TTT: 5 Atmospheric Books with Rich Worlds

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

The prompt for this week was 'bookish worlds you would want/hate to live in'. After browsing my Goodreads bookshelf for inspiration I realized that there weren't many book worlds that I wanted to live in, or didn't want to live in. And lukewarm list posts are never any fun, so I keep digging.

As I searched, I started to compile a list of books that created rich, detailed worlds within their pages. Worlds vastly different from ours; worlds just a little bit skewed from ours-- these books do a beautiful job painting a massive canvas of a world, and then showing you a tiny corner of it.

Let's get to the books!

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Ahhh this beautiful magical realism novel excels at creating a magical, mirror-image of our world and does so effortlessly.

Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The world in this book isn't /too/ different from our own, but the writing in this book is so atmospheric and lyrical I had to put it on the list.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

What list would be complete without at least one Becky Chambers reference?? This sci-fi novel creates such a detailed world and really thinks about all the nitty-gritty realities of cross-species interactions.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Beautiful. Innovative. Imaginative. And under 100 pages. Literally there is no reason why you shouldn't be reading this book right now.

2113260Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde is a wizard with words and the ideas that pop out of his head are so interesting and unique it borders on the absurd. And so does this dystopian novel! Absurd and dark, he weaves together an alternate world no one would want to visit.

That's it for me! What about you? What are your favorite bookish worlds? 

Dear Sunday: Summer Heat

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.

Ah yes, the summer heat. Nevermind that it is merely May; the high for today is a whooping 95 degrees. Not that I am in any way complaining! I much prefer this heat to the cold never-ending winter we saw.

This past week I've gotten back into playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild which is a game I started /months/ ago (a year ago? more?) but then didn't have time for it until recently! So that has been nice.

Onto the books!

                                                                 click on the covers to check the books out on Goodreads!

351339229748332 My hold on Educated finally came in! I haven't started it yet but I am excited to.

I finally went to my library in person which meant I was able to pick up Abundant Beauty, a book I've been meaning to read for a while but I've been busy with all the e-book options my library offers.

  • Top Ten Tuesday: Book Worlds I want to live in 
  • ARC Review: A Defense of Honor by Kristi Hunter

That's it for this late edition of my Sunday post! I got caught up this morning playing the aforementioned Zelda game and forgot to write this post in a more timely manner.

Thanks for reading! I hope the weather is pleasant for your holiday weekend! 

How To Hobby || Watercolor-inspired Greeting Cards

This is my second installment in my series How To Hobby, dedicated to one of my friends who always says she wants more hobbies. So I decided to do a series covering all of my extensive and random hobbies with the hope of one of them catching her fancy. Check out my first post in this series!

Welcome back to my favorite non-book series here on my blog! This week I want to share a really fun watercolor-esque technique I've learned that I use to make almost all of the postcards I send out to friends.

Originally I was going to do a MASSIVE post on watercoloring in general but I decided to break it into two: this one is more watercolor-inspired, and the next one will be more traditional watercolor.

The final product is on the left! It is a super easy but still cool looking way to make artwork/thank you cards/postcards/whatever you want.

What you'll need:
markers of any sort
pen of any sort
plastic ziplock bag (generic will not work)
haha jk of course a generic ziplock bag will work
water spritzer (not necessary, but helpful)
and some paper

  1. Pick out two (or more) colors to use in your card. I used Tombrow brush markers because I had a long lasting love of bullet journaling but really Crayola markers would work really well.
  2. With no precision, draw several large patches of color with your markers. I tend to keep the colors separate because I want to keep my markers clean but it doesn't really matter. 
  3. Don't worry if the colors don't look very vibrant-- just scribble some color onto the ziplock bag
  4. Now you want to sprinkle some water over the ziplock bag. This can be achieved with a brief, diffuse spray of a water bottle BUT if you don't have one (I have one that I use to teach my cat that defacing the furniture with his claws is not acceptable) you don't need one. Use a cup of water and a brush-- or your fingers-- to flick water onto the ziplock bag. 
    1. here's the trick: too much water and your paper will pill (small lumps everywhere; not the end of the world) too little water and the colors won't blend well
  5. Place your paper on top of the bag and run your hand over the paper to distribute the color. Flip the paper over, peel off the ziplock bag and you're done! 

Et voila! 

That's it! Now you should have a loose blended tie-die/watercolor background to write your message on. If there are pools of water on your paper you might want to blot them off. I'm impatient so I dried the paper off with a heat gun (just a super powered hair dryer) and then wrote on my message.

Here's another card I made using this technique-- this one is a bit fancier because I used an pen full of embossing ink to draw the little graduation hat/champagne and then put some embossing powder over it and used a heat gun to get those raised edges.

Have I inspired you to use what you probably have laying around to make some fun art?? If so, I have a couple of cool sites that you should check out.

Little Coffee Fox primarily talks about artistic bullet journaling but I find that she is great for overall artistic inspiration!

This is a YouTube channel by an artist and I just love all of her videos! She is fun, the techniques are approachable, and she has inspired me a lot. 

Let me know if you try this technique! Tag me on Instagram, leave a comment here, send out some smoke signals-- anything to get my attention. :)

Traveling through time Austen-style || The Jane Austen Project

I'm a sucker for time travel novels. I love watching characters get thrown into a completely new world; struggling to understand how daily life actually occurred in a time so drastically different than their own.

So when I heard of The Jane Austen Project, a novel that promised to combine both Jane Austen and time travel, I knew I had to give it a try.

The Jane Austen Project is an interesting, fast paced novel about two people who are sent back in time with one goal: to meet Jane Austen. In the present time, a unfinished novel of hers was just discovered, and the time travelers are tasked with the difficult prospect of befriending Jane Austen and discovering how the book ended.

The narration was precise and almost clinical at times-- and seeing how the narrator was a doctor, that made sense. It was interesting to watch the characters struggle to blend in, worrying that with any misstep they would be exposed as frauds.

The way the author dealt with the subject every time traveler writer fears-- paradoxes-- was...interesting but not really logical. The way she dealt with the possibility of paradoxes was a paradox in and of itself.

But that didn't really detract from the book itself. Overall, the novel was a fun, easy read perfect for fans of Jane Austen. 

What about you? Have you ever read The Jane Austen Project? 

Dear Sunday: Spring Showers

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 picture is from a walk I took last night in the forest that lies right behind my apartment. Luckily it turned out on my first try-- I was going to try more angles but some very persistent bees were buzzing over my head and I was forced to retreat.

Today is full of stormy clouds and threatening thunder so my nightly walk may not happen.

This past week was a busy one at work, as we had a collaborator come visit us. It was fun to have a different person-- and different perspective-- in the lab but it will be nice to get back to normal.

Speaking of getting back to normal I am hoping to finding a blogging routine again! Fingers crossed I can get back to following some sort of schedule.

click on the covers to check the books out on Goodreads!


 The theme of this week's Stacking the Shelves is ARCs I have no recollection of requesting appearing magically in my account. 

  • Am I the only one who just isn't feeling the top ten Tuesday prompts? 
    • this week is favorite character names but I don't have anything really come to mind so! I'll skip out on this week
  • Traveling through time Austen-styled || Review: The Jane Austen Project
  • How To Hobby : Watercolor
    • this will be the second installment of my How To Hobby series, a series I started mainly as an instructional manual for my friend who wants to pick up more hobbies
    • for this post I'll show some of my favorite super easy watercolor techniques that I use to make postcards! 

That's it for me! Thanks for stopping by :) 

Getting Lost in the Amazon || Review: The Lost City of Z

Even before my resolution earlier this year to read more nonfiction, there were always certain subjects that caught my eye. Ancient Egyptian life. Lost cities. Civilizations lost to history. The search to find them.

The Lost City of Z has almost all of the above. It is an enthralling tale of one of the last classic early 20th century explorers as he, through sheer force and will, explored the forest that claimed many of his colleagues' lives. The Amazon.  

This book was fascinating, every page held my interest. The author, a journalist, weaves together three different stories of men who foolishly or bravely headed into one of the deadliest places on Earth in search of answers.

Fawcett who believed in the existence of a massive civilization, tucked away from history beneath the impenetrable Amazonian jungle. A father son duo who, years after the mysterious disappearance of Fawcett believed that they could find the clues to his demise. And the journalist himself, who is compelled to journey along many of the same paths as Fawcett once trod.

A side effect of this gripping tale is that now, more than ever, I wish to never set foot anywhere close to the Amazon. Seriously. Final Destination could do an entire SERIES on the many ways that you can die in the jungle.

This nonfiction tale read like an Indiana Jones adventure; I never forced myself to keep going, I only had to force myself to put the book down now and then to do things like, you know, eat, go to work, etc.

Personally I loved how well researched the book was-- in almost every other paragraph the author is quoting from actual correspondence or meeting notes or books; he easily crafts a detailed picture of what happened. 

If you are craving a real life tale of adventure and exploration then look no further than The Lost City of Z!

Let me know! Have you read this? Seen the movie?

Dear Sunday: Mother's Day

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 lovely, as I started to settle into my summer routine at work. No classes to go to, just research to do. The campus is quieting down now that all the students are leaving. One the one hand it's wonderful having a quiet pretty campus to walk through but on the other hand summer is when everyone starts their massive construction projects so we'll see how that goes this year.

click me for goodreads!
 I have been meaning to read this book for a while now-- my digital hold would come in only to find me terribly busy buried in other books and so it would expire and I would place a hold again and I did this dance for a while BUT FINALLY my hold came in when I actually had time to read it.

It's definitely been interesting thus far.

  • Top Ten Tuesday: Books I disliked, but am glad to have read
  • Getting Lost in the Amazon || Review: The Lost City of Z by David Grann

That's it for me! (perfect timing to, my coffee just finished brewing) I hope you have a lovely Mother's Day (for my US readers)! 

5 Star Reads I Found Through Other Blogs

Today I thought I would talk about one of the things I love most about book blogging: discovering amazing reads through other blogs. When I first started this blog I expected mainly to shout my love of literature into the void and...well that would be that. However literally from day one I found myself immersed in this vibrant, active community of other book lovers and I couldn't be happier about that.

So without further ado, here are five 5 star books I found from reading other people's blogs!

What: Long way to a small angry planet by Becky Chambers

Where: Greg's Book Haven

Why: This amazing sci-fic novel blew me away. I love how the author imagined all the complexities of the interaction between various alien cultures. This is also, coincidently, perhaps the only book I've ever convinced my friends IRL to give a go (and they loved it as much as I did!).

What: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Where: I Wish I Lived in a Library (I think?)

Why: This lyrical book is everything I ever want from magical realism. I can't believe it took me so long to try! I bought it at a thrift store a year ago, but it was only after reading rave reviews that I decided to finally give it a try.

What: The Witches of New York by Ami Mckay

Where: Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Why: I adored this historical fiction novel with a magical twist. It was inventive, it featured the strength of female relationships, and it was just overall brillant.

What: The darkest part of the forest by Holly Black

Where: A Magical World of Words (I think?)

Why: *sigh* Ahhh, this book. Dramatic. Lyrical. Novel. It was kind of amazing. And by kind of I mean TOTALLY.

What: The lost city of Z by David Grann

Where: Port Jericho 

Why: One of the most surprising things that has happened this year is my new found love of nonfiction! Back at the beginning of the year I decided to participate in the Nonfiction Reading Challenge and let me tell you, I was not looking forward to having to make my way through one nonfiction book a month. Ew. However something completely unexpected happened as I began to seek out NF books-- I found some really amazing ones! This book, review pending, is a gripping tale of a 19th century English explorer who, towards the end of his life, mysteriously disappeared into the Amazon. It was a page turner and not only was it engaging it was clear just how much research the journalist author put into this tale. Seriously. Go read this.

That's it for me! What are some of your favorite novels you've discovered through other blogs?

5 Beautiful Blue Book Covers

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

This week's prompt for Top Ten Tuesday was books with your favorite color on the cover. After rummaging through my Goodreads shelves, I've come up with five books that not only (a) have my favorite color on them (b) are in and of themselves GORGEOUS but also (c) are amazing books.

What more could you want?

30038654                                           17131859
32802595                             33583891                                   18143977

Click on the covers to go to Goodreads!

All of these books are amazing (or expected to be amazing). Binti, Conservation of Shadows, and Record of spaceborn few are all science fiction, All the Light is historical fiction, and Sing a New Song is actually a devotional I picked up through NetGalley a while back. Also apparently I am now playing a game to see how many times I can talk about Record of a Spaceborn on this blog. Can you tell I'm excited to check it out? 

Have you read any of these books? What are some of your favorite book covers? 

Dear Sunday: it's summer!

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.

Sorry for the brief blog absence! Last week I faced my Comprehensive Exam which isn't actually an exam, but rather a comprehensive presentation over your research thus far and your plans for your next step. It's sort of a pre-thesis defense. Anyhow I was preoccupied with that looming over me, and didn't find the time to post here.

But now it's over! The exam felt like a final and that means it officially feels like summer around here.

The picture is of some yay-the-exam-is-over-now-i-can-chill watercoloring I did last week, which reminds me I need to write that How To hobby: watercolor post!

click on cover to go to goodreads!
Look what came in! I sent a interlibrary loan request for this book, which was published in India not too long ago. There was only like one copy of this book in the whole interlibrary system so I wasn't too convinced it would work BUT THEN my library decided to just buy the book and put me on hold (#ILoveMyLibrary). To my shock and immense surprise, the book came in a couple days ago and I have been loving it thus far.

  • Top Ten Tuesday: book covers
  • 5 Star Books I found through other blogs
    • I'm super excited about this one!
      • one of the things that surprised me about blogging was the amazing books I found out about through other bloggers
        • I know, I know
          • how was that surprising
          • I should have expected that
          • BUT I DIDN'T

That's it for me! Thanks for stopping by :)