Traveling Alone: Day Trip to Asheville

I don’t know exactly when I started wanting to visit Asheville. I think I heard it described as The Hipster City of the East. And I know it’s meant to be beautiful. So when I realized that Asheville was only an hour away from Spartanburg, I knew I had to check it out, despite the fact that I didn’t know anyone there.

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In general, I don’t mind traveling alone. I like the endless stretches of road with just me and my music (or audiobook). And while I really enjoyed my day in Asheville, I think I can pretty conclusively say that I would rather explore a new city with someone beside me. For one thing, it divides the responsibility for deciding where to go and how to park.

I found hourly parking downtown, and while I had made a list of places to visit, I had no idea how close any of them were to each other. So I wandered around, which was made infinitely better because the sun was out in full force. It was an absolutely stunning day. I visited the St. Lawrence Basilica, then stumbled across not one, not two, not three, but FOUR used bookstores within a couple blocks. Now that is a city for me. One was even a bookstore/champagne bar, but since it was 11:30 a.m. and I was alone, I thought getting a drink might seem a little pathetic.   Continue reading

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Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

I loved this book!  I would have been content to read about the little backwoods town of Tupelo Landing and all its delightfully odd characters from Mo’s pitch-perfect sixth-grade Southern perspective.  But Turnage included hurricanes, murders, crushes, and car crashes on top of an already excellent story.  The result is one of the best middle grade books I’ve ever read.

I think I was most impressed by how Turnage stepped into a very stereotyped situation (both the small-town Southern setting and the middle grade characters) and infused them with unique and surprising qualities.  Mo could quite easily overpower her best friend Dale–she is bold where he is scared–but Dale turns out to be smarter and braver than expected when it matters.  Small town life could have been idolized, and while it’s certainly charming, there is also a genuinely distressing subplot about domestic violence.

I adored this book, and I can’t imagine anyone not feeling the same.  Read it!

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Meet Miss Moses Lobeau–rising sixth grader, natural born detective, borderline straight-A student, and goddess of free enterprise.  Mo washed ashore in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina eleven years ago during one of the meanest hurricanes in history, and she’s been making waves ever since.

Mo’s summer is looking good.  She’ll take karate with her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III (whose daddy believes in naming for the famous), and plot against her sworn enemy, Anna Celeste (aka Attila).  She’ll help out at the cafe run by the Colonel and Miss Lana, and continue her lifelong search for her Upstream Mother.

But when the cafe’s crankiest customer turns up dead and a city-slick lawman shows up asking questions, Mo’s summer takes an unexpected turn.  With another hurricane bearing down on Tupelo Landing, Mo and Dale set out to save those they loves and solve a mystery of epic proportion.

Release Date:  May 2012