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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!

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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:

Dark Fantasy.
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:








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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!

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Well, it’s official, today is my last day of summer vacation. I start training (which I’ve already done, last year, but don’t let me get started on that tangent) tomorrow for two weeks and then I have a week of workdays and then the kids come back on the 27th. Those three weeks of preparing for the little darlings means that I will be worn out even before the kids arrive and it also means a lot less time for me to read which I really hate to part with. Oh well, I’m thankful to even have a job in this economy and at least I will be back into a routine.
Since tomorrow is technically my “first day of school” I have decided that this weeks TTT will be books set in or around a school.

10. Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities by Alexandra Robbins
I was never in a sorority in college, but I was always fascinated by the girls who wore matching shirts with Greek letters on them and who seemed to only socialize with each other. I only knew what sororities were like from TV shows like Beverly Hills: 90210 and movies like The House Bunny. This book isn’t that much different than those televised portrayls. Robbins goes undercover and rushes a sorority, gaining the trust of the girls in the house and gives us all the gory details of body image troubles and hazing horrors. It made me pretty glad I never decided to seek out one of those matching t-shirts.


9. The Magic Schoolbus Series by Joanna Cole and Illustrated by Bruce Degen 
Let’s be honest here, who didn’t want to be in Ms. Frizzle’s class and get to go on these slammin’ field trips? The Magic Schoolbus books were non-fiction fun escapes that taught me (and countless other youngins) about topics like the solar system, the water cycle, and, my personal favorite, what it’s like inside of a hurricane.


8. Villette by Charlotte Bronte 
Okay, this one probably made the list because I just finished reading (and loving) this one. However, there is always something so romantic and exotic about a European boarding school that I just love.

 7. Blackboard Jungle by Evan Hunter

Okay, this book was written in the 1950’s- when kids were still “good”!!! If you thought that they were bad then, I double-dog dare you to attempt to set foot in a school today. Seriously, folks, nothing can prepare you for what happens inside a school. It would blow your mind. It does mine on a daily basis.

6. Matilda by Roald Dahl
I loved Roald Dahl, and I especially loved Matilda. Matilda was a relatable character for me since she was reading well before going to school. I hated that mean old Ms. Trunchbull for her and I equally loved Ms. Honey. This is a charming story that I can’t wait to share with my daughter one day!


5. Christy by Catherine Marshall
Christy is the story of a 19-year old girl who goes to teach in the Smoky Mountains of NC (yes! I love a NC Mountains book!) and discovers hardships both from the townspeople and from her reluctant students but eventually comes to love them all. There was also a CBS-produced mini-series staring Kellie Martin that came out which is equally enjoyable!


4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Frequently chalanged and often seen on the ALA’s Top 100 Banned/Challenged Book List this social-commentary book has it all- sex, secret socities, refusal to sell chocolate for those stupid school mandated fundraisers (ever year I end up with a stack of straight-up CRAP that I have felt like I had to buy from the students. The book is pretty intense and it raises up some thought-provoking concepts.



3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Front Cover
I read this book in one sitting while I myself was in high school. It’s got some pretty tough issues in it, but one of my good friends did a unit on this book with her eighth grade  honors class last year, and it must have gone pretty well. The kids seemed to enjoy it and I had a lot of them come into the library asking for more books like it and more by Anderson. There was also a Lifetime TV movie staring Bella Swan that came out a few years ago.

2. I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe.
My aunt sent me a copy of this book for my birthday the year before I left for college. Like the protagonist, I, too, am from a small, rural, North Carolina town. After reading this book I wasn’t sure if I was excited or nervous to go to college. This was a fun read and I felt really smart reading a Tom Wolfe novel (and one that was so thick, too!). This is one I remember immensly enjoying and one that I will need to revisit soon.



1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hogwarts– enough said! (PS, I think that I would be a Hufflepuff, but that kind of thing is best left up to the sorting hat).

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With my “ordeal” yesterday the top ten list will be presented on WEDNESDAY instead of TUESDAY this week. And now, with no further adieu, I present to you the top ten (IMHO) funniest book titles (and, as always, click the cover of the book to open a link to buy each one):


For those of you too embarassed to buy them from the store.

9.    and/or  Cooking with Pooh: Yummy Tummy Cookie Cutter Treats

It’s just more delicious than cooking without it!


Because it will probably be the most boring thing EVER.


Zombies make everything better.


This is the book I wanted to give to everyone I knew as I watched all of my friends, cousins, classmates, neighbors, strangers, everyone-but-me get married.


Seriously, kid, just go the f— to sleep. You’re really starting to anger your father. Anger him enough and he’ll write a book about what a bratty child you were, ruining his nights like that.


Did they just call that horse a lesbian?!


I hate talking on the phone, so it’ll definitely be me.


I have a feeling many of us could have written this one. We’ve all had a Dick or two in our lives at some point. For me, my favorite Dick is of the Van Dyke variety.


Is there a sugar-free frosted nutsack available for the Diabetics?

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I have been out of town since Friday visiting my mom for the last time this summer. Like I said in earlier entries, she has been extreamly sick this summer and consequently I have made the drive down to the coast to see her several times over the summer. However, I am back now and ready to resume blogging (I actually found myself missing doing my daily photo!). I finished up AWOL on the AT for bookclub (which meets Wednesday, and this is the first book I’ve actually finished since joining!). I’m going to save my review until after I meet with the club to insert some of their ideas and thoughts on the book into the review. 


Before heading out of town on Friday I had to run by the library and pick up two books that I had requested: The Cove by Ron Rash and A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash. Both of these books are set in the North Carolina Mountains which means I will most likely love them since I will be able to relate to the setting having been to those places many times in my life. I started The Cove yesterday and I am loving it so far. We still have so much to do with moving (the W/D should sell tonight, but this is our third try so we’ll see how that goes.) Anything that doesn’t sell tonight will get picked up by Habitat for Humanity tomorrow between 9 and 12, which sucks because we have no AC in the old place and won’t feel like sitting around for 3 hours waiting for the pick up guy. Might be a good chance to get some reading done in a free sauna though!

Anyway, please excuse my reprieve but know that I am back now and the daily photos will pick up today! Be on the lookout for a good one this afternoon/early evening! I’m off to go take the photo now!

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