TTT: 5 Underrated 5 Star Books

This post brought to you by the Top Ten Tuesday series over at That Artsy Reader Girl

This week's prompt is a good one, as it allows us book bloggers to shout about our favorite books that don't get the love that they deserve. So get ready for some shouting because these books are AMAZING and I think they should get a lot more love and attention.

6186355 A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

I will never not put this on a list of underrated books because this book I read in undergrad is still my favorite urban fantasy novel EVER. I have yet to read another book that captures my imagination like this one did.

3398625The Lost City of Z by David Grann || my review

This was a gem I found while doing my nonfiction reading challenge. The author really did his homework, the book is as well researched as a textbook and reads like a soap opera. What more could you want??

 52 Loaves by William Alexander

7684354Okay. so. I found this book while on a bread-making forum researching how to get the perfect crumb (fancy word for texture). It was Christmas break and my dad was struggling to make the perfect loaf of homemade bread and this book popped up and I have never laughed so hard while reading a nonfiction book. This book is amazing and everyone should read it.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen || my review
I bought this book for a couple of dollars at a thrift store a couple of years ago and only recently read it and my mind was BLOWN it was so LYRICAL and BEAUTIFUL and why aren't more people shouting about it??

35574989 Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Dapznik || my review 

I got this book from Netgalley so I'm literally confused at the absence of glowing reviews because this fictionalized memoir was beautiful and touching and atmospheric and I thought it was really well done. It introduced me to a land and a people and a culture I know very little about.

That's it for me! What about you? Have you ever heard of/read these books? If so what did you think?

Dear Sunday: Autumn Breezes

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series. This week I'm also doing a brief Stacking the Shelves and have also linked up with tyngas reviews.

It's a Dear Sunday on a Monday Tuesday! Sorry that my blogging here has been so inconsistent lately-- last year of grad school is really keeping me busy. 

But in lieu of complaining or ranting or exalting my schedule I give you a glamor shot of my cat, Otto. I recently got a new phone (*remembers cost* *shudders*) the google pixel 2 and let me tell you the camera has blown me away! 

But onto the books!

3549968840605285 I picked up Who Moved My Goat Cheese? via an ebook loan from my library. I was looking for a cute cozy mystery and while it was a cozy mystery it wasn't very good (review to come!).

I received this book Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie in a surprise package my friend sent me last week! It looks just like my cup of tea.

  • Top Ten Tuesday: Amazing books that you never hear about
    • yeah no this one will also be a temporally confused post
      • top ten thursday? yeah I should be able to write that post by Thursday?
        • right life? *looks nervously at schedule* 

Okkayyy that's it for me in this terribly late Sunday post! I hope you are in a less hectic time of your life. I hope I'll be in a less hectic time soon. Okay bye.

TTT: 5 Foreign Netflix shows you need to see

This post brought to you by the Top Ten Tuesday series over at That Artsy Reader Girl

When it comes to Netflix shows, I'm somewhat of an unintentional hipster.

Mention Stranger Things to me and I'll just stare blankly at you before telling you about this obscure Russian drama you just have. to. see. Somehow, without quite intending to, I manage to miss out on all the latest top shows that everyone and their mother are watching.

Instead of binging on Orange is the new black or Handmaid's Tale or really anything hip, I tend to watch obscure, mostly foreign, Netflix shows and let me tell you I have found some gems. So if you are trying to add a little diversity to your TV watching, read on!

The Ministry of Time

Image result for the ministry of time

Country of Origin: Spain 
Language: Spanish with good English subtitles
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Brief Summary: What if there were doors that lead to the past? And what if a Spanish bureaucracy was created to manage those doors? This fast-paced beautifully-shot drama features the lives and adventures of several agents who travel through time to advert disasters. 

Seyit ve Sura

Image result for seyit ve sura russian drama

Country of Origin: Russia 
Language: Russian? But also with random Turkish phrases? (with good English subtitles)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance [WWI]
Brief Summary: This romance, which takes place in Russia during WWI, is a star-crossed lovers affair between a Turkish Russian officer ((yeah wanna guess how long it took me to figure out nationalities? aGeS)) and a Russian noblewoman. There are things I LOVE about this series ((hello healthy representations of masculinity)) and things I don't ((hello unhealthy representations of obsessive love)) but overall: highly recommend. 

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

Related image

Country of Origin: Australia 
Language: English
Genre: Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery [1920s]
Brief Summary: This is a fun murder mystery series featuring, well, Miss Fisher, a witty, brillant, English socialite. She somehow manages to come across dead bodies nearly everywhere she goes and forces her help upon the local police who want nothing to do with her. Overall it's a lot of fun!  

The Paradise

Image result for the paradise tv show

Country of Origin: England ((still counts as diverse right?? kind of?))
Language: English
Genre: Historical Fiction
Brief Summary: This series follows one girl as she leaves the countryside to work for one of the world's first department stores-- The Paradise. ((it's actually a lot more interesting than that sentence might lead you to believe!))

Land Girls

Image result for land girls tv show

Country of Origin: England 
Language: English
Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII
Brief Summary: During WWII women could join the Land Army-- where they were shipped out to British farms to help raise crops for the war effort. This series follows several city girls as they adjust to life on the farm and life during the war. Highly recommend!


Okay so I've only seen the first episode of this series so I can't really recommend it, but! I so rarely see Koren art/shows/books/etc I felt like I should tell y'all about it anyway. 

Secret Healer

Image result for secret healer tv show

Country of Origin: South Korea
Language: Korean but with decent subtitles
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, romance?
Brief Summary: From IMDB: A barren queen seeks the help of shaman to give birth to a prince.

That's it from me! Five foreign netflix shows I love and one I just started. Have you heard of any of these? Any foreign shows I need to check out? 

Dear Sunday: Mini-Vacation

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series. This week I'm also doing a brief Stacking the Shelves and have also linked up with tyngas reviews.

sunset outside my apartment :)
These past few weeks have been rough. What with school starting, classes to take, labs to teach, research to do, organizations to help run (yes I'm the sucker who agreed to help run two different organizations my 'senior' year of grad school), my second job to do-- well, it's been busy. Add in the fact I haven't had a weekend off in like a month, and well, let's just say I'm happy that it's Labor Day Weekend!

Not that I have any big plans for the extra day off, besides lounging and reading and lounging some more.

Which sounds pretty grand to me, I gotta admit.

Oh! And I'm hoping to use the downtime to get ahead on my blog posts so that hopefully I can publish on some sort of a schedule again.

30971685763470O Pioneers! by Willia Cather

I was inspired to try this book by a contemporary of Laura Ingalls Wilder when it was mentioned in Prairie Fires.

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

So far I've been severely underwhelmed and disappointed by this lackluster YA novel but I'm tired of not finishing books so I'll try and read through it quickly.

  • Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Foreign Netflix shows you need to check out 
    • get excited
    • I have a knack for finding the weirdest shows on Netflix that causes my friends to pause, scratch their heads and go, wait. that's on netflix?
  • perhaps another post
    • or perhaps not!
    • the universe we live in is a chaotic and unknowable place 
      • so. there. 

That's it for me! For those in the US I hope you have a safe and relaxing Labor Day weekend :) 

Disliking Everyone's Fav || Ready Player One DNF Review

I don't think I've ever written a review for a book that I did not finish.

After all I rarely give up on a book-- or if I do, often times my feelings are more apathetic than strong and I don't feel the need to write them down.

But, since I was /so excited/ for this book and waited /months/ to get a hold of my library's audiobook, I thought I would explain why Ready Player One did not live up to my expectations.

9969571Ready Player One is set in the not-so-distant future where the world sucks, everyone's destitute, and there is only one escape from the horrible realities of life: the OASIS. The OASIS is a virtual reality world you log into and contains everything from malls to schools to brothels.

I love sci-fic and the premise of the book drew me in. That and the fact that Wil Wheaton was narrating it totally sealed the deal.

I was ready for a fast-paced innovative tale which featured futuristic technology. I was ready to marvel. I was ready for action.

I was not ready for complete and total boredom. However that is what Ready Player One delivered for the first seven chapters. Something finally happened in chapter 7 but we didn't have interesting conflict until later.

So. What happened during those first seven chapters, you might ask?

An entire expose of the 1980s. The plot was comprised almost entirely of a kid doing research on 1980s games, songs, fashion, etc. And what's more boring than doing that research?

Reading about it.

After seven chapters things picked up a little but the entire book remained listless and boring. When my loan ended and the audiobook disappeared off my phone I couldn't muster up any disappointment.

Finally. I thought. don't have to keep listening to that.

Let me say that Wil Wheaton is my fav and he did a great job at narrating-- the issue lies in the complete lack of an engaging plot. The author springboarded off other games and technology and the book features very little of his own originality.

All in all? Skip the lines and try another sci-fic book (such as Binti or Conservation of Shadows or Long Way to a Small Angry Planet).

Let me know-- have you read Ready Player One? Did you, like everyone else it seems, love it??

TTT: 5 books I read in school

This post brought to you by the Top Ten Tuesday series over at That Artsy Reader Girl

We all had to do it growing up.

Required reading. The mere words can elicit groans and eye rolling. Seriously, have you ever enjoyed being forced to read a book?

Well, as it turns out, yeah. But it was a pretty rare event for me to enjoy being told exactly what book I had to read in high school. Something about the lack of autonomy takes some of the joy out of reading. But here are some books I loved, some I hated, and some I have complicated feelings about that I read during 'school' (which I loosely define as everything before college TBH).

  1984 by George Orwell

I'll be honest, I was not required to read this, but choose to pick up this novel when I was in 9th grade. The reason? I watched an episode of Star Trek that my parents said was heavily inspired by this book so of course I immediately got my hands on it because, hello, have you met me, I am a huge Trekkie.

The result? Eh. It was alright? But hey, at least I choose to read it.


Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

I have complicated feelings about this one. I was forced to read it in high school and the act of reading it was arduous. After every chapter I would read the SparkNotes to find out what in the world had just happened.

Also the first sentence caused every student in my class to yell out "hE's gAy?!?" and my teacher to roll his eyes and sigh. [[The first line:It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him" so can you really blame us??]]

I actually had a dream last night that I was teaching an English class and dissecting my favorite scene of this novel so that's weird.

21996 The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Anndd now we are on to a book I hated.

I abhorred this book but, because it was required reading, I couldn't just put it down. My only memories of this book are how much I hated having to slough through it.

Ahh public schools.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

This was required reading that my entire class, myself included, fell madly in love with (sort of like Yossarian and that chaplain).

It was gritty and dark and all I really remember is how much I loved it.

7304461  In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Spring Break was coming up my senior year of high school and I could feel the boredom beginning so I asked my English teacher for a good book to read and man did he deliver.

Have you ever read a book that stunned you by how amazing it was-- the type of book you want to go down the streets yelling about, the book you want every friend to be forced to read? This might have been the first book that ever made me feel that way.

And at the end of Spring Break I approached my teacher's desk book in hand-- I wondered how to fit my feelings into words, how to explain the world this story had opened my eyes to, how amazing it was, how everyone should read it, how glad I was he had loaned it to me. just put it on my desk the teacher said, not pausing to look up from his computer screen and so I quietly sat it down and walked away. ((today me would have stopped him from whatever he was doing and exclaimed the wonders of the novel but past me was a bit shyer))

That's it for me! Five books, some loves some hates, that I read during school. What about you? Does the burden of an assignment ruin your love for a book?

Nonfiction Reading Challenge || Halfway through

Waaayy back in the snowy month of January, I decided to try something crazy.

No, I didn't pack up and move to Florida even though I DESPERATELY wanted to because: snow. ice. temperatures that can cause frostbite in 15 minutes. ew.

No, instead I started a challenge to read a type of book that up till then I had avoided like the plague.

Nonfiction. Say that word to January-me and I would have shuddered and pictured page after page of  boring dry information trying to force itself into my brain. But, for some reason, I decided that I needed to stop avoiding nonfiction and fully embrace it. Around Christmas I had randomly read my first NF book in ages and-- to my eternel surprise-- it wasn't dull or boring or horrible but rather it was amazing and riveting and who knew NF books could be like that??

I made a commitment to trying to read one NF book a month. To some that may not sound like anything arduous but to me it seemed like a hefty challenge.

Here we are, more than halfway through 2018 (?!) and I thought I would comment on how the challenge is going!

First off to the surprise of few I discovered that NF books can be utterly AMAZING and wildly interesting and not dull at all? This was a shock but to be honest I have yet to start a NF book that puts me to sleep. Back in January I made a quick list of NF books I might try this year: I can safely say I have read only two of those twelve, which brings me to my next point.

What have I read thus far?

Abundant Beauty by Marianne North

The Lost City of Z by David Grann  || My Review

52 Loaves by William Alexander

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn || My Review + Recipe Test

My Life in France by Julia Child || My Review

As you can see I am a couple of books behind my goal-- but considering how crazy my summer went I'm not surprised and nor am I discouraged. This challenge has been amazing, opening up an entirely new genre for me. I can't wait to see what NF books I discover between now and December!

What about you? Are you a NF lover? Have you read any of these books??

TTT: Books to get out of a slump

This post brought to you by the Top Ten Tuesday series over at That Artsy Reader Girl

We've all been there.

You're sitting in the library (or bookshop) faced with an impossibly large number of choices to fill the slot of what you're going to read next. There's mystery. Fiction. Science Fiction.  Romance. Amish romance. (side note: can you believe that's a thing? That genre has always made me feel vaguely uncomfortable because it is, by definition, a very voyerstic genre)

Yet nothing sounds good. You can't put your finger on why exactly but every novel just seems...meh.

You, my friend, are in a reading slump. A murky weird state of being where the thing you normally love-- reading amazing books-- just doesn't seem to be jiving for you anymore. I would be a special sort of witch if I could give you a sure-fire prescription to pull you out of this reading funk.

After all, each slump is different and requires a different book to clear away the clouds and remind you how fun and amazing and awesome reading is. So I've thought up a couple of possible scenarios and my best suggestions to end your reading slump!

if you need a good laugh...
maybe you just binged on WWII novels and now feel like life is a sham and the only constant is the ever looming spectre of death and IF SO here are two hilarious novels to make you laugh 

 Bossypants by Tina Fey || 52 Loaves by William Alexander

if you are tired of typical book format....
after all, linear narratives are SO TYPICAL. maybe you're craving something DIFFERENT than the masses something UNIQUE. if so try: 


Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Told almost exclusively through interviews and transcripts this non-standard format was somehow both interesting yet still engaging

if you need some that is as beautiful as poetry...
maybe you've been reading classic novels or something that was old and stuffy and DRY and you want something beautiful for your eyes to feast on BUT you also want a story. if so try:

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
*insert heart eye emoji*

if you just need a cute romance...
maybe you just need a little cute romance novel to restore your faith in the world. maybe you've read too much ANGST and GRIT and you want something lighthearted and fun. if so try: 


Hopefully if you currently find yourself quagmired in a reading funk then one of the above categories applies to you and maybe, just maybe, with a little bit of luck you can find an end to your reading slump!

What about you? Any sure-fire ways you get yourself out of a slump? 

Dear Sunday: A New Semester

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series. This week I'm also doing a brief Stacking the Shelves and have also linked up with tyngas reviews.

It's been a while hasn't? 

This summer has been the summer of blog-breaks for me, apparently! These past few weeks I have: 

  • gone to a biophysics conference, given a talk over my research to a room full of scientist I didn't know and
    • survived!
    • and not only that, apparently no one could tell I was SUPER EXTREMELY nervous?
      • which is a win
    • and there were a lot of people interested in my research and had some great questions!
      • so yay
  • flew out for a leadership summit for the Christian Graduate Fellowship group I'm a part of 
    • and it was A BLAST
    • and amazing
    • and I played board games until like 2 in the  morning 
      • so yeah it was perfect
  • ran a science booth at the state fair
    • the kids LOVED my physics demos and it was really a lot of fun watching them get so excited about electricity and magnetism 

Whew! This week school officially starts-- which is a tad bit arbitrary since I'm a grad student and work year round but I am taking a class and teaching a lab this semester (oh and JOB HUNTING) so it's gonna be a bit busy.

So I wish I could promise that I'm officially back in action and that there will be no more unexpected absences here....but yeah. No promises.

Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser

My library hold finally came in! Some of my friends who are massive Laura Ingalls Wilder fans recommended this historical nonfiction about Laura and everything that was going on in the country while she was alive. It's massive tome but it has been surprisingly riveting thus far.

I'm also 1000% happy that I'm living in the 21st century without, you know, devastating plagues of locust.

  • Top Ten Tuesday: Books to get you out of a reading slump
    • this will be an interesting post because recently I've been asking for books to get me out of a slump! 
  • Nonfiction Challenge : 6 month update 

Okay that's it for me! I'm excited to be back in the book blogging world. I hope you are having a great week and if you're a student, welcome to a new semester! :) 

3 Mini-Reviews || Historical Fiction

It's time for another round of mini-reviews! I was combing through my Goodreads shelves recently, and found three historical fiction books that I never got around to reviewing here on my blog. Since none of these novels elicited strong long-review-worthy emotions, I thought I would write how I felt about them briefly:

36353414A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter || Era: Late 1800s (?)

When Kit fled the high society of London she never thought she would return, and she never thought she would be able to bury her crushing regret. Instead she focused her life on helping those that society would cast out and trying to make amends for a careless mistake she made in her youth that had far reaching consequences. 

What I thought: overall it was a cute story. The plot was, at times, a little cliche (love at first sight? ew) but even so it was an enjoyable story. I loved how the author wove in the characters' faith without feeling heavy-handed. It was a nice little read. Also can we talk about how gorgeous that cover is??

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd || Era:WWI

After getting wounded, Bess has a brief respite from her duties as a nurse in WWI. However she feels driven to deliver the cryptic last words of a dying soldier to his family, and to uncover the true story of what happened years before. 

What I thought: This story fell a little flat for me. The plot was mildly interesting but I never felt connected with the main character so it was hard to get too involved. There are far better historical fiction/mystery novels out there in my opinion.

18404804The Substitute Bride by Linda S. Glaz || Era: 1800s

When Becca arrives after a train accident in a little middle-of-nowhere frontier town she can't remember where she is, why she is there, or really even who she is. But Jake Callahan, who greets her as she steps off, knows exactly who she is: his mail-order bride. 

What I thought: this is not a novel that will win awards; it's not a novel you would brag to your friends that you read. However! It is a cute little romance novel with a plot that is a bit predictable but nonetheless enjoyable. It was the perfect fluffy romance story to read over my vacation.

That's it for me! What about you? Have you read any great historical fiction novels recently? 

Dear Sunday: The Conference

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series. This week I'm also doing a brief Stacking the Shelves and have also linked up with tyngas reviews.

This past week was busy with:

  • coffee shops, 
  • having a group of friends over to my new place for the first time, 
  • singing,
  •  going out to my favorite local restaurant, a place that decided that adequate lighting is overrated and keeps the lights so dim it's hard to see the food,
  • drive-in movie theaters with friends, bundling up with a sleeping bag because it was cold in July what is this world we live in,  
  • skyping with friends
  • and also look at those hot air balloons that were flying outside of my apartment!
Talk about a great and busy week! Perhaps that list is apology and explanation enough for my lack of posting? 

This coming week will be no slower. I leave today for a biophysics conference-- it's a smaller, more local one than the one I flew out to San Francisco for. Tomorrow I will be giving my first talk at that conference-- I've only ever done poster presentations so fingers crossed my talk goes well! Then at the end of the week I'll be flying out for a leadership summit for the Christian Graduate Student Fellowship that I'm involved with at my university. 


Oh look! A rare photo of myself! 

But more importantly look at my book! Record of a Spaceborn Few came out last week and my preorder came in and I'm SO EXCITED. This is literally the first book I've ever preordered and it's so pretty I kind of understand this whole book buying thing that all the other bloggers do. 


I'm not gonna lie not much went on last week:
I'm not gonna lie there isn't going to be much here:
  • Historical Fiction Mini-Reviews
    • I'm only going to promise one post this week because I've basically already written this one and I haven't packed for my trip or for my other trip OH and also I need to grade exams because final grades are due OKAY I'll stop now 

That's it for me! I hope you have an amazing week however calm or crazy your schedule is at the moment!