Top Ten Tuesday: In Which the Worlds Felt Real, Yo.

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday! The topic chosen by the awesome peeps over at the Broke and the Bookish is vivid worlds and settings in books. For me, that means things GOT REAL. I could picture myself in the world, imagine the city or the journey — whatever it may be. World building is incredibly important to me as a reader.

Let’s get started!

P.S. You’ve been warned – welcome to the craziness that is my mind and the chaos of what I read.

vivid world building and good book settings

1. ALANNA: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (Goodreads | Amazon)

Alanna was the first “fantasy” series I read in high school. Somehow I got caught up in the world of classic “old” books for high school required reading and a friend recommended I read the Alanna series. I DEVOURED these. I saw them when Border’s was closing and bought myself the whole set. I re-read it last year, I think, and still really enjoyed it. Alanna is young in the beginning books and she grows up – similar to Harry Potter – throughout the rest of the series. She falls in love, she becomes a badass heroine, and there are two very different, but great guys vying for her attention.

2. THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusack (Goodreads | Amazon)

I read The Book Thief with my girlfriends back when we were trying to start a book club. I did NOT know what to expect when I started this one, but I was swept away into World War II. I cried, my heart broke, and I was incredibly touched. I should re-read it, but it’s one of those that has left such a definite lasting impression…

books with great world building and vivid settings

*Honestly, these two are kind of my “freebies” on this list because um, it’s not possible to have a list without them. J.K. Rowling is the queen of world building. And Suzanne Collins re-ignited the dystopia trend that has hit the YA world full force. These books deserve some mad props. (Also, I pictured my favorite of each series.)

3. HARRY POTTER and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Goodreads | Amazon)

4. THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins (Goodreads | Amazon)

books with incredible world building and vivid settings

5. FORGOTTEN by Cat Patrick (Goodreads | Amazon)

I felt so deeply connected to London, a girl whose brain “reset” every single night. She would forget everything that happened the day before and would have to read the pages of notes she wrote for herself to “remember” her life. She could see things from the future, but couldn’t remember the past. LOVED this book!

6. DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver (Goodreads | Amazon | My Review)

ALL of Lauren’s books should be on this list. I am continuously blown away by her writing. From the way the society felt in Delirium to experiencing Lena’s journey in Pandemonium (purposely being vague so those of you who haven’t read this won’t have anything ruined) — I felt like I experienced every. single. moment.

vivid world building or amazing settings in books

7. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor (Goodreads | Amazon | My Review)

I haven’t read tons of books involving angels and demons or crazy animals that can talk – but if Laini Taylor is writing it, sign me up. I wanted to tread lightly through Daughter of Smoke and Bone because I didn’t want it to be over. Anxiously awaiting the sequel to dive back into her world!

8. THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers (Goodreads | Amazon | My Review)

I am a HUGE, HUGE Courtney Summers fan. I read Some Girls Are and subsequently consumed the rest of her books (in like…a week). I was nervous to read about zombies (because I’m not really a “zombie” kinda girl), but you know what? That was okay. The story is bigger than the zombies. Courtney’s writing is ah-mazing!

books with incredible settings or vivid world building - setting with airplanes and book set in london

9. SUCH A RUSH by Jennifer Echols (Goodreads | Amazon |E’s Review)

Forget fear of flying — I think everyone will want to take off in a plane or head to an airplane hangar to hang out with the Hall boys after reading this one. Jennifer did an INCREDIBLE job of explaining how things operated and I felt so empowered on behalf of Leah.

10. MEANT TO BE by Lauren Morrill (Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon)

I like books that can take me to new places – places I’ve never been. I felt like I was on my own spring break in London (btw, why was my high school not this amazing? — pretty sure we just went to Six Flags for trips!). This is one to keep your eye out for – I know I’m a tease for sharing it, but the setting (and characters) are ones you will LOVE.

So that’s what I’ve got for your world building and vivid settings books. What’s on your list? 

good books that aren't popular to read

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Flown Under the Radar

Hiya, friends! We’re so happy to be sharing underrated books for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the incredible ladies at The Broke and the Bookish.

Something we talk about often are books that we love that haven’t hit the blogosphere and aren’t circulating like crazy but should be. We were talking about From What I Remember last week and that’s when our conversation spiraled out of control and we couldn’t stop ourselves from creating a list of books we wish more people would read.

It just so happened freebie week was coming up, so we decided we should share the list of underrated books you should definitely read. Underrated to us means: books that are amazing, unputdownable, sit-in-one-place-until-you’ve-devoured-it kinds of books, beautiful writing, books that have imagery or scenes that linger.

good books that aren't popular to read

1. From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas

This is the book that inspired this whole post. It’s so completely absorbing, funny, and goes into a bit more character exploration than we were anticipating, which totally made it even more awesome. goodreads / amazon / E’s review

2. Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

When E saw Tara at a reading panel talking about DSC and how felt she wrote all she could do about losing a mom, she added it to her TBR list immediately. This book is so rich in its characters and its words and she wishes she could swim around in those feelings forever. It piques a ton of curiousity about Coney Island, and also discovery of one’s own parent. goodreads / amazon / E’s review

3. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

We both read this book before we became official bloggers, but it’s one that we definitely wish got more attention. M read the entire book on a plane after E told her she shouldn’t read another book until devouring this. Despite her embarrassment of ugly crying in public, M let the tears flow. goodreads / amazon / M’s goodreads review

4. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

M loves all the things by Melina Marchetta. Melina is one heck of a fantastic author, but this book stands out from the rest. It’s the one that has caused random scenes to pop up at unexpected moments. It’s the one where M fell in love with male protagonists. Being broken can be so, so good. (This was also a pre-blog-book-read.) goodreads / amazon / M’s goodreads review

 5. I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

A story about two neglected brothers and a girl and her family who learns to care for them. It’s dramatic but in a quiet day and there is a lovely fairy tale like quality to the pacing of the book and the twists and turns these characters take. goodreads / amazon / E’s review

books that aren't popular that should be read, good books to read

6. Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett

This book doesn’t have a ton of reviews on Goodreads, but this bad girl trying to seduce a good boy tale deserves so much more love. It’s raw and powerful and so many details are beautifully woven together. Bennett did an incredible job of making sure each part of her story was well-crafted. (And it’s only $4.29 on the kindle!) goodreads / amazon / M’s review

7. Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Sometimes books can be overly complicated with too many issues; it was a nice change of pace to read about a 19-year-old girl indecisive about her future – to continue to pursue being a professional ballerina or to move on with her life – that was her struggle. goodreads / amazon / M’s review

8. Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble

An engaging love story between two boys who are forced to work their relationship long distance. DLMG illustrates the pain and exhilaration that come with being who you are and letting the world know it, the difficult of young love, and the power of acceptance. goodreads / amazon / E’s review

9. The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

E absolutely could not put this title down. E was thoroughly surprised by the multi-dimensional storyline and the fact that an author could make me sympathize with a poor little rich girl. The joys of writing shoot from every direction in this book and there are so many moments to treasure, as well as so many that are difficult to experience. What are you waiting for? goodreads / amazon / E’s review

10. The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith

As a huge fan of baseball, E already had a feeling she was going to get a kick out of this book. But Smith’s writing and description really shines as she weaves together the history of the Chicago Cubs with the story of a girl who is still mourning the loss of her father. A beautiful story that had me in tears. goodreads / amazon / E’s review

Bonus Books: We just couldn’t stop ourselves when we were making the list, so here are two additional underrated books you need to read ASAP!

11. The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

E love, love, loved this book. So much so that M bought it as soon as E finished. We happen to be big Eulberg fans around here. (Who doesn’t love a little comeback when it comes to silly stupid boys?) goodreads / amazon

12. The Stalker Chronicles by Carly Moore

Cammie is a really refreshing character who has a tendency to get really nosey. E loves the family dynamic in this story, and watching as Cammie tries to overcome her (unique) flaw. goodreads / amazon / E’s review

Let us know which books you think are underrated? We’d love to know your faves!

(Don’t forget to check out the people who’ve linked up over at The Broke and the Bookish. Everyone’s topics will be different so it’s a great week to scope out lots of blogs!)

Top 10 Tuesday: Best Beach Reads

summertime books for people to read

Hi friends! This TTT meme couldn’t have come at a better time, with our participation in Sweet Summertime Reads. Finding the perfect beach read is imperative to a day of sunshine and surf. Hope you’ll take the time to check out a few of our favorites! We stand by them, 150%! Don’t forget to check out Broke and the Bookish who thought up this lovely (helpful) meme and hosts Top 10 Tuesday every week.

Happy summer!


1. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (Goodreads)
Why? Engaging, dramatic friendship with romance, family, everything. (Magan’s review)

2. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares (Goodreads)
Why? Friends through the years. A series!

3. Bookends by Jane Green (Goodreads)
Why? Fun romance set in London!

4. Naked by David Sedaris (Goodreads)
Why? Hilarious short story collection.

5. Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella (Goodreads)
Why? Lighthearted, laugh out loud zany chick lit.


1. The Summer Series by Jenny Han (Goodreads)
Why? Romance, the beach, love triangle!

2. Going too Far by Jennifer Echols (Goodreads)
Why? Hot hot chemistry. (Magan’s review)

3. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker (Goodreads)
Why? The joys of family vacation. (Magan’s review)

4. The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland (Goodreads)
Why? The perfect setting: the beach. (Magan’s review)

5. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (Goodreads)
Why? Cute boys and football. (Our joint review)

–> Stop by Ginger and Tara‘s blogs as well for some more summer awesomeness & giveaways (aka free books)!!!

Top 10 Tuesday: Those OTHER Blogs We Visit

Happy Tuesday! The Broke & the Bookish has done it again — another great meme that is sure to cause our Google Readers to blow up even more. I don’t know about you guys but Magan and I do a lot of blog reading and while we absolutely love perusing all the fun book blogs, we do dabble in other arenas as well! You know what they say: variety is the spice of life! And also… the more blogs you subscribe to, the more distraction you have! Here are our picks:


1. Disney Hipsters

For just about a year, I’ve been working on a Disney blog. I mostly focus on my trips to Walt Disney World, the Muppets, and Disney Theatrical Productions. At the same time, it means I have to keep up on all the Disney news! But I find the most fun I have reading Disney-related blogs is when the owners have original, clever content. I was so happy when I discovered the talented Hipsters. I never know what to expect when I click on their page but I do know I will always be entertained. They write snappy posts, take fun pictures, and sometimes even write their own songs. (Plus they are the nicest guys in person!)

2. MK in Wonderland

I don’t know how I stumbled on MK’s blog but I’m sure glad I did. I can always look to her for honest, well-written posts about life, her son, shopping, pop culture, etc. I think she is such a talented writer and I just love her voice. It’s so distinctly her. (Her most recent post about motherhood made me cry.) Plus her son is so adorable.

3. J’s Everyday Fashion

J shops on a budget and puts together some awesome outfits inspired from all different kinds of places. I’ve been following her for awhile, and I just love the variety found in her closet and her honesty when it comes to what she is spending and when certain pieces just don’t work. I’m sort of a shopaholic so she definitely puts things into perspective for me. I know there are a ton of fashion bloggers out there but J remains classy and down to earth. Love her!

4. Lauren Elise Crafted

I found Lauren when she was featured on The Knotty Bride and took a chance emailing her when I was totally stuck with my own wedding decor. Let me tell you that this girl listened to my ranty/crazy bride emails and always wrote me back the most comprehensive responses completely with links, explanations, and encouragement. I love following her own projects — she is so creative and you are always sort of hitting your head and thinking WHY DIDN’T I COME UP WITH THAT? She features free fonts, Instagram weekly updates from life, and some great DIY projects. She is a total genius.

5. A Practical Wedding

Even though I’ve been married for over a year, I still read A Practical Wedding everyday. I like to think of it as a place where women can truly be themselves and express the many different layers of marriage, before, during, and even after. Also, I’m pretty inspired by the blog’s founder who was able to leave her job and take on the job full-time (and she released a book too). She features posts about working for herself, which I find very motivating. All in all, this blog helps me keep things in perspective. Even when I’m not the bride anymore, even if I’m just a bridesmaid, or even if I’m already a wife.  Thought provoking and tough material here.


1. Keiko Lynn

I am extremely addicted to Pinterest (here’s mine if you’re interested). I found Keiko last week because I kept seeing pins from her blog pop up. I read through so many previous posts that day. So many. I shared her blog with Estelle and we ooohed and ahhhed over her adorable hair and fun make-up tips. I’ve been growing out my hair for four years (yep, FOUR!); to ward off boredom, I am trying to find new hair styles that are easy to do with my long hair. This blog inspires me to be cute, too, which is helpful because I could easily spend ALL day in my pajamas with no make-up since I work from home.

2. The Beauty Department

The Beauty Department is another blog with great hair, make-up, and nail tips. Lauren Conrad and her stylist, Kristin, post about LC’s hair styles with step-by-step how-tos (with pictures!) so that you can figure out how to re-create the style on your own. I cannot wait to try this crown of braids; I recently tried this new twist and really, really loved it. If you have a nail polish addiction, you will love the step-by-step tutorials for unique manicures.

3. Tatertots and Jello

By degree, I am an interior designer. My husband says I “retired early” from the profession so I could be a photographer. I still love working on our home to make it a very homey, “us,” well-designed place. I like owning things that I’ve made, repurposed, or put some TLC into. Tatertots and Jello is a great blog for finding new ideas for our home. While Jen posts about projects she does on her own, one of my other favorite features is that she does themed lists with other people’s projects and links to their sites. I also love seeing before and afters and there is a lot of that, too.

4. ProBlogger

This blog isn’t as cute and fun, but it’s purposeful. ProBlogger was recommended by April of Good Books & Good Wine in her SEO post with tips for bloggers. I subscribed to it after I read through some of the posts and read their daily posts in my Google Reader. Not everything applies to us because we’re not trying to make bank off our site, but I do find it helpful to learn about how to make Google like our site. If you’re new to SEO (search engine optimization), check out ProBlogger for tips.

5. Style Me Pretty

I am a professional wedding photographer in Austin, TX. I love keeping up with current trends and checking out other photographer’s work. Style Me Pretty is a place where brides can gather inspiration and it’s a wonderful resource for couples to find photographer’s in their area. SMP publishes incredible weddings that I drool over, wishing I had photographed them.

Well, that wraps up our top ten favorite blogs to follow we read outside of book blogs. Let us know if you have recommendations for us based on what you see above. We can’t wait to check out your lists!


Top 10 Tuesday: Estelle’s Fav Quotes from Books

I’m that person who is always jotting lyrics from songs and quotes from books onto tiny pieces of paper and stuffing them in my purse. Or taking pictures of book pages with my iPhone. That’s a new obsession. Proof:

^ I was reading You Have Seven Messages on a road trip to Connecticut and it was easier to take photos. Review to come!

It was hard to narrow down ten for this list. A lot of the times my favorite quotes are really dependent on how I’m feeling at the time. But these are from a wide range of books from over the years. Enjoy! (Don’t forget to check out Jen’s classy list of quotes over at the Broke and Bookish!)

1. “We had pathetically simple dreams: to do meaningful work we could be proud of, to be together, and to be happy.” from God Shaped Hole by Tiffani Debartolo

I’m always singing the praises of this book. I read it for the first time in 2002 and since then, it has remained one of my favorite books. It’s an epic love story with some edgy, creative writing.

2. “She filed those moments away like precious documents, wore them smooth with memory, collected them like bits of prayers.” from The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith

This line is so beautiful, it makes my heart hurt. Jennifer has such a way with words, and this wasn’t a huge moment in The Comeback Season but I remember falling in love with it.

3. “You hurt me but I love you.” from You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

Probably the simplest line in the world, but whoa. So true.

4. “Once you think a thought, it is extremely difficult to unthink it.” from Let It Snow by John Green

Another simple thought, pieced together so nicely. And again, TRUTH.

5. “Maybe that’s what it all comes down to. Love, not as a surge of passion, but as a choice to commit to something, someone, no matter what obstacles or temptations stand in the way. And maybe making that choice, again and again, day in and day out, year after year, says more about love than never having a choice to make at all.”  from Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

I read over this quote a lot. There are so many quotes about love out there but this one seems to be the most realistic.

6. “Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.”  from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

An oldie but goody. I’ve loved this quote for a long time. Apparently, I’m afraid of change. No a common theme in literature at all.

7.  “I thought he should have realized sooner that important people don’t show up very often, and you should hold on to them when they do. Maybe I was smarter than he was all along, because that was something I’d always known.”  from Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

This quote would have been helpful when I was a teenager. Even now, it is.

8. “Gone for a while / Hoping, always, to return / If you will let me.” from Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

There are so many quoteworthy moments in the entire Jessica Darling series. But I like this one the most. It’s about forgiveness and moving forward. Oh those haikus in the fifth book reduced me to sloppy tears. Let me tell you.

9. “In this universe, there are no time machines or keys that can turn hearts back around.” from Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

I probably could have underlined this whole book. But I didn’t, somehow.  A quote about regret and moving forward. This one is so honest but it takes a lot to really accept its meaning.

10. “It’s not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

This is Wilbur talking about Charlotte. Short and sweet, but I love this quote so much. Classic!

…gotta say, this is probably one of my favorite Top 10 Tuesday memes. I’m so excited to see what everyone else picked!

Top 10 Tuesday: Books That Should Be Movies

A movie made from a book is, at times, a blessing and a curse. You get all excited about seeing your favorite book translated to the big screen, and then the casting decisions start to leak and other little details, and you start to feel protective. Because when you are reading an author’s descriptions and feeling what the character is feeling, you are making your own movie in your head, and sometimes (most of the time) what you are seeing just doesn’t add up. It’s really hard to distance yourself. Honestly, The Notebook and The Hunger Games are two of our favorite book-to-movie releases. They weren’t exactly word for word but the feeling of the books was perfectly captured (and great casting helps too).

So after all this reading, what books do we want to see on the big screen someday? (Thanks to the Broke and the Bookish for this awesome meme!) Here we go:


1. How to Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie Debartolo (Goodreads): One of my favorite books about a girl who moves to New York, scared shitless of planes, and falls for a bandmate of her brother’s. Personally, I always pictured Billy Crudup in the role of Paul but I think the casting would have to go a bit younger. There’s music references, the lead character is a writer, and there’s a love triangle. I don’t think it’s a surprise that I love books that make me feel something and this book makes me feel a lot. I definitely could see this as a fun indie film with lots of awesome music. (The Book Stoner recently did a review!)

2. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (Goodreads): I read this book in one day at the beach last summer. It’s a little light as far as content but I think it’s a great coming of age story (and better than half the crap that comes out in the movies anyway). A favorite (yet estranged) aunt leaves her niece 13 blue envelopes all over Europe. Talk about a life-altering trip. And there’s a boy and uncovered secrets. Sounds awesome to me. (I’m envisioning a little bit of The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Yes, I really said that.)

3. Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers (My review): I think we all know I have a mad love affair with NYC and I live here. Basically. I just finished Supergirl Mixtapes a few weeks ago, and I would really love to see it as (another) indie flick. Awesome music, a hip not-so maternal mom, and a rule breaker/loner like Maria would really make for an interesting story. Also let’s go back to the music. Soundtracks are my favorite. There I said it.

4. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (Goodreads): This is an old favorite of mine from middle school. A girl who is on a road trip with her grandparents and entertaining them with story of her new friends. Everyone loves a road trip book, and hopefully a road trip movie. I love the main character so much, she has a quirky friend, and there’s a lot of mystery surrounding the circumstances of this road trip.

5. Curveball: the Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick (My review): Just like we need more male narrators out there with a fresh voice and plenty of winning qualities, we need movies doing the same. Here we have sports, family, romance, and discovering a newfound hobby. Part of me thinks this would make a SMART Disney Channel film, and another a cool indie for the younger crowd. Fun music and use of photography for a really great great story.


1. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (Goodreads): The imagery and traveling aspects of this story would translate so beautifully in a movie. I would love to see the places that were described; I may never get a chance to visit Guatemala, so a movie would be perfect! I would love to see the snarky boy, Rowan, interact with self-conscious/soul-searching Bria.

2. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg (Goodreads): Maybe this seems like an odd choice, but come on – think about the sound track that would ALSO be a result of this book-to-movie adaptation. Let’s talk Center Stage, Step Up… I see a win win situation here. Music + Performing Arts School + Music + Love Story + Music = Epic.

3. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Goodreads): Must I really say any more than the shower scenes? No? No… I didn’t think so. I mean we’d have Adam, this incredibly broken world/society, the shower scenes, and major steaminess. Yum.o.

4. The Survival Kit by Donna Frietas (Goodreads): Apparently I’m a girl who likes to cry. Major tears would stream down my face during this movie. I’d be so excited to see the kite scene (!!), and seeing how this story of love, loss, and friendship translates on film.

5. Divergent / Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Goodreads and Goodreads): Um, hello. Are you aware how much I crush on FOUR?! I love the factions, the dystopianism, war, and our bad ass heroine Tris. Yes, yes.  Tris and Four…especially when they’re together.


What do you want to see on the big screen? Think any of our picks would make a particularly good movie?