Welcome to my blog. Here, you’ll find my personal writing regarding all things books—reading lists, book reviews, critical essays, and even some of my own fiction and personal essays. Like most bibliophiles, I’ve dedicated my life to reading, and I never realized that after all this time, I could’ve devoted a space to engaging with these texts further rather than waiting for someone to express an inkling of interest in what I found fascinating.
So, in an attempt to stop myself from being a conversational buzzkill, I’m determined to make this blog the space where I can be the most myself, the most in love and the most critical of the work where I feel most at home. Feel free to poke around and give my letters a read—at the very least, I hope you’ll find yourself invested in my words to linger here just a little bit longer.
The tea: My full name is Nicole-Anne Bales Keyton. You’ll more likely find my full name in my published work because I wanted to give both surnames equal weight in my identity: Bales (bah-less) for my mother’s ancestry, and Keyton for my father’s. Living in a binary-centric country makes it difficult to self-identify my ethnicity in trivial paperwork, but in as few words, I am Filipino-American.
Education: I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, went to film school at VCU, and have recently received my master’s degree in creative writing at UMass Boston. There was a brief (oh-so brief) moment where I seriously considered going to university in England, but it didn’t work out (I don’t do well when it comes to tests…). But hey, I did get to visit the life that could have been eventually!
Based in Boston: Because I moved for grad school a couple years ago, I consider Boston my new home, though I’m always at odds with it and never quite feel like I can fit in anywhere (though, let’s be real, that’s kind of the story of my life…). One day, I hope to move to England, but we’ll see how that turns out.
Occupation: I work full-time as an editorial assistant at an independent nonfiction publishing house in Boston. I am also a fiction editor for an online literary journal. Previously, I worked as editor-in-chief for the literary journal Breakwater Review through my graduate program.
On starting over: At one point, I really did feel like Richmond was it for me. I fantasized about traveling and giving back to the world around me, but I was stuck in a place financially and mentally where I couldn’t even begin to look outside my own needs to survive. Ultimately, I do feel so lucky to be in the position I am now, and when I think back to where I was prior to completely uprooting my life (minimum wage bookseller life, dead-end film career, stagnant & unhealthy relationships), I’m really thankful I got to a place to where I was ready to start over and do it right this time. Seriously, buy me a drink sometime and if you’re interested, I’ll tell you all about it.
Why a blog? Well, this blog was actually a birthday present from my partner. For a while, I’d been hinting at how I wanted to focus more on reading and writing book reviews after I graduate in Spring 2021, and my partner surprised me for my birthday this year with my very own domain. WHAT?! So now I’m excited to get started on this new chapter of my life. Thanks, boo. ☺️
What does your blog URL mean? It’s a reference to an episode of Richard Ayoade’s mini-break travel series, Travel Man. On his short weekend trip to Paris, he visits a perfume shop to customize his own scent: “1960s New Wave, lemon fresh…with a hint of library” (and don’t forget the Ribena). Cheers, Dickie—you’ve inadvertently described my olfactory aesthetic.
Also, what better way to introduce a blog involving books than this little send-off?
Should you be so interested in finding me elsewhere, you can do so in the links below.
- Twitter @balkeyeston
- Instagram @balkeyeston
- I am now a Bookshop affiliate! Check out my shopfront here to purchase any of the books I have reviewed or have my eye on. I do make a small commission off of the book sales there, which I like to consider as my book reviewer’s tip jar for curating book lists that pique readers’ interests.