Posts Tagged With: bookworm

My Book-Ish Tour (In and Around) Boston

In the Summer of 2019 my husband and I took off for New England for a week. He had a Pinball Expo to attend to promote the newest game for his company which meant I had a few days to frolic around the area. That, of course, meant that I scouted out all the literary things I could find in the area and woo-boy I found some amazing things!

Boston

First off, we spent a day in Boston. We stayed in a nice little airbnb in the North End of Boston. It’s a very Italian area, super walkable and pretty centrally located. We didn’t have a lot of time in the city but racked up the miles by trotting around the area and following the Freedom Trail which is, very conveniently, marked on the sidewalks.

I’ll be honest, while I did enjoy Boston, after spending so much time traveling elsewhere – and especially a lot of time in Europe – I wasn’t overly impressed with the history. My favorite tidbits of Boston weren’t really part of the Freedom Trail. The Boston Public Library was nice to pop into with a beautiful study room (any library with long tables and green lamps wins me over)

We also kind of stumbled across two memorials that I didn’t read anything about in my copious Boston Tour Book research that felt very powerful to me. The first we found was the Iraq-Afghanistan Memorial which had hanging dog tags. It was a beautiful and moving way to capture the numbers.

The second was the Holocaust Memorial which was easily the most moving I have ever seen. The tall glass columns were filled with steam and name after name after name. Being able to step into the grating and be immersed in the sensation was… emotional. Don’t miss this if you make it to Boston.

Holocaust memorial

Cape Cod/Plymouth

After Boston we spent a couple days exploring Cape Cod and stayed in what can only be described as one of the coolest places I’ve EVER slept – an EPIC tree house in Plymouth. It was both luxurious and rustic and since it wasn’t quite on Cape Cod proper we didn’t have a crazy amount of traffic to deal with either. Honestly – I could have stayed there a week. The local spots were adorable and the tree house was a dream.

From there, we went up to Sturbridge for the pinball expo and HERE is where it start to get bookish. I waved good-bye and popped into a number of drool-worthy places for the literary inclined.

Concord, Massachusetts

It was a blisteringly hot day when I made my way to Concord, but I didn’t let it stop me. I parked downtown and walked down to the Minute Man National Park which was a lovely place to stroll through and read a little history. The town is famous for Henry David Thoreau, Louis May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne (who wrote “the shot heard round the world”), and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

After walking the park, I found a couple websites that directed me to the cemetery where I could creep on/pay my respects to these literary heroes. It was a nice detour walk back into town.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I popped into a number of shops in the adorable little town proper but my absolute favorite was Nesting. I don’t usually go bananas about little shops (honestly, I get intimidated by almost any place that isn’t a coffee shop or book store) but I felt comfortable in the twists and turns of this adorable beige and tan beauty. Definitely check it out if you are there – LOTS of cards and journals.

Before leaving town I knew I needed to find my way to Walden. It was mysteriously closed in the morning so I waited in a gigantic line. The parking lots were huge and the place was packed – which, for me, was a bit tongue in cheek given why it was famous. I almost turned around, worried the magic would be gone, but decided I would make good on my entry fee and found a path that circled the lake.

Walden Pond

While it certainly wasn’t the peaceful wilderness that Thoreau experienced, it is a truly gorgeous lake and I’m glad I stopped. The walk around the lake was pleasant but you could easily bring your swim suit and spend an afternoon – just be prepared to share the space if it’s a nice day.

The park did a great job highlighting where Thoreau was and there were a few literary gawkers there like me and not just sunbathers.

Hartford, Connecticut

I’ve always had a soft spot for Mark Twain and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see his home in Hartford. The drive from Sturbridge was an easy one and I got to check off another state from my to-do list as well.

I got into Hartford early and planned to pop into a coffee shop for some writing and reading. I went to Blue State Coffee as they promised to donate 2% to democratic initiatives. The brew was tasty but, I’ll be honest, the downtown area where I needed to park and walk was not pleasant. I was nervous to leave my rental car where I did at 9am and Blue State overall had a cold atmosphere. I had hoped to walk around downtown Hartford but ended up getting my coffee, writing a journal entry, and heading to the house.

The Mark Twain House was a delight and well worth the drive to Hartford. The tour was expertly done. The information about Twain was super interesting but, even more, the house itself was awesome and fascinating. Very beautiful and unique with a top-notch gift shop.

I didn’t get the chance to visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe house and center as I ran out of time but it’s literally on the same grounds, which is super neat. I did pop into the gift shop which was full of feminist loveliness.

All in all

I had a lovely time bopping around the area and finding book-ish things to do. I can’t report on any really great coffee shops unfortunately (I went to a few but didn’t LOVE any of them). I also wish I could have gone up to Salem or a few other key historical spots. But if you’re in the area, I highly recommend the places I’ve highlighted here!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The BEST Mystery Novels and Series (an ever expanding list)

The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)
Robert Galbraith

16160797

If you want to hear about (one of) my most recommended books – it’s this one, right here. This series blew me away. I don’t know what I expected but what I got was amazing characters, truly interesting mysteries and a perfect balance of both. Even if mysteries aren’t typically your “thing” pick this up!

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1)
Deanna Raybourn

28186322

Can’t help it, guys, I love these books. I actually started this series on book #4 and was smitten with it. Here are some of my favorite things about this series:
1) The language – I am certain that Raybourn has a BLAST writing these books. The time period allows her to be flowery, even overly so. She uses the subtleties of archaic language to say the most absurd and downright naughty things. I constantly find myself giggling at it.
2) The play with time – I love how these books are set in the 1800s but the protagonist doesn’t quite fit. She is a protagonist of the now and her witty remarks are gold in these stories
3) The partnership – Stoker and Veronica are adorable and make me snicker-giggle constantly.

The story itself is lovely as well, but it’s really about the people and the writing. I’ve enjoyed the stories immensely. 

Caravan
Dorothy Gilman

140530
I’ve read this book twice now and it is truly incredible. It has everything – every twist and turn you can imagine. It’s the story of a young girl told by an old one where you can feel the truth of it but with the knowing eye of an old woman looking back. This is a book where horrible, terrible things can happen to the characters and somehow you still want their lives. This book is magic wrapped up in one neat little package and now I can’t say anything else without just positively gushing.

Gilman is a forgotten rock star of mysteries and I recommend this one AND all Mrs. Polifax!

City of the Lost (Rockton #1)
Kelley Armstrong

25362841. sy475
I took a risk on buying this book with only a short synopsis read. I was very pleasantly surprised. It has a truly interesting and unique premise, a great main character, solid support characters, and some really interesting stories. The best part was that I legitimately didn’t know where the story was going – not when it came to friends, love interests, what was going to happen next, or, of course, “who dun it.” The whole series is a great read.

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) –
Rob Thomas

18209454

So, so many reasons to love this book. Let me list them for you!
1) Veronica Mars – anyone who has watched the series (and it’s horrible mid-cancellation) practically wets themselves when there is anything new that comes out. It’s with good reason. All the new Veronica Mars stuff has been fan-tastic.
2) The audio book is read by Kristen Bell – okay, this time I did wet myself. No shame.
3) It’s actually a good story – the book reads just like an episode; and I mean that in a good way. It’s fast-paced with a good mixture of characterization and crime action. The story keeps you guessing but doesn’t put you in the dark either. It was a quick read without being skimpy.

Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte (Sophie Katz Murder Mystery #1)
Kyra Davis

310740

This book is what I love about chick-lit. It’s silly and sassy and exciting and a read that you can breeze through in just a few days. I’m a firm believer that a story you can get sucked into – silly or not – is a fun story. Yes, this is dated and I don’t really have a thing for Russians – but I am glad I picked up this book.

I would love your recommendations for what else should be on this list!

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 out of 5 stars for The Baller by Vi Keeland

The Baller: A Down and Dirty Football NovelThe Baller: A Down and Dirty Football Novel by Vi Keeland
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ugh. No.

Look – this book had a lot of potential. What’s not to like? Super hot and talented football player and equally hot and talented reporter fall for each other. Let’s make it happen.

But man – in the end, what WASN’T wrong with this book? Okay, so here are the reasons why I, personally, pick up a book like this (in no particular order).

1) For the laughs
2) For the sex
3) For the characters/story

If it can grant me, honestly, even one of those three, then I’m pretty happy. If it can give me one of those three without irritating me with other things, then I’m really happy. This book didn’t do ANY of it in the end.

Let’s review:
1) For the laughs – there was some serious potential here. I mean, a cocky, sexy football player? and when he first meets the reporter he drops his towel? That scene made me laugh for sure. It was perfectly awkward. Annnd that was pretty much the only time I laughed in this whole book. The rest of the jokes were just blah. I mean, Brody made a joke about wanting to “eat” Delilah like 100 times. Original. Not.

2) For the sex – the sex sucked. No really – I know you think I’m joking, but I’m not. It really, really sucked. First off, it was dragged way too far out and when they finnnnally bumped uglies it was just that – ugly. It was rushed and didn’t even make a lot of sense physically. And that was probably the best sexual encounter of the book. Most of it was just glossed over, to be honest with you. At one point the author literally said “many hours and multiple orgasms later” – uhhh, HELLO? I don’t pick up a book with THAT cover to have you skip that shizz! Light it up, lady!

3) For the characters/story – this genre doesn’t always have the greatest reputation for characters and stories and I’ll admit, sometimes I’m okay with generic or cliche if it means I get numbers 1 and 2. But It still has to WORK. Ultimately, this book was just sigh-worthy. First off, cocky and arrogant Brody fell way too hard and way too fast. I mean, honestly, why? Apparently Delilah was love at first sight? Even though we later learn he was still hung up on his girl-next-door-druggie-whatever-that-was? That was a stretch.

Regardless, Brody was just a shell of the ‘perfect’ guy. Hey, ladies, I’m super hot and arrogant but oooh wait no I’m really super sweet and caring and do everything perfectly. Gah. The attractive cockiness dissolved into stupid one-off (not funny) comments and we were just left with a super sensitive man with muscles. Boring.

And don’t even get me started on Delilah’s mess of humanity. She made no sense. At ALL. I mean, Delilah was doing a sex ‘cleanse’ but then claimed she didn’t ever have sex with anyone without being in a relationship first? Uuuh, okay? Then he can’t be with Brody because she never gave up on her old fiance who died? I mean, I guess but that only came up halfway through the book. And what was the point of her fear of flying? No point. None. I kept thinking it was going to matter but it didn’t. It didn’t even matter for a funny scene. Stuff like that really irritates me in stories. Make people’s quirks matter!

I’m not even going to mention how the book ends. Not the last real chapter and not the epilogue. I was ROLLING my EYES so hard they almost popped out, I swear.

There is lots more I can complain about, but I’m going to leave you with my one really big, HUGE, issue with this book. There is no FOOTBALL. NONE. A couple of stats are thrown out here and there but otherwise we see NOTHING. And the man plays (and wins!) the damn SUPER BOWL.

I just. I cannot. Stop before you start here, people.

Categories: Put Downs, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 beautiful book covers (with equally incredible stories inside)

gotham

The beauty of this cover is a little non-traditional, but I love it. You’ll learn it tells a bit about the story inside and it’s just so eye-catching.  Books with male main characters sometimes get the shaft when it comes to beautiful covers but this one did a great job. And then there are the words – it’s a page turning, heart-thumping historical fiction that highlights a time I wasn’t familiar with.  It’s worthy of its reputation.

golden

This is a historical fiction that will make you wonder if it actually happened. It was so expertly woven, the truth and tales of the times intermingled with the fiction so beautifully, I thought it had to be true. I adored this (audio) book. It’s a historical fiction that reads like a mystery. I knew the instant I picked this up it would be a winner of my heart: Spain, flamenco, and ballet? It’s like Alexandra knew what draws me to a story and decide to put it all into one place – beautifully at that. If you don’t already have a soft spot for any of those items, you’ll be hard pressed to walk away from this tale without one.

russian

The story behind this beautiful cover will surprise you. As flowery at this story appears, the book is definitely not for the weak of heart, which is part of the reason I like it so much. Furnivall took me by surprise nearly around every corner – no one quite reacted the way I thought they were and the plot twists themselves were numerous but elegant.

covers

I’m a sucker for colorful towns on the water, so maybe this cover doesn’t appeal to everyone. I also love the font.  Did I mention I love the story too? This book is amazing. The characters are beautiful. The story line unfolds in front of you perfectly and seamlessly and yet with a new surprise around every corner. You truly feel like you are reading about lives, not just characters in a book. It’s undeniably poetic and equally real.

smokedaughter3daughter2

Probably one of my favorite things about YA books is that they always have incredible covers.  I was then so pleasantly surprised to find the inside was wonderful, too. I love this book’s imagination, the colors, the scenes. It’s all so beautiful. The setting is incredible – Prague, the art studio, Poison. Even better are the people! Humans, angels, and creatures – they are all fascinating. Taylor does such a great job of showing me everything without overloading me with exposition. I can see so much, and I don’t even think that’s because I’ve traveled to many of the places (Prague and Marrakesh being two main settings – gorgeous on paper and in real life!).

Shadowandbonesiegeandstormruinandrising

Here’s another YA fantasy series that is worth it’s weight to the eyes and the imagination. This series is unique and beautiful. I like the flavor of the setting. I love the back and forth between suspense and life. I like our main character and how we get deep but not too deep. I like the conflicting romance and, even more, I like what took me by surprise. Characters evolved in great ways. Bardugo had my hand quivering at a page turn because I didn’t want to see what would happen next and that’s what I want out of a really good YA book.

What did I miss?  What’s your favorite beautiful book?

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reviewing a Classic: Dracula by Bram Stoker

dracula

 

Let me be honest – I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. Even as someone who makes it a point to read a classic every once in a while, I still thought this one would be a struggle but… it wasn’t. Would you believe that this is truly a kick-butt story? I thought I knew the plot going in, but I really didn’t. When it comes to an exciting, suspenseful, heart-stopping thriller, this book has it all.

description

First off, the story starts where I always assumed it ended. Jonathan, a man just trying to do his job, finds himself trying to sell a bit of London real estate while in a gigantic castle in the middle of nowhere with its creepy owner. At first Jonathan thinks the man is just eccentric, who wouldn’t be, after all, living in Transylvania alone? But the longer Jonathan is there, the more he starts to see just how unnatural the Count is. By the time he realizes that Count Dracula is something truly unnatural, he also realizes he’s trapped there. I won’t reveal what happens next, but it’s some pretty harrowing stuff, I want you to find out on your own.

Next thing we know, we’re in London with a whole new set of characters. They’re new and interesting and they’re just about the best set of entirely pure people you could ever find. I’ve never read about a goody-two-shoes so darn like-able. Each person against Count Dracula is so wholesome, so always willing to do what’s write that it should be boring but instead it’s endearing, it’s exciting, and it makes you really root for them.

Because, the thing is, when I was about 100 pages in, I realized I had already read everything I ever knew about Dracula. My extremely slight understanding of what this book is just didn’t do it justice. That 1931 movie made destroyed so much of the essence, the coy plot, the sweet trouble and suspense that I never even knew the book, the true book was so good.

description

Sorry, I’m getting pretty excited about this. I’m astounded by how much I liked it and just how interesting it really was. It’s so cheap to get a copy of this now – I think it even came free to me on my nook – I highly recommend giving it a try.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.