Top Ten Tuesday: Required Reading- Top Ten Books I Think Should be on the List for Back to School.

Top Ten Tuesday

Required reading, some of us loved it (I LOVED IT) and some of us hated it. Today on Top Ten Tuesday  (an original feature/weekly meme created by the ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish) the prompt is all about “Back to School” and going along with that theme I decided to list my top ten choices for books I think should be on the required reading list.


Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling


I have seen some required reading lists that have the Harry Potter series on them. For those that don’t, I think they should because everyone should experience the magic of Hogwarts at least once…and then get completely hooked forever.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

night circus

This is probably my favorite book of all time. It completely charmed me with its beautifully written words and lured me with promises of a mysterious circus filled with incredible and fantastical acts and tents. A perfect book for the dreamer in all of us, and those that choose to never stop believing in the power of imagination and magic. Could you ask for anything better from a book on the required reading list?


The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi


Filled with luscious writing and exotic Indian mythology, this book would be a great addition to the required reading list. It is a great way to introduce a different type of mythology other than just the typical Greek or Roman gods.


American Gods by Neil Gaiman

american gods

I would love everyone to read Neil Gaiman, every single book, story, note that he has ever written because the man is seriously a genius. However, if I had to place only one of his books in a school required reading list it would be this one. It is a strange story filled with new and old gods that people have brought over with them when migrating from other countries to America. Neil basically melts all the different types of mythology brought over by the melting pot that is America and weaves an elaborate and intense story.


Hello? By Liza Weimer


This book does not get enough recognition and it really should. It deals with many of the struggles facing teens, and how sometimes they have no one they can really relate to. It’s about grieving the loss of loved ones, struggling through depressing, the pressure of always seeming perfect, dealing with abuse and how one simple phone call can completely change/save a life. So many powerful messages and written in such an interesting and unique way that distinguishes the five main characters voices completely.


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

the fault

John Green completely understands the mind of teens. His writing is completely relate-able to young readers and his following is strong. I only started reading his works as an adult, but my inner teen completely fell in love with it. One of my favorite books by him is The Fault in Our Stars because it’s really the first time I ever read a book where both of the main characters have a severe/deathly illness and most likely will die by the books end. You know it’s going to be tragic but John Green brings such life to these characters that you commit to them so strongly you just don’t want to give up hope for them. In a book that should be depressing and sad (it was very sad) you still find humor, love, and hope even in the darkest of moments and hours.


The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

name of the wind

I grew up with the epic tales of the Lord of the Ring/The Hobbit. I think this series is even better, and just as magical, and important as The Lord of the Ring, or something like the story of the Iliad or The Odyssey and much more relate-able (in a way) to younger readers. There are so many themes and conflicts and turning points in this series that I think an English teacher could assign weeks of writing assignments on just book 1 alone. The story starts slow, but once it picks up it really gets going and the reader will be completely emerged and dedicated to the tale.


The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


Lyrical, stunning, incredible. A book about a book, filled with mystery, danger, romance and life. One of the most beautiful books I have ever had a chance to read, and I came upon it by complete and total luck. I would love to see how the original Spanish version reads, and I think it would be a really fun Spanish class assignment to read both versions and discuss the art of translation and how truly the feel of both versions relate to one another. Does the English translation do it justice?


Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

mr penumbras

A fun and strange tale about a 24 hour bookstore, a secret book club that reads only books from the “restricted” section and a store clerk that gets mixed up with it all. I love books that have stories about other books in them and this book is definitely one of those. It’s also a little weird and I am a firm believer that all required reading should have a little weirdness in them.


The Book Thief by Markus Zuska

book thief

Heartbreaking, sweet, funny (sometimes in a morbid way…which I like) and incredibly sad. A book that should make it to all required reading lists especially those that will be teaching about the Holocaust. A book about a little girl’s desire for reading and knowledge as the world around her is torn apart by war and unbelievable human suffering. It is a book about people and about sacrifice, friendship and the eternal flame of hope each human carries inside of themselves. A MUST read.


Did you enjoy required reading for school? What were some of your favorite books? What new favorites would you add to the required reading list if you could? Leave me your comments and links to your TTT below.   Let’s chat!


Children’s Picture Book Review: Herbie’s Big Adventure by Jennie Poh

Children’s Picture Book Review: Herbie’s Big Adventure by Jennie PohHerbie's Big Adventure by Jennie Poh
Published by Picture Window Books on August 1st 2016
Genres: Children's Books
Pages: 41

Herbie is a little hedgehog who is perfectly happy at home with his mother. But one day Mommy tells Herbie that it's time to go exploring all by himself! Herbie is so not sure, but ready or not, a westerly wind sweeps Herbie into the wide world...and Herbie's Big Adventure begins! Little Herbie finds that he's braver than he thinks and even makes a friend before coming safely back home to Mommy."

photo 3 (1)

Herbie’s Big Adventure is a charming story about a cute little hedgehog learning to be on his own. It starts with Herbie as just a little baby hedgehog and moves on to him getting bigger and being told by his Mama that the time had come for him to go out into the world and forge on his own. At first little Herbie is not quite sure he can do it all by himself and is scared. He misses his Mama and doesn’t know if he will be able to find anything to eat or his way back home. Herbie is determined though and with a little help from a snowbear, he is able to see his adventure to the end. The book is beautifully illustrated and I loved that the words in this story were “noisy” an awesome way to incorporate the senses.

photo 1 (5)

You get words like “snuggled, burrowed, tickly, shivered, whirling are all wonderful action words that a reader could stop and demonstrate themselves or and take a moment to ask the young listener/s to give them an example of how they comprehend the words themselves. I also liked that the writing style was simple but still used words that would help expand a young readers’ vocabulary. There was the occasional fun sounding word like Wheeeee! Or Whoooosh! Or Crunch! All words that young readers will enjoy hearing and saying along with the story. The book begins in the late summer as Herbie is born, and proceeds forward through all the seasons ending in Spring, which is also a clever way to teach young readers about the seasons, and what usually happens during each. One of the main and most important lessons of the story is about growing up and facing one’s fears. It’s about knowing that there will always be a safe place to return to in your parents’ arms/home but that you need to be brave and conquer the world on your own too. I think this would be a perfect story to read to a young child who is starting either daycare or kindergarten for the first time, or even to an older child who is going through a big move. Everything about Herbie’s Big Adventure was lovely from start to finish and I would recommend it to parents, caregivers, teachers and all young readers between 2-6 years old.

photo 2 (4)

Thank you so much to Netgalley, Picture Window Books at Capstone, and Jennie Poh for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Blog Tour: Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

stalking jack blog tour

Welcome to the Stalking Jack the Ripper Blog tour. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to be a part of this tour and  the Knights of White Chapel street team. When Ava mentioned she was starting a signup for this tour, I immediately jumped on board. I was lucky to receive one of the first ARC mailings of the book. I completely devoured it the minute it arrived on my doorstep and loved ever second of it. If you want to check out my review go here. I wanted to do something special for this post. I was inspired by some of the chats I had with Kerri about all the lovely dresses and accessories Audrey Rose would wear as a Victorian lady. I used some of my knowledge about period costumes and the fashions of The Victorian period to give you all a little insight on what it would be like to dress like Audrey Rose.

A Look Inside Audrey Rose’s Dressing Room…

The Unmentionables: ::carefully looks around and makes sure Thomas Cresswell is far, far away:: Let’s talk about Victorian Era undergarments. Before lacing up her corset, a Victorian lady would place upon her bare skin a chemise top (usually plain cotton and trimmed in various lace designs. Her bottoms/bloomers/knickers would be placed to cover her nether regions and were considered by the Victorians as the most unmentionable and immodest garments of them all!

Victorian Undergarments
Bloomers/Knickers and Chemise from the Victorian era.
The Unmentionables
Chemise, Bloomers/Knickers, and Corset. Corset Cover (bottom right).


The Corset: Next would be the lacing of the corset. This interesting contraption made in a variety of materials usually were lined with steel boning and laced tightly to give the lady her fine hourglass figure. A corset was mainly for the function of making sure the figure was put into the desired shape, but it did not stop the designers from making them in all colors and sometimes elaborately decorated. A corset cover was also usually worn over the corset. The Victorians valued tiny waists and it was known that ladies would often faint from lack of ability to breath. I don’t believe our Audrey would be so vain as to go that far, but she definitely wore one of these. (Personally, I think they are lovely and own several myself, and enjoy wearing them on occasion).

The Corset5d6682a531dabc48738957d466bb2c8b


The Stockings: Before putting on layers of more clothing a lady would definitely want to put on her sheer and delicate stockings which came in all shades and designs. (Definitely puts our modern stockings to shame with how beautiful some of these were…look at the detail. WOW!)

The Stockings


Shoes/Boots: Shoes and boots came in a mirage of colors, fabrics, and designs. Some you could slip on, but most were either laced or buttoned. I cringe when I look at these dainty images of gorgeous shoes and boots and think about Audrey Rose standing in coagulating blood at her uncle’s lab…ruining these beauties! Luckily she is a lady of means and could afford to buy more.

The ShoesThe Boots


I believe that now Miss. Audrey Rose would don a dressing gown while putting on makeup, combing the luscious locks, and arranging the hair to cascading curls of perfection.


Hairstyles 1888
1880’s Victorian Hairstyles
The Hair Combs
Beautiful hair combs used for adornment.


Under-Petticoats: Once the corset was tightly laced, stockings and shoes on and the every hair perfectly placed, the first of many petticoats would be put on.  These petticoats were made of similar materials to the chemise or with thinner muslin. The petticoats were often edged with lace and some also had dress shaping supports such as horsehair and wiring to sewn into them to help give the dress its finished silhouette.

The Petticoats



The Bustle: The bustle was usually made of wire that folded and collapsed into itself to allow the lady to sit. This structure was worn over the several layers of petticoats. It sometimes also had some padding and would be tied on tight around the waist.

Bustle The Bustle Dress Profile


Decorative Petticoats: These decorative petticoats usually had lots of layers and lace. A fashionable lady would wear no less than two. Sometimes these decorative petticoats would be the actual underskirt of the dress (obviously that would mean at least three-four layers of petticoats, to keep everything “decent”). These petticoats were also what helped the dress have its signature rustling sound; made while the lady walked called the “frou-frou”.

busle and undergarments


Once all of these items were on, it was finally time for the actual dress.


The Underskirt: This was the first part of the actual dress. Sometimes a highly decorative petticoat would be considered the underskirt, depending on the cut of the dress. This base skirt was usually highly decorated on the front  but plainer towards the back to accommodate the ruffles and folds of the overskirt’s design.


The Overskirt: The overskirt was sort of a half skirt that would cover the back and sides of the dress’s underskirt. This is usually the part of the dress that held the elaborate drapes and folds that would be held up by the bustle. Not that by the late 1880’s most dresses were starting to lose their trains, but some overskirts still had a bit of a train to them. The drapes and folds of the bustle were the stars of the back of the dress.

Formal Dresses


The Bodice: Once the overskirt is on, a lady would then put on the bodice of her dress. The bodice of dresses in the Victorian era were pretty conservative and covered all the way to the neck in most cases. Some designs did allow for the neckline to be done is a square, sweetheart and V-shaped. The sleeves were tapered and slim, worn long, or in 3/4 length. They could be very simple, or very elaborate depending on the dress. For as prudish as the Victorians seem, sometimes the ladies of the era wore sleeveless gowns but of course, they also wore satin and silk gloves that covered up almost the entire length of their arms, leaving only a little hint of skin exposed.

Blue Dresses


Daytime Dresses: Lighter, more “casual, less “frilly” dresses made to wear around the home. Or for when visitors came calling.

Day Dresses


Tea Gowns: These gowns started to grow in popularity around the 1870s. These gowns were unboned and worn without a corset, giving the ladies a respite in the afternoon hours before having to start to dress in formal wear for dinner.

Tea Dress

tea dress blue


Walking Dresses: These gowns were more conservative and “simpler” but still lovely. They were worn when paying visits or going for walks in the park or maybe even to visit uncle’s laboratory or Bedlam.

grey simple dress...

One-piece day dress, no date. Gray alpaca with trim of burgundy silk atlas and white cotton and lined in silk atlas. Closes up front with hooks & eyes.


Dinner Dresses: These were formal dresses made of silks and varied in color. They were usually more opulent and “showier” dresses.

Dinner Attire


Ball Gowns: These dresses were made from exquisite materials, the finest of lace and were elaborate and varied in design.

The Ball Gowns red Evening Gown


Before Audrey Rose can go out stalking Jack, she needs to make sure that she has all her accessories….


The Hat & Hat pins: A lady would never think to leave the house without a bonnet or hat….I mean what would the neighbors think?::gasp::

The Hats

hat pins 2
Hat pins..also good weapons…like sharp needles. 


The Hand Fan: Because a lady always needs to keep herself cool (especially when wearing so many layers) or in case she needs a little more air due to that tight corset.Fans were used while at balls and dinner parties to imply certain messages to people of interest. (This was not covered in the book…but there is a “secret” language of fans. For instance, fanning slowly meant a lady was married. Fanning quickly meant she was engaged. A fan in the right hand meant, “I love another”, or if the lady did not think the suitor anything more than a friend, she would drop her fan, which communicated “we will be friends.”…it’s really interesting, and complex. You can read more about it here.

lace fan


The Gloves: A lady would always wear gloves when exposed to the outside elements. These came in a variety of fabrics, but leather ones were usually favored for travel. For indoor use, a lady could choose to wear light lacy gloves. When attending balls and wearing the scandalous sleeveless dresses a lady would always wear gloves of silk and satin.

gloves 1 gloves silk green leather gloves


The Purse or Reticule: This was always carried with the lady. There she would keep her perfume vial, fan, handkerchief and also her calling cards when she went to visit friends.

The Purses


The Cape or Shawl: When the cold weather comes knocking a lady would most certainly wear a cape over all her finery. These capes would vary in length, style and fabric. Some would have high necks, while others would have an enlarged hood.

The Capes

The Parasol: This “umbrella” was usually made of fabric, and lace and often matched or complemented a lady’s ensemble. Victorian fashion favored a pale complexion and this was used by ladies to safeguard their exposed skin from the evil and devastating rays of the sun. I think Audrey Rose would somehow find a way to use her parasol as a weapon if she ever gets herself in a pickle. The handles of such parasols were also usually made of wood or even ivory and were beautifully carved.

blue and ivory dress

About The Book:

Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Publication date: September 20, 2016
Pages: 336
Find it:
Synopsis (from

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

About The Author:

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time, she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. Stalking Jack the Ripper is her debut novel. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history and is the first in a new series of gothic thrillers.

For more information about Kerri Maniscalco, check out her social media platforms.

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website | Tumblr | Pinterest

Thank you to Ava from Bookishness and Tea for hosting this amazing tour, and to Kerri for writing such a great book for us all to read and fangirl about.

I really enjoyed working on this post for the Stalking Jack the Ripper blog tour (I spent so many hours on Pinterest looking at pretty dresses…no regrets…lol) and being a part of the Knights of Whitechapel street team. I hope you found all the dresses as pretty and as glorious as I did. Hopefully, you also learned a little something about the typical Victorian attirement ritual.

I am so excited for Stalking Jack the Ripper to finally be released in stores and for the finished copy to finally be in my hands. Are you planning on reading the book? What did you think about all the layers of clothing Victorian ladies had to wear? Have you or would you ever wear a corset? Let’s chat!



YA Book Review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

YA Book Review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin BrownGeorgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Published by HarperTeen on August 30th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, GLBT, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.
Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

This year I’ve been trying to amp up my contemporary YA reading because (normally I am all about YA fantasy) and Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit was one of my top choices to read in this genre. I feel that this book will be an important read for teens dealing with their sexual identity and having a crisis in faith because of it. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit had a little bit of everything I have come to expect with contemporary YA. It was funny, witty, romantic, and dealt with some pretty vital issues plaguing queer teens in today’s society. The book deals with finding acceptance, new family dynamics, faith, and friendship (but don’t worry it doesn’t get overly preachy or overly religion filled).

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is the story of Jo’s journey to accepting herself. It is also about Jo’s struggles in finding acceptance in her personal life, family, and faith. Jo was one of my favorite characters. She often made me laugh out loud with her observations of things. It was easy to root for her and hope that she would find happiness with her new romance. What bothered me about Jo was how easily she accepted her pastor father’s wishes to “tone down” and basically go back in the closet. I assumed she did it out of love for her dad, but I also felt like she didn’t mind being closeted. However, I reminded myself about how young Jo is and reflected on how hard it is for a teenager to freely admit to being different. I also really liked Jo’s best friend Dana, she’s wild and thinks she can turn anyone gay and is the epitome of the term “YOLO” (you only live once) which reminded me of a good friend of mine. I liked that we got to see Jo’s relationship with her new stepmom grow and develop, even to the point that Mother #3 became “mom”. There are a few plot points that seemed a bit far-fetched but I could overlook those because I really liked the characters the author created and the overall message of the book.

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is beautifully written, the author does an amazing job exploring how religious faith doesn’t always equal to closed-mindedness or hate. I would highly recommend Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit to all readers (queer or not). I think it is an important book for young teens to read, especially those struggling with accepting themselves and their fear of how their family or religion might react to their sexual identity.

Thank you, Harper Teen and Edelweiss for providing me with an E-ARC of this book in return for an honest review.


Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Have Been On My TBR List From Before I Started Blogging That I STILL Haven’t Read Yet

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by the ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week we get a new topic for a top ten list. This week’s prompt is all about the many books on our TBR (to be read) list that we still haven’t been able to read yet (since before we started blogging) for one reason or another. There are quite a few on mine, but here are the top ten books I actually plan to read soon.


Anna and the French Kiss and That whole series by Stephanie Perkins


I know! How have I still not read this? Especially now that my friend Rachel has loaned the entire series to me. I swear I am going to read it, but it will probably take me some time since I have plenty of books to read for reviews and such. I also want to just enjoy it, and not have the pressure of having to review it or read it along with everyone else.


Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall

This has been on my radar, but I spend so much time with fantasy and kids books that I don’t have much spare time for contemporary. This year though I am really trying to read more contemporary books, so when Rachel threw a used copy into my shopping basket during independent book day at Harvard Bookstore I had to buy it. I have heard AMAZING things about this book, and I think it is time to take the plunge.


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

This book has been on my TBR for a very long time. I had several people recommend it to me. I don’t like readings books that are super hyped or the “it” book of the week. This is probably one of the reasons why I have not picked this one up yet. However, recently I came upon a few quotes from this and several other books by Mr. Coelho and I feel like I need to start reading it. Also Coelho means “bunny” in Portuguese. 🙂


The Woman who Gave Birth to Rabbits:Stories by Emma Donoghue


Another book that I have purchased, but it has been seating on my bookshelf patiently waiting for me to read it. I won’t lie, I did buy this because there was a bunny on the cover, but also because I had read Emma’s novel Slammerkin.


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Scorpio races

I got so obsessed with the Raven Boys series that I still have not yet read this book. I probably will now, to fill the void now that the Raven Boys series is over.


Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo


I actually haven’t read any of Leigh’s books yet, and I know I really should. Everyone is always raving about them, but as I mentioned before I usually stay clear of books that get “too popular” at least for a while. Maybe I’ll get to this one this winter.


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Just bought the Barnes and Nobles Red cover edition for my friend Elizabeth for her birthday and it’s so pretty that I need to get myself one too. Also, all of Rainbow’s books have been on my list for years now (I know…shame on me).


Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan

Red Spikes

I purchased this book just before moving to our new home and it got “lost” amongst all the various book totes. I just recently uncovered it and am looking forward to reading all the strange short stories throughout this Fall season.


Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman


One of the few Neil Gaiman books left that I have not read, sometimes it’s good to have something unread…saved up for a special rainy day when you need magic in your life.


The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

The Enchanted

This one came out just as I was starting to get into the blogging world, I have heard wonderful recommendations for it, but for some reason I still have not read it, I think this will be rectified before the year is out.


What are some of the books on your TBR pile that you have yet to read? How long have they been there? How do you decide to pick what to read next from your TBR pile? (I usually base my choices on my mood). Let’s chat, and if you participate with Top Ten Tuesday, make sure to leave me your link below.