Posts Tagged With: recommendations

The BEST Obscure Books – Read off the Beaten Path!

Look – it’s fun to read what’s hot and new, isn’t it? I do it all the time. I see that book with thousands of reviews at 4.5 stars and I know I’m in for a good read. But, how fun is it to pick up that book with only a few reviews, maybe it was written ages ago, and you feel like you found a hidden treasure?

Here is your best of both worlds! Trust me on this – these little known books (fewer than 2,000 ratings on Good Reads) are SO worth your time – pick them up to today!

Caravan
Dorothy Gilman

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I’ve read this book twice now and it is truly incredible. It has everything – every twist and turn you can imagine. It’s the story of a young girl told by an old one where you can feel the truth of it but with the knowing eye of an old woman looking back. This is a book where horrible, terrible things can happen to the characters and somehow you still want their lives. This book is magic wrapped up in one neat little package and now I can’t say anything else without just positively gushing.

And I can’t wait to read it again!

In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams
Tahir Shah

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This is the only book I have ever finished and immediately wanted to re-read. I would have; but I really want to buy a paper copy and read it that way instead. I’m abroad right now, but when I get back in the states I will own this! I’m also planning on reading just about everything Tahir Shah has written.

So why? Why am I so ga-ga over this book? One of my greatest loves in life is traveling and this book just oozes with the emotions of a traveler. Shah is an individual who is restless, who is curious, who judges people with an eye of disbelief AND understanding, who takes people what they are and, while human being are unable to completely ever fill another’s shoes, he incorporates what he can. It’s incredible – I stopped multiple times while reading to ponder or scribble down a sentence. Shah’s words described my own emotions: it’s so wonderful to feel understood.

This book is both memoir and story – it’s a mixture of tales, events, meaningful and not. His ability to tie in everything makes me believes he’s led not only a great life but also a fascinating one – I believe this book is filled with both truths and fibs and it works beautifully into one tapestry. I picked it up because I was going to Morocco to travel – I’ve never been more excited to examine a place now after having read this book.

I’d recommend this to just about everyone who is willing to ponder new ideas, cultures, adventures, etc. It’s phenomenal!

The Girl Who Could Move Sh*T With Her Mind
Jackson Ford

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I clearly picked up this book because it has the best title in the known universe. And then it ended up being great! SCORE!

It’s hysterical. I seriously laughed out loud multiple times while listening to this (btw – the audio narration is excellent). I love Teagan as a character – beautiful perks and flaws. This book is full of action and adventure and the dynamic of the characters are so much fun. The ending got a smidge long but I can definitely overlook that and am so eager to get started on book 2.

My (Underground) American Dream
Julissa Arce

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I really enjoyed this memoir – I was able to hear Julissa speak in Chicago for HACE and her story is incredible and memorable. It is so timely and brave as well – definitely one to read.

Golden Earrings
Belinda Alexandra

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Oh, this book.

Do you ever read a historical fiction and think, “This must have happened.” It was so expertly woven, the truth and tales of the times intermingled with the fiction so beautifully I thought it had to be true. The richness of the story, though certainly not all uplifting, felt like something that just had to have happened. Of course, I realize that’s not the case, but I don’t think I’ll be able to ever think about the Spanish Civil War without imagining La Rusa’s impact.

Paloma, Evelina, Celestina – Golden Earrings is a tale of strong women who are impacted by a terrible war. It’s a story about how people react when their lives are altered by others’ choices. It’s not a story about making all the right decisions. Each and every one of the characters in this novel make mistakes – very large mistakes – that send waves of impacts down the line for years. But mistakes don’t make a person, and Alexandra’s weaving of the characters shows that mistakes can be made by good people, but that good people aren’t immune to hard choices.

This is a little known novel that needs some serious love. It’s incredible via audio book and I’m sure just as good on paper. Highly recommend, and I will definitely be picking up more of Alexandra in the future.

The Summer Fletcher Greel Loved Me
Suzanne Kingsbury

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I have never been to the south, at least not the “deep” south and, man, did this book make me want to go. It’s not that Kingsbury even made it seem that appealing – all she talked about was the heat, the way the sweat dripped down someone’s neck, the stifling air in the rooms, etc. But she really made me FEEL it and I haven’t really spent any time in that kind of environment…

It’s a powerful book. Kingsbury does such a great sense of having you /feel/ relationships. I could sense the tension or happiness or love or whatever they felt between the characters. It was invigorating.

Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones
Erica Jong

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This book was pretty astounding. Very rarely have I reacted to a book with as much gusto – and I’m not talking about tears and laughter here, I’m talking about flat out shock. In terms of fiction, I’ve never had a book startle me as much as this one did and I loved it all the more for it. Erica Jong wrote this in such a manner that I truly believed she was Fanny Hackabout-Jones. She said in the beginning that she would keep no modesty, and she kept true to her word. The events in this book had ways of simultaneously disgusting and arousing me but ultimately making me truly care for, and hate, the same ones that Fanny did. Fanny wanted to teach Belinda, her daughter, all the things she had learned in the world. At the very least, I think she succeeded in teaching me.

Incognito Street: How Travel Made Me a Writer
Barbara Sjohlm

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I’m a little biased as writing and travel are two of my absolute favorite things, but this is such a beautiful memoir that really takes you into her growth and self-discovery. Highly underrated and a truly beautiful book.

Death Wish (Reaper Reborn Series)
Harper A. Brooks

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Overall, this book was really engaging and interesting. A couple parts were maybe a bit of a stretch but overall I was able to get into the story. Great pacing and characterization – Jade is such a fun character to follow and Brooks doesn’t pull the punches. Great series!

Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing
Steven Luna

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I sat down to read a chapter or two, just for a bit, and now I’m done. Devoured. That’s what happened with this book. Five, five, five stars.

This one had me from the get-go. Within about thirty seconds of reading you know Tyler Mills. He’s a teenage kid pissed off about something and is blaming it on his Dad for being a different person than him. At first you want to say “boo-hoo, kid” and kick off, but in the next thirty seconds you realize his Mom, his true connection, his source of inspiration, is dead. And then you feel bad about judging him for being all emo – and then you’re hooked.

What is it about Tyler that worked so well? It’s hard to pin-point. Maybe because he acted like a total teenager but his mind recognized how stupid he was being. Maybe because he was obviously smart and wanted to make good decisions but his fear and sadness was getting the best of him. If that isn’t a good representation of the young adult mind, I don’t know what is. The story was predictable but it moved quickly. The further it gets, in fact, the more cliché, but that didn’t detract at all. I loved it. I loved how I knew what was going to happen, I loved that Tyler did what I ultimately wanted him to do, and I love how it ended. Maybe I like clichés. I’m a firm believer that there are really only so many plotlines in the world, but there are never two personalities that are the same. It’s up to the writer to see an old situation from new eyes, and Luna nails it.

Love Perks of Being a Wallflower? Love angst? Love teenagers figuring out their shizz? How about if you just love good books? I don’t really care what you love – you’ll love this one.

Wall to Wall: From Beijing to Berlin by Rail
Mary Morris

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This book was phenomenal – not only is Mary Morris probably the most self-honest person on the planet (I don’t think I could read my actions for truth like she does even if I wanted to) but she’s a fantastic writer. Her personal struggles combined with the fascinating travel events make this a truly enthralling read. It’s set in such a dramatic time in history – Morris was in China, Russia, and Germany in 1986. Seeing some of those historic events happening through her eyes is unbelievably interesting. Great read!

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My Favorite Books from Diverse Authors (a never-ending list)

Out of pain you can sometimes find beauty and the continued push to celebrate and welcome art from people of color is one of those examples. I’d love to take the opportunity to highlight some of my favorite books written by non-white authors!

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

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Gold. This one, guys, is GOLD.

Let me tell you a story. I was reading late, husband asleep next to me (easily my favorite aspect of my kindle – night reading!) and came across a particular scene that involved dialogue relating to a non-vomit (you’ll understand when you read it) and I lost it. Like, truly lost it. Silent snort laughing, desperately trying not to wait said husband, crying because I was trying not to laugh, lost it.

Zaf and Dani are SO good. Their dialogue is amazing, their interactions are perfect, their troubles are real – it’s seriously such a solid book. And I wasn’t 100% sold on the first Brown sister, Chloe. But don’t short yourself and read this one, even if you skip the first. Because it’s truly excellent.

Death Wish by Harper A. Brooks

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Overall, this book was really engaging and interesting. A couple parts were maybe a bit of a stretch but overall I was able to get into the story. Great pacing and characterization. I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of the series.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

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I’m not sure I can say much more about this than what almost 500,000 other people have said on Good Reads but this is an exceptional memoir.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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I was able to read this via audible, with Maya Angelou as the narrator – and what a great highlight that made to the reading! It’s a powerful book with such an impressive scope. The items she chooses to showcase from her life are ones that were clearly not only impactful to her, but also become impactful to the reader, which I think is the key to a good memoir. She was able to reflect on the activities of her youth and how they shaped her, how they color her experience, and how they might cause the reader to understand herself, her society, and even our own selves. I can imagine reading this multiple times and discovering something new each time. A great experience and a great read.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Highly deserving of all the praise. This is a truly timely book that features intense situations, incredible characters, and an emotionally jarring and well timed story line. Honestly, a book that is very close to perfection. Highly recommend.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

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This book is SO GOOD. So, so good. What an incredibly fascinating and funny insight into growing up in South Africa. It was quick read that perfectly balanced some hard truths with the antics of a young man growing into adulthood. Absolutely phenomenal.

Angelfall by Susan Ee

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Angelfall, for me, was about the plot line. It was interesting, unique, and it was quick. I hate books that feel the need to explain everything and this isn’t one of those. You learn as you go and new questions are always coming up. It’s well designed and even though some of the character development was a little shallow, or at least predictable, I enjoyed it all the same.

My (Underground) American Dream by Julissa Arce

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I really enjoyed this memoir – I was able to hear Julissa speak in Chicago for HACE and her story is incredible and memorable. It is so timely and brave as well – definitely one to read.

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Overall, a really well put together novel. I like that it took place all in one day. I didn’t love the interjections of other people’s short backgrounds, though, by the end, I understood why it was there. I feel like the tone of the book kept me distanced just a tad so as to not make it a 5 star but, otherwise, I’m really glad I finally picked this one up.

Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis

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This book is what I love about chick-lit. It’s silly and sassy and exciting and a read that you can breeze through in just a few days. I’m a firm believer that a story you can get sucked into – silly or not – is a fun story.

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

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To say this book is intense is a significant understatement. Add to that some incredible narration and you have a book that is going to draw you in. To be honest I’m not quite sure what to say about the book – it doesn’t skim past the hard parts, it’s going to blindside you in many ways. It’s one of those books that you know is good but you can’t really say you ENJOYED reading.

This is a never-ending list! I’ll keep adding my favorites as I read them and I would LOVE your recommendations on books to read next!

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The Most Unique (and Best) Airbnbs in the World

I take the question of “where should we stay?” very seriously when I travel. I don’t stop at a Hilton. Like food, where you stay tells the story of a place and I make it my mission to stay in a place where I want to take a picture before I mess up the sheets. Here is my list of the most amazing and unique places I’ve stayed.

A Treehouse in Plymouth, Massachusetts

That’s right. A giant, friggin’ treehouse. SQUEE. It was roomy and so unique! Beautiful grounds, luxury inside, with a compostable toilet in the tree house and rustic outdoor shower that made it feel like real tree house living. Highly recommend!

A prison cell in Ljubljana, Slovenia

This has literally been my go-to “fun fact” about myself since 2009. Because no one believes me when I say “I’ve spent two nights in a Slovenian jail.” Not technically AirBnB but still thoroughly amaaaazing.

Hammocks Galore in Galapagos

The White House in Puerto Ayora was a delight. Tiny rooms but plenty of hammock space and such a great location. I mean, I pretty much just love the Galapagos so you probably can’t go wrong anywhere but this, THIS place is a great start.

Cloud Forest Views in Mindo, Ecuador

Las Terrazas de Dana are AMAZING. Filled with tropical plants, beautiful views, unfortgettable hikes, and food we just couldn’t get enough of. Go to Mindo because it’s beautiful, but REALLY go to Mindo because this place is to die for.

Balcony Dreams in Sinaia, Romania

Sinaia is a sleepy little ski town famous for the Peles Castle. While not the most famous castle in Romania, it’s a beautiful and wonderful little spot. The Vila Camelia was a wonderful true Bed and Breakfast with a delicious spread, gorgeous house, and I scored a beautiful top floor room with balcony that looked at the most beautiful mountain view!

The Sweetest Spot in Topanga, California

She isn’t kidding when she calls this the sweetest spot. Fluffy white blankets, comfy beds, a beautiful view – everything right down to the coffee cups are absolutely adorable. Such an amazing getaway spot – just don’t let the drive up the Canyon road intimidate you!

Dar with Beautiful Rooftop in Fez

This was such a magical place – finding it was a treasure hunt and walking inside was a breath of fresh air. It’s been a few years so I don’t know if the same staff is there but I STILL remember how delicious the chicken tagine was that we had from the cook.

The Fortress in Vermont

Okay – full disclosure – I haven’t actually stayed here. But it’s run by good friends of mine and it is on my “must go” list… and it looks AMAZING. I have no qualms promising epic views and hospitality.

Keep checking back for updates! Also – I would LOVE to hear about your favorite spots!!

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2014 End Of Year Book Survey

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Each year, Jamie from the Perpetual Page Turner does a Year-End Book Survey. I’m a total sucker for surveys – so here is my own take from this year! (P.S. – if you don’t know about Jamie’s blog yet – GO there! It’s amazing!)

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Number Of Books You Read: 58
Number of Re-Reads: 1
Genre You Read The Most From: Hard to tell – probably a tie between YA and women’s fiction

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Best Book You Read In 2014?

wings

In my opinion, Sue Monk Kidd blew this away.  This book is just perfect in so many ways – fascinating historical fiction, great characterization, excellent writing, good pacing. It’s perfection and she deserves all the praise!

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

lost

As a lover of women travel memoirs, I thought this was going to be a great read.  I really didn’t like it though – it just fell flat.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?

oryx

This book was surprising in a number of ways – one because Atwood is one of my favorite authors but I wasn’t 100% in love with the book (it took me FOREVER to get through) and two because of it’s shocking ending!

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

gotham

I didn’t have to push too hard – this book is well-known for being excellent (and it is!)

Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

heartsblood

Outlander is still so incredibly fantastic.  This isn’t the season ender (thank goodness!) but it’s going to be AGES before the next one comes out!

Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

golden

It’s a little hard to say that Alexandra is a favorite author since I’ve only read one book,but this one was incredible and I am absolutely going to try another one from her ASAP.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

doubt

This is definitely a newer genre for me – in truth I don’t know if I’ve ever read a crime thriller.  I had some issues with this first book in the series but I liked the second one much better.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

phenomenal

Definitely “unputdownable” – I read this all in one sitting and was completely taken with it. Highly recommend.

Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

worldafter

I love to re-read parts of series in preparation for the next one!

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

romancing

Women in pretty dresses on the front of romance novels are always wonderful, but I find this one particularly gorgeous.  Look at that color!

Most memorable character of 2014?

smoke

It’s not really fair to say just “character” – I think all the characters in this series are totally memorable. Very unique (as is the whole story) and it all works so well together. Karou is fantastic.

Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

lettersfromskye

I adore the way this story unfolds. I’m a sucker for any kind of novel that includes letters but I really enjoyed how this one left mystery throughout.  The life was an unveiling – very well done!

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

gifts

Okay, so I think “life-changing” is a bit heavy-handed but thought-provoking, certainly.  There’s a lot to ponder about who are and aren’t the bad guys – and the ending through a wrench into everything. I found it fascinating (and really readable!)

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?

poisonwood

This book has seriously been on the list forever.  I am sad I waited so long, too, it’s an incredible story and I’d like to try more of Kingsolver’s books.

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

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“I love you,” he whispered. “I hope you don’t mind.”

Okay, so I technically finished re-reading this in 2015 but I read 80% of it in 2014.  I love how simple this line is and it totally works for the story.  Ahhh, Touchstone!

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2014?

fierycross hishaven

I was really surprised to see that Fiery Cross was longer than the latest George R.R. Martin.  It did not feel like it at all – I plowed through this installment so fast!

Book That Shocked You The Most

gold

With any biography like this, there are things that will shock me, but maybe I was most shocked by how tame this one ended up being.  I really felt like a lot of it was sugar-coated or glossed over.

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

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Cinder and the Captain ❤

Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

siegeandstorm

This was just a wonderful second installment – and it almost made the list for the book that shocked me the most!

Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

earthabides

I read this book only because it was for my sci-fi book club and absolutely LOATHED it.  Ugh!

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

happy

Graham was frickin’ adorable, even if the book overall was not. I wish we could have seen MORE of him. (If you know what I mean!)

Best 2014 debut you read?

berlin

I actually didn’t really read many/any debuts this year. It’s kind of a cop-out to call this a “debut” but it is, technically, her only publication.

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

dance

As many things as I don’t like about Martin’s writing, you certainly have to give him credit for world building.

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

rosie

Oh my goodness, this book is the definition of a fun read.

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

neartoyou

Oh yes, this book has ALL the feels.  Add in the fact that it’s based on fact and it’s impossible not to get misty-eyed.

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

phenomenal

Per what I said before, this is a book that can easily sweep you away if you let it.

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Weddingnight

Okay, so “crushing my soul” is a little dramatic, but I was really disappointed by this book. It had so much potential and it all just fell so flat.

Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

impulse

It wasn’t so much the story that was unique, but the way in which it was written.  Definitely a nice change of pace.

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

belltolls

It made me mad just because I really want to like Hemingway and I can’t do it.  This book was a beast to get through and I definitely consider it a waste of my life to have trudged through it. That direct Spanish to English translation of dialogue is just horrible.

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One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

isla

I don’t buy a lot of YA books because I read them so quickly and this was always checked out at the library.  I hope some of the popularity will go down and I can get my hands on it this year!

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

mrkiss

Oh man, I loved the first installment of this series and I can’t wait to listen to the next!

2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

simon

I actually don’t keep up much on debuts, but I saw Jamie’s review for this one and my interest is definitely piqued!

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

angelfall3

Seriously. So excited.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

Successfully have my baby in March!  That’s pretty much the one life goal. It would be great to keep reading some books, too, but let’s be honest, I’ll have some other priorities. 🙂

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Put Downs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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