The Sunshine Blogger Award #6

I was nominated by the wonderful Callum for the Sunshine Blogger Award, which I’ve done quite a few times now, but his questions were great so I thought I’d go ahead and do it again.  Also, apologies that I don’t always do these awards posts when I’m tagged in them, but I am always incredibly appreciative!


Callum’s questions:

Which author that you haven’t read yet are you most excited to try?

Ooh great question.  So many!  Sarah Moss, Laura Purcell, Sarah Perry, Colin Barrett, Colum McCann…

What’s the best book you read before you started blogging?

I suppose I have to go with my go-to answer for favorite book, which I read when I was 18 (I started blogging when I was 24, I think), Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

What book do you most want to see as a movie/TV show?

I think In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne would make a fantastic film.

Which genre do you want to explore more of?

Graphic novels.  I recently read Sabrina by Nick Drnaso which I ended up really enjoying, and I’d enjoyed Fun Home by Alison Bechdel in the past, so I’d love to check out more of this medium.

Is the Hogwarts House you’d want to be in the same as the one you think you’d actually be sorted into?

I think so!  I had a major crisis over this a few years ago – I’ve pretty much identified with Ravenclaw since first reading the series, but toward the end of college I was getting so burnt out with academia that I was starting to feel like my claims of loving learning and knowledge were fake.  But after graduating I’ve been realizing that I still do love to learn and analyze and discuss things, just not in that setting (at least, not at this point in my life).  Anyway, I’ve always wanted to be in Ravenclaw, I think I’d be a little heartbroken if the hat said anything else.

Do you have any pets?

I sure do!

These are Lily and Percy and they are my best friends.  (They’re indoor cats and only allowed outside when supervised.)

Are any of your ‘real life’ friends big readers?

It’s funny because at this point, my main group of ‘real life’ friends are actually people I met online a decade ago… we’re coming full circle.  Anyway, most of my friends do like to read on occasion.  The biggest non-blogger reader in my life though is my mom; she doesn’t read quite as much as I do but she still consistently reads around 60-80 books a year and we’re always sharing recommendations.

What read has been your biggest pleasant surprise so far this year?

That would probably have to be The Pisces by Melissa Broder.  Hannah posted a glowing review so I was tempted by it even though it didn’t seem like my kind of book at all, but I decided to request it from Netgalley on a whim and see what happened.  I got approved about 2 minutes later, read it, and fell in love with it.

What’s been your most disappointing read of the year so far?

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry.  Everything about it seems like my kind of book (contemporary Irish writer, LGBT representation, literary historical fiction, Man Booker longlisted, depressing, blurbed by Kazuo Ishiguro… COME ON) but getting through it was like pulling teeth.  It’s one of only two books I’ve rated 1 star so far this year.

Who’s your favourite music artist?

I usually say my favorite band is Pearl Jam, but my music tastes are all over the place, and ‘artist’ implies a single person rather than a band, but that’s harder for me… David Bowie, Thom Yorke, Sia, Troye Sivan, and Ben Howard all come to mind.  Who knows.

If you could live in any country other than the one you live in now, which one would it be and why?

Honestly, anywhere on earth is better than the US.  I’ve lived in Italy and really loved that experience, but I’m not sure I’d want to live there again.  But then again, the familiarity would be nice… But, I also really love Belgium and Germany.  And the UK.  So, one of those places.  I am indecisive.

My questions:

  1. What’s the worst book you had to read for school?
  2. Within your own country, where would you most like to visit that you haven’t already been?
  3. What’s the best first line of a book you’ve ever read?
  4. Do you have any tattoos and do you want any?
  5. If you watch booktube, who’s your favorite booktuber?  If you don’t watch booktube, what’s your favorite thing to watch on youtube?
  6. Which classic do you think more people should read?
  7. What would you consider the most overhyped and the most underhyped book you’ve read in the last year?
  8. Would you like to work in the publishing industry, or do you prefer to keep books and reading strictly a hobby?
  9. If you’re a writer, which author’s style do you think is most similar to your own?  If you’re not a writer, which author’s style do you connect with the most as a reader?
  10. What’s your least favorite book cover?
  11. Who’s your favorite actor/celebrity?

I’m going to try to nominate people who Callum didn’t tag so I don’t overload you guys.  And, as always, no pressure at all to do this!

Nominating: Patrick, Hannah And Her Books, Sarah, Emily, Hadeer, Ally, Aurora, Jessie.

The Sunshine Blogger Award #5

I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by the lovely Lauren at Comma Hangover.  Go check out her blog – there’s a cute dog to be found in that post I just linked to!


What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

The Rules:

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog.

Lauren’s Questions:

1. What constitutes a 5-star read for you? And what was the last book you read that met that criteria?

This is such a great question.  So, for me, I don’t hold all genres to the same criteria.  I’m not going to give a thriller I absolutely loved 3 stars just because it’s not the next Great American Novel.  And I know some people have really specific criteria while rating books, almost like filling out a rubric (whenever I see someone give like ‘3.82 stars’ I’m like, what does that even mean?!), but for me it’s more subjective.  But generally something like…

Literary fiction: Challenges me, makes me think, adds something new to the genre I haven’t seen before, characters who are realistic and flawed, lyrical prose.
Mysteries/thrillers: Keep me on my toes, are consistently fun and engaging, characters behave in believable ways.
SFF: Usually more character driven than plot driven, parallels with relevant real world issues, engaging prose.

I mean, I read across all genres, so I could keep going with this for a while.  Anyway, the last one that met this criteria was All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan, so, literary fiction.  It certainly ticks every box of the criteria I just listed up there.

2. If you had to describe yourself in the personality of three fictional characters (books, tv, movies all accepted) who would they be and why?

Sansa Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire (INFJish, idealistic but also practical, quiet, a bit of a rebellious streak but more subtle about it), April Ludgate from Parks and Rec (sarcastic, morbid, cares about things but doesn’t want people to know she cares about things), Marius Pontmercy from Les Miserables (awkward, very deeply uncool, Trying My Best).

3. When you are traveling, what is one thing that you would be lost without?

Hmm, good question!  I actually didn’t have a smart phone the year I lived abroad, and I traveled quite a bit both in and out of Italy, so even though my gut reaction here is to say my iPhone, I think I’d survive… I mean, paper maps exist.  So.  There’s that.  Let’s go with my glasses.  What’s the point of traveling if I can’t see??

4. If you could be a magical witch or wizard, or a prodigy at one particular skill, which would you want to be and why?

Oh, good question… I’d probably go with magic because then couldn’t I just make myself be good at things?  Like, I wish I were a really good singer, but there’s probably a magic spell for that, right?!

5. What are your top three books to read by the end of 2017?

Oh god…….. The Absolutist by John Boyne, An Arrow’s Flight by Mark Merlis, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

6. If a fictional character could cook you one meal, who would it be and what would they cook?

Li-yan from The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See can cook me a traditional Chinese meal and then make me a cup of pu’er tea.  I’ve wanted to try it ever since reading this book.

7. What is your favorite article of clothing?

Good question…. probably this navy blue sweater that I got at a Ralph Lauren outlet store a few years ago.  I wear it nearly to death every winter.

8. What is the best first line you’ve ever read in any work of literature?

“Rage — Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters’ souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.
Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,
Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles. . . .”

– The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles.  I know you all are shocked.

9. How do you feel about reading classics? Are there any you feel like you want to read in the future?

They’re the worst… just kidding.  I love classics a lot.  Of course I want to read more in the future!!!  Hadeer recently mentioned doing a buddy read of Wuthering Heights next month, so that’ll probably be my next classic after I finish War and Peace.

10. Do you use bookmarks? Show us your favorites from your collection.

Yes I do, but I don’t have a particularly interesting collection, I just have about a hundred of the free Book Depository ones, as I get those at work all the time.

11. Do you prefer sweet or salty snacks?

Salty!!!  I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

Since this is my fifth time doing this award, I’m not tagging anyone…. but if anyone wants to answer Lauren’s questions, which are great, consider yourself nominated!

The Sunshine Blogger Award #3-4


I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award…. twice!  Again!  My first post is HERE in case you missed it.  I was nominated this time by the lovely Shanah @ Bionic Bookworm and TwinBookmarks.  Thanks so much, guys!  Make sure to check out their blogs if you haven’t already.

Shanah’s questions:


This is such a random thing, but I was thinking the other day about how much I hate it when authors describe characters’ dreams in detail?  Like, 100% of the time I will skim those paragraphs.  I’m not really into dream interpretation, and I feel like whatever ‘symbolism’ there’s supposed to be always ends up being really on the nose.


I’ve had an irrational fear of chairlifts ever since I fell off one when I was about 9 or 10.  You’d think that chairlifts would not be a frequent thing that one has to confront in one’s life, but I do live in Vermont.  A couple of years ago my family wanted to do this foliage hike where you ride up a mountain on a chairlift and hike down, and oh my god my heart is hammering just thinking about that.  I vowed to never again ride a chairlift after that day.  It was horrible.  Needless to say, I do not downhill ski anymore.  Though I never liked downhill skiing much anyway.


People have hobbies besides reading???  Hmmm.  I play tennis.


Yes!  The ones that always come to mind are Atonement (I thought the book was okay but sort of bland, whereas the movie I thought was very emotional), Revolutionary Road (ditto), The Devil Wears Prada (I don’t remember the book very well, but I remember thinking it was just kind of boring), and The Reader (I think it may have been a better book if I could read it in the original German?  I absolutely loved the film though).


A Fugitive in Grass Valley by I.M. Flippy.  I’d never read a romance novel before and don’t intend to make a habit out of it, but this book was absolutely delightful.


Ugh, pass.  I’d be useless in an apocalypse.  The wifi would go down and I’d just be like, fuck it, I’m out, good luck everyone.


I don’t know what this means!!!  Probably a cat, but ???


According to Goodreads, there are 373 books on there.  Yikes.


Hmm, good question.  I’m usually drawn to villains and antiheroes, but to be honest I am not particularly villainous?  But I’m also not particularly heroic?  I’d probably be a Sansa Stark type hero, where I don’t know how to wield a sword but I’m fighting for what I believe is right in more quiet, subtle ways.


Full House!


My Instagram sums up my aesthetic pretty well.  Feel free to follow me on there.  It’s about 50% books and 50% cats.  Okay, probably more cats.

TwinBookmarks’ questions:

1 – For starters – how’s life?

It’s okay!  I was actually sort of depressed for the first part of summer, which is really uncharacteristic of me because this is my favorite time of year.  But a couple of weeks ago I started planning all these upcoming trips, and that’s helped put me in a better mood!  I went to Montreal last weekend, I’m going to New York next weekend (I’m seeing the first preview of A Clockwork Orange, the final show of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, and then going to the US Open!) and in October I’m seeing the Les Mis tour and meeting two of my favorite bloggers who I have yet to meet irl, so lots of fun things coming up!

2 – If your house was on fire – what 3 things would you grab first? NO BOOKS…fine 1 book if you must 😉

My cat, my other cat, my laptop.  Sorry, books.

3 – Favourite colour?


4 – Favourite food?


5 – Favourite blogger? 😉 😉

Too many… I love Chelsea, Steph, Callum, Ann, and Hadeer‘s blogs, to name a few!  Go follow all of them if you don’t already.

6 – What book do you want to read right now?

My book club is reading All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld in September and I cannot wait to get started.  It looks weird and wonderful.

7 – Cats or Dogs?

CATS.  I’m a big animal lover so dogs are cool too, but there is no competition.

8 – Fish or Fish? Only kidding, you can see how bad we are at this – so what do you find hard to do (doesn’t need to be the hardest thing you had to do in your life, but it can be)? e.g. studying, swimming, cooking, sticking to a schedule etc.

Cooking.  I’m a rubbish cook.  I mean, I can follow a recipe, but the downside of that is that I NEED to follow the recipe to a T, because I just have no sense of intuition when it comes to cooking.  It’s probably not a coincidence that Chemistry was far and away my worst school subject.

9 – Blogger or Millionaire? oh and you can’t be the other if you choose one 😜

Millionaire.  As much as I love blogging, I couldn’t say no to the kind of security that lifestyle would provide.

10 – Shoutout to your BFF (or anyone – just specify)

I have several BFFs, I am lucky that way!  Shoutout to Ashley, my friend/roommate who lives with my family and me, who’s my most sister-like friend.  (Of course, I’m an only child, so I’m not sure what exactly having a sister is like.)

11 – And finally – what would you want as a gift? (who knows – maybe your gifter may gift you what you want without you actually having to ask 😉)

I still don’t own this box set of Harry Potter and it makes me sad.

I’m actually not going to tag anyone because I did this so recently, but if you want to answer any of these questions, feel free to leave a comment with your answers!

The Sunshine Blogger Award x2

I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award twice in the last couple of days – first by the fantastic Irena @ Books and Hot Tea and then by the lovely Shaz @ Shaz Reads.  Go check out their blogs if you don’t already follow them!  Thanks so much guys!


The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the award

Irena’s questions:

1. What is your favourite period in history (the one you find most interesting)?

I’m going to shock everyone with this answer and say Classical – Hellenistic Greece.  I can’t help it, I’ve been obsessed with Ancient Greece since I was a kid.

But also, I did study Art History in college, and my favorite period was the Italian Baroque which was heavily influenced by the Protestant Reformation and subsequent Counter-Reformation and the Council of Trent, so that’s another period that interests me that I don’t usually talk about.  There – slightly less boring and predictable.

2. If you could be a fictional character for a day, who would you be and why?

This answer changes daily, but right now I’m going to say Inej from Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom.  I’d love to be that stealthy for a day.

3. What is your favourite TV show at the moment?

I’m so bad at TV….. I mainly watch British soaps and reality competition shows (Survivor, ANTM, GBBO, Bachelor/Bachelorette)…… sorry if you were expecting a more highbrow answer.  I just struggle to get invested in dramas because I feel like they usually take themselves too seriously, or are too violent, or…. something.  I don’t know.  I haven’t found a tv drama I’ve loved in a while.  That said, my all time favorite series is probably Black Mirror.  There we go.  Acceptably highbrow answer.

4. What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2017? (Or at least one of the best, I know it can be hard to choose.)

I have read so, so, so many good books this year, I already know my ‘best books of 2017’ post at the end of the year is going to be torturous.  But the two that really stand out to me are two that I actually read very early in the year: East of Eden by John Steinbeck and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.

5. Do you have a favourite toy, from childhood or now? (Yes, I still buy toys for myself.)

Hmm, not really – though when I was younger I had a very impressive Beanie Baby collection.  I’m not sure where they all got to…..

6. Who are some of your favourite villains?

Voldemort/Tom Riddle from Harry Potter, Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire, Big Brother from 1984, Cathy Ames from East of Eden, Edmund from King Lear.

7. What is the favourite place you’ve visited?

I’m cheating – I have two answers.  The first is Bologna, Italy, where I lived for a year, which is pretty much my favorite place on earth.

View from Chiesa San Luca; Bologna, Italy.

My second answer is Belgium, which fits the question better as it’s somewhere I’ve only visited, rather than lived.

Main square in Brussels – terrible quality as I’m lifting it from my Facebook.

I spent about four days in Brussels and Bruges in December during my year abroad, and it was stupidly pretty in both of those cities.

8. What is your favourite snack?

Tortilla chips and guacamole.  Also those Luna peanut butter chocolate protein bars.

9. If you had to choose, would you rather become a vampire or a werewolf?

Yikes, neither… I guess a vampire, if I had to choose?

10. Pirates or ninjas? 😛

Hmm, I’m not terribly keen on either… at the moment I’ll say ninjas, but I’ve recently started Black Sails at Chelsea’s urging, so if I get really into that maybe my answer will change.  (For anyone who is invested in my potential future enjoyment of Black Sails, have patience.  I watch tv maddeningly slowly.)

11. Share a quote you really like!

If you show someone something you’ve written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin, and say, ‘When you’re ready’.” – David Mitchell, Black Swan Green

Shaz’s questions:

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

It wasn’t that anything inspired me as much as the fact that I was writing book reviews anyway, so I liked the idea of having them all in one place!

2. What is one thing that you wished you knew when you started blogging and why?

People love it when you comment on their posts.  Don’t be scared.  Talk to people.  (I got over this pretty quickly.  I’m pretty good at talking to strangers on the internet.  I’ve been at this for quite a while now.)

3. What are your top five favorite books or series?

Harry Potter, Les Miserables, The Iliad, A Little Life, The Secret History.

4. What is your favorite dessert?

Tiramisu, probably, but at my favorite gelateria in Bologna I always got one scoop of dark chocolate and one scoop of coconut gelato, and I would literally die for that right now.

5. What is the best vacation you have ever been on?

When I graduated college, I treated myself to a three week vacation to visit one of my best friends who lives in Germany, in Braubach.  So when I was there I also got to see Berlin (the coolest city ever), Frankfurt, Cologne, Marburg, and Koblenz, and then we also took a few days and went to Paris – I’d been to the south of France before but this was my first time in Paris, which was just as gorgeous as I expected.  The real standout from that trip was Berlin, though – my friend’s aunt let us use her flat while she was out of town, so we had this swanky flat all to ourselves so we kind of pretended that it was our own flat, I felt very European.  We also had the best Indian food I’ve ever tasted.

6. If you could bring to life a book or movie character for one day, who would you choose? What would you do with them?

I’d bring Sansa Stark to life so we can complain about men and plot to overthrow the patriarchy, and she can teach me how to sew.

7. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Pay off my student loans, buy somewhere for my parents to retire, and travel.

8. Do you like spending time outdoors?

In the summer, I love it more than anything!  I live in a stunningly beautiful place.  I’m not very sporty, but one thing I do love to do is kayak in the summer.  Or just sit out on my porch with a book.  In the winter, I would pretty much rather die than step outside.

9. What kinds of shoes do you usually wear?

Well, one element of my job involves physical labor, so I have to be practical and wear tennis shoes every day.  In an ideal world, oxfords, I guess.

10. What would your dream home look like?

I’m obsessed with modern architecture and buildings that have huge floor to ceiling windows – I love natural light more than anything.  But also there would have to be sufficient wall space for a massive bookshelf.

11. What is a fandom that you are envious of?

Hmm, I can’t think of any?

I nominate:

Chelsea / Hadeer / Steph / Ann / Fiction Fan

Charlotte / Maddie / Ally / Kristin / Sarah / Thrice Read

My questions:

  1. What’s the last movie you saw and what did you think of it?
  2. Do you have any weird or random talents?
  3. What’s your favorite song at the moment?
  4. What time of day do you do most of your blogging?
  5. What’s your favorite museum that you’ve been to?
  6. When’s the last time you went to a wedding?
  7. Do you have a celebrity doppelganger?
  8. If you were a cat, what color cat would you be?  (Very important question.)
  9. Do you have a favorite publisher or publisher imprint?
  10. Have you ever dressed up like a fictional character?  (Bonus points for photo evidence.)
  11. What’s your favorite thing about your city (or state, or country)?