Literary Themed Spots You NEED to Visit in Indianapolis

When you think about Indianapolis, you probably think about the Indianapolis 500 or the Colts. Maybe only cornfields come to mind. We are a “flyover” state after all.

However, if you’re a punk ass book jockey like me, then you’re probably seeking out bookish related things in each city you visit. Well, I’m here to tell you that Indianapolis has got it going on when it comes to literary spots you should check out.

Here are five spots you don’t want to miss next time you are in the Circle City.

Books and Brews

Books and Brews marries used books and craft beers in a unique setting. With several locations around Indianapolis, this cute little brewpub features a gently used bookstore in the front of their space and  10% of all proceeds goes to IndyReads (which I’ll highlight a little later).

The drinks are named after books and with names like “The Stout of Monte Cristo”, “Clifford” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Stout”, you’ll want to partake even if you aren’t a beer drinker.

Each location hosts trivia nights, has board games on tap for you to play with friends and serves lunch and dinner so you can grab a bite to eat to go with your bubbly. There are nine locations around Indy, one in Muncie, and one in Ohio, so no matter what side of town you live on, there’s bound to be one near you.

James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home
Located in the historic Lockerbie neighborhood, this gorgeous Victorian home and museum celebrates the life and accomplishments of Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, who spent the last twenty-three years of his life living and writing in the home.

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The museum also hosts events, like Victorian teas and summer writing camps.

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Admission is dirt cheap – at $4/person, that’s practically a steal and the home/museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. If you’re feeling adventurous, be sure to check out Crown Hill Cemetery, where Riley is buried. You’ll also get a great view of the city skyline from his tomb at the top of the hill and you can also try to find President Benjamin Harrison and outlaw John Dillinger’s grave sites while you are there too.


Woody’s Library Restaurant
A restaurant in a former Carnegie library? Yes, please!

Woody’s Library Restaurant is located just north of Indianapolis in the swanky town of Carmel. The library moved out of the space in 1970, selling it to the Town of Carmel. They used it as office space and even a courthouse until 1998, when owners Richelle & Kevin “Woody” Rider purchased the property.

Since then, the former library has been serving up lunch and dinner in a relaxed atmosphere and while the menu offers fairly standard American fare (think burgers, tenderloins, and BBQ), there are several unique options for people wanting something a bit different. Those with dietary restrictions will be pleased that the menu designates vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options.

The owners kept the original library reference desk, which now serves as the bar counter and all the shelves and floors are original. You will be in love when you see the interior!

Indy Reads Books
In time when bookstores are dying, Indy Reads Books is thriving and for a good cause. Located off Mass Ave., the new/used bookstore is a funding source for Indy Reads, a non-profit whose mission is to make Indianapolis 100% literate.

They also offer diverse programming and feature local artists pieces on the walls. It’s a magical place, so be sure to stop in, support a great cause and check out their book mural on the side of their building while you are at it!

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The Public Collection
This is one of the coolest art installments in Indianapolis!

A few years ago, several artists were commissioned to create public art pieces that could house library books. Similar to the Little Free Library, these books can be borrowed and returned at any time. They are scattered all over the city, and more are popping up each year.

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The Indianapolis Public library donates all the books, the artists are based in Indiana and the purpose of the project is to “improve literacy, foster a deeper appreciation of the arts (and artists), and promote social and educational justice in our community.”

Cool, right? Check out their web site for more information and to find all the locations of the art pieces.

And in Carmel, their city has installed a Little Free Library in a telephone booth!! Make sure you check out the book benches next to it which feature Indiana authors. (You can find the phone booth off the Monon Trail in Carmel next to the Booth Tarkington Civic Center)

I hope whether you live here or are just passing through that you’ll check all these awesome bookish places out in Indianapolis! Let me know if you do and if you find anything I didn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books I Can’t Wait to Read in 2020

It’s a new decade! We’re back in the Roaring 20s, folks, and with a new year, comes a new reading goal. Last year, I barely met my Goodreads goal of 70 books, but the last few months were a whirlwind of change, so I’m pretty sure that in 2020, things won’t be quite as hectic and I can easily top that.

Some of my favorite authors have books coming out in 2020: Sarah J. Maas, Ransom Riggs, and Kimberly McCreight, just to name a few AND there are even a few musical memoirs and political non-fiction titles on my list.

What are you looking forward to reading in 2020? Here are my top picks for the first half of the year since many of the fall releases haven’t been announced yet!


Ransom Riggs – The Conference of the Birds

Conference-BirdsThe fifth installment in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series, Ransom Riggs continues the story which has now moved to America. While this series has lost some of the charm it once had, the books are still enjoyable reads and I’m looking forward to seeing where the author takes us.

Releases: January 14

 

 

 

Kiersten White – Chosen

Last year, Kirsten White took us back to the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a 41gOetoeHfL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_new story set in the Buffyverse. It was magical, entertaining and a nostalgic return to a much loved world. Book two finds Nina trying to manage the Watcher’s Castle as she attempts to turn it into a utopia for hurt and lonely demons.

Releases: January 7

 

 

 

Mary Kubica – The Other Mrs.

One of my favorite thriller writers returns with a new mystery set in Maine. Sadie and Other-MrsWill Foust haven’t lived in their new home long when their neighbor is murdered, setting everyone in the small town on edge. Kubica is the queen of twists and her books just keep getting better.

Releases: February 18 

 

 

 

 

Sarah J. Maas – Crescent City

Ok, so this one made my list LAST year because it originally was supposed to come out in the fall. But it got delayed, so it’s making the 2020 list too. And we have a cover and a plot about a half fae, half human who falls in love with an angel. Sarah J. Maas is one of the Crescent-Citybest young adult writers out there, but this one is aimed at an adult audience, so you know the romance is going to be on fire!

Releases: March 3

 

 

 

 

 

Zan Romanoff – Look

Lulu Shapiro’s a social media star. But when a video of her that she didn’t want public gets posted to the Internet, it creates a series of events that lead her to meet 51XQz7KureLCass. But the online fame continues to follow her around, even when she’s trying to find herself and explore a new relationship in an offline way. Zan Romanoff is sort of an under the radar young adult author, but she crafts great realistic fiction stories that often reflect the trends and times we live in.

Releases: March 31

 

 

 

The Jonas Brothers – Blood

I probably don’t read as much non-fiction as I should, but when I do, I love to read music biographies and political stuff. Weird combination, I know. The Jonas Brothers are kind of a guilty pleasure for me. I used to hate them because there was some tension between them and Hanson and if you know me at all, you don’t talk smack about my favorite 41AkISOahNL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_band. But they’ve buried the hatchet, and let’s face it: the Jonas Brothers made some pretty catchy music. So I’m really interested to read this one and find out some background info on the brothers because siblings really do make the best music together.

Releases: March 17

 

 

 

 

Suzanne Collins – The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Honestly, this title makes me nervous. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a new Hunger Games book and many times when an author returns to a series after a long hiatus, the new story isn’t any good. Since this is a prequel, it might be interesting to read 46346381._SY475_about some of the events before the Katniss world began, although I would have rather read about the first Hunger Games, not the tenth. Still, it will be a big one in 2020 and I’m intrigued.

Releases: May 19

 

 

 

 

Kimberly McCreight – A Good Marriage

It’s been a while since Kimberly McCreight wrote anything for adults, but her psychological thrillers fill the Gillian Flynn void for me. There’s murder, marriage 417k2BUfO6Lproblems and intrigue as lawyer Lizzie Kitsakis juggles personal problems and a call from an old friend who needs her help. Eagerly awaiting this one.

Releases: May 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Books of 2019

It’s that time of year again! I always have fun blogging my favorite reads of 2019 and this year I set a goal to read 70 books. Toward the end of the year, I struggled to complete it because we moved, my cat died and life got super busy with a new position at work. However, I managed to complete my goal just in the nick of time!

Here are some of my very favorites published in 2019. Have you read any of them? Let me know what you think and tell me about some I may have missed!

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

41weZhY-JLL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Imagine getting a call that your daughter has been kidnapped and the only way for you to get her back is to pay a ransom, then kidnap someone else’s child. You can’t go to the police, target the children of law enforcement or politicians and if you don’t complete your assignment within twenty-four hours, your child is dead.

So begins The Chain, an elaborate kidnapping ring that’s been going on for years.

Twists and turns abound in this thriller and what’s even more terrifying is how realistic the plot can be. The story moves very quickly and you will have a hard time putting this one down!

 


The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

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Every summer, Sadie vacations with her family in the town of  town of Littleport, Maine, spending most of her time with her best friend Avery who lives in the town year round. The girls are inseparable, but one summer, Avery is found dead.

The police rule it a suicide, but Sadie isn’t so sure. And some of the townspeople act like she’s to blame, casting suspicious glaces in her direction whenever she’s in town.

So Sadie sets out to figure out what exactly happened to her friend, to both clear her name and put her friend to rest.

The Last House Guest is another page turner from author Megan Miranda. The ending wasn’t easy to figure out, which is always a plus when it comes to mysteries!

 


Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book is phenomenal. If you love music, especially 70s style rock, you will be in 91yzz1aYgeLheaven when you read Daisy Jones & The Six. The format is written in oral history style, which took a few chapters to get used to, but once you have that down, you’ll be riveted by the story of a band’s rise to fame, then subsequent fall from stardom during the 70s.

Is it based on a true story? Possibly. It definitely feels like maybe Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac are the inspiration behind this fictional account, but who really knows. I’ve also heard the audio is exceptional, so if you enjoy listening to audio books, give it a shot in that format and let me know what you think.

 


Recursion by Blake Crouch
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Helena Smith’s mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and she wants nothing more than to bring back her mother’s precious memories. So she begins experimenting with a new technology that will preserve special moments in life while also allowing them to relive learning to drive, getting married, the birth of their children or the last few moments with a loved one who is about to pass over into the afterlife.

Blake Crouch remains one of the best science fiction authors out there and this follow up to Dark Matter is stellar. Earlier this year, I wrote a more in depth review of Recursion, so be sure to check it out.


Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
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Take everything you know about the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella and toss it in the trash! This story about Isabelle, the step sister who cut off her toes so the glass slipper would fit, is brilliant.

Her whole life, Isabelle has wanted to be like Cinderella and it’s left her wanting. So she sets out on her own adventure, thwarting evil plans for the kingdom and redeeming herself in this fractured fairy tale.

I couldn’t put Stepsister down and you won’t be able to either.

 


On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

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This was just as good as “The Hate U Give.”

I really enjoyed the plot and plight of the main character, Bri, as she deals with the struggles of the inner city and trying to make it as a teenage rap star. The rap battles reminded me a lot of the movies “8 Mile” or “Patti Cake$,” and I liked the subtle connection to T.H.U.G. It’s pretty awesome that Thomas wrote the rap songs/lyrics herself instead of having someone else do it.

Thomas is a wonderful new voice in YA fiction and I’m really excited to see where she takes us in future novels.

 


The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

During their sixteenth year, the young women of Garner County are banished graceto the wilderness. They’re thought to possess a magic power as they’re coming into adulthood that affects both men and women, so they’re sent out into the woods to overcome the magic and return on their seventeenth birthdays pure and ready for marriage.

Not many make it back home – there are poachers out in the wild, ready to kill them and sell their bodies on the black market. They also turn against each other.

Tierney James wants to change all that, but surviving her grace year and starting a revolution in her society will come with great costs.

The Grace Year is a mix of The Handmaid’s Tale and a female version of Lord of the Flies. At times it can be brutal, but it’s an excellent story that leaves you with an uneasy feeling. Definitely recommended for fans of dystopian with a feminist edge.

 


The Starless Sea by Erin Morganstern

starlessZachary Ezra Rawlins stumbles upon an ancient book hidden deep within the library’s stacks and as he’s reading the enchanting story, he discovers he’s a character in the book. Stunned that a story from his childhood exists within the pages of a book, Zachary sets out to find out how and why he became part of the story.

The clues – a bee, a key and a sword, lead him to a secrect society and masquerade party held deep in an underground library and readers are treated to an adventure like no other.

Erin Morganstern, who is best known for her debut novel, The Night Circus, returns in this highly anticipated sophomore novel. It’s masterfully written and honestly, there’s no one else this good out there at the moment. I hope it won’t take her another eight years in between novels, but if all the rest of her books are as good as The Starless Sea and The Night Circus, they will certainly be worth the wait.


Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Book two in the spectacular series that kicked off in 2018 with Children of Blood and Bone. Zélie and Amari struggle to unite the kingdom of Orisha as Amari triesCOV&V_JKT_Trade_032819.indd to assume her spot on the throne. Her mother and brother have other plans though, and with the return of magic to the land, the maji find that the opposing side also has access to those powers and are using it against them.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance is a non-stop thrill ride that leaves you wanting book three immediately. There’s romance, action and fantasy and Adeyemi remains one of the top writers in the young adult fantasy sphere. If you haven’t read this series yet, what are you waiting for??

 

 

 


 

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Book Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch

Recursion-cover-1263x1920Helena Smith’s mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and she wants nothing more than to bring back her mother’s precious memories. So she begins experimenting with a new technology that will preserve special moments in life while also allowing them to relive learning to drive, getting married, the birth of their children or the last few moments with a loved one who is about to pass over into the afterlife.

Through her research and efforts, “the chair” is created. It can send you back to different memories in time, creating new timelines and erasing past mistakes or events. The only problem is, Helena’s boss isn’t using it for the purpose she intended and instead of doing good, her technological advancement is wreaking havoc on the current timeline of the world.

NYC cop Barry Sutton stumbles upon Helena’s invention while investigating False Memory Syndrome – a condition that’s causing people to kill themselves based on memories of lives they never thought they experienced. Unknown to them, their jolting memories, which return to them once they’ve reached the moment in time the original event was altered, are a side effect of someone else in their life using “the chair” to undo some event in the past.

The general public doesn’t know about “the chair” – only Helena and a few other researchers, and their subjects are poached off the street by Helena’s boss, Marcus Slade.

Soon the government will get involved and that opens a whole new Pandora’s Box. They start small by jumping timelines to undo school shootings or horrific criminal acts and soon, top officials want to eradicate past events like the Holocaust.

Recursion is a stellar follow up to sci-fi writer Blake Crouch’s thriller Dark Matter. There’s a lot to keep track of with the shifting timelines, but once you get used to it, it’s not hard understand where our characters are in the story line.

In addition to the face paced writing style, Crouch challenges readers to think about if changing the past really would really be for the moral good and if the human race can ever be trusted to carry that out if the technology is ever invented.

Easily one of the best books I’ve read all year, Recursion should be at the top of your reading list. Netflix has already optioned it for a film/TV series with Shonda Rimes’ production company to produce.