Books to Get You in the Halloween Spirit

For this week’s Broke and the Bookish meme, I decided to revive an older topic and do my Top Ten Tuesday on books that get me in the Halloween spirit.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love this time of year and thoroughly enjoy planning costumes. So whether you like to scare yourself silly or are just in it for the candy, hopefully this list will have something for you.

*Links lead to it and pictures come from it: Goodreads*


1. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

The original creepy witches. “Double, double toil and trouble/ Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” Plus murder, political intrigue, and insanity. Halloween sounds like a great time to brush up on The Bard.

The Monkey's Paw

2. The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs

An eerie short story about the perils of making wishes that will create the perfect spooky atmosphere for a Halloween party. It was originally published in 1902 but don’t be afraid to break it out and read it to your youngsters if they’re looking for a good scary story.

Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas, #1)

3. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Not that you couldn’t enjoy the Odd Thomas series any time of the year, but considering that originally Halloween is supposed to be when the veil between the spirit world and our world is at its thinnest, now might be a good time to read about a man who sees ghosts and solves crimes.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

4. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Charles M Schulz

If the scary stuff isn’t your style, I suggest reading and/or watching this Peanuts classic. The story of The Great Pumpkin is one of my all time favorite Peanuts moments and always gives me a case of the warm fuzzies.

The Witches

5. The Witches by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is a natural choice for a children’s story with dark twists and turns. The Witches is just the right amount of scary, especially if your household has some young readers.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

6. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Another solid tale of witchcraft. This particular novel flashes back and forth between past and present day to explore the rich history of witches in New England. I got sucked into this book a few years ago and really enjoyed the mood and tone Howe so expertly conveys.

The Night Circus

7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I know I mentioned this in last week’s TTT, but I think this book has a strong sense of atmosphere that can only be enhanced by cool autumn nights and a hot beverage while reading.

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,  #1)

8. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I finished this book within the last year and was captivated by Zafon’s magical realism. The winding streets of Barcelona and the mysterious, supernatural feel of the book would make for a great Halloween read.

Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #10)

9. Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton

If you’re not reading the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series then you should absolutely start from the beginning (which is the book Guilty Pleasures). But if you’re already involved in the series, might I suggest re-reading Narcissus in Chains. It’s a novel that focuses on the shifting part of Hamilton’s world and it’s as dark and compelling as ever.

Bellman & Black

10. Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

I’m not quite finished with this one yet, but I can say it has been a great October read. Setterfield has a way of telling stories that are not explicitly creepy but evoke elements of the macabre and unusual. Definitely worth the read!

I hope these spooky-themed reads get you in the right state of mind for Halloween.

Thanks for popping in!

Bookish Wanderlust

For this week’s Broke and the Bookish weekly meme we’re doing a little bit of imaginary traveling. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is about the ten places books have made you want to visit.

At first, I was determined to list only places I could actually achieve as a sort of bookish bucket list, but then I’d be missing some of my favorite fictional locales. So here we go on a whirlwind tour of some fantastical, fictional places that I would visit if I could.

1. The Magical World of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series

Image respectfully borrowed from the Harry Potter wiki

Honestly, this is a no-brainer. In my touristy little heart I would love to go on a school tour of the wizarding world featuring Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons. The closest I’ll get in real life is the Warner Brothers studio tour and Universal’s resort, so those real-life places are definitely on the ole’ bucket list.

2.Tortall from the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce

Respectfully borrowed from the Tamora Peirce wiki.

Tortall just seems like a fascinating place: it has wintry woods and a desert right next to sea ports and sprawling cities. I’m extremely intrigued.

3. Bon Temps from the Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlene Harris

Respectfully borrowed from the True Blood wiki.

It’s such a small town, but a lot of things seem to happen here. I’d like to have a beer at Merlotte’s and shop at Tara Togs. Maybe drive up to Shreveport and visit Fangtasia. Sounds like a fun vacay to me!

4. Amsterdam a la John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars 

Respectfully borrowed from

Green did such an amazing job of painting Amsterdam as more than the red light district and pot brownies (which is how it’s usually depicted). Hazel and Augustus’ adventures in Amsterdam made me want to visit the city in a way no other novel has before. Another one for the real life bucket list.

5. Middle Earth from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (post ring drama)

Respectfully borrowed from

I want to ride horses in Rohan and visit the white tree in Gondor and see the remaining elves in Rivendale. And I want to take a walking tour of Hobbiton, which is sort of an actual dream to visit the film set in New Zealand. But Tolkien does a phenomenal job of world building so it’s easy to picture yourself.

6. New Orleans á la writers like Sherrilyn Kenyon and Anne Rice

Respectfully borrowed from

Nearly any writer who has tackled the paranormal has frolicked in New Orleans. I’ve never been and would love to visit the city someday. I need beignets and good jazz in my life. And maybe some ghost tours.

7. The Circus of the Damned from the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton

Respectfully borrowed from

If I could guarantee safe passage from Jean Claude’s Circus of the Damned, then I would explore that place from top to bottom. But getting out unharmed would be a great party trick.

8. The Night Circus from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Respectfully borrowed from

Morgenstern creates a beautiful world of wonder in black and white with pops of red. Knowing that each tent was physical love letter between Ceila and Marco would make everything seem more magical.

9. The Tudor court as depicted by Phillipa Gregory in The Other Boleyn Girl

Respectfully borrowed from

Not that I’d actually like long-term living without the wonders of indoor plumbing and modern medicine, but a wee visit to  Gregory’s vision of the Tudor court would be fun. The Other Boleyn Girl is one of my favorite books so it would be amazing to walk the halls where Mary walked.

10. Troy (pre-sacking) from Sarah Franklin’s Daughter of Troy

Respectfully borrowed from

Now, I’m getting really picky since I’m specifying pre-sacking. But if you’re going to visit one of the most beautiful and wealthiest strongholds of the ancient world, don’t you want to see it in all it’s glory? I really enjoyed Franklin’s book and her depiction of society in ancient Greece, so that’s the version I’d like to visit.

There you go; my wishful thinking travel locales from favorite books. Some of them are attainable, some significantly impossible, but maybe I’ll make it to the real-life locations someday.

Thanks for popping in!

A Night’s Hard Reading

As you might have guessed, I love to read. But that doesn’t mean that every book is an easy read. This week’s Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday post is about the books that were hard to get through.

All of the books on this list were books I finished reading, because I could make a whole other list of books that were too terrible to complete.

There are a variety of things that could make a book hard to read, so I made a general list instead of a specific one i.e. it was hard to read because of length or bad writing. And hard to read does not always mean that the book in question was bad. My first book on this list is a great case-in-point, so let’s get started.

*Pictures and links from Goodreads*

The Year of Magical Thinking

1. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

This is one of the hardest books I have read in recent memory. Not because of bad writing. Not because of length or complexity. No, this book was hard to read because it forced me to face my own grief. And that is challenging. For my full review, click here. Didion is an amazing writer, and while this book was hard for me, it was undeniably worth the read.

The American Heiress

2. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

Now, this book was hard to read for technical reasons. The main character, Cora Cash, was so vapid that she deflected any sympathy I was ready to give. Such a difficult character to connect with. I wanted to throw my book across the room more than once.

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)

3. Storm Front by Jim Butcher

There’s nothing I love more than deep-rooted misogyny draped in the veil of chivalry. Harry Dresden wants to see himself as a noble, chivalrous man, yet at the end of the day cannot help but see women only as pretty things to be saved, pitied, or screwed. So, yes, I found this book to be challenging for all the wrong (or right?) reasons.

Bridget Jones's Diary (Bridget Jones, #1)

4. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Just one of my problems is the punctuation on Jones’s. I know this is a book beloved by many people, but I thought this was a painful read. A character repeatedly being embarrassed is not a fun experience for me. And the obsessive weight watching and counting of cigarettes made me wince instead of encouraging laughter.

The Three Musketeers

5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

I am still slogging through this book, but I am determined to finish the damn thing. This book is a hard read for an interesting set of reasons. A) I’m stubborn and thought reading the unabridged text would be a lark and B) I may have seen too many Musketeer movies. Since I am so familiar with the story courtesy of film, the unabridged text feels even more lengthy. It’s fabulously well written and is witty and full of action. But’s it’s been a hard read nevertheless.

The Metamorphosis

6. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Some books you just cannot get past the content even if it is well written. This is a story about a man who becomes a huge cockroach. I can’t. I just can’t. Even thinking about the man-bug thing makes me want to heave. I finished it because it was required reading in high school, but it scarred me for life.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1)

7. Wicked by Gregory MaGuire

Again, I realize I’m one of the few here, but I struggled with this book. I think a large part of it is that I wanted to like the book so badly that my expectations were sky-high. I read the book way before seeing the musical, so the stage show was not a factor. A ton of my friends were reading MaGuire in high school and were singing his praises. So this book was a hard and disappointing read because of author hype.

The Sound and the Fury

8. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Another book that I actually enjoyed finding its way onto the hard list. This Faulkner classic lands itself of this list because of the POV of Benjy Compton, a character with an unspecified mental health issue whose chapters are written with past and present blended together. I read this book in high school as well and if it were not for an enterprising former student who had colored the sections in primary colors and left me a key in my copy of the book, I would have been in big trouble while reading The Sound and the Fury.

Peace Like a River

9. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

There is a giant blank spot in my brain when it comes to this book. I have a vague sense of anger and frustration left behind, which leads me to believe that I have repressed the reading experience altogether. I do remember that it took me forever to read because I was not enjoying myself.

Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

10. Walden by Henry David Thoreau

I read this book for the first time in high school and I struggled with it because of my own vanity. I felt attacked by Thoreau’s dismissal of clothing and other superficial elements of society, and so I clammed up and made this essay hard to read. I didn’t want to be told that I was a bad person because I cared about the way I dressed. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that is not entirely Thoreau’s point, but there are certainly elements of judgement in there for people who think about their image too much. I’ve reread it since and have found plenty to connect with, but I will always remember the difficulty of that first read as a fifteen year old.

Clearly, books can be hard to read for many different reasons. Which books have kept you on the struggle bus?

Thanks for popping in!

My Fall TBR List

Happy first day of autumn! Or by the time this post gets published it will be the second day of autumn! Woo!

In the spirit of fall, here are my Top Ten To-Be-Read Books for Fall courtesy of the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly Top Ten Tuesday meme. Let’s see what I can only hope to complete this fall!

*All links lead to Goodreads and pictures are borrowed from that site as well*

The Psycho Ex Game: A Novel

1. The Psycho Ex Game by Merrill Markoe and Andy Prieboy

I found this at my library, so this is a guaranteed read on my TBR because it will eventually be due. Two successful singles in the entertainment business strike up a friendship that evolves through email into a competition over who has the most psychotic ex. As they connect, they find themselves wondering who would be the crazy one if they were to take their friendship to the next level. I love novels that use emails or letters, so this sounds like fun.

Why Girls Are Weird

2. Why Girls are Weird by Pamela Ribon

Another library find. Bored librarian, Anna, starts fabricating stories about a fabulous life on her blog and gains serious followers, including a guy who would be interested in Anna if she didn’t already have a (fake) boyfriend. Her blogging life and her real life are set to collide, which will force Anna to figure out who she wants to be. The premise interests me for obvious reasons.


3. Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Little bit of a life brag: my roommates and I went to a Barnes & Noble this weekend to meet Jason Segel and get our books signed. This is a middle-grade level book but it looks like a lot of fun and I’m curious to see what Segel and Miller do with their premise of what happens when your nightmares start slipping into reality. It’s also supposed to be a trilogy, so that could be intriguing as well. P.S. Jason Segel is also a really nice guy in real life.

Prototype: A Novel

4. Prototype by M.D. Waters

I recently read the first part of this two book series, Archetype (click here for review). I really just want to know what happens to Emma Wade. And these covers are so freaking cool!

Bellman & Black

5. Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

The lovely Lauren at Books, Tea & Me suggested that we read this book together since we’d both like to read more from Diane Setterfield. Lauren, I hope you were serious, because I have put a hold on this at the library and am planning to dive in when my library stack thins down a bit in the coming weeks. This book looks like an interesting take on the business of death, but that’s an assumption based on the mysterious back jacket. We shall see.

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

6. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I’ve been making a concentrated effort over the last year to read more non-fiction. Sometimes the phrase non-fiction immediately causes eyes to glaze over and shudders of boredom to rack the spines of readers. But I’m finding that this is largely unnecessary. Good non-fiction is out there, people! And it has the same wonderful, life changing magic of good fiction. I’m hoping The Happiness Project is one of the good ones.

The House Girl

7. The House Girl by Tara Conklin

I have this book on my Kindle right now just waiting for me to open and enjoy. One of last year’s literary hits, I just never got around to reading. So I’m hoping to play a bit of catch-up this fall. I also enjoy books that switch between connected narratives in the past and present, so this sounds like my kind of book.

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)

8. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Another book that is currently awaiting my leisure on my Kindle. I’ve heard/seen a lot of love for this book out there in the blogoshpere so I’m a little afraid of falling prey to the raging hype monster.

The Notebook (The Notebook, #1)

9. The Notebook by Nicholos Sparks

This book has been on my TBR list for so freaking long. I just need to bite the bullet and read about Allie and Noah. I have no idea why it has taken me this long. Perhaps some perverse belief that I don’t want the book to interfere with my love of the movie, which is a very rare thought process for a book lover. But I am committing here and now to reading this book before winter.

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

10. Still Writing: the Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

My friend and roommate, Marissa, has loaned this book to me because she loves it and thinks it would resonate with me. So I will be reading this book this fall because A) I hope she is right B) book enthusiasts recommendations should be taken seriously and C) I do not want to be one of those terrible friends that accepts a physical book to read and never cracks the damn thing open and hoards it in their room for months. The struggle is real.

Well there you have it! My fall TBR list for 2014. Let’s see how many of these I can actually knock off!

Have you read any of these (hopefully) wonderful books?

One Book is Never Enough

Greetings! This week’s Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday post is all about the authors whom you’ve read one book from but that you NEED to read more of. Trust me, that was the least tangled way of explaining this week’s topic that I tried.

But we all have these authors that we LOVED a book from but just haven’t gotten around to sampling their other work. Some of these I’m actually quite abashed to have on this list because these authors have written some of my favorite books. So in no particular order here are the authors I need to show more love to…

*Links lead to author’s page on Goodreads and the photos were politely borrowed from that site as well*

1. Ian McEawn

Atonement is one of my favorite books. It is also one of the most stunning book-to-film adaptations I have ever seen. I don’t know why I haven’t gobbled more of his lyrical prose.

Next Attempt: Sweet Tooth


2. Emily Giffin

I received Giffin’s latest novel, The One & Only in my very first PopSugar Must Have box and fell madly in love with that book. It was the perfect amount of romance in my chick lit and I loved how the story revolved around college football. I never would have picked that novel up in the store and can’t thank PopSugar enough. I wish they’d send me more books.

Next Attempt: Something Borrowed. 


3. John Green

I am late to the John Green party, but not as late as I usually am with book trends, so that’s a plus. I enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars but also fell prey to the raging hype monster and didn’t love it as much as I expected to. Which is why I’d like to read more Green so that I can get a better sense of his style.

Next Attempt: An Abundance of Katherines


4. Chuck Klosterman

One of the best non-fiction culture writers of our generation and I’ve only read one of his books. I truly enjoyed I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains. Klosterman is a writer who rambles and will convince you that every step off the path was worthwhile. I’m also a fan of his prolific use of semi-colons. So I’d like to read more.

Next Attempt: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto.


5. Michael Crichton

There is a good reason why this man’s books get turned into movies with regularity. Crichton has a very cinematic style, which appeals to me as a reader because I tend to picture any book I read as a movie projecting inside my imagination. Reading Jurassic Park after years of only knowing the movie was such a great experience. I like both stories independently of each other and that is rare for me.

Next Attempt: The Lost World.


6. Rainbow Rowell

I picked up Rowell’s Attachments as an e-book this spring, which is highly unusual because I do not often use my Kindle. Charming, quick little read that had me curious about Rowell’s other novels. And the book bloggers just adore her, so I’d better give her a second go.

Next Attempt: Fangirl.


7. Nick Hornby

I don’t know what I expected Mr. Hornby to look like but this photo wasn’t it. One of my best friends in college, Autumn, adores Nick Hornby and had been trying to get me to read his work for years. I finally read About a Boy last year and enjoyed it, so now I have to keep going!

Next Attempt: High Fidelity.


8. John Irving

A Prayer For Owen Meany is one of my favorite books. Hands down. And it has been that way since high school. I’m certain I have purchased other Irving books out of the intense love I have for that one novel, but I have yet to crack open these other books. Maybe out of fear that they won’t be as magnificent. I don’t know.

Next Attempt: The World According to Garp.


9. Alice Sebold

Way back when I first started doing TTT posts, I believe Alice Sebold made it to my authors I’d love to meet list. I was actually lucky enough to meet her and get my copy of The Lovely Bones signed. Nearly lost me mind over that one because The Lovely Bones was a book that crawled underneath my skin and lingered. Yes, that is an accurate if odd description of how it felt to read that book. I was in the seventh grade when I read the story of Susie Salmon and I still adore this book. Must read more.

Next Attempt: The Almost Moon.


10. Chuck Palahniuk

I’ve read Palahniuk’s most mainstream novel, Fight Club. If Palahniuk is taught in college, it’s probably Fight Club. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing; I’d just like to know what lies beyond that thing we’re not supposed to talk about.

Next Attempt: Damned.


Writing this post has gotten me excited about these authors again. I’ll have to take these under consideration when I head to the library next time!

Top Ten Underrated Books in the Romance Genre

This week’s meme from the Broke and the Bookish focuses on ten authors or books in a genre of our choosing. So for this Top Ten Tuesday, I wanted to share some of my underrated picks from the romance genre. Romance novels have a stigma that I’ve never understood: sure there are some hellaciously bad ones but the same can be said of straight fiction and you don’t see me turning my nose up at an entire genre because of it.

Anyway, as I climb down off that soapbox, I’d love to tell you about some of my favorite underrated romance novels. I haven’t heard many people talking about these of late, possibly because they’re not super recent releases but these are all books I would recommend if you’re looking for a weekend romantic read.

*As usual, all links lead to Goodreads*

The Sheik

The first captor-captive romance novel.

1. The Sheik by E.M. Hull

I feel like I talk about this book a lot, though maybe not here. I found Hull’s infamous novel at a small bookstore that had it on display claiming it as one of the first romance novels ever. That combined with the fact that this novel inspired the Rudolph Valentino short film that cemented his career as a sex symbol made me pick up The Sheik. It’s not a perfect novel by any means but if you enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey, then this novel is about fifty times better than that. And Diana, the heroine, is significantly more feisty and hates her love interest for a significant portion of the book so the emotional drama is more satisfying too.


Mona Lisa Awakening (Monère: Children of the Moon, #1)

2. Mona Lisa Awakening by Sunny

This one gets its spot on this list because for so long I dismissed this book when I passed it on the shelves for one reason or another. When I actually read Mona Lisa Awakening I quite enjoyed it. Not my favorite series of all time but it was full of intriguing characters and concepts, so I’d happily return to the series. Compared to, say, The Merry Gentry series, this novel gets underrated but if that’s your kind of romance read, give this book a whirl.

Date Me, Baby, One More Time (Immortally Sexy, #1)

Britney Spears reference for the win!

3. Date Me, Baby, One More Time by Stephanie Rowe

I had forgotten how much I adored this novel until I went combing through my virtual shelves to write this post. A wonderful paranormal series with quirky humor and great character building. Kind of like a lighter version of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in book form. Same brooding romance. Same level of puns and pop culture references. Not enough love for this book and its three follow-ups. All are solid. Read them.

Crimson Kiss (Crimson, #1)

4. Crimson Kiss by Trisha Baker

This is another book I feel as though I talk about a lot. Baker straddles the line between romance and horror with the strange love affair of Meghann and Simon, because frankly Simon’s psychotic and you’re rooting for Maggie to kick his ass the whole time. It’s their journey through the series as a whole that becomes more about the romance. Baker is reportedly reissuing her novels–YAY–since they were out of print and is also adding to the series. So now is a good time to check out the Crimson books if you’re interested in a more horror-driven romance read.

Bond of Blood (Texas Vampires #1)

5. Bond of Blood by Diane Whiteside

Two words: vampire cowboys. Maybe not for everyone, but why not combine two of the most sexy romantic character tropes to great effect? Another solid series that just isn’t talked about enough for my liking. Whiteside does a great job of weaving the books’ stories and characters together in a way that feels fluid, which is always satisfying for a series reader.

Private Pleasures (The Channel #1)

6. Private Pleasures by Bertrice Small

One of Small’s only contemporary romance series, which is why I think it gets a bit overshadowed. Really interesting concept though: women can tune in to “the channel” which allows them to live out their sexual fantasies with no repercussions. Of course, there are real life heroes for the women to fall in love with, and there is a darker side to “the channel” that develops throughout the series, which is interesting.

The Demon's Daughter (Tale of the Demon World, #1)

7. The Demon’s Daughter by Emma Holly

I adore Emma Holly as a general rule, but my favorite of her series are the ones set in this demon world. The demons, or Yama, have futuristic technology but have a very Victorian class system in place. It’s a hard system to explain without going into depth or getting rather steamy, so I’ll leave it with when humans and Yama interact, good things happen.

Wilde Thing (Wilde Series, #1)

8. Wilde Thing by Janelle Denison

When I first started getting into romance novels, this was one of my first reads. And it still stays with me. Bad-boy P.I. helps feisty barista traverse the world of high-class escorts to find a missing cousin. I do realize how ridiculous that sounds all together, but, holy cow, is it so much better than that. There’s a whole Wilde series, but this first one is honestly the best of the bunch.

The Royal Treatment (Alaskan Royal Family, #1)

It’s like a raunchier Princess Diaries.

9. The Royal Treatment  by MaryJanice Davidson

Set in a world where everything is the same as ours, except for the fact that Alaska is its own country with a royal family. Imagine all the quirk and verve Mia Thermopolis would have as an adult and that is stranded American tourist Christina Krabbe, who gets handpicked by the King as a fit mate for Prince David. Laugh out loud funny and just the right amount of sexy.

Nerd in Shining Armor (Nerds, #1)

10. Nerd in Shining Armor by Vicki Lewis Thompson

If you have one last beach weekend, take this book with you. The premise is somewhat ludicrous but the writing and the characters make up for it 100%. Genevieve has a crush on her sexy boss and it seems like a dream come true when he invites her to Maui for the weekend. But then the plane crashes, her boss mysteriously disappears, and Genevieve is left stranded on an island with the firm’s IT guy, Jack. Sparks fly and suddenly being stranded isn’t such a bad thing. Really cute little book that doesn’t get talked about often enough.

Have you read any of these? What do you think? Underrated or overrated?

The Baby Name Game

This week I’m doing a throwback to one of the Broke and the Bookish’s long-ago post topics, which is characters and literary figures that I would name my hypothetical children after. This Top Ten Tuesday and I were meant to be. I thoroughly enjoy playing the baby name game any old time, but bookish themed ones are just the cherry on top of my sundae.

Fun fact: according to my mother, I was named after a supporting character in a romance novel. I’d like to think this says a lot about me.

In a valiant attempt to keep this list at a firm ten, I am breaking it up into Top 5 girl names and Top 5 boy names. Here we go!

The Wee Ladies

1. Alanna: I have had this one on lock since I first read Tamora Pierce’s Lioness series when I was twelve. That is some serious consistency in a top choice considering that I am now twenty-four. Alanna is strong and carves her own path through life, so I feel like that is an excellent namesake.

2. Luna: I wouldn’t saddle my child with Hermione (fine name for a witch, not so much for a muggle) but I could see myself naming my daughter Luna. She’s quirky and smart and quite honestly one of my favorite HP characters.

3. Blake: This one would be kind of double whammy. 1) One of my favorite poets is William Blake and 2) One of my favorite characters is Anita Blake from the Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton. Plus I like the idea of having a slightly masculine or at least gender neutral name on the list.

4. Arya: I’m a Song of Ice and Fire junkie. I stopped myself from adding Daenerys or Khaleesi because I don’t want my hypothetical children to be brutally teased in the school yard. I mean, it will happen anyway, because kids can be cruel and they’ll find something else to pick on, but I’d rather not have it be my name choice that does the deed. Anyway, the name Arya just sounds so nice. And I can still nerd out over it.

5. Skye: This child might turn out to be a major hippy, but I’d feel proud to name her after Skye O’Malley from Bertrice Small’s epic saga. Yes, I would name my child after a character in a romance novel. Based on my opening fun fact this seems completely legitimate to me.

And the Wee Gents

1. Liam: This name is also from the Lioness series, but I would have to make a serious choice over Liam and Alanna because in the book they become lovers for a while and I will not name siblings after characters that have sex. There’s just too much weirdness for that. It will literally be whichever gender comes first that gets dibs on my top name choice.

2. Rowling: This one just occurred to me as I was making this list, but I like the name Rowling for a little boy. It’s a great way to pay homage to a favorite author while being a little unique. I like this plan and it just might stick.

3. Austen: I quite like that I’d name a little girl after a male poet and would name a little boy after a female author (or two). Jane Austen is one of my all time favorites and she writes some swoon worthy male characters, but I’m not forcing the life of Darcy on a little boy, nor do I want to be as obvious as William. Oh! Bennett would be a good one though. Can you tell I’m a Pride and Prejudice fan?

4. Owen: John Irving’s A Prayer For Owen Meany is one of my all time favorite books. Not that I would want my child to be extremely short or have a Christ-complex, but I adore the name and think it would be a subtle tribute.

5. Burke: This would be another whichever gender came first scenario. Niall Burke is one of Skye O’Malley’s principle love interests and I am enamored with how either Niall or Burke sounds as a name for a boy. Again, wouldn’t name my girl Skye and my boy Burke because that would be too much name incest, but apart they’re solid name choices in my book.

Phew! Choosing literary names was harder than I thought. What literary legacy would you label your child with?

Really? Must I Read These?

This week’s Broke and the Bookish meme centers around the books that you get recommended the most often but haven’t yet read. Despite my slightly snarky post title, I appreciate recommendations from friends and fellow readers. It’s led me to some amazing reads over the years i.e. The Shadows of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon or A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. So these are the books that I’ve been told I MUST read but haven’t gotten around to reading yet for one reason or another.

*All links and pictures lead to*

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

1. Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus by Dr. John Gray

I remember being told from the time that I was a teenager that as a woman I needed to read this book. That reading this book would change my life and the way I look at relationships. It’s just always seemed a tad cliché. And it was definitely a book that revolutionized dating in the 1990’s. At this very moment I am trying to make headway on this book. I’m about thirty pages in and it’s like pulling teeth. Gray’s vision of what makes men and women tick seems a tad dated. I still plan to push through but so far I remain unconvinced that this is a book I need to read.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

2. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

So many people have recommended Mary Roach to me. Not just Stiff but some of her other works as well: Bonk, Gulp, or Spook. She’s a reputedly amazing non-fiction writer who turns her well-researched interests into fascinating reads. I definitely want to tackle at least one of Roach’s books but other things always seem to slip past her on the TBR list.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

3. World War Z by Max Brooks

I know for a fact that this novel has appeared in at least one of my TBR posts for Top Ten Tuesday in the past two years. And I genuinely mean to read the darn thing! It always seems like the time is never right. I have a painfully vivid imagination and I had to stop watching “The Walking Dead” because it was giving me nightmares. So I anticipate another round of that with World War Z. Tons of friends have read and loved this book, so I want to give it a chance. I’m just scared.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

4. Divergent by Veronica Roth

I’m not a YA snob, per se, I’m just very picky about what I read in the YA genre. Mostly because there are so many adult fiction pieces that I’m dying to read that the YA gets put off till that ever-present “later.” That being said, there are too many of my friends who tell me I must read this book for me to be squirmy about it for much longer.

From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies

5. From Reverence to Rape by Molly Haskell

This book has been mentioned in every film course I took in graduate school. I NEED to read this book. For my academic life and because it sounds really interesting.

The Dream of Scipio

6. The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears

My friend, Clara, handed this to me at our library’s annual book sale and said I needed to read this. Everything was $1.00, so I didn’t question her. It’s sitting on my shelf right now taunting me.

Lunch Poems

7. Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara

One of my favorite professors in college loved Frank O’Hara. Not a class would go by without him telling us that we all needed to read Frank O’Hara. My apologies, Dr. Babbitt, but I still need to read Frank O’Hara.

The Poisonwood Bible

8. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This is probably the only book on my list that I have no interest in reading but that everyone seems to recommend. I’ve picked it up at the library dozens of times but the synopsis always turns me off. People can tell me I need to read this book all they like, I don’t WANT to read it.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

9. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

It seems like all the writers I know swear by this book, or at least respect it. Bird by Bird has served as many a muse and validation for my writer friends, and who doesn’t want a little bit of that in their life? I just haven’t gotten around to picking it up for myself.

The Catcher in the Rye

10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Somehow I escaped reading this in high school and college. Not a clue how I managed that, but it seems to shock most people that I was never required to read any Salinger. Then these same people tell me I need to read it because it was really quite good. Honestly, I’d like to read it because I think I’ll understand more allusions to things in pop culture. Sometimes that’s reason enough.


So who has read what? Tell me in the comments below. Your words might just be the ones that push me over the edge on reading one of these bad boys!

Top Ten Favorite TV Shows Of All Time

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish is all about favorite kind of stories outside of the literary medium. Options included movies but for someone who has spent a significant portion of her life dedicated to movies,  picking ten is like pulling teeth.  However I can manage to pull together a list based on favorite TV shows, so that’s the kind of story I’d like to focus on today.

The formula for this list depends on original enjoyment and the re-watchable factor. It could be stellar the first time around but if I’m never compelled to watch it again, then it cannot possibly be a favorites. I’m also excluding reality favorites like Ru Paul’s Drag Race or Project Runway or Face Off because the post is supposed to be about stories you enjoy not competition/reality shows. And these are ranked in as best of an order as I can manage, and let me tell you this was a painful process. It will likely be even more painful when I realize I’ve forgotten something. Alas, such is the life of a list maker.

1. Friends

Did you know that Friends was almost cancelled in its second season? I cannot imagine my life with out this show. Every life situation that I have been in can be referenced by a Friends episode. It was traumatic when this show ended. I still watch this show regularly on Nick at Night; Nick plays it from start to finish on loop in the evenings about six episodes at a time. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen an episode, I’m always happy to watch it again. These characters still make me laugh and cry with regularity. I’ve always thought I was 50% Rachel and 50% Monica. One of my best friends is 100% Phoebe, and this is how I quantify my life. I”m totally looking for my Ross-Chandler hybrid too. Favorite episode: It shifts a lot but right now I’d say Season 6 Episode 22 “The One Where Paul’s the Man.” Bruce Willis guest stars as the father of Ross’ girlfriend Elizabeth. It’s hilarious.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Let’s be real, I will watch just about anything Joss Whedon wants to put out there. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was and still is one of my all time favorite TV shows. I wanted to be as cool and punny as Sarah Michelle Gellar. And her sense of style inspired young me to do her own thing. I would definitely say that this was a formative show for me and I still soak up paranormal stories in large part because of  Buffy. I think this was even the first show I collected the DVDs for. I did kind of fall off with my viewership around season 5 when things got weird for Buffy  when she was working in a fast food restaurant. But I did go back and complete the series and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Favorite Episode: Literally any episode with Spike in it. “Lie to Me” when he’s a big baddie and his flashback episodes like “Fool For Love.”

3. Game of Thrones

How awesome is this GIF? My Grandmother actually introduced me to this show, which sounds really weird but if you knew my Grandmother it wouldn’t be. Another amazing show with high production values and killer (literally) story lines. It’s a show that grabs you and it’s still going strong. I physically cannot wait until season five starts. No one is safe in this show; get attached at your own emotional peril. But it’s an undeniably captivating series, especially if you’re a fan of fantasy shows. And the books are equally grabbing but they’re not for the faint of heart because they are hefty. I love this show so much I even dressed up as Daenerys Targaryen for Halloween complete with dragon and egg. Love it! Favorite Episode: Season 3, episode 9 “The Reins of Castamere.” Red wedding for the win!

4. Boy Meets World

The Feeny call is maybe one of the greatest thing to happen to television as far as I’m concerned.  This show was such a major part of my childhood. I felt in many ways like I grew up with Corey, Topanga, and Shawn. Yes, there were morals to each episode but they felt so natural–like you were a part of the Matthews family. It’s another show that you can reference for nearly every life situation, and for me it never gets old. This past Christmas, I received the complete Boy Meets World on DVD and I geeked out hard. It’s a treasured part of my collection. Favorite Episode: Season 3, episode 3 “What I Meant to Say,” which is an adorable episode about the awkwardness of saying “I love you” for the first time.

5. Xena: Warrior Princess

Girl power, thinly veiled innuendos, and free love for all! Plus Lucy Lawless kicks some major butt every episode. Most of the sexual stuff flew way over my head when I was a kid, but I loved the empowering message for girls Xena offered. I always liked that Xena wasn’t always good and that battling her dark side was a constant struggle. And it’s another punny show with a paranormal bent. If you haven’t noticed a pattern yet, here is the point to start picking up on it! Fun fact, the writers of Xena are none other than the brilliant team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci who have done movies like The Proposal and Star Trek Into Darkness. Favorite Episode: Any and all with Ares. There’s another terrible pattern here.

6. The Big Bang Theory

When this show first came out, I watched a handful of episodes and kind of gave up on it. About a year later I got sucked back in and realized how awesome this show really is. From talking to friends over the years, my experience of not loving it right away seems pretty typical. It’s a show that took a bit to hit its stride. I will re-watch episodes of this show like a true addict.  And they still make me laugh. It’s not a show with a revolutionary plot line, but it’s charming and you start to get really attached to the characters and their quirks. I also feel really intelligent when I get some of the off-beat nerdy references. Favorite episode: Season 6, episode 18 “The Contractual Obligation Implementation,” talks about girls in sciences and the girls go to Disneyland.  Hilarity ensues.

7. Firefly

Another Joss Whedon genius moment! I’ve always described it as a spaghetti Western in space. It’s quite possibly the most beloved show that never made it past its first season. Fans are still fired up about this show years later. There’s always the threat of it returning and the actors always seem game. At least there was some kind of closure with the feature film Serenity. This will always be a favorite of mine and I love getting people to watch it who have never known how shiny this show really is. And it’s another punny show! Favorite Episode: Season 1, episode 4 “Jaynestown.” I think Jayne just might be my favorite character because he’s so nuts. And “Jaynestown” is my favorite episode because you get to see him be forced into the uncomfortable role of hero.

8. The Twilight Zone

Classic science-fiction show! Trippy, thought-provoking short stories that are all the more dramatic for being in black and white. A lot of the episodes have social critique in them too. Twilight Zone episodes are fairly easy to find online and are great to grab quick bites of story. The episodes aren’t really connected, but they’re each great examples of original storytelling in the short form. And some of them are downright spooky. Favorite episode: Season 5, episode 17 “Number 12 Looks Just Like You.” Set in a future society where everyone undergoes plastic surgery at nineteen to look the same, a young girl struggles to hold on to her individuality. Still a crazy valid bit of social criticism and it sticks with me to this day.

9. Scrubs

Zach Braff is brilliant. There. I said it. His imagination is fabulous, and his antics take a hospital procedural to a funny and endearing show. It’s another show that still makes me laugh on repeat viewings. Puns galore and quirky references all around! The actors seem to shine under the ability to be goofy. John C. McGinley is a scene steal-er every dang time.  I love how meta this show, which only enhances the humor. It’s also a show that makes neurotics look cool and I’m all for that. Favorite Episode: Season 6, episode 6 “My Musical.” Because “Guy Love” is one of the greatest musical efforts to come out of a serial television show.

10. True Blood

I love the crazy stuff that comes out of Pam’s mouth. True Blood is a show that occasionally shocks me but in a good way. At times it’s a wee bit ridiculous but I always find myself absorbed in the plot. I gave reading the books a shot, but didn’t love them the same way I love the T.V. series, even though many of the plot lines are similar. And if I’m being honest, it’s one of the sexiest shows on television with some serious man-candy and that has never hurt my interest level.  Favorite Episode: Season 1, episode 4 “Escape From Dragon House.” Season 1 is really my favorite. And episode 4 is the first episode where we meet Eric and Pam, which are some of my favorite characters of the series.

There you have it, my all time favorite TV shows. Hope you enjoyed my list, and feel free to share your own.

Confessions of a Novice Blogger

Honesty is the best policy according to folk wisdom, so let’s talk policies. Of blogging that is. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday meme from The Broke and the Bookish is about all our blogging confessions. I remember doing my book confessions when I first started doing Top Ten Tuesday posts (check that post out here), so I decided to focus this week’s meme on my blogging habits. These tips, tricks, and tidbits are all fairly basic, but hopefully they help you figure out some of your own blogging habits. Nothing fuels my own self reflection like having someone else spell their own out. Or that could just be me. Anywho, let’s get into my blogging confessions…

  1. This blog is having a bit of an identity crisis. I suppose it always has. I’ve called it my writer’s ADD where I talk about whatever crosses my mind, because a lot of things do. Ultimately this blog has become about reviewing things. Be it books, movies, or beauty products. But finding the balance between talking about these interests is still something I’m working on.
  2. I used to have a travel blog on Blogger for when I was studying abroad in Cambridge, England.
  3. About 90% of the photos I take for this blog are done using my iPhone 4s.
  4. Titles are one of the hardest parts about writing. In any medium, really. And figuring out what to name each post is so tricky. I get really stressed out when trying to come up with a catchy title and probably always will.
  5. I usually force myself to do laundry or run the dishwasher while blogging. Otherwise I get lackadaisical with my chores and “forget.”
  6. When blogging there are usually several tabs open in my browser: Facebook, WordPress, and an empty Google tab so I can look up prices of items or check my spelling.
  7. Since my blog has slanted more towards the beauty aspect of late, I try to post a beauty review and then a movie or book review to balance things out. It’s more for my peace of mind than anything else, so that I feel like all my interests are touched upon. Sometimes the ideas for a blog just flow so easily and I can have several posts in a week. Other times it seems like it’s pulling teeth to get one thing down right.
  8. List posts are my absolute favorite. Which is why I’m such a fan of Top Ten Tuesday or my monthly beauty favorites posts.
  9. When I first started blogging I would write my entire post out in Microsoft Word first and then copy + paste everything into the WordPress post box. I’m not sure why I did that. Maybe because I’ve always done my writing in Word for school. But now I just type and edit everything in my WordPress Dashboard.
  10. I recently purchased some business cards for the blog from Vistaprint when they were running one of their specials. I get asked a lot for the name of my blog when I mention in passing that I write. Now I have an easy way to get people connected to my reviews. So I’d highly recommend doing something similar for any blogger out there.

Not exactly Earth shattering info here but these are my blogging quirks at their finest. I hope you enjoyed my blogging confessions!