Awards

Unique Blogger Award | 2

Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether or not you celebrate this strange little holiday with a partner, friends, or loved ones, you can always celebrate here by spreading some blogger love. Today I’m going to answer some questions as part of the Unique Blogger Award. Thanks so much to Marisa @ Marisa the Redhead for nominating me!

  • Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  • Answer the questions.
  • In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.
  • Ask them 3 questions.

Q1: What book do you want to read that has been on your TBR List forever? 

I talk about this a lot, but it needs to be said so that I’m actually motivated to read it. A Game of Thrones has been on my TBR list for FAR TOO LONG, people!

Q2: What genre do you usually stray away from and why?

Lately I’ve strayed away from books that are just romance, mostly because those plots tend to be quite predictable and straightforward. I do enjoy one every now and then, though!

Q3: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be? 

William Faulkner, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Willa Cather. Not only have these authors written some of my favorite books, but they’re also fascinating people in general. I can only imagine the conversations we would have!

  • YOU!!

  1. What is your favorite genre to read?
  2. What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?
  3. What’s a surprising thing you love about blogging?

Thanks so much to Marisa for nominating me! Definitely check out her blog! ❤ And have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

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

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: A Break from Romance

Happy Tuesday!! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, meaning it’s time for a Top Ten Tuesday love-themed freebie. Instead of talking about my favorite fictional relationships or how I hate love triangles when used as a major plot point, today I’d like to highlight ten books with little to no romance in them. It’s unsettling– though not very surprising– how challenging this list was to create. Why do writers feel as though every single story has to revolve around romance? Aren’t there other aspects of life that can create plots that are just as interesting, entertaining, and captivating? If you’re tired of the love bug this Valentine’s Day, here are some books to check out:

 What books do you like to read around Valentine’s Day? What are your favorite books with little to no romance? 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: The Traveling Romantic

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Happy Valentine’s Day!! I hope you’re all having a lovely day regardless of how you feel about this rather polarizing holiday. In keeping with a romantic theme, today’s Top Ten Tuesday list revolves around beloved or dreaded romantic tropes. I’ve decided to stay in a positive direction and share ten fun, lighthearted romance novels that involve traveling. Grab your passport and let’s get started!

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What do you think of the books on my list? Any recommendations? How do you feel about Valentine’s Day in general? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Bookish, Discussion

More Than “Just” Love Stories | Discussion

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It often seems as though the romance genre has gotten a bad reputation as being merely “fluff” and lacking substance. Many romance novels are considered pure entertainment reading only; in other words, there is nothing between the book’s covers that could possibly educate, enlighten, or challenge the reader in any way. Don’t get me wrong– there are romance novels out there that probably fit this description, but isn’t that also true of any genre? Why is it that people automatically assume that romance novels are insubstantial? Why do people think that love stories must be fluffy?

This question popped into my mind while reading Thomas Hardy’s classic novel Far From the Madding Crowd, which is generally regarded as a stereotypical romance in the public eye. Such a reputation was exacerbated by the recent movie adaptation starring Carey Mulligan. Because details from the book had to be left out in order to keep the movie at a reasonable length, it primarily focuses on the tumultuous “love square” between Bathsheba, Gabriel Oak, Mr. Boldwood, and Sergeant Troy.

Though the romance is a large part of the novel– one could argue that it is the main point of the story altogether– it is more of a vehicle for promoting further discussion rather than the final destination. Whether or not it was originally intended by Hardy, the romance in this novel makes way for fascinating social commentary on the time period. We see the ways in which socioeconomic status and gender impact each other as well as how these factors impact relationships, marriage, and social life in general. The plight of Bathsheba also reveals the frustrating expectations that people held of women in both the workplace and the home.

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The specific relationships that Bathsheba forms with these men each provide an important and interesting look into society during this time period. Socioeconomic status is an obvious complication in the relationship between Bathsheba and Oak. Because Bathsheba is of a higher status than the poorer farmer, he is not a priority for her when it comes to entering a serious relationship. Later on she has the opposite problem with Mr. Boldwood, who is regarded as a worthy gentleman and praised by all who meet him. Many people encourage her to marry him because it would be a suitable match based on social status; however, a problem arises when she falls in love with Sergeant Troy instead. Here we clearly see the expectations of women in marriage, for Bathsheba is soon limited in her role as head of the farm when her relationship with Troy becomes more serious. It is expected that the man of house will control all aspects of the business despite the fact that in this case Bathsheba is actually much more skilled and knowledgeable than her male companion.

Far from the Madding Crowd is just one example of how the romance genre surpasses the limited boundaries set by the deceiving stereotype often associated with such books. This classic novel made me realize that not all love stories must be fluffy in order to be captivating, entertaining, and enjoyable to read.

What are your thoughts on this topic? How do you feel about the romance genre? Have you read any love stories that defy the stereotype of the “fluffy” romance novel? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Valentine’s Day Reads

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Happy Tuesday! Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, and you know what that means: a Valentine’s Day themed Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week I’ll be listing my Top Ten Valentine’s Day Reads. Let’s go!

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What are your favorite Valentine’s Day reads? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Rambles

My Problem with Valentine’s Day

My Problem with Valentine's DayBefore I begin, let’s just get one thing out of the way: this is not a rant about how commercialized/meaningless Valentine’s Day has become. That argument has basically taken over Valentine’s Day, and there is so much discussion about it that I hardly think I need to chime in. Instead, my problem with Valentine’s Day lies with the fact that it focuses primarily on romantic love. 

John Green makes a great argument for this idea in one of his older videos, saying that Valentine’s Day should be about all kinds of love. What about friendship? Why isn’t that celebrated on Valentine’s Day? I certainly love my family and friends and I make a point of giving them all Valentine’s Day cards every year, but it seems like most people only concentrate on their special someone.

Think of how fantastic it would be if all kinds of love were celebrated and appreciated on Valentine’s Day! Perhaps we can work to change the way we celebrate this holiday, but until then I’m going to continue celebrating it in my own way. So Happy Valentine’s Day, you lovely people! ❤

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I Like/Dislike About Fictional Romances

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Hello there, everyone! Tuesday has rolled around yet again, which means it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. In honor of Valentine’s Day this upcoming weekend, the theme this week is Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike About Fictional Romances. I don’t read books solely about romance very often, but that doesn’t mean I’m not exposed to it- it feels as though every book these days has some love triangle or love interest in it. It’s amazing when it’s written well, but torture when it isn’t. So, without further ado, here’s my list!

❤ Likes ❤

1. Flaws. No one is perfect in real life, so I really appreciate fictional romances that portray it in a more realistic way. One example of this is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Park loves Eleanor despite- or even because of- her flaws, and the feeling is certainly mutual.

2. Those fictional boyfriends. You guys know what I’m talking about- we all have those lists of fictional guys we wish were real. 🙂

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3. The suspense. Suspense? you might be asking- weren’t we talking about romance here? Yes we were! To me, there is a sort of element of suspense with some fictional romances because at times you’re not really sure whether or not they’re going to work out like you want them to. Will he finally ask her out? Will she end up realizing what an amazing guy he is? You’ll just have to wait and see!

4. Oh, the lovely monologues! Fictional romances have the cutest monologues! One of my  absolute favorites is from Augustus Waters in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD!!):

“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

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5. THE ADORABLENESS. Let’s face it: some fictional relationships may only happen in fairy tales or stories, but they sure are SO FREAKIN CUTE. Oh, it makes me feel all the warm, fuzzy feels!!

❤ Dislikes ❤

1. LOVE TRIANGLES. I just don’t understand how these characters can be madly in love with two totally different people at the same time. Deep down they have to like one person more than the other- just make a decision!!!

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2. Insta-love. In a lot of romance novels- especially young adult ones- people seem to fall in love with each other in the blink of an eye. Sure, this might happen in real life to some people, but I think it’s more common that you love someone more and more as you get to know them better.

3. Lightning speed! It seems as though some fictional romances develop so quickly that the couple is completely in love in the blink of an eye. HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

4. Really sappy/cutesy pet names. You want to talk to each other like you’re five? Fine by me, just don’t incorporate that into every line of dialogue! This drove me crazy when I read Dead End by Jason Myers (which I DO NOT recommend) because literally everything the two main characters said ended in “baby” or “babe” or “darling” or something like that. It was so annoying! Probably half the word count of that book was “baby”, I swear.

5. The fact that they’re fictional. Why can’t they be real???

And there you have it! What do you like/dislike about fictional romances? What do you think about the things on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Rambles

the fantastical world of shipping

It’s Valentine’s Day, everyone! In honor of this holiday (which I happen to think is a bit too commercialized, but that’s a topic for a different day) I am going to talk about the fine art of shipping.

For those of you new to this, I do not mean shipping like boating or mailing packages. This shipping has to do with relationships between fictional characters and, sometimes, real people. To put it simply, shipping is when you think two characters should be in a relationship. Sanne (@booksandquills) has an awesome video about this topic if you want a better explanation:

Anyhoo, today I will be sharing with you all some of my personal favorite ships!

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Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger: Despite what J.K. Rowling has apparently recently said regarding this relationship (she regrets that she didn’t put Harry and Hermione together instead) I firmly stand by Hermione and Ron. I think they are a great balance, since she is often so serious and he is more lighthearted. You could see their relationship developing as the series progressed, and that just wasn’t the case for Harry and Hermione. I don’t think J.K. Rowling has anything to regret. 🙂

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Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: This may just be the ultimate “bro-mance.” Sherlock would be lost without Watson to keep him connected to the way normal people act in society. On the other hand, Watson could never live without Sherlock and all of his exciting adventures solving mysteries. I definitely support their friendship!

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Rose Tyler and the Tenth Doctor: Any Whovians out there? One of my favorite relationships in Doctor Who is the one between the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler. They genuinely love each other, so much so that they risk their lives for each other on a daily basis while saving different planets and people from various catastrophes. BUT THE END OF THE SECOND SEASON. IT WAS SO HEART-BREAKING. It just adds to all of the reasons why they should be together.

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Amy Pond and Rory Williams: Another Doctor Who ship. Fans of the Matt Smith seasons will surely agree that Amy and Rory are so adorable together! I also love the way that they are both so strong and independent, yet they both need each other. Too often in movies, television, and books, there is one person in a relationship who is depicted as obviously stronger than the other. But Amy and Rory both have their strengths and weaknesses, and I believe that their strength is equal.

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Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster: I’m pretty sure this one speaks for itself. John Green has created one of the most amazing couples in his novel The Fault in Our Stars. 

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Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs: These characters are from Melina Marchetta’s novel Jellicoe Road. It’s one of my favorite books of all time, partly because of this amazing relationship. In the book it is so flawed and challenging- they are both going through difficult times in their lives, and they are far from perfect people. Yet they manage to have a relationship anyways, which I think is really spectacular. If you haven’t read this book, then you definitely should!

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JOHN AND ABIGAIL ADAMS: I wouldn’t be a history nerd if I didn’t ship at least one historical couple. After reading Joseph J. Ellis’ novel Founding Brothers over the summer for my AP United States History class, I fostered a new appreciation for John and Abigail. Abigail helps John with political issues and other conflicts in his life, and John goes against the normal rules of society and allows a woman to help him this way. I just love it!

And there you have! These are some of my all-time favorite ships. What are yours? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesday: books that will make you swoon

Top Ten TuesdayIt’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the brilliant blog The Broke and the Bookish. This week, the theme is: Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

I’ve decided that I’m going to try to stay away from some obvious choices here, because they will most likely be on many people’s lists. Some of the more obvious and popular romantic novels include:

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (really, anything written by John Green applies here)
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Anything and everything written by Sarah Dessen (my personal favorites are Along for the Ride, The Truth About Forever, and Just Listen)

While these books are all excellent and definitely swoon-worthy, I feel like most avid readers have read them already. So, in an effort to broaden some reading horizons, I’m going to try to go for ten less obvious picks. In no particular order, they are:

  1. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  2. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  3. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  4. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
  5. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
  6. The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper
  7. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
  8. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
  9. The Center of the World by Andreas Steinhofel
  10. Dash & Lily’s book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I know that some of these books are really popular, but hopefully there will be some that you haven’t heard of or read before. Let me know what swoon-worthy books you’ve read lately, or your thoughts on these books in the comments section below!

Happy Tuesday!

Yours,

HOLLY

A History

Valentine’s Day: A History

Every year on February 14, people in the United States rush around buying their romantic interests chocolates, flowers, cards, and other gifts. It is a holiday that teenage girls dream longingly about, while at the same time causing teenage boys to cringe. Children often give each other Valentine’s Day cards in school, and decorate their classrooms with red, purple, and pink hearts. Televisions broadcast commercials advertising the latest and greatest necklace, bracelet, or pair of earrings, with high hopes that men will purchase them for their special someone. Whether you love it or you hate it, Valentine’s Day returns every year with all of its Cupid-themed festivities. But what exactly is it about this holiday that sparks reactions in people?

First, let’s take a look at some history.Originally, the Catholic Church acknowledged the existence of three Saint Valentines, all with different stories filled with minute and complex details. This makes determining the origins of Valentine’s Day a challenge, because one has to decide which saint is the one associated with the modern holiday. Some people believe that it all began with a Roman fertility festival and feast which often took place in February (well, the February of ancient times.) Nevertheless, the concept of Valentine’s Day (or month, really) has been around longer than most people think.

It was also commonly celebrated in the Middle Ages, mostly in France and England. It is said that people thought that February 14 was the beginning of the mating season of birds, so that month or time of year was frequently associated with love and romance. Back then people expressed themselves verbally, for the first hand-written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until the 1400s. Fast forward to America in the 1700s and the first hand-made Valentine’s Day cards began to crop up. Nearly a century and a half later in the 1840s, a company started to mass-produce them. Today, people send more cards on Valentine’s Day than on almost any other holiday, with the exception being Christmas. And Americans aren’t the only ones who are crazy for this holiday- it is also celebrated in Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

Now that the history aspect has been taken care of, let’s get back to the original question: What is it about Valentine’s Day that evokes such an interest, such a reaction in people? Personally, I think that as humans we are perpetually obsessed with romantic love, so why not make a holiday out of it? I think that Valentine’s day should be about friendship in general and not just focused on romantic relationships. But that’s just me.

Information was gathered using the following source: www.history.com

Yours,

HOLLY