Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Merch

I love Top Ten Tuesdays.

But I am so scatter-brained that I almost always forget that it’s Tuesday until Tuesday has already passed…I will seriously, actually get to Thursday, blink at the calendar, and be like “whoah where did the week go??” This is mostly because I work as a writer for a children’s publishing house, and so although I do go into the office a couple times a week, I don’t have a set schedule, and I also work from home a lot — all that to say that the days can sometimes pass in a blur.

BUT THIS WEEK I DID NOT LET TUESDAY PASS ME BY. So, Top Ten Tuesday here we go! Today’s topic is Top Ten Bookish Merchandise, and lemme tell you, as a compulsive shopper, there are just too many items on my wish-list. But, since I also hate hyper-linking and tracking down photos, for this Top 10 Tuesday I decided to do more of a Top Five Tuesday (gotta ease back into it slowly…right?). That said, here are my picks!

  1. This super simple, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Don’t Panic Cuff . The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of my all-time favorite books, and the simple motto of “Don’t Panic” is one of my favorite quotes. I used to write the phrase on the inside of my wrist, just so I could look down and remind myself that no matter how chaotic things are, I don’t have to panic…not as long as I have my trusty towel by my side, that is.

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2. Harry Potter definitely has the best of both quantity and quality when it comes to bookish merchandise. That’s why it was so hard to not make this entire list just Harry Potter themed things. Luckily, this Harry Potter Gryffindor House Gift Trunk  has the best of multiple worlds, including a Hogwarts acceptance letter (it was just a wee bit late) an adorable owl, and tons of warm Gryffindor merch to make you the most fashionable prefect of the bunch. I know that this is beginning to sound like a paid advertisement, but I just really love Harry Potter stuff. Which leads me to number three…

 

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3. A Honeydukes Scented Harry Potter candle. I WANT. There are also a bunch of other Harry Potter themed candles available, and they all look so cool! But obviously Honeydukes, a literal magic candy shop, has got to be the sweetest scent of them all.

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4. An iconic Mockingjay pin – these are available from a bunch of different sellers, and in today’s political climate, a little symbol of resistance seems even more relevant.

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5. What’s better than reading? …obviously a chilly fall afternoon spent reading by the window, curled up underneath a pile of blankets with a dog on your lap and a cup of tea resting close beside you. Swoon. These classic inspired tea blends make me wanna be real cozy, right now.

 

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So, those are my top “ten” picks for bookish merchandise that I’m currently eying. (Good thing next month is December!) Have you picked up any of these items? And what’s on your wish list? Let me know! 

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Penguin Minis: Extra Cute or Just Extra?

So, anyone who knows me knows that I am an impulse buyer.

Those brightly colored check-out lines were created just to tailor to my shopping type – that is, the people who pop into Target for a quick purchase (hahaha, as if such a thing exists), but come out staggering under the weight of seventeen candles, two new notebooks, a sweater, a few snacks, and the weight of capitalist despair.

That said: when I saw that Penguin had just released John Green’s books in miniature version, my vision blurred a little bit and before I knew it, I had snapped up a bite-sized copy of Looking for Alaska – my favorite Green book.

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The pic above (which I found on The Washington Post) perfectly illustrates the size of these cute curiosities. While undeniably adorable, I was curious to find out more about this format.

According to Penguin’s website, the format was first introduced in the Netherlands back in 2009, and the patented design of Dutch printer Royal Jongbloed features a “horizontal format, hinged cover, and ultra-thin paper to offer a complete, unabridged text with a trim smaller than 5″ X 3″ and weighing an average of 5 ounces that can be easily held in the palm of one hand. Pages can be turned with the flick of a thumb, much like scrolling on a cell phone.”

My copy of Looking for Alaska came in the mail a couple days ago, and I had a few feelings about it, obviously.

On the positive side:

  1. It truly is adorable ohmygod it’s so smol I love smol things
  2. It’s pretty convenient for the fall/winter seasons…it can easily be thrown into a spare coat pocket, and just like ten dollar bills, old poems on torn out notebook paper, and cherished lipglosses, I’m sure I’d get that thrill of finding random books in purses and old jackets many years down the line.

On the less positive side:

  1. Like you’d imagine, the paper is super thin, (as one of my friends commented: “oh, it’s just like those pocket bibles”) and so the idea that you can read the book just as easily as scrolling through pages on a cell phone doesn’t exactly live up. In fact, I found the horizontal formatting a little weird, and would have preferred a more traditional vertical alignment.
  2. Additionally, the text is smaller than I was used to, which could take some getting used to. Again, not exactly unexpected, but something to note.

Overall Thoughts:

While a novel (lol) experience, these books seem meant for those who love John Green and can’t get enough of his stuff, or collectors who just like having aesthetically refreshing books in their lives. Personally, I would find it a bit of a headache to read new books in mini-size, but I would pick up a couple more (at roughly 10 dollars each) if they released some of my favorites.

What are your thoughts on this new format by Penguin? Would you switch over from full-size to mini? What books would you love to see this smol? Let me know! 

 

 

 

 

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: Review

Book Title: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Author: Hank Green

Genre: Sci-Fi, Contemporary

Goodreads Score: 4.23

My Score: 4

Things I disliked: sometimes the protagonist…but that seems intentional. Also, when a secondary character takes over the last chapter making me wonder wait, wtf, is April May writing the rest of the book in real time or what?

Things I liked: witty, dry voice and intriguing premise that comes second to character work

Review in a sentence: The aliens have come; let us tweet about it.

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After 23-year-old April May uploads a video of herself making contact with a robot of alien origin, she is confronted with the strange, amazing and dangerous ramifications of fame.

New from Hank Green (yes, that Hank Green) comes an absolutely remarkable new book (hehehe I know that so many people must have written compliments like that by now, but I still like it…also think that maybe it’s a good subliminal messaging kind of title towards reviewers).

Check out my full review here:

https://www.bookbrowse.com/mag/reviews/index.cfm/ref/pr245376

What books have you been reading? What would you recommend? Currently, I’m about halfway through The Haters – a new book by the same dude who wrote Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl. Have any of ya’ll checked it out? Let me know! 

Goosebumps Books that Actually Give you Goosebumps: Ranked

I’ve been in such a Halloween mood lately. In-between watching Children of the Corn and planning out the perfect Halloween themed cocktails (I have never known the struggle of buying less than 30 pounds of dry ice, but trust me, it’s not easy) I’ve been re-reading some of my favorite horror books, as well. And last week, while I was making a list of some of my favorite spooky books, I had to make the hard decision of choosing which Goosebumps book to include. There were so many great memories that I got to relive while flipping through my collection that it gave me the inspiration for a separate post – my top 5 favorite Goosebumps books.

1. Welcome to Dead House

When Amanda and Josh move to Dark Falls, they soon begin to suspect that there’s something off about the old house that they’ve moved into. However, they soon find that it’s not just the house that’s haunted. It’s the entire town.

The first book in the entire Goosebumps series (for some reason, this seems shocking to me, the thought that there was ever a time when Goosebumps didn’t exist), this was the book that started them all. While the classic haunted house ambience was spooky enough, it was the twist at the end that had me re-reading this book.

 

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2. Say Cheese and Die!

Greg knows there’s something weird with his new (old) camera. The photos keep coming out wrong. Macabre. Creepy. Deadly. But they’re not just pictures…this camera is predicting the spooky future, including the death of his loved ones. Except, Greg soon suspects, it’s not just predicting the future, it could be creating it.

This is the first Goosebumpbs book I remember ever reading, and I read it again and again and again.

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3. A Night in Terror Tower

Starting in one of the coolest Goosebumps settings ever, the Tower of London, this book features Sue and Eddie, who lose their tour guide leaving them trapped alone in an infamous prison…with a killer fast on their heels.

I mean, the plot alone explains why this deserves its spot on the greatest Goosebumps book list. So much intrigue! So much mystery! So much yearning for me to go to London, minus the whole creepy killers tracking me down.

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4. Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes

When Jo Burton’s dad brings home a pair of suspicious looking lawn gnomes, Jo quickly begins to realize that the ugly appearance of the tacky law ornaments isn’t the worst thing about these gnomes. Not by a long shot.

While I don’t really know why anyone would bring home a lawn gnome ever, this book definitely made me eye the neighbor’s lawn ornaments with a highly skeptical gaze. While the book starts out slower and less scary than some of the books, the ending definitely gives this book a spot on my list.

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5. The Horror at Camp Jellyjam

When Wendy heads over to Camp Jellyjam, a summer sports camp, she doesn’t fit in with the other kids, who are all much more athletic than her. Why is everyone so competitive here, all the time? Well…she’ll soon find out.

This book is the book that cements Goosebumps into the book series with some of the most wacky, zaniest, memorable twist endings ever. When Wendy comes face-to-face with the the hidden villain of the book, it literally gave me…wait for it…just a little bit longer…goosebumps. 🙂

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Now, if you’re a huge Goosebumps fan like me, I’m sure this list has gotten you riled up. There’s so many iconic Goosebumps books that there’s no way everyone has the same top 5. So, tell me: what are your favorite Goosebumps books? Least favorite? Strangest? Excited to hear!

 

5 Spooky Books Perfect for Halloween

Wow. So, I have not posted to this blog in a long time. We’re talking two years kind of long. Which is about the same amount of time since I have tweeted, caught a Pokemon on Pokemon Go, and/or bought cherry chocolate chip ice cream. But I’ve done all three of these things in the last week, and now I’m intent on reviving my book blog baby, too.

That said, even though I haven’t kept up with my blog in a while, I have been even more immersed in the book-ish scene lately…especially since I’m now working as a writer for a children’s publishing company. Woo! While there’s a lot more to be said there, for now I want to focus on something even more exciting…IT’S ALMOST HALLOWEEN.

EEEEEEEEEEEP. Halloween has always competed with Christmas for my favorite holiday. After all, in addition to being able to justify the large amount of terrible scary movies I watch, there’s also delicious pumpkin treats, costume parties, haunted houses (which terrify me so much that I have to position myself in the exact middle of whatever group I force to go with me) and enough candy to last me until the next Halloween. What else could you need? This is not a rhetorical question. Because I’ll tell you what you need – some Halloween themed books, perfect to read on a chilly October morning while buried underneath a pile of blankets, with absolutely no intent to leave your house for the next 24 hours. If that sounds cozy enough to you, then here are my top Halloween picks!

  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker: This one is a given. When you think Halloween, you think Halloween monsters, and when you think Halloween monsters you think vampires. Although I have to admit that I love myself a romanticized, sensitive vampire a la Damon Salvatore, Dracula is obviously the OG.
  2. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson: While most of Stephen King’s iconic novels keep the horror going…and going…aaaaand going for several hundred pages, Matheson’s I Am Legend is perfect for those who want a bite-sized serving of spookiness. My favorite Zombie book ever, mostly because it takes the concept of Zombies in a really original direction.
  3. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll: If any of you are a fan of graphic novels, this collection of gorgeously illustrated, creepy stories is an absolute must for your October Required Reading list. You can most likely devour this entire book in one setting…although you might get some unsettling dreams later in the night.
  4. The Witches by Roald, Dahl: Perfect for both younger fans and older ones, The Witches is as iconic to me as Hocus Pocus is for most people. And sure, maybe it’s aimed toward children. But that doesn’t stop me from getting chills throughout. No judging here.
  5. Welcome to Dead House by R.L. Stine: Okay, okay…I couldn’t just make a list of Halloween themed books without including at least one Goosebumps. I mean, can you spell iconic? (Because I can, and just did). Welcome to Dead House was not the first Goosebumps book I read, but it is the first book in the series, and the classic ambience of a good old haunted house is about as Halloween as one can get.

While make this list, I realized just how obsessed I am with all things spooky, scary, eerie, and spine-tingling…it was so hard to cap this post at just five! But let me know what books have been creeping you out lately…or, alternatively, TV shows (I just finished the Cult season of AHS, and am now debating whether to binge watch another season of a spooky show before Halloween arrives).

Book Review: Wink Poppy Midnight

WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Goodreads Score: 3.42

My Score: 4

Things I Disliked: Plot could be confusing at times.

Things I Liked: Voice, voice, voice.

Review in a sentence: Watch as poor, sweet Midnight tries to find out what the fuck is going on.

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From Goodreads

“Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain.  Every story needs a secret. 

Wink. Poppy. Midnight.

Two girls. One boy. One summer. 

One bad thing. 

What really happened?

Someone knows. Someone is lying.” 

(From book flap)

I’m interning at two different jobs this summer. One is for a small publishing press, and the other is a book scouting position. Because of this, I am constantly submerged in all things books (living the dream!), and as a result, my TBR list has grown to be about a million miles long.

However, while WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT wasn’t actually on my list, the cover (a colorful mix of icons against a black background) and title intrigued me enough that I read the first page. I bought it immediately.

April Genevieve Tucholke writes with such a distinctive voice–clear and eloquent, not overly verbose, but somehow melodic. The book is first person narration told from the alternating viewpoints of the three title characters (yes, Wink, Poppy, and Midnight are the names of the characters, not some strange code) and each character is written with a strong, clear, very Them style that you can immediately recognize. I was hooked from chapter one, and continued to be hooked.

That was the highlight of the book.

The plot itself was strange. Which doesn’t mean bad. Just…interesting. Essentially, we have a total mean girl named Poppy who likes to play people just for kicks. Poor Midnight, so sweet and clueless, has been in love with Poppy for a long time, and she alternates between mocking him and sleeping with him. Towards the beginning of the book, Midnight moves from Poppy’s neighborhood to a house next to Wink, who is the local oddball. Midnight starts to shake off Poppy’s nefarious clutches as he becomes closer to Wink, but Poppy does not approve. The not-so-love triangle comes to its peak one night in the forest, in an abandoned house rumored to be haunted. There, something happens…but nobody knows quite what.

From the cover, we know that there’s a hero, a villain, and a liar in the book, and as the book is told in first person, it’s clear we have a classic case of the Unreliable Narrator. This provides tension as we wonder who has the nerve to be lying to us in their own thoughts–or, if not lying, at least deflecting the truth.

But when truths start to be revealed, I was left doing the whole ‘wuuuuuuuh’ thing. Not in an ‘oh my God, wait WHAT, WHAT, WHAAAAT. AMAZING PLOT TWIST’ sense. More like in an ‘I’m so confused, but ok, cool. That’s fine. I’m fine’ way.

In a sense, the blurry surrealism of the plot mimics the eccentricities of the characters, and after the book I was left feeling thoughtful, torn, and ready to find another one of Tucholke’s works.

Have you read WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT? If so, what’d you think? What books are on your TBR lists? What are you favorite books with unreliable narrators? Let me know in the comments below! 

Currently Reading: STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi and COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas 

Recently Finished: NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman 

 

Bookstore Love

A home is where the heart is.

Well, my heart is wherever the books are, and that has always meant that I’ve counted bookstores and libraries among my homes. I grew up camped out in the cafe of Barnes and Nobles, and navigating through the shelves of my local library (weighed down by towering stacks of hardcovers). My friends have always known to keep a firm grip on me whenever I spot a bookstore, because if they loosen they’re hold, I’ll dart inside. And once I’m inside, I can’t stay for mere minutes. Impossible!

 

This weekend, I was up in Sag Harbor, Long Island with a few friends. We were passing to the grocery store for Smores ingredients (because we planned to tell scary stories that night, and you can’t tell scary stories without marshmallows roasting in the background) but when I passed by an adorable bookstore, Harbor Books, I carefully backed away from my friends and darted through the entrance, leaving them, mystified, on the streets. I had to!

And once inside, I couldn’t even feel guilty. This independent bookstore was small but charming. Two cats (pictured above) lolled around lazily, and my attention flitted from the two of them back to the books, back to the cats, back to the books…you get the point. Meanwhile, a large, blocky tollbooth represented the Phantom Tollbooth, and gave me such a rush of nostalgia that I was tempted to buy The Phantom Tollbooth right there, even though I have a copy back home.

Large plush chairs ensured that I would have stayed for hours if not for my impatient friends, already tracking me down.

Even though I didn’t stay long, this bookstore reminded me how much I love exploring independent bookstores, as well as B&N. Amazon may be cheap, but it’s nothing compared to actually browsing in a physical bookstore. Be still, my heart! Be still, and take my money! You deserve it.

That said, what’s your favorite bookstore?! Let me know the name, and why you love it! (Wouldn’t it be great to compile them altogether and take a massive road trip to all of them??!!!)

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