Tag Archives: Travel

Friendsgiving 2016 | Salem, MA

For the past few years, I’ve been doing a lovely tradition of Friendsgiving with my best friends who you may also know by their blogs or as co-hosts of Secret Sister, Alyssa (from Books Take You Places) and Amy (from Tripping Over Books). We started the Friendsgiving sort of unofficially when they came into town to stand up to my wedding back in 2014. Basically, almost the entire wedding party got along so swimmingly and we had such a good time together that we wanted to have that magical wedding week continue. We decided to do a Friendsgiving in the years to come to get together with our friends, old and new, and celebrate the friendships that we’ve built despite the distance between all of us. Although this trip wasn’t exclusively bookish, I wanted to share this fun experience and special adventure because we experienced so many new and fun things in Salem!

This year instead of coming to Illinois, Alyssa, Amy, and I got together out in Salem, MA! Why Salem, you ask? Alyssa and Amy were already set to attend the Juliet Marillier event at a teashop in Salem and with so much going on in our lives this year, the trip for the two of them all the way out to Illinois was a bit too much, especially having just come out to IL for BEA back in May. It was much easier for me to meet up with them, so I headed out to the east coast for a reunion with my two best friends!

We headed out to Salem on a Friday morning and it was shaping up to be a chilly but gorgeous weekend! The leaves were falling, the sun was shining, and I was ridiculously basic with my big sweater, boots, flannel shirt, and Starbucks drink. We drove from Alyssa’s place in CT out to our Airbnb in Salem, which was so lovely! We ended up renting a house right off of the water instead of staying in a hotel and the experience was just perfect. We got our own little space (the house was a multi-residence but each residence with a separate entrance aside from the entry hall) and it was great to have the amenities that came with an Airbnb instead of the limited options when staying in a hotel. The house was a little ways away from downtown Salem so we did have to drive back and forth but it was a quick drive and the parking garage in the downtown area wasn’t too expensive if we wanted to jet back and forth between the house and the town.

Friday night, we headed into town for the Marillier event and it was hosted by Jolie Tea Company off of Essex St. It was a very small and intimate gathering which was a very cool experience compared to other book events. The tea shop even had a special tea blend specifically for the event and it was quite delicious too! But the best part of the experience was being able to see Alyssa meeting one of her all-time favorite authors and getting books signed that were so special to her. The tea shop was so lovely, very cute, and the staff was so helpful and kind, even to tea newbies like me! We even went back later on in our trip to warm up with a few cups of tea after a chilly trip around the shops. I also couldn’t leave without sampling some of their macaron selection! I ate them on later in my trip but the creme brûlée one was probably my favorite!

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Saturday was our day to be tourists about town! It was so much fun to be able to do because whenever we get together, it’s always for events like BEA or ALA and we never have time to go walk around, visit shops, and just be a little touristy. Alyssa has visited Salem many times and Amy has been at least once, but it was a first time for me so I was excited to see anything and everything new! I just loved the feel of Salem in general and it was so neat to be somewhere with so much history. We headed out to the Salem Witch Museum as one of our first stops and the attraction itself (which you’re not allowed to photograph inside) is a little outdated but I had a fun time! I actually kind of liked the cheesiness and oldness of the figures of the production because let’s be honest — I’m a huge scaredy cat so I need a little levity in places that are trying to be a little spooky! It was a neat attraction and also educational! I actually didn’t know nearly as much about the Salem Witch Trials as I had thought so it was a great place to get all of that information. And naturally, I picked up some souvenirs!

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After the museum, we visited a few more places around town including Wicked Good Books (naturally), Wynott’s Wands (where Amy bought her own wand and I was seriously tempted), and had an absolutely delicious lunch at Howling Wolf Taqueria! The book store was small and cozy, but any bookstore is a good bookstore! I was tempted to buy some bookstore merch but managed to stick to a bit of a budget! I also really wanted my own wand from Wynott’s (made to have a look and feel like Olivander’s) but they were a bit on the pricy side and I couldn’t quite part with the money for one.

We also stopped by Old Burying Point Cemetery which was just so neat. History like that always amazes me and it’s so neat think of things and places that people had interacted with hundreds of years ago. I’m from Illinois so it’s not like it’s that new but we don’t have a lot of historical attractions in Illinois and if they do exist, it’s a single house that’s still standing or in the middle of a giant tourist attraction. Granted Salem is kind of one big tourist attraction too but it’s much more authentic-feeling and the history is truly everywhere.

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To close out the night, we went on a ghost tour, or as the flyer advertised it, Salem Night Tour. Let’s remember here that I’m a huge scaredy cat and I was convinced to go on a ghost tour. What. Happened. No, but really, I’m kidding. I wouldn’t have normally agreed to go on a ghost tour but it was one that Alyssa had been on before and she promised it wasn’t scary — and it wasn’t. A little creepy at times since we were learning about ghosts but it wasn’t made to be a scary tour — it was educational, historical, and interesting (and no ghosts followed me home). Our tour guide was also a lot of fun! It was pretty freezing out but I had my new Ravenclaw hat on and bundled up as best as I could for not bringing a jacket with me. I had a really fun time and it was so neat to learn about the different spots around Salem and some more of its history! And we also got to pass by one of the locations from Hocus Pocus (the “I Put a Spell on You” scene) which was really fun!

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Sunday allowed us a few more touristy stops, but first we had to grab some coffee. We had plans to go on a tour of the House of Seven Gables so we were in search of coffee and breakfast before we did so. We were heading down the street when we came upon a coffeeshop called Derby Joe and decided to stop in and I’m so glad we did! The coffee was strong, the breakfast sandwiches were delicious, and the staff was so much fun! We instantly felt welcomed and ended up chatting for quite a while as we ate and drank our coffee. I just love experences like that where you really make a human connection at an establishment because long after we left, we kept talking about how much fun we had at Derby Joe, which wasn’t even supposed to be a highlight of our trip and yet it was one of those places that we really connected with.

The House of Seven Gables was a really neat tour! I actually had no idea what to expect and I had such a great time on the tour. It was another place where I got to see some really interesting history and another place where we had a great tour guide. Parts of the house had been updated in order to be a better tourist attraction so they weren’t really historically accurate anymore but really the whole experience was historical in its own right and just really so interesting to experience. I don’t often get to take historical trips anymore (we used to take all kinds of family vacations as a kid) so this was really just a wonderful experience.

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After our tour, we headed back home to make Friendsgiving dinner! It was a great night of good food but even better, full of great friendship talks. As much as we talk all the time, it’s so different and so special to be able to talk and hang out with person and it was amazing to have that time with my friends. We had a really nice night just hanging out and talking — and taking photos of the super moon!

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First thing Monday morning, it was time to pack up and head home but I think we all had a really amazing time. I absolutely loved staying in that Airbnb and it became our little home for the weekend. We had such a great time in Salem and I’m so glad we made a weekend out of it so we could all get together again!

Have you been to Salem before? What were your favorite attractions/shops/restaurants? Did we do any of the same things?

 

Wanderlost – Jen Malone

Wanderlost – Jen MaloneTitle: Wanderlost by Jen Malone
Publishing Info: May 31, 2016 by HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 2, 2016

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.
Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.
Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.
But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

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I love cute contemporary books, especially in the summertime, so I was very excited to read WANDERLOST! I had been looking forward to reading it and ran into a reading slump for a while (well, more so that I didn’t have time to read than an actual slump) so WANDERLOST got put on hold for a bit but once I was able to pick it back up, I couldn’t put it down! I spent an afternoon in the summer sun bingeing the rest of the book and it was such a pleasant and fun read!

I really, really loved the sister aspect in this book. Aubree and her sister Elizabeth are just far apart enough in age that they never really fell into sync with that best friendship that a lot of sisters have, not to mention that they both have very different personalities. The book really swings back and forth from the two girls getting along to wondering how they’re even sisters and I just loved how real that felt to me. My sister and I are three years apart and we were never at odds like Aubree and Elizabeth were but it took us a while to find our solid friendship! We’ve always gotten along and have been sisterly but once I graduated college, we really started to become better friends and it was such a wonderful thing to be able to have another relationship with my sister like that! I really loved seeing how Aubree and her sister worked their way through their relationship and really worked on seeing life from each other’s perspectives (quite literally as Aubree pretends to be Elizabeth for a portion of this book) and it was such a great part of WANDERLOST for me!

I think this book is perfect for fans of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS both in tone and content. The romance is cute, the comedy is perfect, and the wanderlust is real. Even though it maybe pushed the limits of reality sometimes (I’m not sure how plausible it is to pose as your sister in a foreign country but I guess it COULD happen), I totally didn’t care and I was on board no matter what was happening. I loved the fun atmosphere throughout! Aubree did a great job of handling herself no matter what the situation was and I loved how much she grew throughout the book.

I love how Aubree learned so much about herself through all of her new experiences. Aside from traveling to Europe — which is a pretty huge deal — she traveled alone, led a group of seniors around the continent, and ended up having to really figure out who she was outside of her friends, family, and school. I really appreciated watching her grow up and more so than just growing up, to really figure out who she was and what she wanted to do with her life. She was finally coming out of her sister’s shadow and I can totally relate to the point where Aubree was in this book. It was similar to my experiences when I went to college (though obviously without the whole Europe part) and I really started to figure out who I was as an individual and the kind of person I wanted to be as an adult. It’s such an awesome thing to witness and this is one of the many reasons I love reading YA!

WANDERLOST was such a fun book with some really great messages. If you’ve got a bit of wanderlust, this book will totally hit the spot and you get to see some really great relationships as well. Jen Malone had me totally hooked with this book and I can’t wait to read more from her!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Aubree // Character obsessions: Relaxing, friends, the easy life.
Aubree had the easy life before this book started — classes, friends, hanging out — and I don’t blame her! As a high schooler, this was pretty much my life as well. I really appreciated how much she matured throughout her trip and how she really claimed a lot of responsibility for so many things in her life.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Travel. Man, I want to go to Europe. I’ve never been (money and time, ya know) but it would be so amazing! In the mean time, I’ll travel through these books.
Left Me Wanting More: Chill from Elizabeth. I loved the sister relationship but Elizabeth was a BIT much sometimes. I guess I haven’t known someone who is so dedicated at such a young age but I can see it. It just felt a tad towards the exaggerated side.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

WANDERLOST was so much fun and such a great summer read. If you love fun and light contemporary books, this is one I highly recommend!

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BOOKS LIKE WANDERLOST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS    MEANT TO BE

15 Young Adult Books for Readers with Wanderlust

travel books

Summer is the time I’m always thinking about vacations and the travel bug hits me hard! I have yet to travel internationally besides when I went to Aruba on my honeymoon but if I can’t do the actual traveling, I’ll happily travel through someone else’s trips in a book!

Typically, I think of travel books as contemporary romances but there are also so many amazing places to visit that are featured in other genres as well! Today I’m sharing some of my favorite travel destinations found within my favorite books!

15 YOUNG ADULT BOOKS FOR READERS WITH WANDERLUST

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is still one of my favorite contemporary romances of all time. I remember when I first read it I knew nothing about France (much like Anna) but it was amazing how easily I slipped into this setting and now I MUST go to Paris someday.
Locations Visited: France

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


 WANDERLOST by Jen Malone

Wanderlost

I just finished WANDERLOST not too long ago and it was really cute! I’d say it’s a great recommendation for fans of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS too. I kind of love the books where the main character has no idea what they’re doing in a foreign country because that would so be me.
Locations Visited: The Netherlands, Italy, Monaco, Austria

GOODREADS | AMAZON


JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

I related a lot to Allyson in JUST ONE DAY so it’s a book I really connected with! It was one of the first books I read where The Netherlands was such a prominent setting and it sounds absolutely beautiful! I’d love to visit someday.
Places Visited: Paris, London, The Netherlands, Mexico

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


SUMMER OF SLOANE by Erin L. Schneider

SUMMER OF SLOANE had me itching to go to Hawaii! We considered it for our honeymoon but ended up with Aruba instead. I still really want to make it out there! Maybe for an anniversary trip…
Places Visited: Hawaii

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


MEANT TO BE by Lauren Morrill

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill cover

MEANT TO BE is just plain adorable and I adore the hate-to-love romance. It brought a new side of London to my attention and I’d love to experience it as well!
Places Visited: United Kingdom (London)

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


NANTUCKET BLUE by Leila Howland

Nantucket Blue (Nantucket, #1)

Ahh, beachy summer days. I’m not a huge beach person but Nantucket had me longing to soak up the rays. (Which is a bad idea because I burn so easily!) The touristy-town feeling of the book had me reminiscing about vacations!
Places Visited: Nantucket

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW

MYSTERY/THRILLER

DANGEROUS GIRLS by Abigail Haas

Dangerous Girls

I read this book before I had actually been to Aruba so I wasn’t familiar with the setting but now I want to re-read it since I’ve been! Although I definitely did not see the inside of an Aruban jail (thankfully).
Places Visited: Aruba

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


WITH MALICE by Eileen Cook

With Malice

WITH MALICE is split between the states and Italy, where the “incident” took place but I could just picture myself taking tours around Italy! (Even though I’ve never been there)
Places Visited: Italy

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


THE CONSPIRACY OF US by Maggie Hall

The Conspiracy of Us (The Conspiracy of Us, #1)

THE CONSPIRACY OF US was a lot of fun and I loved the jet-setting, political thrills! I pretended the characters would run into Anna and Etienne (from ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS) while in Paris but alas. That didn’t happen.
Places Visited: France, Istanbul

GOODREADS | AMAZON 

FANTASY

THE CROWN’S GAME by Evelyn Skye

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1)

THE CROWN’S GAME is a take on historical fiction but the setting is Imperial Russia. I never knew I was so interested in Russian history and culture but with the books I’ve been reading that are set there, I’m totally hooked!
Places Visited: Imperial Russia (historical fiction with fantasy elements)

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

Thisby is a fictional place but it feels so incredibly real. It feels like a combination of British and Scottish islands but also has a hint of a historical feel, like 1940s or 1950s.
Places Visited: Thisby (fictional island reminscent of British and Scottish towns)

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

SHADOW AND BONE is another Russian-inspired fantasy world and this one was inspired by csarist Russia. I love the influences throughout the book and it made me want to learn even more about the history and culture!
Places Visited: Russian-inspired fantasy lands

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath & the Dawn, #1)

The setting in THE WRATH AND THE DAWN was so beautiful and vivid. I could absolutely picture the desert atmosphere and Renee Ahdieh really brought the book to life with amazing imagery and sensory attractions.
Places Visited: Arabian Nights-inspired fantasy world

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW 


HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Who doesn’t want to visit London after reading the Harry Potter books? When they even create attractions based on the books, it just makes me HAVE  to go see it for myself.
Places Visited: Magical London

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

Prague was another place I never really considered before just because I didn’t know much about it but after reading DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, I totally need to visit. It sounds so rich in history and the buildings and architecture seem amazing!
Places Visited: Prague

GOODREADS | AMAZON | REVIEW


Do you have a bit of wanderlust? What are some places you’ve been to or want to travel to? Which books inspire you to plan a vacation or two?

Top Ten Tuesday – January 26, 2016: Top Ten Places In Books I’ve Visited

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TOP TEN TUESDAY
January 26, 2016

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s topic was a freebie and I chose to share ten places/settings mentioned in books that I’ve also visited!

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Which books feature places that you’ve been to? Any take place in your hometown/favorite vacation spot?? It’s so much fun to identify with places in books!!

Pub Date [11] – Destination: Beer


Pub Date

Hi, all! Welcome to back to our new feature called PUB DATE where Estelle from Rather Be Reading, Andi from Andi’s ABCs, and Maggie from Just a Couple More Pages and I all team up to pair books + beers in harmony! Each week, one of us will features a beer and a book of our choice, each with a different theme for that month!

This month’s theme: Travel and Road Trips

This is SUCH a fun topic for me. One of my favorite things to do when we travel to a new place (or old familiar place… anywhere that’s not here) is to make sure I have a local beer. I love craft beers and I love trying new beverages and there’s just something about vacation that makes them taste that much better, ha! We’ve been to so many cool places in our travels and Shane and I love to visit new bars, breweries, and restaurants with great beers. I haven’t been anywhere recently (you caught me too soon! I’ll be in CT & NYC for visits and BEA in a month!) so I’m going to share some of my favorites from past travels!

MILWAUKEE, WI

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From left to right: Lakefront brewery tour, a beer float at Milwaukee Brew Fest, beers with my sister at the taste of Milwaukee

My sister moved up to Milwaukee a few years ago so this gave me the opportunity to explore a city that I’d been to but hadn’t really gotten to know. Obviously with a baseball team called the Brewers, Milwaukee is damn proud of their beer scene. I’ve only explored a bit of it, but that’s also a good thing because there’s plenty left for me to experience! They’ve got several craft breweries as well as some major facilities like Miller-Coors — and the great news is that all of them offer brewery tours! They also have a beer festival each summer (which I’ve only been to once but it was a lot of fun!) and of course, the Taste of Milwaukee brings in lots of fantastic beers for you to try. There are also tons of bars, brew pubs, and even nanobreweries to try around the city!

BILLINGS, MT

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Clockwise from upper left: Montana Brewing Company, Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company, Red Lodge Brewing Company, drinking Red Lodge beers at our friend’s wedding

I would not have thought of Billings as a beer city, but it really is! We visited three breweries while we were there.. and that was only a few days! They were all SO good too. I’m glad Billings is a decently small city (for being the biggest town in Montana) because we got to traipse around trying all of the breweries we could find! If you’re ever at the Montana Brewing Company and they have the strawberry wheat beer — OMG. You MUST try it. It was like a strawberry dreamsicle in a glass. So delicious.

FORT COLLINS, CO

Fort Collins BeersFrom top to bottom: Fort Collins Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company (which was not open the day we passed through town), Odell Brewing Company

Fort Collins is really starting to boom and they have got QUITE the beer selection too. New Belgium has essentially exploded and now you can get a Fat Tire just about anywhere. A few of their craft breweries around right down the street so we also got to try Fort Collins Brewing Company and Shane got to show me his favorite brewery/beer in the world, Odell Brewing Company (home of 90 Schilling, which is Shane’s favorite). I didn’t actually get to see New Belgium because it was closed on Mondays and that happened to be the day we were there, but hopefully I’ll get to see it next time!

NEW YORK, NY

NYC beer collage

From left to right: Beer flight at Draught 55, Brooklyn Brewery at BEA 2014!

Of course a city like New York has a great beer scene. I was only able to sample a few excellent craft beers while I was there but I also want to grab some more when I’m back out there in May! I get jealous when I see NYC resident & fellow Pub Date gal Estelle check in with all of her awesome craft beers on Untappd! It’s also easier to get such great beers in the city because it’s really a great place to set up a craft or microbrewery. There are actually MANY in Chicago as well but I’m not a city person so I’m rarely out that way to do a sampling of Chicago beers (though it is something I want to do soon)!


I had so much fun talking about beers I ALMOST forgot to talk about books! How silly of me! While the beers I love are spread out around the US, the travel books I love seem to mostly take place in Europe! That means I need some more road trip books, right!?

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I’m sure no one is surprised that my favorites include Anna and the French Kiss, Meant to Be, Open Road Summer, and Just One Day. All instant favorites of mine, hands down. Is part of it because of travel? Well… it might be! But I think most of it is just those amazing authors creating wonderful stories and really bringing these places to life. I didn’t really care about Paris at all until I read Anna and Just One Day — honest to goodness — and now I want to go there just because of those books! (And it’d be neat, but you know.) I just love how I’m able to feel like I’m traveling to all of those places that the characters do without ever leaving my couch! Plane tickets to Europe ARE expensive, after all!


Thanks for joining us for another edition of Pub Date! Missed any posts? You can catch up at any time on my blog page for the Pub Date Feature!

Recent Beers 

  • Farmhouse Vultures by Werk Force Brewing Company. Farmhouse Ale // 7.48% ABV. I SWORE I had this before but somehow I never checked it in on Untappd so I really don’t know! Anyway, this beer was super delicious. I always love the beers that Werk Force puts out. If you’re in the Chicago ‘burbs, check them out in Plainfield or check for their new line of bottles in some stores (and even in some restaurants)! They’re always delicious.
  • Game of Thrones: Valar Morghulis by Brewery Ommegang. Dubbel // 8.00% ABV. I recently got back into watching Game of Thrones (I’m SEASONS behind but I read the books so it’s okay ;D) and I decided to finally pop open this beer that I bought when I was at World Market. It’s a dubbel which isn’t usually my style but it was really pretty good. I also loved the name. (And I’m a nerd and saved the bottle to put on my GoT shelf. It happened.)

** Beer styles and alcohol content from Beer Advocate **
** Drink responsibly ** 

Are you a beer fan? On the Untappd app? Add me as a friend!

On the Same Page: American Gods by Neil Gaiman | A Reading Roadtrip

American Gods road tripFor February, On the Same Page (Alyssa, Amy, and myself) read AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman as our book of choice. Neil Gaiman is a favorite author of Alyssa’s (like ALL-TIME FAVORITE) so I always feel a teensy bit of pressure when a favorite is involved! AMERICAN GODS was a new read for all of us, though, and it seemed like we all really enjoyed it! There were so many different aspects to the book that really struck my fancy and although travel really isn’t the main focus of the book, it definitely still plays a very large role and you could even argue that without travel, the book wouldn’t have had a purpose (since without travel, these gods would have never had a spot in America). Shadow and his boss Wednesday travel all over the continental United States running errands and completing tasks to fulfill Wednesday’s final end goal (which remains a mystery throughout most of the book) so besides the variety in characters, there’s also a large variety in setting.

I thought about including the mythology aspect in my post but as much as I enjoyed seeing all of the gods that appeared in the book, mythology really isn’t my forte. I always enjoy reading about it but I don’t have the strong well of knowledge to expand upon it in a post so I chose quite a different route (no pun intended) with a “reading road trip”, so to speak. A great portion of the book takes place in the Midwest (and there are many places not in the Midwest as well, but that seems to be where AMERICAN GODS spends most of its time) and that happens to be something I know a lot about! So come on a road trip with me, Shadow, and the gang with a brief collection of highlights from AMERICAN GODS!

First up, a complete map of all of the spots Shadow visited throughout AMERICAN GODS! I remembered quite a bit of these but this American Gods fansite (frowl.org) was a BIG help in filling in the blanks to what I had missed so I didn’t have to go back through the WHOLE book to track them all down! As you can see, this book really does span the whole country, for the most part!

AGmap

Now let’s pretend I’m sending you off on an AMERICAN GODS road trip! YAY! You can’t visit ALL of the places on the map (I mean… you CAN but they’re so all over the place)… But you literally can’t visit every place from the book because some don’t really exist. For those, I’ve taken small liberties to get you as close to the real thing as possible! I’m also a planner so the order of YOUR road trip will not necessarily be the order in which the characters took the trip. They weren’t exactly practical about how they went where… So let’s pretend you live in the center of the United States…

** MINOR spoilers for AMERICAN GODS below! I’m including facts from the book and nothing will give away major plot points but if you want to be kept in the dark, skip to the pretty picture of the map! **

  • Lebanon, KS: Ahh, the center of the United States. Really! Here is where some characters met for errr… a very important thing (also a major spoiler so I cannot say) but it’s the center and therefore, neutral ground.
  • Cherryvale, KS: The birthplace of actress Louise Brooks. Passing through due to Shadow’s interest!
  • Cairo, IL: Home of Mr. Ibis and Mr. Jacquel, where Shadow stayed for a while
  • Rock City, Lookout Mountain, GA: An important gathering place for the book!
  • “Eagle Point, IN”: A fictional place… For the sake of the road trip, I’m just estimating it’s around Indianapolis to make it easier!
  • St. Louis, MO: Where Shadow’s plane is redirected on his way home to Eagle Point and where the story more or less begins.
  • El Paso, IL: Shadow drops off Sam Black Crow
  • Chicago, IL: Shadow meets the Zorya
  • Madison, WI: Madison is mostly just an in-between point where they catch a plane to head west… but you’ll probably need to pass through to get to…
  • The House on the Rock, Spring Green, WI: A very interesting scene involving the World’s Largest Carousel and Shadow meets a few new important characters
  • “Lakeside, WI”: Lakeside is also a fictional place, but it’s extremely close to the UP so I estimated pretty far north and east in WI (PS — go camping there. It’s gorgeous!)
  • Minneapolis, MN: Another stop, where a… car switch happens. It doesn’t sound interesting but what’s going on at the time is!
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Some more pivotal moments in South Dakota and we get some more insight on what the gods can do
  • Lebanon, KS: Back to Lebanon, KS — the center of the United States. You’re home!

AGRT

 So what do you think? Would you take the road trip? Have you been to any of the locations from AMERICAN GODS before?

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Thanks again for checking out this month’s feature for On the Same Page! We had a blast reading AMERICAN GODS and sharing our thoughts with you! And don’t forget to check out Amy & Alyssa’s posts today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places) // Amy (Tripping Over Books)

Guest Review: The Unoffical Guide to Walt Disney World 2014 (Melissa from A Little Magic)

Today I’m excited to have a guest review by my sister Melissa who just started a blog VERY recently! It’s not a YA blog, but it’s about another one of my favorite things… DISNEY! She just recently started working with Magical Vacations as an Authorized Disney Vacation
Planner (how awesome is that job!) and wanted to share her thoughts on THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO WALT DISNEY WORLD 2014 so what better way to do that than by guest posting on her little sister’s book review blog!? 🙂 All you Disney fans planning a vacation — read carefully! 🙂

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2014Completed: August 19, 2013
Title: The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2014
Authors: Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa
Publishing Info: August 20th 2013 by Unofficial Guides
Genre: Travel & Tourism
Find It Online: Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

Compiled and written by a team of experienced researchers whose work has been cited by such diverse sources as USA Today and Operations Research Forum, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World digs deeper and offers more than any other guide. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World explains how Disney World works and how to use that knowledge to make every minute and every dollar of your vacation count. With advice that is direct, prescriptive, and detailed, it takes the guesswork out of travel by unambiguously rating and ranking everything from hotels, restaurants, and attractions to rental car companies. With an Unofficial Guide, you know what’s available in every category, from the best to the worst and step-by-step detailed plans allow the reader to make the most of their time at Disney World.” –– From Goodreads

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As guidebooks go, this is the best of the best! The authors are Disney experts and are continuously making updates as Disney World evolves. Each year, two guides are released, one in August or September of the previous year with an update around February of the same calendar year. It’s one of the many things that makes it superior to all the rest.

Once you open the book, you’ll know what I mean! Each section is carefully laid out and broken down into easily readable sections. This is not something you can fly through in a day! They begin with the planning process including the best time of year to go and budgeting which helps to mentally prepare for a Disney vacation.

From there is a detailed breakdown of all of the Disney World resorts (hotels). Each resort has a profile so the reader understands what each resort offers. All resorts have a report card with data compiled by readers and is updated on an annual basis and includes everything from lighting to comfort. It also gives the general pros and cons of each resort. This writer doesn’t agree with all of their comments, but it’s a great starting point to pare down the numerous options Disney provides. For those looking to stay at an offsite hotel (which I don’t suggest), there is a smaller section for these hotels.

The next major section is transportation: data compiled by reader reviews of each rental car company and how to best utilize Disney transportation. For those first timers out there, make yourself familiar with Disney transport and then use it!

Next up, dining. Another great section with reader reviews of each location. Additionally, the writers created profiles for each restaurant in Disney. The counter service (or quick service) restaurants all have mini profiles which offers a grade for the portion size and the value for the money. The table service (or sit down restaurants) have more detailed descriptions as well as reader reviews. Whether you choose to use a Disney Dining Plan or not, this is one of the best places to make your dining choices.

The last important sections I’d like to highlight are detailed descriptions of each park. Each of the 4 Disney parks have their own chapter and are broken down by “lands”. If you only read one part of this book, this should be it! The writers provide a detailed description of each ride, how different age groups rate the ride (pre-school, kids, tweens and teens, young adult, adult, and older adult). It also provides a scare factor for those with little ones and rides that could make you sick for those with a weak stomach.  And the most important part of all, Touring Plans! For those that don’t know, touring plans is the best way to get around the parks in the least amount of time. Their proven methods are said to save up to 4 hours waiting in lines each day. That’s a lot of time left available for snacking, exploring, or just a nice relaxing swim at your resort pool! AddictionFactor1

For those planning or thinking about planning a Disney vacation, this is a must read and one of those books that’s hard to put down. While you may feel your head exploding with knowledge, it’s well worth the read. It helps create excitement and you can involve the whole family in planning!

Addiction Rating
I highly recommend it!

My philosophy, know before you go! The more research you can do before your trip and the more you can plan before your trip, the more fun you will have. Vacations can be stressful. Add the Disney factor to it, and it can be even more stressful. My advice, work with a professional! You get the same Disney prices and discounts without all the work. Plus, you’ll have a valuable point of contact and a wealth of knowledge available to you!

About the Guest Blogger

Melissa is Vacation Specialist and  Independent Contractor with Magical Vacations, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Check her blog for exclusive promotions on top of Disney’s Special Offers and how to get your FREE version of the 2014 Unofficial Guide to Disney! If you have questions, want a no obligation, no cost quote, or you just want to talk about Disney, feel free to e-mail or visit her blog.

Special offer for blog readers: Follow my blog and book or transfer a vacation package, and receive a Disney gift card to use on your vacation! (minimum package required)

Email || A Little Magic (Disney Blog) || Twitter
melissa.fox(at)magical-vacations(dot)com

 

Top Ten Tuesday – June 4, 2013: Top Ten Books Featuring Travel In Some Way

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It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish!
This week’s topic: Top Ten Books Featuring Travel In Some Way (road trips, airplanes, travelogues, anything where there is traveling in the book!)

TOP TEN TRAVEL BOOKS! 

How perfect for the summer! I’m including my favorite overseas books and travels within the US!

Europe

1. Meant To Be – Lauren Morrill: London, England
2. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E Smith: London, England
3. Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins: Paris, France
4. Just One Day – Gayle Forman: Paris, the Netherlands
5. Heist Society – Ally Carter: Italy, Austria, Poland, France, the UK

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5. Heist Society – Ally Carter: New York, NY & Las Vegas, NV
6. The Rules for Disappearing – Ashley Elston: Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Florida, and Louisiana
7. The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken: Virginia & West Virginia
8. Of Poseidon – Anna Banks: Florida & New Jersey
9. Nantucket Blue – Leila Howland: Rhode Island & Massachusetts
10. An Abundance of Katherines – John Green: Illinois & Tennessee

I love travel books and am always on the look out for more! Which ones do I need to read ASAP?!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E SmithTitle: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Publishing Info: January 2, 2012 by Little, Brown
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 3, 2012

Four minutes changes everything. Hadley Sullivan 17 misses her flight at JFK airport, is late to her father's second wedding in London with never-met stepmother. Hadley meets the perfect boy. Oliver is British, sits in her row. A long night on the plane passes in a blink, but the two lose track in arrival chaos. Can fate bring them together again?

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This story was so cute! I love love-at-first-sight stories as long as they’re done right, and Jennifer E Smith definitely hit the nail on the head with this one. I felt like the story flowed seamlessly from beginning to end. I definitely fell into Hadley’s story immediately and I really enjoyed her connection with Oliver. Even though it was love at first sight, I actually didn’t feel like it was insta-love. They had an instant attraction and they started building a relationship through Hadley’s incessant teasing about Oliver’s British references and Oliver’s quirky sense of humor and sarcasm.

I really liked how Hadley’s story with her father and her soon-to-be stepmom developed as well. I was a little unsure about that storyline when it started because there seemed to be quite a bit of animosity from Hadley towards her father. I really did like the way everything was resolved and came together in the end.

I also really liked that the book was nice and concise. I’ve been reading tons of books that are in the high 300 to 400 page range so it was refreshing to pick up a book that fit perfectly in the span of 236 pages. I think any longer and it would have been too long and it was great to be able to finish so quickly and not feel overwhelmed with the size of the book since that does happen on occasion.

Also, I really love the cover! I just think it’s super cute and really catches the eye!

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Hadley: Even though the book really took place over the span of 24 hours or so, I was really able to see how she grew and how she matured in such a short time span.
Oliver: Oliver was adorable. I really liked his character and how perfect he seemed for Hadley.  His sense of humor was fun, sarcastic, and quirky and it was just adorable! We also find out more about his past later which really helps add some depth to him as well.
Hadley’s father: I think I totally took a turn with him in the book. At first I was totally on Hadley’s side, criminalizing and hating him. As the story goes on, we really get to learn more about him and I really warmed up to him!

Another note I wanted to make is that I enjoyed how we weren’t bogged down with characters. Smith kept it nice and clean with just the core of main characters and couple secondary characters and it just felt really refreshing not to add too many people into the story.

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Oh, this book was just so cute! I wasn’t toooootally head over heels but it was such a great, adorable story and I definitely recommend it!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT