Summer Reading 2015 | part 4

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my summer reading!  Well, the summer’s almost over, isn’t it?  August always tends to be slower for me, as I’m not hitting the beach as frequently because I’m trying to catch up on all of the other things I forgot to do this summer!  The good news is that I’ve officially passed last year’s count.  Here are books 10, 11, & 12!


Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman | This was my first Gaiman venture, and I must say that I am so excited to read more!  This took me a bit to get into, but once I was in, I felt pleasantly completely submerged in the world created.  Don’t you love that in a book?  I found myself wanting more when this was done, and weirdly, found myself thinking Door was a pretty cute name.

Armada by Ernest Cline | After reading Ready Player One last year, I couldn’t WAIT to get my hands on more Ernest Cline.  Armada didn’t disappoint, but I must say, I liked Ready Player One much better.  The world created in Ready Player One was slightly more plausible, but Cline really does an excellent job at, to quote myself, writing love letters to geeks everywhere.  Armada may have been slightly more difficult to get into, but it did cause me to shed a tear and, like Cline’s other book, really made me want to play video games!

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee | Alright, I’m sure a lot of you have read this by now and I honestly want to know what you think.  I find myself dying to take this as a completely separate work from the (obviously related) To Kill A Mockingbird.  To me, it’s like Harper Lee brought this to her publisher and was like, “good try, but what’s actually the story here?”  And then came TKAM.  My friend Celina (who frequents Russian authors) said she was basically told to write it 20 years earlier, which is how TKAM came to be.  I can’t say I was floored.  Opinions?!

This could be it for this summer, guys… stay tuned to see if there will be a part 5!

Face Off: Let’s Get Literary

We started with the bad news this week.  The results from last week’s challenge had been calculated, and post-wedding fun, the judges send Missy packing.  Sad to see her go, but she really hadn’t put anything out great yet.

To continue on the path of switching up the format, a new type of challenge comes at the artists.  We’ve seen Foundation Challenges and Spotlight Challenges, but this week, it’s a Focus Challenge!  That means the focus is on the face.

The theme of the week is immensely satisfying to this little literature major– mash-ups of classic fictional characters and horror.  The artists can choose from Sherlock Holmes Bloodsucker, Don Quixote: Monster of La Mancha, King Arthur and his Undead Knights, Gulliver’s Travels in the Underworld, The Exorcism of Monte Cristo, Scarlet Letter: Puritan Poltergeist, and Great Expectations of a Serial Killer.

Here’s what the artists are able to create:

Scott’s Frankenstein-inspired Sancho Panza wins the day!  He stares the top looks with a monster version of Don Quixote created by Stevie and the vampire daughter of Sherlock Holmes created by Jasmine.  The bottom looks for the day are Brittany’s Mrs. Havisham, who is not successful as an age make-up nor a burn make-up, Meg’s ghostly Hester Prynne who came out purple and textured, and Jason’s demonic Pearl, who ended up looking too alien. Brittany is sent home.

As sad as I am to see two eliminations in one episode, I can’t wait to see what else is to come from these artists!  And I’m glad Meg is still here.  I like her so far.  Any favorites?!

Top Chef Boston: A Lit Major’s Dream

Every episode of Top Chef Boston reminds me how much I love living here.  I think Bravo may have made this season just for me…  I’m going to gush all the way through this recap, so let’s get to the Quickfire!

The cheftestants walk in to see Rob Gronkowski, who has partied with my high school friends and yours, standing with Padma Lakshmi.  The challenge is to make sausage for Gronk.  “I need a big sausage,” says Gronk in an awkwardly overt innuendo.  “Me too,” says Padma adorably and hilariously.

Here’s what the chefs make:


On the bottom, we have Melissa whose sausage came out quite small, and Gregory for too many spices and toppings.  The top two are Doug and George.  George wins!  Even though he told Gronk to his face that he’s not a fan of his, the food won him over.  George gets immunity for the win.

Guest Judge Tony Maws (of Craigie on Main, for you Bostonians) comes out with a book case.  The elimination challenge is to make a dish inspired by one of the New England authors on the shelf.  “Make your high school English teachers proud,” Chef Tony says.

  • Gregory chooses Edgar Allan Poe (who was born roughly between the Steinway Building and the Boloco on Boylston street, next door to my former dorm) and uses The Raven as inspiration
  • Katsuji chooses Stephen King (who my high school English teacher actually knows! from sitting next to him in their college classes at U Maine) and selects Carrie as inspiration
  • George goes for Dr. Seuss (I’m out of local girl fun-facts now) and opts to use One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish as inspiration
  • Mei goes for Henry David Thoreau (and Nicole says, oof transcendentalism) and finds inspiration in Walden
  • Melissa chooses Nathaniel Hawthorne and is inspired by The Blithedale Romance
  • Dougie kind of gets stuck with Emily Dickinson, but after a quick flip through the supplied book he finds inspiration in the line “bring me sunset in a cup”

Tom & Tony check on the chefs who have all been successful in their creative inspiration.  Mei even impressively sketches her plate out, inspired in part by her boss Michael Voltaggio’s attention to plating.


Frances Lam joins Tom, Gail, Padma, and Tony at the judges’ table.  Here’s what the cheftestants make this time around:


Everyone gets such good comments!  The only negative thing we hear is that Greg didn’t take Seuss far enough, and he has immunity.  With the bar so high, the elimination makes me nervous.

On top this week: Mei, Melissa, and Doug.  The big winner is Mei!

And who’s eliminated?  Sadly, Katsuji.  This was hands-down the saddest I’ve been this season.  I think Doug summed it up best at the beginning of the episode when he says, “He’s probably my favorite person in the house… I don’t know why.”  Katsuji has been a constant source of laughter and you know his heart goes onto his plates!  I’m hoping he makes a comeback in Last Chance Kitchen!


So, sad news.  Next week, though, my alma mater Emerson College gets a little shout out!  Of all the colleges and universities in this city… I told you this season was made for me!

Enough of my gushing… what did you think?!

Julep Maven: October Box!

I kept it simple when choosing my October box– I actually didn’t change or add a thing!  The October It Girl box was just so perfect, that I couldn’t wait to get these great colors from the Black Magic collection!


fun black sparkle tissue too!

Here’s what I got:

  • Shailene: bewitched purple with gold flecks, as described by Julep.  It looks brown in the bottle, but it’s a dark, almost black, magical purple glitter on the nails!
  • Dana: white with “electric blue sheen” as activated by UV light!  You can see some of the fun sheen in the photo above.
  • Ledi: black pearl shimmer.

These beautiful colors from the Black Magic Collection are perfect for Halloween, but also just great basics for any collection.  They look very neutral, like simple black & white, but pack a pretty punch!



As always, I got a coupon.  This time I got $10 my next $20 purchase.  I also got this pretty little goodie:


I’m obsessed with this card, and tucked it into the corner of my mirror.

Finally, I got candy corn in this box!  How cute!

Any other Julep Mavens out there?  What did your October box look like?

If you want to be a Maven, leave me your email address to get your first box free!

Summer Reading List 2014 (part 2)


This post is a bit overdue, thanks to my vacation giving me ample time to read! When we last left off, I had just finished my first book of the summer, The Weird Sisters, and was working my way through Nabokov’s Lolita. Well, I finished that, then I must’ve gotten this title stuck in my head somehow, after making so many puns to myself when reading Lolita on the train, etc., so my next read was…


3. Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi

  •  Like I said, I basically wanted to read this book because its title was stuck in my head, but gosh am I glad I did.  Out of the three I had read to this point, its my favorite.
  • Subtitled “A Memoir in Books,” Reading Lolita in Tehran is about Azar Nafisi’s experiences as a Western literature professor in Iran as related to various literary works, such as Lolita.  The book is divided into four parts: Lolita, Gatsby, James, and Austen.
  • I was so glad I had read Lolita prior to this, because I had plenty of context for her references to this book.  However, other Nabokov works were drawn upon heavily as well, especially Invitation to a Beheading.  Perhaps I shall be reading more Nabokov now!  The literary analysis was a joy to read for me, my degree being in literature.  I love Henry James, so that was a plus!
  • The premise is that Azar Nafisi, fed up with the increasing restrictions of Islamic Iran, starts her own literature class with 7 of her best students.  These parts were absolutely the best– I loved hearing about each of these women.  The two middle parts of the book were largely political, and I enjoyed them less.  Still, it made me think, and I loved the book overall.
  • On an loosely related note, I started syncing up my TV programming with my reading at this point, turning my attention to Little Mosque on the Prairie, or Little Mosque as its known on Hulu, a Canadian series I love.  On Netflix, I’d been trying (with less success so far) The Witches of East End, which ties in with my next read…


4. A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

  • Siiiigh, I’d started this book a while back but life got in the way and I was so excited to read it.  It had so much potential in my mind.  I should, by all logic, love this book.  And I didn’t dislike it!  It’s just, everything I had read before it has such literary merit– albeit, varying degrees thereof.  This book, as my high school English teacher would say, was purely candy.  Now, there is nothing wrong with a good candy book!  A summer beach read should be candy.  I just wasn’t in the mood for candy when I started it.
  • Actually, when it started, I felt its potential to be super interesting.  The main character is a witch, check; she’s a history scholar at Oxford studying ancient alchemy texts in the stacks of the library, check check!  Then she falls in love with a vampire and things take a turrrrrrn.  I might as well have been reading Twilight at points.
  • Now, I was once the biggest vampire fan.  As a Buffy addict, I loved Angel and Spike and vampire romance was all part of that.  I love vampires– the lore and the romance therewith.  I think it’s all just been played out now.  Damn you, masses, for making me tired of this story.  I used to love this story!  I just can’t take anymore supernatural romance tales.  Ruined forever.
  • This book is apparently part of the All Souls trilogy, the second installment of which is currently on shelves.  I liked this book enough to continue the series, and will be seeking out its sequel.


5. The School of Essential Ingredients – Erica Bauermeister

  • I picked this up off a Best Sellers shelf when helping my mom pick out some beach reads for herself a few weeks back.  There was some teaser that said something like, Food Network fans will love this!  Well, I’m a big fan of food and food TV, and the way the book promised to make food magical sold me.
  • This is Erica Bauermeister’s first novel, but it didn’t much feel like a novel.  It was more like a series of connected short stories.
  • Lillian runs a cooking school out of her restaurant where 8 students gather each Monday night to learn about food, and truly, life.
  • It was a very quick read, but enjoyable!  It was nice, and the format made it feel very approachable to writers.  Like, I think I could create something like this.  I appreciate a book that I find inspirational, no matter what the reason.


6. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

  • A friend recommended this to me, knowing I’d like it.  The accolades on its cover are pretty hilarious, including Willy Wonka meets The Matrix and a grown-up Harry Potter.  Having never seen The Matrix, I can’t exactly attest to this statement, but I will say: this book is fun!
  • This book reads like you are playing a video game.  The premise is a dystopian future where everyone is connected to the internet via a virtual reality device.  The creator of the device has hidden an “Easter egg” in this virtual land; the finder of this egg will receive the creator’s fortune.
  • Since I’m literally reading back to back, I have a bit of trouble switching moods from one book to another, and as you can see, I’ve read a variety already.  As expected, it took a little while for this to grip me.  Once it got into the story however, I was hooked!  This is also Ernest Cline’s first novel, and while I wouldn’t call his writing prolific, I found his melding of real life fiction works with his own fictional work amazing!
  • This is truly a love letter to geeks.  If you are a gamer, you will love this.  As a geek across genres, I appreciated this book so much.  It honestly made me feel really good about loving things (TV shows, video games, books) as much as I do.


I should’ve brought more books on my vacation, because I ran out before my last day!  I’m still reading, so look out for part 3!

How’s your summer reading going?

Summer Reading List 2014 (part 1)

With summer officially underway, and with three beach weekends under my belt already, I’m making a dent on my ever shifting summer reading list.  I used to read all the time, devouring books in a weekend or less.  Those were the days of Harry Potter, and part-time summer jobs.  Now I work and complain and am just too tired to do anything.  I still love to read, and with out beach house lacking both internet (quel horreur!) and, at the moment, cable, I’ve had plenty of time to do just that.  There is nothing I love better than sizzling on the sand, or the porch, with a good book.  My tan, peeling legs prove that much.

Just as the season turned, I finished my first book of the summer.

Pink House

1. The Weird Sisters – Eleanor Brown

  • Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia are daughters of a Shakespeare scholar who teaches at the local college of a sleepy college town.  Each return home after their mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer, but each are home for a different reason.  Rose’s fiancé wants her to join him abroad in Oxford, but she struggles with relinquishing her role as the one who holds everything together.  Bean flees New York City life after she is fired from her job in Human Resources at a law firm for stealing money.  Cordy is pregnant and tired of traveling from town to town without a purpose.
  • This book is something I meditated on for a while, having once read the jacket then reshelving it in Barnes & Noble.  Something eventually nagged at me and I went back and picked it up.  I found it a good beach read, the subject matter serious enough but not too serious.  Interestingly, one of the cover’s accolades comes from J. Courtney Sullivan, an author I met last year.  The familiar relationships in this book make it worth reading.  As a Shakespeare fan, I loved the comparisons each of the girls drew between themselves and the characters they were named for.  It definitely helps to be a Shakespeare fan when reading this book!

Currently Reading: Lolita – Vladamir Nabokov

  • I find the classics make enjoyable beach reads, and I’d never read Lolita before.  I’m about 60% through and so far am really enjoying it!


Stay tuned for more of my summer reading list.  Feel free to look for me on Goodreads as well!

What are you reading this summer?