Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Meeting Authors - Marissa Meyer

One of the biggest benefits of working at a bookstore is the fact that authors visit to do signings every so often! So far, through events at the store, I've been fortunate enough to meet Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, Kelley Armstrong, Nicholas Sparks, and most recently, Marissa Meyer of the Lunar Chronicles!

Usually, when events like these go down, it's a chaotic day to be in the store and even crazier to work that day. There is often very little communication about what an author is going to do in terms of how much talking they'll do, how many books they'll be signing, if there's going to be a Q&A, and if they're going to be a decent human being (Ahem.. one of them wasn't). But I love these days because of the opportunities I have to potentially meet people from the publishing industry.

Cinder has been on my TBR list for ever, seriously, since it came out. When I heard Ms. Meyer was going to be visiting, it was all the motivation I needed. I read Cinder and Scarlet before the event last week and was surprised with how much I enjoyed the spin-off of the classic fairy tales in a science fiction world.

Ms. Meyer herself was lovely, quirky, and just nerdy enough that I wanted to be her. She spent over a half hour giving the crowd a rundown of series' plot, talking about some characters, and telling a story about being both a Trekkie and a fan of Sailor Moon (an inspiration for the series). At the end of her talk, she gave the audience the option of hearing one of two fairy tales: Cinderella or Rapunzel. The crowd picked Rapunzel and so she gave her fans an amazing retelling of the original story, gore included. She was enigmatic and funny and entertaining, and she gave her die-hard fans an awesome experience that was worth the 6+ hours of waiting in line.

I find that after meeting movie or music celebrities, I am usually disappointed. When you meet those kinds of celebrities, you expect them to act similarly to how you see them in their films or interviews, and when they don't hold up to that expectation, it's such a let down (Shia LaBeouf). With authors, it's always a strange experience for me. It's hard to connect the person with the characters that you've grown attached to, and it's hard to realize that the author actually created the story you've been lost in for the past week.

I don't know about you guys, but I always feel slightly protective and territorial when I find a book or author I love. On one hand, I want to gush and buy copies for everyone I know, but on the other hand, I feel so strange knowing that someone else is just as absorbed in a story as I was. It's weird to think of someone else reading the lines of the characters who feel like my friends and knowing they probably feel attached to them too. This situation is extreme in terms of Harry Potter. I can't even go there =P

So at a book signing, there's 150-300 people standing around you, asking questions about the storyline and the characters and the subplots that you read, and it always hits me that everyone experienced the same story in similar ways as I did and we all know these characters as well as the next person. We probably all laughed at the same sentences and cringed when the same things went wrong.

Reading, for me, has always been a solitary event. I've never been in a book club and I've never had friends who read the same things as me. So when I go to these author signings and I'm forced to acknowledge that every other person in the room understands my feelings about Cinder and Thorne, I love and hate it, and I remember why I want to work in this industry. Books bring people together, and amazing authors like Marissa Meyer keep my faith that the book industry isn't going anywhere for a long time.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Stacking the Shelves #2

 Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

There was a super amazing deal on some teen books a couple weeks ago on the Indigo website, so I finally bought some of the books that have been on my list for a while!! Can't wait for the semester to be over so I can get started/re-started on these! :)

I picked up this book at work because of the beautiful cover and my love of birds. The sequel is "Darkbeast Rebellion," and I have this thing with books about rebellions...
It's a 9-12 book, which is a nice change from the angst-y teen books I'm used to.

I bought this one based on a stellar review from Kristy, who always has good book advice and we read the same genres :) Love this cover, and I hadn't heard much else about the series other than from what she's said, so it's kind of nice to have a book lined up that isn't over-hyped.

I have loved this cover since it was first released, and now that there's a sequel out, I thought I'd buy this one when I saw it on sale. I've heard good things, so at least if I love it, I'm not stuck waiting for the next one.

Everyone has been talking about this series, but the whole android/cyborg thing has never really interested me. HOWEVER, the author is coming to my bookstore for an author signing later this month!!!!! So I always read the books of authors who visit. And a couple co-workers have raved about the series as well, not to mention the third book in the series is almost out. 

Already read and LOVED it, I just never owned it. Once again, a fantastic recommendation that did not disappoint. I have recommended this series to countless customers and friends since I read it, and Ignite Me comes out (so) soon, so I have to re-read these before I grab that one.

I picked this one up at the library over the summer and read it so fast and then devoured the second book as well while on vacation. So good, but again I didn't own it. The third is OUT!! So now I have to refresh my memory and read the last one :D 

So there are a lot of books this week that I've already read but didn't own, but I'll be buying all the sequels to these guys soon. Screw grocery money...All I need is my cat and some books.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Leave your smaller university: From UFV to SFU

Simon Fraser University, BC

Those of you who know me will know that I moved out this past summer from Langley to Burnaby to go to Simon Fraser University. Before I was accepted to SFU, I had been working on my Bachelor's degree at the University of the Fraser Vally out in Abbotsford while living at home and working part time. It's so funny now when people ask me where I transferred from and when I tell them "UFV," they have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. The University, while decent, just really isn't very well known outside the Fraser Valley. And this is part of the reason I applied to SFU.

After high school I took a year off of education in order to work (I did), travel (I didn't), and save money (I definitely didn't). I finally quit my first job at an overpriced grocery store and conveniently started working for my absolute favourite company in Canada. After a year of work and a slight obsession with World of Warcraft, I decided I needed to get back into school again and applied to UFV.

In Langley and Abbotsford, UFV is the school everyone goes to; I literally saw high school classmates a couple times a day when I was on campus. And while the familiarity aspect was a good thing, it also meant that a lot of students were there for the cheap tuition, small class sizes, and ability to commute to school. Therefore, school spirit, extra-curricular activities, and scholarly opportunities were next to non-existent. For me, this was a huge issue. I have always been an excellent student, I blame it on my over-organization of every aspect of my life, but I'm very proud of how well I do when I push myself. So after a year and a half at UFV with students who didn't really want to be there, professors who were underpaid and unhappy with their jobs, and basically just a total lack of support from the University administration, I sent in my application to SFU.

Funnily enough, SFU was never on my list of schools I was interested in. All throughout high school I was wooed by UBCO and UVIC with their sprawling campuses, city life, and beautiful surroundings. But after two years at the best bookstore job ever and 5 semester at UFV, I finally had a sense of the direction I wanted my education to take: Publishing. In British Columbia, there is only one school that has a credible publishing program with industry professionals for instructors, and that program is at SFU. So I applied to go to school on a dreary mountain.

My long-time boyfriend and I both applied to SFU at the same time, so the waiting game for the acceptance letters was a long one. We applied in October and didn't hear back until April, and when we finally did hear back, we opened our letters together and were both terrified and excited at the idea that we would have to look for apartments and buy furniture. I had to leave my favourite job with the best co-workers to move out to Burnaby where I now work at a larger store in my same favourite company. Now, I take the bus instead of drive, and I have to spend my money on rent and food first, and Starbucks and books second, but it's completely worth it because of the opportunities I've had just from where I work and where I go to school.

What started off as a decision to go to school on a mountain in the rainiest city in Canada actually turned into the best decision for my academic and professional careers. I have received more opportunities just from being at SFU in one semester than I did in my entire two years at UFV. I ended my first semester at SFU with an awesome GPA, and since then, multiple academic opportunities have been extended to me, and there are clubs at my University that teach you how to use social media professionally and network with industry professionals. The difference between a small university and a large one is exponential and is seen especially in the options for getting involved on campus. At UFV there was one student union; at SFU there is a student union for every faculty, with volunteer opportunities in each one. Here, every professor is like the best professors at UFV, and I can honestly say that I have taken at least one important thing away from every course so far.

I guess the point of this post is to reach out to those who I know are settling for the university or college they current attend. I knew I was a better student than to settle for UFV, and I know so many other people who are too. I just want to make sure others know that the hassle with transferring between universities is absolutely worth it. It was worth every dollar I spent and still spend on furniture, rent, and groceries. It is worth having to visit my family and give up driving my car as often. It's worth the stress and the larger class sizes; it's all worth it. I wish I had left my old university sooner, and I wish others would too. I realized that for students of SFU and UBC, the education isn't all about the name printed on the graduation certificate at the end, it's completely about the experience of the school, faculty, administration, campus, and community. I meet so many interesting people in my classes, and I love listening to (almost) every prof's two-hour lecture.

Leave your old university, trust me, it's so worth it.