Halloween Creatures Book Tag

BOOO! Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you’re having a lovely day of spooky celebrations and plenty of candy corn to go around. Today I’d like to celebrate with this Halloween Creatures Book Tag. Thanks so much to Theresa @ The Calico Books for tagging me!

Witch: A magical character or book.

How could I not mention one of my favorite books? The Hobbit is magical in so many senses of the word, from setting and characters to the warm, fuzzy feeling it gives me whenever I return to its faded pages.

Werewolf: The perfect book to read at night.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte has always struck me as the ideal book to read under the covers on a dark, stormy night. Is it the eerie setting? Cruel Heathcliff? Bronte’s lyrical writing? Or a combination of them all?

Frankenstein: A book that truly shocked you.

The existence of this book shocked me. I had no idea that my favorite movie and Michael Crichton’s brilliant book Jurassic Park was inspired by The Lost World, a 1912 novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, until I found it in a bookstore one day in Oxford.

The Devil: A dark, evil character.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley is filled with complicated, ambiguous, surprising characters who may be considered a hero one minute and evil the next. I love a great character twist!

Grim Reaper: A character that should never have died.

I think Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling goes without explanation for this prompt. So sad!

Zombie: A book that made you hungry for more.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was the book that made me eager to read more classic literature. What would I be reading nowadays if not for my favorite genre?

Gargoyle: A character that you would protect at all costs.

I’m going to say Jim Burden from My Ántonia by Willa Cather, one of my favorite novels. Ántonia could definitely hold her own, but I’m not so sure about poor Jim…

Vampire: A book that sucked the life out of you.

I really enjoyed reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, but it took a long, long time. A few summers ago I read about a section a week for two months or so–splitting it up over the course of a summer definitely helped!

Ghost: A book that still haunts you.

Beloved by Toni Morrison is one of the most striking, unsettling, powerful, haunting books I have ever read. It’s a novel that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Demon: A book that really scared you.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is hilarious and witty while simultaneously terrifying. What if society goes in this direction? What does our future look like? Huxley offers a frightening example.

Skeleton: A character you have a bone to pick with.

Emma by Jane Austen was such a tedious book to read because I found so many of the characters annoying. I think it might be worth rereading someday, but for now I’m fine just watching Clueless. 

Mummy: A book you would preserve through time.

I have a strange attachment to Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis. I read it for an essay in my AP United States History class during my junior year of high school and I adored it.

Creepy Doll: A cover too scary to look at.

Even the spine of The Shining by Stephen King is creepy. I remember finishing this book while staying overnight in a lodge on a mountain in January… definitely fit the mood of the book!

YOU! Since Halloween is today, I’m not quite sure if anyone will want to do this tag. But if you’d like to, definitely go for it! Happy Halloween!!

What are your answers to these prompts? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Glad I Didn’t DNF

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is supposed to be about books we’re glad we didn’t DNF too quickly. However, I’ve decided to switch up the topic yet again because I very rarely DNF books so there wouldn’t be much of a list with that theme. Instead, I’ll be sharing ten books I’m glad I didn’t DNF part way through. Sometimes it pays to stick with a book until the very end!

Which books are you glad you decided to keep reading? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Named Novels

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is Frequently Used Words in (Genre) Titles. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time then you’ve probably noticed that I adore classic literature. In typical Holly fashion, today I’ll be sharing ten classic novels with names as their titles. This might sound like a rather narrow, niche topic, but you’d be surprised how many of them there actually are!

What are your thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned? What other novels have names as their titles? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Is there more to Jane Austen than romance? (YES) | Discussion

Jane Austen’s works are often lauded as masterpieces of romantic fiction, and with good reason: her winding plots of courtships, engagements, and marriages have managed to captivate readers for centuries. Take the famous Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, for example, who seems to have been placed upon a pedestal as the ideal male love interest (though that’s a problematic topic for another day). Though Austen’s novels are multidimensional works of literature with numerous fascinating facets to consider, the majority of the discussion surrounding these texts (particularly in the online bookish community) focuses solely on the romances they contain. While there is certainly nothing wrong with highlighting the romantic relationships and how they inevitably unfold, I can’t help but feel as though we are missing out on some great discussions by not opening ourselves up to other topics.

For instance, why does no one seem to be talking about the socioeconomic divisions and hierarchies driving these plots forward?  In Emma, the protagonist initially convinces her friend Harriet to not marry Robert Martin because he is not of a sufficient social status and doesn’t possess impressive, influential social connections. Harriet’s eventual rejection of Robert Martin based on a class distinction is what allows her to later grow romantic feelings for Mr. Elton, etc. Towards the end of the novel Emma realizes that she has always thought of herself as the perfect match for Mr. Knightley—and what better way for them to be suited for each other than through their similar social statuses? From this perspective, the entire plot of the novel is in some way motivated and driven by an awareness of class. In fact, it could be argued that many of Austen’s fictional relationships are founded on the basis of class.

Another interesting topic within Austen’s works is the position of women in society. Obviously this comes into play when discussing romance, but here it is viewed from a slightly different angle. To use Emma as an example once more (can you tell which of Austen’s novels I recently read?), she makes it clear from the beginning of the story that she does not wish to be married anytime soon. I would describe Emma as an independent, strong-willed, bold, opinionated, intelligent young woman who can certainly take care of herself—that is, until she ultimately resorts to marriage like nearly every female character in the novel. I don’t mean to suggest that marriage reduces a woman’s independence, or that Austen didn’t believe in the resilience of her gender. Rather, I think these inevitable courtships, engagements, and marriages that keep happening in her novels are Austen’s way of showing us how trapped women were during her time. Even a strong character like Emma can’t make it through a novel without a ring on her finger.

This rambling post is merely my way of wishing for a broader, more varied discussion of Jane Austen’s works (and literature in general, ideally). Talking about books is so much more fun and interesting when a lot of new and different ideas are thrown into the mix. So why not start with these old favorites?

What do you think of Jane Austen’s novels? Do you have a favorite? What are some topics that you wish were more discussed in relation to literature? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

EMMA by Jane Austen | Review

Last year I saw the movie Clueless, a comedy based on Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma, for the first time. My immediate reaction was: I need to read this book.

Set in Austen’s Victorian England, this novel follows Emma as she attempts to set her new friend Harriet up with a suitable man to marry. Caught up in the strict social conventions of the time, Emma goes through all the hoops necessary in order to make the perfect match… or so she believes. As each potential match flickers out before her eyes, she comes to realize that perhaps she’s been looking the wrong place all along.

It’s clear that Emma has the potential to possess all of the qualities that Austenites admire Jane’s books for having: humor, wit, charm, and a swoon-worthy romance. Unfortunately, I feel as though this novel misses the mark on these characteristics. Had the story been written with a slightly more agreeable protagonist, romantic interest, or ending, it would have made for a much more pleasurable read.

I guess my main problem with this novel is that I just couldn’t get past Emma’s annoying, oblivious, uppity personality. I’m sure this is the point of her character—we’re probably not supposed to like her—but where’s the enjoyment in that? Annoying protagonists are one of my biggest pet peeves, especially when there isn’t much going on besides their inner thoughts. Emma does undergo some character development towards the end of the story and begins to acknowledge that perhaps social classes aren’t as important in marriages as she once believed; however, this slight change was not enough to justify putting the reader through hundreds of pages to get to that point. I know this is a personal preference and is therefore really subjective, but my inability to relate with Emma ended up being a huge reason why this novel didn’t really click with me.

Harriet, on the other hand, was a character I connected with quickly and easily; it’s a shame that she doesn’t play a greater role overall. I’ve also been the girl who looks to others for relationship advice, the girl who feels heartbroken and a bit manipulated by others as they play their own twisted games. I think we can all relate with Harriet in some sense or at the very least feel sympathy for her as she is lead astray by Emma time and time and time again. Poor Harriet!

Overall, I have very mixed feelings about Emma. While I understand the point Austen is trying to make (social classes shouldn’t matter in marriages, the social conventions of the time period were ridiculous, etc.), I couldn’t get past Emma’s irritating, know-it-all personality. There were certainly moments when I laughed and admired Austen’s wit and charm, but it’s safe to say that this definitely isn’t my favorite Austen novel.

What are your thoughts on Emma? Which Jane Austen novel is your favorite? Which one should I read next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

JUNE 2017 | Wrap-Up

Hello, hello!! Summer is now well underway and it’s time to say farewell to June. So much has happened these past few weeks that it seems like June was YEARS long. As per usual, here is what I was up to last month:

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In June I read a total of 9 books:

  1. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  2. Matilda by Roald Dahl
  3. Emma by Jane Austen
  4. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  5. Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
  6. Richard III by William Shakespeare
  7. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
  8. Timeline by Michael Crichton
  9. Big Woods by William Faulkner

It’s so hard to pick just one favorite from this list! Matilda was the most fun book to read, Timeline was the most suspenseful, and Go Down, Moses was the most thought-provoking. It was unbelievably nice to spend as much time reading as I did in June after months of only having time to read what was assigned for my courses. Recently I received one of my summer reading lists in preparation for Oxford, and it’s safe to say that my reading will have to be much more focused for the rest of the summer!

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June was a blur of working, reading, hanging with friends, and trying get my plans all squared away for studying abroad this upcoming academic year. A few weeks ago I published this post announcing that I’ll be studying at Oxford University in England for the entire next academic year and I was overwhelmed by all of the lovely comments I received. You’re all so sweet and I appreciate your well wishes, advice, and congratulations so much!! ❤ This month I finally booked my flight for September and it’s so nice to finally have a date set for when I’ll be leaving… the whole thing seems so much more real now!

Earlier this month my brother graduated high school, which made me feel SO OLD. (How has it already been two whole years since I graduated? How am I already HALF WAY through college?) Thankfully the weather cooperated and we had beautiful sunny weather for both the ceremony and our party afterwards. It was such a great day!

June was also a great month for TV and movies. I finally finished watching Twin Peaks, which I absolutely loved (though the last episode was AWFUL). Recently I started watching Freaks and Geeks and I’m already so invested. Not only is it hilarious, but the characters are also so easy to relate with. I was definitely a geek in high school, though thankfully I was never bullied to the degree that Sam, Neal, and Bill are in the show. There’s only one season of the show (*sobs*) so I should be able to finish it pretty soon. The best movies I watched in June were The Last Five Years, La La Land, and Wonder Woman (if you haven’t seen it yet, you definitely should!).

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Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month (there are so many!!):

How was your month of June? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Covers that Scream Spring

Happy Tuesday!! Now that May is officially here I think it’s safe to say that spring is here to stay as well (at least until summer rolls around!). Since this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is a cover design freebie, I though I would share with you all my Top Ten Covers that Scream Spring. Who doesn’t love a colorful, happy, vibrant cover to brighten their day?

1. Not Just Jane by Shelley DeWees

I love the mix of bright blue and pink on this cover. You can’t see it from this angle, but the spine is also fluorescent pink as well. This color scheme makes me think of blooming flowers like the ones in this photo (which was taken in the garden at my home last summer). I always associate flowers with the coming of spring.

2. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

This gorgeous cover design makes me think of warm weather in general, so it’s perfect for both spring and summer.  I love the bold pops of orange, teal, and pink as well as the different shades of green blended together to create the background. The bird and the snake also remind me of the way animals seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere in springtime.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This Penguin English Library edition of P&P highlights flora and fauna, two things closely associated with springtime. The colors are vaguely muted, like the way spring can be viewed as a subtler, paler, muted version of summer with its hesitantly hot days and newly blossoming buds.

4. Emma by Jane Austen

The Penguin Threads edition of Emma immediately makes me think of Easter eggs and the colors surrounding this springy holiday. I especially love the polka dots in the background and the way her hair is a mix of many different colors. Easter has always been a marker of springtime for me, so it’s no surprise that this cover design would be included in this list.

5. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

Green is closely associated with spring in my mind, which is why this overwhelmingly green cover always reminds me of this lush season. I also first read Willa Cather in the springtime (spring semester of my freshman year of college), so perhaps that has something to do with why I tend to link her with this time of year.

6. The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg

What screams spring more than a lawn of freshly cut green grass? Even though this book takes place during the summer, I can’t help but be reminded of spring whenever I look at the cover.

7. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

This is another novel that takes place during the summertime, yet its cover is much more reminiscent of spring to me. It makes me think of the feeling of waking up in the morning and realizing that the birds have finally begun to chirp again.

8. When We Collided by Emery Lord

I love how colorful, fun, and creative this cover is. Even though this novel can be emotional and intense at times, I think this cover does a great job at capturing Vivi’s lively and vibrant spirit. Definitely how I feel on a warm spring day! (Also, do these colors remind anyone else of Easter eggs?)

9. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

I can’t help but add yet another beautiful Penguin English Library edition to this list. I chose this cover for its bright greens and muted blues, both of which I associate with coloring Easter eggs. (Can you tell that I’m quite a big fan of Easter eggs?) The novel itself also carries a feeling of spring, as characters find new beginnings and experiences that gradually help them grow.

10. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Even though this cover isn’t colorful, it still screams spring with its cute little bees and simplicity. These poems are also all about endings and new beginnings, both of which take place in the springtime. (Honestly, this beautiful cover can work for any season!)

What book covers remind you of spring? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Scavenger Hunt Book Tag | #bookstagram Style!

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Hello, hello! I  hope you’re all having a wonderfully bookish day. Since I’m currently away at college and don’t have access to all of my books at home, I thought I would do this Scavenger Hunt Book Tag using photos I’ve posted on my bookstagram. Thanks so much to Ola @ Ola Reads Books for tagging me!

Okay, this might be a bit more challenging than I initially expected…

FIND A BOOK WITH THE LETTER ‘Z’ IN ITS TITLE OR THE AUTHOR’S NAME

Thank goodness for One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez… it’s the only book I have a photo of with a “z” somewhere on the cover!

FIND A CLASSIC

The cover of this classic novel is decievingly lighthearted! Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is such a dark, twisted, captivating novel. I need to reread it soon!

FIND A BOOK WITH A KEY IN THE COVER

There’s not technically a key on this book cover, but there is one in my photo! (That counts, right?)

FIND SOMETHING ON YOUR SHELVES THAT ISN’T A BOOK

TEA. I couldn’t go without mentioning this essential part of my everyday routine!

FIND A BOOK WITH AN ANIMAL ON THE COVER

This bird plays an interesting role in John Corey Whaley’s Where Things Come Back. I highly recommend this quirky, unique novel!

FIND A BOOK WITH A GIRL ON ITS COVER

My beloved Penguin Threads edition of Emma by Jane Austen.

FIND A NON-YA BOOK

Can you tell that I love my Penguin English Library editions? This copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorites. 

FIND A BOOK WITH GOLDEN LETTERS

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I found these books tucked away in a corner of my library. Even though they’re weathered and old, they still have some shine left!

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What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Do you have a bookstagram? I’d love to check it out! Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

So Long, Summer! | Book Haul

SO LONG, SUMMER!

It’s that time of year again, when students trade in their sunglasses and flip-flops for notebooks and backpacks. While the majority of my book budget has been devoted to purchasing textbooks recently, I have managed to acquire some other lovely books in the month of August.

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Emma by Jane Austen

I picked this book up on a whim at my local independent bookshop because I simply could not resist the gorgeous cover. This is the Penguin Threads edition, which means that it looks and feels like the outside is embroidered. I also own a copy of Little Women in this edition. I’ve been feeling the itch to read more Jane Austen lately, so I can’t wait to dive into this one at some point.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

To be honest, I went back and forth so much about whether or not I even wanted to read this script in the first place. My hesitancy stemmed from a fear of being disappointed, and I must admit that I ultimately was let down a bit. While I don’t necessarily regret reading this, I think I could have lived without doing so. It didn’t really add anything of value to the Harry Potter world for me, despite how badly I wanted to fall in love with the story.

FullSizeRenderThe Next Together by Lauren James

I was so happy to find out that I won a copy of this book in a recent giveaway over at Happy Indulgence. Time travel, romance, history, and futuristic settings? This sounds like something I will love! Thanks again, Jenna!

Have you acquired any books recently? What do you think of the books in this haul? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY