Dear Sunday: Hello 2018!

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series.

Can you believe it? I can. 2017 was a good, busy year. I turned 24, finished my second year of grad school, got a second job, had a bunch of my college friends come visit me, submitted my first scientific paper, was the photographer for my friend's wedding, wrote a novel, and spent the holidays seeing family.

But now a whole new year beckons. I don't really do yearly goals; I prefer to break them down into more attainable monthly goals which I still manage to forget about. However, one of my yearly goals for 2017 was to read more books than I did in 2016-- a goal I soundly achieved [[58 books in 2017 vs 24 books in 2016]]. For 2018 I don't necessarily need to read even more books, but I do hope to keep up blogging regularly. For more nostalgia and goal-setting check out my yearly wrap up post this Thursday! 

  • Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite new-to-me authors I discovered in 2017
  • 2017 reading wrap-up
That's it for me! What about you? Are you a New Year's resolution type of person? Any bookish resolutions you're hoping to keep? 

Review: The Bookshop on the Corner

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan 
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Rating: 7 / 10

Nina is a librarian at a time when libraries are downsizing and people are losing their jobs left and right. When the inevitable rolls around she decides that she can still pursue her love of matching the perfect book for each person, and she opens a traveling bookshop.


This book. It was a disappointing but not overly bad read. First off, Nina learns that she needs to stop READING books and instead LIVE her LIFE because apparently those two things are mutually exclusive?

As every bookworm loves hearing, this book ironically rambles on about how REAL LIFE is so wonderful why would one bury oneself in READING? Of course the point the author is trying to make (I suppose) is that there needs to be a balance between life and reading. However, it mainly came across as a long story about a woman whose life became so much more FULFILLING once she put those darn books down. [[Seriously. There's an entire scene where the best friend comments on how much better Nina is doing now that she no longer carries books around with her]]

If you ignore the recurring theme which insults the reader (why aren't you LIVING your LIFE already??) the book was a pleasant read. The romances didn't really make sense-- they didn't really click with my understanding of the main character.

It was cute to read someone live out what I'm sure is many of our dream-- living in the beautiful countryside selling books? Sign me up! Once again, the book was a bit heavy handed on how absolutely AWFUL cities were-- so crowded and dark and dank and horrible and smelly and why in the world would anyone choose this?-- and how AMAZING the Scottish countryside was. Like. Okay. I get it. You don't have to hit me over the head with how horrible my city-dwelling life now is and how much improved it would be if I moved to the countryside.

Overall: a cute, slightly disappointing read. Good for a quick read but it would not be the first book I recommended to a friend looking for a light romance featuring  a bookish character.

Hm. That sounds interesting though. Let me know: what is your favorite light romance featuring a bookish character?

Dear Sunday: Merry Christmas!

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series.

It is Christmas Eve and this is a wonderful season to spend time with family, so my weekly post will be a bit short! It has been great spending time at home and seeing relatives, exchanging gifts, well, you get the idea. 

It has been a lovely year for me in many ways and hopefully next month I will write a post looking back at 2017. But for now I'm going to put the laptop away and spend time with family. 

  • This will be another 'discover as you go' week for me! I don't foresee me having enough time to get a top ten tuesday post up-- at least, not on Tuesday itself. If for some reason I find enough time to write a review ((I have a short one planned about a book I did not finish)) then I will post that later on in the week. In short: stay tuned. ;) 

That's it for me! Merry Christmas :) Even if you don't celebrate this holiday, I hope you have some time off to spend with your loved ones. 

October + November Recap

I'm linking up with The Book Date  and Feed Your Fiction Addiction for this monthly review!

This monthly review is sorely late, so let's jump right into it!

My favorite October memory: My parents happen to visit me the weekend of my choir concert! This is the first official choir I've sung in, so it was cool that they got a chance to hear us.

My favorite November memory: Seeing my nephew (1 1/2 years old) at Thanksgiving. It had been nearly a year since I last saw him and man babies change a lot in a year.

These past two months have not been good reading months for me. Sadly I was swamped with work and life and somehow only managed to read two books in two months! I mean I expected that to happen in November, when all my free time was thrown at the crazy endeavour of writing a novel but still, they are sad numbers to look at. Here's to hoping that December is better! I'm really looking forward to Christmas break and alllll the reading that will happen then. Theoretically.

The Raven Boys by Maggie S

Vigil by Angela Slatter

This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber

The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas 

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-garcia

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater 

I know it's odd to pick a favorite and a least favorite out of a pool of two. However, I felt very strongly about each book! The Raven Boys was amazing and I really was disappointed by Vigil.

Whew; that's it! And the award for the latest monthly wrap up goes!

TTT: 5 Books I hope Santa Brings

This post brought to you by the Top Ten Tuesday series over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's top ten tuesday is a bit odd for me. As you may or may not now, I don't really buy books. I don't like collecting tons of books-- I would much rather get them at the library and then return them. Or, if I do buy one, I always try to give it away/donate it after reading it.

However there are some books that I don't mind owning (such as poetry books) so I've rounded up five books that I wouldn't mind finding under the Christmas tree this year.

2351334933019790  A Brush with Shadows is the latest book in a murder mystery series I feel in love with years ago.

I never read poetry books, but Milk and Honey looks really interesting.

Abundant Beauty: Marianne North is a botanist who traveled the globe to study the plants and I've been meaning to read her book for a while now.

The Bear and the Nightingale: I've heard such good things about this book!

32802595Annd of course, the book I am dying to read: Record of a Spaceborn few. It really would be a Christmas miracle if this book ended up underneath my tree seeing how it won't be officially published until next summer.

What about you? What are you hoping to unwrap on Christmas?

Dear Sunday: Christmas Break

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series.

I was quite pleased with my wrapping this year :) 
It's happened! In exactly two days I will be on the road heading home for the first time in a year. I have survived this busy holiday/finals season only barely, having to miss my choir performance (y'all a six hour practice + two performances just did not fit in with my two jobs). Anyhow, I'm hoping to devote more time to this blog once I'm home (I'm also hoping to read, craft, draw, relax, hang out with family, friends, do holiday stuff, final present shopping, oh and a little work). So. We'll see what happens ;) 

  • great question! who knows. with the traveling and the packing and the unpacking I don't want to make any promises....

That's it for me! What about you? Are you taking time off? Are you over planning your vacation like me? 

5 Reasons to Read Song of a Captive Bird

Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik 
Expected Publication Date: February 13th 2018
[[thanks Netgalley for letting me read this book!]] 

The bare bones: Song of a Captive Bird is a fictionalized memoir of Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad and I picked it up on Netgalley a month or two ago. It was a beautiful haunting read, and I have five reasons why you should put it on your TBR list immediately.

Reading diverse books is something I struggle with. After all, it can be easy to get stuck in a reading rut-- I loved this historical fiction so I look for more books just like that and so on and so forth.  When I saw this title pop up on Netgalley I knew it was the perfect addition to spice up my reading life. Not only is it about the life of an Iranian poet, the author is also Iranian.

Memoirs, even fictionalized memoirs like this one, just aren't really my cup a tea. Every now and then I'll read an autobiography but only if the person is a comedian. It's hard for me to get into nonfiction which is why I was shocked at how riveting this book was. Obviously it is fictionalized but it still reads like a memoir. Even so, it is lyrical and beautiful and kept my attention from page one.

Iranian history is not my strong suit. I know a smattering of information-- mostly vague words like oil, dictators, veils, revolutions, green-- but apart from that I got nothing. This novel introduced to me a tumultuous, beautiful, contradictory country before and during a time of political upheaval.

"Whatever Iran wanted to be, I loved it. I'd found my life's purpose here. Every poem I'd ever written was entangled with my country's story. I loved its downtrodden, small-minded, generous people. I loved them; I belonged to them. They were my people, and I was theirs."

Interspersed in this novel were lines of Farough's poetry, translated into English. It was nice to hear her actual voice woven into the story.

We found truth in the garden
in the shy glance of a nameless flower,
found eternity in the moment
when two suns faced each other. 
-- from 'Conquest of the Garden' by Farough

This is a fictionalized piece. In some ways it is the story of Farough Farrokhzad. In some ways it is the story of any of the nameless Iranian women born into those harsh times. It is specific and universal but most of all it is beautiful and heartbreaking. It is educational without feeling pedantic; it shows a life that is difficult without feeling hopeless, a struggle that is at times tortuous but not unbearable.

Have I convinced you yet? What are some of your favorite books by diverse authors that I should check out next? 

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 favorite reads of 2017

This post brought to you by the Top Ten Tuesday series over at The Broke and the Bookish.

So I realized as I was writing this that in July I wrote a 'best of 2017' post! It was interesting to see that some of the same books ended up on my list again; but there are also some new additions. 

  • Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. As I said before: If 1984 and Catch-22 had a child, and that child went through a rebellious teenage phase, then the result would be this stunning, witty, and expansive novel. Part dystopian, part political satire, all amazing, this novel kept my eyes glued to every one of the 400 pages.  It's hilarious and depressing and fascinating all rolled into one.This type of novel was what Jasper Fforde was made for-- I can't imagine what it would be like to be in his mind.
  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. As I said before: I'm not sure where I first heard about this short story. Maybe a John Green recommendation? Either way I'm so glad I stumbled upon this sci-fi tale. I love my science fiction to be inventive, to think of other civilizations and technologies so different from our own, and then to craft a story out of their foreignness and Binti was all of that and more. Clearly taking it's roots from the author's own Nigerian roots it is both wildly inventive and universal in all the right ways, as a young woman leaves her village to travel thousands of miles through dead space to claim her spot at a prestigious university.
  • The Stars for a Light by Lynn Morris and Gilbert Morris. This is a fun historical fiction about a woman doctor back in a time when those two words did not go together. It's not the best book in the world but I enjoyed it, and I loved watching the characters evolve over the long series. 
  • The Long way to a small angry planet by Becky Chambers. Check out my review for the whole story but in short: HOLY COW THIS IS AMAZING. 
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. Check out my review but in short: HOLY COW THIS IS AMAZING.

Whew! That's it! What about you? What were your favorite reads of 2017?? 

Dear Sunday: almost Christmas break

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series. This week I'm also linking to Stacking the Shelves!

a pretty fall photo from a couple weeks ago :) 
Last week was: choir practice-- our concert is literally in a week and we're performing like ten pieces for no good reason AND we haven't had time to even go over all the pieces and we'll see how that all turns out; Christmas party with my church group, white elephant gifts and pizza, I scored a cute beanie; first Advent service of the season; church Christmas party with holiday games that ended with me having to do charades so that my teammates would guess the holiday song "Thistle Hair the Christmas Bear". Yeah. Let that one sink in. Charades. Suffice it to say my team did not win. But that's alright! 

This coming week promises to be almost as busy as last week (oh Christmas break you can't come soon enough) so my upcoming posts will be more of a suggestion than a promise. But onto the books! Oh! And because I clearly don't own enough books I need to read, I bought another one at the dollar tree. I literally can't pass up a dollar book. 

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell
((I just read the goodreads synopsis which I didn't do in Dollar Tree and I'm not longer quite as excited for the book...the synopsis on the book cover is very different from what goodreads has! Has anyone read this?))

  • Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite 2017 Reads
  • Monthly Review: October + November

That's it! With any luck I'll be able to juggle my research projects, finishing work for the silliest class I've ever had the misfortune to enroll in, writing those posts, AND all the choir rehearsals scheduled for this week. What about you? Are you like me, and your holiday season is far too busy??

Why Vigil by Angela Slatter left me disappointed

I had such high hopes for this novel. To begin with this novel is really hard to find in US libraries and when I requested one through inter-library-loan, my library informed me that instead they were just going to buy a copy and put me on hold. Fast forward probably months and I get an email telling me that the book was in.

The first paragraph of this novel got my hopes up and I read the rest of the 350 pages hoping to recapture that feeling. And in some bits and pieces, I did. There were parts of this novel I really enjoyed.

Vigil features the struggles of a woman as she walks between two worlds-- the normal and the magical-- and attempts to keep peace in both and figure out why murdered sirens keep turning up.

This novel is a hybrid of urban fantasy and modern fantasy; blending original elements with the reimagining of classic fantasy tropes (fairies and sirens etc). What excited me about a novel is the originality of it, I'm such a sucker for innovative urban fantasy. However this was a more traditional fantasy novel, with a few sparks of originality thrown in.

This novel features a strong female lead who is tough and caring, overworked and smart. The plot is interesting and the magic isn't dull. The novel is not bad. It just isn't great and halfway through I completely lost interest and the book sat on my table for weeks. Eventually-- solely because I knew I wanted to review it here-- I picked it up and forced  myself to finish it, even though I had forgotten the fine details of the plot, and couldn't manage to convince myself to care about the characters.

Overall I expected more originality than the novel was prepared to give me. It runs a tad bit too long. If you are a fan of a more traditional fantasy novel set in modern times, then you might enjoy Vigil!

Let me know-- what is your favorite urban fantasy novel? (I'm obsessed with Madness of Angels by Kate Griffith) What should I check out next?

TTT: 5 Dreamy Book Locations

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

For this week's Top Ten Tuesday I want to share five books set in beautiful locations. 

A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabelle L. Bird -- I know I've mentioned this book like a hundred times on my blog but it's just so interesting! Isabelle travels through Colorado on horseback in the late 1800s and her gift for description had me wanting to travel through the mountains as well except for I would have cell phone service and antibiotics.

Two Women Abroad by Adaline S Hall-- I've mentioned this really cool, rare, travel log on my blog before. I stumbled upon a copy in my college library and fell instantly in love. It describes the journey two self-proclaimed spinsters took through Europe right at the turn on the century and it's really cool.

The Lost Girls by a bunch of people-- Here's a switch to a very modern travel log; several college friends take a year to travel the globe. While I wasn't very tempted by their tales, it did make me want to travel.

Into The Wilderness by Sara Donati-- I adored this novel, set in New York state in the late 1700s. It was beautiful and atmospheric and made me want to journey through rural New York.

When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke -- This novel about a posh young woman who goes to teach in the middle of the wilderness in the late 1800s was a fun little read. Once again I felt the tug to travel through rugged rural country forgetting my deathly fear of spiders, bugs, and my deep love of indoor plumbing. Oh well. Maybe one day.

That's it for me! Five books in lovely locations I would not mind finding myself in. :) What about you? What's your favorite bookish location?

Dear Sunday: I'm back!

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series.

my november life :) 
It's been so long since I last wrote a blog post I feel the need to introduce myself again! You see, I attempted to: (i) write a novel (ii) write posts for this blog (iii) do course work (iv) do research and (v) have a life ALL in the same month and surprise, surprise, it didn't work out. The obvious thing to take a break on was this blog (who's kidding I would have much preferred skipping out on the class I'm in because it's 10 types of pointless). 

However, on November 30th I officially 'won' NaNoWriMo clocking in at barely over 50,000 words in my novel! I'm refusing to even look at my novel during the month of December (ideally revisions will start in January...) which means, in theory, I finally have time to get back to this little hobby of mine.

I mean if I kept up my NaNo pace and wrote 1,667 words a day devoted solely to the blog holy cow would I be able to get so many posts out! But considering how this is my month of rest (from writing) that crazy pace won't happen.

Anyway I just wanted to apologize for the long and sudden absence on my blog and to assure you that I'm back and excited to write about some cool books I've been reading.  :)

  • Top Ten Tuesday: Book Destinations 
  • Review: Why The Vigil by Angela Slatter left me feeling disappointed 

That's all from me; I look forward to getting back into the blogosphere and catching up on everyone's blogs!

TTT: 5 Books My Kids Will Read (or I'll disown them)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's top ten tuesday theme is books I want my (super far out in the) future kids to read. I've compiled some of the books that I adored reading when I was a kid.

Harry Potter

What list of childhood favorites would be complete without a HP reference? I adored this series growing up.

Chronicles of Narnia

Ahh another classic! This series is amazing and beautiful.

Alanna: The First Adventure

This is a series about a girl who wanted to be a knight and when I was a child I wanted to be her SO BAD. So yeah. A must read for my child of either gender.

Little House on the Prairie

Another classic and must read for my future kids. Reading this as a kid made me want to time travel to the past and explore the wild west (as an adult I much prefer the antibiotic/women's suffrage/indoor plumbing that the present has to offer)

Dear America

This was one of my favorite series growing up; each book is the diary of a girl in some important historical time. I remember devouring the books as a child (I can even still remember where in the children's section they were located!).

And that's it! Five books that my future kids will read or I'll disown them. Just kidding, my future kids don't have to be big readers (what am I saying of course they will be readers how could they not be). 
What about you? And if you've already had kids, did they love the same books you did?

Dear Sunday: NaNo + more

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series.

Last week was:
  • signing Christmas songs in choir-- feeling quite festive 
  • having Fixer Upper play in the background while I attempted to write my novel-- not recommended but I love Fixer Upper so much I couldn't help it
  • praise team practice in a church that still didn't have heat -- so it was a short, chilly practice; picnic dinner in the secretary's office because it was one of the only rooms with heat
  • traveling to a nearby city with six other grad students to give a brief presentation about my research to the general public. It was a blast! More people than we expected showed up and I think I was able to convince them how cool (bio)physics can be
  • First write-in of the year! My local library hosts a NaNo event where they let us in after hours and feed us pizza and soda and cookies and I love it so much.
That about sums it up! Now onto the (sadly) short lists of posts you might have seen last week on my blog:
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Books I want my kids to read
And that's all I can guarantee :( It's hard to see my blog sort of fade away but I know that this month my free time needs to go towards my novel if I want to win NaNo. Once this month is over I'll have time to read and write posts again. 

How was your week? 

Beautiful Books: The Struggle

Welcome back to another installment of Beautiful Books, a series hosted by Paper Fury where I get two birds in one stone by writing a blog post about my ongoing NaNoWriMo novel :) 

Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
  1. I'm a little stressed. This is my first NaNo where I'm also trying to blog consistently. Every time I write on my blog I'm imaging my NaNo word count not moving. However I don't want this blog to dwindle and disappear this month! It's all about juggling. Good thing I'm good at juggling. 

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)? 
2. Yikes. Okay. So my novel is by no means beautiful. It's a hot mess but it exists and that's what important. Without further stalling here's my first paragraph: 

"It was two AM when Rachael cast her spell. The darkest hour of the night, with the promise of dawn years away. It is the time when the most desperate try their most foolish options. And for all her logic, for all her education, for all her training, Rachael was no different."

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
  3. Right now I'm a little sparse of characters. Rachel just disappeared and my main character (who is still unnamed?? suggestions for female names??) is kind of on her own.

What do you love about your novel so far?
4. I love that things are happening. This is a plot I've been dreaming of for years. I've written the very beginning and loved every sentence and paragraph-- but it was slow going and would never get where it needed to go. I love that the plot is actually advancing, even if it isn't beautiful (yet).

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
5. "Darkness was seeping through the kitten windows."
...I'll just leave that there.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
6. I typically write in order, especially when my plots aren't really fleshed out. Last year was the first year I would skip scenes if I didn't feel like writing them, and flip to later ones. This year that probably won't happen, since I don't really know what's going to take place later on....

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
7. I write on my lunch break at work, after work, while the TV is on, while music is on, at coffee shops. I don't really have a routine (maybe that's a problem). What I will say is having the TV is always a bad idea, but I do like writing to classical music. The lyrics can't be too pronounced or I won't be able to write.

Also I've written out on my balcony a total of one time (it's so cold outside!) but I thought the picture was pretty so there you go :)

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
8. I've always written alone, because I've never had friends who liked writing/did NaNo. Last year was the first time I convinced a friend to try NaNo with me. We've written together a couple times-- it's really helpful to be able to ask someone for help when you can't think of that perfect word or when your plot doesn't make sense.

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
9. Competition with myself. I'm a really competitive person and having a word count I have to meet works wonders. I love the little graphic on the author page-- I write just to increase that bar. Like seriously. I'll write 100 words and then go update my word count. It's absurd.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
10. Write until things make sense. WRITE. Also-- this one is directed at me-- advance the plot you silly person. Don't be so afraid of running out of plot to write. ADVANCE THE PLOT. *ahem* moving on...

What about you? How is your writing going? Do you also secretly hate parts of what you've written? Let me know!

Dear Sunday: NaNo has begun

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series.

The protected forest behind my apartment :)

Ahh November. The month of turkey, and family, of changing leaves and early evenings, and of writing 50,000 words in just 30 days. 

And, this year, it means a month of not looking at my analytics as I devote my free time away from my beloved little blog and towards writing. I'm throwing words down on my novel but man, it isn't pretty. 

But that's alright! The point of November is to get the novel on paper (metaphorically speaking. some people write their novels by hand. I am not that crazy) not to get a beautiful novel on paper. Later I can go back and make each scene beautiful but before they can be improved they must exist. 

Thank you for letting me have this Dear Sunday just be my pep talk to myself :P 

I might write a post with just pretty fall photos? Like it's obviously not book-related but it is a post I can easily post...what do y'all think? Is that something you would want to see?

  • TTT: Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders
  • ...and sadly that is probably going to be it! I really need to focus more time and energy on my novel right now. It's a story that I love and have wanted to write about for years, so I really want to make this first draft the best it can be. I apologize for my absence from the blogsphere during this month!  
Okay that's it for me! I need to go write. (Get used to hearing that friends and family!) What about you? Are you doing NaNo? Or are you a slightly more sane person?

TTT: 5 Spooky reads!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Growing up, Halloween didn't mean much to me, other than colorful decorations in grocery stores, and an overabundance of candy. My parents assure me that as a toddler I went trick-or-treating at least once, but without any recollection to back them up, I have to trust their word.

I have friends who look at me agape when I admit that I have never celebrated Halloween-- friends who proudly proclaim it their favorite holiday of the year. While I don't understand the draw, as nostalgia plays a huge part of loving Halloween and I have none, I still have some spooky reads to share with you this week!

Pet Sematary by Stephen King
I read this at an almost too-early age (I may have been a teen? pre-teen?) and I still vividly remember certain scenes. It's a classic horror novel that's worth the read if you want a good psychological scare.

The Raven Boys by Maggie
This is such an odd one to put on this list, I know, but, as I mentioned in my review, I was genuinely spooked by certain passages! There was this sort of nonchalance to the surreal scenes that earned it its place on my list of spooky books.

The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill
This is more a horror story about one man trying to destroy all possible universes in search of the perfect world. Lots of blood and guts-- perfect for Halloween!

The Ghost and Mrs Muir by Josephine Leslie
Okay so this one had the word ghost in the title so how could I not list it?? I read it after watching the 1950s movie. I'm always looking for more diversity in what I read-- and this 1945 book definitely was older than all the other books I read. Also it has a rather spooky ending!

Lexicon by Max Barry
Once again this turned into more horror than spooky but it's an interesting book based off the idea that there are certain words that can unlock a brain and give someone control over another.

That's it! Nowadays I tend to steer clear of horror books, but every now and then a spooky novel ends up on my reading pile. How about you? Do you love scary books? Which one is your favorite? 

Dear Sunday: the dentist

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series.

Last week was: choir rehearsal every night (oddly enough the more I sing high notes the better I get? who'd have thought); malfunctioning machine at work; presenting at the group meeting which turned out to include everyone and their mother; having said presentation go great; stealing a few minutes before praise team practice to play the piano for the first time in nine months; Chopin's prelude 'Raindrops' sounds amazing even on a piano which hasn't seen a tuning in many years; eating Moe's for the first time in over a year (I don't understand the world's obsession with Chipotle since Moe's is obviously the better of the two); and a choir concert where everything fell into place.

Whew! This week things will begin to slow down-- after I have a dental procedure done on Monday (eekk! It should be fine; it's just a crown, I know, call me eighty call me a queen but I'm really too young for this. oh well, such is life!)

  • Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Spooky Reads!
  • ...okay let's be honest; that's my only guaranteed post. I haven't finished any books recently so no reviews are done and I don't know if I'll find the time to write a post or if I will take a break and chill. only time will tell. OH and NaNo is coming and NO I'M NOT WORRIED (holy crap am I worried. I haven't had time for any prep!)
That's it! How about you? Do you have big Halloween plans or is it going to be a chill week? I'm so in need of a chill week. 

Review: The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, YA
Rating: 9/10

I did it. After hearing over and over and over about the beauty, magic, and overall awesome-ness of this series, I finally read the first book.

I won't lie-- I was surprised when the book actually lived up to the hype surrounding it. After all, how many times have you read a overly hyped novel, only to be sorely disappointed?

The Raven Boys did not disappoint. Maggie weaves a spell-binding world, full of surprisingly complexity lyrical prose that manages to be fast-paced yet also introspective. I was drawn in from the beginning, pulled in by the beautiful words and the beautiful world, edged in darkness.

“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn't know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.” 

The characters were well constructed, complex and dark and flawed and beautiful. Perhaps one of my only complaints about this novel was the lack of character development. At the end of the book, the characters felt very much the same as on page one. I get that this book is one in a trilogy-- and I could see the larger story arcs that were being built. However, I would have prefered to see some sort of change or development in any of the characters that I came to love.

“Fate," Blue replied, glowering at her mother, "is a very weighty word to throw around before breakfast.” 

The magic system was not ground-breakingly unique or innovative, yet I still loved it. I was genuinely spooked by parts of this book and that was something I was not expecting. There were shocking twists that not only managed to catch me off guard but, once revealed, made sense. The plot twists were the type that, one you know them, you can go back and see how the answer was really obvious all along. This an unique talent-- to surprise the reader while also staying within the bounds of the story and the characters.

The writing was lyrical, the plot fast paced, the characters complex; I had a hard time putting this book down. I can't wait to pick up the sequel! I would recommend this novel to just about anyone, but especially if you are a fan of modern fantasy.

What about you? What did you think of The Raven Boys? Did you see character development where I did not?

Dear Sunday: Concert Week

Dear Sunday is my weekly post participating in the Caffeinated Book Reviewer series. 

I'll save you the repetitive rant on how busy I am (my friends wish they were that lucky!) Suffice it to say, I have yet to hit a nice quiet stretch of my life. I have hope for Christmas break.

But the business this past week was good busy! I went to a fun Catholic lecture, my normal Lutheran bible study, and on Friday my church had its annual bonfire/hayride/etc and that was really a blast. Any night that I spend out in the countryside around a bonfire is a good night in my books.

The picture on the left is what I did on my one free night this past week-- I made walnut butter! Super easy; you literally put walnuts (or any nut) in a food processor and turn it on. Bam. I added like a teaspoon of oil and a teaspoon of sugar but that was it. The final result is a bit grainy since I have a cheap food processor. It's not sweet but holy cow is it amazing when paired with sweet strawberries!

But Anna you say aren't you super busy? Why would you post four times in a week where you are busy? Which is a great question that I don't have a great answer to. You would think I would be kind to myself and post less on busy weeks? I'm going to try and follow that sensible advice this coming week because the local choir I sing in is having its concert! And if you've ever been in a band/choir then you know that concert week can be a bit manic.

So with that reservation...

  • Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Book Titles 
  • Review: In which I review the internet's most popular book ever
  • okay
  • I hate clickbait 
  • so
  • I'll just tell you
    • pppssssst
      • The book is The Raven Boys! 
That's about it for me! How was your week? Have you ever had the inexpressible pleasure that is walnut butter and strawberries?