2015 :: My Year in Books

2015 was the best reading year I’ve ever had in my life! I successfully read 25 books this year and even joined book/beer club called Titles on Tap, which has largely contributed to so many books under my belt. Taking the train every day and having 40 minutes of quiet time both ways also provided the perfect time for reading. Since I’ve read such a wide range, I decided to share the best and worst of the year, and what I hope to accomplish in 2016.

Best Reads of 2015

  1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel // This novel was on many “best of” lists this year. And rightfully so! It’s lyrical, haunting, and impossible to put down. There are a lot of post-apocolyptic novels out there, but this is the first I’ve read that really explored the things we take for granted in modern society. This was one of those books, that was truly an amazing reading experience.
  2. Horns by Joe Hill // I don’t know what it was, but I feel like I read this book at the perfect time in my life. The New England imagery, twenty-something year old ennui, themes of Catholic guilt, a healthy dose of magical realism; it just spoke to me. If you saw the terrible disappointment 0f a movie this was, don’t be dissuaded. I couldn’t believe how much they changed. It was practically a different story! But if you want a very juicy, dark tale, this novel will hit you.
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood // This is supposedly a work of fiction, but it is very much on its way to being a reality. With the upcoming election looming over us, this classic work is more poignant than ever. With it’s powerful themes and symbols, it’s easy to see why this book has become a must-read in everyone’s lifetime. You can read more of my thoughts on The Handmaid’s Tale in my book pairings post.

Worst of 2015

I usually have more to say about books I don’t like…

  1. Dietland by Sarai Walker // Ugh. This book was so misguided. Many have praised it as Margaret Atwood meets that biddy who wrote the Something BorrowedSomething Blue books – the modern feminist manifesto. Well as we know, I adored The Handmaid’s Tale and Margaret Atwood this was not. I guess it had potential; I’m always down for women overthrowing the patriarchy, but this book had a serious tone problem. For an earnest attempt at satire, it lacked the necessary snark. The good? It is a voice out there campaigning for change. But is this the kind of feminism that we want? One that believes their way is the only way? One that has an extremely narrow view on mental health, body acceptance, and sexual expression? I implore that this book be kept out of the hands of baby feminists so they don’t make it their doctrine.
  2. Breed by Chase Novak // What an ill-written, hot mess. To be fair, it was for book club and I probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise. The narrative style changed throughout, not a care was given for the characters, the story was figutatively and geologically all over the place, and for a horror novel, it was about as scary as your 6 year old neighbor with a sheet over his head. Snore.
  3. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn // Dark is right. I don’t know what disturbed me more: pedophilia and assisted suicide, or Middle America? At least it inspired my first Book Pairings Post!

2016 Reading Goals

  1. 24 Books! 2 Books a month. I think that’s a good pace.
  2. More non-fiction.
  3. Read the Cormoran Strike series.
  4. Try to dive into graphic novels.

Happy New Year, bookworms!

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Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree :: 5 Holiday Recommendations

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As we draw closer to Christmas, the Fandom Fridays are becoming more and more festive. This week, the topic was 5 Holiday Recommendations. What?! That could mean anything! This had me thinking; one huge reason why I absolutely refuse to get in the Christmas season before Thanksgiving is that I get tired of the same ol’ songs playing on the radio long before Christmas Eve. Therefore, I’m recommending 5 Unique Spins on Holiday Songs.

Christmas, Baby, Please Come Home ((Ben Gibbard))

I’ve been a huge fan of Death Cab for Cutie for many years, and there’s nothing like hearing Ben Gibbard’s haunting voice sing this Darlene Love classic. It may be a bit melancholy, but it’s a perfect song to cuddle up with someone you love and watch the snow fall.

The Nutcracker Suite ((Brian Setzer Orchestra))

There’s something about Christmas music that is synonymous with jazz to me. They’re both fun, festive, and make you want to dance with friends. Jazz guitarist Brian Setzer made an awesome, swinging, compact version of Duke Ellington’s classic spin on Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite (that’s a lot of covers!) that’s sure to get you moving. It’s perfect for any holiday party!

Baby It’s Cold Outside ((She & Him))

A lot of people do not like this song. It’s creepy, misogynist, and just plain annoying. But She & Him took this dated tune and spun it on its head. In this version, Zooey Deschanel sings the traditionally male role, making it way more amusing and will have you cheering for the stomping of the patriarchy.

Happy Holidays – Beef Wellington Remix ((Bing Crosby, technically))

During the holidays, we both honor old traditions and create new ones. Nothing does this better than the Beef Wellington Remix of Bing Crosby’s “Happy Holiday.” The funky hook will have you feeling like you time traveled from the future into a retro black and white holiday movie.

Frosty the Snowman ((Zee Avi))

If you’re worried about the same song repeating on the radio every hour until Christmas, I can guarentee you’re safe with Zee Avi’s “Frosty.” He isn’t exactly a “jolly, happy soul” when she sings the whole song in a minor key. But even after hearing this eerie song once, you’ll never listen to it the same way again.


 

As always, 5 Fandom Friday is brought to you by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. Follow them to participate!

A Very Special Fandom Friday :: 5 Fandoms I’m Thankful For

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Happy Thanksgiving Week! We are now officially in the holiday season, so get ready to turn out your wallets and loosen your waistebands. This week’s topic was supposed to be 5 Black Friday Needs, but I scoff at the very idea of Black Friday; people violently fighting over material goods a day after “giving thanks” for what you have? Sounds a bit ridiculous to me. Instead, since I’m still filled with Thanksgiving joy (and food), I decided to do the topic 5 Fandoms I’m Thankful For.

It’s been really cool seeing the responses other people gave for this topic. A lot of people gave the same answers, but the reasons were so different and sincere. With that said, here are the fandoms that made the biggest impact on my life.

Pokemon
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Pokemon was my first extreme obsession. When I was 8, I saved up my allowance to buy Pokemon Red for Gameboy, and it just escalated from there. My best friend Sarah and I would color golf balls to look like pokeballs and throw them around the backyard, I had a huge binder full of trading cards that was the envy of the third grade, and I even basically wrote a Pokemon fanfic for a creative writing project. Pokemon exposed me to many facets of being a nerd: collecting, trading, cramming as many facts about it into your head, even the wonders of the convention when my parents took me to a Pokemon card tournament at the local mall. Unfortunately, it also taught me that your favorite franchise can let you down. As more and more pokemon were created, and spinoffs and games were cranked out, the magic that the original 150 had on me could not be replicated. I am now a pokemon hipster.

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Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire

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I haven’t been on the Game of Thrones bandwagon as long as some have; I completely didn’t know about the books until I heard of the show, and I didn’t tune into the show until the second season. But ever since then, I’ve binged everything Westerosi. I love how George RR Martin based a lot of his world on many epics that have also inspired me!

What’s interesting about the GoT fandom is it’s something that even the “cool kids” have gotten on board with, so there’s a good chance that wherever you are, you can find someone to talk about it with. It’s a great uniter! I even recall a disasterous first date I went on, where we sat in awkward silence until we bonded over some Lannisters. It still didn’t save the date, but it was better than nothing.

Lit Lovers

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Those who are obsessed with literature are a special breed. They’re the kind of people who could spend hours in a bookstore or laugh at author puns. Fortunately for me, these are the best kinds of people. Being a bibliophile has introduced me to some of the most important people in my life, including best friends and my amazingly nerdy boyfriend! It also makes buying gifts for eachother incredibly easy.

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Harry Potter

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Oh Harry, how do I describe what a profound impact you’ve had on my life? For almost two decades now, I’ve been a little more obsessed with Harry Potter than the average fan. I truly do not trust anybody who doesn’t also love the books (and I’ll make a pass for movies). Everybody who crosses my path gets sorted into a Hogwarts house. Like many other of my favorite fandoms, I’ve met friends through our shared obsession. This is something I truly hope I can pass down to my someday, maybe kids and hope it touches them as much as it’s touched me.

Lord of the Rings

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The most important fandom in my life, by far, is the Lord of the Rings. Without it, my life would be vastly different. That may seem melodramatic, but if I didn’t fall in love with the movies, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with the brilliant soundtrack. If I didn’t fall in love with the score, I wouldn’t have become interested in instrumental and classical music. I wouldn’t have decided to try harder at playing the clarinet, and wouldn’t have joined the marching band. I wouldn’t have the friends and experiences that I’ve been so lucky to have. I’d be an alternate universe Erin. Thanks JRR Tolkein!


 

As always, 5 Fandom Friday is brought to you by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. Follow them to participate!

My Week in Geek :: Portland, ME Edition

It is common knowledge that an important part of being a geek girl is obsessing over the things you love. Here’s what I’m obsessing over this week!

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary! Although it technically was Wednesday, between work and wondering where all that time went we had to push “couple time” (puke) to the weekend. As an escape, we decided to go to Portland, Maine–a super adorable, wonderfully New England town, that’s just as eclectic and hipster as its West Coast counterpart. We only spent a short time there, but had a blast and hope to go back in the summer.

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 Lodging// Staying true to three years of adventure, we decided to try something new and booked a private room through Air B&B. Now, if you haven’t heard of it, Air B&B is a site were people can rent out a room, a floor, or their entire house to travellers. I was very very skeptical at first– the chance of creepers seemed extremely high– but after pouring through listings and reviews, we found a delightful room in an artsy neighborhood, only a stone’s throw from downtown Portland.

This was such a great decision! Our host and her adorable two year old daughter were the absolute sweetest; even greeting us with a plate freshly baked cookies! By the end of our stay, we even found out that we shared a lot of similar interests. Not to mention it was much more comfortable and homey than a hotel.

Cool, right? Air B&B does a lot to ensure the safety of everyone who uses it, but of course you should always use precaution. If it does seem like something you’d want to do:

  1. Read the listing’s reviews. And make sure there are more than one!
  2. Make sure the host has verified IDs.
  3. Research the neighborhood.
  4. Alert family or friends of your plans.

Eating// Portland is a culinary haven! Not only do you have fabulous gastropubs and restaurants, but there are tons of vegan and vegetarian options. Or if that’s not your style, there’s a always the pub dedicated to creative sausages.

But our favorite stop by far, was The Holy Donut! Magic. Pure magic.

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Just look at that! That, my fiends, is a Maple Bacon Donut. It’s basically brunch on a donut. I also got the best mug ever from there. Look! It has a thumb rest!

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Drinking// Where there’s good food, you better bet there’s good drink. And like any good New England town, there are microbreweries galore! Every year, there are more and more pumpkin beers, but my alltime favorite is Shipyard Pumpkinhead. It just so happens that Shipyard Brewery is located in Portland!

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Breweries are a great way to have cheap fun. Most offer free all-you-can-drink tastings, with their staff sharing their passion for their craft. Shipyard had many flavors that they don’t usually sell in stores or bars. My taste buds left happy!

What?!-ing// While in Portland, we had to visit the world’s only cryptozoology museum. We had heard stories of the International Cryptozoology Museum, but it really had to be seen to believe (which is indicative of cryptozoology in itself). Even if you you think it’s a load of balogna, this place is a hodgepodge of cool collectables and pop culture; did you know that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were based on the Japanese kappa? Ooh boy, this was truly an off the beaten path adventure.

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Thanks for reading! I hope this has inspired some weekend getaways!

 

A Hogwarts Story

Oh, you want to talk Harry Potter? Well you’ve come to the right place. I’ve seen a number of Harry Potter tags going around the blogosphere, but this particular one that I saw on Like Gwen Stacy‘s blog caught my attention; it had me imagining myself wandering the halls of Hogwarts (and certainly not the first time I’ve had these thoughts). So here’s my Hogwarts Story for the world to see!

Are you Pure Blood, Half Blood or Muggle Born?
Definitely a half blood. I grew up with the magic of the wizarding world, but also got to experience movies, amusement parks, and other muggle fun. The best of both worlds!

Which wand chose you (what is is made of)?

Maple and unicorn hair, 10 1/2 inches, light and aerodynamic. JK Rowling says that “maple wands are by nature travellers and explorers.” Perfect for someone who’s dream is to travel the world like me! Unicorn hair is also a good fit since it’s consistent and faithful.

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It may say it’s a DeathEater wand, but the swirl design is totally my style.

Did you take an Owl, Cat, Toad or Rat with you?

I’ve always wanted a cat, but my family is allergic. If I were to go off to Hogwarts, I’d get a kitten to keep me company and curl up with me on my big four-poster in the dorms.

Where did the Sorting Hat place you?

I’m torn! The Pottermore Sorting Hat placed me in Gryffindor probably because I am always up for a good adventure, but I’d say I was more of a Hufflepuff. Family and friends are extremely important to me and I’m very loyal to them. I’m also naturally friendly and optimistic. Plus, in Gryffindor, everyone would always be trying to outdo each other and show off. Can’t we all just hang out and get along like Hufflepuffs?

What house did you want to be in?

I initially wanted to be in Ravenclaw, surrounded by people who love reading and learning. Thinking about it now, I probably would never be able to guess the riddle to get into the Common Room.
Which lessons are your favorite and least favorite?

Potions for sure! It’s fascinating how you can bottle fame, brew glory, and even stopper death! Spells are cool and all, but potions can last longer and can be used by anybody. The chemistry behind them would also be very interesting to find out more about.

I would probably bomb Transfiguration and end up with a furry goblet like Ron. And Arithmacy. No, just no.

The form your Patronus takes is…

A rabbit; shy and skittish at first, but once I gain your trust, I’m cuddly, affectionate, and a bit hyperactive.

When confronted with a Boggart, what does it look like to you?
Being a Hufflepuff, I adore my family and friends. The worst thing in the world would be if something happened to them. A boggart would probably create terrible scenes of this if I ever encountered one.

Do you partake in any school sports or magical hobbies?
I would absolutely love to play Quidditch; although not exactly athletic, I can get very competitive. Plus, I don’t think flying would ever get old! Being a Chaser would totally be my position of choice, but who knows if I’d be able to make the team. If not, there are other things to do! Hopefully Hogwarts has a school band and I’d want to write for the school paper.

If you have free time, where would you be found hanging out?
There are probably a million cool places to hang out at Hogwarts, but I think my favorite place would be down by the lake. I’d be one of the kids hanging with the giant squid.

You are most likely to get detention for what?
Doing magic in the halls, for sure. How could I resist?! And there’s no promising that I wouldn’t sneak into the Prefect’s bathroom.

What career do you want after leaving Hogwarts?
I’ve always been interested in wand lore, so after Hogwarts I’d try to get an apprenticeship under Ollivander and eventually take over his business when he retires. I doubt that there can only be three types of cores like he says, so I’d make it my mission to try all sorts of magical properties.


If this post had you thinking of what your life would be like in the Wizarding World, feel free to take this post and link up in the comments!

My Week in Geek :: November 2

It is common knowledge that an important part of being a geek girl is obsessing over the things you love. This is  what I’m obsessing over this week!

 

Reading// Guys. Last week a dream ten years in the making came true; I met Libba Bray, author of YA fantasy awesomeness A Great and Terrible Beauty (and its sequels). She was the absolute coolest, taking the time to have full-blown conversations with her fans and of course, initiating selfies. While at the festival, I picked up Lair of Dreams, the second book in her Diviners series, a perfect combination of the supernatural, history, and teen melodrama. I’ve only just started, but it feels good to be back in Evie’s fast-paced, Jazz Age New York City

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Watching// Speaking of the Roaring 20s, did you know that Season 3 of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is now on Netflix? If you’re not familiar with this gem, Miss Fisher follows a kickass, sexually liberated lady detective in 1920s Australia, who just happens to be middle-aged, but one hot ticket! This show has sooo many great things going for it, and when the third season came out, I binged it right away. I won’t give much away, but let’s just say it’s a good season for Phryne x Jack shippers.

Listening//  JK Rowling is a goddess, and you can hear her magical words talking into your ear holes in her latest sets of interviews with NPR. The conversation focuses mainly on the latest Robert Galbraith book, which unfortunately I haven’t read yet, but even so, just listening to her writing and research project, and motivation behind mystery writing is magical! You can find them here, here, and here.

Wanting// Truthfully, I want ALL THE THINGS! But in particular, I love this shirt. It’s speaking to my life right now.


 

Thanks for fangirling with me!