A Cuppa Cosy Reads – January 2023

New year, new books! I’m pumped for this new year of reading and to discover a whole slew of new books and authors that I’ll come to love. I’m not sure, I just feel like 2023 is going to be my reading year (not that the past few haven’t been, but I definitely slowed down a lot the second half of last year). And we are starting out with a good bang! I gave an average rating of 3.96 over 8 books. I didn’t expect it to go that well, but it’s a strong start to the year. 

So, let’s get into the books…

The Silent History by Eli Horowitz – 3 Stars I honestly had some real excitement about this book when I read the back in Half Price Books. An entire generation that can’t speak? Let’s talk about that! It sounded so intriguing, and it WAS, BUT I feel like I missed out on something by not reading it in its’ original medium (which was an app that would drop sections of the book- which is told entirely in like recorded interviews). I don’t know that it translated well to book format as it definitely drags on in spots. I enjoyed it and it’s an interesting idea, but again, think I missed out on part of the experience by reading it in book format. 

Legends & Latte’s by Travis Baldree – 4.5 Stars I loved this. I’m not even sure what it is specifically about this book, but it was just so…cozy. We are following an orc who has decided to get out of the game, retire as it were, from bounty/treasure hunting and start a slower calmer life opening a coffee shop in a small town. We follow her on this new quest of sorts and watch how she learns what life can truly be. Fantasy meets cozy meets the smallest hint of romance in a book that made me feel all the feels. 

Spare by Prince Harry – NR I mean is anyone surprised I picked this up? I pre ordered the minute I was able to and started reading it once it landed on my doorstep. I have to say, I feel like readers will get what they want out of this, whether they are pro or con. Reading the entire context of the book, rather than the sensational articles nit picking, paints a very definite picture. It is only one side of the story, and there is definitely more to the story, but Prince Harry is very frank in (most of at least) his…errors and he doesn’t really badmouth the Royal Family as a whole. I could write a whole blog post just about this situation, but for now I’ll say- I did enjoy reading this book. 

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas – 4 Stars I wasn’t going to pick this up- I’m not a massive fan of Nesta and after the initial trilogy ended (and that weird novella) I was good. I just didn’t care anymore. HOWEVER, after completing the second book in the Crescent City series, and hearing from a couple of friends that this book was worth it, I picked it up from the library. I will say…I enjoyed it. I don’t know if it’s beyond that, but I did like the conclusiveness at the end of the book. It felt very complete, more so than the original trilogy conclusion. 

Graceling (Graphic Novel) by Kristin Cashore, Adapted and Illustrated by Gareth Hinds 3 Stars I cannot tell you how many times I’ve picked up Graceling in my local library only to not actually read it and then return it. It’s been many. I’ve heard so many good things, but I just have never brought myself to actually read it. So, when I saw the graphic novel while volunteering, I figured why not. I’m glad I read the graphic novel over the book- I enjoyed the story well enough, but it is very much something I’ve read before and not something I’m interested in actually reading again at this time. 

Galatea by Madeline Miller – 4.5 Stars When I saw this, I had to get it. I love when Madeline Miller writes from a mom’s perspective. She just manages to truly encapsulate so many of those feelings so beautifully and this was no different. My only complaint was that it was so short- though I don’t know how it would have translated to a longer work. Truly enjoyed. 

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare – 3.75 Stars This is the third book in this trilogy (series maybe?), and I feel about the same as I did about the first two. I enjoyed this one, but I felt like it could have been edited down quite a bit. There was a lot of repetition as we hear/see things from different viewpoints. When it was good it was good, but when it was repetitive it dragged. 

The Savior’s Book café Story in Another World Vol. 2 by Kyouka Izumi – 5 Stars This is just one of my favorite manga’s – it’s just so quaint, and basically my dream life. I can’t wait to get to the next in the series. 

And that was it! A pretty good start this reading year and I am looking forward to seeing a couple of new releases over February, and the coming months. What did you read in January?

Best & Most Disappointing Books of 2022

Better late than never, right? Every year I compile a best and most disappointing books list for the previous year. I go through all of my stats and just give a quick…debrief as you will. And while I think the time might be close to passing to do this, life has just gotten away from me a bit. And to be honest, this is going to be a bit of a book heavy month on the blog…it’s what I’ve got going on over here right now haha. 

Also- I realize that I never wrapped up the books I read in December…I read 6 books and I honestly just don’t have it in me to go backwards and review them at this point. The standout reads were The Savior’s Book Café Story in Another World by Kyouka Izumi (manga), The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton ((Historical Mystery) and that’s really it. 

So, in 2022 I read a total of 31,032 pages across 85 books. I gave an average rating of 3.8 stars. My longest book of the year came in at 805 pages! I feel like I had several standouts for both good and…not good reasons. I will say- most of the books were average to good – even some great ones in there and this year it was actually hard to narrow down to the best books I read.  Let’s get into those…

Best Books of 2022

People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn – Be prepared to hear a lot about this one this month (as I’m doing a nonfiction edition of Jewish Literature), but I’ll scream this to the rooftops- read this book. Seriously. This single handedly changed the way I looked at several things, and a lot of it was relating to how I look at what we consume and Jew Hatred. Read it. Read it. Read it.

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes – Let me tell you, this science fiction novel took me by surprise. I enjoyed the suspense, the slow build up to the explosive ending, even if the ending felt a bit like an empty balloon (and I mean the end end, not the explosive ending). The atmosphere and that foreboding feeling was enough to make this a standout success for me. 

Neon Gods by Katee Robert – Boy did this book set me off on a course that I didn’t expect. Hades/Persephone retelling with a whole lot of smut thrown in…I guess I’m there. Now I will say, I do think that A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair is BETTER, but this one gets the props because it really set me off on the road. 

My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen – You’ll hear me talk about this one again next month I believe as it features in a Jewish Literature post, but I loved this young adult novel. It talks about so many different, but very real and very similar social issues that we deal with in a historical baking setting. A gender swapped retelling of Pygmalion (by Shaw) it’s a good time that had me shouting YES throughout. 

It wouldn’t be a best of list if there weren’t some Honorable Mentions…

You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen – I found this book, similar to My Fine Fellow, really tackled those social issues at a YA level incredibly well. As a reader you are really able to see the modern world, where internet and reality collide and how that impacts everyone, as well as different levels of hatred. 

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare – This was a surprise for me as I put down Cassandra Clare a long time ago and had zero interest of picking it back up. I read this on a whim and fell right back down the rabbit hole of her worlds. Looking forward to continuing on with all the series (minus the very first). 

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair – I mentioned this earlier, but I find this Hades/Persephone retelling to be just top notch. The entire series is a great coming of age story with a fantasy romance that just makes for fun reading. 

Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong – Another smash hit by Chloe Gong! I’m looking forward to just about anything she writes. 

Disappointing Books of 2022

Only two this year as, like I said, I feel like most of my stuff was average and above, so really only two notables stand out as disappointing.

The Hunting Wives by May Cobb – This was just…not great. It was supposed to be one of those fun mystery/thrillers with like bored housewives who start something, and it gets out of hand. And it is, but it’s horrible. The main character does not have any redeeming qualities, none of the side characters are developed in a way that maybe you could root or find enjoyment in them, and the story is…predictable and nothing great. 

Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang – This one wasn’t much better than the other. I was hoping for a good cozy mystery set in/around a bookstore, small town community (a la Ellery Adams) and it was just…not. The story was flimsy, the main character who was supposed to be a “detective” in the amateur sense, was horrible and she just went off the deep end so many times. The story was a bit too convenient in too many ways and it just wasn’t enjoyable. 

So, there you have it! My Best and Most Disappointing for 2022. What tops your list for the past year??? 

Jewish Literature 1st Edition

I haven’t quite come up with a clever title for this series, but I’m going to go with “editions”. I also have no idea what I really truly want this series to look like…or rather I know what I want it to look like, but I don’t know how the format will follow. I am probably making very little sense…here are my thoughts. 

Each post will be devoted to two books, that I will try to have correlate to each other in some way (whether that’s genre, content, whatever) and then I will deep dive/dissect each one individually as well as compare them. I’m going to try and be as balanced and impartial as I can be, but of course I do have my own background and history that seeps into all of this. I’m also going to try and span a wide variety of stories, so that hopefully this is balanced not only in review but also in content for you to then go and read. I’ll avoid spoilers in each post as much as possible, but if I can’t I’ll give a good warning. 

Another exciting thing- I am going to try and do a podcast episode with each book or each post that goes a little bit more in depth with the stories. That’s right, the podcast is coming back- Round the Kettle, and this will go hand in hand with it (but the podcast is not solely for this- more later). 

Honestly, my goal with this is twofold, I not only want to read more Jewish Literature and support more Jewish Authors (in the hopes of seeing more), but I also want to be able to give full, well-rounded recommendations. There is a lot of “Jewish Literature” out there (you can see my full post all about that HERE) and I feel like some of it is great and some of it can be…not as great in the “Jewish” side- with these first two books being great examples of that. 

So, I’ve waffled on long enough, let’s talk about the two books for this 1st Edition of Jewish Literature. 

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

Ok, I wanted to start with this one because a Hannukah Rom Com? It’s the dream for a lot of Jewish Women Readers- in a holiday world that is dominated with Christmas (which- don’t get me wrong, love a good Hallmark Christmas movie) it’s so nice to be represented in a book or a movie. Since we are heading right into the holiday season, I figured it would be doubly important to talk about now, 

The Matzah Ball is about Rachel, a Jewish girl from a prominent Jewish family that loves Christmas and spends her days writing Christmas romance novels…in secret. This year though, her publisher wants her to write a Hanukkah romance. The only problem, Rachel doesn’t feel the joy and magic of Hanukkah, at least not how she feels it with Christmas. Desperate for inspiration, she scores a ticket to what is being shared as the event of the year- The Matzah Ball- hosted by her mortal summer camp enemy. 

Now, you would think this would be a great story to read- a melding of a love for Christmas, a love for Judaism, a main character who is grappling with herself, and an “enemies to lovers” style romance. While I thought this book was ok in a book sense, I found it to be…lumbering and not great from a Jewish person sense. Give me a minute to push my sleeves up and gather my thoughts as I’ve been waiting to talk about this since I read it last year. 

Where to begin? I’ll start with just the representation of Judaism in the book. Rachel’s parents are a level of Orthodox with a well-known Rabbi for a father. The main conflict that we see our “heroine” go through is whether her parents will approve of her chosen career path or if they will see it as a betrayal of everything, they believe in. We, as readers, are given no insight in to why they might think that her writing of Christmas romances will be so horrific, and spoiler alert it is not. Because, spoiler alert, Jews don’t hate Christmas- at worst we have nothing to do with it, at best, those of us in interfaith relationships celebrate some level of it. Further, whenever something was, even slightly, Jewish, the author made a very obvious point of it. To the point, where even a non-Jewish person would feel ostracized reading the story. Little things felt big purely because they were being pointed out in a noticeable way. 

On a positive side, we do have two characters who are from different backgrounds, and we get to see both of their viewpoints. We have Rachel who was raised Orthodox Jewish, only attending Jewish schools, Jewish summer camps, seemingly only mildly aware of the “goyim” world around her and then Jacob, raised Jewish, but by and large stays in her Jewish community. We see her deal with a chronic illness and how that sends her in to the escapism that Christmas provides. 

On the other hand, we have Jacob, her mortal summer camp enemy who has had a drastically different upbringing. From a lesser practicing Jewish family, divorced parents to Catholic high school to finding his way through Judaism and always seeking that community. I found that I preferred Jacob’s point of view, I think probably, honestly, because it matched a lot of my own relationship with Judaism and I found him to be a bit more down to earth, a bit more levelheaded about Judaism, life, and our relationships between everything. It felt like for a lot of the story Rachel was a bit of a whiny brat, though dealing with a lot, and Jacob was a bit more…life experienced.

I talk about this because it’s important when it relates to how the Jewish people are portrayed in books and, to be honest, the two tropes presented in our characters, especially Rachel, are very common tropes applied to regular Jewish people in the real world. While I appreciate the growth that our characters experience and appreciate the full circle moments we get at the end, I just wish I left the book feeling…more of a celebration at this great Hanukkah romance. 

For the most part of the novel, Judaism is presented in a positive light, I’m not going to disagree with that, and Jean Meltzer does talk a lot about the various traditions and important bits. I’m not sure what I’d hoped for with this novel, but I think the fact that throughout the book she is “pitching” this book to be the Hanukkah Grinch…which I feel sums up a lot of my feelings in two words. 

I will more than likely read more books this author writes to see if this theme sticks, or if it changes as we go along. Jean is Jewish, went through rabbinical school, and did suffer with a chronic illness. This was her debut novel, so I’m trying to keep an open mind for future books. 

Overall- this is very much a book written for the Anglo Christian person who wants to read about a Hanukkah romance. There’s nothing wrong with that, however I do feel like there is the potential out there for better books and better characters. This book felt very much like it was trying to fit in with the Christmas Romances and maybe it is, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing…I just feel like there is better out there somewhere. I wish that the Yiddish and Jewish customs had been integrated a bit better, not as word/concept, then definition, word/concept, then definition, etc. If you are trying to “normalize” Jewish-ness, then normalize it, don’t make it obvious over every little difference.  But I think we’ll see that more in the next book…

An Unorthodox Match by Naomi Ragen

Like, The Matzah Ball, this is also a romance book. It’s not tied to any specific holiday, more of an everyday story, which is nice to have, and we are following different levels of observance. In An Unorthodox Match we follow Leah as she struggles to find a place for herself, a home, within the Orthodox community of Boro Park, Brooklyn. WE also follow Yaakov a recently widowed Orthodox Jewish man who is trying to find a way forward with his family after losing the only one for him. In this story we see how beautiful and transformative love, community, and personal strength can be. 

Now, when I pick up a modern Jewish story, this is what I envision it to be…honestly. I won’t make a secret of my love for this book, but I’ll get into the basics and the Jewish side specifics. 

First off, we get to see the process of…returning to the faith. Leah was not raised observing Judaism. It’s important to note that she IS Jewish, her mom was Jewish, though her mom ran away from the faith and her grandparents are Jewish. At the very beginning of the story, we get to learn just a little insight into the different options for Orthodox Jews (of which there are many). We get insights into Chabad, Modern Orthodox, Jewish life in Israel, and then for the rest of the book, the traditional Orthodox of Boro Park Brooklyn. It’s a good breakdown of how to return to the faith or explore a deeper connection with the faith, but in a truly beautiful way. The author regularly reminds the reader that this is her choice, and supplies Leah with characters who serve as “foils” to her maintaining this new life (both in her mom- who’s viewpoint we read from and who views Judaism as a cult- much like a lot of the regular world as well as in one of the children who she nannies for- who views her as not enough for their family). 

I think the true beauty of this book and its representation of an often not represented or harshly judged community of Jewish people, is in its normalcy and continuing to stress the choice each person makes to live this life. It’s truly special and beautiful. 

I think the other choice that this book makes and does well is just…normalizing everything. Unlike the Matzah Ball, we do not get word/concept, then definition, in this there is a glossary at the book that explains everything. By just having the words and concepts in the text it doesn’t make these ideas that may seem strange to those unfamiliar with Judaism so strange…it normalizes everything. I also think having Leah go up against two different foils. Two different forms of thought, the idea that she is joining a cult, and the idea that she is not worthy as she is a “convert” to Orthodoxy, is very telling. 

When you look at Orthodox Jews in the regular world (and I’m specifically referring to this specific community that is in the book- Judaism is wide and far reaching and no two Jews are alike in any way) the external fight is that they are “strange, close minded, closed lipped, tight community” and it is true to an extent. They close ranks around their own, they protect, and they are open but not open to outsiders. That is the way that it is, that is almost the way that it has been forced due to those who do not understand. I feel like this book is a fair representation of the community from someone who is not in the community (so I can’t fully speak to it, just as a fellow Jewish person who holds my faith and ethnicity close/high). The internal fight is always to keep the tradition, the faith alive and so yes, that does mean a high standard of traditions, of care, of ways of life. 

Where I think the Matzah Ball can fall flat in some ways, An Unorthodox Match really shines. It showcases the Jewish culture in such a positive light, while also being realistic about the choices that are made. It highlights struggles from within and out, and normalizes things like going all of Shabbat without electronics or only eating kosher foods, dressing modestly, etc. Little things that mean a great deal. 

So, that’s it! The first Edition of Jewish Literature. Let me know your thoughts and opinions- I’d love some feedback on how this works for you. I’ve got two nonfiction books lined up for the next edition that I’m really looking forward to sharing. 

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – November 2022

Happy end of November! Happy almost end of 2022! What a crazy thought to thing. I’ve been seeing a several memes circulating about how it’s about to be 2023, but we’re all still stuck in some way in December of 2019 and…well facts. Hard to believe it’s about to be 2023. 

November was a good reading month for me! A lot of can’t put down, stay up late books and that really, honestly, just makes a reading month for me. I did have a little reading break Thanksgiving Week with family and the boys off of school for much longer than anticipated (we got a massive snowstorm, which you would think would be great reading weather, but instead I just kept staring out the window in absolute wonder), but overall, a total of 8 books read and average 4.28 rating. 

So, let’s break that down…

The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones NR This is a screenplay horror that takes the final girl slasher and puts a bit of a spin on it. I really enjoyed this, and it was a good way to keep the Halloween horror vibes going just a bit longer. 

Lore Olympus: Volume 3 3.5 Stars I’m still enjoying these graphic novel interpretations of the Greek G-ds/Hades & Persephone myths, though I wouldn’t say they’re my favorite. I’ll keep on keeping on with them because boy are they beautiful and I’m still feeling this whole Greek Mythology retelling genre.

Anon Pls by DeuxMoi 3.5 Stars This was borderline bumped up to a 4 (and I did on Goodreads) because I just really enjoyed it. I really love pop culture in so many ways, and the DeuxMoi account on social media is really great to just get all the random tidbits about “famous” people. While the author does a really great job at adjusting and making clear this is fiction (though based on real life events), it does give some insight in to the behind the scenes of an industry that prides itself on looks/appearances/smoke & mirrors. 

Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong 4 Stars Chloe Gong does it once again. This is a separate duology set after the These Violent Delights duology, following one of our characters. I loved this one, even if it took me a good chunk of pages to get into it. 

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng 5 Stars This book was a start and stop for me, mostly because it terrified me. This book could be so close to our reality in so many ways that it almost made it unreadable (for me). Celeste Ng just has a way with writing and storytelling, and I always end up crying throughout her books. 

A Light in the Flame by Jennifer L Armentrout 4 Stars This is the second book in the Flesh & Fire Series (that takes place prior to the Blood & Ash series) and once again, these books do exactly what I need them to do. The world building and character development is a bit better in this series than Blood & Ash- it feels like maybe now she’s a bit more comfortable in the world or maybe she’s figured out the rhythm to these characters. Regardless, romance with slight fantasy plot and I’m good. 

My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen 5 Stars I read this for my Jewish Literature project, so I’m not going to talk about it too much, but I loved it. I was hesitant to pick it up, but it was well worth it. Of note, it’s shocking the things that the characters experienced in the 1800’s are things we experience today. Just some food for thought before my post.  

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin 5 Stars – Boy this one punches you in the GUT and I enjoyed it. We are following a podcast host while she is working on a current events podcast, so not only are you getting the narrative, but you also get the podcast. Highly recommend, however this does come with some content and trigger warnings so please check those out before reading.

And that wraps up my November in books! Not bad, not bad at all! Looking forward to that last month of holiday reading!

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – October 2022

We have reached the end of another month, one that seems like a blur…at least to me. I’ve felt all the emotions and read a wide variety of books. I wish I had a lot of insight to add to this introductory paragraph, but to be honest, I’d like to just put October to bed- literally. I’m done with that month- nothing super bad, but when life is just…a lot I want to be done with that time. So, let’s just get into the books that I read. 

Lore Olympus Vol 1 by Rachel Smythe 4 Stars – Look- I’ve been on a Hades/Persephone, modern era Greek myth retelling, and this fit that mold perfectly. A graphic novel/comic style story, it’s a great quick read. 

The True Love Bookshop by Annie Rains 3 Stars – This was fine. I feel like every once in a while, it’s nice to just read a hallmark esque style story and that’s basically what this was. 

The It Girl by Ruth Ware 4.5 Stars – I think this was probably one of my top reads of the month. I really enjoyed this slow unfolding story, with a shocking culmination that did get me. I was very one the fence about picking up another Ruth Ware, but this one was just different enough and she does a great job at leading and misleading the reader throughout the story.

A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout 3.5 Stars – I was really craving some more books along the fantasy romance genre- something I notice I gravitate towards when things are rough in the real world, so I dived back in to Armentrout’s world. This is the prequel to the Blood and Ash series and while it took me a bit to get into the story, once I did, I was in. The only detriment, realistically, for me is that we go through the same thing as the other series- where I want to shake the main characters. 

A Touch of Malice by Scarlett St. Clair 4 Stars – This is the third book in this series and all I could think of was FINALLY (which is something even the author acknowledges). The second book had a lot of moments of self-doubt, whereas this third book is a lot more plot and action. I feel like this might be my favorite, depending on how the next book goes. 

Silver by Chris Wooding 3.5 Stars – This was a book that I just picked up off the shelf at the library. It’s a YA Thriller about a virus outbreak at a boarding school. I’m not going to give too many details, but I found it to be quite the ride- even for YA readers. It was well done, though the ending left me a little…downtrodden. He created such tension and such fear, but there wasn’t any like final to the final fight. 

Lore Olympus Vol 2 by Rachel Smythe 4 Stars – This is the second volume of the same series and, once again, I really enjoyed it. I can’t say that this is one of my favorites, but I am enjoying reading this series. 

You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood by Eric LaRocca My final read of the month, and it was Halloween weekend and I wanted something disturbing. This definitely filled that spot; however, I don’t know if it filled it in a satisfactory way. I feel like this book maybe tried to do too much in too short of a time frame or if it was just supposed to feel disjointed and not fully formed. If that was the case, it definitely did that, but I feel like a lot of attention was given to the book inside the book and that book was interesting, and then the rest just…wasn’t much? I don’t know- but it was definitely disturbing.

And that’s it for October! It was actually a good reading month- I did overall love everything that I read

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – September 2022

Oh man- that September slump was real! I didn’t really want to read, I didn’t really want to write, I didn’t really want to do much of anything! To be fair- it was my first month with both kids away at school, and I managed to fill my days quite quickly! I’ve undertaken several different things and between those, the non-desire to really read, and life- I didn’t read near as much as I normally would. I’m hoping that things calm down a bit as I really missed reading and I think it affected my mood from time to time.   

Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare 4 Stars I started by dipping my toes back in to Cassandra Clare and ended up falling face first all the way. I’m now anxiously awaiting the next in this (I think) trilogy!

The Minders by John Marrs 5 Stars Another John Marrs for the win over here- this book builds off of both The One and The Passengers and I LOVE how interconnected they all are. It’s not necessary to read them in any sort of order, but I would start with The One, then The Passengers, and finally The Minders. It’s wonderful to see him connect so many threads and I cannot wait to read another of his!

By The Book by Jasmine Guillory 3 Stars Hmmm…I enjoyed this- it was a good beauty and the beast retelling, but I don’t know if I would say it was amazing. I enjoyed my time reading it, felt satisfied in the end, and moved on. 

Ink and Shadows by Ellery Adams 4 Stars Yet again, a cozy Ellery Adams to grace my eyes and brain. Continuing to love this series and a lot of what Ellery is putting out. It’s a perfect balance of believable reader, mystery, romance, and small-town politics/comedy. 

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare 3.5 Stars I may have stumbled ever so slightly in my Cassandra Clare read- I wasn’t as big a fan of this one as I was in the past. She got me on that last page though- oh did she get me good. I think my biggest issue was just timing and location- reading this so soon after a Victorian England setting, this is modern California, just threw me off. 

Accomplished by Amanda Owain 3 Stars I’ll be honest- I know this book, I know I enjoyed this book, but I’m struggling to remember this book fully. It’s a modern Darcy’s sister viewpoint (set when Darcy is still just meeting Jane if you’re tracking the viewpoints during the Pride and Prejudice story), but more than that? I would say it’s well done- it translated well into a new viewpoint, while still giving you enough of the established Pride & Prejudice characters, but its, obviously, not super memorable either. 

And that was it! Not too much to really share. I’m hoping that my October goes better, but we’re looking iffy at this point in time…

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – August 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – July 2022

I feel like I say this every month now, but I can’t believe another month has come to an end. And this month I really just felt like got away from me in so many ways- that balance of life really took a tumble. With that life balance tumble, my reading was rocky. I read quite a few books, 10, BUT I either felt ambivalent or angry about them. It was a rough month- even looking back now and calculating the average rating of 3.25. I did DNF (did not finish) two books that I got enough of the way in that I’ll be including later in the post. Here’s to hoping that August goes better across the board!

Let’s just get in to the nitty/gritty of it all, shall we?

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen 3 Stars This was fine. It’s very reminiscent of Practical Magic (if you liked that you’ll like this), but calmer in so many ways. It’s a feel-good story that was nice and calming to read but didn’t extend beyond that. 

Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin 4 Stars Maybe? I’m still not sure I know entirely how I feel about this book, but man did it pull at a string in my mama heart. So much so, that I want to warn other mamas on reading this- it will tug your emotions and make you think things and question decisions. 

The Body in the Garden by Katherine Schellman 4 Stars Hello cozy mystery from the Victorian Era. A very low stakes (think Ellery Adams) fun mystery that our heroine suddenly finds herself embroiled in. I really enjoyed this one (and the second one that’s up next). It really is Ellery Adams, but Victorian. 

Silence in the Library by Katherine Schellman 4 Stars The second in this mystery series that I’ll definitely be continuing on found our heroine embroiled in another mystery, but the kind that helps her grow in herself and helps her find some suitors of a romantic nature. 

The Hunting Wives by May Cobb 2 Stars My biggest disappointment yet. I had high hopes after hearing such good things, but it not only fell flat for me, but the main character POV was obnoxious. Couldn’t stand any of this book and was actually quite glad it was over. It gets a second star for the fact that I didn’t entirely see the mystery ending the way it did until it was happening. 

Half A Soul by Olivia Atwater 3 Stars I was on the fence about this book, actually put it down and then picked it back up throughout the month, but I’ve settled on it being a “fine” book. The thing this has going for it is that it represents fae in their true sense, but there’s only a fraction of it in this entire book, so don’t let that be a reason for you to pick it up.

We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets, translated by Emma Rault 4 Stars I have to say, this is probably one of the best reads of my month. This gave me a lot to think about, a lot to consider in both my own personal social media and others. There’s a larger discussion to be had around this book and I look forward to being able to have it with others who have read it. 

Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang 2 Stars Another disappointment to really end the month with. To be bluntly honest, I found this to be the most unbelievable of cozy mysteries. It just…. none of it worked (in as much as our main characters doing as much as she was) and I found the main character POV to be…well just dumb. This book had me questioning my cozy small town mystery book shop vibe genre I had going on. 

I DNF’d:

Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard – On its face this book probably had everything to be a fantastic found family, chosen one, save the world trope duology, BUT I just couldn’t get into it. I didn’t care about any of it, except a side character or two, which were not present nearly enough to keep me going with it. 

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix Another one where the main character POV just really ruined the entire book for me. I could have probably continued on and enjoyed it, but I couldn’t get past the viewpoint that we were reading from. 

And that’s it! A lot to talk about, but also not a lot haha. I will say, with as lackluster as some of the month turned out to be in reading, I’ve been very grateful to utilize my library as much as I have been! Did you have a good reading month in July? Or was it lackluster?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – June 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – May 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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