp ginger (crushed) + ½ tsp pepper, 1 tsp salt. Transfer mixture to food processor and mash until you obtain a thick paste. Make small patties and

sautée them in a lightly oiled skillet until brown on both sides. Serve warm with a side of plain yogurt. MANGO MOUSSE (4 servings) Whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream until stiff (peaks should form). Set aside. Place the flesh of 4 mangos in a food processor until smooth. Fold 2 cups mango purée into the whipped cream until well combined. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Serve cold with slices of mango. CURIOSITALES

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French-born, Californian lawyer by day, writer/home chef by night, Elle Jauffret writes from personal experience about the culinary arts, mysteries, and France. She received the 2016 SDSU Writers’ Conference Choice award and loves creating “fiction food” based on the books she enjoys. You can find her at ellejauffret.com or @ElleJauffret on Twitter and Instagram

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As a teenager, I struggled a lot with being an Indian-American and really finding my place.

“ You had me at assassin.

A PLACE BETWEEN WORLDS Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Juliet White

Assassins are the chocolate of book plots—always an improvement. If you savor stories with protagonists on the murky side of the law, YA fantasy offers a wide menu of morality-blurring characters from authors like Robin LaFevers, Sarah J. Maas, and Kristin Cashore. Looking for a new read to satisfy that craving? Then delve into Swati Teerdhala’s The Tiger at Midnight, which features a female assassin hellbent on vengeance, along with hearty servings of conflict and romance. Teerdhala has infused her fictional world with Hindu mythology and elements of Indian history. Scheduled to be the first book in a trilogy, The Tiger at Midnight pitches Kunal, a loyal soldier to the king, against Esha, a secret assassin for the rebels. But what happens when romance and duty collide? CURIOSITALES

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The book is “a story about these two kids who are trying to figure out their place in the world, on opposing sides of this huge war that’s been happening,” explained Teerdhala. “They feel so bound to their lives and duties. Meeting each other is a wake-up call to figure out what they actually want in life. That’s the kind of struggle we all go through. I know that as a teenager, I struggled a lot with being an Indian-American and really finding my place. Of course The Tiger at Midnight is full of everything you love in fantasy, but it’s also just a story about figuring out who you are.”

someone, it’s somebody who sees you and then challenges you to become the best version of yourself. And it’s not just about the kissing and all that—I mean, I would love to write a book that’s just kissing scenes—but that’s what excites me most about romance. It’s the potential to make characters change, grow, and evolve just by being seen and being heard.”

Teerdhala also loves to weave romance into her work. “I think a good romance is when you find someone who challenges you and that’s a huge part of The Tiger at Midnight, this idea that when you meet

That’s what excites me most about romance. It’s the potential to make characters change, grow, and evolve just by being seen and being heard.

“ “I originally pitched my novel as An Ember in the Ashes meets Legend,” revealed Teerdhala. “It pulls from this idea of a fast-paced chase between the two characters, alternating dual POVs, and the tension of being on two opposing sides.” Teerdhala’s work has also been compared to Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone. The 36

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two novels share “worldbuilding that is really cultural and doesn’t hold back. You know, I love Children of Blood and Bone. Adeyemi creates this fantastic, tangible world you can feel, and a little bit of that worldbuilding and that epicness is what I was trying to capture.” Once you’ve been transported to Teerdhala’s world, you won’t want to return anytime soon. That’s fine because the next novel in her series is already in the works. Second books are notoriously tough. “Everyone warned me, but I was like, ‘Oh, it’ll be fine, it’ll be okay.’ Totally put my head in the sand,” Teerdhala confessed. “It’s been hard. There’s a lot of pressure because it’s going to be a trilogy. I’m continuing to tell Kunal and Esha’s story and I want to do them justice. I also want to make sure readers are having a good time; I don’t know what readers want yet. But I do know how I want it to end. It’s just a matter of getting there.”

What’s your obligation to your past, to your family, to the people around you, and what’s your obligation to yourself?

Teerdhala finds herself drawn to one theme in particular. “What I examine a lot is this idea of being pulled between two different things, whether it’s two different cultures or it can be between two different passions. What’s your obligation to your past, to your family, to the people around you, and what’s your obligation to yourself?” These are issues close to her heart, since she’s always been tugged between two countries and sets of expectations. “I was born and grew up in the U.S., in Dallas, Texas. I’m a Texan at heart. I grew up learning a lot about the U.S.—U.S. history, Teerdhala associates storytelling with her grandfather, who shared stories steeped in U.S. geography, and all that, but I didn’t Indian history and Hindu mythology with learn anything about India.” her from an early age. Although she reg-

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ularly visited India, it wasn’t until college that she began to learn about South Asian history in a more formal way. “I’m a huge, huge history nerd,” she admitted. “I started getting deeper into it and Ancient India in particular called out to me because it’s this fascinating case of so many different city states and cultures that were able to live together in peace.”

female characters. Gauri especially, from A Crown of Wishes, has my heart; she’s just this fearless badass, who takes no prisoners.”

“Sangu Mandanna’s new series that came out recently, or the first book, A Spark of White Fire, is a retelling of the Mahabharata and I’m super excited to read that. I’m just thinking of authors at this point so “At the very beginning, when I concepSamira Ahmed, Love, Hate & Other Filtualized the story, it wasn’t really set in ters—she also has a new book out [InternIndia. I didn’t ever see these stories that ment]. Sabaa Tahir is amazing. An Ember I loved potentially being able to be set in in the Ashes is one of my all-time favorites, my culture, in my heritage; it just didn’t and Laia from that book is definitely a click. But then the more I got involved in great female protagonist. Sona Charaipothe book community, I realized it was also tra has a new book called Symptoms of a a little bit of fear. And there was a moment Heartbreak. That’s a romcom about a prodwhere I was like, ‘Screw it, I’m going to igy doctor who’s also handling being a do it. I want to write these stories, I want teenager.” to celebrate the country that my ancestors are from, the heritage I have.’” “Having grown up hearing about powerful kings and warriors and chariot races— that’s the setting for most of the stories my grandfather would tell me—I started dreaming of this world. These characters came to mind and that was the first place I saw them, because the story’s about an honorable soldier and a legendary rebel and, when they meet each other, their duties kind of become crisscrossed. Ancient India seemed like the perfect setting.”

Diversity’s not a trend.

Every teen deserves to see themselves well represented in YA lit. While the drive for diverse books has picked up momentum It’s also an under-explored setting in YA in recent years, there’s still distance to lit. Lately, we’ve seen more books featurtravel before that’s a reality. “Diversity’s ing female, Indian protagonists and Teerd- not a trend; it shouldn’t be a trend. But hala has some personal favorites. “The there will always be people who see it that first thing that comes to mind is Roshani way,” Teerdhala observed. “I think the Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen and A majority of people in publishing see it as Crown of Wishes. Those feature two differ- an accurate representation of the world ent protagonists but they’re both amazing 38

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we live in. It’s going to be hard work for the industry at large and for the writer community to learn how to shift these long-standing traditions of how publishing works, or the stories we tell, the stories we celebrate.” “Having these discussions is really important. They’re scary; they hurt; but it’s better than not having representation and hurting the teenagers we’re writing for. I think that means being aware of problematic content, and being conscious of representation, and treating things with respect. I think progress is coming.” Teerdhala first gravitated towards writing when she was very young but didn’t take the pursuit too seriously. “Part of that is being Indian and writing is just not an approved career path; I didn’t know it was a job. I started writing again because of young adult fiction and all these amazing stories and I was like, ‘Hey, I could write for the 14, 15, 16 year old that I was. It felt very personal to me.” “I was one of those kids who was reading chapter books super early and, when I was misbehaving, my parents would be like, ‘The punishment is you cannot go to the library.’ That was devastating to me. At the end of high school, I stopped reading as much. I would read short stories and maybe poetry, but it wasn’t until the end of college that I started getting back into novels, and especially into fantasy.” “The genre had really changed. There was this whole new category called young adult and all these fantastic books centered around women or girls. I had read so much fantasy as a kid, but none of it

really had that, so I started getting interested in young adult.” After majoring in finance, Teerdhala branched out into marketing for tech startups—which remains her day job. “I do product marketing so I’m in this space of being very technical but also storytelling so it was like, hello, of course you became a writer! It helped me understand publishing is a business. At the end of the day publishers are trying to make money so they can keep putting out all these incredible books that people fall in love with. That helped me with perspective and with querying—all of the constant rejections. I spend a lot of time in the tech world where there is this idea of fail fast, get feedback, keep revising and striving. It helped me a lot. Writing can be so personal. It can be really hard to really separate yourself, to step back and say, ‘There will be another day, keep going.’” Marketing is a skill that’s a key part of self-promotion for authors, so Teerdhala’s experience comes in handy. “I will say it’s helped when I talk to the marketing team at Harper or a publicist. I can understand where they’re coming from, how many different books they’re working on, all the crazy amazing stuff that they’re doing for these different authors. I enjoy doing the marketing.” Nowadays, everyone needs to promote themselves via social media as well. “There are so many times when I go, ‘Oh no, I’m going to go sit in my writer cave and just write,’ but with the current landscape of how readers interact with authors, it requires a lot more relationship building, a lot more traction.” Teerdhala CURIOSITALES

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values social media for reader communication but has some concerns about its role in nuanced discussions. “I do think it’s easy to pile on. It’s okay not to speak up on social media and to make sure that things you’re saying are accurate. When you say something in public, it grows and it takes on a life of its own so I try and think before I speak. I think it is good that we’re talking about the content of books and making sure we’re safeguarding them for the intended audience, but I don’t know if social media’s the best place to always be having this conversation.” As a debut author, all aspects of the process are new to Teerdhala and the experience can feel equal parts incredible and overwhelming. “I’m so so grateful to be somebody who has a lifelong dream coming true,” she said. This included receiving a blurb from one of Teerdhala’s literary idols. That author was Stacey Lee whose upcoming novel, The Downstairs Girl, will be released in August of 2019. “I love her books and I remember turning to one of my friends and being like, holy crap, Stacey Lee just gave a blurb for my book!”

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“Being able to hold a book that I wrote in my hands soon is, oh my gosh, I can’t even put into words how exciting that is,” Teerdhala continued. “At the same time, it’s also terrifying. The publishing industry puts a lot of pressure on first books. The conversation I have with a lot of other debuts and more established authors is about the longevity of a career. This is the first book of, ideally, a lot of books I would love to write. I want to develop relationships with readers and build out a presence in the community where I get to be here for a while.” The theme of Teerdhala’s debut should resonate with many readers “I like to write books that are addressing a larger question I have,” she explained. In the case of The Tiger at Midnight, the characters struggle with how to balance their duties and obligations to all of the people in their lives, including themselves. “I would love for readers to leave the end of the book feeling like they got to see both sides of that conversation and remember that, at the end of the day, your choices are your own and that is kind of exciting,” explained Teerdhala. Check out her novel’s gorgeous cover art and then pick up a copy of The Tiger at Midnight here.


"A PROMISING START TO A GRIPPING NEW SERIES" ALA Booklist

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"ALLURING AND FEARLESS."

"DELICIOUSLY TWISTY"

Stacely Lee, award winning author of Outrun the Moon

Natasha Ngan, NYT bestselling author of Girls of Paper and Fire CURIOSITALES

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Share Your Shelf

with Swati Teerdhala

Cozy socks ​Who doesn’t like warm feet? Socks definitely add to my coziness factor which is a huge part of what gets me out of bed in the morning to write. My year planner​ This is the best year planner out there. Being able to see my entire year at one time, and having it be dry erase, really allows me to dream big and plan for my entire year instead of just the next few weeks. Candles​ One of my favorite candle brands recently has been Paddywax. They have all sorts of delicious scents and they’re packaged so prettily (while also being soy candles)! 42

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Oil diffuser ​I never thought I’d need an oil diffuser, but it definitely makes a difference. It’s a quick way to set the mood and the ability to choose an oil makes it entirely customizable. Mouse​ This mouse has been a HUGE game changer for me! It’s vertical and took awhile to get used to, but my wrists seriously thank me for it. Irish Breakfast Tea​While I’ll drink any type of tea, I have fell in love with having morning Irish Breakfast Tea as my writing companion. This stuff is nectar!


My favorite tea mug​I particularly love this one from The Strand because of the saying, which keeps me going on a not-so-great writing day. Notebooks, lots of them​! I love notepads of all kinds and always try to pick one up wherever I travel. These ones from Shinola are my current favorites.

Compression gloves​My gloves have become a total need! They definitely help keep my hands and wrists in fighting shape, especially as I tend to get a lot of wrist pain due to also having a computer-oriented day job. Sherpa blanket​The best kind of blanket out there! I love the cozy feel of a sherpa blanket, even CURIOSITALES

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It Matters

Feminism in Fiction Feminism in fiction? YES. We need more. Bring it on. feminism - the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes (1)

First things first, we can’t talk about fictional feminism without first understanding the meaning of feminism. Not to be confused with feminine, feminism, according to the Oxford English Dictionary is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”

by Jun O. Now, moving on to fictional feminism. Girls and women have always played a role in books- from non-fiction biographies and religious texts, all the way to classical fiction and sci-fi literature. But why are women often reduced to the damsel in distress or the “Mary Sue”? The side character that you never remember or who dies in the end? Can you believe that in the not so distant past a woman couldn’t even own something without consent or legal documentation from her husband? A woman couldn’t walk right up to a bank to get her own account without her husband co-signing every paper. And, going further back, women were used for tradebrides were essentially sold to men to ensure and uplift the status of their father.

Women who wanted employment were scandalous in WWII. Powerful women are still seen as a threat; assertive women in the entertainment industry are seen as Essentially, feminism is about parity for divas; housewives who work themselves women who, until now, have been treated tirelessly every day are either praised or as a minority and pushed aside for oppor- shamed if they don’t contribute to their tunities related to work, education, and marital finances. Our society has even publication- even though women make up blamed female sexual assault victims for to 50% of the world’s human population. wearing something “too suggestive”. 48

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(1) Oxford English Dictionary


Fiction, though often meant to be an escape or a leisure read, can be a tool to educate readers on this ongoing battle for equality. No matter how much we are swept away by the fantasy, there is always a parallel to be found between the fictional and real world. Though these parallels may be small, they might spark curiosity or a fire in the reader once they learn about a particular issue. You can always learn something from a book: how to have empathy, to empower yourself, or even how to survive a zombie apocalypse (if one happens). Books take you on a very personal journey that help you learn and grow, that’s why reading about strong women who challenge the social norms and demand equality is more important than ever in recent years. Here are some of my favorites pieces of fiction to get you started:

Powerful women are still seen as a threat; assertive women are seen as divas; housewives are shamed or praised for their lack of financial contributions. CURIOSITALES

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Lysistrata by Aristophanes is one Circe by Madeline Miller is a book I of the first and oldest feminist characters I ever read in this eponymous work. Though it is written as a comedic play and was first acted out with male actors, it is still one of the first revolutionary writing pieces I read as a young girl. There’s something empowering about women banding together by using their sisterhood, their power (which is their sexuality) to end a man’s war. “What matters that I was born a woman, if I can cure your misfortunes? I pay my share of tolls and taxes, by giving men to the State. But you, you miserable greybeards, you contribute nothing to the public charges; on the contrary, you have wasted the treasure of our forefathers, ― You pay nothing at all in return; and into the bargain you endanger our lives and liberties by your mistakes. Have you one word to say for yourselves?” - Lysistrata, Aristophanes

can’t stop praising. I’m sure all of your friends and multiple sites have praised and recommended this book, but it really is worth the read if you’re into a book that has given a new voice to women in myths. Most of the time, women in myths are portrayed as the seductress that evidently brings doom to men or the victim punished by the gods in a tragic ending. But Circe is a tale of a woman’s journey, wrath, and love. It’s a tale of a daughter, a sister, a lover, a mother, a woman trying to find herself and her place in a messy world. “It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.” - Circe, Madeline Miller

The Surface Breaks by

Louise O’Neill is a great book if you’re by Jane into fairy-tale retellings with a feminist Austen is another standout. Elizabeth Ben- twist. The book takes the old little mernet (Lizzy) taught me that it’s alright to be maid tale (Hans Christian Andersen versmart and witty and different from other sion) to a new perspective. The original girls. And let’s take some time to appreci- tale is already dark to begin with and this ate that this revolutionary feminist book book is no different. It’s not light. It’s a written in the 1800s features a protagonist hard story to swallow, and I’m even going that has the freedom to choose her partner to warn that it’s not for everyone because based on love in an era where women did the book brings up issues such as sexual not have a voice and married for financial assault, how dangerous it is for a young stability. girl to be so sheltered, and it highlights how patriarchal the world is. But if you “He is a gentleman, and I am a gentleman’s get to the end, it is a very powerful story. daughter. So far we are equal.” - Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen “I want you to remember always how powerful you are. Never allow anyone to take that away from you, or try and make you feel small.” - The Surface Breaks, Louise O’Neill.

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Damsel by Elana K. Arnold is another amazing book that I’ve been pushing everyone to read. It spins the old knight rescuing a damsel-in-distress trope into something dark but empowering. (*Do note that this IS a very dark book that’s filled with heavy topics such as rape, abuse, assault, sexism, and self-harm.) The story follows a young innocent girl coming blindly into the dangerous world of predatory men- it’s a book that you’ll either love or hate. Personally, I love this book and think we need more books like it. More books that unabashedly reflect the ugly, disgusting state of the world and educate us that predatory abuse is not okay. “That is the way of being a woman, to carve away at herself, to fit herself to the task, but, also, to be able to carve herself in a different way, when a different shape is needed.” - Damsel, Elana K. Arnold

though. I’d like to see men in fiction who empower their fellow women and advocate for their equality. We need more of those. Whether you find it controversial or revolutionary, we can’t change the current state of the world without discussing these topics. We need new and old warriors to fight this ongoing battle for equality for women. What better way to inspire than the characters that have wormed their way into our hearts? These are the stories that have influenced and still continuously teach me something new; how to speak up, how to challenge the stereotypical mold that society has given me and how to not be intimidated by my power as a woman. So feminism in fiction? YES. We need more. Bring it on.

… Whether it’s YA, contemporary, historical fiction or SFF (sci-fi and fantasy), books that talk about feminist issues help educate reader. They teach us lessons: if a man harasses you, you don’t have to stay silent, you CAN speak out. If you are experiencing sexism, it’s NOT okay to tolerate it. It is alright to take action on the inequality we face in school, in work, in life. With the #MeToo movement and the rise of female voices, we need more feminism in books that will continue shaping young and old readers alike. These stories don’t always have to be about strong women,

I’m Jun, your average Chinese Indonesian bookworm that reads a lot and occasionally writes reviews for fun. I take bookstagram pictures that seems to weird my neighbors out. CURIOSITALES

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@imthatreader

Sharon

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How do you organize your bookshelves? I organize them mostly by height. If you could only read one book for the rest of the year, what would it be? Probably Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden. It’s the best book I’ve read this year so far. I keep thinking about the characters and the story. I just loved it so much. What’s an unpopular bookish opinion that you have? I don’t particularly like fantasy. I feel like every single fantasy book tells the same story over and over again, only with different character’s names. Which finished series or book do you wish would get a sequel? What would happen? I can’t think of one right now. But I feel like, if the author decided to finish the book or series was for a reason, there’s just no more story to tell. And I honestly don’t like it when the author drags and drags the plot to make the books longer, that’s why I don’t like certain authors. Favorite childhood book or series? I didn’t read much as a kid. Oops!

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What kind of things make you DNF a book? I rarely DNF a book, but when the characters are hard to relate to, or when they’re too unrealistic. Tell us about yourself and why you bookstagram? I guess I do it for the same reason everyone does it, to share a love for books and photography. Sometimes life gets too boring or too complicated, it’s good to have a place where you can find people with your same interests and passions.

If you had a motto, what would it be? My own personal motto is “mind yourself, please yourself, love yourself”. I don’t like to give much thought to what people think about me or my life decisions. I’ve always had to deal with people criticizing me, even when I do my best. People will always have something to say, so I try to not pay attention to criticism and people’s unwanted opinions. Which two authors would you love to see team up? Scott Westerfeld and S.J. Kincaid. They’re my favorite sci-fi writers and they’re so good at character and world building, so it would be great to read whatever they’d come up with. 66

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“Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences” -Sylvia Plath CURIOSITALES

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@mariannareads_

Marianna Papadatou

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How do you organize your bookshelves? I try to keep my bookcases organized by genre. Right now, I have a bookcase with all my fantasy and sci-fi books and another with all the classics. I actually tried organizing by color once and it was a major failure. If you could only read one book for the rest of the year, what would it be? I would probably have to choose War and Peace because I have been trying to finish for years now but never get around to it. My TBR list is continuously growing, so this would actually be a nice opportunity to get down to business and finish this monster of a book. 70

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What’s an unpopular bookish opinion that you have? My favorite secret ship from the Harry Potter universe is Hermione and Draco. I never understood why these two couldn’t be together and why she had to end up with either Ron or Harry. Which finished series or book do you wish would get a sequel? What would happen? I wish Harry Potter could get a sequel where we see the younger generation and their adventures in Hogwarts. Can’t wait to see how James, Sirius and Lily turned up and how they will handle their father’s fame.


Favorite childhood book or series? Harry Potter. Always. It’s the first series I remember reading. I found myself lost in a world full of magic. If you had a motto, what would it be? Keep moving forward. I always want to do new things and to never stay put. I have tried to actually make this my way of thinking in all aspects my life either it has to do with my work, studies or hobbies. Which two authors would you love to see team up? I would love to see Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo write a book together. I know it’s going to be epic. The way that both of them perceive the world and utter truths through fictional characters and realms actually speaks to my soul.

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What kind of things make you DNF a book? I always try to push myself to finish books that I end up not liking halfway through but there are instances where I stopped reading because of bad writing. This is one of my biggest pet peeves while reading. If the writing is bad then nothing can stop me from closing that book cover for ever. Tell us about yourself and why you bookstagram? I am a grad student about to turn in my dissertation and with limited free time to read nowadays but I’m happy to have the bookstagram community as my support system. One of the reasons why I started my bookstagram account, besides the fact that I love books and photography, was that I needed to share my opinions and thoughts on a book I was reading. I needed someone to understand my distress and to share my sorrow when my favorite character in a series died, so I found myself thousands of bookworms to share my thoughts with. 72

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“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix CURIOSITALES

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@Wrinkled.Pages

Teran E.

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How do you organize your bookshelves? I know the big craze right now is rainbow shelves and that is honestly not for me. I definitely have Type A tendencies and love the classic, Dewey Decimal classification for my books. I try to organize my shelves alphabetically by author and then title. However, I allow myself some leniency when it comes to series. I place those in order of publication instead of title because, to my chagrin, series don’t typically follow an alphabetical order. If you could only read one book for the rest of the year, what would it be? If I must choose one book and not one series, I would most likely select The Night Circus. This novel is one of my top 5 favorite books because there is an abundance of eloquent prose and beautiful imagery. A reader can truly lose themselves within the world that Erin Morgenstern builds. The magic is elaborate and dreamy. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has not yet read the novel. 76

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What’s an unpopular bookish opinion that you have? I’m sure I’ll get some backlash for this, but I don’t love how most of the Young Adult genre writes everything in a set, whether duologies or trilogies. I would like to have the option for more stand alone novels. I love how Jessica Leake created stand alone novels based within the same universe and time period but not really connected. In this, you get the satisfaction of completing a book without the heartache of an unexpected cliffhanger, only to have to wait a year or better for the next book. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than starting a book to realize it is the first in a new series. Which finished series or book do you wish would get a sequel? What would happen? I would like to see a book centered around Morozko from Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy. I really fell in the love with that character and would like to know more of his background story and what caused the rift between him and his brother, Medved. I believe their history would be rather fascinating.


If you had a motto, what would it be?

Favorite childhood book or series?

It may be a little cliché but, be yourself. It is so easy to lose yourself within this community as you try to blend and form a feed that is congruent with all the beautiful ones surrounding you. I have struggled with keeping my photography and edits how I love them because it is easy to think “no one likes my style of photography” or “my warmer aesthetic doesn’t mesh with what other bookstagrammers prefer”. I have gone back and forth so many times about what I should display and have finally decided to be myself. I am that way in person, I should be that way online as well. Definitely choose to be you and be happy.

The Bernstein Bear and Little Critter books. Those were both a favorite of mine growing up and I had to make certain to have those readily available for my own children. As I got older, I rather enjoyed reading Agatha Christie and she was my go-to author for most of my preteen years. From an early age, I was attracted to mysteries and thrillers. I love having a book that challenges you to solve a mystery before it is revealed.

What kind of things make you DNF a book?

I would love to see Leigh Bardugo and Kerri Maniscalco co-write a novel. They are both brilliant authors who write amazingly dark and twisty stories. I love that Victorian atmosphere that Kerri creates and think it would mesh well with the world building and morally gray characters that Leigh has mastered. If ever they were to team up, I would buy that book in a heartbeat.

I don’t think I have ever quit reading a book, even if I hated it. I always feel like there is always a chance to find some redeeming parts at the end. Plus, once I start, I need to know how it ends regardless of how awful I may find a book. Some things that put me off of certain books are slow to develop plots with a lot of unnecessary filler.

Which two authors would you love to see team up?

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Tell us about yourself and why you bookstagram. I am a stay-at-home mother of three amazing, rowdy children. My family and I live on a small acreage in the Panhandle of Nebraska where we are currently raising cows and chickens. The closest town to us is a small community of 300, located 20 miles away, while the closest grocery store is 40 miles from home. I started my account as a way to connect with others who have a similar love of books. I needed an outlet to put some love into that was just my own, to refresh and regain some of my interests. I have met so many amazing people within this community that I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.

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“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.� - Arthur Conan Doyle. CURIOSITALES

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Bookish Creations: by Elizabeth Sagan @elizabeth_sagan

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About the Photographer

Elizabeth Sagan Elizabeth Sagan is a fantasy junkie; she likes to stare at marked slices of wood for hours on end... she likes to read. She also likes to write. Through her art she hopes to share her love for reading and to make people give books a chance. 92

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05/07/19 Preorder

05/07/19 Preorder

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May Releases 05/14/19 Preorder

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05/07/19 Preorder

05/14/19 Preorder


05/14/19 Preorder

05/07/19 Preorder

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May Releases 05/07/19 Preorder

05/28/19 Preorder

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Around the World

W

ould you like to visit a small town that’s essentially a giant bookstore? Such a place sounds too amazing to exist but it actually does! The adorable village of Hay-on-Wye in Wales has been called a “book town” and is filled to the brim with novels of all kinds. There are books literally everywhere – even outside! Most of the outdoor stores are unmanned “honesty bookshops,” and one of them even lines the walls of a beautiful castle. As if that wasn’t enough, every year the village hosts a literary event called Hay Festival. There are tons of events, speakers, and great local food. There’s no entry charge, but tickets must be purchased to attend the events. The next one is May 23 – June 2 so you better start planning now!

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