A Cuppa Cosy Reads – November 2020

Ah, November. I feel like I’ve been spending the past couple wrap ups saying, “Oh, I didn’t read as much as I hoped”, but in this case, maybe it’s true? I right these wrap ups throughout the month, noting my thoughts as I finish a book and in November I went a whole week without reading a thing. This is unheard of for the year 2020. So, while it may seem like I read a lot in November, quite a bit of it is along the comic/graphic novel side of things, rather than proper novels. I did find my stride once again close to Thanksgiving with a book that I’ll cover and that helped get me back on track with reading every day again. So, I ended up reading a total of 9 books and giving an average rating of 4 Stars. This month I did have a DNF book, which I don’t normally talk about, but I will touch on it towards the end of the post. 

The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson (PURCHASE) 4 Stars : I found this to be my least favorite of the books I’ve read of Sanderson’s, but still enjoyed it. This is a concluding novel to the Wax & Wayne trilogy, but also the last book in the Mistborn era of the Cosmere that is out so far. I enjoyed being back in the banter (even if it wasn’t as present) and enjoyed the expansion of the world we know and love, but found it to be a bit…lacking when compared to the others. (For what it’s worth- I LOVED Shadows of Self, it was my favorite)

Happily Ever After by Debbie Tung (PURCHASE) 5 Stars: Once again, Debbie Tung has managed to capture real life, with all its quirks and nuances, in such perfect bite sized comics. This is my third, and I will basically buy anything she comes out with at this point. 

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout 2 Stars: Objectively this was not the best by any stretch of the imagination. This is a fantasy romance (so there are some…explicit scenes), but I found it to be familiar, predictable and not convinced of the characters or story. I enjoyed it and will probably read the second at some point, but recognize that this just isn’t great. 

Anxious People by Frederik Backman (PURCHASE) 4 Stars I’ve got to say- this was way different from any Backman book I had ever read before (and very different from quite a few of the books that I’ve read this year), but I still really liked it and would stand by it. In Anxious People we are following a group of people who are put into an almost surreal situation of being taken hostage by a bank robber. But are they? Did it actually happen? And where is the bank robber? In a story that touches on humanity, real life, and what happens when we allow ourselves to take things at what they are, this will have you laughing, crying, and shaking your head in agreement the entire way through. I think my only downfall is that, since this book is so steeped in reality, and what life really is, it can be a bit melancholic at times. I found that there were so many lines that just screamed YES, but were also a bit “why though, why is it like this?”. So read it, but be prepared. 

Hyperbole & A Half by Alie Brosh (PURCHASE) NR This is a book told both in prose and comic detailing a variety of life’s problems. Alie has a comedic, but realistic way of detailing what she faces in her life, how she deals with depression, with everyday moments of her dogs. I found the approach of mixing prose with comic strips to be well done, as well as a nice way of illustrating exactly what she was saying. 

Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman (PURCHASE) NR This continues to be the sweetest just heartwarming graphic novel. I’m not going to get too much into the Plot, but the growth that we continue to see in these characters is something that I think is unique to Alice Oseman. I find that she just handles these “coming of age in the digital age” style stories so well AND the concept of finding yourself and learning about who YOU are outside of societies expectations. Just…so good. 

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (PURCHASE) 5 Stars Alright, the main event, the one that changed everything. You’ll notice that before this it was basically a string of comic or graphic novel books for most of the month, but this is where things changed. In City of Brass, we are following Nahri an orphaned girl living on the streets in Cairo peddling remedies for any illness. She’s a con artist of sorts- working “with” the local apothecary, but little known to anyone else, she does have a magical ability for healing. During a ritual for a local family, she summons a “djinn” and her entire world changes. Thrust into a role she didn’t expect, with a history she never knew, and a political landscape that is truly terrifying in some ways. This book is incredible. Steeped in middle eastern folklore, with a middle eastern setting, this historical fantasy (that’s what I’m categorizing it as) has all the depth of a Sanderson novel, but without all of the buildup and information dumps. I had no clues as to where the story was going as the moment I thought I knew; things would shift in a radical way. This book lived up to the hype and after reading it in 3 days, I finished it immediately needing the second (which I actually ordered when I was about 200 pages into this). 

Heartstopper Volume 3 by Alice Oseman (PURCHASE) NR This begins the…rest of my month where I switch between the City of Brass trilogy and the easier reads of Alice Oseman. Heartstopper Volume 3 continues the story of Nick & Charlie as they travel abroad, learn more about each other (such as Charlie’s mental health) and learn about what “being out” means. Once again, just another heartwarming graphic novel. 

Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty (PURCHASE) 5 Stars I mean…I just don’t even know what to say. This was incredible. This second book ups the ante of the world, the characters, and the very tether of humanity. Once again fast paced, realistic, and deeply flawed characters and story. I love this series and it is quickly ending up on my favorite of the year (maybe of all time?) list. It has taken me by storm and I’ve really been swept away. 

Solitaire by Alice Oseman (PURCHASE) 4 Stars Ok, so this is a bit of a cheat. I’m technically about 75 pages from the end when I’m writing this (Tues 12/1), BUT I’m going to be finishing it momentarily, so I’m including it. In Solitaire (Alice Oseman’s debut novel) we are following Tori Spring, a teen who likes to blog and is introverted to the extreme. I’ll be honest, I like this book for what it does. It paints a great picture of what reality is like in this new technology age and it gives a great insight into mental health. BUT with that also comes a real reading experience. Tori is dealing with some mental health issues and is incredibly pessimistic, which is painted so realistically that, while reading, can extend to the reader. Just something to note before reading. I had to read it in chunks to not fall into my own funk. 

I did “DNF” (Did Not Finish) a book, The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter by Theodora Goss. I think (I hope) that this is just a case of reading at the wrong time and am planning on trying to read it next year possibly. It’s a “who dun it” style mystery involving characters descended from famous literary scientists and features Sherlock and Watson. All good things, but I must have just picked it up at the wrong time. 

And that was my November! What did you read this month? Any new favorites?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – October 2020

The spooky month has come to an end! I tried to focus solely on spooky/creepy/thrilling reads for this month, BUT towards the end of the month I HAD to switch things up a little bit. Overall, I would say after a meh start to the month, I ended really strong. My overall stats this month were good (better than I expected) with a total of 11 books read and 3.66 average rating. We are starting to approach the end of the year I am looking at wrapping up series, and some 2020 releases over the next couple months. BUT we are getting massively ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about what I read in October. 

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars: I am not entirely sure how to talk about this book? In this short novel we are following a couple while they are on a road trip to “meet the parents”. The night quickly unravels as they make a last-minute stop that changes everything. This is easily one of the most unnerving books I’ve read of recent. I’ve been reaching for books that are just weird, that I can’t explain, that are just…out there and this is no different. It isn’t inherently terrifying, but rather an unnerving thriller where you are more scared by the lack of…anything than anything else. 

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (PURCHASE) 4 Stars: I LOVED this one. What a twisty turny ride of a story. Here we follow what you would consider the All-American Family- husband, wife, son, daughter, living in a gated suburban community. He is a tennis coach, she a real estate broker. BUT who are they really? What secrets do they hide? This story will have you questioning if what you see if real and who really pulls the strings. I really enjoyed this one. While I did sort of know what was coming down (who/what/why), I did like watching it all unfold in the deliciously dramatic way it did. 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (PURCHASE) 3 Stars: Ah, may be a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I found this to be OK. Maybe it’s because I prefer haunted house stories in a visual way OR because this was just a staple of its time, but either way it was just OK. This is what you would consider a “typical Haunted House” story, with a paranormal investigator and three others set up to spend a stretch of time in one of the most active haunted houses. The house itself is strange, but the people seem primed to make things happen around them. Will they make it out alive? Like I’ve already said, a solid but average read. 

Verity by Colleen Hoover (PURCHASE – but don’t) 2 Stars: This book was one giant nope from me. In Verity we are following a young, practically unheard-of writer, who gets hired to continue a famous series of books after the original author becomes unable to complete them. She goes to stay in said writers’ home and starts to realize that maybe all isn’t as it seems. Look, I’m all for pushing the reader, pushing the boundaries, but this was just…not it. I spent the entire reading experience shaking my head, screaming at characters (of which none were likable), and just wondering why I was still reading. Finished it in 24 hours somehow and am now getting rid of it.

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole (Purchase) 4 Stars: I loved this book. It not only tackles very real problems in our very real world, but gives the reader a way to maybe see something that they wouldn’t normally see through various characters eyes (literally a wide array of people could probably empathize with at least one of the many characters in this story). In this story we are following two characters battling with the changing look to their neighborhood. It seems that the expansion project may not be as…beneficial as organizers think it is and there may just be a sinister element to this “rejuvenation” of the neighborhood. Look, this one is a good read to get a grasp on certain topics that very much exist and apply to our world without necessarily reading a nonfiction book. The only reason I docked a star was for the pacing, which was a bit off throughout the story. 

Heartstopper Volume 1 (PURCHASE) 3 Stars: This was just a heartwarming graphic novel. In Heartstopper we follow Nick and Charlie as they work to find themselves, find friendship, and tackle “high school”. This is just a sweet story and was a nice way to break up the creepy reads that have basically been my October. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama (PURCHASE) NR A book that I think just about everyone has heard about, but tells the story of Michelle’s life. I listened to the audio book (which I think is the way to go with most memoirs) and found the experience and stories she shares to be moving and informative. There are so many take lessons that you can take from the life that she has already lived, and it was a good listen.

The Hunger by Alma Katsu (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars. This was the book that made me realize…maybe it was time to stop reading all the creepy reads. In The Hunger we are following along the disaster ridden Donner Party as they make their trek west. What really happened? Was there something more to the story? This is a story that creeps up on you, similar to what is happening to our characters in the story. It is creepy in a way that maybe you don’t recognize at the beginning (until you start having nightmares that mirror the story). 

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (PURCHASE) 5 Stars Man, I didn’t go into this book expecting a 5-star read, but boy did I get one. In Radio Silence we are following a teen who thought she had her life figured out…until she didn’t. A modern coming of age story that deals with technology, current themes, and much more this is well worth picking up. I ended the book crying the tears that can only come after you spend a whole book rooting for a group of characters to succeed. I think Radio Silence is a good read for both teenagers and adults (for a multitude of reasons), so HIGHLY recommend. 

Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand (PURCHASE) NR I think we all know what this book is, but if you don’t this is basically the Meghan and Harry (Duke & Duchess of Sussex) story. The story of their relationship, life, and subsequent step down from The Royal Family. A fun fact about me, but I love the British Royal Family and have been for quite a long time (from a history perspective too, not just in the modern sense). Without getting into too much detail about all of that, this book was OK. It’s basically written in a series of long form blog posts discussing and refuting each aspect of their lives from the beginning of their relationship to their stepping down. I wouldn’t say that there was a lot of information or insight gleamed with the reading of this book, rather than a feeling of vindication on behalf of the authors in getting to tell “the other side”.  They obviously spoke to close friends and sources; however, a lot of information has since been refuted by Meghan and Harry (in their ongoing legal case against tabloids) so take it with a grain of salt. 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (PURCHASE) 5 Stars I just don’t think it gets any better than classic Agatha Christie mysteries. In this one we are following a group of 10 guests as they are invited to a mysterious island, where shortly after arrival they start to be murdered. I don’t have much to say about this one, other than it’s great. A classic who done it, that really makes you feel just as lost as the island’s inhabitants. This was a book that truly proved the adage of Agatha being the queen of crime. 

And that was it! All the books I read in the month of October, whew. What did you read in the past month? Any catch your attention?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – September 2020

September has come to an end and that means it is time to talk about the books that I managed to read throughout the month. I won’t lie, I struggled a bit reading in September. I felt like I only read a couple of books that I really enjoyed and everything else was a bit…average. That then leads to not wanting to read as much, which then just leads to a general “meh” feeling in general. However, it did pick up a bit and I did have a few books that I loved, and, now looking back, I did end up reading quite a bit. I read a total of 9 books (8 physical, 1 audio) and gave an average rating of 3.6. 

Let’s talk through them, shall we?

Sex & Vanity by Kevin Kwan 3 Stars (Purchase) This was a bit of a surprising disappointment for me. In Sex & Vanity we are following our young protagonist in a coming of age novel. What I loved about this novel (and what I think Kevin Kwan does best) is the witty commentary and banter that is written into the story. His writing will keep you going when you aren’t jiving with the story. What I didn’t jive with was the timeline (maybe there was a better way to do this?), and some of the self-denial (which upon reflection, we are supposed to get frustrated as our character is dealing with a lot of self-growth). 

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas 3 Stars (Purchase) A book that I don’t even know how to begin to talk about. Catherin House is one of those books that you need to read and experience rather than hear reviews on. It’s strange, it’s unnerving, it’s…interesting. I heard a comparison to Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and while I see that, this isn’t as…good as that?

The Allow of Law by Brandon Sanderson 4 Stars (Purchase) This is the first book in the Wax and Wayne spinoff series in the Cosmere of Brandon Sanderson. This trilogy takes place quite a while after the Mistborn trilogy, but the nice thing is that you already have an understanding of the world. There are minor extensions to the world and to what we understand, but the vast majority of the book is devoted to the current situation, rather than building the entire world from scratch. 

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner 3 Stars (Purchase) This is a historical fiction novel about a group of people trying to save and restore the legacy and home of Jane Austen. At its core it’s a story about the impact Jane Austen (and literature) can have and how people can come together through a story. However, it also deals with grief, loss, love, resilience, and how to stand for yourself. Overall, I found the book to be OK, a bit average, with beautifully written moments. 

Mobituaries by Mo Rocca NR (Purchase) How to even describe this book. Mobituaries are Obituaries that Mo Rocca writes for people/things/places/events that he feels didn’t get the homage they deserve. This started as a podcast (that I want to continue to listen to) and has turned into a book. I listened on audio (Mo Rocca narrates it himself) and found myself not only learning new things, but laughing at moments at the different quips. 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah NR (Purchase) I really enjoy Trevor Noah and his commentary on current events. I feel like no matter which party side you fall into; he will speak right to you. He has such a unique insight and perspective on life, given his childhood (being born under apartheid as a mixed child will teach you some major things from a young age) and I found myself gaining even more insight. This is one of those books that will educate you in more ways than you think, and I highly, highly recommend it. 

Majesty by Katherine McGee 3.5 Stars (Purchase) Alright, next I read the sequel to American Royals, which I found to be slightly above average. We follow up closely after the end of the first book and our characters experience some harsh truths and new challenges as their roles begin to change. I enjoyed the character development (as there was a lot) and I enjoyed seeing the arcs of the story, HOWEVER my big discrepancy was that the “end” (as this was supposed to be a duology) seemed more of a beginning than an end. At the same time though, the book isn’t necessarily strong enough to be a solid second book in a trilogy (as I understand the author would like to write a third book). 

The City We Became by N.K. Jemison 4 Stars (Purchase) Where do I begin? I’m not going to really try to summarize this book for two reasons 1) I can’t and 2) the best thing about N.K. Jemison’s’ books are letting her lead you into the story. Letting her reveal exactly what she wants to as she wants, and you just being lost until the story envelops you. This was an ambitious, weird take (I think even more so than The Broken Earth Trilogy- which I enjoyed), but it was masterfully done, and I really enjoyed this first book. 

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson 5 Stars (Purchase): I had a couple of days before the end of the month, so I decided to pick up the second book in Sanderson’s Wax & Wayne trilogy and I found what is, so far, my favorite Sanderson book. I finished this in three days and just knew, when I put it down late at night that I had just read a favorite. This had everything, it tied the first trilogy to this side story perfectly, had a mystery that unraveled in the perfect pace, ended on a note that I won’t quite get over for some time. Now, last time this happened, I had to pick up the next book immediately, but I am not…I’m going to try and draw it out for a while. 

I’m looking forward to switching things up a bit in October and trying out some spookier reads to get in the spooky season. I’ve got a rather ambitious stack, but I’m hopeful I can get through them. 

Round the Kettle Ep. 27: CAtching Up

Hey! Hello! Long time no chat! 2020 has been a year (as we all can attest to at this point) and I’ve been shifting things around throughout all aspects of life. However, that means this little catch up post I like to do twice a month has kind of “check in”, how are things style, has slipped from my radar. And maybe that was wrong, because I think right now is when we need this type of thing the most. However, that is all changing now and I am back to doing these chatty posts twice a month. I’ve changed my posting schedule ever so slightly, only posting once a week on Wednesdays in the hopes that that will be a bit better all around.

So, how are you? How are you really?

I’m OK. In the grand scheme of things, things are good. Colton is in school (in person, with masks and mask breaks) and loving it, Andrew and I have a good little one on one time while he is at school, doing school or walking or independent play, I’ve been reading, and we’ve been traveling. Things seem, in a way, back to normal. However, there are also moments of melancholy, moments of burn out, moments where it just feels like an endless cycle of “run on empty”. I’m trying to focus on making the most out of these last months of 2020, even when it seems like sometimes everything is falling down around us. 

Let’s be honest, things are a bit of a mess right now. 2020 has been quite the year and I’m sure there is more to come. I can only encourage you to look ahead, to look above, to try and find the bright little moments, and to make sure, above all else, that you are taking care of yourself in whatever way that looks like for you. I think 2020 has shown us the power, and resiliency, of human beings. We’ve been tested in so many ways and it’s been a real show to see how we react, respond, and handle everything going on in the world. 

So, what have I been up to? Apart from traveling (safely following our strict regulations), I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading, a lot of walking, and have even watched some new shows and films! We recently watched Wild Wild Country on Netflix, which was insane, but good to watch. We also finished our re watch (start to finish) of Big Bang Theory on Netflix and started Brooklyn Nine Nine as our next comedy. I watched the Enola Holmes film with a close friend and loved every minute of it. I also, much like everyone else, watched Selling Sunset (and peaked at Carole Baskin on Dancing With The Stars- oof). In terms of reading, a few stand out favorite books from the past month or two have been Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (I just finished this- might be my favorite Sanderson yet), Born A Crime by Trevor Noah, and The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. 

What have you been up to???

Finally, I have a bit of a hairbrained idea that I’m thinking about…

When I am doing research for blog posts, I often times have “extra” information that doesn’t make the cut for the post (for many different reasons). I also gleam tidbits of information with podcasts, internet, and reading. All of this random information I get just chills in my brain waiting for a moment that I can share it. I was kind of thinking about doing a post maybe the last Friday of the month with just a list of bullet points of the random tidbits that I find interesting that I’ve learned throughout the month. Would this be something you would be interested in? Let me know because this are things that I would like to share, but don’t know if you would be interested in reading…

And that is all for this Sunday Afternoon. I hope that you are holding your head up (at least somewhat) and doing alright. 

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – August 2020

August has ended and with it, Summer has gone (that’s a whole separate post though). August has always seemed to be a hit or miss reading month. Much like July, we usually have some family thing going on, then school prep (this year at least), and just an overall sense of those “lazy summer days”. I usually blow all of my reading plans out of the water, or fall somewhere in the low end of reading. This year I seemed to blow all my reading plans out of the water. I read a total of 11 books (10 physical, 1 audio), and gave an average rating of 3.8. What a good reading month! 

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley (PURCHASE) 3.5/5 Stars: If you are looking for a classic Agatha Christie “Whodunnit” style mystery with quite a bit of atmosphere and a fast pace, read in a day writing style, then Lucy Foley is a good place to look. In The Hunting Party we follow a group of friends as they ring in the New Year in a resort in an isolated part of the Scottish Highlands. 7 friends check in, but only 6 check out. Overall, I very much enjoyed this mystery, the atmosphere was fantastic, the book kept your attention from start to finish and was very fast paced. My only real problem with this book is there is a bit of a side mystery that comes into the storyline towards the end that was unnecessary. 

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (PURCHASE) 4/5 Stars: I think Madeline Miller is going to become a new auto read author because man…can she write. The Song of Achilles is from the Greek Mythology of Achilles and Patroclus. Similar to Circe, you don’t need to know anything about Greek Mythology to enjoy this book and the beautiful story. I smiled, cried, got angry, and just experienced all the feelings that this book brought on. This is just a “young adult” (but not entirely) Greek tragedy we didn’t know we needed. 

Celebrations by Maya Angelou (PURCHASE) NR: This is a collection of Maya Angelou’s poetry that is placed in sections for different “intentions”. I read a section each morning as I started my day and I found it to be such a beautiful way to start the day. 

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (PURCHASE) 4/5 Stars: Ah, a royal fan novel, this was the perfect lighthearted story that I needed after the tragedy of Achilles, and the chill of The Hunting Party. In The Royal We we follow Rebecca Porter as she heads to England for what will turn out to be a life changing adventure. Loosely following William and Kate’s love story, this was a fun read that quickly wrapped me up in our characters emotions and stories. It’s not the next piece of incredible literature, but it was fun. 

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (PURCHASE) 4/5 Stars: I honestly just adore everything that Chimamanda writes. This is a collection of short stories and every single one held something special in it. Honestly, I just love her writing, I love how she handles important topics, and the way that things are presented in her stories. I am looking forward to reading more of her work. 

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City) by Sarah J. Maas (PURCHASE) 3.5-4/5 Stars: Ah, Sarah J Maas…you either love her books or you love to hate her books, and this is most definitely the case for her most recent release. In House of Earth and Blood we are following two unlikely hero’s (and a third just as important characters) who are trying to solve a mystery. I’m not going to give you much more than that because honestly, there isn’t much more to give that wouldn’t ruin the reading experience. I think it’s important to have your expectations set at, what I refer to as, “SJM expectations”: you aren’t going to get anything amazing, but a fun…ride. And that’s exactly what this book was, a fun ride.  

The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (PURCHASE) 3/5 Stars: This was the sequel to The Royal We, and while I gave it a 3-star rating, I don’t know that it needed to really exist…? In this second book we pick up directly following the first and watch as our characters battle new issues in just about every sense. While I enjoyed seeing our characters again and I do like that they talked about certain topics that are incredibly important (mental health and infertility), it just didn’t have the same feel as the first book. So, if you felt like The Royal We filled your royal need, then you don’t need to read this one. 

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall (PURCHASE) NR: This is a collection of essays that talks about various issues plaguing our world today and how they relate to feminism. It calls out feminism as a whole and shows how a multitude of problems that exist (gun violence, hunger, poverty, education) relate directly to feminism and the fight for equality. This was a good, interesting read that contained some good nuggets. I found that the essays had me thinking about some issues and correlations that I hadn’t necessarily seen and had me nodding along at others. 

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (PURCHASE) 4/5: One of my closest friends picked up a first translated edition of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s first published book (EVER) and I about died. I immediately picked it up and read it in two days. Carlos Ruiz Zafon is my favorite author and this book was special. This is a middle grade novel set in Spain leading up to World War 2. A family moves from the city to the beach and sets events into motion that will change their lives. Even though this is intended for younger audiences, I still didn’t see the twist coming (although that could have been because I was just loving the writing and storytelling) and the overall story was just charming to any age. 

Stalling For Time by Gary Noesner (PURCHASE) NR: This is an FBI Negotiator’s memoir of his time in the FBI. Gary Noesner was part of the introduction of negotiating as an active choice in crisis situations. He was part of the Ruby Ridge incident, the Waco disaster, and the DC Sniper, and gives the history, incident, and both the positives and the negatives across the board. I found his insights to be very interesting and overall a good read. (I listened to the audio book, which Noesner narrates).

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (PURCHASE) 4/5: I finished this book a few days ago and I still just don’t know what to make of it. That’s the honest truth. I don’t even know how to describe it, what to say about it, really anything about it. Obviously, I enjoyed it, I just don’t really know how to talk about it (which seems to be pretty common?). I think if you want something unnerving, almost dream like in a way, but quick to read, this is the book for you. 

I’ll say it again, what a reading month! I’ve highly enjoyed just about everything I’ve read, and it’s definitely set a very high bar for September. Any of the above catch your eye? What was your favorite read of August?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – 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? 

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?