month’s prompts are more challenging than the ones from the previous month. It
remains to be seen if I can come up with books to write about this month. Rae
is stretching my memory to think back through my many years of reading.
With today’s theme in mind, I selected two book series instead of two individual books. (There I go, bending the rules again!) They are series I enjoyed a few years ago. They are books you might enjoy when you want something light to read, although after a while they become somewhat predictable.
Stephanie Plum Series
appreciate how Ms. Evanovich numbers her books in this series in chronological
order. It makes it easy to keep up with where you are in the series, especially
if you’re late coming to her books and you want to remember which ones you’ve
Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter for her New Jersey cousin of questionable character. Stephanie is white. Her sidekick is a large black woman named Lula. There’s no end to the trouble Stephanie and Lula get into. This usually involves Stephanie’s car getting blown up and one of her two heart throbs, Ranger, coming to her rescue. The earlier books in this series were fresh and laugh-out-loud funny. After 25 books, though, they don’t make me laugh as much.
If you want to give Ms. Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books a try, start with One for the Money in order to get acquainted with the recurring cast of characters. The books don’t have to be read in order, but occasionally knowing what has transpired in the past will help you appreciate a later book.
Ms. Evanovich writes one book every year now in this series, with Look Alive Twenty-Five being released last fall. The Stephanie Plum books are stereotypically-New Jersey.
Ann B. Ross’ Miss Julia Novels
I read a few of Ann B. Ross’ Miss Julia novels a few years ago before I got hooked on historical fiction. That’s not to say they don’t still make me laugh.
Miss Julia is an elderly widow who lives in a town in western North Carolina. Every time Miss Julia thinks life might settle down, a relative or other ne’er do well shows up on her doorstep to throw a monkey wrench into her life.
Miss Julia rolls with the punches with good humor. Start with Ann B. Ross’ debut novel, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind. This is great Southern fiction.
Ironically, Ms. Ross’ latest Miss Julia novel is being published today. The title is Miss Julie Takes the Wheel.
Until my next blog post
Thank you, Rae, of “Rae’s Reads and Reviews Blog” for this month’s #TwoForTuesday blog post prompts. Visit her blog, https://educatednegra.blog.
Let’s continue the conversation
In the comments section below, tell me about
one or two books that made you laugh.
The 2017 Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on September 9, 2017 was fantastic! This free event included more than 45 authors. It was well-organized and supported by a large number of friendly and knowledgeable volunteers.
“Bookmarks is a literary arts organization that fosters a love of reading and writing in the community. Our programming connects readers and authors and includes: an annual Festival of Books, an Authors in Schools program, and year-round events in our community gathering space and nonprofit independent bookstore.”
My sister and I have wanted to go to Bookmarks Festival of Books for years, but this was the first year it worked out for us to get there. The festival is held annually, usually on the second weekend in September. Make plans to attend Bookmarks next year!
We got to hear seven authors speak at Bookmarks! Seven authors in one day! Each one of them took questions from the audience after making their remarks.
Author events were going on throughout the day in six different venues within walking distance, so you could pick and choose which ones you wanted to attend.
Jamie Ford, author
Jamie Ford was the author we got to hear first. He was a very entertaining speaker. He regaled us with some of the comments teens have made on social media as they are required to read his novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet in the state of Washington.
Mr. Ford also talked about his new novel, Love and Other Consolation Prizes, and the true story that inspired it. He had arranged to autograph and have for sale copies of this new book even though the official release date wasn’t until September 12.
The book sales tent
After Jamie Ford’s presentation, we had time to visit the Bookmarks large book sales tent to purchase books by the authors participating in the festival.
Authors Kathleen Grissom, Lisa Wingate, & Patti Callahan Henry
Ms. Grissom, Lisa Wingate, and Patti Callahan Henry had a panel discussion about Southern Fiction. Although none of them were born in The South, that’s the genre they have written. When we arrived at their venue, it was almost standing room only.
We strained to hear the authors’ remarks and their answers to questions from the audience, but we enjoyed the bits and pieces of the panel discussion that we could hear. They each talked about some of their books and their works in progress. Be on the lookout for future novels by each of them!
Kathleen Grissom, Lisa Wingate, & Patti Callahan Henry – book signing
We split up to take advantage of the book signing by these three writers of Southern Fiction. Patti Callahan Henry was signing copies of her latest novel, The Bookshop at Water’s End. Marie was excited to meet Lisa Wingate and get her to autograph a copy of her new novel, Before We Were Yours, and I was thrilled to meet Kathleen Grissom and get her to autograph a copy of The Kitchen House.
A variety of food trucks were on hand to offer several options for lunch or snacks. My burger was delicious, but holding onto the Styrofoam tray it was served in was more than a challenge in the beautiful but blustery day.
Margaret Maron’s book signing
After lunch, we went to the Forsyth County Public Library booth for Margaret Maron’s book signing. She was very gracious. When she saw me taking a picture of Marie at her table, she asked if we were sisters and insisted that I come get in the picture, too. Marie is a big fan of Ms. Maron’s Deborah Knott series of mystery novels, so it was a thrill for her to get to meet the author.
It was a thrill for me, too! I’ve read Bootlegger’s Daughter, the first book in the Deborah Knott series, which means I have 19 more in the series to read.
Bookmarks – an independent bookstore
After getting Margaret Maron’s autograph, we visited the literary arts nonprofit and independent Bookmarks bookstore. It is located at 634 West Fourth Street #110 in Winston-Salem, so please make an effort to support it the next time you’re in that city.
Beverly Tatum and Marc Lamont Hill
Beverly Tatum and Marc Lamont Hill spoke about “The Race Divide: Then and Now” for an hour in the afternoon. This event was very well attended and enlightening. Those of us who are white have much to learn about “white privilege” and all it entails. The more I learn, the more I realize I have not really appreciated or understood in the past. I strive to be more cognizant of it and to do better.
Dr. Tatum and Dr. Hill’s remarks and discussion centered around race relations in the United States in the 1990s as compared to race relations in 2017. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Dr. Tatum’s nonfiction book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race.
A new edition of this book has been published this year to include some updates and to cast more light on the fact that although Brown v Board of Education was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954, little real racial integration takes place today in the lives of most Americans. Schools are racially-integrated, but churches, neighborhoods, and friendships are still very much one race or the other.
Margaret Maron, author
Hearing Margaret Maron speak late in the afternoon was a highlight among many highlights of the day, especially after meeting her and seeing how gracious and friendly she was when Marie got her to autograph Long Upon the Land: A Deborah Knott Mystery. Those of you who are Margaret Maron fans will be sad to learn that she does not plan to write any more novels. She said she might write some short stories. Her new novel, Take Out, marks the end of her nine-book Sigrid series.
Ms. Maron was an entertaining speaker. She talked about living in Johnston County, North Carolina and enjoying how her Deborah Knott series allowed her to travel around the state as Judge Knott was assigned to court cases in various locations.
Diana Gabaldon, ending keynote speaker
Unfortunately, I was unable to return to Winston-Salem on September 10 for Diana Gabaldon’s keynote address. I’m a big fan of her Outlander book series, so it would have been a wonderful to have heard her speak. Perhaps she’ll participate in the Bookmarks Festival of Books again in the future.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman. Published in 2012, this was Ms. Stedman’s first novel. I’m also enjoying getting back into some quilting.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.