Bookmarks 2016 Festival of Books and Authors

Yesterday started off with a road trip to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to visit the Bookmarks 2016 Festival of Books and Authors.

Winston-Salem, home for many years to the esteemed Maya Angelou, is only an hour’s drive from where we live in Charlotte, but I had only ever visited once before (it was another author event – Isabel Allende).

We arrived at the Festival around 10am, on a scorching hot day. Summer has continued unabated here in the South, and while I typically like the heat, it did make for an incredibly sweaty day!

I arrived at the festival with quite the book stash, and left with even more! By the end of the day, all of my books ended up personalized and signed!! This was our total haul by the end:


The number of authors present was very impressive, we will definitely be coming back again next year! I did not attend any of the ticketed events, most of which were held on Friday or Sunday, so everything that we did was free of charge. There were 6 stages, both inside and outside, so the day was filled with panel discussions, forums and presentations. The author with the longest line by far was Sarah J. Maas; we did not wait in that line. ūüôā



Jaqueline Woodson

One of the first events we went to was Jaqueline Woodson’s presentation. She had two forums that day, and her first one focused more on some of her earlier work, particularly Brown Girl Dreaming and Each Kindness. We love Brown Girl Dreaming, a Newbery Honor Book and winner of both the National Book Award and Coretta Scott King Award. I will definitely be reading her first adult novel in 20 years, that was just published, Another Brooklyn.



Victoria Schwab

I have to admit, I haven’t read the Shades of Magic books yet. They have been on my TBR list for a while, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity get them personalized. I love that Victoria Schwab wrote in¬†Stas Reskon in one book, and Travars in the other. I do wish I had already read these, so I had a deeper understanding of what that actually means!



Colson Whitehead


“I’m not sticking to the facts, I’m sticking to the truth.” ~¬†Colson Whitehead

My hubby and M went out exploring the streets surrounding the Festival while I went to Colson Whitehead’s forum. His newest book,¬†The Underground Railroad, is getting a lot of attention right now, it is currently at the top of the New York Times bestsellers list. It has also been picked as the next title for Oprah’s Book Club – a status that I originally held against it. I don’t usually like Oprah Book Club selections. I started the first chapter while waiting for the Colson’s presentation¬†to begin, and I am hooked.



Kate DiCamillo


Kate DiCamillo is as enchanting as her books. She has long been a staple in our home, going back to her first book, Because of Winn-Dixie, published in 2000 when I was in college. More recently, M has enjoyed the Bink & Gollie series, Tale of Desperaux, and Flora & Ulysses. We were both thrilled to meet her! We ended up getting four books personalized by her. I can’t wait to read her newest novel, Raymie Nightingale.

We finished off the day by going to Kate DiCamillo’s kid-friendly forum and Q&A. It was a blast; she¬†had a story for every question she received.





Book Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer


Winter by Marissa Meyer

This is the book that has turned me into a Lunar Chronicles fangirl. It was 800+ pages of awesome, a pure joy to read, and I continue to be impressed by Marissa Meyer’s ability to weave together so many fairy-tale based storylines and merge them together seamlessly, all while building her own unique world.

Princess Winter.¬†“She was a girl made of ice and glass.” Winter refuses to¬†use her Lunar gift, and therefore battles visions and hallucinations on a regular basis. A lot of readers¬†don’t like her childishness, but I found it fit in perfectly with her character. I also don’t believe she is truly as childish as she comes across, a thought that is hinted at a few times during the course of the novel. Winter, living under the nose of Queen Levana, seems to be in survival mode for much of the novel.

I loved that all of the events of this book take place on Luna, so the reader is fully immersed in the Lunar world. It was delightful to read about. I may never look at the moon the same way again, without picturing the city domes and Artemisia.

Winter is heartbreaking, endearing, and the perfect conclusion to the series.

Rating: 4/5 stars

WWW Wednesday – 31 August 2016


WWW is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over at Taking On a World of Words. You can join in by commenting on Sam’s post, and answering three questions.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading two books, that couldn’t be more different from each other.


Rebecca¬†by Daphne Du Maurier –¬†“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Who doesn’t know that line? Rebecca has been languishing on my TBR shelf for years and years. I am only about 25 pages in, and I love the atmosphere that Daphne du Maurier creates, right from the very beginning. I already have a chill of anticipation as to what is to come.


The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander РHands down, this is one of the most important nonfiction books that I have read this year. With only one chapter remaining, it has been a slow, thought-provoking book that I have read as part of a local discussion series called Educate to Engage, a group that has also created the hashtag #NoMoreBystanding. Michelle has constructed a thorough, convincing, passionate account of how the American criminal justice system, triggered by the creation and design of the War on Drugs, has become an institution of oppression towards African-Americans and people of color. The book is filled with detailed facts, arguments and studies to back up the basic premise. It is not an easy read, but it has helped give me the words to talk about a subject that has always been deeply unsettling to me.

What have you recently finished?


Winter¬†by Marissa Meyer – I loved this book! I thought it was the best one of the whole series. When I started Lunar Chronicles, I enjoyed the first book, Cinder,¬†but didn’t love it. Here, at the end of the series, all of the characters have captured my heart. I didn’t want it to end. Marissa Meyer created a fascinating world with captivating people, it was such a fun read.

What are you reading next?

It’s a toss-up between two books:

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Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín РThis is the Sepember selection for my book club, but I am not sure if I will be able to get to it in time for our meeting. I am not extremely motivated to read it right now, especially since the reviews I have heard are only average.

Sailor Moon Vol. 1 by Naoko Takeuchi РMy daughter is beginning to express an interest in Sailor Moon manga, so I thought it would be a great time to re-read these books! This will probably be what I pick up next.


Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer


I usually delve into YA books in the summer. They are the perfect accompaniment to lazy pool days. This summer, I decided to finally pick up the Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer. I have been wanting to read this series for years!

I have a feeling M will be reading these books in the not too distant future, she was quite interested in hearing all about the characters and plot, and how it was similar to the original fairy tales. That kid is growing up way too fast when I can envision her reading, and enjoying, YA novels.

It is a familiar story, with an interesting twist. I LOVE the idea of Earthens colonizing  the Moon/Luna (I once wanted to name a pet dog Luna), and then evolving the ability to detect and manipulate bioelectricity. The glamours that Lunars can manipulate people with is endlessly fascinating. Cinder works flawlessly, seamlessly including many elements of the original Cinderella fairy tale while still managing to tell a highly creative and original story. A cyborg Cinderella? Brilliant!

The world of¬†Cinder¬†is quite imaginative, but I do wish the Eastern Commonwealth, and its history, would have been flushed out a bit more. No explanations about New Beijing’s culture, or how so many Asian nations ended up under one monarchy. Hopefully this will be explored in the rest of the series.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars