Top Five Wednesday: Bookish Costumes

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Happy Halloween readers! Wouldn’t it be nice when you went trick-or-treating, you received books inside of candy??

In honor of Halloween, today’s Top Five Wednesday is all about characters I’d love to cosplay as or be for Halloween. While I admit that I’m not the biggest costume person, who wouldn’t want to be their favorite book character for a day?

Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell- I think my wardrobe is most prepared for me dressing as Cath. Cardigan ✓ Jeans ✓ Hair in messy bun ✓ Sneakers ✓ Glasses ✓

This cosplay would also give me the perfect excuse to finally buy a Carry On-inspired t-shirt from Red Bubble. I’ve seen this before, but I’d also love to couples cosplay as Cath and Levi.

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Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)- I feel like all of these characters would give me excuses to supplement my fandom wardrobe, but I would love to get my own pair of Luna’s radish earrings and Gryffindor hat—I would basically make myself into the real-life Funko version.

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wonderwwDiana (Wonder Woman:Warbringer) by Leigh Bardugo- Probably cheating a little bit with this one, but Diana is a YA book character now, thanks to Leigh Bardugo. I’ve always wanted to dress up as Wonder Woman and buy some WW-inspired leggings. And of course, the Lasso.

Lena (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares)- I would 100% dress up as Lena only because I already have the brown hair AND be able to replicate the jeans based on the original covers.

Manon Blackbeak (Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas)- Dressing as Manon would be a complete 180 from my usual self. Anyone know where I can find iron nails and a red cloak?

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Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

What book character would you dress up as for Halloween? What’s your costume this year? Share in the comments!

FASHION & FOSSILS: Mammoth Review

Summary: The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin, Texas.  Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on her retro style and persona to shield herself from her former bullies. However, her vintage dresses and designer heels aren’t great for fossil digging. But nothing is going to dampen her spirit.  She’s exactly where she wants to be, and gets to work with her hero, the host of the most popular paleontology podcast in the world.  And then there’s Chase, the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.Until it isn’t.

When Natalie’s paleontologist hero turns out to be anything but and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, she has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by men.  To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying the rules and risking her life for the sake of a major discovery.  While sifting through dirt, she finds more than fossils—she finds out that she is truly awesome.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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 Cover Lust? Pardon me while I share Mammoth’s beautiful cover EVERYWHERE. I think the cover is so fitting to the book, and I love how much the blue and pink compliment one another.

 My Thoughts:

 In short, Mammoth is the paleontology-loving, plus-size fasionista takes on internship book that I never knew I needed.

Okay, let me rewind.

Mammoth was added to my TBR in early 2018, after I read in its blurb that Natalie was a fashion blogger. Add that to girls in STEM, plus-size rep, AND PALEONTOLOGY! I think the only other paleontology-loving fictional character I know is Ross from Friends.

Mammoth truly combines fashion and paleontology in a fun, unique and refreshing way. Natalie is a paleontology and fashion blogger- an uncommon, but workable duo! It’s just a given that bloggers like to read about bloggers, right??I would definitely be one of Fossilista’s many followers. The book also features pictures of Natalie in her everyday outfits and the accompanying blog excerpts.

The most enjoyable aspect of Mammoth, in my opinion, is its unique setting- an Ice Age dig site in Texas! I can safely say that I’ve never read a YA book with a main character, let alone a whole cast, who loves paleontology as much as Natalie. While I didn’t understand every single thing when it came to the subject, Jill Baguckinsky’s research and knowledge on paleontology is more than evident. While I’m not a STEM girl myself, it was beyond awesome to see girls in the field, especially in an area like paleontology where more female voices are needed.

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It was also really refreshing to have a plus-size protagonist like Natalie. I think we’ve seen a few more plus-size characters in recent YA books, but I really enjoyed how confident Natalie was in her body (and fashion sense). However, Natalie does have some less confident moments, like when she reflects on being bullied growing up or worrying about not wearing a shaper while out on the field. While sad, these moments made Natalie feel more real.

Mammoth also has an awesome full cast of characters. Mellie was my favorite out of the intern crew. Her crafty side made me want to break out my own craft box—even if I can’t crochet pillows shaped like mammoths or shark-tooth earrings. I liked that Quinn wasn’t the typical YA mean girl for being jealous of Natalie’s crush on Chase. She definitely wasn’t perfect, but I liked how she a complex person for both the reader and Natalie to figure out. I admit that had a little trouble understanding some of Eli and Cody’s brashness- Eli was just plain mean at some points- but I’m so glad that Cody had a change of heart. And I wouldn’t mind some sort of prequel or sequel starring Natalie and Aunt Judy working at Savage Swallow.

Overall, I especially loved Mammoth for its unique setting and story, fantastic cast of characters, and of course, Natalie. This is definitely a 2018 release not to be missed.

This review is based on an uncorrected proof. By no means did receiving this copy affect my thoughts or opinions.

 Mammoth comes out on November 6th, 2018newfireborder

Is Mammoth on your TBR? Share in the comments!

The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig Review & Giveaway

THE SEVEN TORMENTS OF AMY AND CRAIG

Seven Torments of Amy and CraigSummary: Janesville, Wisconsin (cold in the sense that there is no God). 1994

The worst thing that’s ever happened to Craig is also the best: Amy. Amy and Craig never should’ve gotten together. Craig is an awkward, Dungeons & Dragons-playing geek, and Amy is the beautiful, fiercely intelligent student-body president of their high school.

Yet somehow they did. Until Amy dumped him. Then got back together with him. Then dumped him again. Then got back together with him again. Over and over and over.

Unfolding during their senior year, Amy and Craig’s exhilarating, tumultuous relationship is a kaleidoscope of joy, pain, and laughter as an uncertain future-and adult responsibility-loom on the horizon.

Craig fights for his dream of escaping Janesville and finding his place at a quirky college, while Amy’s quest to uncover her true self sometimes involves being Craig’s girlfriend?and sometimes doesn’t.

Seven heartbreaks. Seven joys.Told nonsequentially, acclaimed playwright Don Zolidis’s debut novel is a brutally funny, bittersweet taste of the utterly unique and utterly universal experience of first love.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

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My Thoughts: 

The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig is easily one of the most underrated releases of 2018. Set in 1994 Wisconsin, this book features so many heartwarming and heartbreaking moments that may make you want to join in on Craig and co.’s Saturday Dungeons & Dragons tournaments. Unless Kaitlyn has anything to do with it.

As the title may suggest, The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig has a lot to do with Amy and Craig’s relationship- and their many breakups. The book is told from Craig’s perspective, which I liked having a male main POV for a bit of a change, and flips between the couple’s breakups and their get-back-togethers. I liked learning about Amy’s past and own struggles, although I wish we got to experience them more before the end.

Additionally, I really enjoyed how the book isn’t all about Craig’s relationship with Amy. In between, we learn about Craig’s past, his family life, and his friends (including the absolutely hilarious Groash).

“I looked at Groash, who was rotating slowly in his chair. “We’re screwed,” I whispered.

“These chairs are awesome,” he whispered back.” (197)

The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig is really a story about growing up. From gearing up for college to family struggles, Craig and his friends are all dealing with something in their lives that made the book feel all the more real. While they were often cringe-worthy, for example, I really liked the chapters spent with Craig and his dad or Kaitlyn. Craig’s family had a ton of funny back-and-forths, but they demonstrated that no matter how different they each were, they all cared about each other.

And if you need another excuse to stay inside with some tea and a blanket as the cold weather approaches, 1994 Wisconsin will give you plenty of reason to! I found the moments where Craig just flopped in the snow a bit hilarious. I think the ‘90s more or less came into play when it came to the fact that these characters obviously didn’t have social media or cell phones, which made letter-writing really convenient. The setting just felt so unique for YA, and the snow and cold felt very atmospheric to the story.

Overall, The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig is a funny book that provides much insight on relationship and family dynamics. If you’re in need of a cozy read this fall or winter, make sure to pick this one up!

This book was provided to me by the publisher. By no means did this affect my thoughts or opinions.

FIND THE SEVEN TORMENTS OF AMY & CRAIG  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DonOriginally from Wisconsin, Don Zolidis is a novelist and one of the most-produced playwrights in America.

His 102 published plays have received more than 12,000 productions and have appeared in every state and 64 countries.

He currently splits time between Texas and New York and aspires to owning a dog.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

GIVEAWAY

3 winners will win a finished copy of THE SEVEN TORMENTS OF AMY & CRAIG, US Only.

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Enter Giveaway Here

FOLLOW THE TOUR 

Week Three:

10/22/2018- The Clever Reader Review

10/23/2018- Life of a Literary Nerd Review

10/24/2018- A Dream Within A Dream Review

10/25/2018- We Love and Breathe Books Review

10/26/2018- Fangirl Fury– Review

Find more of the THE SEVEN TORMENTS OF AMY & CRAIG Blog Tour

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Is The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig on your TBR? Share in the comments!

 

BROADWAY TO BOOK: Dear Evan Hansen Review

Summary: Thanks to a letter that was never meant to be seen, Evan Hansen finds himself drawn into a family’s grief over their lost so . Evan feels forced to stick to the lie that he never meant to tell, that he was Connor Murphy’s secret best friend. Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore- to the whole school and even to the girl of his dreams. Connor Murphy’s parents treat Evan as their own, and through it all, he finally feels like he belongs. No longer trapped by his anxiety, this new Evan Hansen has a purpose. Until things slowly, but surely start to unravel and Evan finds himself face to face with his biggest obstacle: himself.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

As a DEH fan, I was highly anticipating the novelization of Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich. However, I admit that I was really nervous to pick up this book inspired by one of my favorite musicals. It almost feels like a reverse book-to-movie adaptation! Would DEH the novel live up to everything that is DEH the musical?

My answer? Yes and No.

The plot and message behind the novel is essentially the same as the musical: Evan, a lonely teenager with mental health issues of his own, finds himself in a situation he never wanted to be in, pretending to be Connor Murphy’s best friend. While the book is primarily told from Evan’s perspective, readers get more insight on the teens, like Zoe, Alana, and Jared. We see Zoe’s grief more and get more character development from her, and we learn how Jared and Alana are more similar to Evan than he may think. I also enjoyed songs and dialogue directly from the musical were implemented in the story. The text messages and Connor Project comment posts also were similar to the emphasis on technology on stage.

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Yet, there were moments where I thought the book strayed too much from the musical or were just unnecessary. For example, Evan’s real name is Mark?? One major change from the musical to the book is Connor’s perspective. I appreciated getting to know Connor more, however, I felt the expansion of his storyline wasn’t necessary and even getting his perspective was unrealistic. While fans from the musical may look to better understand Connor, it almost felt like Thirteen Reasons Why for me, as if there had to be a specific reason for Connor’s death.

However, there were also moments where I thought the book could have strengthened  through elements from the musical. One moment that stands out to me is Evan’s speech in front of the student body. It just didn’t feel as impactful to me in the book than it was in the musical. I feel like this would’ve been the perfect moment to almost directly put in what Evan sings in, “You Will Be Found.”

Overall, I think the readers who will most enjoy the novelization of Dear Evan Hansen are those who have not yet experienced DEH in any way (Broadway, listening to the soundtrack, Wikipedia page read-through,etc.) and perhaps DEH superfans. While I enjoyed this book for reminding me why I love DEH as a musical, I believe the balance between the musical and added plot elements could have been better executed.

This review is based on an advance reader copy. By no means did this affect my thoughts or opinions. 

Are you a Dear Evan Hansen fan? Is this on your TBR? Share in the comments!

IT’S TIME FOR KINGDOM OF ASH: Throne of Glass Cast Book Recommendations

Kingdom of Ash is coming TOMORROW, and I am not prepared. The final book in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, KoA is surely going to break my bookish soul. In anticipation of KoA, I’m going to be kickstarting a new series on Fangirl Fury, ToG style. Today I’ll be sharing book recommendations based off ToG characters. I would love to continue sharing recommendations based on characters in my favorite books and TV shows.

I’ve chosen 8 ToG characters to share recs for because we’d be here for a longggggg time if I even did recs based off all the main characters, let alone every character in the series. Long live this 992 page finale.

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Celaena Sardothein- Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

While I find Colleen Hoover’s more recent novels problematic, Celaena would love Ugly Love, especially since our beloved assassin loves a smutty romance or two. Ugly Love features a lot of intimate scenes and was a book I couldn’t put down.

Dorian Havilliard – Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

I feel like Dorian and teenage Bruce Wayne could be best friends, and it wouldn’t be just because of their style and wealth. Similar to how you don’t have to be the biggest high fantasy fan to read Throne of Glass, you don’t have to know everything about Batman or DC to read Marie Lu’s take on Bruce Wayne. Batman: Nightwalker is filled with fantastic world-building and characters.

Chaol Westfall- Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Just like how Chaol Westfall is one of my favorite characters, Neal Shusterman’s Scythe is one of my favorite books. Chaol is definitely someone who’s life has been affected by politics and has had to question his morals again and again. Politics and morality are definitely two big themes in Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, set in a world with no natural death, no disease, no disaster, etc. In order to control population growth, scythes are responsible for ending lives, including teenage apprentices Citra and Rowan.

Manon Blackbeak – Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Do I even need to explain why I think of Vicious when I think of Manon Blackbeak? It’s pretty safe to say Manon is a pretty vicious person herself. Like Manon, Vicious is filled with complex, and at times, violent characters set in a high stakes environment. I think Manon would be pretty intrigued by Victor Vale and would so find a way to take Eli Ever down.

Lysandra – Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Lysandra really embodies both sisters in Tracy Banghart’s Grace and Fury. On the outside, Lysandra can look like an innocent, stylish woman, but on the inside and even on the outside, she is a strong women filled with vengeance and power. Grace and Fury incorporates these elements, following two sisters who must fight for survival in two very different settings. Nomi unwillingly serves as one of the heir’s Graces, expected to be the shining example of the perfect woman. Meanwhile, Nomi’s sister, Grace, is subject to life imprisoned on an island full of gore and politics.

Aedion Ashryver- Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Ryan Graudin’s has all the elements that I think Aedion would enjoy: politics, history, action, a high-stakes plot, and yes, a little bit of romance. This book following an alternate ending to World War II where the Axis powers win.

Aelin Ashryver Galathynius- Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Much like Aelin, Mia in Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight is also a female assassin and overall badass. My roommate believes that Aelin and Mia would be best friends or worst enemies. If you enjoy Throne of Glass and want to explore high fantasy, Nevernight would a good choice.

Rowan Whitehorn-Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Okay, even I admit that this is the one book recommendation that is a bit ridiculous. In various interviews and discussions, Sarah says that if Rowan lived in our world, he probably wouldn’t leave nature (unless Aelin made him accompany her on a shopping trip). When I think of Rowan, I think of the forest, which led me to Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, which I read in the 5th grade. This book follows a young boy who is stranded alone in the Canadian wilderness.

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Are you a Throne of Glass fan? What books remind you of the ToG cast? Share in the comments below!

 

Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Summary: (From the publisherIt’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down. (less)

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

 As a contemporary reads kind of a girl, Tahereh Mafi’s A Very Large Expanse of Sea caught my attention for its unique and untold story in YA. I was even more excited to read A Very Large Expanse of Sea when I found that this was Tahereh Mafi’s first contemporary AND semi autobiographical book. It also received amazing blurbs from so many YA queens, including Marie Lu!

A Very Large Expanse of Sea completely delivered when it came to its beautiful, writing style. I was hooked from the beginning, and among Tahereh’s engrossing writing is her brutally honest protagonist, Shirin. Shirin is such a strong, and yes, stubborn, main character, but I loved how she stuck to her personal beliefs and didn’t let others affect her appearance. Being a Muslim teen in 2002 America certainly isn’t easy for Shirin, and while she wasn’t the best at letting people in, I respect her for not letting her peers and teachers’ comments get to her for the most part.

Speaking of, many thanks to Tahereh’s again beautiful writing style, but it was so heartbreaking to see how cruelly Shirin was treated in school. I loved Navid for many reasons, and while the siblings reside on different steps on the social ladder, it was nice to see how much Navid and his friends supported Shirin. Also, does A Very Large Expanse of Sea mean we’re going to get more YA books with breakdancing?? I think we’ve established long ago that I am quite the uncoordinated reader (but surprisingly/unspringingly good at holding ALL the books), but breakdancing sounds so cool!

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However, even though A Very Large Expanse of Sea’s premise promises some kind of romance, I didn’t realize how much of the book would focus on Shirin’s relationship with the sweetest biology partner ever, Ocean. And yes, my mind still can’t get over the connection between his name and the book’s title.

I didn’t mind Ocean and Shirin’s relationship, and I think Tahereh really displayed the tension caused by a Muslim teen and white, golden boy dating post 9/11. Again, I was shocked by people’s cruelty, which made me sympathize with Shirin’s fears even more. However, I do wish we did get to spend more time learning about Shirin’s family and her culture instead of the romance. I understand that their relationship shows how people’s perception of Shirin makes it difficult for her to carry out a “normal” life as a teenager, but I was more interested in learning about her family and well, Shirin!

One thing I definitely loved about Ocean and Shirin’s relationship? AOL/AIM! I didn’t get on the AIM bandwagon until near the end of its era, but what a throwback!

Blame me for being a late ‘90s child, but I didn’t know texting even existed in 2002.

Overall, I really enjoyed A Very Large Expanse Sea for its unique and honest main character and story. I would love to see Tahereh venture further into contemporary!

I received this advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review. By no means did this affect my thoughts & opinions. 

Is A Very Large Expanse of Sea on your TBR? Share in the comments!

 

YA LIFE & MUSE OF NIGHTMARES: Morristown Book Festival

Books and bookish events ALWAYS go hand in hand.

On Saturday I attended the Morristown Book Festival with Emily from @emily_reads_everything. This year, the festival hosted a variety of authors, including some of my favorite YA authors.

After a quick bite to eat in Morristown (one can never go wrong with Panera macaroni and cheese), Emily and I made our way to the main square. The Morristown Book Festival is a bit smaller than some other well known festivals, like YALLFest, so there aren’t any publishers’ booths. It’s mostly composed of a few book-for-sale tents, food trucks, and hand-on activities for young kids. In the “YA Loft” of a local church, we caught the end of the Rebels, Romantics and Everything In Between Panel with Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova, and Kass Morgan, where they were discussing how long it takes them to write a book.

Soon after, the YA Life As We Know It Panel began with Emily X.R. Pan, Ibi Zoboi, and Jennifer E. Smith. Everyone can guess that this contemporary reads girl was super excited for this panel, especially since Jennifer E. Smith is one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. I had also read all the books that these authors were promoting at the festival, including The Astonishing Color of After, Pride, and Windfall.

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Emily X.R. Pan, who was wearing the cutest dress with giraffes all over, kicked off the panel by discussing how color comes into play in The Astonishing Color of After. She said that her husband would associate her drafts with colors, one day saying that her story felt so orange! She also said that when she originally sold the book, it including an entire fantasy realm instead of the finished version’s touch of magical realism. When someone from the audience asked if Emily inserts herself into her characters, she comparing herself as horrocruxes in her characters.

Ibi Zoboi talked a lot about how she used the framework of Pride and Prejudice for her P&P remixing, Pride, but still made changes, such as Zuri’s first-person point of view. While discussing Windfall, Jennifer said that Leo was one of her all-time characters that she’s written. Ibi and Jennifer also both said that they like writing about characters who are in the transition stage between high school and college (hello Jennifer’s 2019 release that I NEED to get my hands on, Field Notes to Love). They laughed at how much they knew about today’s college application process from all the research they’ve done for their books!

The YA Life panel was then followed by a Fantastical Sequel panel featuring Laini Taylor and Muse of Nightmares, moderated by author Emmy Labourne. Since she didn’t want to give spoilers for both Strange the Dreamer and MoN, she described MoN as a story of reclaiming your identity and life after destruction. Laini said that Sarai has been a character that’s been with her for a while (even before writing Strange the Dreamer), but she felt that she needed to make the first installment Lazlo’s story. Emmy and the audience agreed that Lazlo was every fantasy bookworm’s crush, and Laini responded with the Strange quote, “His nose was broken by a falling volume of fairy tales his first day on the job, and that, they said, told you everything you needed to know about strange Lazlo Strange”.

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After the panel, there was an autographing session with Laini. This was my second time meeting Laini, who is seriously the most sweet and heartwarming author that I’ve ever met, and she signed my copy of Strange the Dreamer. Her and Emily discussed what an elilith looks like and even drew a quick sketch for Emily as an inspiration for a future tattoo. With my signed Strange the Dreamer and hot chocolate in my hand (it’s finally starting to feel like fall on the East Coast), that wrapped up our day at the Morristown Book Festival.

Have you attended any book festivals? If there’s one that I NEED to get to, it’s YALLFest! Have you met any of the above authors? Share in the comments!