Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nearly Nancy : Failed Attempts at a Multimedia Nancy Drew

We've experienced the '70s tv show, the star-helmed big screen installment, and now, we might be losing out on another iteration of our favorite teenage sleuth, Miss Nancy Drew, of River Heights. (You'd think that a character that has won hearts worldwide for almost 90 years would have a little more longevity in her adaptations.)

To understand the unrest behind the newest attempt at revitalizing one of America's greatest heroines, we're going to have to look at her past adaptations!

The original Nancy Drew television show, airing in 1977 - and produced in conjunction with a series of Hardy Boys mysteries who shared top billing - never grew to be a great hit for its time slot, despite both the popularity of the subject matter, and the fact that Shaun Cassidy had a role as one of the Hardy brothers. One of the problems with it involved the original casting choices, of deciding who our heroine would be: "Everyone had a fixed image in their heads," producer Joyce Brotman is quoted as saying. The original actress ended up quitting after the first season - when it was clear the Hardy Boys were attracting more viewers - and the show ended up dropping Nancy completely by the third.

After that, it took til 2007 for anyone to tackle the supername of Nancy Drew again; this time, with a major film production geared towards the tweenage set. This version depicted a somewhat stuck-in-time Nancy - hearkening back to the yellow-covered '60s-edited versions most adults today grew up alongside - with our titular teenager played by Emma Roberts.

The movie was okay, but still bemoaned by die-hard Drew fans as not entirely fitting the character, and not just in appearances: my personal flinch-y moment of choice was hearing Nancy, in a fast-paced car chase, argue "I can't go above the speed limit!", something our sleuth was never afraid to do. (In fact, Nancy's car escapades are many; it's one of the reasons the book was so popular when it was first produced, as not many teen girls had the chance to own a car, let alone the knowledge to drive one!)

This was not exactly the way to please fans. The movie was considered a flop and plans for a sequel were shelved.

And now, we've come to 2016. This newest adaptation's primary roadblocks were plentiful, and were already drawing ire across the Internet, even before news broke that CBS developers had pulled the project plug. Of course, the Twitter response was instantaneous, primarily due to the reasoning behind the decision posed by the network heads: that the pilot read as "too female."

Within hours, the hashtag #toofemale was trending on Twitter, with many voicing concern that if a time-proven juggernaut like Nancy couldn't do it, then what kind of female characters could turn the tables of network television? 

What's actually unfortunate, is that the quote is being taken out of context: the complete quote is that it was "too female for CBS' schedule," which is something the suits at CBS need to take into account in order to form a balanced viewing season. And, of course, there's the fact that it really wouldn't have delivered the kind of series we all want, anyways.

For instance, one of the initial decisions made in casting the new pilot, was to deliberately choose a "diverse" Nancy. While the inclusion of a Nancy of non-white descent was an awesome and progressive choice - and the woman they chose, Sarah Shahi, is a really cool, accomplished actress! - the rest of the casting was coming off as pretty lackluster (ie, predominantly white). To me, it seemed to be less deliberately inclusive casting, and more of a sense of tokenism... and the last thing our Nancy needs is to come off as a gimmick.

Besides, the overall concept for the project was a pretty well-tread and tired one: the series would have followed Nancy as a 30-something detective living and working in New York City... as if television needs another one of those. And if that's not enough to swing you, the cherry on top is this cringe-y character, with a description taken directly from a Variety article on the original casting: "Felix Solis will appear as Lt. Ford, an NYPD lieutenant who finds Nancy's confidence and willingness to stand up and disagree with him unnerving." 

Yikes. Really... after this many police procedurals on television - many of which include women - we still have to write in that kind of an overtly terrible character? 

But beyond television, it's also interesting to note that our fearless female is still a strong Book World presence, with a recent cover release just a couple of years ago for some of her most famous titles. Even beyond print, Nancy's most popular and respected medium so far is one that has her fans at the helm: the line of Nancy Drew video games produced by Her Interactive!

These games are amazing: you play through the eyes of Nancy herself, taking part in both classic capers - like The Secret of the Old Clock - as well as completely new mysteries - like Tomb of the Lost Queen or Shadow at the Water's Edge - and they are chock full of interactive environments, interesting characters, and legitimately suspenseful pacing. They're so popular that they're now numbering into their 30s, and a rabid fan base can be found online. These Nancy fans not only help each other through tricky elements with completed walkthroughs and behind-the-scenes tricks, but also collect game Easter eggs, swap fan art and stories, and, of course, vocalize their love on the Her Interactive Facebook page.

Most recently, the games broke out of their typical format, in order to tackle a new audience: the "Nancy Drew: Codes and Clues" mobile game is built to introduce young Nancy fans to the art of coding, by using her "de-TECH-tive skills" to find who stole the missing tech fair project.

So why is it that we can find so much of a fan base in the video games, while every other multimedia Nancy Drew project seems inevitably doomed to fail? 

From a personal standpoint - as a bit of a superfan - I see a couple of reasons why the games are so much more popular than any other format produced so far. For one, they're deliberately engineered to be relatable, as you literally play throughout the games as Nancy, and what else does a Nancy fan want than to follow in our intrepid teenage sleuth's footsteps, other than walk in them themselves? It tackles that same problem that the original television show had - of everyone already having their own idea of what Nancy looks like - and turns it on its head... because who's to say that Nancy doesn't look just like you?

Additionally, the games continue to find new ways to be innovative and bring in perspectives that entice young girls, just like they did for young women when they were first published in the '30s. While the plotlines and backgrounds that we keep choosing for her big-and-small screen adaptations seem tired before they're even produced, the narratives and stories involved in creating the games are just as interesting as the classic stories, and really push the envelope as to what Nancy can do.

So, while we still seem a long way from solving the mystery of why every Nancy Drew adaptation seems doomed to fail, at least we know we can find our favorite sleuth still growing in popularity online. Maybe it will be some of her newest fans, who will finally figure it out!

Are you a Nancy Drew fan? What do you think about the latest TV news? Have you ever played the Her Interactive games? Let me know, in the comments below!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Girls in Space: This Year's Nebula Awards Winners

It's a good day to be a girl who likes science fiction: the results of the 2015 Nebula Awards winners were released this past weekend, and out of the six categories honored, five of the titles belong to female authors!

The sixth, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation - rewarding excellence in science fiction writing for the big screen - went to the writing team behind Mad Max: Fury Road, the Oscar success story and box office bombshell, which revitalized an old franchise with a distinctly feminist slant.

This all marks a pretty notable achievement in the realm of female authors, especially in a genre that is typically gendered for male readers. It might be tempting to shrug this set of authors off as a fluke, but in fact, it marks a distinct shift from prevailing attitudes about what kinds of science fiction are worthy of recognition. 

Don't believe me? Let's check out this year's finalists and winners from two other notable Science Fiction awards: those distributed by Locus Magazine, and the Hugo Awards. 

Locus Magazine - self-described as "The Magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Field" - distributes yearly awards through the Locus Science Fiction Foundation. The finalists were announced on May 3rd, and immediately raised a lot of ire on social media, with plenty of authors - especially those who work in the field of YA - taking to Twitter to voice their dissent.

The problem was, in the YA category - a field dominated by female authors, as well as female readers - not a single female author made it to the list. 

While there might be plenty of women in other categories within Locus' field of recognition, the fact that recent notable YA works that definitely identify under the science fiction and fantasy genres have gone completely unrewarded is a pretty significant slap in the face. Especially after multiple YA authors pointed out that the Locus Award for YA has only ever had 3 women win, yet has had 11 men take the title... with Joe Abercrombie, one of this year's nominees, having won twice already.

Even The Guardian got in on the action, publishing an editorial titled "Have the Locus Awards Been Hit With Myopic Sexism?", which took a balanced approach to explaining the disparity: sure, the YA list was widely unbalanced, but that may be due to the subscribers to Locus, who are responsible for the nominations for and construction of the shortlists. The gender balance in other categories is fair, and many nominations for writers of color have emerged this year, proving that diversity is being held into account. What may be happening, is that older, male readers may not be as familiar with YA authors, and might just be voting for names they recognize. 

However, as Leigh Bardugo - notable YA author of bestselling series like The Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows -  put it on Twitter, "What's the point of a YA category if you don't see value in authors who write for that market?" 

But beyond Locus, the grand dramatic saga of science fiction recognition continues to be the Hugo Awards, who announced their shortlist midway through this past April.

Once held as one of the highest achievements science fiction and fantasy writing can attain, the Hugoes are now an absolute joke, and its all the result of groups campaigning under the titles of the "Sad Puppies" and the "Rabid Puppies." (While I'm not going to go into any of the history of the melee, I think that most would find this Guardian article as highly explanatory.)

Essentially, the Hugoes are being held captive by campaigns of authors and bloggers who feel that the liberal, leftist tendencies of the field are being unfairly prized over more conservative works. George R. R. Martin hates them; even Alistair Reynolds, one of the authors present on their own selective slates, has said "I do not want their endorsement; I do not want even the suggestion of their endorsement."

And yet, the two parties still prevailed last year in running the awards, with primarily white, primarily male nominees. What resulted was an unprecedented move made by consideration at the Hugoes, where several categories fell to a vote of "No Award," rather than accept any of those on the shortlists. 

Unfortunately, its a new year, and a new slate, with attempts still being made by the "Puppies" factions. (For instance, one of their choices for "Best Dramatic Presentation" consideration this year is an episode of My Little Pony, and one of their selections for "Best Short Story" includes erotica author Chuck Tingle's Space Raptor Butt Invasion.)

What the "Puppies" are attempting this year, however, is a push for already established names and faces within science fiction and fantasy, who just happen to conveniently fit the "Puppies" categories, including Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. As John Scalzi - three time Hugo award winner, most recently for Redshirts, and someone who recused himself from award nomination this year - put it, "The Puppies are running in front of an existing parade and claiming to lead it."

So you can understand why there are plenty of us who are pretty stoked on the winners of the Nebula Awards for this year, where diversity and innovation are getting some well-received recognition. 

I think the best example of why this is all so important to me, is illustrated by the relationships that formed within the Science Fiction Literature class I took last quarter here at the University of Washington.The class itself was full of women... I think that we only had about ten guys total, plus the professor himself. You'd think this gender imbalance would reflect itself in classroom discussion, right?

Unfortunately, no. No matter how many books or morning talk shows can try to tell us to lean into the discussion, it seemed like every voice I heard in that classroom was a male one. While there definitely were women in the class who voiced their opinions and observations, the response to it was primarily to divert it down a different path, or offer a dissenting opinion. By the end of the quarter, the guys had all formed a small pod to the right-hand half of the classroom, where they remained an insular and loud community who talked loudly all through break times about the same things we were discussing in class, unimpeded by those who they felt "had different opinions."

The reason that's in quotes, is because it was their response to some of our more outspoken females  who tried to take part. 

Women are a part of the science fiction - and fantasy! - discussion, now more than ever. Same with those of different cultural, ethnic, and sexual backgrounds. And yet, the continued attitudes of male responses to major awards are excluding important and valuable voices from the discussion, especially in the field of YA. The inclusivity of the Nebula Awards marks an important moment for female scifi fans and authors, but it's not a flash-in-the-pan moment, its a trend with longevity.

What science fiction do you think deserves recognition this year? Would you ever vote in any of these awards? Let me know, in the comments below!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here

YA has enough Chosen Ones, Saviors, One-True-Whatevers, and more. Enough with the sixteen-year-olds who are trying to unite the realms, free the oppressed, and defeat the Big Bads... what about the ones who just want to graduate high school without experiencing a vampire invasion? 

That is the inspiration behind The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness, which follows the lives of Mikey - an anxiety-ridden, emotionally-tortured eighteen-year-old - and his friends through a rough and tumble Senior Spring, complete with zombie deer, deadly explosions at boy band concerts, and, of course, trying to get a couple good AP grades along the way.

As soon as I heard the premise, I was hooked, especially as someone who related far more to the Xanders of the world than the Buffys. It's not easy always living between pages where protagonists are all not-so-relatable redheads with superfluous superpowers, or the sons and daughters of better-behaved demigods than their literature would suggest, or kids who can get away with wiping out half a city while still maintaining the moral grounds of "We did the right thing." Not everyone has superpowers, not everyone knows what the "right thing" really is, and not everyone has the power to chase Fate beyond taking it one day at a time... especially in such a fraught environment as senior year high school.

So, with all those great expectations in mind, I set out to read, and quickly found that the novel was not what I expected. If anything, there was even more teenage angst and drama than you'd find in Dystopian or Fantasy YA, displaced into a Contemporary setting, and it was almost as if it was trying desperately to be relatable by giving characters unnecessary quirks or backgrounds that didn't quite fit the bill.

The relations between our gym class strike-outs with the "indie kids" - those who are destined to save the school, kiss the girl, whatever - were hilarious, but it still would have been better if our protagonists were more relatable. Despite the fact that we were constantly reminded they were the "normal" ones, they were still sto distant from what normal high schoolers are that the culture divide wasn't disparate enough.

The plot itself was fairly conventional, and followed where you expected it would, which would contribute to the idea of Mikey and his gang being the "normal" ones. However, there was also a lot of unnecessary drama thrown in at the end for no reason, in an attempt to make the book end with a (literal) bang. To be honest, the most surprising thing I enjoyed about this novel, was looking for the source of the glowing on my bedside table in the middle of the night, and finding out that it was the characters on the cover (I'm a sucker for good interactive cover marketing).

I would still probably recommend the book for its understated depiction of the normalcies of therapy and medication. These kids aren't exactly totally relatable, but the stressors and coping mechanisms they interact with are the same as those that kids do today, and in that way, they're accurate reflections of a teenage mindscape.

Final Verdict: While I didn't really enjoy the book itself, it did make me think, and it was a good break from the unshakably brave heroes and stubbornly idealistic heroines of other parts of today's YA atmosphere. And, like I said, the cover was pretty darn cool.

Have you read The Rest of Us Just Live Here? Do you think we need more relatable heroes in YA? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Friday, May 6, 2016

I'll Love You Forever, I'll Like You For Always: Mother's Day Presents, 2016 Edition!

Oh no... it's a Friday afternoon, and you've only just realized it: Sunday is Mother's Day! While not everyone schedules out their gifts a month in advance - I actually ordered my Mom presents so early, that my Dad and two younger siblings assumed that the holiday was LAST weekend - it might not look too good if you just show up with an Amazon gift card.

But no worries: I've got your back. Two years ago, I broke down the Mom population into several easy-to-pick Supermom categories, and now I'm back again, with plenty of titles and tie-ins to with which to flatter your favorite matriarchs!

For the Drama Mama

This mama thinks everything pairs best with glitter, wings out her liner farther than fashion allows, and always keeps an emergency outfit on hand... just in case. Her news source of choice may be E! Network, but it's only because she's looking to add a little bit of glitz to the time between community theater rehearsals and gabbing with the girl behind the Ulta counter. 
The Nest. by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, carries plenty of family theatrics on its own, but if she's looking for an even more dysfunctional household to peep on, why not the Playboy Mansion, with Down the Rabbit Hole, by Holly Madison? You can always follow them up with a gift that keeps going year-round, with a subscription to Glamour mag, or a bright change of morning routine with a Tarte 'tarteist' lip paint, or The Body Shop Body Butter.

For the Sporty Mama

When she's not trotting her tots to baby gymnastics or wheeling her teens away to club volleyball, this Mama spends her extra hours working up a sweat herself at SoulCycle or PureBarre. Always outfitted on the sportier side of athleisure and packing the newest QuestBar flavors everywhere she goes, this mom-on-the-move deserves something to help her get her glow on this Mother's Day.
Maybe she's looking to wind down after a busy day with the mental exercise of the Enchanted Forest Coloring Book, by Johanna Basford, accompanied by a refreshing drink from a new Contigo water bottle. Or, maybe she's trying to get her heart rate up on her rest days, with a thriller like The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, with some comfy Zella 'Live In' Leggings on the couch. But maybe PureBarre has made her a ballerina babe: try Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, by Misty Copeland!

For the Momager

She's like a master mix of Michelle Obama and Reese Witherspoon - with an emphasis on the "master" part - and makes early commutes and office meetings look oh-so good. Maybe she's born with it, or maybe it's the Starbucks, MAC products, the perfect asymmetrical bob... and a sensible pair of Sam Edelmen flats she keeps under her desk. Doesn't she deserve a work break this Mother's Day?
Shift her perspective on all those strangers sharing her morning commute, by drawing on the stories within Humans of New York Stories, by Brandon Stanton. This busy mom doesn't have much spare time for lengthy reflections, but she can definitely handle a "One Sentence a Day" journal, and she can't read every recommended title, but one of the best of 2015 will surely do, with Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff! Of course, she can carry all this new print material in her roomy new Madewell Shopper Tote, and factor in some time for them all in her new Whitney English 'Day Designer' Planner!

For the Sweety Mama

The only thing this sugar-cookie fairy knows better than her kids and her kitchen, is her way around a PTA bake sale. Spending her Saturdays trying out that new Friendship Bread starter she found on Pinterest, and prepping for her turn to bring snacks to Book Club meetings on Sunday, this Mama deserves something just as sweet as she is this Mother's Day.

A gushy romance like Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes, is sure to check her sweet tooth, while Milk Bar Life cookbook, by Christina Tosi, will give her plenty of inspiration for her next marathon of sweets. Cherryvale Farms baking mixes leaves her plenty of time left over to admire her new Kate Spade kitchen accessories, while Celebrate, by Lauren Conrad stirs up new ideas for the next big neighborhood party.

For the Seattle Mama! (Again!)

Of course, my favorite kind of Mama would have to make a return trip for this installment of Mother's Day celebrations! She's probably been eyeing another Glassybaby to add to her abundant collection, or looking forward to spending brunch with you at Tom Douglas' Lola downtown, but why not gift her with something that speaks of the city she loves most, right from the person she loves most!
Factor in some neighborhood foodie favorites with A Boat, a Whale and a Walrus cookbook, by Renee Erickson, but make sure to leave some flowers from Pike Place Market and a selection of Seattle Chocolates by her bedside, too! She'd also probably enjoy some recent Seattle-based titles, like Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist, by Sunil Yapa, or The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown.

What are you getting the important lady in your life this Mother's Day? Let me know, in the comments below!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters You'd Like to See All Grown Up

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

This week, we're talking about what classic characters we'd like to check in with as adults! 

To be perfectly honest, this week's "Top Ten Tuesday" is aligning pretty well with my world-view right now: edging closer and closer to graduation, I'm finding myself with little-to-no blueprint for how to manage this scary transition in my life, so coming up with ideas as to how some of my favorite written characters from my youth would be bridging the change was a welcome idea! 

I have no idea what I'm doing after college, and it's hard to imagine where I'll be, even a year from now... but it's a lot more fun to think of what kind of adventures Nancy Drew or Mary Lennox would be up to. 

Unfortunately, most of the classic books I thought of have that kind of perspective afforded in their primary narrative: Jane Eyre and Anne of Green Gables already complete the transition from their childhood to adulthood, and don't get me started on the amounts of grownup Alice in Wonderland we've gotten! Still, I did my best with trying to find avenues for more interesting exploits featuring some of my favorite fictional figures. 

1. Nancy - the Nancy Drew series, Carolyn Keene
Nancy's been on almost every list I've looked at on my favorite blogs thus far, so I think we're all in agreement: we want a Drew update! Did she finally commit to Ned? Did she become a full-time detective, or was she forced to get a real-person job (and how did that impact her ability to follow through with mysteries)? What's sleuthing like when you're a twenty-something and you're still getting into the same kinds of trouble? We want to know! 

2. Mary - The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Mary did a lot of growing in her original novel, but I wonder what she would be like all grown up and looking for purpose beyond Misslethwaite Manor? Maybe a passion for landscape design? Or taking in more orphans, like herself? 

3. Blue and her Aglionby Boys - The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater
I acknowledge that this is 100% because I just finished the quartet last week... but I want more! 

4. updates on the Dear America journals!
I can't be the only one who would think this was cool. Through the Dear America series, we engaged with historical events through the firsthand accounts of young girls who kept journals; what if we could revisit some of those characters and their families, in order to get a perspective on other events, too? A perspective on the ship that couldn't fail, grows up to tell the story of how the banks of America failed? The girl who spoke of hope during the Great Depression, grows up to lead women to the factories during WWII? 

5. Cuh-laire and The Pretty Committee - The Clique Series, by Lisi Harrison
Okay, so it would basically be Gossip Girl. But I tore through these books like a madwoman when I was but a madgirl, and I never could get enough of the brand-name-dropping, highly glossed and overly spoiled girls of Westchester. 

6. Stanley - Holes, by Louis Sachar
I have this vision in my head, that Stanley used all that money left to him and Zero, and used it not only to provide for his family, but get a great education, and send himself to law school, in order to protect other kids from the unjust system that had him and his friends out digging so many darn holes. Maybe one of the other guys would end up back in the system due to false arrest, and he'd defend them! 

7. Matilda - Matilda, by Roald Dahl
Also not a stranger to today's "TTT" topic, based on the lists I've seen. What has our precocious and prodigious young Matilda grown up to do? 

8. Coraline - Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
I feel like Coraline would grow up to be a total badass... not that she wasn't one already! She'd travel around the country solving supernatural mysteries, Scooby-Doo style, and would work for free when they involved children. But she'd always remember to stay in touch with her parents! 

9. Ella - Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine
Maybe this is my own personal opinion, but way too many fairy tales stop at the True Love's Kiss and the big white wedding. I want to know how Ella adapts to helping run a country, whether that obedience thing ever kicks back in, or if any other pesky fairies try something silly! 

10. Cath - Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
We all know Cath would grow up and write novels for a living, but what kind of books would she write? Would she be a best-seller, or a struggling author while juggling other kinds of work? Would she still be with Levi? Rainbow, help me out here! 

What's in your Top Ten? Let me know, in the comments below!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How I Spent #NationalIndependentBookstoreDay!

In case you missed it, yesterday - Saturday, April 30th - was National Independent Bookstore Day, and a sunny Seattle Spring made for the perfect kind of weather for my sister, our friend Keller, and I, to venture out to Capitol Hill, in order to celebrate the occasion properly at Elliot Bay Book Company!

Elliot Bay Book Company is one of the best places in Seattle to peruse popular titles or pick up a new novel, because of its fun atmosphere, incredibly engaging and knowledgeable staff, and wide selection. I've wanted to make a day of venturing there for a long time, so I figured that a day dedicated to independent bookstores was the perfect excuse to take the Link train off of campus, and into the sunshine. 

There was both a Sounders soccer game and Mariners baseball game going on yesterday, so the Link ride down was a little crowded! But that's okay, because we easily got off at the Westlake Station stop... only to realize that we should have gotten off one stop before, for Capitol Hill (Oops). A 20-minute walk uphill notwithstanding, the transportation was fairly easy to maneuver, and it was a sunny day anyways, so no one was hurting for a good time regardless. Our city is full of plenty of gorgeous scenery! 

Once we finally made it to the correct neighborhood, it was obvious that Cap Hill was hopping. Plenty of people were walking around, and nearby cafes had an outpouring of people into the streets. We nudged our way through to get to Elliot Bay, and quickly entered paradise! 

We spent about an hour milling around and peeking at interesting things on shelves, and picking out books we thought the others would like. There were fun events going on in-store, and the vibe was honestly infectious: this store was obviously filled with people who loved books. I combed my way through tantalizing New Releases - obviously - as well as the Bargain, Biography, Humor, YA, and General Fiction sections. Of course, I inevitably returned to my usual aisles to find the real books I wanted - Science Fiction and Fantasy! 

 Other fun stuff we found: Literary Temporary Tattoos (our favorites were Jane Eyre and Hamlet; Paddywax Library Candles (I desperately wanted to pick one up, but they were $20!); and a card game called Marrying Mr. Darcy (which my sister thinks we're going to have to return for someday soon)! 

Keller found some titles she liked, too, but the only book Delaney wanted was a little out of her price range (Justin Trudeau's book, Common Ground, was almost $30!). After we checked out, we were informed that there was a special prize wheel we could spin towards the center of the store, because Keller and I had each spent over $40 that day. I got some cute chocolates from a local chocolatier, from Mercer Island, while Keller walked away with a reusable tote. 

While we were absorbed in admiring our new prizes, my sister heard the woman running the prize station tell us to hang around for a few more minutes for something cool. A few seconds later, a woman took to the central platform in the middle of the store's stairs to announce a Blind Date with a Book happening! 

We circled up with another one of the store's patrons, when the storewoman gave us some tantalizing hints about each of the books up for offer. I'd done these kinds of things at our local library before to check out new titles, but this was different: after the woman read off all of the bookish facts, she asked us a little bit about ourselves, so that she could set up the right people to read the right thing! 

Our Blind Book Dates: my sister's, Keller's, and mine!
They turned out to be A Hanging at Cinder Bottom by Glenn Taylor, What's Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi, and Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. 

Keller, my sister, and I all walked away with a brown-wrapped book, and I made them promise to not open it or take a peek before we were all able to sit down over mammoth slices of pizza at Sizzle Pie nearby. Unwrapping ensued, and each of us found ourselves in possession of an ARC for different recently published book! 

All in all, it was an amazing day spent in the sunshine, complete with a walk in the sun, exploring new places, picking up new titles, and eating some seriously delicious pizza. 

How did you spend #NationalIndependentBookstoreDay ? Let me know, in the comments below!