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Yesterday I got to go to the eighth annual Bookmarks Book Festival in Downtown Winston-Salem. I had previously gone to this event years before to meet an author I had been waiting my entire life to meet:

Yes, that is me and Rue McClanahan (Blanche from The Golden Girls).

This years festival was a lot different from that third-annual one I attended five years ago. The festival has since moved from a secluded park to the bustling Downtown Arts District. The festival is still FREE, though, which I was super psyched about.

The festival hosts several authors of all different genres reading from and speaking about their works and their writing processes and answering questions from the audience. There were so many concurrent sessions happening that made it very difficult to choose which ones to go to. I chose five that I knew I definitely, without a doubt, would be so sad to miss. I started my day at the first session The Blessing and the Burden of Place With Tayari Jones (Silver Sparrow, read my review of that book here), Michael Malone (The Four Corners of the Sky AND One Life To Live, yes, the Soap Opera!) and Daniel Wallce (Big Fish, which I still have not read or seen the movie version of, even though I love the premise of the book and I adore Tim Burton). These three authors discussed what it is like to set all of their books in the South. They talked about the good and the bad and the stereotyped (“There is not one single mule in any of my books.” -Tayari Jones).

This panel was great and I had never heard of Malone or his works before. He was an amazing and hilarious speaker and so after this pannel I stopped by the book selling tent and picked up a copy of a book he discussed called Dingley Falls about an Anthrax experiment.

Next, I headed over to an indoor event that I thought would be air-conditioned, but sadly, no. However, this  was a huge event and I’m glad I made my way over early because it eventually became standing room only. This author is one you all probably already know and have already read, Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl. Flynn talked about her years working at Entertainment Weekly and shared with the audience a anecdote about her first ever short story (written in third grade) which was about a pioneer girl needing to go to the bathroom late at night only to discover that the outhouse was surrounded by wolves. She noted that she had always had a thing for writing about dark themes. The short story was called To The Outhouse! I was sad not to be able to get a photograph of Flynn, but there was an instance of a big-haired lady blocking my every view of her, so I barely even saw her myself. However, her voice was very lovely and I am so excited to start reading some of her books. I was hoping to stop back by the book buying tent to pick up Sharp Objects by her, but more on what happend with that later…

After Flynn spoke, it was about 1:00 and I hadn’t eaten all day. I knew I had fifteen minutes before my next speaker and she was speaking in the same non-air-conditioned room that Flynn had just spoken in. I could let everyone get out and then claim a front row spot for the next speaker OR I could go grab some food before I passed out. I decided to run grab a hot-dog from the hot-dog cart lady and zoomed back. I made great timing and was in perfect view to see Tayari Jones again, this time by herself, and reading from Silver Sparrow.

After Jones I rushed down to the Intersection Gallery to hear Gail Tsukiyama speak. I have never read anything by Tsukiyama but I do enjoy Asian Literature and she always gets compared to those that I love (Lisa See, Amy Tan). If her writing is anything like her speaking, she is excellent. Even though I was a little late getting to her session I still consider her my favorite speaker of the day. Tsukiyama was so animated and excited and energetic, you could tell that she really enjoyed what she did for a living and that she really enjoyed meeting her fans and talking about the works and the places and the people and the settings and what it means to be half-Chinese and half-Japanese but to consider yourself a Bay-Area American. I was really surprised to hear about the years and years of research that she puts into the writing of her books (which all touch on some historical aspect of Asian culture like Pearl Harbor or The Hundred Flowers Campaign). I was so excited to run over to the book buying tent, grab a copy of Gillian Flynn’s book and Tsukiyama’s new book The Hundred Flowers and then have her sign it, but when I walked out of the gallery, I was confronted with this:

That turned out to be a big deal. Papers and books (and in some cases, people) went flying down the street, tents and people were knocked over (you can see where one sign has already bitten the dust), children were wailing, and then it started raining. I had to make a mad dash two blocks away to get to my parking deck and I luckily made it right in time to avoid the big gully-washer that came afterwards. I sat in my car wondering if perhaps they had a weather back-up plan, as I still had some books to buy and some autographs to get and two more sessions to attend, but I decided against checking (since the line of cars that kept me waiting in the deck for 35 minutes indicated that most people were heading out of dodge) and headed back home pleased to have heard some awesome authors speak, and to have met some of my idols.

The day was a great day overall, despite the hunger and the storm. I was so thrilled to meet Tayari Jones and get my copy of Silver Sparrow signed by her and to discover a new author and be able to grab a copy of his book (Michael Malone). It was great to hear a NYT Bestseller speak to us like we were friends (Gillian Flynn) and to discover some great new books that I am so excited to get to reading.

And, I only came home with two books

which is really good for my wallet, but sad for me.

‘Til Next Time!

10. Tiny Library
This blog is mostly reviews with a few giveaways. I enjoy the fact that most of the reviews are from books I am not familiar with, so this blog is great for tuning me in to books I might never have heard of otherwise.

9. http://irmasworldatuncg.blogspot.com/
Though technically not a book blog, per se, Irma’s World is the blog that is run by the fabulous librarians at the campus main library where I attended both college and graduate school- The University of NC @ Greensboro. I loved everything about this campus (which is why I elected to go to the same school for graduate school that I went to for college) especially Walter Clinton Jackson Library.

8. The Broke and The Bookish
These are the guys that host this TTT fabulous meme. In addition to several other bitchin’ memes (my favorite is Cocktail and a Conversation Wednesdays) these guys also post reviews of books I am either extreamly interested in reading or have already read. There are several contributors to this blog so the levels and genres of books reviewed is very varied. They also host several giveaways and they update often.

7. That’s What She Read
Okay, Okay, I will admit that I was first drawn to this blog solely for the awesome title. However, after exploring it for a while, I discovered that it’s actually a really gnarly blog! I love the layout and the header is TOO CUTE! I love her selection of books and she updates often,usually, every day.

6. A Room of One’s Own
Jillian is SUCH a great blogger. She is my blogger role model. The layout of this blog is not too overwhelming, but with enough graphics and words to keep you interested. This blog is slammin’ because Jillian is so involved (this is the blog/blogess that hosts the Classics Club that I am apart of. See tab at the top of this page for the page on that). In addition to The Classics Club this blog also has a ton of read-alongs and excellently written reviews.

5. Dead White Guys
I started following the DWG blog because I first started following Amanda on Twitter (I found her through Book Riot who she also writes for). This blog is so funny; I adore her writing style. Even though it’s mostly about, well, dead white guys (read: Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Poe, Dickens, etc.) it is so modernized mainly because of all the hilarious gifs and illustrations that she places in there that fit the posts so perfectly.

4. Roof Beam Reader
Well I had to include a dude on this list (because dude book bloggers are very few and very far between) and RBR is the best. I actually just looked at my list of blogs I follow and I don’t have any other dudes on there… Hmm.. Even if I did though, I’d still pick this one. RBR is cool because he is the fellow that hosted the Austen in August Reading Event I participated in last month. In addition to awesome reading events, RBR also has a beautifully laid out blog with quality reviews (I’m pretty sure I gathered from one of his tweets that he’s pursuing a PhD in literature).

3. Sarah Reads Too Much
This was the first book blog I ever followed. I don’t remember how I discovered Sarah (maybe I was reading reviews of a particular book one day and stumbled upon her blog) but I am so glad that I did. She offers great reviews of books I’m super interested in so I am always excited when she posts about a book I’ve not yet discovered. Plus, she’s awesome because she is going for her MLIS degree starting this fall and I wish her the bestest best of luck!

2. The Story Girl
This blog has possibly the best look to it of any of the blogs that I follow (book and otherwise). This blog offers great reviews of books I’m interested in and she participates in a lot of cool memes (she’s doing the RIPVII meme, too!) and, best of all, she loves Anne of Green Gables!

1. Musings of a Bookshop Girl
This is my favorite blog to read. I check it everyday for updates and I get really excited when there is one. Through this blog I discovered the RIPVII reading event. Ellie is an Englander who owns a bookstore with her mom- I. Love. That! Really awesome reviews of super cool books can be found at this blog and she participates in fun memes.

So, I hope I have lead you to discover some cool new blogs. It was so hard for me to pick just 10, there are so many blogs that I enjoy reading, but these are the 10 I wanted to share with my readers. Do you have any favorites that I need to check out ASAP?! Leave a link and I will look forward to discovering some new blogs of my own!

‘Til Next Time!

I had a hard time answering Augusts meme (what is your favorite classic?) because I just couldn’t pick one. I started drafts for Dracula, Anne of Green Gables, Gone With The Wind, and Frankenstein. I then realized I could start drafts for about a million more so I decided to skip that meme for now. I may try to revisit it later, perhaps after I have read more of the titles on my list. Septembers meme is:

Pick a classic someone else in the club has read from our big review list. Link to their review and offer a quote from their post describing their reaction to the book. What about their post makes you excited to read that classic in particular?

I think I can handle Septembers meme and I’m even going to answer it in the first few days of the month. For this post I have selected Charlotte’s review of We Have Always Lived in the Castle from her blog Charlotte Reads Classics.

There is a hint of madness throughout the whole book which Jackson never fully explains, of course making the book all the more terrifying.

I have been very excited to read this book since last fall when I read Jackson’s other terrifying tale, The Haunting of Hill House. I enjoyed Hill House but I was a little more intrigued by the premise of Castle but my local library didn’t have a copy of it. This is one of the books on my R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril list for this year and I was already very eager to read it, but after reading Charlotte’s review, I’m chomping at the bit to get my hands on a copy. Having moved to a new county, I was hoping that this new library might have a copy of it, but they didn’t either, but I did discover that it is for sale as a nook book for $13.

I didn’t know a great deal about the book before reading Charlotte’s review, just that there are two orphaned children who are left on their own and have to fend for themselves and craziness ensues. One act of “craziness” that Charlotte touches on is the fact that one of the sisters attempts to protect the girls and their home by nailing familial possessions to the trees around the home as a kind of charm to ward off evil. Another excellent point that Charlotte brought up is that the story has added spook to me, as an American, because it is set in the woods. Charlotte points out after a conversation with her father that in England they view forest settings in a different way than we as Americans do. When Englanders read a story set in the woods, it’s not deep and dark and creepy, but rather they associate it with a quiet, peaceful country setting.

Charlotte leaves us with the fact that she found both of Jackson’s books to be “disturbing” and that Jackson has a way of leaving the reader feeling that way “because she controls the reader like no other author. Enthralling, mysterious, fatal.” I am so excited to get to this book! Thanks, Charlotte for your great review!

Haunted

Don’t cry, there’s always a way. Here in November in this house of leaves we’ll pray.. -Poe (the musician, not the dead writer)

Dudes, I was browsing some of my favorite blogs this morning and through Musings of a Bookshop Girl I discovered this super rad, totally awesome reading event:

So, for any of you who know me in real life know how much I adore the autumn season. I love all things chilly days, long nights, creepy stories, baskets full of candy, make believe, witches, ghouls, goblins, ghosts and terrifying reads. So, when I saw this I immediately did a squeal of delight and started making up my to-read list for this stellar event. Even though it’s a balmy 92 here in North Carolina today I have high hopes that we will actually get an Autumn and a Winter this year. I spent all morning yesterday reading farmer’s almanacs and weather blogs to see what the meteorologists are predicting for us. I want cold days and overcast skies and a mood in the air to fit my reading in my chair!

So, what is RIPVII? RIP stands for Readers Imbibing Peril and this is the SEVENTH year that stainlesssteeldroppings has hosted the event and I am totally bummed that I didn’t know about it last year, but better late than never I do suppose. If you’re interested in my Fall Reading Habits from last year, check out this post. And also check out my Top Ten list of favorite Halloween reads. So, I am psyched to be participating in this challenge this year and I am ready to get started. “The purpose of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII is to enjoy books and movies/television that could be classified (by you) as:

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.
Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.”

There are two simple goals for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII
1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.”

There are several levels of peril that readers can choose to participate in. I have selected three levels that I want to be apart of:


Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (the very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be King or Conan Doyle, Penny or Poe, Chandler or Collins, Lovecraft or Leroux…or anyone in between.


This one’s obvious: short stories. This will work well for a book of spooky short stories I bought at a used bookstore in college and have yet to read called Nocturnes. I’m also gonna get some Poe (yippie!) in there as well.


This is for those of us that like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large. It might be a television show, like Dark Shadows or Midsomer Murders, or your favorite film. As corny as it is, my all time favorite Halloween movie is Hocus Pocus. I watch it every year and I try to be patient and wait for it to come on ABC Family Channels 13 Days of Halloween, but last year I got impatient and I went and bout a copy of the DVD at Target and it takes all the willpower I have to not watch it any other time of year! I also love to watch all the creepy Halloween-themed shows and the movies that come on that time of year. The countdown shows where they talk about the scariest movies, or the most realistic monster movies, etc. are some of my favorites to watch!

So, those are my three perils that I will be partaking in. I am aiming high here folks, and I am shooting for a few more than four books. I’ve got a pretty sizeable list here, and I know that with school and everything going on in my busy life, I will most likely not finish all of these books, but these are the ones I am going to pick from and I will leave the rest for Fall 2013:

  

 

 

  

 

 

 

Tuesdays are hard for me. We have faculty meetings on Tuesdays which keep me at work up to two hours late add that to my 30 minute commute and any errands I have to run and the mess that I-77 leading into Charlotte becomes in the afternoons, then you’ll understand why it’s all I can do to eat a dinner and then fall asleep with the fork still in my mouth. My TTT will most likely come more and more on Wednesdays and usually a week later than what they are doing over at The Broke and The Bookish. (*note, I started this post on Wednesday night and I came into my office to look up a menu for a local Greek restaurant and discovered that I had never finished the post (a impromtu tennis game pulled me away mid-post Wednesday night) and so now you’ll see just how late I can be…)

I have read 69 (I know, right, that number seems so small) since I started Bookjackets in January 2011. Picking out ten favorites was harder than I thought that it would be! I started by circling the ones I loved and then I had to compare them up against each other and give them ratings based on things like “characterization” “plot” “readability”, etc. to get it narrowed down to the following ten:

10. If You Want Me To Stay by Michael Parker, Read February 7-8 2012, 5/5 Stars
I read this book for a program I was involved in at the local public library. The program involved a group of us reading the same book about some aspect of North Carolina culture and then inviting in a guest lecturer to discuss the book and the themes and the history of NC with us. This was my favorite book from the series.

9. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, Read February-March 2011, 4/5 Stars
This was another book that we read for the same NC Culture series, but I had read this one about a year before the series actually started. When my dad gave me a nook color for my 26th birthday this was the first book I read on the e-reader. Read more about that adventure here.

8. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, Read April 2011, 4/5 Stars
I read this book over spring break my first year of working as a librarian in public schools. I was back in my favorite town, Greensboro, NC where I had gone to college and graduate school and where my boyfriend was still in college and I loved the feeling of being “home” and I associate that feeling with this book. I also loved the book, it is a good mystery and our sleuth, Flavia De Luce, is such a scamp I dare you not to love her instantly.

7. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games, Read November 2010, 5/5 Stars
Catching Fire, Read in April 2011, 5/5 Stars
Mockingjay, Read in May 2011, 4/5 Stars
Read about my love for this series here.

6. The Weight of Silence/These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
The Weight of Silence, Read in July 2011, 3/5 stars
These Things Hidden, Read in July 2011, 5/5 stars
I read these over the summer after my first year in public education. I had greatly disliked the first place I worked at and I was in the process of quitting and moving to a new place of employment. I was having a difficult time telling my uber-scary boss that I was splitting, but these books were such a good escape for me at the end of the day, I truly value them for helping me get through that rough time.

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey, Read in April 2012, 5/5 Stars
Just. So. Damn. Funny. And honest. I love Tina Fey. She is my celebrity crush. She is so beautiful and funny and smart and nerdy and I want to be her. I loved this book because it was purely Tina Fey being open and honest about what it’s like being a woman working in a man’s world.

4. The Reeducation of Cherry Truong by Aimee Phan, Read in in late January/Early February 2012, 4/5 Stars
I received a ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Press and I wanted to do a good job of reviewing it, even if I disliked the book. This was the first time I had been asked to review a book for the blog, so I knew I couldn’t blow it. I ended up loving the book and I was pretty pleased with the review I put out. Read the review here.

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, 5/5 Stars
I. Loved. This. Book. Read about how much I loved it here. I even voted it my #1 book of 2011!

2. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, Read in July 2012, 5/5 Stars
This is a more recent read. I had been hearing a little bit about it and I knew I wanted to read it because I love local authors and books set in my state. I was in love with this book from page one. Read my review here. Also, my book club has chosen to read this one in January 2013 and I’m hoping to get Cash to Skype with us, he tweeted me that he would!! Read the review here.

1. Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis, Read in February 2011 , 5/5 Stars
Again, I am super partial to local authors and Jenn Pharr Davis is one of my favorites! This is the story of a gal who sets out to thru-hike the entire AT by herself and she accomplishes her goal and tells us about all of the incidents she survives in this awesome book. This is a fun read and an encouraging read. I recently saw that there is a new book out by her husband, Brew Davis, that chronicles the hike that landed her the world-record of the fastest thru-hike of the AT which she did in an amazing 46 days!

Hard Day’s Night

It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog. -The Beatles

The kids are returning tomorrow and I don’t know if I am feeling 100% excited for this year to happen. I keep remembering how much I enjoyed being an elementary school librarian and how my days seemed to fly by, and how in middle school I’m idle most of the time and I am not an idle person. My goal is to work with the teachers more and to do more team-teaching with them. I hope that I am actually able to do this and to avoid a year like I had last year. The fact that the teachers have been back to work for the last three weeks means that we are all already stressed and tired and the school year hasn’t even started yet. The thing I dislike the most about the school year is how little time I get for myself which means less time to read.

I don’t want to waste this whole post complaining so I’ll stop for now and I will do what I can to make this school year a good one. As for reading, I finished up Carry the One by Carol Anshaw and I gave it four out of five stars. The story is told from different points of view of several characters who are affected after hitting a child with their car one night in 1983. The book follows the characters to the Obama administration capturing how different people react to the same tragedy in different ways. It was a good, solid, but emotionally heavy read.

I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan. Have been since I found a copy of My Sister’s Keeper in a Target when I was in Grad. School (this was way before the movie came out, which I also really enjoyed). I was really excited to hear that she was teaming up with her teen-aged daughter to write a young adult novel called Between the Lines. I finally got a copy from the library last week and I wanted to read it before work started so I would know if I wanted to purchase a copy for my library. Personally, I was really disappointed by the book. It was not what I was expecting. It didn’t have that same morally thought-provoking aspect that Picoult’s other books did. It was definitley a YA book and written for a (very young) YA audience. I felt like the story was dumbed-down a lot and that reading it was kind of a waste of time. I do not recommend this book, and I won’t buy it for my library. I trust that my students are better readers and want more out of their novels (that may be a pipe dream, but I ultimatley get the last call on the books we shelve and this one is a NO). Two out of five stars.

With Austen in August ending this week I have decided to sneak one last quick one in and I am starting Northanger Abbey. I don’t feel like I am quite in the right frame of mind to read it right now, so I may start it now and finish it later.

Okay, Once Upon A Time is about to start, so I will sign of for now.

Until next time!