Decatur Book Festival In Pictures + a Special Giveaway

September 1, 2014 Book Talk 3

decatur book festival

Poster created by Tony Diterlizzi

Every Labor Day Weekend for the past nine years has found me hanging out at the largest Independent Book Festival in the country, the Decatur Book Festival. Well, there was that one I missed in 2009 but otherwise I’m there!  Books by the thousands, authors galore and talks given by said authors that give just a bit of insight into the person behind the author.  Love it. Love it. Love it.

This year I was only able to attend the first day of the festival but no matter, it’s all good.  The first two events of the day I worked as a volunteer but was still able to sit in on the discussions.  Unfortunately I was too busy to take photos during the tribute to Jake Adam York or “Family Secrets” with Rebecca Makkai and Sarah Creech.  Both events were packed which was so exciting to me – to see so many people interested in poetry and reading!  It was phenomenal!

Pat Conroy, Mark Powell, John Mark Sibley-Jones

Wartime: The Scope of History

Does the gentleman in the middle look familiar?!?  It’s the classic Pat Conroy moderating a panel with two of his authors for Story River Books, an imprint of University of South Carolina Press.  Mark Powell is the author of The Sheltering {A literary thriller of intertwined fates seeking redemption from the Middle East to the storied South and American West} and John Mark Sibley-Jones, author of By the Red Glare {A Civil War novel of divergent lives and pervasive perils amid the burning of Columbia, South Carolina}.  Pat Conroy has a larger-than-life presence that truly energized {and entertained} the crowd.  He was so proud and complimentary to both Marks throughout the panel.  Of course since he’s the editor I would kind of expect him to be ;-)

Karin Slaughter and Chelsea Cain

“Internal Affairs”

OH MY GOSH!  These two ladies were HILARIOUS!  Local Georgian Karin Slaughter has a dry sense of humor that Chelsea Cain played off of brilliantly!  To write such gruesome and scary thrillers you’d think they would be all dark and serious but nope, not these two!  With one liners from Karin like “I research all the sex myself” to the writing tips from Chelsea this was THE event to attend at DBF.  According to Chelsea you’ll know you’re a writer when you write when you don’t want to.  She also shared that reading your work out loud is imperative to get the flow correct.   Karin told us that she writes violence so convincingly because she’s the youngest of three girls!

little library

The Little Library in downtown Decatur

Isn’t the art work fantastic!  This Little Library is just outside Eddie’s Attic, popular bar/music venue that during DBF hosts many of the poetry events.  Mike Luckovich is the cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and lent his hand to this Little Library.  Luckovich won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 and 2006 and is quite the celebrity in Georgia.


Check out the guy who photobombed my picture!

Another highlight of the day was meeting {in real life} April from The Steadfast Reader and Allison from Southern Spines.  What a treat that was!  Talking books, authors and DBF with other bloggers who really “get” the obsession with reading, books and authors was fantastic.  No pictures though – this was an end-of-the-day meet up at Eddie’s Attic. . .meaning end of the day after walking around in 90 degree heat, block after block, and then a sudden rain shower just before our scheduled date and no umbrella. . .so yeah, no photo op!  Though I have to say Allison and April were both looking lovely!

and now the special giveaway I have for you ~ a signed copy of The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai and a cool button to show your support of all the great indie bookstores out there.

How about you dear Reader?  What bookish things were up to this long weekend?



Click here to view this promotion.


When I Got Out of His Way This Is Who My Son Became

August 26, 2014 Book Review 5


Photo Credit: G. Millwood Photography, LLC

Photo Credit: G. Millwood Photography, LLC

He was eleven when my baby boy received his first guitar.  You would have thought I had given him the sun, moon and stars with that $99 black-on-white-gloss electric guitar {that even came with the tiniest amp you’ve ever seen in your life}.  It was not long before Jacob was playing his heart out, replacing strings left and right and eyeing bigger, better {and much more expensive} guitars.  Some people can become amazing musicians with hours upon hours of practice while there are those lucky few who have an innate talent that, given the practice, makes you feel as though you’re in the presence of divine magic.  My son is one of those gloriously gifted musicians who takes practice to a whole new level.

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene BertinoIn 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas Alex is the 16-year-old son of Lorca, owner of The Cat’s Pajamas, famous jazz club in Philadelphia.  Lorca struggles with his son’s desire to play music because he fears the life ahead of Alex if he becomes a musician:

They know they have to practice when they are filled with love.  When they are filled with bile.  When the sun is out and everyone with a palpably alive soul is on the beach, they are in wood-paneled dumps, practicing.  Until they ruin any chance at being substantial and there is no soul on earth who will have them.  Through that, you practice.  What hurts most, you do again.  Away from the living people you practice for.  Toward the shaking, fleeting thing you only let yourself half-believe in.  Most times you do not find it but in search of it, you practice, scared of your ability to be so wholly alone. {p. 244}

Reading 2 A.M. gave me a bit of insight into my own musician.   Jacob is happiest whenever he has a guitar in hand and, audience of one or audience of hundreds, Jacob gives all to the music his fingers mete out of those six thin strings.

The past couple of years have brought its ups and downs with mine and Jacob’s relationship.  I’ve been madder at him than I ever imagined possible and prouder of him than I ever knew imaginable.  Voltaire tells us “with great power comes great responsibility.”  I would agree, but would add with great talent comes great responsibility as well.  Jacob taught himself how to play the guitar and just about every stringed instrument he could get his hands on.  He also taught himself to sing.  Jacob is one of those blessed individuals with an innate talent for music, able to play most anything by ear.

I’ve been proud of his ability. . .even in awe of his raw talent and I’ve tried to push, prod and mold him into what I thought would be best for him {college. . .school band. . .college. . .did I mention college?}.  It’s not until I got out of the way and allowed Jacob to choose his own path that I saw him really shine and thrive.   He now plays several times a day for hospice agencies bringing love, laughter and glorious music to those who could use a bit of cheer.  It is not the life I originally envisioned for him; however, it is the life I am so incredibly proud of him for creating.


This post was inspired by 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino, a novel about hope, love, and music in snow covered streets of Philadelphia. Join From Left to Write on August 28 we discuss 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

For additional reviews check out Goodreads.
To purchase the 2 a.m. from your closest local independent bookstore visit here .
For more on the author please visit The World of Marie-Helene Bertino 


Miss Peregrine Needs a New Home

August 22, 2014 Book Review, Giveaway 3

Many thanks to the publisher for the complimentary review copy; however, these are solely my thoughts and opinions and not influenced in any way.

Miss Peregrine Needs a New HomeMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, et al
by Cassandra Jean, Ransom Riggs
Published by Quirk Books
Genre: Young Adult
Source: complimentary review copy


Lovely readers you are in for a treat!  I have Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children {Book 1}, Hollow City {Book 2} and the Graphic Novel of Book 1 bundled up ready to fly away to a new home!  Any takers?



The first novel sets the stage with sixteen year old Jacob stumbling into an old abandoned orphanage on a remote island off the coast of Wales.  In the abandoned orphanage, Jacob discovers photos of children with strange peculiarities. . .

IMG_4669Filled to the brim with old photos that border on creepy and horrific, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a fascinating tale intertwining history, mystery, science fiction and a bit of fantasy.  The old photos add a touch of  “could that really have happened” fantasy while the storyline keeps you immersed in Jacob’s tragic situation.

Hollow City picks up just where Miss Peregrine leaves off so if you have issues with waiting on the next in a series, kind of like I do, then getting this bundle will be perfect for you!  As with Miss Peregrine the old photos will have you immersed in Jacob’s tale along with the addition of a menagerie of characters and animals.

The graphic novel is definitely a departure from my normal repertoire.  Honestly? I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the comic-book-style story.  If you’re not a graphic novel person like myself – this is a good one to get you started.

The giveaway ends on Friday, August 29th at 11:59 pm.  One winner will be selected at random to receive all three books – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and the Graphic Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  This giveaway is open to all, international friends included :-)  Please enter via promo simple entry form below.  Good luck!

Click here to view this promotion.


Musings of a Bookstore Browser

August 19, 2014 Book Talk 8

While traveling through Southern California and into Arizona I’ve been fortunate to find a couple of uniquely fabulous indie bookstores to haunt along the way.  It all started when I stumbled across Upstart Crow in the Seaport Village of San Diego.  We were walking around the shops searching for Tommy Bahama shirts when there appears like a vision before my very eyes, a most wonderful bookstore and coffee shop.  I sent my sweetheart off in search of his shirts {say that three times} while I wandered the nooks and crannies of the store {and enjoyed a caramel macchiato that rivaled the best Starbucks coffee}.  There were probably upwards of 25 people who came and went during my brief interlude in this bookish heaven.  The coffee shop definitely stayed busy and it appeared that more walk-thru traffic was there for the yummy coffee and baked goods as opposed to the selection of books.   The intimate mismatched tables for two spread throughout the downstairs and patio made for a quality spot for reading and/or hanging out with friends.  The upstairs housed the children’s section where I could have spent a long morning with The Little Monkey reading away.  It was nice to have the kids section a bit separated from the adults but it was not conducive to sending little ones upstairs while shopping the downstairs.  Overall, I was in awe of the whimsical design, fabulous trinkets, cards and coffee and the books. . .oh, the books!  The hidden crows in the rafters were pretty darned cool too!

upstart crow in san diego

Check out the seating/socializing area! Extra credit for finding the crow in the photo!

upstart crow in san diego

Stairs leading up to children’s section of Upstart Crow.

My next foray into a bookish heaven was in Tempe, Arizona at the Changing Hands Bookstore.  Where Upstart Crow had a more touristy-feel, Changing Hands is definitely for the serious booklover.  The genres are clearly marked and in every single section I found notecards written by the staff recommending their favorite books.  This extra touch gave me the sense that those who worked there really, really liked books as well.

The delicious Wildflower Bread Company is adjacent to the bookstore making it so convenient to spend an entire morning having breakfast and browsing books!  I was able to discuss with one of the lovely staff members our shared love of books, events that are held at that location and the necessity for a rockin’ kids section, which Changing Hands did have an exceptional children’s department!  She was wearing a “Will Work for Books” tshirt that I loved but I couldn’t resist purchasing the tshirt below {pun intended}  ;-)

changing hands bookstore

Possibly my new favorit-est shirt!

changing hands bookstore

New and Used books shared the shelves. Love the personal recommendations on the notecards as well!

What did I learn from spending long hours in these indies?

  •  I miss spending time in bookstores looking for that perfect next read.  While I love being a book review blogger {or more like ‘thoughts on a book’ blogger} the stack of books I need to read and review as promised has gotten overwhelming.  Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the mailbox and finding a new book.  But.  I have felt so guilty about going to a bookstore and buying a book because my TBR stacks are so huge that I’ve forgotten the wonders of doing just that.
  • Which is so crazy because y’all know my number 1 dream is to open a bookstore.
  • People are still buying books.  Purchasing local and supporting your community is important, necessary and alive & well.  Both Upstart Crow and Changing Hands appeared to have a healthy number of people in the store and purchasing.

My wish for you  ~

that you have a few moments to spend in your local independent book store.  browse.  absorb.  enjoy.  And if it’s possible at all, buy a book.

Have you ever visited either of these stores?  Is there a bookstore near you {back home in Georgia the closest indie to me is over an hour away}.  



Bout of Books 11 – And We’re Off!

August 18, 2014 Book Talk 5

Although I’m a wee bit late to the party I’m excited to be participating in the Bout of Books read-a-thon this week!  I spent the morning in Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona {a most awesome experience} and loaded up on a few titles to read:

  • The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
  • Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert {a signed copy nonetheless!}
  • Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis {so I can participate in Jamie’s online discussion for her Inklings Series}
  • The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker {I’ve been wanting to read this one ever since it came out so coming across a used copy in Changing Hands was certainly fortuitous this week!}
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt; Illustrator Oliver Jeffers {ever since reading Rhapsody in Books’ review I’ve been anxious to get this one for The Little Monkey!  Can’t wait to get home and read this one with him!}

So what is Bout of Books?

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

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Bout of Books