Monday, July 4, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Underrated Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I ADORE this topic!  The book nerd in me likes touting books that I loved that haven't gotten enough attention and the data nerd in me loves how The Broke and Bookish decided to approach this topic which is: 
Top Ten Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads (we've done underrated books a bunch of times in the past 6 years but thanks to Lenore at Celebrity Readers for suggesting this topic as a new way to talk about underrated books especially when underrated is subjective. An easy way to find this -- go to Goodreads, your read list, at the top of your read list where it says settings you can add a column for # of ratings, then you can sort by that. If you aren't a Goodreads user you can look up books you think are underrated and see what their # of reviews is on Goodreads? Or if that's too hard you can spin it some other way!
Without further ado, here are  my choices:


First up is non-fiction which I am betting gets fewer ratings/reviews in general (i.e. has smaller readership) vs fiction.

1) Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore

# of Goodreads Ratings: 367
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.08 out of 5 stars
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (my review)

A collection of nature essays most of which address grief and loss in some way and the healing power of the natural world.  The writing is so beautiful and the essays are engaging.

2) Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family by Anne-Marie Slaughter

# of Goodreads Ratings: 1,092
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.93 out of 5
My Rating: 5 out of 5 (my review

I am baffled why this book about feminism and work-life balance written by a relatively high profile successful woman got so little buzz.  It is incredibly readable and presents a vision of how to move forward toward a more gender equal future succinctly, clearly and logically.  I really loved it and I recommended it to a friend who also really loved it.  I was even more surprised that it slipped under the radar of even a site like Book Riot which would usually be all over this type of book. *shrugs* I have no idea where buzz comes from.

3) The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift

# of Goodreads Ratings: 1,711
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.03 out of 5
My Rating: 5 out of 5

This probably has low ratings numbers just because it's a cookbook but I thought it worth a mention because it's my favorite.  It's the only cookbook that I sat down and read cover to cover when I received it.  It's not just about some really delicious recipes but is also about how to truly enjoy food  - the making and eating of it.  

4) Forty Ways to Look at JFK by Gretchen Rubin

# of Goodreads Ratings: 87
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.48 out of 5
My Rating: 4 out of 5

This is a book that I appear to have liked better than the average person.  It's a uniquely constructed biography of President John F. Kennedy which strives with each of 40 essays to view its subject from a different angle or perspective.  It's a lighter read than most biographies and gave me exactly what I wanted to get out of the book which was to answer why JFK is such a legend in American politics.  I remember that this book impressed upon me, for the first time, just how important the ability to inspire is in a leader and that even if you aren't that great at anything else you can still accomplish much with eloquent words.

Now for the fiction which seems to be made up of a lot of later additions to series which is a shame because they can often times be better than their predecessors!

5) The Miss Mirren Mission (The Regency Reformers #1) by Jenny Holiday

# of Goodreads Ratings: 48
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.90 out of 5
My Rating:  4 out of 5 (my review)

This is a very enjoyable Regency romance with a heroine who is a "reformer".  It's nothing earth shattering but I'm pretty picky about romance and really enjoyed the characters, relationship and plot of this basically unknown book.

6)  Breath of Frost / Whisper the Dead (Lovegrove Legacy #1 and 2) by Alyxandra Harvey

# of Goodreads Ratings: 1,611/601
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.91/4.21 out of 5
My Rating:4/4 out of 5 (my reviews of BoF and WtD)

Of all the books on the list these are probably the biggest heartbreaker for me that they didn't get more attention.  Whisper the Dead ends on a HUGE cliffhanger and yet because of the lack of sales I suppose, the publisher dumped this series.  I even wrote an e-mail to the publisher begging them to publish the final book which I'd never done that before or since.  Harvey, bless her kind heart, has self-published a concluding novella on Smashwords so fans of the series wouldn't be left hanging. I wish Harvey was not as seemingly neglected as she is as a YA author.  She has strong, independent female protagonists, great female friendships, well developed characters in general and dreamy romantic relationships, PLUS interesting plots. Definitely an author that deserves way more attention.

7) Holmes on the Range (Holmes on the Range Mystery #1) by Steve Hockensmith

# of Goodreads Ratings: 1,392
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.80
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

My rating may not be fantastic but honestly I really like this cozy mystery series featuring two cowhands/brothers on the American frontier who also happen to be huge fanboys of Sherlock Holmes and go about solving mysteries.  These books are a lot of fun, very humorous, have a great setting and the two brothers who stand in for Holmes and Watson are really great characters.  This first in the series has the highest number of ratings with the sequels being lower.

8) The Hidden Goddess (Veneficas Americana #2) by M.K. Hobson

# of Goodreads Ratings: 933
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.70 out of 5
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars (my review)

I have mentioned this book series at least 4,769 times on the blog - in fact I mentioned it last week - and my love for it seems to be a little more intense than the average reader but I don't care.  I'm touting it again because it's awesome and I know there will be others like me that will love it.  A fantasy, romance, western/alt-history series with a really interesting magic system and characters I love.  The first book in the series was actually nominated for a Nebula award for best novel so it just goes to show that awards don't always give a book/series a boost.

9) The Interrupted Tale and The Unmapped Sea (Books 4 and 5 of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood

 # of Goodreads Ratings: 1,839/944
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.08/4.12 out of 5
My Rating: 5/4 out of 5 Stars (my review of The Interrupted Tale)

This middle-grade series is one of the most charming, delightful and fun I've ever read. Why aren't all parents reading these books to their kids!!

10)  A Curtain Falls (Simon Ziele #2) by Stefanie Pintoff

# of Goodreads Ratings: 984
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.79 out of 5
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars 

This is another example of how winning an award doesn't = popularity.  The first book in this historical mystery series (see above image), which is one of my favorites, won a number of awards for the best debut including the Edgar and the Agatha but obviously a majority of the audience for that first book did not stick around for the sequels :(.  It's a shame because the series as a whole is quite good!


This was a really fun list to make and I hope it helps others discover some awesome reads!  What's your number one favorite book that you think is the most underrated?

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