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??? 

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?