October 23, 2014

A Moment of Happy

  • The minions make everything better!
  • Okay, if you haven't read this post titled "Who Crushed Better: You Or Your Grandma?", then let me assure you that you should stop everything right this very minute, and GO READ IT! Lotsa eyecandy and fun. Trust me. You'll thank me after. ;)
  • In the spirit of Halloween which is just around the corner (where did this year go?!), read this post by Heather Dixon.

October 17, 2014

Festivals, Books, & Authors, Oh My

So! As any regular reader knows, I had the delightful privilege of going to the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville this past weekend. And I did warn you that I'd probably want to gush about it sometime this week. That day has arrived! :D

Proceed scrolling down at your own risk as there is much gushing and pictures about to happen. I've never been to such a thing before, so of course I took tons of pictures. Thus if you don't want to see and hear all about it, stop reading right now! (Also, I cannot stress enough that I am no photographer, therefore I cannot promise amazing, quality pictures. I only promise pictures. M'kay?)

Now then! My day started in this building. And that banner that you can't read does actually state "Welcome to the Southern Festival of Books" in case you're wondering. This is the Nashville Public Library. I know! It's huge! Multiple levels of awesomeness here.

This would be the children's section. Mind you, this is one whole room dedicated to only children's books. Plus it's yellow which just makes me happy! :) It's located on the second level.

Meanwhile, on the first level, we have the foyer. And this is only half of the room. I couldn't get the whole thing in one picture. And those books? Those are for sale. Which is where I found this...

I listened to this all the way home and as I stated in my review yesterday, it is fabulous! If you like quirky characters and lots of adventure, you should read it. (Also, that cover is amazing! Incorporating so many elements of the story in one perfect picture. I love it.)

Moving on to the actual festival itself, here it is in all its wet glory. Yes. It rained all day. But us die hard booklovers were not deterred! Oh no! Far from it. We wandered from booth to booth with our raincoats and umbrellas and happy enthusiasm for books. There were books for sale all over the place, as well as authors and publishers to meet. One awesome aspect of the day that I wasn't expecting was the fact that book people love other book people. I mean, I knew that was true about myself, but that moment that I saw such a vast array of readers and writers all having a blast was fantastic! There were people that I chatted with who read and write stories that I will probably never read, but we still had that common bond of loving books anyway. What I mean is, regardless of what we each read or write, it didn't really matter. What mattered was our enthusiasm for literature and books. And every single person I met had that in spades! Which means that I had some incredible convos with all kinds of people. My favorite convos were the unexpected moments when I stopped in a particular booth and we just started talking. Book people are awesome people! Enough said. :)

This sign at a mystery writers booth amused me. And the ladies I met there were fun! See. That's what I'm trying to say. I read very few mysteries, but we found common ground to talk about anyway! (And on that note, if you do like mysteries, I met another mystery writer, Lauren Hope, who has a giveaway currently going on for a set of hardcover Agatha Christie books. Go check it out and enter to win! :)

And then it was time for the highlight of my entire weekend! Yep. In that little huddle there, stands a tiny but awesome lady who I couldn't wait to meet! But first I had the privilege of listening to a panel of three authors discuss their newest books. Which was great fun! Of course, the bestest part was listening to this gal....

Yeppers, there she is, folks! Ms. Natalie Lloyd herself! To say that I was excited to meet her? Thrilled to listen to her talk about what inspired her novel? Ecstatic to even be in the same room with her?! Would all be a huge understatement. My joy knew no bounds! :) And I was determined that I'd be grown-up about this. I would talk to her. (I even practiced what to say!) I would tell her how much I'd enjoyed reading her blog for years. How much I loved A Snicker of Magic. How amazing it was to meet her. I would not do like I had when meeting Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) a few years ago. Where I got so completely tongue-tied I ended up not being able to say even one word to her. *shakes head in embarrassment* But this time! This time would be different. And it was! (Well. I was still a bit tongue-tied and I think I ended up saying "thank you" about a gazillion times too many and who knows if I was coherent at all. But I do know that I got a hug! And that she called me cool! I'm totally going to add that to every introduction from now on. "Hi, I'm Kara! And Natalie Lloyd thinks I'm cool." Has a nice ring to it, don't you think? ;)

Oh look! Another picture of her! ;) She's reading from her novel here. Which brings me to mention the panel she was a part of. There was this clock at the back of the room and all of a sudden, all three authors look at it and gasp. The hands were moving around by themselves really quickly! Cory Basil, one of the authors, exclaimed "We're time-traveling!" and Natalie goes, "Best panel ever!". ;) Seriously though, it was a very fun panel to sit in on. Afterwards, we got to go meet them and get their autographs (at which point Natalie gave me a hug!), which brings me to the awesomeness of this guy....

This is Cory drawing a picture for my nephew. I didn't buy his book (if only I could have bought every single one that I wanted! *sigh* Oh for unlimited amounts of book-buying-money), but I had the thought that one of my nephews loves to read and I bet he'd enjoy having an autograph from an author. So when I asked about it, Cory volunteered to draw a picture and sign it instead! Which he proceeded to do. And which I thought was awfully nice of him! :) Therefore, go check out his facebook page and his newest book, The Perils of Fishboy. He added around 60 illustrations to the story and it sounds like a fun book! :)

And to end the day, I visited Parnassus Books. They had a booth at the festival, but you know nothing can compare to the actual bookstore. And it's lovely! If you're ever in the Nashville area, I recommend stopping by. The high ceiling makes the space seem large and they have a fabulous selection. One of my purchases there included:

Have you read this one? If not, get thee to a bookstore! It is absolutely hilarious to read aloud. I stood there in the store laughing my head off. It's a good thing I had the children's section all to myself at the time. ;)

This is the ceiling of one of the buildings around the festival. Pretty cool, right? And thus endeth my day of happy. I headed home with lots of fun memories and a few more books to add to my shelves. As well as dreams of going again next year! ;)

October 16, 2014

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Eight

I realized that I have quite a few books that I've read but not blogged about piling up. So it's past time for another edition of Bite-Sized Reviews! Yay! (I know how excited you are. ;) But enough about me and my giant (actually only four) pile. On to the book reviews!

Isla and the Happily Ever After - As a fan of Ms. Perkins, I'd been anxiously awaiting the delayed publishing of her third novel. And happily devoured it soon after it came out! It was so nice to get back to the French boarding school again, as well as see Josh get his happy ending. Isla and Josh are too cute. Which I totally expected because Ms. Perkins knows her cuteness-factor when it comes to young adults: Anna and Etienne, Lola and Cricket, and now Isla and Josh. I really like Isla the most though. It's interesting to be inside her head and watch as Josh basically sweeps her off her feet and how she handles that. Her insecurities and doubts combined with Josh's reckless tendencies, make their romance filled with ups and downs. But as the title so aptly states, they do get their happily ever after. It's the getting to the ever after that's the fun part! (Also, the appearances of the characters from her other novels are a fun addition. It was lovely to see where those couples are now. Plus we get a pretty swoonworthy moment or two with them! Which is always a plus. :)

In Consequence - As a huge fan of the miniseries North and South based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell, this is actually the first sequel/retelling of the story that I've read. And what fun it is! Events happen just the same until the riot scene, at which point things take a much different route. John and Margaret have way more opportunities to spend time together, setting up several cute and sweet moments between them. Their interactions are almost always fraught with misunderstandings in the original story, and that remains the same here. Although things get cleared up quite a bit quicker and their open communication is a welcome change! I also really enjoyed getting a glimpse of their married life together. Nicholas is as impudent as ever, Mrs. Thornton as stern, Mr. and Mrs. Hale just the same, and really the entire cast of characters are wonderful. If you enjoy retellings of classic stories, I'd recommend this one for a bit of fun.

The Near Witch - I didn't think this sounded like my type of book at all, but I kept hearing such good things about it that my curiosity was piqued. And am I ever glad I picked it up! Ms. Schwab's writing is seriously wonderful! From the very first page, it swept me up and refused to let loose until I reached the end. Resonating with sounds and tastes and feelings, it is wonderfully expressive. While the story seems like a fantasy, at the same time, it really feels more like a historical novel. It's such a curious mix of so many different things. And it does them all well! When I closed the last page, I immediately turned the book over and started reading my favorite parts again. I love it when stories do that for me. I have, without a doubt, become a huge fan of Ms. Schwab's writing and look forward to reading more from her. Highly recommend!!!!

The Great Unexpected - What an unexpected delight! (See what I did there? ;) I found the audiobook at a library sale and snatched it up because Natalie had exclaimed over it (and she has yet to steer me wrong). Believe me when I say that this is an excellent middle grade novel. Ms. Creech takes a vast array of seemingly unconnectable characters and then gives hints little by little (keeping you turning pages or continuing to listen so you can find out what happens next) until there's an invisible thread connecting them all. And the characters are the shining points of the entire story! Naomi and Lizzie, Nula and Joe, Witch Wiggins, Crazy Cora, Mrs. Mudkin, the Ireland ladies, and of course the "infamous" Finn-boy. They are all delightful! This is a fun adventure full of eccentric and quirky characters that you'll love. I think I'll go have another listen. :)

October 15, 2014

Hi Wednesday Hodgepodge, I'm Back!

I decided to join in again! I've thought about it for several weeks, but it just hadn't worked out. Today that changes! Here am I, going forth with the questions.

1. What's your favorite time of day? Why?

I don't like early morning, but maybe around 10 or 11am, once I'm good and woke up. It's nice daylight outside, I'm not too sleepy yet (afternoons make me want to nap), and evening is when it's getting dark. I like the daylight! Plus it's close to lunch and I do like to eat. ;)

2. Waffle iron, toaster, coffee maker, mixer, blender...which small appliance would you say most needs replacing in your house?

The mixer because I don't have one and I want one!

3. It's National Grouch Day (October 15)...what's something that makes you feel grouchy?

Really early mornings. Ugh!

4. Ever been to Canada? Is that a country you'd like to visit? According to Trip Advisor, the top ten best destinations in Canada are-Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Victoria, Calgary, Niagara on the Lake, Niagara Falls, Whistler, and Halifax. Which city would you most like to see?

Victoria or Niagara Falls. I have friends who've been to those places and brought back amazing pictures. I don't know anything about any of the other cities. (Also! I have a few blogging friends who live in Canada. I wouldn't mind getting the chance to go visit them! :)

5. What was your favorite food (or one of your favorites) when you were a child? Is that still a favorite?

Peanut butter, mayo, and banana sandwiches. And absolutely NOT a favorite! *shudders* I have no idea what on earth I was thinking.

6. Do you cry easily?

Yes. Weddings, funerals, movies, when someone else starts crying, I'm a waterworks machine! And I really wish I weren't.

7. Have you started your (gasp!) Christmas shopping? If so when, and how much? If not, when will you even begin thinking about it?

I have thought about it. But actual shopping has not been involved. At this point, I have no idea when it'll begin. Hopefully soon!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Hodgepodgers, it's good to be back,
I knew there was something I lacked.
I'll join in
Hopefully again,
Meanwhile, I'll go have a snack.

(Yeah, not my best work.)

October 8, 2014

Review: Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

To say that I was excited to read this book would be a vast understatement. After devouring Dear Mr. Knightley last year, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that whatever Ms. Reay wrote next I would read. In fact, at only two books in, I'm thinking to place her on my list of authors I'll read no matter what! Because she is just that good. :)

This story is real. By which I mean, the characters feel real and true. No cardboard cutouts, no easy happy-ever-afters, but real people dealing with heartaches, loss, relationships, and feelings. That's the core of the story, in my opinion. Relationships. Specifically the relationship between Lizzy and Jane, sisters who have hurt one another and struggle to get back to a good place again. But also the relationship between a father and his daughters, between a husband and his sick wife, between a handsome neighbor and a visiting sister. And even the relationship between life and food!

There are lots of literary references, I'd never analyzed how food is used in literature, but Ms. Reay excellently points these out using Lizzy's love of books and food. (And the dishes Lizzy makes! I could almost taste some of them. :) I loved the references to Jane Austen, but there are many more to be found hidden in these pages. It's like a literary feast for all the senses! It's quite obvious that Ms. Reay is a reader and knows her classics very well. She incorporates these stories into her story until they permeate the entire book, even when not mentioned!

This is not the type of story to throw you from one twist to another with loads of action. Instead, it's the quiet moments that shine. Like when Lizzy accompanies Jane to her chemo appointments. (The other patients and families that they interact with only there, yet I could picture that they were busy living their lives even while not appearing on the page.) Lizzy's conversations with Nick and Matt. Danny and Kate learning how to adjust to their mother being sick and finding their new "normal". Lizzy and Jane's dad, who is simply wonderful. Peter figuring out how to handle his wife's sickness and all the daily changes that comes with that. Lizzy and Jane themselves. Tiptoeing around one another, yet unable to deny the love they have for each other, even while sniping and criticizing.

This story is breathtaking. While it may be quieter, it still packs a punch! And that ending! Ah, such a wonderful ending. Ms. Reay uses a softer touch with the romance, but that just makes each moment so much sweeter. And the ending references one of my absolute favorite moments in literature! (Hint: It involves a letter.) Most definitely swoonworthy! I confess to rereading the last couple of chapters several times. ;)

This one is a keeper. Trust me. READ IT!!!

*Many, many thanks to Katherine Reay for providing me with an ARC in response to my enthusiasm via twitter. :)

"...I never forget a food reference."
I shrugged. "It's a gift."
"Sixteen Candles?"
"The cake, of course. Oh, but there's that quiche dinner too. See? Sixteen Candles and Dickens--all about breakfast."
"Under the Tuscan Sun?"
"Never read it, but I'm assuming a ton of Italian?"
"That was obvious." Cecilia smiled. "What's your favorite food reference?"
"I've got two. I think the best opening line in literature is Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. 'The year began with lunch.' All books and all years should begin that way."

October 6, 2014

Movie Quote Monday :: Edition Four

Max Vandenburg: (presenting Liesel with a blank book of pages) Write. In my religion we're taught that every living thing, every leaf, every bird, is only alive because it contains the secret word for life. That's the only difference between us and a lump of clay. A word. Words are life, Liesel.

I just watched this movie last week and loved it! This quote is so lovely, I just had to share. Words are so very powerful. And yes! They are life. They speak you. What I mean is, they speak what's inside you. Who you truly are. Or, at least, they can. Words have the power to create or destroy. Just a few letters strung together, but oh what an impact they can make!

(Micah at In Sunshine and Shadows was hosting this link up last year. I joined in a few times and then her life got really busy and she's pretty well not blogging much at all anymore. So I'm hoping she won't mind if I continue! I was reminded of it after posting that You've Got Mail quote last week. Thought it'd be fun to post more. I love movies. :)

October 5, 2014

Bookish (And Not-So-Bookish) Thoughts

This is a weekly meme hosted by Bookishly Boisterous where we write about stuff. I happened to see this via Birdie at Lady of the Manor and thought I'd join in today.
191676561. It's only a few weeks until Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay is released! YAY!!!! I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy and am hoping my review will be coming soon. But til then, just know that this was a wonderful and delightful and real story. You need to read it!! :)

2. I finally had the chance to watch The Book Thief last week. Oh my gracious! Such a great movie. I'd like to try reading the book now. I've read such a mix of reactions to the book though. Have any of you read it? What did you think? The movie though, I can officially state that I loved the movie! The actress who played Liesl was amazing. And the love of words and stories.........oh my heart. I think I need to go watch it again, to see what I missed the first time.

3. I love Pinterest. If any of y'all follow me there, I'm very sorry. You get almost daily bombarded with loads of pins from me. But there is so much fun stuff on there! Plus the funnies. I kid you not, I have sat in bed laughing my head off at 11pm. It's a good thing I don't have close neighbors!

SFB poster
4. I am beyond excited, y'all! I'm hoping to head to Nashville this next weekend for the Southern Festival of Books. My very first book festival! I'd heard and read about it for a few years now and always wanted to go. But as I lived in CA that wasn't possible. But this year, I am within driving distance, so I have been itching for October to finally get here. You can bet that I'll have many thoughts I'll probably want to share come next week. And I am SO EXCITED! (In case you were wondering. ;)

5. Did I mention I'm excited for the festival?

6. I should also mention that one big reason I want to go is that Natalie Lloyd is going to be there. Who's Natalie Lloyd, you may ask? I reviewed her awesome debut earlier this year, A Snicker of Magic. But beyond that, I've been reading her blog for several years and I just love her writing! Plus she just seems like a pretty awesome person in general. So when I heard she was going to be there, I knew I had to make every effort possible to get there!!! I shall let you know how our meeting goes. (Because yes, I already warned her via twitter that I wanted to meet her and that I may end up acting a bit....fangirlish.)

7. I've also been watching a couple other British shows recently. Doc Martin and The Musketeers. Well, I should be honest. I've only seen the first episode of The Musketeers so far, but you can bet that I'll be watching more as soon as possible! It is SO much swashbuckling fun. And Doc Martin? I never thought I'd like a show about a grumpy, small town doctor, but Martin convinced me otherwise. This show is hilarious! I may just have to write a post about all my thoughts and feelings on these shows. Have you seen either of these?

8. I got to cuddle my friend's cute baby girl this morning. She is a chunk and a half of pure sweetness! Her leg rolls, her gummy grin, her baby smell, I'm in love, y'all. :)

9. Jamie's Inklings Series is reading The Hobbit this month. I'm planning to join in, why don't you?

10. And that's all I got. Hope you're having/have had a wonderful weekend! :)

October 1, 2014

Visiting Awesome Bookstores

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a booklover finds herself in the nearby vicinity of a wonderful bookstore only heretofore heard about in passing, then she must needs to go visit! And so I did. :)

(My pictures aren't the best quality, but I hope you enjoy them anyway.) Evidently, this building used to be a power plant and the d├ęcor inside clearly reflects this.

For as large as it looks on the outside, I should note that there are only two floors. So in actuality, I don't think this particular store is that much bigger than a normal Barnes and Noble. But somehow it just feels bigger and much more awesome! (Plus it has a balcony!)

I wandered the first floor for a while, but soon found myself unable to stay away from the escalators any longer. (Also, I love that they made use of all the nooks and crannies around. They have bookshelves tucked in all sorts of spots.)

I'm positive I looked a little nutty striding around, snapping pictures, grinning madly at everyone I met. But there were books to be flipped through, shelves to be scanned, people to step over, and happy to be felt!

Have you seen You've Got Mail? You know that moment when Kathleen finally visits Fox Books for the first time and she's wandering around and stepping over kids everywhere in the children's department? I confess that's exactly the scene that popped into my head while I was walking around. Because I saw several people sitting here and there all over the floor. Most made a point to try and be out of the way of the rest of us who were wandering, so we wouldn't trip over them. But it was obvious that they were there for the long haul. They had come to the bookstore, they had their books and their coffee, they'd found the perfect spot to sit, and there they'd remain until closing. I loved it!!!!

I was sad to have to leave. But all good things must come to an end, right? *sigh* I want to live closer to this place! Anybody up for another roadtrip with me? ;)


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