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? 

Top Recent Reads ( A 3rd Qtr Favorites)

I’m slowly starting to introduce a little more book/reading content into my blog here because it is such a huge part of my life (in fact, I have a whole blog dedicated to it – The Cosy Book Shoppe). I’ve been trying to figure out how best to do this and figured pulling the book section of my Quarterly favorites would be a good place to start. I also have a couple other posts in the queue coming up about literacy, getting children to read, and what books do for us. To give you a little idea of my reading, in the past 3 months I’ve read a total of 28 books (2 being unpublished manuscripts).

Today, I am going to talk about some of the best books that I’ve read in the past few months. I am going to try and pull a wide variety of genre’s (as I typically try to read a wide variety) as a chance to give you as many options as possible should you want to pick something up on my recommendation. I do talk about books over in my Instagram Stories and have a highlight of some of the books I’ve read recently there as well.

We will start with one of the most recent books I’ve picked up that happens to be Adult Fiction, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. This is an adult fiction that deals with overarching themes of morality and guilt. I don’t want to give a lot away as I found going into somewhat blind was actually a better reading experience, but I loved how thought provoking this book was and the different viewpoint we get to a couple of very tough topics. Upon finishing it, I found myself sitting back and thinking about the book for quite a while, trying to figure out what I could or would do in the same situations. I also had quite a good discussion in our book club and would love to discuss with you if you have, or do, read this book. Fair warning, there are some adult scenes, and Schlink’s writing is very blunt.

I also really loved Summer Crossing by Truman Capote, another Adult Fiction. This was Truman Capote’s first novel that he was working on, found only years after his passing. It is definitely a “juvenile” work, but I found it to still be incredible and if you are a fan of Capote, you will be a fan of this work. I preferred this over Breakfast at Tiffany’s and really wished that he could have finished it. Such an incredible short work of fiction.

For a Fantasy pick (a genre that I am kind of iffy on), I’ve got a total of three. The first two, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, are adult and the third, A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, is technically young adult. If you’re looking for a fantasy novel that has really great writing and a perfect balance of sharing/withholding information, then The Fifth Season is for you. Jemison’s writing is really great and I was swept up in her foreshadowing. If you are looking to get swept away by a story and feel transported to a different time and place, then Daughter of the Forest is for you. Marillier has a way of just taking the reader on a journey that is in this world, but not in this world. This particular story involves faeries so bonus if you are into that and is set in medieval Ireland. This one surprised me with how much I did end up loving it as I was unsure of it for quite a while. Finally, if you are looking for an easy read, a Beauty and the Beast retelling, OR a kickass female protagonist, then A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmemer is the one for you. I think that while this technically is a Beauty & the Beast retelling, I found this to be a little more twisty and turny to just your standard retelling.

In terms of a work of non fiction and military related, I found Sacred Duty by Tom Cotton to be a good pick from the past couple months, as well as We Die Alone by David Howarth. Sacred Duty talks about one of the most prestigious units in the military, The Old Guard. The Old Guard performs several tasks, not limited to Military Honors funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, Formal ceremonies at The White House and Pentagon, as well as numerous other day to day activities. The book does get a little dry getting into the actual military history of the unit, but it was overall a very interesting read. I also would recommend We Die Alone by David Howarth. This was an incredible true story of a young soldiers fight to get through Norway to Sweden in an attempt to escape Nazi’s. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t even realize WW2 made it all the way to Norway, but it did and this story is incredible. A bonus is that it includes pictures of different spots and people that were part of the story.

Finally, for some light reading I would recommend the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan and Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. If you are in need of a little light melodrama and a laugh out loud read, the full Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy is for you. It could also be for you if you have been known to enjoy an episode or two of Real Housewives. We follow a rather large, incredibly wealthy Asian family as they deal with “problems” they never thought they would face in their lifetimes. I read each of the books in this trilogy in just a couple days and just loved it. If you are a book lover, or classic literature lover, then Dear Mr. Knightley is for you. We follow a character that quite literally lives her life in her books. She can recite quotes on demand and weaves them into her everyday conversations, using them as a shield. We follow her learn to drop the walls around her and believe in herself. The story is told entirely through letters to a mysterious benefactor, which adds a certain level of fun to the story.

And that’s it! If you have read any of these, please let me know. If you end up picking any of them up, let me know too!