Side Note: The Best Drink in Italy

I will tell you about my favorite drink, hands down, in all of Italia.

It was not a specific brand or type of wine. It was not a homemade concoction or even something a bartender whipped up behind the counter.

It was the majestic liquid that is Meloncello.

A shot of Meloncello on the rocks

Now you can make Meloncello homemade, just like you can make Limoncello in the comfort of your kitchen. But I fell in love with the manufactured stuff, so I can only imagine how heavenly the homemade drink is.

So what is Meloncello? It’s vodka, melon juice, water, and sugar. You mix it up, let it sit for a while, and then enjoy!

Michi and I drank so much of this, the the local bars ran dry! I felt so bad, but it’s something I didn’t really see or never had in the states! And also take a moment and look at the size of that shot, it only cost me two Euros!

Summer in a bottle. If you can get this imported, do it!


Check out the rest of my Italy travels here.

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Book Talk: Flame in the Mist


Like promised, a bookish post, in the form of a Book Talk! Yay!

Today’s book is Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh.

You may have heard of Renée before. She is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling novel The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. She is a quirky gal that lives in North Carolina with her husband and dog named Mushu. You can read more about her and upcoming projects on her website.

Now I was first introduced to Renée when my coworker recommended me The Wrath and the Dawn. Now, I know that’s another book for another Book Talk; but I will say that I was in awe of Renée’s writing and her ability to transport me to another dimension. Her character development was something that I could actually feel. I could see her characters grow and mature in my head, and this sucked me into the story even more.

Sigh, I love that book. So, as you can see I had high hopes for Flame in the Mist.

Before the initial release, statements were posted stating that this was a mix between Mulan and 47 Ronin. In my personal opinion, that’s a pretty good comparison. It does weigh more Mulan. This is due to the main character posing as a boy, fighting with a group of men, and falling in love.

Now, you probably want to know more, so let’s start from the beginning. The story begins with Mariko, the main character. We meet her in a carriage, being taken to the Prince for their arranged marriage. Mariko is from a privileged family, and was raised so she could be married off to better her father’s social standing within the community.

On the way to the arrangement the carriage is attacked by the Black Clan. Right away Mariko must use her knowledge to survive. She waits until everyone has left, sets the caravan on fire, and stages her death. Now she doesn’t have to marry the Prince.

There is a second point of view in this novel, Kenshin. Kenshin is Mariko’s brother, and he is also a samurai with the Dragon of Kai. We are first introduced to him when he comes to investigate his sister’s disappearance. Soon he realizes that Mariko is still alive and he must find her. The rest of the story is about Kenshin’s journey of tracking his sister.

Mariko’s journey begins when she finds herself posing as a boy and joining the Black Clan. She decides to earn their trust and then attack them when they least expect it. Mariko was raised to believe that these samurais are bad. This is because the are the enemies of her brother’s clan. After living with them she soon realizes they are not who they appear to be.

Now I said earlier that Renée’s last novels had AMAZING character development, and this one does not falter in that area. The deeper into Mariko’s story you get, the more this character evolves and grows. She grows mentally, realizing things she hadn’t before in her sheltered life. She also grows physically, learning to fight among the Black Clan.

When in the Black Clan Mariko is assigned a trainer, which is one of the clan’s leaders, Okami. Okami is hard on her, because he wants her to learn. These two have a love/hate relationship, but it’s so cute. There were moments where Okami feels a bit too much for this “boy” and he doesn’t know why. Which leads to you smiling to yourself because you’re saying, “Oh, I know why.”

Renée does a great job of creating strong female characters in diverse settings. This is something that is needed in today’s literary world. Renee understands that women can be strong without men, but also with men standing by their side. Even though there is romance in her novels, she does not let the main girl rely on the guy to save the day. Okami always pushes Mariko to do her best, and vice versa. There is definitely a “he for she” vibe going on.

Overall I didn’t feel like I got enough of Okami’s and Mariko’s relationship. But, that’s okay this is a duology and another book will be completing the series soon!

That is my only complaint. This book transports you to feudal Japan, and gives you a more realistic fell of Mulan. If you want a Disney princess story, this isn’t it. If you want to read about a girl that uses her mind as her weapon and is kick ass, this is for you.

If you have liked Renée’s other works you will absolutely love Flame in the Mist. If you haven’t read anything by her, still pick this up. It transports you, lets you become attached to the characters, and draws you into a captivating plot.

Let me know what you think of this awesome book in the comments! Follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

Also, have you seen my first Book Talk?


Fairyloot July 2017!!

Hey people!

Okay so I have been doing a lot of travel writing lately and I haven’t been doing much bookish blogging. I mean, my blog is titled Books, Laughs, and Travels.

Anyways, I’ve been in a funk where I don’t feel like picking up a book and committing to a story right now. I know, that sounds so bad, but I get this way when I’m stressed out in life. Right now I’m stressed out with trying to become an adult but not knowing what the hell I want to do.

Don’t worry I did start a book today, it might take me a while to finish it, but we will talk more about that later.

Right now we are going to talk about the wonderful, the amazing, the surprising Fairyloot box!

I’m going to come out and say that I’m doing this unboxing and review out of my own will, no one is asking me or paying me to do it.

Now, Fairyloot is a monthly subscription box that comes to your door, I would say, the last week of every month. It was started a little over a year ago with the mission to reach bookworms and connect them. Ever since March of 2016 Fairyloot has been sending YA fantasy boxes that contain one book along with book related items. They are based in the United Kingdom, so if you are buying from the United States the cost of a single box, with shipping, is about $50. They have single, monthly, and yearly subscriptions.

Now, before I go on and do my unboxing I just want to say that I didn’t film a video. Why? Well, when I watch and unboxing video I don’t want to listen to people ramble on. I just want them to show me the darn item!

So I decided that the best way to bypass unnecessary video rambling was to take pictures of the items and give descriptions of them! (I am also tired and didn’t want to film myself, so this is a win/win situation.)

Before I get to my pictures I just want to say that if you like to read YA or if you’re into fantasy give this box a go. I always find a book that sounds interesting and gets thrown into my “to be read” pile. If it doesn’t look like something I’d like, then I just give it to a friend because books are always great gifts! Honestly, the $50 price tag is fair, I always feel like I’m getting more then what I pay into the box. I’ve never gotten a box where I felt as if $50 is too much for the items, I always feel like I get great quality things for a steal. Plus the books are always hardcover, so that’s half the cost of the box right there. Go get a subscription today!

Read more for unboxing photos and descriptions.

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Stalking Jack The Ripper Book Talk

Okay guys I just want to start out by saying that I’m just going to call book reviews, “Book Talks.” These aren’t going to be deep reviews, some of them might be, but I don’t plan on it. Also, I just like the way “Book Talk” sounds!

I bought this book because I liked the cover: a girl, playing with a knife, set in the 1800’s, clearly dealing with Jack the Ripper. After I bought this book it sat on my “to be read” pile for a few months. I didn’t touch it because I didn’t think it could be that good, and honestly I’m not a James Patterson fan. I think putting his name on the book deterred me from reading this novel longer.

Once I decided to hack away at this story I couldn’t put it down. The characters that Kerri Maniscalo creates within this story are layered and witty. Audrey Rose is a feminist in a time where very few exist. She wants to follow her passion of, what today we would call, a Forensic Pathologist. She fights to do what she is passionate about and finds (what I consider to be one of the best characters ever) Thomas. Through their work they are introduced to the victims of Jack the Ripper and Audrey takes it upon herself to find the identity of this gruesome killer.

But, honestly though, Thomas is the best. Think of a more forward, flirty, and attractive Sherlock Holmes and you have Thomas. The chemistry the two have… PERFECTION. Okay, that’s all I’m going to say, don’t let my ships stop you from picking this book up because it isn’t as mushy as I’m making it sound.

Every time I thought I had Maniscalo’s Ripper figured out her characters would go to confront them; and I, as well as the characters, would be wrong. This book kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat until the very end!

It is shelved in the teen science fiction section. It is teen because there is no adult content or themes. Now for the science fiction part, I have read books that were heavier in this genre. The only part of the book that is science fiction is the last, I would say, two or three chapters. If you’re someone that loves to read Sci Fi then I would say this isn’t for you but if you stray more towards period dramas or mysteries and some fantasy then pick it up!

I love this book and I hope you will too. The author is as cute as can be too! I met her at BookCon 2017 in New York. She may have signed my book from Thomas, which made my heart swoon.

I’m going to leave you with a low quality picture of me kissing this book, because I love it that much!

Photo on 7-20-17 at 10.00 PM #3

Let me know what you guys think of this book in the comments!

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