Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Alternative Rock Albums

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is all about audio! I’ve already discussed my favorite audiobooks at length and most of the podcasts that I listen to are about personal finance (interesting to me, most likely boring to everyone else), so instead I thought I’d just share my favorite albums of the alternative rock genre.

My taste in music is eclectic: I listen to everything from hip-hop to house, from country to k-pop. But my go-to genre is alternative rock, specifically of the pop-punk variety. Some people may brand these albums as emo, but I did too much research on emo history as a teenager to make that amateur mistake.

Next year is my ten-year high school reunion, and although you couldn’t pay me enough money to relive those days, let’s just say I left my musical heart in the last decade.

Listed by the year they were released, here are my top ten favorite alternative rock albums:

  1. Simple Plan: “No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls” (2002)
  2. My Chemical Romance: “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” (2004)
  3. Fall Out Boy: “From Under the Cork Tree” (2005)
  4. 30 Seconds to Mars: “A Beautiful Lie” (2005)
  5. AFI: “Decemberunderground” (2006)
  6. Forever the Sickest Kids: “Underdog Alma Mater” (2008)
  7. Mayday Parade: “Monsters in the Closet (2013)
  8. All Time Low: “Future Hearts” (2015)
  9. Bring Me the Horizon: “That’s the Spirit” (2015)
  10. Compilations: “Punk Goes Pop” volumes 2-6 (2009-2014)

Anyone else in their late 20s who love listening to these albums? Let me know if I missed one of your favs!

Top Ten Tuesday: Best TV Series Based on Books

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is all about television-related topics. As TV has evolved from sitcoms with standalone plots in favor of long-form storytelling, books are becoming more popular as the go-to place for outstanding content for the small screen.

I’m super excited to finish reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, in anticipation of the STARZ adaptation coming next year, but to celebrate this TTT, here are the best TV series based on books (according to the humble opinions of me and my friends!):

  1. Best wedding scene: “Game of Thrones” (2011-present) based on the series by George R.R. Martin
  2. Best accents: “Outlander” (2014-present) based on the series by Diana Gabaldon
  3. Best six-pack abs: “Poldark” (2015-present) based on the series by Winston Graham
  4. Best Clinton biography: “House of Cards” (2013-present) based on the novel by Michael Dobbs
  5. Best swordwielding: “Legend of the Seeker” (2008-2010) based on The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind
  6. Best wardrobes: “Sex and the City” (1998-2004) based on the novel by Candace Bushnell
  7. Best backstabbing: “Gossip Girl” (2007-2012) based on the series by Cecily von Ziegesar
  8. Best for Millenials: “Younger” (2015-present) based on the novel by Pamela Redmond Satran
  9. Best “Will they? Won’t they?” chemistry: “Elementary” (2012-present) based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  10. Best culinary show: “Hannibal” (2013-2015) based on the novels by Thomas Harris

I’ve listed some fan-favorites, and I’m sure that there will be a lot of overlap on other bloggers’ TTTs, but let me know if I missed a TV adaptation you love!

Top Ten Tuesday: Classic Books All Children Need to Read

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is a back-to-school special! As the daughter of a retired third-grade teacher, I have many fond memories of helping her set up her classroom every August, but my favorite is curling up at her desk and re-reading all my favorite children’s books.

Not all of the books I’m about to mention are at a third-grade level, but I do consider them classics that all kids should read. Most have won Newbery Medals or Caldecott awards, but all have stood the test of time and positively impacted my love for reading:

  1. Best Dystopia: The Giver by Lois Lowry
  2. Best Juvenile Delinquents: Holes by Louis Sachar
  3. Best Local Claim to Fame: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (you can thank Lone Star Elementary in my hometown for the movie adaptation!)
  4. Best Survivor Story: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  5. Best #SquadGoals: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  6. Best Life Lesson: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  7. Best Sob Fest: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  8. Best Fantasy: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  9. Best Country Tale: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  10. Best Security Blanket: Owen by Kevin Henkes

Many of my peers are now having children of their own, so I can only hope the next generation loves these books as much as I do!

Top Ten Tuesday: Classics I Still Haven’t Read Yet

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is all about those books that are still collecting dust on our to-read lists. Every book blogger has experienced the guilt of knowing that you should read a critically-acclaimed or otherwise particularly awesome novel, but have yet to get around to it. Excuses know no bounds!

On any typical “Best Books of All Time” list, I can cross off about 20 percent of the works, which is better than the average American (a poor standard), but could definitely use some improvement. In fact, at the risk of humble-bragging, I would have read many of the classics I’m about to mention in high school had I not been in honors and AP English classes. Instead of reading popular classics like Huck Finn and The Picture of Dorian Gray, I delved into more obscure ones, like Saint Joan and The Return of the Native.

Yep, that might have been the most hipster thing I’ve ever written, and I completely deserve to be publicly shamed a la Cersei Lannister in “Game of Thrones.”

Anyway…moving on! High school-me may have been preoccupied, but present-me needs to get it together and finally cross off these ten classics that I still haven’t read yet: 

  1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  5. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  8. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  9. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  10. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Alright, time to see if you can out-hipster me…how many of these classics have you read?

Top Ten Tuesday: Book-Related Facts About Me

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Image via The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, focuses on the book bloggers rather than the books themselves. But since talking about myself is not nearly as interesting as letting others do the honors for me, I’ve enlisted my friends to contribute!

Here are ten book-related facts about me, according to those who know me best! (All facts have been quoted via Facebook comments).

1. “You’re a bit of a grammar queen, who tends to correct people’s Facebook posts. Like mine, for example.”

2. “You love Greek mythology.”

3. “If there’s a sexist rich guy in a book, he automatically reminds you of Christian Grey.”

4. “You prefer the fresh smell of binding to the fluorescent glow from some lifeless e-book.”

5. “You hate when books end, and you’re left without any real closure.”

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6. “You’re frenemies with Elizabeth Gilbert.”

7. “Ideal book: Dystopian feminist-centric romance novel based in an alternative universe where dogs and cats have equal rights as humans.”

8. “Ideal male leads to fight for the heroine’s heart and affection are played by none other than Tom Hiddleston and Jared Leto in the movie adaptation in three parts.”

9. “You love fantasy with supernatural types and fireworks at the end.”

10. “I know you may not kick stray puppies when you’re bored, but you sure do have some built-up tension towards Nicholas Sparks.”

All I can say is that my friends have certainly described me in a nutshell! Do any of their facts resonate with you as well?

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Books I Enjoyed

2000 rating

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is interesting, because it’s all about the books that don’t get enough love. Out of all the novels that I’ve kept track of reading on the ultimate literary social platform Goodreads, I’m supposed to choose my top ten with fewer than 2,000 ratings.

Unfortunately, it seems that my favorite books are also everyone else’s, so finding these diamonds in the rough was more difficult than I expected (hence why I’ve reduced my top ten to my top five!).

That said, there is a lot of diversity in this list, from junkie thriller to geeky romance. There’s historical fiction, a modern retelling of a classic novel, and even a two-sided love story. So pick the book less traveled and enjoy!

Bait by J. Kent Messum
590 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.4 stars
My rating: 3 stars

The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian
1,467 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.68 stars
My rating: 3 stars

Gilded Age by Claire McMillan
730 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.08 stars
My rating: 3 stars

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss
823 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.3 stars
My rating: 4 stars

Talk Nerdy to Me by Vicki Lewis Thompson
1,454 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.78 stars
My rating: 4 stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Why I Love Romance Novels

Image via The Broke and the Bookish

As I’m reading another one of Julie James’ romance novels, Suddenly One Summer, this week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) got me thinking about all the reasons why I love the genre so much, especially since it suffers so much ridicule and so many misconceptions in the literary world.

Why do I love reading romance novels? Let me count the ways!

  1. Overlaps all literary genres. Sure, romance novels are, in essence, love stories, but those stories can be wrapped in a variety of casings. There are romantic thrillers, supernatural romances, historical romances, among many others. There are subgenres for Christians, the military, even the Amish. Whatever kind of love you’re looking for, someone is writing the book for you.
  2. Mass appeal. Because romance is a genre that easily overlaps with others, it has a global reach. Just like some moviegoers prefer indie films to Hollywood blockbusters, some readers may prefer experimental fiction to commercial fiction. I am not one of those people–at least not when it comes to love stories. Bring on the tried-and-true tales of what works!
  3. Series or standalone. If you’re like me, you’re burnt out on long, sprawling series that take over your whole life. It may be because of the nature of my book club, but nowadays I tend to gravitate toward stories that are one and done. Julie James’ U.S. Attorney series is a happy medium: her novels inhabit the same universe of law and order in Chicago, but by no means do you need to read them all to enjoy them.
  4. Interesting, multi-dimensional characters. Don’t let bad romance novels (*cough* Fifty Shades of Grey *cough*) color your opinion about the merit of the genre’s characterization. Not all the women are Mary Sues, and most in fact, have fulfilling lives outside of their relationships. Shocker I know!
  5. Increasing diversity. Love is blind, but as a white heterosexual woman, I’m not going to declare that the entire publishing industry feels the same way. That said, I applaud efforts to increase diversity in romance novels by supporting more books with racial minorities, LGBT characters, and the disabled. It’s been proven that inclusive media makes people more tolerant, so we all benefit from reading diverse romance novels.
  6. Support of feminism. If there’s a theme that I love seeing in romance novels, it’s that the women don’t need to have men in their lives. They simply want them there. Rather than enable traditional gender norms in which the prince rescues the damsel in distress, both parties should inspire the other to become better people and treat them with mutual respect. After all, what’s truly sexy is equality!
  7. Sexual tension. Okay, I can’t talk about what’s sexy in romance novels without discussing the actual sex. While I abhor books that waste my time with nothing more than fade-to-blacks, I enjoy the slow burn of building the sexual tension between characters before watching the explosion. Foreplay is essential, and I only wish it was as present in the male-dominated forms of erotic media (aka porn) since it’s clearly men–not women–who need to learn this valuable lesson.
  8. Hilarious dialogue. Sometimes it’s good; other times it’s so bad, it’s good; and in a few gems it’s bloody fantastic. Sex doesn’t always have to be serious, and I love characters that have playful banter with one another. Whether it’s witty or even slightly on the corny side, I’m a sucker for quick quips. In my mind it’s the fastest way to verbal seduction.
  9. Happy endings. Call romance novels formulaic, but there’s a reason why Game of Thrones isn’t in the genre. The world can be downright depressing, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to read a story in which the bad guys get their just desserts and the lovers live happily ever after. I definitely use romance novels as my literary Prozac when I’m feeling blue and need a pick-me-up!
  10. Escapist fun. Extending my previous point, what I love most about romance novels is that they don’t depict real life. Yes, I know that meet-cutes are rare and that love is much messier and more complicated, but in these books, I know that the stakes are low and that everything will work out in the end. And if I can be entertained by larger-than-life characters and zany plots, then all the better!

Do you like romance novels as much as I do? Share your reasons for reading in the comments!