Bookish Radness

“When You Want to Go To Europe, But You Can’t Yet” Book List

It’s been far too long since I’ve been to Europe. Have you ever been? There’s so much I love about it and so many countries to see. But since I don’t have a trip planned on the direct horizon, I have been wanting to read more books by European authors or set in Europe. So I’ve started and list and wanted to share with you all, in case you also have the travel bug.

Some of these I’ve read and others were recommended. Also, England, France, Spain, and Italy have all been on my list, so I’ve focused on those countries.


  • Paris is Always a Good Idea by Nicolas Barreau
  • The Red Notebook by Antonine Laurain
  • Author Simone de Beauvoir


  • Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez Reverte
  • Author Federico Garcia Lorca

England (not by the Inklings or Jane Austen)

  • Author Laura Purcell
  • Author Peter Mayle (bonus for the French too)


  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
  • Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
  • Author Elena Ferrante

Bonus (these came up in conversation):

Chilean author – Pablo Neruda

Any other European authors to add to the list?

Inklings, Travel Adventures

A Hobbit’s (or Anyone Who Loves Books and Snacks) Guide to New York City

If you aren’t familiar with Hobbits, here’s one thing you need to know: They like food. There’s breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and then supper.

They also much prefer to stay home, curled up in their Hobbit holes, with a toasty fire, perhaps reading a book or two. Unless, of course, a certain wizard stirs up trouble and suddenly they find themselves on an adventure.

So if consider yourself much like a Hobbit and support multiple meals, but also find yourself in New York City, here’s a list of verified places to eat:

Posto NYC Thin Crust Pizza in Gramercy: Of course you have to eat thin crust in NYC. This was right by where I stayed. A cozy spot I’d definitely hang out if I lived near by.

Magnolia Bakery: Things I won’t pass up – a bakery. This one was the Grand Central Terminal location. A cupcake is a great pick-me-up!

Lillie’s Victorian Establishment: This place was recommended by several people. There’s a variety of fun drinks and the Harvest Collins was very refreshing! The decor reminded a bit of Austin – random, yet not :).

Wo Hop Chinese Restaurant: When you’re eating Chinese food in NYC, you have to go to Chinatown. If you get the chance to go to Wo Hop, you can expect a wait, large portions, and bring cash. All worth it though!

Ben’s Cookies: It started in Oxford, so I was supporting Tolkien and Lewis.

Levain Bakery: This place was recommended quite a bit as well and yes, delicious! I brought some home too. Also, DON’T JUDGE ALL THE BAKERIES I WENT TO INTERNET.

Sapori D’Italia: This place was fabulous! Located in Little Italy, it was super cute, everyone who worked there spoke Italian and it was packed late at night. I hope to one day make it back!

Black Tap Craft Burgers: I may have ate the burger before I got a good photo. My bad! I was really hungry. Definitely worth trying. They also have ridiculous milkshakes (we’re talking a piece of cake on top of the shake), so there’s that option as well.

Ess-a-bagel: I’m not much of a bagel person, but when in New York right? Photo by my friend Leslie.

I got so many incredible recommendations for food and all the places we eat at were recommendations. Since there’s about 50 I still need to try, just gotta go back right?

Finally, need a place to find a corner and read? New York has you covered. (You can read more about each store over at @bookstoreandlibrarylove)

And if you find yourself going on a big city adventure soon, be sure to download City Mapper App before you go. It shows all public transportation arrivals, travel times, routes, and everything you might need to go exploring. I’ll be using it for all future adventures!

Thanks for joining in the NYC adventures!

Bookish Radness

Because I Love The Insta

I finally made it to two Indie bookstores in Denver this past weekend and because I might have an obsession with Instagram and books, I may have started a new account featuring bookstores and libraries I visit. I’m all about living the Nerd Life Internet. Plus, supporting them is pretty much supporting myself, so wins for everyone 🙃.

It’s @bookstoreandlibrarylove if you want to follow! In case there’s any issues with the link and photos below, you can find it here!

Travel Adventures

Adventures in Breckenridge, CO | Fall 2015

After years of only ever seeing Colorado through the terminals of Denver International Airport, I finally was able to explore more of the state with a recent girlfriends’ weekend. To say I loved it would be extremely accurate. Seeing it in Fall? Nearly missed my flight on purpose!

It was incredibly relaxing and refreshing and I’m so thankful to have friends who love adventure as much as I do! The one bummer is I didn’t get to see the husky puppies – apparently it was off season. Just means I’ll have to go back! Here’s a few shots to convince you to visit as well.

Watch out for these hikers…

I can’t say I was as photo happy in Denver, so below is all I got for evidence :). Denver has a big brewing culture like the ATX and so we checked out the Great Divide Brewing Co. This was the Denver Pale Ale and reminded me of some of the pale ales from around Austin. Tasty brew!

Where’s your favorite place to be in Fall?

Travel Adventures

14 Years Later and I Still Love Ireland (+ 5 Things I Still Hold Onto)

Happy St. Paddy’s Day friends! I admit I don’t really celebrate and never remember to wear green, but do I love Ireland! It’s hard to believe it’s been 14 years since I’ve been to Ireland. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but then I look at pictures ( fashion) and I realize that yes indeed it was a long time ago. It was an amazing trip for so many reasons. It was my first “real” international trip (I don’t really count the days trips to Mexico or the missions trip during my senior year in high school) and opened my eyes to so many things. From the beautiful experience of a different culture to the spiritual, I was reminiscing recently (blame St. Paddy), so I couldn’t help but post about it today!

I found my photo album from the trip (this was before I had a camera of my own) and all I used was disposable cameras (which is reason enough for me to go back and take real pictures). The quality y’all. Yikes. Even with the terrible quality, such memories in each photo! Now onto the 5 things I still hold on to from that trip.

I’ll just say I wasn’t the only American who screamed from excitement when we got stuck in a sheep jam. It was so much fun to be “stuck” in a sheep jam while in Ireland.
Entertainment by the Cliffs of Moher

1. People may worship differently, but that doesn’t change the fact we’re all on the same team. I went to Ireland on a short term missions trip with my church at the time. It’s a Friends Church (think Quaker), so we partnered with Friends Churches over in Ireland. We met in a Friends Meeting House, which in my mind dated back to 1652 when George Fox was causing all kinds of ruckus (and by ruckus, I mean started the Quaker denomination), and since it was a very traditional meeting, there was no music worship or preaching. When a person felt led by the Spirit, they shared a verse or spoke a word of encouragement. Y’all, this was way different from the church I went to (and the non-denominational one I go to now). I admit it was a bit uncomfortable at first since it was so different and I wasn’t prepared, but it was a great experience and helpful to see the ways other believers worship and seek the Lord.

Irish flowers I pressed – still so pretty!

2. Accents are amazing. Congrats British Isles, you win on accents.

The time I thought wearing overalls was cool and hip. There is no explanation for this.
Irish history – never a dull moment.

3. There is so much to learn from people of different cultures. Even if beliefs are different, what a beautiful thing to have open and honest conversations about life and faith. Part of my trip involved working at a youth camp and while most of the people’s experiences were vastly different from mine, I loved it! I loved hanging out with them, talking with them and simply being.

Vicar’s House – we weren’t allowed near it! Felt like I was in a Regency novel : )
McPork – This was the first time I went into a McDonald’s outside of North America and I couldn’t stop chuckling at the different sandwiches they had. Sometimes its the little things.

4. Travel friends! Travel! I am 100% completely biased, but while traveling costs money, it’s one of the only things that you spend money on and it keeps on giving. The excitement of a new car? That fades. Even a new wardrobe (although I do like a new outfit on occasion) goes out of style. But traveling? Those experiences shape you, mold you and stay with you for life. I’m still friends with some of the people I traveled with and also people I met in Ireland. Traveling is worth every single penny.

Cliffs of Moher – Ireland is so beautiful!
Kissing the Blarney Stone after exploring the castle

5. I couldn’t post without at least one lesson from Saint Patrick right? In his book, The Confession, we gain insight into his early life. At 16, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and enslaved for six years. Yet, instead of being filled with bitterness, during that time he spent time thinking about who he was and his spirituality and eventually found faith and turned his life to Christ. What a story right? There’s often times I don’t understand why something is or isn’t happening, but I can trust that God is still in control. Like Joseph and Saint Patrick, we are refined in the fire. Amen.

Do you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in any way? If you could go to any country right now, where would it be?

Travel Adventures

Adventures in Boston | 2014

A couple of weekends ago I was in Boston and let me tell you, it’s beautiful this time of year! Can’t say I missed the triple degree heat of Texas ;). There’s so much history to this city and even though I’ve been to Boston, I was able to see a ton of stuff I didn’t catch on the last trip. Here’s some photos and maybe they’ll convince you to go check Boston out for yourself :).

While checking out fun food places and the Freedom Trail, my good friend Mikey and I also had a chance to cruise the Boston Harbor. Oh so pretty!

Waiting for our boat

I attempted to pose the same, but didn’t quite turn out that way 😉

The Freedom Trail throughout Boston is marked by red brick, so it’s easy to follow!

Then there was Bunker Hill. We didn’t really know what to expect, so when they said “go on up! The wait isn’t that long!” that’s exactly what we did.

Internet. It’s like 300 steps up.

In tight quarters.

I was huffing and puffing more than the big bad wolf y’all. And here I thought my new workout regime was going good. What’s vacation though, without sweating and working out those quads right? 😉

Yep….it’s tall.
But the view was so pretty!
Evidence that I made it to the top!

I also got to see Harvard (you know, my college back up plan ;). Such an old and beautiful campus.

Then there was Fenway Park! This was such a great tour (and baseball ranks right there with golf in sports I like watching). From the history to all the stories – I definitely recommend taking this tour if you find yourself in Boston.

These seats are the same seats from the early 30s. So if your grandparents have a ticket from those days, they would match up!

The red seat represents the longest Fenway homerun, hit by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946. The guy sitting in the seat at that time had fallen asleep and was hit in the head with the said homerun (he lived). Lesson learned right?

More of pretty Boston:

I believe this is Paul Revere. I didn’t take notes and clearly I thought my memory was better than it really is, so we’re sticking with Paul.

Before I headed to the airport, we stopped by the gem of all gems: The Boston Public Library. I WANT ONE.

ASLAN!!! They may not call him that, but close enough.

Look how pretty they are.

Whoa! Lots of pictures – hope you enjoyed them! We also did a tour of Samuel Adams Brewery, but that’ll get a post all on it’s own :). So readers, have you ever been to Boston? What’s one of your favorites cities?

Travel Adventures

The Day They Stormed the Beaches

(Originally posted June 6, 2014)

Today we commemorate the 70th anniversary when troops stormed the beaches of Normandy’s coast, beginning the end of the Nazi hold on France and World War ll. Thousands of lives were lost that day, and the world saw what heroes were made of, what sacrifice and courage look like and the cost of freedom. They truly were a great generation.

“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you…I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle…let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

I had the opportunity to be in Normandy on the 60th anniversary with my family and it was, of course, an incredible experience. I thought today would be the perfect day to share some of that trip (back in the days of my first Canon film ;).

We were in the towns of Arromanches-les-Bains and Bayeux, as we headed to what was known on D-Day as Gold Beach (where British landed). Since it was so chaotic (understandably), we ended up teaming up with a few American tourists, a French guy visiting from another part of the state and two other French men who lived in Normandy. We were a rag tag team finding our way through northern France and I remember when we were thanking one of the French men (he pulled up on his bike with a baguette in the front basket – I jest not ;)) for going to get his car to drive us, he said no thanks was necessary, “It is because of America, we are free!” The perfect statement for that day!

This was one of my favorite sights throughout the town.
Such inspiring men!
I love French towns.
Gold Beach

It as such a life-changing trip and I really want to go back to Europe after going through all my old pictures! Are any of you WWII history buffs? Or how about family stories? I’d love to hear them!

Here’s the words from the poem as well:

Dear Veteran,
I’m writing to say “Thank You,” and through me, there are thousands of children speaking to thousands of Veterans.

Like us, you were young and carefree, but when you were only twenty years old, Liberty called – called you to say:

“I’m dying, come and save me!”

And you arose, full of courage and zeal, to answer that call.

You underwent training, day after day, for “D” Day, and one day in June, you arrived by air and sea.

And you fought with the heart and soul of a free man, so that we, too, might be free.

You saw your fellows fall on our beaches and in our fields and, in spite of your grief and your injuries, you stayed on and fought side-by-side with us.

And so, dear Veteran, I want to tell you, regarding those dear to you who sacrificed their youth and are now resting in peace, the sleep of the just, that,


And to you, dear Veteran, who offered your bravery and your most promising years for this our land, I say to you,

who want to say to you today,
a heartfelt THANK YOU!

Other D-Day related posts:

D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour – and Giveaway
! (A tour of WWII inspired fiction)
The Guardian’s Interactive D-day landings scenes in 1944 and now
BBC’s iWonder
The real lessons of D-Day

Travel Adventures

Bambi and Baboons | Miyajima Island, Japan

We liked Miyajima Island so much, we went twice. Plus the hour long street car ride from Hiroshima is perfect for recovering from adventures, people watching and being in air conditioner. Known for the numerous deer that like to be your friends, one famous gate and a beautiful view from a top the mountain, this place reminded me once again how incredible this country is.

The sweet little guy
Ohtorii Gate in front of the Itsukushima Shrine

The first day we made it when the tide was low, so we were able to take pics right by it. We came earlier on day two, so tide was high and it looked so pretty floating on the water!

Then we took these to the top of Mt. Misen and guess what? Beautiful! We didn’t really know where we were headed, so there were surprises left and right!

Sometimes the ride was a bit shaky…
Beautiful view!

On our way back to the ferry we thought we’d skip the bus and walk back down ourselves. We missed the turn (obviously) ;), so we ended up having an added nature walk as part of our adventure. This was where we spotted a baboon. I froze, slightly panicked and then began prepping my ninja moves. Why you ask? I mean, have you searched baboons on YouTube?? Once I was convinced my life was no longer in danger, I added that to the list of cool things I’ve seen in Japan.

Okonomiyaki is a dish this part of Japan is known for and even though I really had no idea what was gonna happen, I dove right in. Mom and Dad you can add that to moments I’ve made you proud. It was tasty too, so thanks Japan for the food adventure!

Oh and if you’re ever eating at the Spanish-inspired restaurant by the train station in Hiroshima, “cheese fries” aren’t fries covered in cheese, but rather fried cheese balls. That’s our free lost-in-translation lesson for you ;).

Travel Adventures

August 6th, 1945 at 8:15 a.m. | Hiroshima, Japan

On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m., an American B-29 bomber dropped the first atomic bomb used against humankind exploded about 600 meters above Shima Hospital in Saiku-machi, utterly destroying all people and property below it.

Among the burned ruins stood the skeletal of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall (now the A-bomb Dome), a grim reminder of what had been (*info taken from plaques around the A-bomb Dome).

Because the blast struck almost directly above, some of the center walls remained standing, leaving enough of the building and iron frame to be recognizable as a dome.

The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. By December 1945, over 140,000 people died as a result of the bomb.

Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address on August 15, citing the devastating power of “a new and most cruel bomb.”

“I fought with myself for 30 minutes before I could take the first picture. After taking the first, I grew strangely calm and wanted to get closer. I took about ten steps forward and tried to snap another, but the scenes I saw were so gruesome my viewfinder clouded with tears.” Yoshito Matsushige
The children’s memorial
“これはぼくらの叫びです これは私たちの祈りです 世界に平和をきずくための”
“Kore wa bokura no sakebi desu. Kore wa watashitachi no inori desu. Sekai ni heiwa o kizuku tame no.”
“This is our cry, this is our prayer: for building peace in the world.”
“Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.”
This monument embodies the hope that Hiroshima, devastated on 6 August 1945 by the world’s first atomic bombing, will stand forever as a city of peace. The stone chamber in the center contains the Register of Deceased A-bomb Victims. The inscription on the front panel offers a prayer of peaceful repose of the victims and a pledge on behalf of all humanity never to repeat the evil of war. It expresses the spirit of Hiroshima – enduring grief, transcending hatred, pursuing harmony and prosperity for all, and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.

Lord, may your peace reign.

Travel Adventures

Another Day, Another Adventure | Kyoto, Japan

Hello friends! Thanks for joining me on adventures :)!! Day two in Kyoto included conquering the beastly heat, seeing the oldest temple in Kyoto and exploring Gion. Just so you know, the day included a nap too – I know, we’re pretty awesome!

Kiyomizu Temple is the oldest and most visited temple in Kyoto. It’s made only of wood and they didn’t use a single nail. Wha?? I really would like to have seen it being built. I mean, I can barely get legos together. So yeah – pretty awesome. It’s more than just a tourist place too. Many people make the trek to worship.

I think I might need to come back in the fall – I can only imagine how gorgeous it is!

People pay for holy water throughout the temple.

No nails people. No nails!

As we walked the streets of the Gion district, there was so much to take in. Whether there were random shrines, cranes or people bustling through the streets, there was always something to see.

And here’s one of the two amazing ladies I get to explore with. And yes, every picture we are glistening ;).

So anyone want to pay me to travel and take pictures yet? Anyone???