A Cuppa Cosy Reads – September 2021

Well, we’ve come to the end of another month and I’m once again sat here wondering…where did the month go??? It was a busy one for us, we traveled at the beginning, and then school started, Autumn sports started, I got a little burned out in doing some forward planning and thinking about all the things that are coming, and it seemed like the world just continued much the way it has been over the past year or two. It was just…wow. You would think I would run to a book, take to reading and escaping even more and yet, it wasn’t a great reading month. I feel like there was a lot of…this was fine/ok, but not a lot of in-depth thoughts happening about really any of the books that I read. It was just a very…meh reading month to be honest. 

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing 4 Stars  Ok, I was a bit on the fence about this one, but upon reflection I think I enjoyed it more than I thought. We are following a couple of characters at a prestigious private school who all just want the best for themselves/their friends/ their students and will go to whatever lengths to do what they think is right and best. While I think this was good and well done, and I enjoyed the overall concept, I do feel like there could have been a bit of change or editing. There were a couple bits that were…unnecessary? Or were intended to be like red herrings, but in reality, had just nothing to do with anything. 

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurlan 4 Stars Ah, if I had to guess, I would say this was the book that started the reading mood I found myself in as the month wore on. There is just something to be said about reading a book from a variety of psychopath’s perspectives that will…just do something to you. Now, don’t get me wrong I really liked this book- the hunter becomes the hunted? Yes please. BUT there is something about reading from points of views of people who don’t “feel” as we do that just makes it…a struggle. 

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer 4 Stars I think that Kemmerer is just one of my go to light romance, light fantasy authors that I know will give me a book that I enjoy and captivates me. This was my fourth of hers that I’ve read and, similar to the other three, I enjoyed this one. 

To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers 3 Stars This is a novella that is space centered, like many of her other books. I don’t have a lot to say about this one as it was shorter, but I will say (and maybe this is because it was shorter) but what I will say is there is quite a bit more of the “science-y” stuff that I struggled with in this one. 

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé 4 Stars I think this was probably one of my most unnerving books that I read this year. This is an academic thriller, with very much Gossip Girl vibes (a mystery person sending out texts that harm others reputations), but with much more sinister undertones and connotations. It hits you in a way that you don’t expect when you find out the common denominator (though as a reader I feel like we figure it out much faster), but it brings up quite a bit of good social commentary that could start some very important social commentary.

The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle 4 Stars This is the final book I’m going to talk about, the final book I’ve read at this point, and the easiest fastest read of the month. I think I’ve settled on my overly specific romance genre I prefer- which is royal or royal adjacent romances. In this case, the neighbor and the bodyguard. It’s good, some of the romantic thoughts made me giggle, and there was definitely some smut, but also some sweetness. A true win to the end of the month. 

I’m sure I’ll still read another book before the month ends, or maybe I won’t this month has been a strange one in terms of reading. What about you?

Mid Year Book Freakout Tag 2021

I figured this year, since I’m sharing more of my reading, it would be fun to talk about the books I’ve read so far this year and where I stand with my reading. A good way to do that is the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag, which was created on youtube by Chami (HERE), though she doesn’t have the video up anymore to my knowledge. I find it’s a good way to sit down and look at your reading so far and see where things stand.

For me, something I realized is that I’ve been VERY stingy about giving out 5 stars to books this year. I’ve read a lot of great novels, but I have been sticking to the 4 star rating. Out of the almost 50 books I’ve read this year so far, I think I’ve given maybe 2 or 3 a proper 5 Star rating. 

Best Book You’ve Read So Far

Just starting off with the big guns, right? I mean I could list so many books, but I think The Golem & the Jinni takes the cake for me personally. I’ve read a lot of good ones though. 

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far

Hands Down, The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker. These two books will always have my heart. I would also count The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers, which was the final companion novel in the Wayfarers Quartet. 

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. This year I’m trying to read new releases/new books I’ve purchased as I purchase them, so I’m not just buying and adding to the endless tbr shelf. 

Most Anticipated Release for the second Half of the Year

I’ve got a few: A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee, Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer, and Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson. There are so many coming out though that I’m sure I’ll only be adding to that. 

Biggest Disappointment

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner. I had such high hopes for this one and the more that I think about the more disappointed I get. I would also add Answered Prayers by Truman Capote as well. I very rarely wholeheartedly say not to read something, but this is one of those times. 

Favorite New Author (debut or new to you)

Ok, I’m trying not to repeat any of my previous answers (like by the end of this post you will know that I love Helene Wecker and her Golem & Jinni books), so I’ll go with Becky Chambers for this one. Her stories in the Wayfarers Quartet (companions) were great. I also would add Arkady Martine, who wrote A Memory Called Empire, which was great as well. 

Newest Fictional Crush

I don’t really do the whole fictional crush thing haha.

Newest Favorite Character

I don’t really do like favorite characters either. 

Book the Made You Cry

I have not read a book this year that has properly made me cry (Addie LaRue came close though- that one delivered a couple of punches right to my heart).

Book that Made You Happy

Ok, so instead of happy, I’m going to talk about the book that just gave me warm fuzzy feelings, which was The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. There’s just something about reading about these 70+ year olds solving crimes and being underhanded about information. 

The Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year (or Received)

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. This edition was not only beautiful, the story was beautiful, AND it was the sweetest gift from my best friend. 

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year           

Ah, I want to finish the Greatcoats Series by Sebastien De Castell (I have two more to go), as well as the Skyward series by Brandon Sanderson. 

Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation you’ve Seen this year

The only one I’ve seen this year (that I can recall) is the Netfix Shadow & Bone Season 1 and I loved it. 

And that’s it for the Tag Questions! It’s been a great reading year so far, even though I’ve had a couple of duds, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the second half of 2021 contains in books. 

Let me know, what’s been the best book you’ve read so far? The worst?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – May 2021

Man, what was May?! For all it’s hard points (and there were several tough spots), there was also a major boon to my reading. I seemed to devour books like I hadn’t had a chance to this year, and I just spent a lot of my free time reading. I missed those days from 2020 and I’m glad that I am finally finding my reading groove once again. I read a total of 11 books with an average rating of 3.65 (dang those two super disappointing books). 

Let’s get into them…

The Luxe by Anna Godberson (PURCHASE) 2 Stars This was disappointing, although that might have been because I am not the intended audience? In Luxe we follow the young socialite society of early 19th century New York as they begin to come “of age”. They falter in their roles, fall in love, and fall away before being shocked by a tragic event. I’ll be honest, I do tend to enjoy this very specific genre of “social elite melodrama”, but this very much missed the mark. 

The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers (PURCHASE) 5 Stars As opposed to the above book, I LOVED this conclusion to the Wayfarers companion books. It had everything that I loved about the first book in the series, but with a different viewpoint and characters that we’ve only loosely known during the series. 

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire (PURCHASE) 3 Stars This was alright. I kind of wondered, while reading, if I was kind of “out” of this series. I really enjoy the Wayward Children books as a whole, but I have felt like the past couple I’ve read have been “ok” rather than good. 

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner (PURCHASE) 2.5 Stars This book was easily probably the most disappointing book of the year for me so far. We follow 3 young women as they each navigate their own battle against society’s expectations (maybe?). I found the premise involving a “lost apothecary” who was rumored to sell poisons to women to use against the men in their lives to be interesting, however I found that this book lacked a really well-done execution. I feel like maybe it was a “debut author” thing, but I just wasn’t enjoying this one as I thought I would. 

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell (PURCHASE) 4 Stars I well and truly enjoyed this book. I had heard it compared to a “3 Musketeers” retelling of sorts and man…it was just a lot of fun. In this first book we are following 3 Greatcoats, the original kings’ men and justice of the peace of the lands, as they try to carry out (and live) the mission of a now dead man. We’ve got excellent banter, quite a bit of action (but not in an overwhelming way) and just enough knowledge dropped throughout to keep you captivated, not bored/overwhelmed. I think my favorite thing about this story is that we have a political story told from an anti-political perspective.

What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer (PURCHASE) NR This is a poetry collection that I have been hearing rave reviews about for a little while now. I’m not a massive poetry reader, but I do enjoy it from time to time and I found quite a few of the poems in this collection to be…just perfect. It definitely lives up to the words and recommendations of others. 

Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This is the second book in the Greatcoats series (the first book being Traitor’s Blade), and while I still loved this one and was captivated from page one, it definitely lost me a time or two in the story. Still, the banter was top notch and we got to see a bit more of the politics. 

Heartstopper Volume 4 by Alice Oseman (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This is the fourth installment in a graphic novel series following late adolescents as they learn about who they are and what they want. I appreciated the focus of this fourth volume on mental health and eating disorders. I highly recommend this entire graphic novel series. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (PURCHASE) 4.5 Stars This book. This book is a tour de force from start to finish. We are following Addie LaRue who, in a desperate dramatic moment, made a deal to have a lifetime of freedom. The catch? No one will remember who she is. What follows is a woman trying to live a life, to live her life, and to learn what love and life truly mean. And let me tell you, it will sweep you up, it will punch you in the gut, and then, leave you like a deflated balloon. There was only one small bit that I didn’t get on with (that was early on in the book), but on the whole this was one of the top books of my month. 

That Way Madness Lies Edited by Dahlia Adler (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This was a collection of Shakespeare retellings written by a variety of authors. Mostly geared towards the Young Adult genre, these were very well done. I enjoyed the vastly different takes on the classic plays and would recommend to any Shakespeare lover. 

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (PURCHASE) 4 Stars My final read of the month and I really went out with a bang. In Skyward we are following a group of humans living on a different planet under almost constant attack from a different species. This book is a science fiction/fantasy, but in a more approachable way than standard books in the genre. It’s Sanderson, so every little detail is given a lot of care, but it’s also not overwhelmingly detailed. It’s enough for you to understand and appreciate, but not turn you away from the series. 

And that wraps it up! It was a really good reading month to be honest and I’m looking forward to some big books and reading plans in June. What was your favorite book of the month?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – April and May 2021

Another reading post covering two months. I very much underestimated just how long it would take for me to back into my reading swing between moving, setting up a new home, and then getting back to having time for reading. I am very much back into the full swing of things and am very excited to share that over the past two months I’ve read 16 books and given an average 3.45 star rating. 

I’m not going to break these up in any particular way (but maybe I will in the future?), but I am looking to expand some of my reading and book content over here on A Cuppa Cosy. Let me know what specifically book related content you would like to see; more single book reviews, recommendations, reading certain new things? You let me know!

Now, onto the books…

Fortuna Sworn by K.J. Sutton (PURCHASE) 3 Stars I’ll be honest, I read this back in the middle of March and…I don’t really remember any of it? This is marketed as a fantasy romance involving fae and while I was intrigued, I left the story not really caring about any of it. 

Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown & Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse by John Lithgow (PURCHASE, PURCHASE) NR These were just a fun lighthearted take on the Trump presidency, policies, and outbursts. 

House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (PURCHASE) 3 Stars This was the first of two re reads over this period of time. I was in a bit of a… what do I even want to read kind of mood, so I reached for a standby favorite: Sherlock Holmes. 

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This was an incredibly well-done novel, handling everything from fantastical elements to racism, to grief, and to love. In Legendborn we follow teenaged Bree as she comes to terms with not only the death of her mother, but with a newfound knowledge that some legends are not just legends from days past, they are still very much with us. I found that Tracy Deonn managed to touch on a wide variety of topics, but weave them together so well that it never felt overwhelming or disjointed. Highly recommend- it’s worthy of the hype it received. 

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay(PURCHASE) 4 Stars This was an interesting read as it’s a horror novel, but not horrifying. I don’t even know if I would say that it’s “scary”, it’s just thrilling more than anything. It’s a standard possession story with a family in a home, and then a tv crew, and a worldwide sensation, BUT we have a dual timeline that makes us question everything that is presented. I found this to be a story that I could have delved much deeper in, chatting with a friend about the different aspects of the story and characters. 

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman(PURCHASE) NR I don’t know one person who hasn’t purchased, read, or listened to this poem, so do I really need to talk about it? I’d rather let you know that she has a full poetry collection coming out later this year, as well as a children’s book. 

Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee (PURCHASE) 3 Stars An Anna Karenina retelling set in the upper echelon of New York Society? Sign me up, sounds like my cup of tea ( very niche cup admittedly), but alas, it was just not meant to be. In Anna K, we follow Anna K who seems to have it all. Dream school, her horses, her picture-perfect family and an even more picture-perfect boyfriend. But when she meets the mysterious Count V, she realizes that maybe none of that stuff really matters after all. I think all of my issues can be boiled down to the fact that Anna K did not feel like a 16-year-old girl. She felt like a slightly older woman, who has lived a little and is reflecting on what she had wanted to know as a 16-year-old girl. What made it even more obvious, was that all of the side characters were much more age appropriate. 

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (PURCHASE) 3 Stars So far, this is my least favorite of the series, but it was still a stellar and interesting read. 

The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed by Wendy Lower (PURCHASE) NR This is the story about how one photo, tucked away in archives, came to expose a little-known massacre during the latter half of WW2. We are given insight into how photographic evidence is dissected and used to identify dates, locations, perpetrators and victims. It also touches on how to handle perpetrators when the murder has long passed. The book also pays homage to those who we won’t know the names or faces of who died at this same massacre. This was a hard read, but also very enlightening to a side of “evidence” that isn’t talked about a lot.

The Troop by Nick Cutter (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This may end up making it to my Best of list at the end of the year, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I believe the words I used are “disgusting, horrifying, a great page turner from start to finish”. I don’t even know if I could begin to describe this book, but I will say, it deals with body horror. If you cannot stomach that then this is probably not for you. However, if you don’t have a problem with that and want some realistic horror, then this is a great read.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (PURCHASE) NR I found this to be a good read not only on understanding the history of racism in another western country, but in creating a good starting point for modern day conversations about racism and race. To be honest, this is a great “introductory” or primer on the topic, or a more generalized coverage. 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This was another re read with the hopes of continuing the series and watching the Netflix adaptation. This is an expansive fantasy universe loosely based on Russia/Poland. This “universe” includes this original trilogy, a second duology, and a third series that is currently two books published. I really enjoyed this first book, it had me wondering why I didn’t actually continue back when I first read it. 

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo(PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This is the second book in the original “Grishaverse” trilogy. We are introduced to new characters, higher stakes, and an epic battle scene that sees us wondering, what, if anything, can be done to set the world right again. I do think this was a little middle book-y, but it was still a strong story. 

The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L Armentrout (PURCHASE) 3 Stars I finally got to read the third book in the Blood and Ash series and boy was it somewhat worth the wait. I said it about the last two books, this is not a series that you can objectively explain. Objectively it is not good, but for a trashy, smutty, engrossing read? It delivers. 

Just Another Damned Thing by Jodi Taylor (PURCHASE) 3 Stars I’ll be honest; I found this book to be…ok. I feel like honestly the author wanted to write a book (or series really) of visiting different times and making observations, slight changes, and experiencing different lives, but didn’t know how to tie it all together. This book was definitely character and time heavy and VERY plot light. I didn’t hate it, but didn’t love it either. I won’t be continuing on with the series, BUT if it was a tv show I would watch. 

And that’s it! I’m very happy that, once again, my reading is back on track. I definitely had a couple of favorites out of the above books and one or two that may just make it to my best of list at the end of the year. What was your favorite book you’ve read over the past couple months?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – january & February 2021

Ah, the start of a new year. A fresh reading year full of new, endless possibilities. I’m combining two months into one as our January was manic and I wasn’t able to get the post up before we flew out of Germany, so instead of trying to put up a subpar post, I just decided to consolidate two months into one. I didn’t do as much reading as I intended, so ultimately it probably doesn’t matter much. 

Also, hi! It’s been a month since my last post and I am going to take a second to give a little hello. I took the month of February off, as it seems to be a good annual time to take a step back and just evaluate everything. This happened to also coincide with our move back to the USA. More to come on that experience, but this post is my way of getting back into my weekly blog posts. 

***I apologize for the lack of purchase links, March’s wrap up will be fully back to normal.***

So, let’s get into it. 

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton 4 Stars Well, I just started off on a strange (for me) foot for 2021. I’m not a Sci-Fi girl, but I had heard that this book was great if you wanted a little bit more in depth than the movie and I can confirm that it is. The only part I didn’t enjoy was the portions devoted to Chaos Theory, but that’s mostly my own issue. Overall, if you liked the movie and want more, then give the book a shot. 

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers 4 Stars I LOVED this. This was so far out of my standard genre’s (seriously, the last time I picked up a space sci-fi was a few years ago now) and I’m so glad I read it. In this book we follow a rag tag crew of a spaceship as they are creating a “tunnel” to one of the farthest, most volatile planets. It is incredibly character driven, but not so much so that the story doesn’t move forward. There is an element of science and space exploration, but it’s not overpowering, you aren’t focusing constantly on the logistics of it all. Highly recommend this one as well. 

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker 5 Stars I LOVED this book. Wecker has a way of spinning a story similar to Carlos Ruiz Zafon or Madeline Miller. There is something about her words and her descriptors that just really spins this beautiful web for you to get stuck in. This was incredible, and not just because there was so much Jewish and Arabic/Middle Eastern mythology that I could see a lot of my own views in. 

A Close and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers 4 Stars Ah, I really enjoyed this second, companion novel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. In this companion novel we are following to side characters from the first book as they navigate some pretty big changes. It serves as a way of expanding this massive universe, learning about some more of the politics around different creatures. I don’t know if I loved this one AS MUCH as the first, but I really enjoyed expanding the world and learning about some of the other characters and their struggles. 

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi translated by Geoffrey Trousselot 4 Stars I feel conflicted about this read. On the one hand I enjoyed the concept and some of the stories really pulled at my heart, BUT I also felt like at times it was a bit slow to read. In this collection we are following a small coffee shop that, within rules, can transport its’ patrons back in time. 

Whiteout by Ken Follett 4 Stars A pandemic related thriller set in Scotland during a snow storm? Yes please! I actually really loved this one, but I do think that short, plot driven stories are not Ken Follett’s forte. Having read his Pillars trilogy, reading something short and more plot, rather than character, driven felt like putting on a pair of pants two sizes too small and the wrong cut. As much as I enjoyed it (and would recommend), it felt like he could have really taken these characters and ran with them.

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica translated by Sarah Moses  3 Stars This takes the spot of “most disturbing book” I’ve ever read. In Tender is the Flesh humans are living in a period after all animal consumption has been banned due to a disease pandemic. Animals are not able to be consumed, so humans have turned to their own for protein. It is not only disturbing in content (serious content warnings here), but also just in the fact of what humans are capable of when pushed. 

A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer 4 Stars I enjoyed this concluding novel to the trilogy and felt like we had FINALLY reached some turning points that we were anxiously awaiting in the second book. On the whole, I really enjoyed the trilogy and would recommend it for a good in between the serious books trilogy to read. 

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson 3 Stars I have absolutely nothing to say about this book. Honestly, I’m trying to think of anything that stood out to me, but there’s nothing. It’s just a standard “high school girl goes missing, but is she really dead” story. I feel like there was some good commentary on civil issues, but overall, it wasn’t memorable. Obviously.

The Lost Shtetl by Max Gross 3 Stars This one was a tough one for me to read as I really wanted to love it. There aren’t a lot of “Jewish” stories out there that are not Holocaust related and this one just sounded so great. We are following a small Jewish town (called a Shtetl) in the heart of the Polish forest as they discover, through a series of small events, that the world has entered a modern era. In parts I loved this story and could picture a lot of what was happening (Eastern European Jew over here), but there was also a feeling of nothing truly happening. At least not in the manner that you would expect from a novel. This is very much a…town coming of age novel and while I enjoyed it, I also felt a bit let down in the same way. 

Tomie by Junj Ito translated by Naomi Kokubo NR In a massive shift from my normal, I decided to pick up a horror manga. I knew nothing about this going in, and overall enjoyed the entirety of this collection. The artwork was incredible and the storyline truly horrifying at times. 

The Deep by Alma Katsu 4 Stars I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this book from Alma Katsu. I think the Titanic is always a hard one to cover, but she did it in a way that brought a new touch. In The Deep we are following a group of characters that are traveling on the Titanic, but all have some form of connection to each other and to one major event. In a dual timeline, we are also following two Titanic survivors as they are once again reunited on the sister ship the Britannic. This was beautifully written, hauntingly enchanting, and a true feat. What I missed in her other novel, The Hunger, was brought to life in this novel to perfection. There were still some slower moments, but I just really loved the overall novel as a whole. 

I did DNF (Did Not Finish) a book in January, A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. I don’t know if this was just when I read it or something different, but the 80 pages or so that I read were quite juvenile, jarringly written, and I found myself not caring. This would have been my third by her and while I enjoyed the other two (Uprooted and Spinning Silver) this was just not my cuppa. I also DNF’d The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon in February. I had such high hopes for this book and this series, but something about it just did not connect with me. 

And that’s it! All the books I’ve read in the first couple months of the year. Any stand outs? What about your reading?