Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Announcing the Summer Read-a-thon 2016!

Surprise! I bet you were expecting not to read another post from me until my June Wrap-Up somewhere in the middle of July, but I don't mind a little of the unexpected now and then. As I was brainstorming ideas for the coming summer months, dear readers, I came to the realization that I hadn't given much thought to my yearly summer reading challenge. When I was in college, I had the whole summer off and didn't really care when I decided to have the challenge. Well, now that I work 10 hours a day, four days a week, it's a little harder to devote a solid week to marathon reading.



Luckily, I have an extra long weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July, so I figured why not read then? For those new to the Summer Read-a-thon, it's basically a week in the summer where I try to read as many pages/as many books as possible within that time span. Every year it makes a dent in my massive TBR pile, which is always fantastic. Unlike the previous challenges, I won't be setting a page goal for myself. For a little while, I've been on the cusp of a reading slump and I'm hoping that this event will pull me off the precipice and back into my normal reading routine. I think the pressure of a goal would undermine everything.

As a result, I won't actually be releasing a TBR list for the month of July. I just want to read whatever strikes my fancy in the moment. I often find that the books I choose to read in the beginning of the month are not the books that I want to read later in the month. That being said, I will still release a June as well as a July wrap-up post. In fact, I'm procrastinating on starting the June post as we speak.


Now on to the details of the Summer Read-a-thon 2016. As stated above, the reading challenge will last a week and I would love it if you'd like to join me. The week will officially start this Friday, July 1st at 11:59 p.m. est and will run until the following Friday, July 8th at 11:59 p.m. est. Throughout the week, I will also be posting daily updates of my reading progress, including a running page count. 

This year has been a year of changes and I'm excited to see how the Summer Read-a-thon 2016 will turn out! Now I think it's time to assess my TBR pile and develop a game plan...and maybe get some sleep before another long day of work tomorrow. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Penny's Music Recommendations: June 2016

Hello music lovers and welcome to another list of all the songs that I've been listening to during the month of June. Is it just me or has June felt like one of the longest months in existence? Not that I'm complaining because I want every month to feel like this. I've brought my severely sunburnt self back inside to blessed UVA free comfort to justify all of my song choices to you. Let's get on with it!
  • Kamakazi by MØ

Every month, at least lately, Buzzfeed has released a massive list of songs you should listen to this month and for about an hour, I sit down and listen to all of them. The most recen list featured one of MØ's songs. Through the YouTube recommendations list, I made my way to "Kamakazi" and the rest was history. For those asking the obvious question, "Who is MØ?" well the short answer is she's the female singer in that top 40 song "Lean On" that everybody seems to love. The long answer is that she's a Danish singer who releases music some call electropop and others call indie pop. She's gotten some notoriety, a least in the U.S, as a featured artist and I think she deserves to have a solo break out.

Kamikaze is this infectious and upbeat electropop song that makes you want to get up and dance. I, for one, love to listen to it on long car rides. It isn't like the electropop that you could easily see played at clubs. It has this ease and laid-back vibe to it that I love. I think I'm going to have to keep my eye on MØ and hope for some more amazing songs.
  • Could Have Been Me by The Struts

It's been quite a long time since I've listened to just straight rock, but summer is a new beginning and I guess it was a time to branch out. On one of my Pandora stations, which is heavily populated by Indie Rock as you can probably guess, this song popped up. "Could Have Been Me" reminds me of all of the songs I listened to as a child. What I mean by that is I grew up with the sounds of my mom's favorite 80's glam rock bands and The Struts kind of has that same aesthetic. As you might expect, the song is about desiring freedom in life and doing whatever you want.  
  • Electric Love (Oliver Remix) by BØRNS

A while ago, I featured Electric Love by BØRNS and found that I really wasn't liking much of his other music. One night while listening to Pandora, the station played this remix of the song and now I love it just as much again.  BØRNS is solidly in the indie pop genre, but this remix gives the song more of a traditional pop sound. The beat is pretty heavy, but vocals hold their own against it. Sometimes indie pop just isn't upbeat enough and this fits the bill.
  • Read My Mind by The Killers

Despite liking Alternative Rock and Indie Rock, I've never been much of a fan of The Killers. I honestly can't explain it. I've heard "Read My Mind" before and never liked it much. Then I heard it one night on one of my Pandora binges and for some reason I was singing along. What I like about this song is that again it's upbeat, but there is a certain sense of melancholia that comes out of nowhere when you listen to it. Or maybe that's just me.
  • Bury It by Chvrches ft. Hayley Williams

You all know by now that I love Chvrches and I also love listening to Paramore. In the back of my mind, I've always wondered what it would be like if the two bands collaborated. Then I checked my twitter one day to discover that dreams do become reality! Chvrches re-released "Bury It" featuring Hayley Williams and it's like synthpop heaven mixed in with just a touch of pop rock. I love that they don't just give Hayley a verse all to herself. She sings right along with Lauren. Now I need a new Paramore song in my life that features Lauren. The world needs to make that happen.

And with that, those are all of the songs that I started listening to in June. Here's to hoping some great summer songs emerge in July because I am ready for some new summer jams to listen to while I slowly burn, despite the billion layers of sunscreen.   

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

May 2016 Wrap-Up

Hello readers and welcome to this well overdue wrap-up of all the books that I read during May. On one hand I'm excited that I read a ton of books. On the other hand, now I have to review them all and I'm procrastinating hardcore. Note to future Penny, why don't you review these as you read them? A question for the ages my friends. Let's get to reviewing because nobody wants to read a May wrap-up at the end of June!
  • The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh
Rating: 

The first book I read this past month was the sequel to my self proclaimed guilty pleasure read of 2016: The Wrath and the Dawn. After the events of the previous book, Shazi is reunited with her family and her childhood friend/love interest. This is not a happy reunion because she's separated from Khalid, who is dealing with a kingdom in shambles. Question is will these lovers be united again and what will they do about the Caliph's kingdom and the curse that plagues him.

While still a bit of a guilty pleasure read, this book takes what was great about the first installment and improves upon it. There is still the ridiculously gushy ya romance bits, but more of the focus falls on secondary character development as well as plot. There is nothing worse than a book that abandons the plot to wallow in the romance and I love that The Rose and the Dagger doesn't do that. We learn more about Shazi's father and sister, not to mention the politics of Khalid's rule. All in all this was a great duology and I would recommend it.
  • Emergency Room by Caroline B. Cooney
 Rating: 

Whenever I find books by some of my favorite authors that I haven't read, I drop everything to read them. That was the case with Emergency Room. At the core of the plot are two college freshman, Seth and Diana, who decide to volunteer in an emergency room. The bulk of the book is broken up into vignettes that tell the story of the people who visit the emergency room that night. The narrative structure kept me interested and it was a nice afternoon read.







  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Rating: 

While The Nightingale wasn't on my TBR list for May, I caved to media pressure. This book has been quite hyped up for the past couple of months and finally I had to see what all of the buzz was about. Thankfully, this didn't turn out to be one of the many overhyped books I've read. This book follows the lives of two sisters during World War II in France. One sister, Vianne, lives in the French countryside with her husband and daughter. The other younger sister, Isabelle, is the proclaimed "rebellious youth" who gets kicked out of every school she's attended. Both have their own parts to play in a country under the ruthless control of German soldiers.

As with many of the better novels that I've read, this book is primarily character driven. The war around them causes so many challenges and hardships, but it's how the two sisters react that makes the story so enjoyable. The dual narrative also shares two different perspectives of women during the war. Vianne is like many of the women who remain home to care for their families while their husbands are out on the front lines. They run their own households despite the shortages of war and in the case of Vianne, the presence of German soldiers in her own home. Isabelle, on the other hand, wants to play a much more active part in the war, hoping to fill a role that is routinely denied to those of her gender. She joins the resistance and risks her life whenever possible. This book is well-written, the characters are fully fleshed out, and the ending was heartfelt. I say give into the hype and read this book as soon as possible.
  • The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe
Rating: 

Ever since I read the The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, I've sought out every book that Katherine Howe has written. When I picked up this book, I didn't realize that it skewed more YA than adult and needless to say I much prefer the author's adult novels. The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen focuses on an aspiring filmmaker, Wes, who is doing a summer term at NYU. While helping a friend with one of his film projects at a psychic performance, he meets a girl named Annie. Initially, he seeks her out to have her sign a release for the film project, but gets dragged into her otherworldly past and her search for a missing ring.

To put it generally, the story kind of plodded along with so sense of excitement and the paranormal aspect to the story was immediately apparent. It felt less like a paranormal historical fiction and more like a paranormal romance.
  • Eligible (The Austen Project #4) by Curtis Sittenfeld
Rating: 

What a shocker! Penny decided to read something based on Jane Austen. Eligable is a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice that solidly falls in the adult genre. As such many of the scenes and societal pressures have been molded to fit modern day. Both Liz and Jane are in their 30s, which is the modern day equivalent age where women are pressured to settle down and get married. Liz is a magazine writer living in New York City with her sister, Jane. Both decide to return home to their rapidly decaying Tudor home to care for their father in the wake of his recent heart attack.

There Jane and Liz encounter Chip Bingley, doctor and recent star of a reality dating show, and his friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, who is neurosurgeon. In light of my recent obsession with Pride and Prejudice adaptions, I felt like this book read as a much more adult adaption of the story. In comparison, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries did the modernization well, but it still seems geared towards a younger audience. All I have to say is don't let the thought of Bingley as a reality tv star stop you from reading the book. Eligable does still deal with the complexities and pitfalls of social classes as well as manners. The plot is also full of twists and turns, the characters are just as easy to connect with as the originals, and the book is just plain witty and hilarious. Needless to say I will be checking out the rest of the books in The Austen Project series.
  • Royal Wedding Disaster (From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess #2) by Meg Cabot
Rating: 

That's right. I'm a grown woman in her twenties still reading middle grade novels. I guess you'll just have to deal with that for the time being. For those of us that grew up with the Princess Diaries series, it's a little hard to let go of characters that you've grown to love. That, dear readers, is the reason why I decided to continue reading a middle grade series created for a younger audience that did not grow up with Mia and her misadventures.

I'm not the target audience for this book, so I'm not really in the right place to give a proper review. Regardless, Olivia's narrative is cute and I like how she continues Mia's story for the rest of us eager to read about Mia and Michael's wedding.



  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Rating: 

After I finished reading The Rose and the Dagger, this is one of the books that was a suggested read on Goodreads. While one was a well written guilty pleasure read, this one was something else. The Star-Touched Queen is a story about Maya, the daughter of the Raja, who is cursed with a horoscope that promises a future of death and destruction after her marriage. Now that the land she lives in is on the brink of political turmoil, Maya's father hopes an arranged marriage will solve all of their problems. That turns out to be false and Maya is saved from the upheaval and taken to a shadowy realm and made it's ruler's queen.

Not too terrible a story, except there is insta-love, of course, and not a lot of world building to suit my taste. My greatest gripe with the story has to be the excess of purple prose. This book lacks a real, driving plot, and instead has description upon description and line upon line that sound pretty, but don't add up to much. Just another book that places the primary focus on the romance and not on the plot or character development.
  • One Rainy Day (The Familiar #1) by Mark Z. Danielewski
Rating: 

I make it no secret that I love a great book with an innovative format and one of my favorite books that fits that description is Danielewski's House of Leaves. One day when I was in Barnes and Noble, I happened to glance at his section of the shelve and saw One Rainy Day. Out of morbid curiosity, I opened the book and saw the formatting. Needless to say I bought the book without even knowing what it was about.

Sadly, I think Danielewski took the innovative format to an extreme that I really didn't enjoy. This series basically exemplifies that saying, "All form and no substance." There are nine different narrators, a fact which is reflected in the formatting of the writing, right down to the font choice. The structure of the story is the most interesting aspect about it. There is no plot to speak of until the last couple of pages, and calling that a plot is being quite generous. Apparently, this is supposed to be a 27 volume series and after my experience with this book, I'm not ready for that kind of commitment.
  • The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
Rating: 

I think just about everyone and their brother my age read Louis Sachar's book Holes when they were in school. For whatever reason, I never bothered to keep up with anything else he'd written. When I saw this book at the recent library book sale held near my area, I knew I had to give it a try regardless of the plot.

The Cardturner takes place the summer before Alton Richard's senior year of high school. His parents pressure him to get to know his rich great uncle, who is currently ill in the hopes of getting in his good graces, and his will. Alton drives his uncle, Lester Trapp, to a bridge club, where he functions as Trapp's cardturner. Trapp is blind, but remembers all of the cards that Alton reads off to him. Slowly over the course of the summer, Alton develops an interest in bridge, where he ultimately learns more about his uncle and himself in the process.

Aside from learning more about bridge than I ever wanted to know, I found this to be a really enjoyable contemporary novel and I liked reading Alton's sort of coming of age novel. All of the characters were easy to connect with and the plot was engaging. The ending was really impactful as well. All I can say is you are missing out if you decide to stop reading anything by Sachar after Holes. 
  • Splintered by A.G. Howard
Rating: 

If you've been following these wrap-ups for quite some time, you know I've read enough fairy tale re-workings to last a lifetime. The most recent retelling fad seems to be finding an edgier way to retell Alice in Wonderland and I've been sucked in by all of them. To date I hadn't really come across a retelling that I didn't like in all media forms. I actually enjoyed the first Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland movie and I watched every episode of the Once Upon a Time TV spin-off series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. I read all three of Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars books and one of my favorite video games is American McGee's Alice: Madness Returns.

When I read the synopsis for Splintered, I was drawn in by the promise of another alternative re-telling of Carroll's work. Sadly, this is the first re-telling to really let me down. In this novel, Alyssa Gardner is one of the cursed descendants of the Alice Liddell that inspired Carroll's work, Alyssa's mother is currently in an asylum and she wonders if her newly found ability to hear bugs and flowers speak will cause her to end up in the same place. In order to break the curse, Alice decides to travel to wonderland, a so called "dark and twisted" place and accidentally brings along her friend/crush, Jeb.

This book really had quite a bit of potential, but everything fell flat for me. All I have to say is that Splintered read like a scene kid's fever dream after reading Alice in Wonderland as part of an assignment for school. Alyssa is this "alternative and edgy girl" (notice the quotation marks) that has this long standing crush on Jeb, who is dating one of the popular girls. Are you starting to see all of the cliches yet? Upon reaching wonderland, Alyssa encounters the mad hatter equivalent character in this novel, Morpheus, and can't help but be attracted to him. I, on the other hand couldn't be more repulsed, particularly when he refers to Alyssa as "luv." Yes, that's the way it's spelled by the way.

I can't tell if I'm too old for this book, or if it was really as juvenile as I thought it to be. All I can say is there are plenty of other Alice re-tellings to enjoy if you're interested in the idea.
  • The Library At Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Rating: 

Where do I even begin with this novel. I'm going to be frank and say I've never wanted to give a review less than I have with this book. I just don't think the book is worth the effort to gather my thoughts into something coherent, when all I want to do is move on with my life and forget I ever read it. I'm going to give it some effort though.

The Library at Mount Char is a book that draws you in with an interesting premise, a well written synopsis, and a promising first 50 pages. After that prepare to be completely let down...unless you are part of it's cult following. Let's just say I won't be drinking any Mount Char kool-aid anytime soon. Anyway, the narrative primarily focuses on Carolyn, who is one of the many adopted siblings under the tutelage of Father. He assigns each of the children a catalog of knowledge to master and discourages them from exploring a catalog other than their own. When their Father mysteriously disappears, everyone struggles to piece together what could have caused his absence.

At first I was really intrigued by this book. The thought of children forced into learning one catalog of knowledge and then dealing with the repercussions of such limited world views seemed pretty intriguing. The beginning hinted at some pending fantasy elements that I was looking forward to. Then the plot completely slowed, almost to a stand still. Some people tend to classify this book in the horror genre, but it's horror in the way that the Saw movies are horror. What I mean is there are way too many gory scenes that just didn't fit with the fantasy elements. Then the writing took a weird turn  about halfway through the book and there was no real comprehensible world building to tie everything together. Then I just completely lost interest. This wasn't an enjoyable reading experience for me and I really would recommend this to anyone. You'll have to take this on under your own volition.
  • Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Rating: 

Last winter I read My True Love Gave to Me, the first anthology edited by Stephanie Perkins and I really enjoyed it. There was a nice mixture of good and not so great stories, plus it was a light and easy read. When I heard about Summer Days and Summer Nights, I knew I had to read it as soon as it came out. Let's just say it wasn't quite what I expected.

Based on the title and cover alone, I assumed this would be a book full of stories about summer love. I guess that lesson about never judging a book by its cover was right. Quite a few of these stories fell more into the science fiction and horror genre rather than contemporary. Granted that doesn't mean I liked those stories any less, but I figured it was something you should know if you want to read this. As with any anthology there were some stories that I absolutely detested and others that I wished could be turned into a full length novel.

My favorite story out of the whole book was Stephanie Perkins' “In Ninety Minutes, Turn North,” which is a continuation of her story from My True Love Gave to Me. It was great to see where the characters ended up after the "happily ever after" from the first short story. I also loved that this anthology had a greater diversity of characters as well as relationships (Yeah for that LGBT representation). All I can say is if you want an enjoyable summer read, this is the book for you.


FINALLY!! Those are all of the books that I read during May. I think we all learned something today readers. Procrastination doesn't end just because you are no longer a student. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post and found yourself a couple of new books to read during the summer months! 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June 2016 TBR

Hello readers and welcome to another summer month with the potential for some sunny weekends and great books. While I hug my box fan and curse the day I decided to buy a black laptop, I hope you enjoy the picks for my June TBR,

  • The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken


In the last couple of days in May, I wasn't sure what to start reading next, so I picked up The Darkest Minds on a whim. The story focuses on Ruby, a girl who lives in an America where children have been infected by a mysterious disease that gives them special abilities. The government decides to round up all of these children and places them in camps under strict supervision. Ruby escapes one of those camps and joins up with a group of other escapees. This book has a very interesting premise and I'm excited to see what the author does with it.









  • The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

I am a sucker for any book that takes place in or near a bookshop and this one fits that bill. The plot focuses on the owner of a floating bookshop, who knows just the right book to help someone. Turns out he isn't quite as good helping himself. After he finally reads the letter left by his last great love, he goes on what sounds like a journey of self discovery. I can't wait to start reading this.












  • The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney

Lately I've been feeling the itch to read some nonfiction and I've had this book in my TBR pile for quite a while now. One of my favorite subjects is Ancient Egyptian history. Whenever I can, I try to catch history channel specials on the subject and I even took an ancient near east course in college where I wrote a research paper on the status/roles of women in Ancient Egypt. In that paper, I touched on Hatshepsut's rule a little bit, but I've always wanted to read a complete nonfiction work about her. I decided that June would be that time.










  • Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales

 That's right. The classic pick of the month is a repeat from last month. For whatever reason, I wasn't in the mood to read this collection of stories. Whenever I tried to read, it felt like I was forcing myself in order to fulfill the TBR list and I didn't like that. I set the book aside for the rest of May and now I'm determined to finish Grimm's Complete Tales in June.













Those are all of the books that I plan to read in June. Now dear readers join me in the annual summer migration. Instead on reading inside, on the couch, with a mug of hot tea, we will read outside, on the porch swing, with a cup of iced tea. What an exciting life to lead.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Nostalgiareads: A Series of Unfortunate Events (#11-13) Plus The Unauthorized Autobiography and The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket

I think it's that time again dear readers. Time to get nostalgic!! I personally welcome you to another wonderful installment of my blog series, Nostalgiareads, where I re-read books from my childhood to determine whether that nostalgia holds up from the perspective of an adult mind.

This particular installment is significant because it marks the end of my journey re-reading A Series of Unfortunate Events, a series near and dear to my heart from my childhood. If you've followed this journey from the beginning, you've come to realize with me that it has been marked with the surprised realization that the series gets better with age. Now it's time to bring everything to a close not quite with the end, but we come pretty near to it.
  • The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events #11) by Lemony Snicket


When we last left Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire they were adrift and recently separated from Quigley Quagmire. Now they've been picked up by Captain Widdershins in his submarine where he is currently searching for the elusive and well sought after sugar bowl. He hopes to accomplish this before the next VFD meeting. While not quite like home, the Baudelaires begin to establish a sense of routine in the submarine, which is of course ruined by Could Olaf's arrival and one of the Baudelaires' potential brush with death. As the title suggests, this book signals a grim turn for the series. The themes get a little more complex and the situations much more adult than the beginning of this whole adventure. 

 Before reading the book, the one memory that stuck out for me was the fact that this was where I learned about wasabi. I really do remember the weirdest things. Reading it again I discovered that this supposed children's book touches on the water cycle, Hobson's Choice, and even Plato's Allegory of the Cave. One of the more thoughtful moments in The Grim Grotto happens when the Baudelaires realize that often our memories of those we have lost are rose colored and idealistic. My paraphrase of course. They starkly realize that with their parents gone, they remember all of their great aspects and tend to overlook the fact that their parents did have some bad qualities. It's moments like these that I wonder what my younger self thought.

Shall we move on? 
  • The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events #12) by Lemony Snicket

Props to Lemony Snicket for being quite literal with the title as this is indeed the second to last peril for the Baudelaires. After escaping the clutches of Count Olaf again and making their way back to Briny Beach, where this whole unfortunate adventure began, they meet Kit Snicket. There the siblings become even more entangled in the politics of the VFD, where the great schism eventually causes both the resulting wicked and good to descend on the Hotel Denouement. There the children agree to pose as concierges in order to learn more about the sugar bowl's whereabouts. 

 As with any Series of Unfortunate Events book, this one had some pretty great quotes. My first favorite definitely has to be, "Destiny is an invisible force like gravity or a fear of paper cuts." My next has to be that moment when Snicket says that a tomboy is "an insulting term inflicted on girls whose behavior some people find unusual." Bravo Snicket!! While the plot of this is just as complex as the previous books, I felt like the themes presented got a bit deeper. There is the literal image of the phrase about justice being blind and of course the book goes a long way to show you that indeed justice is often flawed. Let's not forget how well The Penultimate Peril suggests that there is no real distinction between good and evil. Often people are a mixture of the two. 
  • The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events #13) by Lemony Snicket

As the title suggests, this is the last book in A Series of Unfortunate Events and it also happened to be the book that I remembered the least about. In a shocking turn of events, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny have joined Count Olaf on his ship. After a particularly devastating storm, the four of them wash up on a island full of castaways. There the Baudelaires are surrounded by people who recognize Olaf's treachery and again they begin to make a life for themselves. Turns out that life on the island isn't quite as free, and the Baudelaires begin to learn more about their past and carve out a true future for themselves, particularly when another familiar face washes up on the island. 

So many people hated this book because it seemed to introduce more questions than Snicket actually answered. I, on the other hand, didn't mind that everything wasn't wrapped up with a neat bow. Realistically speaking the Baudelaires can't ever know everything about their parents' lives. Were they heroic members of the VFD or were they murderers? Well that's up to you to determine what defines a hero and a villain. I also thought that this last book gave Count Olaf some complexity that he was seriously lacking and the Baudelaires finally mature enough to realize that they can't keep relying on a guardian to save them from a series of unfortunate events. They have to do that all on their own. Let's not forget readers finally learn Beatrice's identity in this book. The ending was bittersweet and I wouldn't have it any other way.
  • Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Biography by Lemony Snicket

Bonus books!! I figured if I was going to re-read the entire series, I might as well read the companion books that I never got a chance to read when I was younger. I decided to start with The Unauthorized Autobiography in the hopes that the book would answer all of the questions that I had. Turns out all of the chapter titles are misleading because Snicket doesn't actually address those topics. You do learn quite a bit about Snicket's childhood and by extension the VFD. I don't think this book is necessary to understanding A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it is a nice add-on.
  • The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket

Now this was the companion book that I was most excited for! When you get the book, it includes a full color poster as well as a booklet. In the book are pop out letters and well as the "Beatrice Letters." If you haven't read the final book, first of all what are you doing?! Second of all, spoilers obviously coming up. What you don't immediately realize is that the letters deal with more than one Beatrice. 

One half of the letters are written by Beatrice, Kit Snicket's daughter to Lemony Snicket. You learn that she is trying to find the Baudelaires and there is no mention of how Beatrice was separated from them. The second half of the letters are written by Lemony Snicket to Beatrice, the Baudelaires' mother and the infamous Beatrice from the dedications. These companion letters give you just a hint about the events following the last book, as well as some insights into Snicket as a character. If you really enjoyed the series, I highly recommend that you read this book.

Now I think it's time to wrap-up this edition of Nostagiareads. Let's just say I can't quite call this reading experience nostalgic anymore. For me, it felt like I was reading a completely different series of books at times. The humor, the narration, and even the plot felt unique the second time around. All I can say is that this nostalgic journey proved that sometimes your age and even your experiences can influence your reading. So after all that you want to know: Does the nostalgia hold up after all of these years? The answer is, of course, absolutely. I don't care what age you are. You should give this series a chance and I hope that current fans are just as excited about the new Netflix series as I am. I'm not quite ready yet to leave one of my favorite series behind.