Bookstore Tourist: Starline Books in Chattanooga, TN

Something I’ve recently decided I want to try to do when I visit a town is find an indie bookstore there, visit it, and buy something from them. I did this with Sundog Books in Seaside, FL a year and a half ago, so when my husband and I planned a little impromptu trip to Chattanooga (about an hour and a half from us), I Googled for an indie and learned about Starline. 
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Starline Books is in downtown Chattanooga on Market Street, right across from the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo. In case you’re ever looking for it yourself, know that it is inside a larger building. We actually circled around trying to find it because we saw a sign but not a storefront, and then when we came back around my husband realized it was inside a building that had a few businesses inside. Also, it has both an uptsairs and downstairs, and downstairs is where the YA section is.

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Oh how I wanted that illustrated Harry Potter, but wasn’t ready to fork over that money quite yet! However, both my husband and I each picked out a book to take home (plus free bookmarks!).

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Ruta lives in middle Tennessee and she’s coming to my town in March, so I thought buying one of her books would help move her up my TBR, as I’ve been saying for ages I need to read something by her! My husband has been reading the Mary Russell books ever since we read the first one for our college English class, and he was glad to finally see this one out in paperback. In case you’re curious about the mug, this photo was taken at The Hot Chocolatier, an AMAZING place just a couple doors down from the bookstore.

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I had the S’mores hot chocolate, he had the classic hot chocolate, and we shared this eclair, and there were so many other tasty looking treats. Guys, that S’mores hot chocolate may have been the tastiest drink I have ever put in my mouth. This place exceeded my expectations. We sat in the back of the shop by ourselves and it was so chill. It was exactly what I needed on this little getaway.

So if you ever find yourself in Chattanooga, TN, do yourself a favor and check out these gems!

Do you have a favorite indie bookstore you’ve visited in another town? 

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Top 10 Non-Scary Movies for Halloween

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a Halloween freebie, so I decided on the Top 10 Non-Scary Movies for Halloween, because I’m not big on scary myself. I know the focus of Top Ten Tuesday is supposed to be books, but this is my blog and I do what I want to, so there you go. This week’s list is in no particular order.

1. Clue

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I’ve watched this movie more than once for Halloween. It’s about a murder, but it’s such a farce. If you’d rather laugh about a murder mystery than be spooked by it, this is definitely your movie.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas

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This is the only real Halloween themed movie on the list, but it’s not scary, and it’s also kind of a Christmas movie? I’m really vexed as to when you’re actually supposed to watch it other than sometime between October and December. Believe it or not, I’ve only seen this movie once, and it was when I was in COLLEGE, but I think it’s pretty good and would recommend it if you haven’t seen it before.

3. Monsters, Inc.

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They may be monsters, but they’re more cuddly than scary. Don’t let James P. Sullivan fool you. 😉

4. Psycho

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This movie is suspenseful, but I would not classify it as scary, and I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat. I’ve also only seen this one once as well (in college… do we see a pattern here? My major was so worthless…), but I was definitely impressed with this Hitchcock film.

5. Rear Window

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This is another good suspenseful but not scary Hitchcock film.

6. Any and all Harry Potter films

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I think this is pretty obvious, unless you aren’t familiar with Harry Potter. In which case you should be.

7. The Prestige

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While not scary, this movie is definitely twisty and fascinating and I think suitable for a Halloween evening.

8. October Sky

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This movie is not even in the realm of scary, but it just seems appropriate with the word October in the title.

9. Remember the Titans

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If you care more about football season than Halloween season, this one’s for you.

10. Star Wars (whichever is your fave)

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Because Halloween is a perfect time to dress as your favorite Star Wars character, or just to get ready for the upcoming installment!

BONUS: TV Show Episode: “Day of the Dead” from Season 5 of Babylon 5

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I wouldn’t really recommend watching Babylon 5 out of order or out or context, but I think this might be one of the times you might be OK (though it’s been a little while since I’ve seen it, so I can’t say that for certain). There might be some confusion with details, but it’s pretty episodic in an otherwise very serial show, and it’s co-written by Neil Gaiman. Penn & Teller also make an appearance. I’d be lying if I said it was my favorite episode of the show because it’s not, but if you like the spirit of Halloween and Neil Gaiman, you might enjoy it.

Do you have a favorite non-scary movie that you think would be great to watch on Halloween?

“So I Write it to the Sky”: The Wrath and The Dawn

It’s always a little intimidating going into a book with so much hype. And honestly, The Wrath and the Dawn started off slow for me. You are dumped into a whole new world with no background information or explanation as to what is happening or who any of the characters are. I spent probably the first 25% of the book trying to keep everyone straight and trying to figure out why I should care about any of them. I felt disconnected from all of them, but since I was reading this for book club, there was so much hype, and I wasn’t completely bored or uninterested, I kept reading. Thankfully, it really picked up for me.

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Possibly because of this disconnection at the beginning, I didn’t believe in Shahrzad’s growing attraction towards Khalid at first. She hated him and she never really said anything positive about his looks (not negative either, but she didn’t seem to be drooling over him), so I didn’t understand why her heart would flutter around him early on in the story. Does she feel connected to him because of their marriage? Is there something else about him that evokes this in her, maybe even nervousness or fear? I would have liked to have gotten some more insight into Shahrzad’s thoughts, but we’re provided with very little. This disconnect in the beginning and how it affected my view of the characters is my definitely biggest complaint of the book.

However, as the story developed and I grew to understand the characters more through their words and actions, I did find myself caring more and more. And on the night when Shahrzad learns the truth about why Khalid does what he does, I was definitely a lot more on board with them as a couple and with the story as a whole.

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The ending left me with a lot of questions, but I know most of them are definitely going to be brought up in the next book (since they’re mentioned in the synopsis), but one thing I really want to know is why Khalid sought Shahrzad out that first night, but never did with any of the other women. Because without him having done that, the rest of the story would never have happened. I really hope this comes up again, and wonder if this is somehow connected with her abilities she seems to have. Speaking of which, the element of magic and abilities was brought up later in the book than I personally felt it should have been. I wish we could have learned that about her earlier, as it seems to be an important part of her character.

The writing overall in this book was beautiful. It was written very cinematically; I could picture each scene in my mind with all the rich description given of setting, clothing, food, etc. There were multiple senses being evoked in each scene, yet I never felt it bogged down the pacing of the story, and that is masterful writing in my opinion.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely plan to continue the series!

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What are your thoughts on The Wrath and the Dawn? Was it slow for you at first too or did you fall in love right away? 

The Top 8 Wishes I’d Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top 10 Wishes I’d Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me. At first I wasn’t planning to do this week’s topic, one because nothing was initially coming to mind, and two because I try so hard to be content with what I have and where I am in life, but then I started to think on it some and decided to go for it and came up with 8. This week’s list is in no particular order.

If I could I would wish for…

1. An awesome space to store my books.

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I mean, what book lover doesn’t want this?

2. The ability to read books a little faster.

I don’t want lightning speed reading ability… I think there’s something special about taking some time to savor what you read, but I wish I could maybe up my reading count a bit without necessarily devoting more time to read (not that I don’t want to read more, but life is busy!).

3. That I can write and publish books that will resonate with people.

It’s not a secret that I want a career as an author. I hope one day to share multiple stories, and I want them all to mean something to someone.

4. That I could stop losing bookmarks.

I have a serious problem with losing bookmarks. I would like for this to stop!

5. More books in the For Darkness Shows the Stars world.

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Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea features one of my favorite fictional worlds ever with its exploration of genetic engineering and its consequences, and I want more! With two books it just doesn’t feel complete! Maybe she could do a Little Women retelling next? There are so many possibilities!

6. To meet Marissa Meyer.

I am thinking this will surely happen one day, but I just want to ensure it! She’s one of my favorite authors and I want to get all the books signed by her and just tell her how much I love her characters!

7. To have the full experience at Universal Studios’ Harry Potter World… for free!

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This is definitely a trip my husband and I want to take someday, but it’s not cheap, especially if you want to do it and Disney World in the same go! I would love to be able to take this trip without fear of the money spent.

8. To see a book I write get made into a movie.

I’m sure there are downsides to this, but it’s something I’ve always wanted and would love to see happen! I would try to write into my contract that I get to be a co-producer or something for any possible films.

What are your bookish wishes?

To Live in the World of Austen: Thoughts on Mansfield Park and Austenland

When I posted my summer TBR list and included both Masnfield Park and Austenland, I got recommendations to read the two books back to back. I’m so glad I did!

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Mansfield Park is my second to last Austen novel to read, in my quest to read all her finished novels. My only exposure to this story before reading was watching the adaptation with Billie Piper once. Despite the fact that almost literally every character is an annoying idiot, I actually enjoyed this one pretty well. As usual, it suffered from Austen’s tendencies to elaborate on what are ultimately minor plot points and water down the main romance (which is what the book is all about, I mean come on), but I really felt for Fanny and that helped me through this book. In fact, never while reading an Austen novel have I felt so inspired to write a modern adaptation. I think it could be really interesting, except Fanny would not be named Fanny, and Edmund would not be her cousin, obviously. It’s not my favorite of her works, but I definitely enjoyed it in its own right.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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It was a GREAT idea to read Austenland after a Jane Austen book, because there are so many references to all the stories (though I think Sense and Sensibility got the least mentions, and main character Jane kinda hated on Mansfield Park a little). I really enjoyed the quick pacing and just all around fun rompness of the book, but the ending felt a smidge convoluted and definitely rushed. Jane gets chased down in the airport not by one, but TWO men from Austenland, and one of those guys really wouldn’t have done that, I feel. The other, yes definitely, which is why… well, I won’t give anything else away. 🙂 Overall though, this is a fun read for all fans of Austen. I thought about watching the movie after, but after seeing the trailer and how many changes they made to the general plot (they make Jane look even more desperate) I decided against it.

Rating: 4 stars

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Are you a Jane Austen fan as well? Have you read Austenland? What are your thoughts on Mansfield Park?

The Top 5 Author Duos I Want to See

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Author Duos You’d LOVE To See Write A Book Together. I just came up with ten because I’m lazy like that. My list this week is in no particular order.

1. Cristin Terrill and Lauren Miller: High-Stakes, Twisty Contemporary Sci-Fi

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They both have written books with fabulous, intriguing plots, so imagine what they could do together! Cristin would be totally in charge of the characters though because Lauren’s characters drive me nuts!

2. Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Ally Carter: Thriller Contemporary

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I mean, they both write in the genre, it only makes sense! I think I would really love to see what they can come up with together!

3. Emery Lord and Jane Austen: Romance Filled with Witty Banter and Wonderful Slow Burns

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I know this is literally impossible due to Jane Austen being no longer living BUT CAN YOU IMAGINE. ALL THE WIT AND SWOONS.

4. Diana Peterfreund and Marissa Meyer: Imaginative Sci-Fi with the Most Wonderful Characters Ever

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Between my love of the For Darkness Shows the Stars duology (though please write more in this world Diana kthanxbai) and The Lunar Chronicles I cannot even imagine if these two came together with their sci-fi world-building ideas and amazing characters!

5. Brandon Sanderson and Scott Westerfeld: Alternate World Fantasy of Awesomeness

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In my mind, this would be like Mistborn meets Leviathan. I mean, what’s not to love about this idea?

Which authors would you like to see team up for a book, and what would the book be about?

Genre Talk: Urban Fantasy & Magical Realism

Among the many genres out there, I have never read urban fantasy. Yet I have found myself, more than once, thinking, Oh, wouldn’t it be cool for a story to have a contemporary setting but there are fantasy elements? and then remembering, Duh, that’s urban fantasy. 

But any time I have ever read a synopsis for an urban fantasy title, it’s an instant pass, not interested. It doesn’t matter that I like the contemporary books I’ve read by Cynthia Hand and Jennifer Lynn Barnes, I have no interest in their urban fantasy. Why? Well, it comes down to that paranormal/supernatural elements that I have mentioned before as not being my cup of tea. I don’t want to read about fallen angels (unless it’s a la The Screwtape Letters) or vampires, because I just don’t have an interest there.

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So is there urban fantasy where the fantasy elements aren’t supernatural as much as they’re just… fantasy-like? Maybe a secret underworld kingdom where they lead very different lives? I think A Corner of White has this sort of story line, but I haven’t read it. Harry Potter was sort of like that… Harry lives in Muggle world but finds out his heritage of wizardry. From what I understand Percy Jackson is somewhat similar. So are these stories urban fantasy? Or are they more magical realism (another genre I’m not real knowledgeable of either)?

I get a little weirded out when I’m reading a story and expect things to be normal, and then suddenly it’s not, but with Harry Potter I knew it going into it, and I enjoyed it. Perhaps the same could be said for other stories with magical or fantasy elements in an otherwise normal world.

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Part of me blabbing about all this is not just a possible interest in reading these genres, but also in writing them. Sometimes I get story ideas I feel sort of fall into these lines, but I think, Oh, that won’t work out. It’ll seem dumb. But I’m thinking surely it can be done. I mean, I had no problem getting into the TV show Fringe and how it explored alternate universes. I know that it’s sci-fi, but why should it be different if it’s something more magical? As long as the story’s good and I can connect with the characters, that’s what matters.

So what do you think about urban fantasy and magical realism? How do you define the genres? Any books you’d recommend for me? 

Have Courage and Be Kind: Thoughts on Cinderella

When the new live-action Cinderella movie released, I thought it looked sweet but I didn’t rush out to the theater to see it. I finally nabbed it from Redbox on my birthday to see just how much it made me feel like a little girl again. Even though I had heard such things from reviews, I was still kind of surprised by the meaningful message of the film, and that it went deeper than magical fluff. Don’t be mistaken, it is still very fairy tale, with love-at-first sight and all that, but the character of Ella developed here is an excellent role model for young girls (and older ones too, really).

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The (maybe just slightly heavy-handed, but still very nice) theme of the movie is summed up in the words of Ella’s mother to her: Have courage and be kind. This is Ella’s motivation as she endures the awful treatment of her stepsisters and stepmother, and while she fights against being a doormat, they certainly take advantage of her kindness. It’s also these very same qualities that she possesses that attract the prince to her when they first meet. And it’s this courageous kindness that gives Cinderella the ability to forgive her stepmother in the end – a strong, important message for us all.

Overall: Cinderalla didn’t become a new favorite for me, but I definitely enjoyed watching it, and it would be a film I would be happy to show any daughters I might have one day.

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