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: Best Character Names {For Plants}

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is supposed to be Best Character Names; however, as per usual I’ve decided to put my own spin on it. A few years ago I made a Top Ten Tuesday list of Characters I’d Name My Plants After, which was a blast. Today I’d like to do a similar list along those lines, so I’ll be sharing ten character names for plants. {Shout out to my plants back at home in the States– hope you’re still alive on my window sill!}

What are some of your favorite character names (for plants or otherwise)? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Jingle All the Way Book Tag

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! I can’t believe it’s finally here! To celebrate I’m going to answer some festive questions in the Jingle All the Way Book Tag, which was originally created by The Left Handed Book Lover. Thanks so much to Dani @ Perspective of a Writer for tagging me!!

JINGLE BELLS: A fun, lighthearted book

The Princess Bride by William Goldman? I love this entertaining, hilarious, captivating adventure story, especially the snarky narrator. I highly recommend the movie as well (this is one of the few cases in which the movie rivals the book for me!).

I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS: A book with a scandalous romance

I don’t know if the relationships in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights could necessarily be described as particularly “romantic” or “scandalous” per say, but they are certainly memorable!

I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS: A book you are determined to reread

I always say that My Ántonia by Willa Cather is one of my absolute favorite books, but I’ve only read it once. I adore rereading books, so I definitely want to read this one again in 2018!

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN: Your most anticipated release of 2017

Definitely Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I was hesitant at first because I was afraid of being disappointed by all of the hype surrounding his new release, but it actually exceeded all of my expectations.

SILENT NIGHT: A beautiful book that everyone knows

I’m not sure I would say that everyone knows the story of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, but everyone definitely should. The lyrical writing in this novel is stunning and the story itself is incredibly captivating.

WINTER WONDERLAND: A book with great world-building

Ah, there’s so many to choose from! I think that I’ll have to go with Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. This science fiction series has some of the most interesting world-building I’ve ever read… come to think of it, I should definitely finish this series soon!

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN: An under-hyped book that is so great you want to tell everyone about it 

I absolutely adored The Rook by Daniel O’Malley when I read it a few years ago but know very few people who actually talk about it. It’s fantastic! So good! Read it! Please!

I SAW THREE SHIPS: Favorite trilogy

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. This has been my favorite trilogy for a decade now and I can’t see that changing anytime soon! Unlike with most trilogies, my favorite book in LOTR is actually The Two Towers, the middle one.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: A book with an underdog protagonist who rises up

Holes by Louis Sachar. How could you not want to root for poor Stanley Yelnats as he tries to survive his time at Camp Green Lake.

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS: A book that helped you get through troubling times

SO. MANY. I especially love reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien whenever I’m stressed or just need to be cheered up. As I explained recently in another book tag I definitely identify with Bilbo.

Thanks again to Dani for tagging me! I hope you all have a lovely holiday filled with family, friends, delicious food, carols, and fresh snow!

What are your answers to these questions? What’s your favorite holiday tradition? How was Christmas for you this year? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Why I Love Character Maps | Discussion

Today I’m here to discuss one of my recent favorite things: character maps. I discovered the greatness of character maps while trudging through all of my required reading for my year at Oxford this past summer. Although there may be many differences between Victorian literature and the works of William Faulkner, there is one important feature that they have in common: SO. MANY. CHARACTERS. Fortunately, character maps are incredibly helpful in these bookish situations. Here’s why:

They help you keep everything straight while you read.

Map for THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner

If I know or even suspect that a novel will be confusing due to the sheer number of characters or complicated relationships between them, then I always look up a character map before diving into the actual book. Chances are that for most well-known classics there are character maps already available online, which is where I usually find mine. It’s so helpful being able to quickly refer back to the map whenever you’re unsure about who is related to who or where their marital status stands.

They give you valuable context before you start reading the novel.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte

Context is always key before starting a new text, especially if it’s something you’re reading for a course. Not only is context important for better understanding the novel itself, but it also helps get you in the right mindset to read the book. This latter aspect is also a valuable effect of writing down a character map before opening the first page.

They keep you accountable for actually understanding what is going on.

Map for AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner

Usually I write down character maps before I start reading a novel, but it can also be useful to create them as you read. Although you won’t be able to use it as a reference point in the beginning, creating a character map as you go along is a great way to make sure you’re following what’s happening in the story. You can always look up an actual map later on to ensure that you’re on the right track.

Do you ever create or use character maps? Am I the only one who always struggles to keep all of the characters straight in Wuthering Heights?  Do you have any helpful tips and tricks that you use while reading challenging books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Brontë | Review

I’ll admit that when I first read Wuthering Heights a few years ago I wasn’t very impressed. The characters were ridiculously melodramatic, the names were confusing, and there seemed to be no point to this dark, tumultuous novel. However, recently reading it again for one of my courses has made me question my initial impressions. They say that some things get better with age; for me, Emily Brontë’s classic novel Wuthering Heights certainly falls into that category.

First, I am fascinated by the layered narration through which Emily tells her story within a story. Initially the reader is led to believe that Mr. Lockwood, Mr. Heathcliff’s most recent tenant, will be narrating the novel; however, one soon realizes that we are told the story by Nelly Dean through the ears of Mr. Lockwood. This layered narration adds depth and context to the story of Cathy and Heathcliff. Reading Wuthering Heights almost feels as though you are being read an unsettling bedtime story that will surely give you nightmares nights to come.

Since I had already read this book once before, I now had the luxury of reading it again without having to worry about understanding the basic plot. (Also, pro tip: creating character maps beforehand is a life saver!) Instead, I could now focus on the characters themselves and the motivations behind their behavior. Rather than be frustrated by their melodramatic tendencies, I started to admire how Emily had crafted such memorable characters that reflected and interacted with their surroundings in such interesting ways. Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange seemed almost more like characters than locations, influencing what occurred within their formidable walls.

Heathcliff caught my attention in particular; as I’m sure he does for many readers. I began to notice that most descriptions of his appearance, demeanor, and actions portray him more as an animal than a man. He is wild, savage, ruthless, and lacks any semblance of tact, courtesy, and empathy. Yet why is it that I still felt bad for this cruel “creature”? Emily’s ability to foster a connection between the reader and Heathcliff is one of the many brilliant aspects of this novel. Heathcliff may be rude and violent and unpredictable, but he is still human. The image of Heathcliff as a maltreated young orphan never quite goes away.

I wouldn’t say that Wuthering Heights is an enjoyable novel to read; rather, it is endlessly fascinating, engaging, and thought-provoking. I appreciate this text for challenging me as a reader and making me think about connections between characters, settings, and language more deeply; however, it’s not something I would choose to pick up on a whim or bring along with me for a relaxing day at the beach. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this novel again and I can even see myself picking it up for a third time in the future.

What are your thoughts on Wuthering Heights? Do your opinions of novels change when you reread them? Have any recommendations of what I should read next? Let me know in the comment section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Disney Princess Sidekicks Book Tag

Nothing brings a smile to my face quite like a good Disney movie. Fortunately, this Disney Princess Sidekicks Book Tag blends together everything great about Disney AND books. Thanks so much to Eva @ Brilliantly Bookish for tagging me!!

Mushu from Mulan 

{The Comic Relief – Name your favorite hilarious character or your favorite comedy/funny book}

Anything by Roald Dahl is hilariously witty, but a recent favorite of mine is George’s Marvelous Medicine. The grandma is such a riot!

The Seven Dwarfs from Snow White

{Favorite Group/Ensemble}

Definitely Blue and her friends from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Not only do they have amazing adventures together, but their personalities also balance each other out incredibly well. They certainly have their ups and downs, but that makes it all the more realistic.

Pascal from Tangled

{The loyal cheerleader chameleon – Name a book that started out one way but changed for you}

Dracula by Bram Stoker. The beginning in Count Dracula’s castle was great, but then the action and excitement suddenly stopped. I wish Dracula played a larger role in the novel!

Meeko from Pocahontas

{Pocahontas’s sly and sneaky raccoon friend – Name a plot twist that you did not see coming}

Many people say that they predicted the ending of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, but I never saw it coming!

Flounder from The Little Mermaid

{Gentle with their princess but protective with everyone else – Name your favorite best friend in a novel}

Raffy from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Taylor is so lucky to have her as a best friend!

Louis from The Princess and the Frog

{The Musical Bunch – Name a novel where music played a big part or made you want to sing its praises}

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. I love the way Willa Cather incorporates so much about music and performance in general in this lyrical novel.

Maximus from Tangled

{The obstacle in Flynn Rider’s way – Name a character that faces a lot of obstacles}

Mark from The Martian by Andy Weir. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to survive on Mars… major props to him for doing so well!

Hamish, Hubert, & Harris from Brave

{Favorite family dynamics in a novel}

Fairies from Sleeping Beauty

{The Advice Givers – Book that most impacted your life}

This is so hard!! I’m going to go with Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien because I have such a nostalgic attachment to it.

Hei Hei from Moana

{Name a character that steals the show}

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. No other character in that novel can beat Heathcliff’s strangeness!

Gus & Jaq from Cinderella

{Opposites Attract – Name your favorite or worst opposite attracts pairing}

Since I’ve already mentioned Jellicoe Road once in this tag, I’m going to go with Westley and Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

Okay, I’m curious: What’s your favorite Disney movie?? What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Oxford Reading List

Happy Tuesday!! As you read this post I’ll be spending my first day abroad in England as I move into my room at Mansfield College in Oxford. (!!!!) Since today’s TTT topic is about our fall TBR lists, I thought I would share the ten novels I was assigned to read for my English Literature 1830-1910 tutorial this fall. I read these books over the summer to prepare for the course and I can’t wait to work with these texts in the actual tutorial. Get ready for a heavy dose of Victorian literature!

What are your thoughts on these books? What books are on your fall TBR list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Booktube-A-Thon 2017 Wrap-Up

It’s official: the Booktube-A-Thon has come to a close! It’s time to tally up page counts, reading challenges, and books read in this wrap-up of the week. At the beginning of the read-a-thon I posted my Booktube-A-Thon TBR with my goals for this reading adventure. Let’s see how I did!!

Copy of June

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

This book checks off so many challenges! Not only does it have a person on the cover, but I also read it in one sitting outside. Roald Dahl has done it again with yet another book I wish I had read when I was younger. (Although I probably would have been scarred by the abrupt and surprisingly harsh ending!)

Echo by Nadette Rae Rodgers

Fun fact: I also finished this book outside in one day AND it has a person on the cover… SO MANY CHALLENGES COMPLETED. I suppose this could also count as a book about someone different from me because I certainly can’t control my dreams like the protagonist of this suspenseful, engaging novel. I already can’t wait to read the third installment in this trilogy. Stay tuned for a full review soon!

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

When one of my close friends learned that I never read this book when I was younger she immediately said that I had to read it NOW. Needless to say, this children’s classic was pretty hyped. I ADORED this book– I definitely wish I had read it when I was younger! Winnie is such a great protagonist and my heart simultaneously leapt and broke when I read the very last page. (Also: JESSIE <3)

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I FINALLY finished this tome! It was definitely worth all 635 pages. This is assigned reading for my upcoming term on Victorian literature and so far it’s one of my favorite novels on the reading list. I’m not sure if it actually completes any challenges– maybe the one about characters being different from me– but I’m still so happy that I finished it!

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

This was my second time reading Wuthering Heights and I enjoyed it so much more than when I read it years ago. I’m glad this was on my assigned reading list for Oxford because I probably wouldn’t have reread it otherwise. Luckily, I can count this towards the challenge of reading a book I bought because of the cover– I ADORE Penguin English Library editions!! ❤

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Though I’m only half way through this tome, I’m still calling it a success! I managed to read over three hundred pages this week, which isn’t too shabby. I’m enjoying this novel so much more than I initially thought I would. Not only is it easier to read than I first expected, but I’m connecting with the characters much more than I did while reading Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. I can’t wait to see where the second half of this novel goes!

Copy of June

1 || Read a book with a person on the cover.
2 || Read a hyped book.
3 || Finish a book in one day.
4 || Read about a character that is very different from you.
5 || Finish a book completely outdoors.
6 || Read a book you bought because of the cover.
7 || Read seven books.

I’m honestly SHOCKED that I managed to complete so many challenges! I definitely didn’t expect to read seven books, but I also didn’t think I would complete more than three or four of the rest. I’m so pleased with these results!

Copy of June (1)

All in all, I feel as though I had an incredibly successful BookTubeAThon this year. I love this event because it’s easy to participate no matter how busy you are during that particular week. It pushed me to read some books that I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while, and it’s always fun seeing the community come together for a glorious week of reading. A huge thanks to Ariel Bissett for organizing yet another lovely BookTubeAThon!! ❤

 Did you participate in the Booktube-A-Thon? How did you do? What do you think of the books that I read? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Scavenger Hunt Book Tag | #bookstagram Style!

Book Courtship-12

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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spines spines spines 📚

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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!

Suspense-39

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