Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Waited A Long Time to Read

Happy Tuesday!! Technically today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic asks us to share the longest books we’ve ever read; however, I already made a list of a similar topic at the beginning of this year (which you can read by clicking here). Instead, I’m going to share books I waited a long time to read (AKA children’s books that I read for the first time within the past few years). If only I had read these gems sooner!

What are some books that you waited a long time to read? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Settings I’d Love to Visit

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic set by the bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish highlights the ten bookish settings we’d love to visit. At times it has felt like I have been living in a fictional setting for the past few months (shout out to Oxford for being so magical!), so I was very excited when I saw this topic on the list. I’ve tried to avoid mentioning the really obvious ones (AKA Hogwarts and Middle-earth) so hopefully these are a little more interesting. In no particular order, they are:

The Yorkshire Moors of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

This is quite a realistic goal for me considering that I’m currently studying abroad in England. I would love to visit the beautiful rural backdrop of this tumultuous Victorian novel.

The forest in Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The forest in this charming little book sounds so idyllic and peaceful (plus there’s that beautiful magic spring!). I’d love to take a strong among the tall trees and have a chat with Winnie Foster.

Cabeswater in The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

Another magical forest I’d love to visit (can you tell I have a thing for magical forests?!). Exploring it with Blue and her crew would be an added bonus!

The BFG’s home in The BFG by Roald Dahl

I would give anything to see the rows and rows of dream jars in the BFG’s cavern… and maybe try a snozzcumber or two while I’m at it! Little ten-year-old me was so jealous of Sophie’s adventures and friendship with the Big Friendly Giant.

Jurassic Park in Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Even though the park ends up being a total disaster, it would still be incredible to see such huge dinosaurs up close. Besides, who doesn’t want to cruise around in those fun jeeps?

The circus in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Confession: I’ve never been to a circus before. I feel like the amazing, whimsical, fantastic circus of this novel would be an incredible first circus experience… and a very overwhelming one!

The towers in The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg

I’ve read this book so many times, but I can never quite imagine precisely what the towers in the garden might look like with all of their different pieces and parts. I would love to finally see them for myself!

The Lands Beyond in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I would go to the Lands Beyond just for the sake of the amazing puns and wordy cleverness (and also Tock, the watchdog). It sounds like the ultimate destination for an English major!

Florin in The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Rolling hills? Looming cliffs? Fire swamps? (Minus the scary R.O.U.S. of course.) Sign me up! I would love to visit the amazing landscape of Florin (especially with Westley by my side…).

Outer space in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Adams makes me want to achieve my childhood dream of being an astronaut (although it probably wouldn’t be as hilarious as he makes it out to be!).

What bookish settings would you love to visit? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want Kiddos to Read

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is simultaneously a throwback and a look at the future. Today I’ll be sharing ten books I hope kiddos continue to read decades from now. Reading played a huge role in shaping me as a child into the person I am now and I am so grateful to all of those who encouraged me to spend time with my nose between pages, eagerly flipping away. I hope that kiddos continue to have positive bookish experiences at an early age!

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is such important role model for young readers, especially girls. She is intelligent, bookish, independent, courageous, and kind. I wish I had read this when I was younger!

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

I haven’t read this book in years, but I can still remember certain poems from when I read it as a child. I love this book because it shows kids that poetry doesn’t have to follow rules or conform to certain standards– it can be fun, funny, and silly!

If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Joffe Numeroff

I ADORED this book when I was younger (in fact, I think I still have it in my bedroom back home somewhere…). It’s such a fun read and the little pig is SO CUTE <3. It definitely made me want a little pig of my own!

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

I read this book for the first time this past summer and immediately wanted to flip back to the first page and read it all over again. I love everything about this book– if anything, I wish it were longer so I could revel in the story more! Isn’t that always the sign of a great book?

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Although I didn’t actually read this when I was younger (just last year!) I still enjoyed it immensely. Juster is incredibly clever, witty, and creative with his use of language to construct not only puns but also characters, settings, and even the plot. I hope both kiddos AND adults continue to read this book for generations to come!

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

This is yet another book that I read for the first time only recently, but I loved it all the same. I think this book is particularly great for reading at different ages because you can get something completely new out of it depending on your perspective. (The movie is excellent as well!)

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Am I mentioning Roald Dahl twice on this list? YES. Do I have regrets? NO. He’s definitely worth it! This is my favorite Roald Dahl book because one of my wonderful elementary school teachers used to read it aloud to us all the time when I was younger. It holds such a nostalgic place in my heart ❤

Holes by Louis Sachar

So fun! So bizarre! It would be a shame if kiddos stopped reading this wacky tale in the future (and if they stopped watching the excellent movie adaptation!). What would life be without the great fictional existence of Stanley Yelnats?

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

I LOVED the Nancy Drew mystery stories when I was younger, especially the original series. Learning that Carolyn Keene isn’t an actual person (it’s a fake name for a group of commissioned writers) was devastating. I desperately wanted there to be a mastermind behind all of those puzzling mysteries!

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I would be amiss to not include the Harry Potter series in this list. I have a feeling kiddos and adults alike will be reading this for decades to come. I can’t even begin to imagine a childhood without the magical world of Harry Potter!

I think it’s interesting that many of these books are ones I’ve read recently rather than when I was actually a kiddo… though I really wish I had read them when I was younger because I know I would have loved them! ❤

What are books that you hope kids will read in the future? What do you think of the titles I’ve mentioned? What was your favorite book when you were younger? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Books

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is certainly an interesting one: I’ll be sharing the top ten unique books that I’ve read. I didn’t really have any criteria in my mind while making this list; rather, I chose the first ten books that popped into my head as being remarkably different for one reason or another. Some of these books are unique for their plots and characters, whereas others stand out due to their writing styles or overarching themes. Get ready for an eclectic list!

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

A supposedly extinct Lazarus woodpecker. A small town in Arkansas obsessed with said species of woodpecker. A young missionary whose story intertwines with that of the main character’s missing younger brother as these young people endeavor to figure out what in the world they’re supposed to be doing with their lives.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

A literal watchdog named Tock. A trip to the Kingdom of Wisdom, which you can only reach via tollbooth. Princesses called Rhyme and Reason. Places with names like the Valley of Sound, Mountains of Ignorance, and the Island of Conclusions. SO. MANY. CLEVER. PUNS.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North & Erica Henderson

A superhero with the power of both girl and squirrel, who also happens to be a college student studying computer science. A talking squirrel named Tippy-Toe that acts as both sidekick and best friend to Squirrel Girl. The inclusion of online chats, hilarious footnotes in the smallest font possible, and references to countless other heroes and villains in the Marvel universe.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Two college roommates turn into morally ambiguous mad scientists with a plot to develop superhuman powers. A main character who is an anti-hero that you can’t help but root for– and who is aided by a young girl he finds on the road. (I know this book sounds strange, but I swear that it’s fantastic!)

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The sprawling narrative of this novel is unlike anything else I have ever read. It is almost as though the chapters are irrelevant; instead, the story barrels straight on through without any pauses or hesitation. Elements of magical realism add an intriguing unpredictability to the narrative that keeps the audience on their toes at all times.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

One of the strangest combinations of childhood nostalgia, fantastical elements, and thrilling suspense… but somehow it ends up creating a short but striking novel characteristic of Neil Gaiman’s remarkably unique imagination.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

An impressively interwoven blend of historical and science fiction that will both confuse and enlighten the reader (the confusion is definitely worth it!). A thin tightrope between reality and memory, spanning across that gray area that everyone dips their toes into at some point. Also, this novel has the best quirky (and meaningful) repeated mantra: So it goes. 

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

An incredibly confusing (yet surprisingly captivating) narrative structure. Four distinct perspectives. Characters with the same names. A plot like a puzzle that has to be pieced together– though there will always be at least one piece missing.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

An unsettling dystopian world centered around the reproductive roles of women in society. A story that is completely and disturbingly relevant in today’s world, especially regarding recent feminist movements and questions surrounding the relationship between politics, sex, and gender.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

Waking up in a strange place, completely alone and with no idea of what happened to anyone else. A scary figure on a mission to harm you in some way, though you can’t even imagine how so. This book is so unique that I don’t even want to describe it further for fear of spoiling anything!

Have you read any of these books? What are some unique books that you’ve read? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Pictures Worth Ten Thousand Words

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Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is one that I don’t talk about often on this blog: pictures and visuals in books. Though I haven’t read very many graphic novels or comic books, I have come across some memorable illustrations and creative uses of images in many of the books I’ve read. Here are ten books whose illustrations, images, and design I’ve thoroughly enjoyed:

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What are your favorite books with pictures? Any specific illustrators you like? Have any recommendations? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books of 2016

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Happy Tuesday!! Can you believe that 2016 has almost come to a close? It feels like it was New Year’s Day just yesterday, yet here we are as 2017 fast approaches. I’ve been fortunate to have read a plethora of fantastic books this past year, so narrowing down a list of my Top Ten Best Books of 2016 was no easy feat. Nevertheless, here are the best books I’ve read in 2016 in the order that I read them:

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What are some of the best books that you read in 2016? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

8 Reasons Why You Should Read THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster

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Written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, The Phantom Tollbooth is often regarded as a classic work of children’s fiction. I never read this book as a child, so when my friend (and roommate!) recommended it to me I had no idea what she was talking about. A phantom tollbooth who takes a boy on an adventure to magical faraway lands? A dog with a clock for a torso? What in the world is a “phantom tollbooth,” anyways? It sounded bizarre, but also like the kind of story that I would love. I decided to give it a try.

Needless to say, I now adore this book.

I can’t recommend this book enough to each and every one of you, no matter your age or usual preferred reading genre. If my simple declaration of adoration isn’t convincing enough for you, here are 8 Reasons Why You Should Read The Phantom Tollbooth.

4971181. It’s a timeless story.

This book was first published in 1961, which makes 2016 its 55th anniversary. The world was a different place back then, yet time has not changed the way it enchants and entertains readers of all ages. Age will never dull the power and greatness of this story, making The Phantom Tollbooth a true timeless work in my eyes. I look forward to celebrating this book for many years to come!

2. Wonderful characters.

The characters in this story are unique, memorable, and incredibly lovable. There’s Milo (the main protagonist), Tock (a literal watchdog), the Humbug (a grumpy guy with a hidden soft side), and so, so many more! Their names perfectly reflect their personalities and personas, helping the reader understand them from the moment they are introduced. I think Tock is my favorite character, because I share his desire to always know and be on time.

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3. Clever, creative, and captivating.

This is one of the most clever stories I have ever read. From Juster’s ingenious use of language (more on that later!) to the creative characters and settings he creates, everything about The Phantom Tollbooth exudes imagination.

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4. Use of Language.

I can’t even begin to describe how brilliantly Juster plays with language throughout this story. Every word has clearly been chosen with care: the names of characters and settings, the witty dialogue of King Azaz’s cabinet, and even narration itself. If you’re a word nerd like me, then I can guarantee that you’ll love this book!

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5. Lovely illustrations.

Jules Feiffer’s illustrations perfectly capture the whimsical tone of this story. They offer enough detail to help the reader along, yet somehow still provide the opportunity for the reader’s own interpretation and visualization of what is going on. These illustrations are sometimes adorable, sometimes a bit bizarre, and always fun– what more could you want?

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6. Brimming with lessons.

Somehow Juster has managed to pack countless life lessons into this lovely little book in a way that is always fun, entertaining, and never “preachy.” This story reminds us how to be kind, accepting of others, and go-getters in our own lives. Whether your nine or ninety-nine years old, those are certainly things that never hurt to be reminded of!

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7. The ending.

Saying goodbye to this story was incredibly sad– I wanted it to go on forever! Fortunately, the ending was as charming and satisfying as the rest of the book. It’s clear that Milo has grown throughout the story, for the by end he is no longer the bored, lost, tired boy we met in the beginning. Milo comes to understand how exciting and fun life can be, even without the help of the phantom tollbooth.

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8. That warm and fuzzy feeling.

If you ever need some cheering up or are feeling blue, then this is definitely the book to turn to! I practically smiled the entire time I was reading it, or at least that’s what it felt like. It’s such a “feel good” story that you can’t help but laugh, grin, and want to read it all over again.

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I’m so glad my friend recommended The Phantom Tollbooth to me, and I truly hope that you will all go out and enjoy reading this wonderful book as well!

What are your thoughts on The Phantom Tollbooth? Have any bookish recommendations? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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STRANGER THINGS Book Tag

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First, let me get this out of the way: I LOVE Stranger Things. I love its creepy vibe, the multiple story lines, the characters that you can’t help but support even when though they might make mistakes (I’m looking at you, Steve). As soon as I finished watching the first season I immediately felt the desire to go right back to the beginning and watch it all over again. (I didn’t, but if I had had a smidgen less will power I definitely would have.)

With that being said, I was ecstatic when I discovered that a book tag had been created by Nisha @ A Running Commentary based on this brilliant show. I haven’t been officially tagged by anyone, but I couldn’t resist joining in! Besides, it’s the perfect book tag for this Halloween season!!

Without further ado, let’s get started!

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THE FIRST BOOK IN A SERIES THAT LEFT YOU INTRIGUED AND SLIGHTLY CONFUSED

IlluminaeIlluminae by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

I feel as though I’m destined to mention this book in nearly every book tag that I do. It just applies to so many different scenarios! This first installment definitely left me intrigued and excited for the next book, though I was a bit confused by the sudden burst of information released at the very end. I can’t wait to read the sequel!

theupside-downA BOOK WITH A SETTING YOU WOULD NEVER WANT TO LIVE IN

The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I feel like this is a pretty obvious choice, especially since both Panem and the Arena have been made even more gruesome by their time up on the big screen. Living in the Arena would be absolutely terrifying, though I imagine that living in Panem in general wouldn’t be much better. These settings are horrific enough to be the fuel for nightmares!

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A BOOK YOU OWN THAT IS SOMEWHAT DAMAGED, BUT LOVED TO PIECES

the outcasts of 19 schuyler placeThe Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg

I bought a copy of this book at a Scholastic book fair when I was in third grade (remember those golden days?) and I have read it countless times since then. My copy is pretty beat up and torn in some places at this point, but it holds too many memories for me to part with it just yet!

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A TRILOGY YOU ALWAYS GO TO WHENEVER YOU NEED A PICK-ME-UP

lord of the rings coverLord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I have read this trilogy so many times that I feel like I could recite it by heart at this point. I first read them as I was entering middle school, a time when I definitely needed the comfort of a captivating story. These will forever be three of my all-time favorite books, and I cannot wait until the next time I sit down to reread them again.

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A BOOK WITH A TERRIFYING BEAST YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO FACE IN A DARK ALLEY

438353-2The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Is it just me, or are the R.O.U.S. (Rodents of Unusual Size) that Westley and Buttercup encounter in the Fire Swamp super terrifying?! (No? Just me?) They’re huge, they’re hairy, and they’re not afraid to pounce unexpectedly whenever the opportunity to attack arrives. Despite their numerous frightening qualities, I can’t help but adore their acronym. It’s so clever!

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A BOOK WITH A VILLAIN WHO IS BOTH MANIPULATIVE AND DEDICATED

Vicious by V.E. SchwabVicious by V.E. Schwab

There are so many great villains out there, but I think I’m going to have to agree with Nisha and go with Eli Ever. Not only is he incredibly intelligent, but he’s also extremely talented at getting what he wants from people. He sort of reminds me of Moriarty in the BBC Sherlock series (at least, that’s how I picture him in my mind).

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A BOOK YOU DIDN’T EXPECT TO LOVE

10974As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Although I enjoyed reading Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, it didn’t quite resonate with me as did As I Lay Dying. I love how this seemingly simple story unfolds with countless wrinkles and surprises as the tale is told. Faulkner is a master of authentically capturing dialect on a page. Long story short, this novel has officially converted me into a Faulkner fan.

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A BOOK WITH A SETTING THAT’S JUST A LITTLE BIT STRANGE

497118The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Somehow this is yet another fantastic children’s novel that evaded the reach of my reading radar when I was younger. The Phantom Tollbooth is honestly one of the most clever, creative, witty, and hilarious books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I’m so glad I finally read it… it only took me nineteen years!

Since I don’t know who has seen this show and who hasn’t, I’m going to tag ANYONE AND EVERYONE. Feel free to do this tag if you’d like to!

Do you like Stranger Things? (Who am I kidding– what’s not like?) What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

AUGUST 2016 | Wrap-Up

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I’ve always considered August to be one of my favorite months. Not only does it bring a new school year and a promise of the coming autumn, but it also allows you to enjoy the last few weeks of summer without baking in July’s toasty heat. This August was no exception, from both a reading and personal standpoint.
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7597In August I read a total of 9 books:

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  2. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  3. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  4. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  5. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
  6. The Mulligan Guard Ball by Edward Harrigan
  7. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  8. Light in August by William Faulkner
  9. A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland

10974Choosing a favorite book this month is a challenge because I read quite a few 5-star books, but I suppose that’s a good problem to have! I think it’s a tie between One Hundred Years of Solitude and As I Lay Dying. Both are brilliant in different ways, so it’s difficult for me to distinctly favor one over the other.

Reviews of these works will be posted in the near future, so stay tuned!

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The majority of my August was spent preparing for college and tying up lose ends before move-in day. As always, there are many “lasts”: the last time soaking up the summer sun, the last time eating at your favorite local restaurant, the last time sleeping in your own bedroom, the last time seeing friends and family until the next break in several months. These lasts are bittersweet, for they are inevitably accompanied by numerous “firsts”: first time seeing old friends since the end of last semester, first time sleeping in a new dorm room, first night away from home in a while. It’s all new and different but still familiar in some way, reaffirming my belief that August is the most nostalgic month.

This month I completed my internship at a local Child Advocacy Center, an eye-opening experience for which I am incredibly grateful. The purpose of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) is to provide a neutral, safe, comfortable environment in which to conduct forensic interviews of children who are alleged victims of abuse. Throughout my time working at the CAC I observed several of these interviews, and each time I couldn’t help but be heartbroken by how traumatic and awful their experiences were. It really puts things in perspective.

On a lighter note, I also got new glasses! My prescription changed and my other glasses were several years old, so it was finally time to purchase new ones. I’ve always wanted bolder glasses like these. I love them so much! ❤

As you read this I have already moved back to campus and have settled into my new dorm room for my first semester of sophomore year. It feels strange and exciting and nerve-racking to be back after nearly four months of glorious summer break, but I can’t wait to get the ball rolling at Wheaton again. Bring on the new adventures!

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

Here’s the thing: because school is now in session, I basically have negative time for blogging. I’ve scheduled posts like a fiend this summer, and I was actually able to schedule posts in advance for all of September and even much of October. However, this means that I won’t be as active reading and commenting on all of your lovely posts and it may take me a while to respond to any comments that you leave on mind. But don’t worry– I still read and greatly appreciate each and every one of them!! ❤

How was your August? What books did you read? What fun things did you do? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY