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 – 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?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – July 2021

Happy August! I’ve just got a quick reading catch up post today as I’ve become quite a bit behind (due to summer holidays) on…well just everything. I don’t truly remember all of my thoughts for these books, but I’ll do my best to give some brief opinions. I ended up reading a total of 9 books and giving an average rating of 3.875, so a quite good month. I did also DNF (Did Not Finish) some books, so I’ll talk about those at the end. 

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston 4 Stars – I really enjoyed this contemporary novel, even if I found it to be a bit of wishful escapism. I’m kind of a sucker for royal family stories though.  

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo 4 Stars This was a beautiful and captivating story that just had me in a trance from start to finish. 

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert 4 Stars Yet another cute contemporary story that I really enjoyed. 

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto 4 Stars I think this might have been one of my favorites for the month, this was just such a great romantic comedy of errors. I will most definitely be reading the next one just to see the family antics once again. 

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher 4 Stars This is one of those horror books that I think will just live in my brain for a little bit, kind of like The Troop by Nick Cutter or maybe even The Hunger by Alma Katsu (I recommend the former, but maybe not the latter). I didn’t realize that it had truly gotten under my skin until we were on holiday and I saw something that was described in the book and it spooked me a bit haha. 

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo 4 Stars This is the second in what I think is just a companion grouping of stories following a “recorder of history”. Again, I found myself entranced in the story and swept away by the writing. 

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro 4 Stars This was my second Ishiguru novel and I did, once again, enjoy it. I liked Never Let Me Go a bit more, but it was a VERY different book to this. I found the conversation within our relationship to our work, to our employers, to our own morals and values and the relationship of those with our work and our employers. 

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides 3 Stars Ah, this was a bit of a disappointment and the more I think about it, the more I talk about it, the more upset I get about it. It wasn’t BAD, by any stretch, but I also felt like it…had a lot of far reaching stretches for our main character and the twist made ZERO sense. I also wasn’t a fan of the main character, but that could just be a me thing. 

Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies by J.B. West NR A memoir of sorts, this book talks about what it is actually like working in and running the White House, on the family side of things. He doesn’t speak badly about any of the families, instead highlighting the differences and similarities and personal relationships of each family. 

And finally, the books that I…gave up on: Reputation by Lex Croucher and The Binding by Bridget Collins. I have actually fully gotten rid of Reputation. It was a bit TOO spot on for what it was trying to be and the main character was obnoxious. The Binding I might try again another time as I didn’t feel strongly about it either way, which is why I stopped reading it. 

And that’s it for July! I’ve got big plans for the rest of the year for reading and I’m very excited. 

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – June 2021

Somehow it is the end of the month already! At halfway through 2021, how did THAT happen? I feel like this year, unlike last, is flying by. So many things to get done and not nearly enough time to do them, and that includes reading all the books I want to read this year! We’ll be talking through some of those next week when I do the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, BUT this week we are focusing on the books that I’ve read in the month of June. Overall, I read a total of 11 books with an average rating of 3.46.

Let’s get into then, shall we?

Anne of Green Gables, the Graphic Novel Adapted by Mariah Marsden (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This was just darling. Whether you’re familiar with the story of Anne or not, this was a lovely adaptation that I enjoyed in an afternoon on the porch with a cup of tea. 

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth (PURCHASE) 3 Stars Ah this book, where do I begin? In this book you are, at the heart, following a school/parcel of land and its…questionable haunting activities. Set in two timelines, one when the school was open and one in present day when a movie is being filmed about the goings on at the school and a cast of about 6 women at the heart of the story. I enjoyed the premise and even the set up (a book about a movie about a book), BUT I think this could have greatly benefited from being a duology. One book to the past timeline and the happenings at the school, and a second book about the present-day filming and hauntings. When smashed together in one book it felt a bit…rushed and not quite fleshed out fully. 

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This one is a conflict in my own head over the rating. In this story we are following a young woman who has recently become the ambassador to a foreign empire. From the moment she lands she is thrust into political upheaval as the empire struggles against itself AND a murder mystery she must solve before she is killed next. I really loved this book after about 150 pages. At one point I thought this book might be a bit too political (which is saying A LOT), but once I gained an understanding off the underlying speech, and the book narrowed down its’ focus, the story became really enjoyable. 

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (PURCHASE) 4 Stars Well, this was just the quaintest little story. In The Thursday Murder Club, we are following a small retirement community and 4 of its 70 yr. old + residents as they attempt to solve a series of murders. Let me tell you, the plot is OK, but the characters are classic and will keep you going through the story. 

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker (PURCHASE) 5 Stars This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I’ll just leave it at…it did not disappoint. I love that our characters were pushed farther, new characters were introduced (on all sides), old characters came back, the world widened, and every single character was confronted with their worst possible selves. It was brilliant. It also, once again like the first one, was left in a way that could welcome yet another OR could be finished. I’m good either way. 

Banned Book Club by (PURCHASE) NR This was a story about a young girl in South Korea who attends college in the hopes of studying literature. What she founds is an underground resistance movement of other young people who want to truly learn about the world around them, beyond the government propaganda. What follows is a series of clashes with government inspectors and employees as the students fight back more and more. This was such a good and important read and I highly recommend it. It’s based on real instances, though specifics have been changed to protect individuals. 

Answered Prayers by Truman Capote (PURCHASE) 2 Stars I consider myself a fan of Truman Capote. I loved In Cold Blood and Summer Crossing and enjoyed Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I had heard this book referenced repeatedly in Plain Bad Heroines as a muse, so I decided to pick it up. Unfortunately, I found this to be the bitter, intoxicated ramblings of a man at the edge. I know the history of it (he started it before he found fame, re wrote it after In Cold Blood and other stories, and ultimately never finished it) and found the introduction to be quite helpful in understanding the chapters, BUT that did not change my overall reading experience and opinion, which was decidedly NOT good. 

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (PURCHASE) 3 Stars This book is…tough. I think it’s important to understand the controversy that surrounds the book itself currently. TJ Klune has mentioned that he had a loose idea of the plot, but then took quite a fair amount of inspiration from the 60’s sweep (referring to the Residential Schools for Indigenous People) as well as various other events that had people be “rounded up” and ostracized into boarding facilities for being “different”. So, we need to acknowledge that this book is steeped in some very real pain and trauma, and we need to learn about what happened with the residential schools, as well as what happened with ICE detentions and other “round up” situations. HOWEVER, I think that this book being told from the perspective of a “government worker” who believes he is doing the best for the kids and seeing him change his perspective, for so much of the story to be steeped in this “feel good” and “be kind and accepting” is also important to note. My good reads review has SO MUCH more information and thoughts and can be read <a href="http://<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea&quot; style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img border="0" alt="The House in the Cerulean Sea" src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1569514209l/45047384._SX98_.jpg&quot; /></a><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea">The House in the Cerulean Sea</a> by <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5073330.T_J_Klune">T.J. Klune</a><br/> My rating: <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4070176770">3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br /> I think it’s important to note a couple of things about this book, so this might be a bit longer than my normal reviews. <br /><br />First off, we must address where the inspiration comes from for the story. TJ Klune has talked about the fact that he had a character and a rough idea for the story, but it became fully developed as he learned about the 60’s sweep and looked at a variety of different residential schools, ICE facilities, and other detainment/assimilation places. While I would not necessarily critique where authors get inspiration from (as that would be futile as books have been written about a variety of different traumatic events), I think it’s important to understand the history of residential schools and recognize that there is a very real, very current trauma surrounding the inspiration for this story. <br /><br />However, we should not immediately brush the book aside because there are A LOT of excellent conversations had in the story, and an over arching commentary/feeling about kindness and difference. There is something to be said for framing the story from a government workers perspective, a pencil pusher in so many words, who realizes that maybe his own opinions, what he thought was best and right, isn’t in fact what is best and right. <br /><br />It’s also important to note that while the “orphanage” did feel very much like it’s real life equivalent and there wasn’t quite a…”happy ending” beyond what was presented (and what we would have probably all preferred to see), that it was not directly representative of what it drew inspiration from, and yet still realistic in that change doesn’t come about immediately and in the way we want or think is fair. <br /><br />Ultimately, anyones thoughts and commentary on this book are their own and are valid in their own way. <br /><br />While I am rating this book a solid 3 Stars, I can see why/how it earned such a high rating. The story is heartwarming and feel good. If you are concerned about the inspiration then do some additional reading and learning about the 60’s sweep, residential schools, and the trauma of the Indigenous peoples and First Nations (as I will be doing). <br/><br/> <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/41246937-a-cuppa-cosy">View all my reviews</a>" data-type="URL" data-id="<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea&quot; style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img border="0" alt="The House in the Cerulean Sea" src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1569514209l/45047384._SX98_.jpg&quot; /></a><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea">The House in the Cerulean Sea</a> by <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5073330.T_J_Klune">T.J. Klune</a><br/> My rating: <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4070176770">3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br /> I think it’s important to note a couple of things about this book, so this might be a bit longer than my normal reviews. <br /><br />First off, we must address where the inspiration comes from for the story. TJ Klune has talked about the fact that he had a character and a rough idea for the story, but it became fully developed as he learned about the 60’s sweep and looked at a variety of different residential schools, ICE facilities, and other detainment/assimilation places. While I would not necessarily critique where authors get inspiration from (as that would be futile as books have been written about a variety of different traumatic events), I think it’s important to understand the history of residential schools and recognize that there is a very real, very current trauma surrounding the inspiration for this story. <br /><br />However, we should not immediately brush the book aside because there are A LOT of excellent conversations had in the story, and an over arching commentary/feeling about kindness and difference. There is something to be said for framing the story from a government workers perspective, a pencil pusher in so many words, who realizes that maybe his own opinions, what he thought was best and right, isn’t in fact what is best and right. <br /><br />It’s also important to note that while the “orphanage” did feel very much like it’s real life equivalent and there wasn’t quite a…”happy ending” beyond what was presented (and what we would have probably all preferred to see), that it was not directly representative of what it drew inspiration from, and yet still realistic in that change doesn’t come about immediately and in the way we want or think is fair. <br /><br />Ultimately, anyones thoughts and commentary on this book are their own and are valid in their own way. <br /><br />While I am rating this book a solid 3 Stars, I can see why/how it earned such a high rating. The story is heartwarming and feel good. If you are concerned about the inspiration then do some additional reading and learning about the 60’s sweep, residential schools, and the trauma of the Indigenous peoples and First Nations (as I will be doing). <br/><br/> <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/41246937-a-cuppa-cosy">View all my reviewsHERE. 

A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djeli Clark (PURCHASE) NR This is a novella that takes place just prior to A Master of Djinn and does a little bit of the set-up work for the book. As I’m writing this, I’m about halfway through Master of Djinn and I don’t know how necessary it is for you to read this first (which is why I read it first). It provides context and background, but not more than you would get throughout the book itself. 

No Exit by Taylor Adams (PURCHASE) 3.5 I don’t have too much to say about the next two books, except that they were solid thrillers. Neither was a standout, but I would say I think I probably got a bit more of the heart pounding thriller vibes from this one more. The premise is that there are strangers stranded in a snowstorm at a middle of nowhere rest stop. 5 Strangers and one little girl locked in a cage in a van. Where did she come from and who can you trust? 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This was the last book that I finished in June, and it was a solid way to end the month. I enjoyed the premise and I definitely think this is a good twist and turn kind of thriller, but I didn’t feel the fear or ticking clock or atmosphere of the book as I did with No Exit. 

Finally, two final books to mention. I am currently reading A Master of Djinn by P Djeli Clark and while I’m not loving it per se (and I’ve stopped and started throughout), I’m not hating it either. We have also started reading some more chapter books with the boys, starting with the Magic Tree House Series. They’ve quickly fallen in to reading a chapter or two before bed and are excited to read more of them (the other night consisted of “one more chapter mommy”). 

So, that rounds up my month in reading! What about you? Any new favorites?

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 – 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 – June 2020

Once again, we’ve reached the end of another month and it’s time to talk about all the books I read in June…or lack thereof. I feel like June wasn’t my best reading month as I was solo parenting for a good amount of it, there were numerous other things needing my attention, and I read a couple whoppers of a book (aka longer tomes). None the less, I am here today to talk about some of those books that I’ve read. Since this post is going up a few days before the end of the month, I’ll also be including my current read as I will be finishing that before the end of the month as well. 

Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams (Purchase) 4.5/5 Murder in the Mystery Suite is the first book in a series of “cozy mysteries”. We follow along with a young mom as she learns that the life she had always known was a “cover” for her family history. Secret societies, books, murder and mystery follow and each book raises the stakes. These are just quick, easy, “feel good” mysteries. 

Who Do you Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States Edited by Maya Schenwar, Joe Macare, and Alana Yu-Lan Price (Purchase) NR This is a collection of essays about police brutality and race in regard to police brutality. It was incredibly eye opening, brutally honest, and just a hard, but important read. I highly recommend if you are looking for a book that will break down a lot of the issues that happen with police custody and BIPOC. 

The One by John Marrs (Purchase) 5/5 If you want a roller coaster of a thriller, with a unique premise, this is the book for you. In The One we follow five characters in a world where you are able to find your genetic soulmate. Scientists have isolated a strand of DNA that tells you exactly who you were meant to spend your life with. The only problem? It is focused on the genetic aspect, not the WHO of each person. As these five characters find their match, lives unravel and change in a heartbeat. An absolutely incredible book, this one will keep you reading late into the night. 

Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery Adams (Purchase) 4.5/5 This is the second book to Murder in the Mystery Suite and this one was my favorite mystery out of the three I’ve read in this series. I’m not going to say too much as this is a series that builds upon itself, even though the mysteries are different. What I will say is that I love this setting and the concept of the stories and it’s just a joy to read each one. 

Beloved by Toni Morrison (Purchase) 5/5 Beloved is the story of a slave woman during and after the Civil War and her life. It is incredibly difficult to read, both in part due to the storytelling, but also due to the atrocities she experienced and lived through. Her trauma comes through in every single page. This is such a good read, laying out the facts of what she went through (in a different way than the police brutality book), and then her PTSD from those atrocities. It is not a book I was able to read straight through, I had to put it down about halfway through, read something light, and then go back to it, but it was very much worth reading. 

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson (Purchase) 4/5 This is the second book in the Mistborn trilogy, and I waited all month to read it, and it was well worth that wait. We pick up a year after The Final Empire and the action starts right on page 1. I loved the deepening of the world, the new lore that was discovered throughout, as well as the politics and intrigue that was going on. I will say, similar to The Final Empire, there were parts that lagged and were tough to get through, but the last third of the book was nonstop. 

And finally, I am currently reading Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams (Purchase) and, of course, loving being back at Storyton Hall. As of writing this, I’ve only just started, but these are quick easy reads, so I anticipate finishing this up in a day or two at the most. 

Mid Year Book Freakout Tag – 2020

Happy Monday! Last week I posted my midyear “check in” and I figured I would follow it up with a little book tag. It’s not a deep dive, or something really serious, just a fun little Monday Morning question and answer. At the time that I am writing up this post, I have read a total of 48 books. Not too much of an introduction, let’s just get into the questions!

Best Book you’ve read so far in 2020

Hands down I think one of the best is Circe by Madeline Miller. A close second and third would be The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson and The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (but, both of those will be mentioned later on). There are plenty of books that I enjoyed and gave 5 Stars, but Circe is a book that I am still reminiscing and thinking about.

Best Sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

I have two for this question (because I am really bad at narrowing things down to one) and those are: A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer and World Without End by Ken Follett. I loved both of these in some ways more than the first books.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

Both The City We Became by N.K. Jemison and My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell are out, and I am really wanting to read both of those. I also would like to read Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad which was released in February.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Top of my list is Fredrik Backman’s Anxious People. I am just a big fan of his and am ready to see what else he is offering. There are a lot more books that I’ve pre ordered, that I’m anxiously awaiting, but this is the first one that comes to mind that hasn’t already been released.

Biggest Disappointment

Ah, again, I have two books for this one: Misery by Stephen King (which was ten times better as a movie than a book) and Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson (which was a great setting and concept, but poor execution).

Biggest Surprise

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. I honestly was on the fence, I figured I would either love it or DNF it and to even my own surprise, I loved this! I gave it 4 stars (because I did have some issues with it), but on the whole this one took me by surprise. Another one (just as food for thought) is The One by John Marrs. I only just recently read this one, after hearing about it twice and picking it up on a whim, and ooofff…an unexpected 5 star read for me.

Favorite New Author (Debut or new to you)

Alright, I’ve been recommended this author for years now and I finally this year read a couple of his books…Brandon Sanderson. I flew through Elantris and The Final Empire and am desperate to get to some more in the Mistborn trilogy (and then move on to the other, longer series).

Newest Fictional Crush

I don’t really get any fictional crushes, so no answer on this one 🙂

Newest Favorite characters

I don’t know? I guess I like the setting and main characters of Ellery Adams books. No book in particular, but those characters and settings are just my jam.

Book that made you cry

The Only Plan in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff and Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect Edited by Maya Schenwar, Joe Macare, Alana Yu-Lan Price, Forward by Alicia Garza. I don’t think I really need to elaborate on either of these.

Book that made you happy

This is a tough one because even with my disappointing reads, I still enjoy reading. Books still make me happy overall. I’m going to have to list Ellery Adams once again as those books are just…so cozy and wonderful in so many ways (and they are light and fluffy with no deeper thought needed).

Most Beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow and it was also a beautiful story as well.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

So many! I won’t list them all here, but I will make a note that for the rest of the year I want to read a diverse selection between fiction and nonfiction and a variety of authors and subjects.

That’s it! I would love to hear some of your answers for the questions, so leave them down below 🙂

 

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – May 2020

Happy first of June! May was…a month both in real life and in book world. I had a wishy-washy month and dealt with some book breaks towards the end of the month. I’ll get more into that later, but I completed a total of 7 books, with an average rating of 3.8/5.0 and I’m currently in the middle of two right now. I’ve actually waited until the very last minute to write this post up as I had hoped I would finish one of them before this had to go up.

I’ve included a slightly different purchase link this time around. This link will take you to the bookshop.org listing for each book. Bookshop.org raises money for local independent bookstores and while the prices may be slightly higher than Amazon, if you are in a position to pay the slightly higher price, I would highly encourage you to do so.

A Cuppa Cosy Reads - February 2022

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas 4/5 (Goodreads/Purchase): I started my month out with a bang of a horror novel. In Kill Creek we are following an author who is in the middle of a bit of a life and writing crisis. He isn’t getting very far into his new novel and has taken up teaching to do something different. He, along with 3 other authors, gets the opportunity to spend a night in the most famous haunted house in the country. What goes on is for the books. I loved the overall theme that this book took in terms of the standard haunted house trope. It definitely brought a new life into a very tried trope.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman 3.5/5 (Goodreads/Purchase) This was my second Neil Gaiman and I infinitely preferred this one. Coraline follows a young girl who finds a mysterious door in her home. She wanders through the door and finds her family, but not quite her family. Written for his daughters, this store is the cutest story of good vs “evil”. It’s juvenile in a way, but enjoyable for a reader of any age.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams 3/5 (Goodreads/Purchase) The one book that I have so much, but so little to say about. Queenie follows a young black women on the brink of a breakdown. She seems to be falling apart at the pieces and we follow her journey of self. I think my biggest problem with this book was the marketing of it. At the outset it was heralded as almost the “black Bridget Jones” and it is NOT. This book is much darker, much heavier on the content, much more “real world” than Bridget Jones. The wit/humor of Bridget Jones, maybe, but beyond that there is no comparison. Now, this is changing as more people are reading it and talking about it, but I would recommend checking content warnings prior to picking it up. I will say- this does has some book race and social commentary in it.

Murder in the Locked Library by Ellery Adams 4.5/5 (Goodreads/Purchase) I think Ellery Adams is just my new go to when I need a cozy, warm, book related mystery. Murder in the Locked Library is actually the 4th book in a series, so I can’t talk too much about the contents, but I enjoyed it so much. This has books, secret societies, and quaint Virginia town vibes. I plan on reading the first three books in the coming month and I can’t wait!

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson 4.5/5 (Goodreads/Purchase) Ah, the book of all books. The book that completely ruined the rest of my May. The book that I finished and needed more of. The Final Empire (aka Mistborn #1) follows along in a world where the people are ruled by a figure considered a g-d. A “ragtag” band is determined to get the skaa (the working slave class in this world) to rise into a rebellion and overthrow the government and the ruler. There is magic, comradery, and a new world to explore. I absolutely loved this book. As with any fantasy it’s a fit of a slow burn at first due to the world building that needs to happen, but it never felt boring/slow. There is a subtle shift about a third of the way through the book where the reader goes from being a passive learner to an active participant and then it is actively engaging right till the very end. I finished this book needing more and that desire definitely colored the rest of my reading month (I only just ordered the rest of the books in the series).

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson 3/5 (Goodreads/Purchase) This was a bit of a letdown for me. In Eight Perfect Murders we follow a bookstore owner as he learns that a list he posted many years ago has become inspiration for a serial killer. What follows is a literary mystery. Now, I loved the setting and concept of this story. Where I found it lacking/disappointing, was in the actual mystery/thriller aspect of it. I found that portion to be predictable and lackluster.

American Royals by Katharine McGee 4/5 (Goodreads/Purchase) This isn’t the next award-winning book, but it’s good fun, nonetheless. In American Royals we follow an alternate history of the US where George Washington decided to become king when asked and what that ends up looking like in with the modern-day royal family. Basically, this is British Royal Family fanfiction set in America and it’s lighthearted melodrama fun. Suspend all your thoughts and beliefs and just enjoy the ride.

Now, I mentioned earlier that I am currently in the middle of two books, which I will share a bit about now…

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett (Goodreads/Purchase): I’m really enjoying this one so far! I’m halfway through and while it is different in quite a few ways from the previous two books, I’m really enjoying getting a different view into this time period (Elizabethan England). Once again, I love his storytelling and the way he weaves these epic family tales.

Locke & Key Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft (Goodreads/Purchase) I don’t really know how I feel about this. I had placed it on hold from the library a while ago and then quarantine happened and I forgot about it. I’m not a fan, but not not enjoying it. Does that even make sense?

My reading plans for the next couple months include a bit of literary fiction, the next book in the Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson) series, some black history, and a few more Ellery Adams cozy mysteries. Reading for me serves a purpose: escapism/pleasure or education. I am trying to be more cognizant about doing both.

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts? What was your favorite read from May?