Book Review: Serena by Ron Rash


I picked up this book because I read that the movie is coming out this year AND because I found out the author lives in WNC.

Summary from Goodreads: The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattlesnakes, even saving her husband’s life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons’ intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars. LOVED IT! I totally imagined Jennifer Lawrence as Serena the entire time. (Didn’t see Bradley Cooper as Pemberton though.) She was ruthless. The ending was perfect. Can’t wait for the film to be released!




In November 2013 I went to YALLFest in Charleston, SC. I learned about it in 2012 but wasn’t able to go that year. It’s an annual young adult book festival and it was amazing! I met so many authors and got tons of books signed. (People were rolling around suitcases filled with books!) They also had lots of discussion panels. And it’s held in a city that I love. What more could one ask for? I will definitely try to go EVERY year from now on!

Charleston is only about four hours from where I currently live. My friend Rheannon, who lives in Winston-Salem, met me over YALLFest weekend and we were able to stay on her father-in-law’s houseboat for free! (Which I have always wanted to do and crossed off my bucket list!)


I arrived in Charleston on Friday in time for the YALLFest Red Carpet Preview at Charleston County Public Library. Several authors discussed “Disturbing Universes” and I got a book signed by and photo with Carrie Ryan (author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series).



After the panel I hurried over to Sullivan’s Island for sunset beach photos!


Dinner was at Taco Mamacita. Yum!


Rheannon wasn’t arriving until late so I caught a movie by myself and then when she finally got there we had some late night drinks and munchies at The Southern General on Johns Island (near the marina).

mmmm corn fritters

mmmm corn fritters

In the morning I donned all of my nerdy book gear for the festival! And I got there early enough to get a wristband for the coveted Veronica Roth signing (limited to the first 500 in line).



The Opening Keynote started at 10am and featured two of my favorite authors: “Girl Power, Boy Power” with Veronica Roth and Rae Carson.


There were so many book signings throughout the day! I got books signed by Rae Carson, Rachel Cohn (who is actually my friend’s sister), Ally Condie, David Levithan, Stephanie Perkins, and Veronica Roth. I wanted to get books signed by Marie Lu and Ransom Riggs but they sold out of her books (I wanted her to sign Champion which was released that week so I had planned to buy it there) and he got food poisoning!






I was so busy getting books signed that I didn’t have much time to go to panels. I did attend the YA Smackdown that evening, which was fun. The authors played games on stage and there was a band made up of several authors who rocked out for awhile. (Note: All festival events were free except the Keynote and Smackdown, which were $6-$7 each. And they sold out! So buy tickets ahead of time.)


That evening Rheannon and I had dinner at Virginia’s on King and alcoholic slushies at Wet Willie’s!



On Sunday Rheannon and I visited the Angel Oak and Folly Beach.




After the beach, she left to head home. Since I had a three day weekend (Veteran’s Day), I decided to stay a little longer and drive back later on Sunday. I walked around and explored downtown.





What a great weekend! I can’t wait for YALLFest 2014!

Book Review: A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash


I picked up this book because I had heard great things about it and the author is going to be at Malaprop’s (a local bookstore) this Friday! I did enjoy A Land More Kind Than Home so I will be going to the reading/singing of his newest, This Dark Road to Mercy.

Summary from Goodreads: For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can’t help sneaking a look at something he’s not supposed to—an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess’s. It’s a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he’s not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.

Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars. I loved that the book was set near where I live in western North Carolina. The setting made it even more interesting to me. It was a great story, told from the POV of three different people: the boy Jess, an old woman named Adelaide, and the sheriff. It was heartbreaking as well as disturbing (how people use religion to benefit themselves). There was nothing I didn’t like about the book, but I didn’t give it 5 stars because it wasn’t “unputdownable”.


Top Ten Tuesday


Top 10 Book Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the rainy bog in Wales or with monsters chasing me.


2. Night Film. Even though this is actually set in the “real world”, being stuck on Cordova’s estate would be a nightmare!!


3. All the YA dystopian worlds… The Matched, Legend, Divergent, and Hunger Games series. Too much fighting, violence, harsh conditions.





4. The Host… It would be so freaky to have another “soul” inserted into your body.


5. The Kitchen House… I would never want to live back during slavery times.


6. Any world with zombies! The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Warm Bodies, World War Z




7. The A Song of Ice and Fire series. Who would want to live in a world where King Joffrey exists?


8. The Last Survivors series. It is not violent like the other YA dystopian books I mentioned but it would still be an awful, cold world to live in.

Moon books

9. Room… That would be the most depressing, disturbing life ever.


10. But the worst world of all was in The Road!!