Top 10 Tuesday – September 15th, 2015

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It’s Tuesday once again, and that means it’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week was a freebie, so we were able to select our own topics for our lists. I wanted to do something related to my favorite novels; however, I didn’t want to simply make a list of them. It took me a while to come up with a topic, but I finally decided on listing my top 10 favorite Sherlock Holmes stories that I have read so far.

I attempted to read one of the Sherlock Holmes novels when I was far too young, and I ended up not liking it. So for a long time, I put off reading any of the others. I even stayed away from any movies and television shows based on the stories, as I was certain that I would not like them. Boy was I wrong!

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(This may or may not also be how I react when people say they don’t like Sherlock Holmes…)

Last year, after completely falling in love with the BBC television series, I decided to give them another try, starting with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. And thus, the obsession began. I’ve only read two of the novels so far, but they have become two of my all-time favorite books. These stories are so captivating and such a joy to read; I’ve been flying through them. I went from thinking I didn’t like these novels to, every time I am about to pick one up, reacting somewhat like this:

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Now, without further ado, here is the list of my top 10 favorite Sherlock Holmes stories (in no particular order)!

  1. Silver Blaze (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes)

In this story, Holmes is called in to investigate the disappearance of a famously talented racehorse right before an important race, as well as the coinciding murder of the horse’s trainer. I was completely absorbed in this horse’s tale, and loved the many bewildering events and layers in the storyline; like many of the tales, it was not at all a straightforward plot. In my opinion, there is also a particularly good depiction of both Holmes’s and Watson’s individual talents.

  1. The Red Headed League (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)

This is the story of a man who comes to Holmes for advice after he receives a peculiar, high paying job, solely due to the fact that his hair is the perfect shade of red. There are a number of stories throughout these collections that center around people being hired under perplexing or suspicious circumstances; for some reason, they always tend to be my favorites. The outrageous situations are so intriguing, and I love trying to guess why the employers have created these jobs.

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  1. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)

Here, Holmes is approached by an acquaintance after the man finds the Countess of Morcar’s priceless blue carbuncle in the throat of his Christmas goose. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle is one of my top favorites because of the wittiness of the storyline and dialogue.

  1. The Man with the Twisted Lip (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)

In The Man with the Twisted Lip, the wife of a missing businessman comes to Holmes after she thinks she has seen her husband looking out the window of a nearby opium den. This was a very engaging story with lots of twists (no pun intended!) and turns. Not only did I love the resolution to this mystery, but it was also one of the few that I was able to solve myself!

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  1. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)

In The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, a woman asks for Holmes’s help after taking a job as a governess that comes with some unusual requirements regarding her appearance and daily routine. I found this case to be extremely complex and well plotted, and I had no idea where the story was headed; I was completely puzzled up until the very end.

  1. The Adventure of the Yellow Face (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes)

In this case, a man hires Holmes to discover, by any means necessary, why his wife keeps secretly and frequently visiting a nearby cottage. I enjoyed this because I found the themes that it dealt with to be uncharacteristic of the stories thus far and, delightfully, dealt with in a very open-minded way that was surprising for the time period this was published in. It was quite a unique story and had a very touching ending. It is also one of the few cases that Holmes does not solve correctly, and contains one of my favorite quotes: “Watson, if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little overconfident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper ‘Norbury’ in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you.”

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  1. A Scandal in Bohemia (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)

Holmes is hired to stop the woman who is blackmailing the King of Bohemia, and thus save his upcoming marriage from being called off. This is the story that introduces the iconic character, Irene Adler, a woman who very nearly matches Holmes on intelligence and quick-wittedness. Watching them face off was utterly fascinating.

  1. A Case of Identity (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)

This story has another theme that is common among these accounts: the disappearance of a significant other. Here, a woman’s husband makes her promise to remain faithful to him no matter what, then disappears later that morning, which just so happens to be their wedding day. I loved this one because not only was I puzzled all the way through, but the revelation at the ending was absolutely shocking.

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  1. The Adventure of the Speckled Band (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)

Arguably the most well known of the Sherlock Holmes short stories, The Adventure of the Speckled Band tells the story of a woman who enlists Holmes to solve the mystery of her sister’s sudden death in the night. She believes her stepfather to be the murderer, and that she herself will be the next victim. Not only is this a bizarre and enthralling adventure, this was the first of the short stories that I read, and I credit it with making me decide to give these stories another try.

  1. The Final Problem (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes)

This is the first story to introduce another iconic character: Holmes’s arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty. It is also the first story to make me cry. A criminal mastermind with an intellect on par with his own, Moriarty was Holmes’s greatest adversary. The pair matches wits as Holmes attempts to bring him and his organization to justice, but neither can best the other. This causes a stalemate, which ends in the famed fight at the Reichenbach Falls. The Final Problem is one of the most well known Sherlock Holmes stories, so I was prepared going in. I don’t cry easily at books and movies; however, I must admit, those final couple of pages hit me right in the feels.

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Well, those are my top 10 favorites so far. I can’t wait to continue on with the rest of the stories! Let me know in the comments if you are a Sherlock Holmes fan and, if so, what your favorite story, movie, or television episode is.

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Check out my full reviews of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes!

-Ariana

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Top 5 Anticipated Releases of Fall 2015

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It’s coming! The time of changing leaves and crisp breezes. The time of cozy sweaters and boots, of apple cider and pumpkin everything. The perfect time to curl up by the window with a cup of hot tea and a good book to read, as the leaves fall and cover the ground in a blanket of warm colors.

2015 has been a wonderful year for new releases, and there are still so many more to come in these final months. And since the official start of fall is just over a week away, I thought I would make up a list of my top five most anticipated releases of the season.

  1. The Marvels by Brian Selznick (September 15th, 2015)

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As I mentioned in my September TBR, I am a major Brian Selznick fan, and I have been looking forward to this book for a long time. I just love the unique format of his novels, and the spectacularly vivid stories he creates through both the text and the illustrations. This is one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I plan on picking this one up some time before the end of the week.

  1. Beastly Bones by William Ritter (September 22nd, 2015)

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This is the sequel to Jackaby, which I read earlier this year and completely loved. It was such a fun, quirky read that totally captured my heart, so I’m dying to get my hands on this next one. I’ve had this on preorder for months, so I’ll most likely be getting started on it fairly soon after it releases!

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (September 29th, 2015)

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I’ve wanted to read something by Leigh Bardugo for a while now, and though I do plan on trying out her Grisha Trilogy at some point, this one sounds more like my type of story. It seems like it will be a story filled with tons of action and magic, as it is a fantasy novel about criminals trying to pull off a major heist. A book about anti-heroes, magic, and heists? Yes please! This is an Ari book. It is very high on my TBR this fall.

  1. The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (October 6th, 2015)

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I’ve recently been working my way through the Percy Jackson series and have very quickly become a major Rick Riordan fan. I have always been absolutely fascinated by anything to do with the mythologies of different cultures, so his books are all definite must-reads for me. I’m so eager to see what this series has in store, and to learn more about Norse mythology, which I don’t know a whole lot about. And I swear I’m not letting my love of the Thor films affect my excitement at all…maybe.

  1. Winter by Marissa Meyer (November 10th, 2015)

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Of course this has to be on the list; it is my most anticipated book of the entire year. I’ve been making my way through The Lunar Chronicles this year, and I can safely say that it is on my list of favorite series ever. I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up, and I know this is going to be an epic conclusion to a fantastic set of stories!

Let me know in the comments what books you are most anticipating this fall, as well as your favorite parts of the season!

-Ariana

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Top 10 Tuesday – September 8th, 2015

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As you can probably tell by this point, I quite enjoy making lists! I promise I’ll be doing other types of posts soon; in fact my first review will be Thursday’s post. But since it is Tuesday, I couldn’t resist giving Top 10 Tuesday a try for the first time. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

Today’s topic is the top 10 finished series that I have yet to finish. It is also my “look at all these TBR books I need to read but haven’t yet” guilt trip. Or maybe the “you need to stop buying so many books you crazy person; you’ve gone insane” list. All I can say is, I’m glad this topic is specifically finished series or we would be here all day!

Anyway, this was a fairly easy list to create because, as you will soon see, I discovered that I have way too many series that I haven’t gotten around to finishing yet. I also realized that I’m actually not in the middle of many series at the moment. So this is a mixture of series that I have already started, and ones that are simply on my TBR and that I would like to begin soon.

  1. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor

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In my opinion, this is probably my most embarrassing unread series from this list because I’ve owned Daughter of Smoke and Bone since it was first released. I’ve now also recently purchased the other two books so I can marathon the trilogy. I’ve been keen to read these ever since I first heard the synopsis, and I know that I’m going to love these stories; not to mention the fact that they take place in Prague, one of my favorite places. I really need to get going on them!

  1. The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

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I read Divergent for the first time last year, and it has definitely become one of my favorite books of all time. However, I continued on to Insurgent earlier this year and it was okay, but I didn’t love it nearly as much. That, coupled with the mixed reviews I always hear about Allegiant (plus the fact that I’ve been majorly spoiled) have sort of slowed down my progress through the trilogy. I do plan on trying to finish it soon though.

  1. The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

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After reading A Monster Calls, I instantly fell in love with Patrick Ness’s writing, and I have been extremely eager to get to these books. I’ve owned the entire trilogy for a while now, but for some insane reason I have not yet started it. I need to get moving on this!

  1. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan

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This one is definitely another embarrassing one since it’s a series that I’ve been meaning to read for about a decade! I finally started it at the end of last year; I’m three books in and absolutely loving it. I’ve already bought the final two and I’m hoping to finish them off this year so I can move on to The Heroes of Olympus series.

  1. The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

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I have been meaning to read something by Brandon Sanderson for the longest time, and the Mistborn trilogy is what has been recommended to me the most. But really, as a massive fantasy fan, it’s quite shameful that I have not yet read one of his novels! I do feel slightly less guilty about this one because I intend to read The Final Empire this month.

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series by Douglas Adams

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This one is just insane because I absolutely adore these stories! I’ve read the first book multiple times and seen the film more times than I can count. My dad got us a box set so we can both finish the series, and I’m hoping to continue on with it in the next month or so.

  1. The Darkest Minds Trilogy by Alexandra Bracken

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This is yet another trilogy I have, but have not gotten around to starting yet. And I cannot believe that I haven’t because it is basically everything I could ever want in a book series. These books have my name written all over them. I mean, a dystopian series about kids with super powers? Um…YES. Soon.

  1. The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu

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I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, Legend last year, and my dad got me a box set of the trilogy this past Christmas. My only excuse for not having finished this trilogy already is the fact that I may or may not be slightly terrified of the feels I know are coming in the last two books. I will get through them soon though, because I am dying to know how the story ends!

  1. The Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima

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I’ve known about this series for a while now and I still have yet to begin it. It’s another fantasy series that I have always heard wonderful things about. I recently purchased The Demon King, and it is high up on my TBR, so I’ll hopefully be diving into it soon.

  1. The Shatter Me Trilogy by Tahereh Mafi

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This is a difficult one. It is another trilogy I own, and I have read the first book, but the other two remain unfinished. To be honest, I did not love Shatter Me. I had a really hard time getting into it, and I’m not in a mad rush to move on to the next book. However, I hate leaving series unfinished and I do hear that it keeps getting better, so I think I will try to finish it off at some point.

Well, as you can see, I am downright atrocious at finishing series! I think this may call for some marathons. Let me know in the comments what series you guys still need to finish.

-Ariana

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September 2015 TBR

Can you believe it’s September already? This is coming a bit late as we are already almost a week in, but I thought it would be fun to share my TBR for the month. It is a bit ambitious, and I have a feeling I won’t end up making it through all of these books by the end of the month, however, I am hoping to read a good number of them. So here’s a list of books at the top of my reading list that I plan on working on this month!

  1. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

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This is the book that I’m currently working on and I am already loving it! The writing is wonderful; the story is very funny, heartfelt, and emotional. And on top of that, it’s a perfect story for book lovers and anyone who has had their lives touched by literature. I can’t wait to finish it!

  1. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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I read Cinder at the beginning of the year and completely fell in love with it, and I cannot believe I haven’t read this book yet. I’d also like to catch up on these stories so I can read Winter when it comes out at the end of the year. So it’s about time I continue on with the series!

  1. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

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This is another book that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while now. I constantly hear people raving about this trilogy, and Brandon Sanderson’s work in general, so I’m very eager to finally pick up one of his novels. Plus, I’m really in the mood for a good fantasy novel right now.

  1. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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I always love reading new authors every year, and this is one debut novel that I’ve been hearing a lot of amazing things about. The premise sounds very interesting and incredibly funny, so I’m definitely looking forward to checking it out.

  1. The Marvels by Brian Selznick

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I am a huge fan of Brian Selznick, so of course I’m dying to pick up his newest book! His stories are always fantastic, and as a writer and artist, the format of them always intrigues me. This is coming out toward the middle of the month, and I plan on reading it right away.

  1. Dissonance by Mariella Hunt

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This is another debut novel; it just came out a few months ago and is actually written by a friend of mine. The plot sounds very interesting and I’ve read, and loved, her writing in the past, so I’m really looking forward to diving into this.

  1. The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee

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This is another book by a debut author, and it’s pitched as a dark, adult fairytale, which is right up my alley. It seems like it will be a really unique story, and it sounds similar in style to Neil Gaiman’s novels, so I think this will be an enjoyable read.

  1. Miss. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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My mom and a number of my friends have been recommending this to me for a few years now so, once again, this is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. With the final book coming out this month, and the movie in the works, I thought it would be a great time to get going on this trilogy.

  1. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

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Okay, so I will admit that I have been a bit nervous about reading this one. To Kill a Mockingbird is my absolute favorite book of all time, so with the very mixed reviews, and the controversy surrounding this novel, I have been hesitant. However, I have mentally prepared myself (and have To Kill a Mockingbird on hand for a cheer-up re-read if need be), so I think I’m ready. Also, I have a few family members and friends who have already told me they are waiting to hear what I think about it before they read it, so I want to get to it soon. To be honest, I think I will probably end up liking this and my fears will be for nothing.

  1. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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I cannot sufficiently explain my eagerness to get to this novel! I just read Gone Girl this summer and I loved it. I am already a total Gillian Flynn fangirl. Her writing style is wonderful, and I am so impressed with her ability to create such complex and intriguing storylines and characters. I can’t wait to read more of her work!

I also plan on continuing to read a few stories out of The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

So that’s my TBR for the month. Let me know in the comments what books you guys are currently reading and/or what you are planning on reading during the month!

-Ariana

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Book Blogger TMI Tag

Let me put this out there: I am horrible at talking about myself.

Seriously, it’s a problem. The words “tell me about yourself” send me into a complete panic. The “about me” section is the bane of my existence. I mean, I basically react as if I’ve just stumbled into a room and been asked to describe the entire life history of that random guy over there in the corner whom I’ve definitely never met, but feel like I should know all about.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but talking about oneself is stressful. I think that part of the reason for this is that many times, it can feel too formal. And I find that this is not at all an ideal way for me to convey my personality. So I’ve been debating for a while what would be the best way to go about introducing myself as I start this blog, and I came up with the perfect solution. A tag! This way, it feels a lot more personal and informal, and I can say all the arbitrary facts I’ve always wanted to say when I am asked about myself.

Side note: This ended up being a mixture of a number of tags (both book related and not book related) that I’ve seen floating about the Internet.

How old are you?761d02688b1e8e0ba56b5643fd9ea2fd

I’m 21-years-old.

How tall are you?

About 5’5”.

Which Hogwarts house are you in? (People need to ask this more often!)

Proud Ravenclaw!

Any piercings/tattoos?

I don’t have any tattoos, but I do (much to the dismay of my family) have 10 ear piercings.

What place do you want to visit?

Iceland! I think it would be an absolutely beautiful and fascinating place to visit. I’d also love to go to Italy or back to Prague.

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Who are your favorite bands?

Panic at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Imagine Dragons, and Muse, to name a few.

What was the last song you listened to?

The Kids Aren’t Alright by The Offspring

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What is your favorite TV show?

It’s so hard to pick just one! My favorite show currently still on TV is probably Doctor Who, but my all-time favorite is Frasier.

Who is your favorite actor?

Again, it’s so hard to pick just one! My top favorites are Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Katharine Hepburn, and Meryl Streep.

82_129be513a91ac046e9252ba6cfe203aeFavorite author?

Surprise—once again, I’m finding it impossible to pick just one! My favorites are Arthur Conan Doyle, Harper Lee, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Ness, Gillian Flynn, J.K. Rowling, and Shakespeare. That’s definitely a lot more than one…decisions aren’t really my forte.

Ebooks—yes or no?

They’re nice when traveling, but nothing can ever compare to actually holding a physical book.

What was the last book you read?

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, which was fantastic!18293427

What book are you currently reading?

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

What is the book you’re going to read next?

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

What is the number one book on your wish list?

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

37449What is your favorite book?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee!

Which is your favorite book-to-film adaptation?

To Kill a Mockingbird…yeah, that last question kind of took the suspense out of this one.

Who is your all-time favorite book character?

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Atticus Finch. Need I say more?

Who is your book boyfriend/girlfriend/fictional crush?

Atticus Finch of course! Okay, I think I have sufficiently demonstrated my love of this book. For now. (Fair warning—it will probably come up again.)

Do you prefer books with female or male protagonists?

Gender of the protagonist doesn’t usually matter to me. The most important part is the portrayal of the character.

If you hated reading, what would you be doing instead?

*Gasp* How could I even imagine such a thing?! Okay, so I guess I do also enjoy writing, singing, and film/photography. But hating to read? *faints*

What do you do when someone tells you reading is boring?

Usually have a heart attack.

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Going outside being active or staying in and reading a book?

I do love going out for a good walk or bike ride but…reading. Definitely reading.

Where do you prefer to read?

Snuggled in bed!

Which do you enjoy reading more—negative reviews or positive reviews?

I like reading an equal amount of both. I love hearing differing opinions on things like books and movies, especially after I’ve read or seen them. It always really gets me thinking.

What is your favorite book quote?

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” –Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

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Phew, we made it!

I really had a great time answering these questions! I’m so excited to be starting this blog, and I hope you guys will stick around for future posts. There will be book reviews, tags, and many more bookish posts to come, so stay tuned!

-Ariana

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Top 5 Wednesday – September 2nd, 2015

Hello everyone, and welcome to my blog!

I’ll be putting up a full introduction to the blog and myself within the next few days. However, since today is Wednesday, I thought I would jump right into blogging with a Top 5 Wednesday post. This way, I can also kick things off by sharing a few of my favorite books with you guys. So here’s a little taste of what’s to come on this site!

Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at Gingerreadslainey. Every week, book reviewers all over the world are given a bookish topic and respond with their top 5 books (or elements of books) that relate to that topic. Click here for the Goodreads group if you would like to learn more about Top 5 Wednesday and join in!

This week’s topic is Top 5 Fictional Cities. I was finding it a bit hard to come up with locations that were specifically cities, so this is more of a list of my favorite fictional places.

  1. The Capitol (from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

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So, this isn’t exactly a place where I’d like to spend a lot of time. But come on, it would be absolutely fascinating to visit The Capitol. The architecture would be beautiful, sleek, and futuristic (I’ve always been completely obsessed with architecture). And the fashion! It would be very interesting, and honestly pretty hilarious, to see the strange clothes and insane hair and makeup. Overall, it would definitely be quite a memorable experience…to say the least.

  1. Luna (from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

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Again, not a place that I would particularly like to spend a lot of time. However, I’d like to go here for pretty much the same reason as The Capitol: the architecture. And let’s not forget about the location. Seeing those buildings against an interstellar backdrop—now that would be truly incredible. So, as long as you observe quietly from the shadows, preferably without being noticed by the Lunar, and keep as far away from Levana as possible, it would be a great place to visit. Also, I may or may not secretly dream of going to space. Possibly.

  1. Dictionopolis (from The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster)

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This is the first location that Milo and his friend Tock (part dog, part alarm clock) journey to after Milo enters “The Lands Beyond”. Here, you can find an entire market where people buy and sell letters and words. Basically, it is paradise for a writer such as myself. When I read this book as a kid, this was always the city that I was most enthralled by.

  1. Hogwarts or the Harry Potter world in general (from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)

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I definitely feel like this needs the least amount of explaining because, honestly, who wouldn’t want to go live in a giant, magical castle in the UK? Who wouldn’t want to spend time just about anywhere in the Harry Potter world for that matter? Personally, I’d spend all of my time down in Hogsmeade, or maybe in the library at the school. It would also be wonderful to get lost for hours exploring all the secrets the castle holds. I’m still waiting for my acceptance letter—do you think 21 is too old?

  1. Narnia from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

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Any fan of the series can relate to that feeling of knowing it’s not real, yet still hoping that, one day, you’ll go to grab something from the wardrobe and end up stumbling into this beautiful world. A world of animals that can talk, enchanting mythical creatures, and long expanses of lush forests divided by crystal clear waters. A world where exciting adventures are always just around the corner—a world you want to get lost in. What more can I say? Narnia is pure magic.

So there you have it—my top 5 favorite fictional locations. I hope you all enjoyed this first post; there will be plenty more to come! Let me know in the comments what your top favorite fictional cities/places are.

-Ariana

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