A Cuppa Cosy Reads – August 2022

It’s September? Talk about a month flying by- I don’t even know if I truly know where the time went…truly, I’m not just saying that. I feel like we were all just excited about August and here we are school starting, leaves changing, crisp mornings (maybe, we’re still lagging a bit in that department). My reading was really good for the month of August- a total of 10 books and an average rating of 4.16. A great month! Lots to talk about, so I’m just going to jump right in…

The Tea Dragon Festival by Kay O’Neil 5 Stars Much like the first, these next two graphic novels are just the most feel good, quaint ones of the bunch. I just loved seeing our characters change and grow and learn more about the different tea dragons. 

The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Kay O’Neill 5 Stars In this one we found one of our characters really grow into who she is now, rather than living in the past of who she was and that was really special. 

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes 5 Stars This is easily one of those books that I could recommend to anyone (and everyone). It may be a science fiction thriller, but it doesn’t feel like science fiction. It is set in space, but atmospheric enough that the fact that it is set in space simply fades to the background. It’s definitely just one of those books that I love. 

Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay 3 Stars I’ll be honest…I’m drawing a blank with this book. I think it was just a standard cozy mystery.  

This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede 4 Stars Now this book I remember. I found the premise interesting, the execution well done, but a smidge predictable. It’s a good book and one that I enjoyed reading as you get to see characters fight against what they truly want, only to get it and it’s maybe not what they expected or needed. 

Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace NR This is a poetry collection, the first in a series that I enjoyed, but didn’t find groundbreaking. I’ll continue on though.

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair 4 Stars Ah another Hades and Persephone retelling. I don’t know where this obsession has come from, but oooo do I love a good Hades and Persephone dark re-imagining. I’m definitely excited to see what comes next…

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare 3.5 Stars I started this on a whim after seeing someone do a “outfits inspired by”. I haven’t read a Cassandra Clare since ages ago when she was still doing the Infernal Devices series and I…petered out from those. However, this one I enjoyed. Something about it really struck a chord, whether it was the time period or the location I’m not sure, but I definitely preferred it. Might dip my toe back in to the world. 

The Game by Linsey Miller 4 Stars This is a, basically, novella about a game that high school seniors play at a prestigious school that turns deadly one year. Fast paced, good action, and just enough suspense to keep you on your toes, but short enough you won’t stop- this had it all. 

Jade War by Fonda Lee 4 Stars The second of three novels in this trilogy and while it was a bit slow to start (it started off veeeerrrrrryyyyy middle book in a trilogy), it quickly shed that and went to work on destroying my heart. I want to read the third…but I don’t want to read the third (in a good way).

And that is it! I’m about 2/3rds of the way through my current read as I’m typing this (8/31/2022) and it’s a good one too. What was a big hit for you in August?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – June 2022

Hello! Long time no post! Not really, only a couple weeks, but it was a good, very much needed break away. We had our annual summer holiday and, once again, had a really nice time! We traveled to seven different spots (so look forward to seven blog posts coming your way with all the details) and just really enjoyed the time together, away from work, phones, and computer screens. Somehow, I managed to read 8 books in the month of June, with an average rating of 3.85. A win of a month for sure! Let’s get into those- please keep in mind the reviews might be shorter as it’s been a minute since I’ve read/thought about them so things might slip through the cracks. 

Rivals by Katherine McGee 3 Stars This the third book in this series and I found it…fine. I always enjoy this American Royal reimagining, even if I feel like sometimes, it gets a little dragged out. It’s young adult and there will be a fourth book coming (that I will be purchasing and reading). An average to good book to start the month with!

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean 3 Stars This is another royal re-imagining, though if I had to pick, I might have enjoyed this one slightly more than Rivals. I think it’s a bit…fresher and the insight/view into a different culture is wonderful. 

Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert 4 Stars Another hit from Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series. This pushed the boundaries a bit and definitely re imagined Greek Mythology (in a sense, who knows though), but I really enjoyed it!

The Vanishing Type by Ellery Adams 4 Stars I was really in the mood this month for light and fun, so I read two Ellery Adams, this one being her Book, Tea & Scone Society series. I’m not quite sure which I really prefer- I love and relate to both so much. Anyways, another really enjoyable cozy mystery, plus a smattering of romance. 

I Hope This Finds You Well by Kate Baer NR I swung in the complete opposite direction with this one, a black out poetry collection designed to take “hate” or “negative” messages and turn them into a positive argument. And, once again, Kate Baer did an excellent job not only with the poetry, but with the collection as a whole. 

The Sprite and The Gardener by Rii Abrego 5 Stars This was a short, fun graphic novel about a Sprite trying to get back to her…roots of sorts. She’s new to town and she befriends and helps a human with a small garden. It was just quaint and fun to read. 

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody 4 Stars Ok, I was unsure about this one for a long while, but somewhere it hooked me and I really enjoyed it! We’re following “villains” (at least in their communities’ eyes) as they compete against each other for the final bit of magic left. It’s reminiscent of The Hunger Games, but if every victor trained like they lived in District 1. It was good and I’ll definitely be reading the next one (I think it’ll only be a duology). 

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams 4 Stars I ended the month on a high note with another Ellery Adams cozy mystery. I don’t have much to say about these, but they’re always just really nice to read in a day or two. 

All in all, it was a great reading month- especially for having traveled the last week or so of it! We are also at the halfway point in the year, so I might be posting a little…mid-yearbook freak out towards the end of this week, so keep an eye out for that bonus post before all the travel content begins!

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – May 2022

Another month has come to an end and it’s time to talk about the books that I’ve read! I kind of wandered all over the place in terms of stories and genres. Part of it was not really know what I wanted to read, part of it was just life throwing curve balls all over the place. I went from wanting comfort to needing expansive stories, to wanting simple romance. It was all over, but it was also great fun and full of some good reads. I read 9 books and gave an average rating of 3.75. So, let’s just get into those books, shall we?

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune 5 Stars Much like the first book of T.J. Klunes that I read, this is a feel good, life lesson in a soft cute way kind of book. We are following a man as he’s just died. In his path to “the final door” he learns about the meaning of life, love, and what really makes him happy. It was adorable and meaningful, and I definitely cried at the end. 

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim 5 Stars In a completely different direction, this is a court room murder thriller following the lives of several families after a massive tragedy. It is a unique look at parenthood with children who suffer from varying levels of disability as well as the immigrant experience in a small town. I found this to be incredible and I cried at the end. 

Book Lovers by Emily Henry 4 Stars This might have been the cutest, chinchiest book I’ve read this month. We follow to high powered editors who have one goal in mind for their lives, their careers. Of course, life never goes to plan, and they find themselves fighting against what they thought was impossible.  

Electric Idol by Katee Robert 3 Stars Look- I couldn’t help myself, especially after reading the first book in the series last month. This is the second book in the Dark Olympus series, which, at its core, follows four sisters as they live and fight in the city of Olympus. It’s a fun, smutty, reimagining of Greek g-ds that makes for light, but compelling reading. 

The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight 4 Stars My first proper historical fiction in a while, The Mayfair Bookshop follows two different women in different eras at crossroads in their lives. We see how a family, broken by different viewpoints in WW2 exists and leaves a legacy that intersects with our modern-day protagonist. I really enjoyed this one and would highly recommend it. 

Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp 4 Stars, I’ll be honest, this book freaked me out in so many ways, but also left me a bit confused (in a good way) by the end. We are following 5-6 friends as they are closing a chapter of their lives. Things are changing and we are seeing how they fall apart, come together, and fall apart again. All this on the back of a haunting, thrilling, mystery that you (as a reader) never quite know what is real and what is not. I found this to be incredibly well done and atmospheric as all. 

The Palace Papers by Tina Brown NR Here’s another one that…well I just couldn’t help myself when I saw it on sale. I’m a royal fan, and am fascinated by all the scandal, intrigue, and the dynamic of the family and the firm. It’s important to know that the woman who wrote the book has a background of tabloid sensationalism, so that’s good to keep in mind regarding some of her criticism and praise, but still…just soaking all the dynamics and drama. 

Snow White with the Red Hair Volume 1 by Sorata Akiduki 4 Stars I ended the month with a couple Manga options. This is a genre that I dip my toes in to from time to time, just when I need something quick, but storytelling and easy. I found comfort in this selection- even though absolutely nothing happens. It’s very much a slice of life manga, and it’ll be good for when you just want to read something comforting, but easy.

Spy X Family Volume 1 by Tatsuya Endo, translated by Casey Loe 5 Stars Ok, I loved this. I get the “mainstream” hype around it. We are following a spy as he forms this unconventional family with two people, he thinks are normal. But, as with anything else, not all is what it seems and, in this family, everyone has secrets. This is great- it’s easy and approachable for people just getting into manga, but if you’ve read and loved manga before it’s also great. 

And that’s it! Quite the variety to offer and I have a good sense for what I want to read moving forward. Any stand outs for you this past month of reading? Let me know!  

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – April 2022

It is once again time for another reading wrap up! Where is the year going? It feels odd to say that we’ve reached the end of April, it feels like it’s flown by but also gone so slowly. April was…a month for us. We were basically out of the game for two weeks- between catching the Flu, family visiting, and then traveling it definitely hampered some of my reading. I feel like the month started off…average but got a bit better reading wise by the end. I read a total of 7 books and gave an average rating of 3.25. 

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper 3.5 Stars In The Wolf Den we are following a group of girls as they navigate a hard life of slave prostitution in Pompeii. Highs and lows and fighting for their own freedom, it’s a mix of a story. I have to say- I did enjoy this book partly because it’s very “day in the life” of an era we don’t get to see much from, and partly because we don’t like any single character. These girls live a hard life and make seemingly impossible choices just to move forward. 

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley 3 Stars In this third novel by Lucy Foley we are following a young girl who is trying to escape her own life and by doing so, stumbles into a mystery her brother has been investigating. I’ve got to say, while Lucy Foley can write a very well done “locked room” mystery/thriller…it’s become almost formulaic in a sense. I wasn’t too impressed with this one, much preferring her other two. I don’t know if I’ll continue on with her books or not. 

Neon Gods by Katee Robert 3 Stars I finally jumped on this craze (from last year, I think? Not sure) and while it didn’t disappoint, it also didn’t overwhelm. A Greek G-d retelling, this modern take on mythology delivers it all, including quite a bit of smut. However, it also didn’t provide or add anything new, just an easy going easy to read smutty novel. Which isn’t a bad thing every once in a while. 

Eternal Life by Dara Horn 3 Stars After reading and loving (and highly recommending) People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn, I decided to go back and read some of her backlist novels. Eternal Life follows a young woman who makes an obvious, but impossible choice and, because of it, will never die. Full of heart, life, and death, this book is short but powerful. Some truly incredible thoughtful moments that I really enjoyed. 

Wahala by Nikki May 3 Stars Wahala follows a group of friends at various stages of life as they come together, fall apart, and what happens when a newcomer who may not have the best intentions joins the group. Another easy-to-read thriller of sorts that I enjoyed but wasn’t overwhelmed by. 

The City of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 4 Stars Imagine my extreme joy when I found out that my all-time favorite author had a new book posthumously published. No words. This is a collection of short stories that are much darker and more sinister than anything I’ve read of his previously. All the stories run along the same current as his famous Shadow of the Wind quartet, taking place in Barcelona and are written in that beautifully descriptive way. 

Nazis Knew My Name by Magda Hellinger and Maya Lee No Rating This was my final read of April and what a way to end the month. Magda arrived on the second transport to Auschwitz and survived not only being a prisoner in the camp, but also serving as a functionary- a leader of sorts, a go between with the prisoners and the SS. She saw it all, the move from Auschwitz I to Auschwitz II- Birkenau, the creation of the crematoria, the medical experiments, the death marches, and through it all she somehow kept her spirit, kept moving forward, and used her spirit, position and network to save countless lives. It was truly incredible to read.

And that wraps up April in reading! I already feel like May is off to a better start, after doing a little library run, and evaluating what I want to read right now. How was your reading month? Any new favorites?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – March 2022

We have come to the end of another month, and similar to last month, my reading started out great, then I read one book that slumped the rest of the month! I saw it coming, but it also bummed me out because I have so many great books that I desperately want to read, but life and certain books just gave me other plans. I read a total of 6 books this past month and gave an average rating of 3.8. I thought, overall, it was a really good reading month. I found a couple really good ones, some new to me authors that I’ll continue with, and a couple of not for me books. 

So, let’s get into the books, shall we?

An Unorthodox Match by Naomi Ragen 4 Stars I truly loved this book. It bordered a 5 Star read for me, but I really reserve those (apparently). Much preferred to the Matzah Ball, I feel like this book handled both its appeal to Jew and Non-Jew audiences really well. As a Jewish Woman, this is what I would want to showcase my culture and religion. The romance was super sweet and adorable too. 

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 3.5 Stars This is the second novel in this duology, and it was alright. I found to be an average young adult mystery, but it had a couple nice twists placed throughout and it was a quick easy read. 

Address Unknown by Katherine Kressmann Taylor 5 Stars I loved this. It’s short, told entirely in letters and painfully illustrates what so many Jews have experienced in their life. Set in the early 1930’s we are following two friends, business owners as Hitler rises to power. 

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake 3 Stars I feel so disappointed in this book. The premise, the first half, the whole concept was great! It started off so strongly but somewhere along the way it lost me, and really lost me. I barely finished and just honestly felt disappointment in the…loss of the storyline? I’m not even sure if I could describe exactly what it was, but it just lost me. 

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James 4.5 Stars I LOVED this book too. Simone St. James sure can set an atmosphere. This book has something for everyone (except a romance really), true crime, mystery, supernatural, haunted house, I mean it- everything! And it’s done really well- everything it seamlessly melded together and comes out beautifully. Will definitely be checking out some of the authors other works.

War of Two Queens by Jennifer L. Armentrout 3 Stars Ok, I’ve said it from book one, these books are not great works of literature. We do not judge them on their quality, but rather the escapism, the ridiculousness, the…je ne sais quoi that keeps you reading. And while this one was the same bingeable readable book as the first 4, I found it to be a bit…lackluster. Armentrout introduced quite a bit of plot into this book, a lot of the mythology and lore to the communities that she created, but I think it set it at odds with what we’ve come to expect from this series. 

And that’s it! War of Two Queens and life put me in a minor slump towards the end of March, but I’m emerging victorious with a large April list that I’d like to get to! 

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – February 2022

Ah, the month that I read the least, the least I’ve read in a while. I’m not sure what really happened, whether it was having the kids home for the last week of February, a minor outpatient surgery for one of the kids, my need for a little staycation, the world at large, or a combination of everything, but man the last half of February I just…stopped reading. It wasn’t a bad thing, it’s actually happened several times before, but it does mean that this post will be shorter than normal. I read a total of 4 books (though I started 2 more in addition to that) and gave an average rating of 3.8.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman 3.75 Stars This is the second book in the Thursday Murder Club series and while I don’t know if I enjoyed this one as much as the first, I still really enjoy watching the characters bumble about. Just the idea of this senior citizen club solving murders and cheating out the cops…it just really tickles me haha. 

You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen 3.5 Stars I think this is an EXCELLENT young young adult novel to read to understand a bit more about Islamophobia, the intersection of different minorities and learning how we can help and do better by these communities. It follows three young women as they are learning about themselves, being activists, and standing up for what they believe both in personal relationships AND in the world. I think it would be great for the Jr High age range.

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimand 4 Stars This book, on the whole, was a fun one to read. If you want a quirky main character bumbling and stumbling into something larger than herself, then bumbling and stumbling to get out of it…this is the book for you. I really had a good time once I got through the initial few chapters. At the start it’s a bit too…heavy handed with certain things, but once we got into the swing of things it lightened up quite a bit. 

House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas 4 Stars This. This book. This is what I’m ultimately blaming the rest of the month on. Because this book…once I finished it, I just wanted to read it all over again (but not really) and all I really wanted was just more of the same. The second book in the Crescent City Series, this was an excellent follow up to the first, though (like the first), a bit long winded in places. 

And that’s it for books I finished in February. I started both Jade War and An Unorthodox Match, but the former wasn’t being read at the right time (aka I was not being captivated for whatever reason) and the latter is still being read currently (so look for a review next month!). How was your reading month in February?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – December 2021

How is it the last month of the year??? I don’t get how this year has literally flown by. In this final reading wrap up we’re just covering my December reads. I will have a post in January talking about my best/worst reads of 2021 and we’ll talk about my reading year as a whole. In December I read a total of 7 books with an average rating of 3.4. So, I don’t have too much to say beyond that, so we’ll just dive straight into the books. 

The Chosen by Chaim Potok NR This classic was an incredible read both enlightening and heart breaking. A true story of fathers and sons, of differing religious viewpoints, and of being able to open your eyes in the face of those differences. I think the real importance of this story is in the understanding and willingness to look beyond our initial thoughts and judgements, to see and understand those who are different than us (and maybe in the end not so different). 

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine 3 Stars I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t really remember much of this book at all. Similar to the first book in this duology, it’s dense, but again we deal with trying to understand those who are different from us. There’s first contact with aliens, which I was meh about, and the ending left things concluded, but also open for more books in the future. I honestly just think part of this was a “too much time has passed” and my excitement about the first and the world had faded.

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean 3 Stars I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This story where one girl’s feeling of not fitting quite in…anywhere leads to a remarkable discovery about herself and how to change her own world. It’s very much a coming-of-age story, with royal stakes, and one that was just nice and fun to read. 

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk 3 Stars I gave this a 3 star, but I will say it probably ranks lowest on my list of books from this month. I just…didn’t care about it. At all. It, too, is a coming-of-age story, but I found it to by typical of not like other girls’ girl asserting her independence and defying societal expectations. It’s something I love, but in this case, it felt like a robotic regurgitation of some previous thing that I’d read. I fully recognize that this was a “me” thing, which is why I gave it 3 stars (as I didn’t hate it, just didn’t get on well with it). Just very bland for me. 

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson 4.5 Stars A tricky read for me as I LOVE this, now, series, but I think this would probably not be my favorite of the set. We see Spensa go through a lot of character growth, which I loved, we see her struggle with what she wants vs what is best vs what she needs, all with outside sources messing with her very person, BUT I missed the camaraderie of some of the other characters we’ve grown to love. With that being said, the last 20 pages had me visibly crying and very much heart broken. And now I have to wait for who knows how long for the next one…grrrr.

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan 3 Stars Another conflicting read for me (seems to be a trend for the month). I LOVED the setting, the concept of saving this bookshop and the stakes that come with that. I even liked the mystery aspect of the shop owner and his history. BUT, but, but, but, I did not care for our main character at all. I didn’t care for the weird jumping around to different character viewpoints and I didn’t care for how the story…presented itself. It felt jumbled and almost like Jenny Colgan wanted to have a bit of mystery, but didn’t quite know how to insert it? Not sure, but while the setting was cute, the execution wasn’t incredible. I’ve loved her previous two books so I’m not sure what this one had that didn’t really work for me. 

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead 4 Stars Man did I really love this. I found it to be captivating, twisting and turning every other page, with the perfect pacing to truly unfold a story for you. I could have done without the very last twist (the one that literally comes on the last two pages), BUT this is a really great thriller to read if you’re looking for an “in one sitting” kind of book. 

And that was it for December! I think at least, there are still a few days left in the month and we’re not doing much of anything so I may just finish another book or two in these last few days. 

A Cuppa Cosy – November 2021

I’ll be honest with you; I don’t really know how great this month’s reading recap is going to be. It’s not that I didn’t do a lot of reading (6 books) or that it was that I didn’t like the books that I read (average rating of 3.6), rather the fact that over the last week of the month and into the first week of this month that my mind kind of went to mush. We had some personal things going on and so, basically everything has left my mind. I’m going to try and do my best to share my thoughts (some of which are strong worded), but it also might be a little bare compared to previous months. We shall see how it goes…

Prince Charming by Rachel Hawkins 3 Stars: This was fine, exactly as it should be. Not groundbreaking, but a fun little pick me up. I really love this royal/royal adjacent romance trope, and this fell really well into that, though I wouldn’t say it was a memorable one. 

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire 4 Stars: I read this toward the beginning of November, when I had a reading plan for the month (that fell apart), and I still don’t quite know how to talk about it. It’s a weird one…almost like if you ever wanted to read a sci-fi fantasy set in our modern-day world. 

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson 4 Stars This is not my favorite Sanderson novel by any stretch. I still enjoyed it, BUT I felt like a lot of the book (like at the very least 2/3) was a set up for possibly a duology or trilogy, only for the last 1/3 to ¼ to conclude everything. Almost like he wanted to turn it into a duology at the least but wasn’t given clearance from editor/publisher. I still really enjoyed it, but it is definitely towards the bottom of the list of Sanderson novels I’ve read. 

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong 4 Stars This book was such a good, epic conclusion to this Romeo & Juliet meets fantasy (maybe a bit steam punk too???) meets Shanghai duology. While there were a couple parts that I…thought could have been edited down a bit more, on the whole it was a great book. 

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 3 Stars A book that I don’t know what really stuck with me. I enjoyed it, will probably pick up the second book, but I don’t know that there was anything truly “stand out” about it. It was a fine read. 

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer NR This book…this book I feel passionate about. For starters, you’ll note that I didn’t give it a rating; that’s because I don’t really know HOW to rate this book. I’m conflicted because while I enjoyed seeing a “Jewish” themed holiday romance (a la hallmark in a novel), I had some very direct notable issues. For starters the fact that this is book is marketed to both Jews and Non-Jews, BUT it doesn’t handle writing for both well. It seemed to waffle back and forth, rather than sticking with one and then adding an appendix or some description section. I also don’t really like how the concept of “liking Christmas” is akin to abandoning Judaism is handled in the book and a couple of other specific religious issues were handled. But then I DO appreciate that this is hitting the market, that it is being done, and that we can see some Jewish books. So, conflicted. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop. 

And that was it! I know some had a lot, others had little, but I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts anyways. Let me know, what was one book you read in November that you enjoyed.

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – August 2020

August has ended and with it, Summer has gone (that’s a whole separate post though). August has always seemed to be a hit or miss reading month. Much like July, we usually have some family thing going on, then school prep (this year at least), and just an overall sense of those “lazy summer days”. I usually blow all of my reading plans out of the water, or fall somewhere in the low end of reading. This year I seemed to blow all my reading plans out of the water. I read a total of 11 books (10 physical, 1 audio), and gave an average rating of 3.8. What a good reading month! 

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley (PURCHASE) 3.5/5 Stars: If you are looking for a classic Agatha Christie “Whodunnit” style mystery with quite a bit of atmosphere and a fast pace, read in a day writing style, then Lucy Foley is a good place to look. In The Hunting Party we follow a group of friends as they ring in the New Year in a resort in an isolated part of the Scottish Highlands. 7 friends check in, but only 6 check out. Overall, I very much enjoyed this mystery, the atmosphere was fantastic, the book kept your attention from start to finish and was very fast paced. My only real problem with this book is there is a bit of a side mystery that comes into the storyline towards the end that was unnecessary. 

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (PURCHASE) 4/5 Stars: I think Madeline Miller is going to become a new auto read author because man…can she write. The Song of Achilles is from the Greek Mythology of Achilles and Patroclus. Similar to Circe, you don’t need to know anything about Greek Mythology to enjoy this book and the beautiful story. I smiled, cried, got angry, and just experienced all the feelings that this book brought on. This is just a “young adult” (but not entirely) Greek tragedy we didn’t know we needed. 

Celebrations by Maya Angelou (PURCHASE) NR: This is a collection of Maya Angelou’s poetry that is placed in sections for different “intentions”. I read a section each morning as I started my day and I found it to be such a beautiful way to start the day. 

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (PURCHASE) 4/5 Stars: Ah, a royal fan novel, this was the perfect lighthearted story that I needed after the tragedy of Achilles, and the chill of The Hunting Party. In The Royal We we follow Rebecca Porter as she heads to England for what will turn out to be a life changing adventure. Loosely following William and Kate’s love story, this was a fun read that quickly wrapped me up in our characters emotions and stories. It’s not the next piece of incredible literature, but it was fun. 

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (PURCHASE) 4/5 Stars: I honestly just adore everything that Chimamanda writes. This is a collection of short stories and every single one held something special in it. Honestly, I just love her writing, I love how she handles important topics, and the way that things are presented in her stories. I am looking forward to reading more of her work. 

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City) by Sarah J. Maas (PURCHASE) 3.5-4/5 Stars: Ah, Sarah J Maas…you either love her books or you love to hate her books, and this is most definitely the case for her most recent release. In House of Earth and Blood we are following two unlikely hero’s (and a third just as important characters) who are trying to solve a mystery. I’m not going to give you much more than that because honestly, there isn’t much more to give that wouldn’t ruin the reading experience. I think it’s important to have your expectations set at, what I refer to as, “SJM expectations”: you aren’t going to get anything amazing, but a fun…ride. And that’s exactly what this book was, a fun ride.  

The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (PURCHASE) 3/5 Stars: This was the sequel to The Royal We, and while I gave it a 3-star rating, I don’t know that it needed to really exist…? In this second book we pick up directly following the first and watch as our characters battle new issues in just about every sense. While I enjoyed seeing our characters again and I do like that they talked about certain topics that are incredibly important (mental health and infertility), it just didn’t have the same feel as the first book. So, if you felt like The Royal We filled your royal need, then you don’t need to read this one. 

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall (PURCHASE) NR: This is a collection of essays that talks about various issues plaguing our world today and how they relate to feminism. It calls out feminism as a whole and shows how a multitude of problems that exist (gun violence, hunger, poverty, education) relate directly to feminism and the fight for equality. This was a good, interesting read that contained some good nuggets. I found that the essays had me thinking about some issues and correlations that I hadn’t necessarily seen and had me nodding along at others. 

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (PURCHASE) 4/5: One of my closest friends picked up a first translated edition of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s first published book (EVER) and I about died. I immediately picked it up and read it in two days. Carlos Ruiz Zafon is my favorite author and this book was special. This is a middle grade novel set in Spain leading up to World War 2. A family moves from the city to the beach and sets events into motion that will change their lives. Even though this is intended for younger audiences, I still didn’t see the twist coming (although that could have been because I was just loving the writing and storytelling) and the overall story was just charming to any age. 

Stalling For Time by Gary Noesner (PURCHASE) NR: This is an FBI Negotiator’s memoir of his time in the FBI. Gary Noesner was part of the introduction of negotiating as an active choice in crisis situations. He was part of the Ruby Ridge incident, the Waco disaster, and the DC Sniper, and gives the history, incident, and both the positives and the negatives across the board. I found his insights to be very interesting and overall a good read. (I listened to the audio book, which Noesner narrates).

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (PURCHASE) 4/5: I finished this book a few days ago and I still just don’t know what to make of it. That’s the honest truth. I don’t even know how to describe it, what to say about it, really anything about it. Obviously, I enjoyed it, I just don’t really know how to talk about it (which seems to be pretty common?). I think if you want something unnerving, almost dream like in a way, but quick to read, this is the book for you. 

I’ll say it again, what a reading month! I’ve highly enjoyed just about everything I’ve read, and it’s definitely set a very high bar for September. Any of the above catch your eye? What was your favorite read of August?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – July 2020

Somehow it is already the end of July. I have no idea where this month has gone (ok, ok- I do), but here we are. I didn’t expect to read as much as I actually did, but I managed to read a total of 8 books (7 physical and 1 audio). I enjoyed most of the books that I did read and gave out an average rating of 3.8. Short introductions aside, let’s get into what I actually did read. 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Purchase) 4/5 Stars This is NOT the book to read if you are worried about the pandemic, but it is worth it to read at some point. In Station Eleven we follow a cast of characters in a Shakespeare (and classical orchestra) troupe as the world has succumbed to a surprise flu pandemic. Following a current and pre pandemic timeline we unravel the story of what happened and how the world has changed. I really loved this book and greatly enjoyed reading it, even if it was a bit surreal at times given the current state of things. Would definitely recommend adding to your list. 

The Book Shop by Penelope Fitzgerald (Purchase) 3/5 Stars I don’t really know how to wrap my thoughts up on this shorter story. In The Bookshop we follow a young women who attempts to open up a bookshop in a town that quite decidedly doesn’t want one. It’s a story of a woman fighting against “the institution” of those above her in both society and politics to try and follow her passion. Overall, I found this to be OK. It’s incredibly melancholic from the setting to the characters, everything feels a bit depressing. With that being said, it’s a quick read as it’s so short, so you won’t be feeling dejected for too long. 

Letter From Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr (this was part of a collection of two of his essays) NR I’ve been wanting to read some of MLK Jr’s words for myself (rather than relying on the twisting snippets that are being doled out) to continue on my own personal learning. In this small Penguin Modern Classics, we get two of his works, the first being his Letter from Birmingham Jail and the second being The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life. I don’t think I have to say much about this, but just that it was incredible to actual read his words in the context they were originally in. I’ve heard so many quotes pulled from Birmingham Jail, that his Complete Life speech was a little bit more incredible to read. You can hear King speaking in your mind as you read his words and his eloquence was unparalleled. 

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus (Purchase) 3/5 Stars After the “seriousness” of the first few books I picked up, I really craved something light. Something I didn’t have to focus too hard on, that was almost juvenile in its nature, and that didn’t have any deeper meaning buried under the base text. Enter One of Us is Lying. I’ll put this book like this (and then move on) – if you are looking for (or enjoyed the show) Pretty Little Liars, but without being dragged out beyond needing with extra outlandish twists, then this is the book for you. You’ll get all your answers in a quick 300 or so pages and then you can move on! I loved Pretty Little Liars (overall- obviously I had issues here and there) and this story is a {very} similar premise. 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Purchase) NR Another book that has been highly recommended and on my to read list for a while this is a nonfiction, almost autobiographical letter from a father to a son. Coates touches on his childhood and reasons as to why/how he grew up the way he did, as well as how he shifted his own parenting. He touches on the current state of affairs, what racism looks like today, as well as micro aggressions and things that he has experienced being a black man today. The first part of his section was hard to read, but I found this book, as a whole, one of those enlightening books that changes your perspective. There were little things that I knew, but didn’t know and things that got my brain going and led me to explore some other areas. Overall, I highly recommend reading this one. 

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson (Purchase) 5/5 Stars I didn’t know entirely what to expect with this concluding novel, but man it exceeded whatever those unsure expectation were. This explosive third book left me devoid of words and emotions in the best way possible. I didn’t realize that I would become so ensnared in the world and with the characters, but I LOVED this trilogy. I can’t wait to continue reading more of Sanderson’s work. 

A Place Called Waco: A Survivor’s Story by David Thibodeau (Purchase) NR As I’m writing this up, I am still currently listening to this, though I will be done when this post goes up, and it’s an interesting listen. We watched the Waco “docu-series” that came out and it just really had me intrigued to hear directly from the people who were there. What happened? What led to this federal siege of a compound? What was going through each sides mind as the situation rapidly derailed and then ended tragically? Obviously, this is just David Thibodeau’s side of the story (this was what my library had available first), but I will also be hearing the hostage negotiators side as well. It’s been interesting to listen to.  

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell (Purchase) 4/5 Stars So…I read this book in a day and you totally could do. The Family Upstairs follows a young lady who has recently found out that she has inherited a house and all of the history that comes with it. In this she discovers the tragic events that occurred and the real nature of who she is and her own history. If you are wanting a domestic thriller that is easy holiday reading, this is the book for you. 

And finally, I am currently reading Maya Angelou’s poetry collection, Celebrations (purchase). I’ve been making my way through these starting with reading one first thing in the morning and it’s been such a beautiful way to start the way. Maya Angelou just resonates this almost post inner turmoil peace in these poems and it’s just been a truly calming read. 

Those are the books that I’ve read in July- quite an interesting collection I will say. I’ve got quite the stack picked for August, although lately it seems like my mood (and my mental state) seems to be dictating a lot more of my reads than anything else. What was your favorite book that you read in July? Have any of the ones that I’ve read stood out to you?