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?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – April 2020

Has April finally come to an end? Not quite, but I am taking a moment to go ahead and wrap up all of the books that I have read in April. Maybe it’s jumping the gun a bit (but in reality it’s not and you’ll see why at the end of this post), but I’m also just over April so this is my way to hurry it out the door haha.

So, some stats and info about April. I participated in a readathon over the past month called the O.W.L.S. Magical Readathon (because I am that kind of Harry Potter fan). I participated last year and was excited to do so this year. This year was my goal was to complete 8 challenges and achieve the first set of exams for the Hogwarts Librarian position, with the additional shop training (…HERE is a link to the video explaining all of this- just in case you are this kind of Harry Potter fan too).

In the end, I read (or will have read by midnight Thursday 30. April) 8 books, completing 7 of the challenges. Thankfully only 5 are necessary for my career, but I am still fairly pleased with my reading total. I read across quite a few genres, including some I’ve never read from before, and read one incredibly long, fantasy novel. My rating average was a whopping 4.6/5 (the highest it’s been in a while) and I genuinely loved most of what I read.

*Before I really want to get into this list, I want to make a quick note. I have included a link below to the Amazon page for each book, HOWEVER I would highly recommend (and honestly prefer if it is a possibility for you) checking your local independent bookstore before purchasing from Amazon. Many local bookstore are either shipping or doing some form of curbside pickup and they could really use your business. If they don’t have the book, they may still be able to order it for you on request. You could even check your chain bookstore if your local bookstore can’t help you (or if you do not have a smaller independent bookstore in your area). My point is, Amazon is great for some things, but right now it is better to support our small businesses so they can survive this time.*

So, let’s just get into the books that I read in April…

A Cuppa Cosy Reads - February 2021

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (Amazon) 5/5 Stars. This is one of those books that is just beautifully done. We follow a young January Scaller as she is learning that the world she has grown up in is not the world she belongs in, nor the world that she wants to be in after she discovers a door. This book not only contains a beautifully done story, mixing together a coming of age story with a fantasy/magical door concept, and the unique power of words and books, BUT contains so many beautiful one liner quotes. An easy, but savory read for a rainy week/weekend.

Circe by Madeline Miller (Amazon) 5/5 Stars Another just incredibly written story. Circe follows the Greek Myth of Circe, giving her a story that is told “by her” rather than by the men in her life. This is easily one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read, not because the story was incredible, but because of Madeline Miller’s writing. She just created these moments where you felt with the character (as opposed to for, besides, whatever). Beautifully crafted, effortless to read, and incredible from start to finish, I highly recommend this book.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Amazon) 3/5 Stars This was my first Neil Gaiman book and I found it to be OK. Not blow my socks off, not absolutely horrible, but OK. In The Ocean at the End of the Lane we follow a young boy who experiences something…not of this world. In a short time, his world is upended and then set back to rights with no memory of it happening. So, overall I liked this book. It was really enjoyable, and it wasn’t anything deep or scary. However, because it is written from a juvenile perspective, it did come off as juvenile at times.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (Amazon) 5/5 Stars This was a re-read and something I don’t really feel like I need to really elaborate on. Loved the experience of listening to this on audio and just love this series.

Orange Vol. 1 by Ichigo Takano (Amazon) NR This is a manga that has a contemporary storyline. We follow a young lady and her group of friends as she receives a letter from the future. Overall this was pretty good. My only overall issue was, at times, I didn’t care for the “innocence” or (stupidity) as it got a bit annoying. With that being said, our group of characters are predominantly in high school, so it’s to be expected.

Werewolves by Konstantinos (Amazon) NR This was a book that I read purely for the readathon and don’t have any major thoughts on. Basically, this covers werewolves, from the myths, to the rules, to history. Honestly, I don’t care about werewolves to this extent, so this was a bit of a throw away read for me.

And now, the two books that I am currently reading and have full plans on finishing before Friday (1 May)…

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (Amazon) This is a high fantasy novel about two warring kingdoms and dragons (both of the good and bad kind). We follow several characters, evenly distributed through both kingdoms as they start to realize that they may be united against one common enemy. I’m still currently reading this, although I will definitely have it done soon and I’m loving the story! This book has just wrapped me up and I’ve been super impressed with Samantha Shannon’s writing and world building. No detail is too small for her and she balanced telling us about the world with telling us the story pretty well.

Sex With Kings by Eleanor Herman (Amazon) My final read of the month of April; this book is like a real-life guilty pleasure. This book is basically just talking through the monarchs and their mistresses and EVERYTHING that comes with that. Scandalous, juicy, if you need some reality tv reading, this is the book for you. I’ve learned so much that I’ve actually looked at some of the places we’ve seen here a bit differently (Neuschwanstein Castle is one…). It’s just a fun time.

And that wraps up my April Reading Month! I can’t really name any favorites, or disappointments, and it was a very positive month overall. What was your favorite book you read?

 

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – March 2020

Happy April! Feels like the past couple weeks have lasted a while, haven’t they? In an effort to start getting back a semblance of “normalcy” I am getting back to some normal posts. That means today I am going to talk about all the books that I finished, and didn’t finish, in the month of March.

In the month of March, I read a total of 9 books (I’m counting the two that I will be finishing when I am writing this as I know they will be finished before the end of the month- more on that later) and gave an average of 3.8 rating. On the whole I enjoyed most of what I read, with a very obvious divide between what I liked and what I didn’t like. So, what did I read?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads - February 2020
Photo by Angie at A Cup of Grace Photography

Full Metal Alchemist Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa (Goodreads/Amazon): NR. This is a manga about alchemy. I don’t read many manga’s (I’ve only actually read 2 before this one) and I don’t really know how to talk about them or rate them. This one was ok, although not a favorite and I won’t be continuing on.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (Goodreads/Amazon): 4/5 Stars. I am finally started to delve into the world of Brandon Sanderson. This particular book is a standalone following 3 main characters navigating court politics, religious politics, and new lives in new worlds. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the world that Sanderson crafted in this one book. He is masterful at creating a world and deep diving into every aspect of that world, characters, and story. HOWEVER, this means that at times the story slowed down and became a bit tedious in parts and for that I knocked a star off my rating. I still enjoyed it overall and am looking forward to reading more of his books.

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (Goodreads/Amazon): 4/5 Stars. This was a book lent to me by a friend who thought I would enjoy it. We are following a magician who has just graduated school and is learning her craft. She is given a magic that she didn’t want, with a teacher she didn’t understand, but all is not what it seems, and she quickly realizes that there is more than meets the eye. This is the perfect fluff book that gives you a little bit of everything. A little bit of light romance, a little bit of the steam punk era, a little bit of magic and fantasy, without diving too deep into any of them. This is the first book of, what I think is, a trilogy and it can honestly be read as either a standalone or part of a trilogy.

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Goodreads/Amazon): NR This was a book club book pick for March and is a diary entry collection from a bookshop owner. We follow along as he experiences life in his shop over the course of a little under a year. I will start with that I listened to this book as an audio book. It is nonfiction, the bookstore exists, and his witty comebacks and commentary on his various experiences made the book a joy to listen to. He included tidbits on his daily register totals, customer totals, and online orders which made a nice addition.

Misery by Stephen King (Goodreads/Amazon): 2/5. I have never been more disappointed with a Stephen King book, nor have I ever rated a Stephen King book this low. In Misery we follow a mildly famous writer who has been kidnapped by his “#1 Fan” and is drugged and forced to write a new book just for her. Sound familiar? Predictable? Boring? This book was all three. I felt like it was just a formulaic, mindless, story that followed a standard horror kidnapping storyline. There was not heart stopping action, no thrilling aspect, until the last 5 pages (AFTER everything else has been exhausted). It was not what I was wanting nor was expecting and I don’t know if I would recommend this one.

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson (Goodreads/Amazon): NR. This was…an interesting read. We are following Jon as he is trying to figure out how the mental health industry, specifically relating to psychopathy, handles diagnoses and how it relates to criminals and people in power. In a way this book was kind of similar to watching a Netflix or Vice docuseries where you follow a variety of different minor topics that circle round to each other and showcase information about a subject. I don’t really know that I liked it, but I didn’t like it. It was a strange one.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung (Goodreads/Amazon): 5/5 I feel so seen in this comic series by Debbie Tung. I don’t have much to say about it (as it’s pretty self-explanatory), but in an almost 200-page series of comics, Debbie Tung details what it feels like to be introverted, to be teased for it, to feel isolated, to feel exhausted, and much more. There was so much about this that I understood and related to and I think that everyone who either is friends with/in  a relationship with an introvert OR is an introvert should read it.

And now, a bit on the two books I am currently reading. I write these wrap up posts a day before they are scheduled to go up and so sometimes, I might not be finished with a book, but will be finished with it before the next day. This is the case with the below two books, so I want to include them as I know they will be finished in March and can therefore be included on this wrap up. I may come back on here and edit this post day of to include final ratings.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (Goodreads/Amazon): NR. This was my other nonfiction audio book for the month, and I found it interesting. Mary talks about dead bodies, in the simplest explanation. When/If we donate our bodies to science, what actually happens? She talks about this and the various medical discovers that have been made with science and it’s use of both human and animal cadavers. It’s interesting in its own way and I did enjoy the audio book.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (Goodreads/Amazon): 3/5 Hmmm, this was my “interesting” read. In The Hazel Wood we follow the descendent of an author famous for her dark fairy tales, but, as with fairytales, all is not what it seems. As things start rapidly changing, Alice finds herself facing a world, a life, a story that she never expected. Overall I enjoyed this book, the premise was great (I love dark fairytales), but I also expected…more out of the latter third of the book. I felt like the ending fell a bit…not in keeping with the rest of the story and a bit too tidy for my liking. There is another book out and I’m debating whether or not I want to pick it up or not.

And those are all the books I read in March! I have ambitious goals for April as I am taking part in the O.W.L.S Magical Readathon (because I am THAT kind of Harry Potter fan) and have picked out quite a few books for it. What books have you been reading lately? Any new favorites?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – January 2020

Welcome to my library. My domain. My happy place. In my library I’m in my element. Let’s talk books…

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Photo taken by Angie at A Cup of Grace Photography

I said that something I wanted to introduce a little more regularly on my little slice of the internet was books. I’m an avid reader and while I have an entire blog dedicated to books, I felt like that having such a big part of my life be so separate from my personal blog, was…strange to me. I’ve been sharing my reads as I am reading them on my social media, but I think I am also going to wrap up each month with a little post talking about what I’ve read that month. I’ll have the title, links to goodreads/purchasing options, my rating of the book, and then my thoughts of the book. (If you are curious about my library/office, you can see that post HERE).

In January I read a total of 7 books and listened to 1 audio book. Overall it was what I would consider a really good reading month, the lowest rating I gave out was a low 3 star and on the whole I actually enjoyed most of the books that I read. This month was the month of Dark, Thrilling, In One Sitting reads. I have added a new favorite genre (I’ve always loved it, but I have a name for it now and a narrowed down taste) and I’ve added an author to my “try some more” list. And now, I’m going to stop aimlessly waffling and start talking about the books…

*** I apologize for the Purchase links going to Amazon Audible options, you can select the physical or e-book version using the same link. I will have a different link moving forward***

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Desire by Haruki Murakami (Goodreads/Purchase): 4/5 Stars. This is a collection of short stories that revolve around desire (as the title would suggest). Murakami is a new to me author that I’ve been wanting to try for a while now, but haven’t pulled the plug on reading his book. In his own words, he takes quite a bit of inspiration from Kafka, Carver, Vonnegut, and Jazz Music. All of his works are also translated from the original Japanese text. I’ll be completely honest, it was the “inspiration from Kafka” that worried me. I’m not the biggest Kafka fan (which is putting that very lightly) and I have become wary of authors that pull inspiration from him. All that being said, I really enjoyed this little collection! It was a pleasure to read and I only had one Kafka-esque instance. I’ll definitely give another one of his full-length novels a try later this year to see if I still feel the same about his writing in a longer setting.

The Deal of a Lifetime by Frederik Backman (Goodreads/Purchase): 4/5 Stars. I have yet to read a Backman book that I haven’t enjoyed. This book is especially touching as we follow a man who is facing…a crisis of conscience (trying to figure out wording on this without giving away plot). It is written as a father to son letter and allows the reader to question some life decisions within the safety of “knowing the outcome”. Really enjoyed this read, as I always do, and I’m looking forward to picking up the last couple Backman books I have left on his published list.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Goodreads/Purchase): 4/5 Stars. This is THE BOOK of dark academia. The book that kind of “revived” the genre, gave it a name, brought it to the forefront. We are following a group of snobby Classic Majors at a prestigious university as they try to find a life beyond the humdrum. They become very much wrapped in the subject that they are studying (Latin/Classics) and very quickly things start to unravel. This book just has it all, a friend group, dynamic well-crafted characters, a storyline that follows through, a mystery (I wouldn’t go so far as to say Thriller), and some incredibly beautiful writing. This was my second Donna Tartt book and I enjoyed this one vastly more than The Goldfinch (my first of hers). I found sometimes the narrative would be a little meandering, or the writing would get a little too much, but overall I really enjoyed it.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Goodreads/Purchase): 3/5 Stars. Oh boy. It’s been a couple of weeks; I’ve had my book club discussion and I still don’t know what to really say about this book. Gear up, this is going to be a fun one. So much fun in fact that I am struggling to come up with a good description of what the book even is. We are following a young man who stumbles on a moment from his life that has wound up in a strange book. This book leads him and us down a rabbit hole (not entirely figurative) and into a world of stories. We follow his story, the fairytale stories, and a slew of side characters as they are trying to figure out the story. Confused yet? That’s how I was for a good amount of this book. I enjoyed the world (scratch that I loved the world, probably the one thing I really loved about this book), I enjoyed the characters (for the most part), but it was just too much story for one book. I would have preferred if she had stuck with one storyline and followed that through, instead of going on so many side stories that we, as readers, are left feeling like we’ve been chewed up, spit out, and no real conclusion. Just too much for one book and I think that that is why I struggled with it so much.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager (Goodreads/Purchase): 5/5 Stars. This was the first book that I read in January that I would classify as a “thriller” and I loved every minute of it. Lock Every Door follows a young woman who has found herself in a bit of a tough life spot. That is until she stumbles upon an apartment sitting ad for an exclusive building. After a quick interview she lands the job, but not all is as it seems. Covering the span of just two weeks, the tension amps up quickly and doesn’t let go until the very last chapter. I read this book in basically one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what was going to happen next, and even though I predicted who the “bad” person was, I couldn’t predict how everything would unravel and just how tense things would get. Highly, highly recommend this one if you are looking for a quick, captivating, read.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (Goodreads/Purchase): 5/5 Stars. Dark Academia that is Shakespeare centered? Give me all of it!!!! Pulling a lot of inspiration from The Secret History, If We Were Villains follows a group of Shakespearean Actors at a prestigious college of the arts as they navigate their final year of school. As you would expect, things don’t quite go to plan, and one student ends up in jail. I have to say, this book did it all for me. I loved the Shakespeare references (of which there are too many to even begin), I loved the theatrical element, the school in the woods dark setting, and the twist towards the end. The level of drama was also incredible. I would say that if The Secret History daunts you, or if it you felt like it was too wordy, too long, but otherwise you like it (or the idea of it), then this will be a really good fit. It’s a much more palatable version of Dark Academia.

The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter (Goodreads/Purchase): 4.5/5 Stars. After reading Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter towards the end of last year, I’ve been anxious to pick up another of her books. I found this one by chance in our local library (where I also picked up Pretty Girls) and it sounded along the same vein as Pretty Girls in terms of pacing and storyline (although they are quite different). In the Kept Woman we follow a detective, Will, as he sets to solve a crime that he is way too connected to. As things start to get clearer in regard to the crime, they only seem to get “muddier” in his personal life. This book is excellently paced, and the characters have a depth to them that makes you feel like they are really standing in front of you. I enjoyed seeing the growth the characters showed, even if it seemed a little…forced at times (or easy at other times) and found that the author conveyed their personalities all too well. This wasn’t quite a 5-star read for me, but it is really up there and after reading, I actually found out that this book is part of a larger detective series (although it is not necessary to read previous or subsequent novels). I don’t think I’ll read any of the previous books, but I may end up picking up the next one in the series just to see.

The Husband Hunters by Anne de Courcy (Goodreads/Purchase): NR (No rating- I do not rate Nonfiction books). This was a random “I really want an audiobook to listen to” pick and I’m not mad about that. A nonfiction selection, this book details the lives of several young ladies (and their moms/families) in the late 19th/early 20th century who would travel to Europe to find husbands in the aristocracy. I don’t have too much to say about this, as it’s pretty straight forward, but I did really actually enjoy it. The author did a great job at giving the insight into WHY each of these girls found husbands in another country, background on the both the woman and man and their respective families, AND a little look at what happened after they got married. Some of the stories are wild and full of drama, others are fairly tame, but all were interesting.

And finally, I figured I would end this post (and future ones) with what I am currently reading. I am currently reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer. I’ve only just started this, so I don’t have any thoughts quite yet, but I hope to enjoy this one. I think no matter what your ideals are, it’s good to see other aspects and points of view. It’s all about continuing to educate yourself and grow.

 

And now, that’s a wrap on all the books I’ve read in January! A couple questions…Did you enjoy this post? Did any of these books pique your interest, and if so, which ones? What did you most enjoy reading in January? Let me know!