Book Talk: The Graveyard Book

Hello fellow ghouls and witches!

Since Halloween is Tuesday I thought a dark novel would be appropriate for the October Book Talk. Earlier this month I went searching for a great Halloween read, I picked up the classics (Lovecraft and King) and kept putting them down. I then realized that a new Halloween read was in store, something that I have never read before. This led me to The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

This novel has been out for a few years (since 2008 to be exact), but it’s something one should read to get into the Halloween spirit! Graveyard is marketed as a children’s fantasy novel, and it includes a few illustrations by Dave McKean. With this being said, you can find it shelved in the adult science fiction and fantasy section with a different cover, right next to the graphic novel adaption.

Most know this novel to be Gaiman’s adaption of The Jungle Book, but the setting is among the dead and not the beasts of the lush jungle. After reading the novel it’s easy to see the similarities, but I don’t think you should go into this book expecting an exact replica of The Jungle Book. You will not be disappointed; the story keeps the reader interested and the character development is amazing.

In the first chapter the reader encounters Nobody Owens, also known as Bod. He is a toddler that has just mindlessly stumbled into the graveyard, not realizing that someone is coming to murder him. The residents within the cemetery understand that Bod’s life is at risk, so they come together and make a decision to raise the boy as their own.

As Bod grows up he begins to ask questions about the town outside of the wrought iron gates. His guardian, Silas, tries to keep him safe by telling him to not leave the confinements of home. Bod does not listen and eventually comes face to face with the man that tried to kill him years before.

It may seem as if I gave a bit too much away, but trust me, I didn’t even tell you a sixteenth of the story!

I couldn’t put this book down. As I read I felt for Nobody Owens and those of the living and dead he encountered. All my questions were answered by the end of the story too, which is very important to me!

Graveyard has won four awards and deserves it. If you are looking for a new ghoul-filled read, look no further. Do not let the category of “children’s” scare you away. There are a lot of lessons to be learned for young and old in this story, and it’s one the whole family can enjoy.

The City of Constant Change

Old City will always have certain memories for me. I will hold the memories of walking down its streets, underage, with a liquor blush warming my cheeks. Holding onto my friends as we laughed about the events that had just unfolded.

I will remember my birthday when a dear friend went shopping with me in Center City (against his wishes) and was determined to get me to The Ritz to see Wes Anderson’s new film. Our feet were so sore by the end of the night, practically yelling at us. Our broke asses didn’t have enough money for a round-trip on the subway and we ended up walking from Center City to old, racing against the clock. We learned that night that Center City is a lot more than 5 blocks from Old City, and we felt it the next day.

Two weeks I made a new memory in Old City. As I sat in front of Independence Hall in a nice shirt with my hair pinned back I realized something. The days of underage drinking, not having enough money for the subway, and being a teenager were over. As I sat there for my corporate interview I realized that this was a new path I was venturing down in life. These previous paths are not ones I regret, but hold dear to my heart.

Sitting on that bench in my dress clothes with a portfolio in hand made me realize I was becoming an adult. And, in that moment I felt excited.

I’m excited for what life brings me, for I know it has never been dull. As I watched people walk through the square I realized this was where i needed to be. If I got the job or not, I needed to be in this exact spot, this exact city. Philadelphia has made me realize a lot. It had me grow up, grow with some, and apart from others. It’s my place of constant change.

How will it change me now?

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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Finding Beauty Everywhere: Back Alley

Every time we head to the pub everyone parks their cars in the same spot, walks the same alley way, and ends up at the same entrance.

It’s a force of habit. We have become so intertwined in the same cycle that nothing seems special about this trek to the bar.

As I was walking through the alley the other night, it occurred to me that this would be a great opportunity to seek out beauty. There had to be something beautiful about this walk, this spot of the town, that kept people coming from all over the country to see.

As I was walking I changed my point of view. Instead of looking down, making sure not to misstep, I looked up.

That’s when I saw the sunset reaching over the brick building. The bay window, that is as old as the town itself, overlooks those drinking below. String lights can be seen, indicating casual drinkers enjoying their evening. Even phone lines dice through the image, showing another era that is soon to be forgotten.

This photo shows so many eras in a single snapshot.

Even though I dread being trapped in a small town, I just have to search for that breathtaking moment and it makes me realize that this is a pretty spot. People travel here for a reason. It is beautiful.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel stuck in one place. But, a change of perspective is all you need to make that place bearable for another night.

Recovered Photos!

I have already told you guys that life has been hectic, and it seems to get crazier.

Today I learned that I may need to invest in a new computer, and since I prefer Apple products this means that I’m going to be making a dent in my savings.

While I was backing up my photos and documents onto the mystical Icloud I found some really old photos… including some of the Italy ones I thought I lost!

This goes to show that even when bad things happen, or events that put a damper on your day, good things can come of it! You just have to push through!

What this means is that I will be updating some of my pages with recovered pictures, yay!

Here is a sneak peek at two that I found, they are of the interior of Reggia di Caserta…

Also, new posts are in the making, keep an eye out.

Are you as excited as I am?



Who Are You?

Do you ever just feel like good things are going to start coming your way? Life is looking up?

Well, I can feel it!

I want to know more about you guys as readers. What’s your favorite color, where do you like to travel, what do you like to eat!? Where have you traveled before, where do you want to go? What books do you like to read, are you in any book clubs, have you written any books? If so, I want to read them! Do you like to paint?

You are learning so much about me and yet I don’t know about you. Tell me about yourself in the comments.

Good vibes are coming your way!!

Enjoy your day, more traveling post are coming soon!




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?