Liebster Award Round 2!

A big thank you to Seldjana at thebookorchids for nominating me for the Liebster Award. I did this tag post back when I first got started blogging in the summertime. I’m glad to see it’s still making its rounds and I’m happy to do another post (even though I just did something similar last week) because they’re so fun! Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s great for connecting bloggers with each other!

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The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you
  • Nominate 11 bloggers that you think are deserving of the award
  • Let the bloggers know you nominated them
  • Give them 11 questions of your own

My Responses:

  1. If you could have afternoon tea with one fictional character who would it be?
    Hermione Granger. I have so many questions to ask her! Like what hair products she used to get her hair so shiny and smooth in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire!
  2. If you could live in a book, TV show, or movie, which would it be?
    Bob’s Burger’s probably. I’d scheme with Louise, groan with Tina, play pirates with Gene, grill with Bob, and drink with Linda.lindadrinking.gif
  3. Name the character from a book that you’d like to be for one day!
    If it was only going to be one day, then Claire Fraser from Outlander. But NOT for more than a day. She has to put up with a lot of crazy stuff.
  4. What’s your favorite quote?cloudatlasquote.jpg
  5. Which author (dead or alive) would you want to be trapped in an elevator with for 24 hours? (I don’t mean dead in the elevator with you!)
    Glad you clarified! I would probably have to say John Green, because he’s hilarious and insightful. I’m sure it’d be an interesting 24 hour conversation.
  6. Who’s your favorite author and name one of his books you liked the most!
    I despise questions like this. I have many favorite authors, including J.K. Rowling, Philippa Gregory, John Green, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Jodi Picoult. That’s really just a few out of the many. Plus, there are so many authors I’ve yet to explore because I’ve only gotten to read a book or two of theirs as of yet, like Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.lolitaquote.jpg
  7. If you could return to the past, what year would it be?
    Ugh….I’m not sure. I’m pretty happy with my life right now. I wouldn’t want to return to the past and not have time with my husband, or my pets, or other family and friends.
  8. Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
    Hopefully I will be happily married still, have a few kiddos running around, and still making time to read great books!
  9. Assuming you’re moving and you have can take only three books, which books would you take?
    Cloud Atlas, The Lord of the Rings (technically all one book), and probably It. They’re all fairly long and would keep me busy. I love them all, but of course once I moved I’d go on a shopping spree and buy more books! Or at least go to the library.buyingbooks
  10. If you ever write a book and you make a movie based on it, who would be in a main role?
    This is such an interesting question. I think it would obviously depend on what the book, and subsequent movie, is about. But let’s go with Natalie Portman.
  11. Write two facts about yourself.
    Fact one: If my husband ever dies, I will immediately adopt 72 cats. Fact two: I haven’t had soda is almost a month!thinkingaboutcats.gif

My nominees:

That’s all I’ve got. I just nominated a bunch of others for The Infinity Dreams Award not too long back.

My questions (some I’ve borrowed):

  1. Assuming you’re moving and you have can take only three books, which books would you take? I know….I’m EVIL to force you to answer this!
  2. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
  3. What is the funniest book you’ve ever read?
  4. The scariest?
  5. What’s your go-to Karaoke song?
  6. Do you do anything weird in your sleep? Walk, talk, beat people up?
  7. Where is your favorite place to read? Coffee shop, bed, a comfy couch?
  8. What is something you wish you did more?
  9. If someone were going to assign you a superlative (e.g. Most Likely to… or Best ___), what do you think you’d win?
  10. If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be?
  11. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?

Thanks for hanging out with me again! Until next time bibliophiles!

Playing Ketchup

UGH! Bibliophiles, I am so sorry I’ve been away. I have no excuse except that I was swept up in a whirlwind of fast-paced books (well, and one not-so-great book). Basically all I’ve been doing is sleeping, working, and reading. So … Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! Yes, we’re all fat. Yes, Black Friday is horrible, but also great. YAY! It’s almost Christmas. Good, we’re all caught up on current events now.

As far as playing catch-up (did you see my joke in the title? No? Go check it out. I’ll wait here. Funny, right?) about books, let me fill you in on what I’ve read recently.

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I finished The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I guess I’ve passed the reasonable point where I should have done a second post about it so let’s just discuss it here! What I truly love about this children’s series is that in nearly every way it’s unrealistic –  I mean come on, where’s Child Protective Services in this book – but in many ways it’s so REALISTIC! What I mean is that it doesn’t wrap everything up in a nice conclusion that leaves no questions unanswered and it doesn’t have a place for “happily ever after”. Instead, after you finish the final book, The End, you still have so many questions! But that’s how life is; you never get all your questions answered. You do the best with the information you’re given and you move on. Also, there aren’t “endings” in life, happy or otherwise. It’s all one long narrative. These books demonstrate both of those points and that’s why I can’t wait to have children and force, I mean encourage, them to read these books.

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Next in the line-up was The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Max Trivoli, which I read for a book club that I joined on Meetup (which is awesome if you’re looking for a way to meet people). It’s adult fiction/literature about this woman, Greta, who undergoes electroshock therapy in 1985 for her depression. Lo and behold she’s transported back in time to 1941 and 1918, both of which represent alternate selves with divergent problems in their life, but with the same set of characters. Although the time periods are very different, there are many parallels: war, love, adultery, disease, loss, friendships. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Can you guess my enthusiasm level for this book? To give you the short of it: I DID NOT like this book. It sounds way more exciting than it really was. I really couldn’t get into the story. I had a very difficult time suspending my disbelief to accept that an electrical shock could throw you back more than forty years into the past and you would be able to just go about your business like everything was normal. I mean how would you even know what’s acceptable and what’s not in those different times? How would you know where to go to the bathroom in 1918 compared to 1985? It was a mess. To add on to that, the author was all over the map with his philosophical reaches. It was as if he couldn’t decide what angle he wanted to write from. UGH, moving on…

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YES, TO THE GOOD STUFF! Marissa Meyer recently released the final book in The Lunar Chronicles series: Winter. I have been waiting so long for this book, but before I dove in I had to reread the previous book in the series, Cress, because I had forgotten some key points. This is one of my favorite series of all time (it’s right up there with Harry Potter) and it all started with Cinder. It’s a young adult series that’s fairy tales meets sci-fi. Please, please, please go look it up! You will not regret it! Anyways, I’m not quite half-way through Winter, but it is already so thrilling and I’m both excited and scared to get to the end and find out where all my favorite characters (and not-so-favorite characters) end up. Keep an eye out for what I’m sure will be a very emotional blog post when I finish reading!

What have you guys been reading?

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Part One

Hey bibliophiles!

Before I get started on the series I’ve been reading, I want to take a minute to talk about favorite reading times and places. Of course I love to read everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE, but there are some times of day and certain places that just making reading that much more pleasurable. Here are two of my favorites from the last couple days.

  1. Those mornings when I go out into the yard with my pup and let him run around while I enjoy a cup of coffee and read a chapter.

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  2. Sitting by the fire place, warming my toesies, and turning some pages.

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YES, FINE, YOU GOT ME. Maybe I also wanted to bring this up so I could post some pictures of my dog! Regardless, I’m telling the truth that some niches for reading are a notch above the rest. What are your favorite locales or times for reading?

All right, into the subject at hand. I have been reading my way through Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Before delving into the content, let me just say that reading children’s literature can be a nice change of pace. The story is what it is; you don’t have to dive deep to unearth special meanings or anything like that. Also, it’s a quick read. Each of the thirteen books can be read in a day or two (depending on the adult things you’re required to do in between reading sessions). Plus, PICTURES. Why can’t we have more pictures in adult fiction?

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However, even though these are a bit tame in plot and vocabulary, you can still get a kick out of some of the jokes and/or names that the author uses. There were many references that as I child I’m sure I missed, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing as I reread these books. For instance, pictured above you can see the Baudelaire children, the protagonists, sitting on Damocles Dock. As a reminder to anyone who might have forgotten, Damocles’ Sword is symbolic of forthcoming danger. The author doesn’t particularly touch on the story of Damocles, but just seeing it incorporated into the story as a small detail really drives home the thought that went into the story line, regardless of how childish the plot may be.

Now for the good stuff, what’s actually going on in these books. No spoilers, don’t worry. So far, I have read the first six books of the series:

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The Bad Beginning – In the opening novel, you are introduced to the Baudelaire children: Violent, Klaus, and Sunny. Each has a particular set of skills that will help them on their perilous journey. Violet is an inventor, Klaus an excellent reader and researcher, and Sunny (just an infant, but a brilliant and capable one at that) has teeth stronger than any person or animal I’ve ever known. In this book, the Baudelaires learn that their parents died in a fire that burned down their mansion. Mr. Poe, a banker and family friend, has been put in charge of their care and the care of their large fortune that will come to them when Violet, the oldest, comes of age. Mr. Poe places the children under the care of Count Olaf, a treacherous and greedy jerk who seeks to steal their fortune. Dangerous hi-jinks ensue.

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The Reptile Room – As you will see a pattern emerges. In each books, the children are moved from guardian to guardian as terrible things continue to happen. As they move, the horrendous Count Olaf follows, causing chaos, and attempting to entrap the Baudelaires and get his nasty hands on their fortune.

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The Wide Window
– Again, the children escape from Olaf (not really a spoiler, this happens repeatedly), but are once more placed with an inadequate guardian. Something interesting about these books is that it really nails how children feel ignored so often by adults. Adults discount the emotions, intelligence, and intuition of children all the time, even when something obvious is staring them in the face.

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The Miserable Mill
– Have you noticed yet that I’ve stopped summarizing each individual book? Sorry. I just don’t want to be repetitive or give too much away for each one. Suffice it to say though that these books are all interesting and the story continues!

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The Austere Academy – Here is where the plot really begins to thicken and mature. The Baudelaires meet the Quagmires, children whose situation is oddly similar to theirs. The Quagmires begin to research Olaf’s past and discover VFD. What is VFD? The Quagmires don’t get a chance to explain it to the Baudelaires before something atrocious happens.

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The Ersatz Elevator
– Can the Baudelaires unravel all of this confusing mystery? Connections begin popping up everywhere. They find a secret passage that leads directly to their burned down home, VFD continues to pop up, but without an explanation, and the Quagmires are in mortal danger. As some questions are answered, more and more questions sprout to take their place. We can only hope that all of them will be answered in the books to come.

Well, that’s all I have for now. Keep an eye out for Part Two!!

Push: A Novel – A Tough, Powerful, and Great Read

I’ve had Push: A Novel by Sapphire on my shelves for quite a while, but hadn’t read it yet. I had just finished We Were Liars and I was waiting for some books I requested to come into the library, so I  picked up Push.

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Push is a very quick read; just over a hundred and fifty pages. However, it is not necessarily an easy read. It is written from the point of view of Precious, a young African American woman who was struggling with illiteracy. The book is full to the brim with misspellings and errors in grammar, which is such a powerful tool for making the narrator’s voice so authentic and realistic.

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Precious, who is raped by her father and has two children by him, abused by her mother, and ignored by the system, is just struggling to make a life for herself. Initially her goal is just to graduate high school by blending into the background and keeping her head down. When she becomes pregnant for the second time, she’s kicked out of school and advised to go to an alternative school, which ends up being a blessing in disguise. There she meets Ms. Rain, a teacher who actually cares about her and helps her learn to read and write at last.

The story of Precious is such a compelling reminder to be grateful for what we have. Everyday I take for granted the fact that I can read what’s on any given piece of paper, on my laptop, or in my books. I’m grateful that I have access to so many books! Also, we never know what’s going on in someone’s life so we can’t judge. They may be facing troubles that are completely foreign to us.

Okay, I’ve stepped off my soapbox. Now I am reading my way through A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. This is a series of thirteen books, technically children’s literature (yes, it can be a little embarrassing in the library check out line), about the Baudelaire children who time after time find themselves facing dire, horrifying circumstances. I read most of this series back in my childhood, but the books were still being written so I never finished the series. Each book is a quick read. I’m currently about to start book number four, The Miserable Mill, so look for a blog post soon about the first few books!

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I’m Not Lying That I Loved We Were Liars

Hello Bibliophiles!

For some un-understandable (yes, I made up that word) reason, I tend to store up all my posts for two weeks and then post a few things at once. I’M SORRY! I just get excited about reading and run through books!

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart was a short, intriguing, and kind of beautiful young adult novel. The story is centered around Cadence Sinclair Eastman and her wealthy, but troubled family. Throughout the book, you jump backwards and forwards to different summers that their family spend at a private island. Something happened to Cadence one summer and she can’t remember anything from that summer. The book is her journey through her memories to discover what tragedy occurred.

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Meanwhile, you get an inside view into the troubling relationships within Cadence’s family: a rich, racist grandfather who’s also manipulative, an emotionally repressive mother, bratty cousins, argumentative, greedy aunts. I guess the old saying is true: everyone has problems.

I don’t like spoilers, so I won’t tell you what happens in the end, but suffice it to say I was genuinely surprised. Like my mouth was open and I had to reread the page to understand what just happened. I recommend this novel to anyone that likes young adult drama.

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you to Michalah Francis from Cape Town Dreamer for nominating me for a One Lovely Blog Award! It think awards like this are an awesome way to celebrate each other!

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RULES:

1. You must thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
2. You must list the rules and display the award.
3. You must add 7 facts about yourself.
4. You must nominate 5 other bloggers and comment on one of their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

7 FACTS ABOUT ME:

  1. I am extremely terrified of jellyfish.
    Spongebob-Jellyfish

  2. I love Bob’s Burger’s and American Dad.

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  3. I got married when I was 19 years old. There were no weird circumstances. I was not pregnant. We’re not super-religious. We just decided we didn’t want to wait until a socially-appropriate time to celebrate our love.

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  4. I am irrationally terrified of missing out on “fun” things in life. FOMO: fear of missing out.

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  5. My favorite chocolate is extremely dark chocolate with sea salt. Add a glass of red wine and a bubble bath and BOOM! Best night ever.

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  6. I am addicted to musicals: The Sound of Music, Chicago, Mamma Mia, all Disney movies, etc.

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  7. I am a killer rapper. But only in private or in front of my husband.

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MY NOMINATIONS:

Kelseylikesreading

Lizzette Jannette

Read Forevermore

Dream by Day

Thistles and Whistles

Mindy, Please Be My Best Friend!

Hiya bibliophiles!

After the serious nature of my last book, Compulsion: A Novel by Meyer Levin, I was ready for a book packed with laughs! Mindy Kaling definitely delivered with Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

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“Michelle, that book has been out for years now and Mindy’s been awesome for forever!”

So sue me! Part of my whole bibliophile struggle is that my to-read list grows out of control so I’m behind the times, okay? The point is I am all caught up now. I am hyped about Mindy. Not only was this book hilarious and endearing, it tackled real issues. It made me confront my own body image issues and made me feel that my young adult, “what am I doing with my life?!” struggle is normal. Plus, it was nice to feel like someone who is so famous is so real.

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In the event that Mindy ever sees this post, I’d like to leave a letter here for her:

Mindy,

First of all, you are so gorgeous and I dig your style. No, I’m not sucking up to you. Well, maybe a little, but it’s totally true. Thank you for making me feel like I’m a normal young adult and that I’m not doomed to perpetual failure (even though I’m in a totally different field) all while providing comic relief so things didn’t start to feel so real that I wanted to cry.

Also, thank you for de-mystifying the contents of celebrity gift bags, providing excellent marriage advice so that I don’t fall into a black hole of boring-ness with my husband, and for giving me fodder to start my own revenge fantasies to keep my mind busy while working out!

Love forever,
Michelle

P.S. Please be my best friend. Don’t worry about Liz, I’m sure she will understand and be only minimally furious at you for replacing her.

Okay, sorry. I had to get that out of my system. Truly, check it out. It’s awesome. Also, I’ve started watching The Mindy Project and I sat through almost the entire first season in one day. It is the perfect continuation of Mindy and I CAN’T GET ENOUGH!

Next up, I will be reading We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, a young adult novel about a “damaged” girl from a prestigious family and something to do with lying. I don’t know. It’s very mysterious, but I’ve heard amazing things and the author has received many rewards. I shall have a difficult time avoiding spoilers I’m guessing.

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Compulsion: A Novel Part #2

Hello again bibliophiles!

I just returned from a pleasant vacation despite Hurricane Joaquin’s best attempts to derail it! I had a wonderful time relaxing by the pool, engaging in tourist-y adventures, and of course, reading!

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To the subject, I finished Compulsion: A Novel by Meyer Levin. Essentially the last half of the book details the arrest and trial of Judd Steiner and Artie Straus. As I mentioned in the previous post about Compulsion, you know from the beginning that Judd and Artie will be found guilty and sent to prison. The beauty of the book came in observing everything unfold. As much as Judd and Artie believed they were superior specimens and intelligent above all others, they made infantile mistakes that led to their arrest. It is quite obvious that they suffer from some mental abnormalities, however they are never clearly diagnosed.

Ultimately, Compulsion – okay, well really the actual murder and trial back in 1924 – raises a host of questions about human nature, free will, mental health in relation to crime, and responsibility. In fact, the novel itself is quite controversial. Meyer Levin has been accused of romanticizing the murderers because his approach to describing them rejects the notion that they are only one-dimensional, evil killers. Rather, he approaches them in a holistic, humane way. Yet the public is still so angered by the murder of over ninety years ago that they would rather believe the real murderers (Nathan Leopold, Jr. and Richard Loeb) are sadistic and cruel instead of considering them as people with mental health issues.

Although we now know phrenology is a pseudo-science, at least they were making an attempt to study Leob's and Leopold's mental state.
Although we now know phrenology is a pseudo-science, at least they were making an attempt to study Leob’s and Leopold’s mental state.

PAUSE. Everyone put your pitchforks and torches away. I’m not condoning the murder in anyway and neither was Levin. Regardless of their mental health, I do believe the murderers were responsible for their actions. However, the point that the book tries to make, and the point that I’m trying to reiterate here, is that things are rarely black-and-white. There are so many dimensions to people that we can’t paint them one color. While some people are happy to condemn a criminal, that’s not enough. We should be striving to understand people; what makes them who they are and what drives them to do the things they do. Okay, I admit it: this may be a sore spot for me since my degree is in Psychology.

That is all! This book is done. While I was away I also read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling so be sure to check out that post!

Compulsion: A Novel (But Also What I Feel to Keep Reading…)

Compulsion: A Novel by Meyer Levin has completely sucked me in. I am currently about half-way through the 456-page book. It is based on the infamous Leopold and Loeb case of 1924 in Chicago where two wealthy young men, Nathan Leopold, Jr. and Richard Loeb, murdered 14-year-old Robert Franks.

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Often referred to as the crime of the century, the Leopold and Loeb case opened people’s eyes to the growing violence in Chicago. Meyer Levin was actually a budding reporter at the time and was involved in the case as it unfolded. Years later, he wrote Compulsion going back in time to relive the case.

Millionärssöhne als lebenslängliche Zuchthäusler Die amerikanischen Millionärssöhne Natahn Leopold (oben) und Richard Loeb (unten), welche vor 6 Jahren den Sohn des amerikanischen Millionärs Frank aus Sensationslust ermordeten und zu lebenslänglichen Zuchthausstrafen verurteilt wurden. Die Eltern der jugendlichen Mörder versuchen seit Jahren unter Aufwendung großer Geldmittel unter Aufrollung eines Riesenprozesses ihre Kinder freizubekommen

However, Compulsion isn’t merely a repetition of facts. Instead, it is a fictionalized account of the case written from different perspectives, including those of the murderers. Names have been changed and gaps have been filled. What I find particularly intriguing is that this book isn’t like other murder mysteries. Rather, you know from the start who killed Paulie Kessler (the fictionalized Robert Franks) and you know that Judd Steiner and Artie Straus will eventually be caught. Still, it’s such a journey as you follow along how they planned the murder, how they were caught, and the psychology behind it all.

To be continued …

Insert Creative Title Here…

Hello again my friends! (I like to think I have friends…)

A little while back, my friend over at kelseylikesreading.com nominated me for a Liebster Award! Why thank you dear! Apparently, I must now spill my soul to the world by answering K’s questions:

  1.  What was your favorite book as a kid?
    Harry Potter. Come on. Are you new here?
  2. What is your favorite thing to write about?
    I like to share my experiences and thoughts via writing. There’s something meditative about it and it also forces me to put things into words and helps further my understand of the world.
  3. Do you have a favorite author? Who?
    NO. That’s much to difficult to answer, particularly since I love so many different genres. But here are a few: … Nevermind, I can’t even do that.
  4. Favorite genre to read?
    WHAT IS THIS RIDICULOUS NONSENSE? Probably historical fiction. No wait, sci-fi. Fantasy? All the books. ALL THE BOOKS.
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  5. Indoors or outdoors?
    Outdoors. I love nothing more than sitting out in the sun in my backyard and reading as my dog and cats run around.
  6. Any other artistic hobbies?
    I like to dabble in painting. I can crochet kinda cool stuff. Maybe I should include some pictures some time!
  7. Favorite item of clothing you own? (you can include a picture if you’d like)
    jonsnownothing
  8. What’s your favorite word?
    Hullabaloo. Sure, let’s go with that.
  9. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what are you listening to?
    I usually listen to Pandora on shuffle with stations dedicated to musicians like Chet Faker, Lana del Rey, Lorde, ZZ Ward, etc. I’m super into jazz and swing music remixes right now too. Also, I love musicals.
  10. Do you like scary movies?
    I used to love scary movies so much. Now, I’m not so sure. I mean I know I’m an adult, but the dark is too scary!!!
  11. What’s your favorite song?
    Your Song by Elton John. (Although I might love the new versions better, like Ellie Goulding’s rendition. Shoot me, okay?)

Now, here’s how the award works:

  1. Make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you.
    Include the Liebster Award sticker in the post too.
  2. Nominate 5 -10 other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts. You can also nominate the person who nominated you.
  3. Ensure all of these bloggers have fewer than 200 followers.
  4. Answer the eleven questions asked to you by the person who nominated you, and make eleven questions of your own for your nominees or you may use the same questions.
  5. Lastly, COPY these rules in your post.

To my nominees I ask: 

  1. What are your top ten favorite books?
  2. Would you rather fold laundry or wash dishes?
  3. If I gave you $1000 (I’m not going to.) what would be the first thing you’d buy/do?
  4. Where do you hope you’ll be in twenty years?
  5. Summer or winter?
  6. What’s one way that you defy typical gender roles?
  7. If you could live in a book, TV show, or movie, what would it be?
  8. If you could get away with a crime, what crime would you commit?
  9. What animal best represents you and why?
  10. If you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life what would it be?
  11. How do you want to be remembered?

I tried to go for a mixture of fun and serious. Hopefully, they’ll provoke some good answers!

My Nominees (I may have broken the rules a bit. It’s hard to see how many followers some people have.):

kelseylikesreading

dreambydaybookclub

readforevermore

capetowndreamer

kimsiangthereader

Until next time, keep reading!