A Cuppa Cosy Reads – June 2021

Somehow it is the end of the month already! At halfway through 2021, how did THAT happen? I feel like this year, unlike last, is flying by. So many things to get done and not nearly enough time to do them, and that includes reading all the books I want to read this year! We’ll be talking through some of those next week when I do the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, BUT this week we are focusing on the books that I’ve read in the month of June. Overall, I read a total of 11 books with an average rating of 3.46.

Let’s get into then, shall we?

Anne of Green Gables, the Graphic Novel Adapted by Mariah Marsden (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This was just darling. Whether you’re familiar with the story of Anne or not, this was a lovely adaptation that I enjoyed in an afternoon on the porch with a cup of tea. 

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth (PURCHASE) 3 Stars Ah this book, where do I begin? In this book you are, at the heart, following a school/parcel of land and its…questionable haunting activities. Set in two timelines, one when the school was open and one in present day when a movie is being filmed about the goings on at the school and a cast of about 6 women at the heart of the story. I enjoyed the premise and even the set up (a book about a movie about a book), BUT I think this could have greatly benefited from being a duology. One book to the past timeline and the happenings at the school, and a second book about the present-day filming and hauntings. When smashed together in one book it felt a bit…rushed and not quite fleshed out fully. 

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This one is a conflict in my own head over the rating. In this story we are following a young woman who has recently become the ambassador to a foreign empire. From the moment she lands she is thrust into political upheaval as the empire struggles against itself AND a murder mystery she must solve before she is killed next. I really loved this book after about 150 pages. At one point I thought this book might be a bit too political (which is saying A LOT), but once I gained an understanding off the underlying speech, and the book narrowed down its’ focus, the story became really enjoyable. 

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (PURCHASE) 4 Stars Well, this was just the quaintest little story. In The Thursday Murder Club, we are following a small retirement community and 4 of its 70 yr. old + residents as they attempt to solve a series of murders. Let me tell you, the plot is OK, but the characters are classic and will keep you going through the story. 

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker (PURCHASE) 5 Stars This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I’ll just leave it at…it did not disappoint. I love that our characters were pushed farther, new characters were introduced (on all sides), old characters came back, the world widened, and every single character was confronted with their worst possible selves. It was brilliant. It also, once again like the first one, was left in a way that could welcome yet another OR could be finished. I’m good either way. 

Banned Book Club by (PURCHASE) NR This was a story about a young girl in South Korea who attends college in the hopes of studying literature. What she founds is an underground resistance movement of other young people who want to truly learn about the world around them, beyond the government propaganda. What follows is a series of clashes with government inspectors and employees as the students fight back more and more. This was such a good and important read and I highly recommend it. It’s based on real instances, though specifics have been changed to protect individuals. 

Answered Prayers by Truman Capote (PURCHASE) 2 Stars I consider myself a fan of Truman Capote. I loved In Cold Blood and Summer Crossing and enjoyed Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I had heard this book referenced repeatedly in Plain Bad Heroines as a muse, so I decided to pick it up. Unfortunately, I found this to be the bitter, intoxicated ramblings of a man at the edge. I know the history of it (he started it before he found fame, re wrote it after In Cold Blood and other stories, and ultimately never finished it) and found the introduction to be quite helpful in understanding the chapters, BUT that did not change my overall reading experience and opinion, which was decidedly NOT good. 

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (PURCHASE) 3 Stars This book is…tough. I think it’s important to understand the controversy that surrounds the book itself currently. TJ Klune has mentioned that he had a loose idea of the plot, but then took quite a fair amount of inspiration from the 60’s sweep (referring to the Residential Schools for Indigenous People) as well as various other events that had people be “rounded up” and ostracized into boarding facilities for being “different”. So, we need to acknowledge that this book is steeped in some very real pain and trauma, and we need to learn about what happened with the residential schools, as well as what happened with ICE detentions and other “round up” situations. HOWEVER, I think that this book being told from the perspective of a “government worker” who believes he is doing the best for the kids and seeing him change his perspective, for so much of the story to be steeped in this “feel good” and “be kind and accepting” is also important to note. My good reads review has SO MUCH more information and thoughts and can be read <a href="http://<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea&quot; style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img border="0" alt="The House in the Cerulean Sea" src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1569514209l/45047384._SX98_.jpg&quot; /></a><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea">The House in the Cerulean Sea</a> by <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5073330.T_J_Klune">T.J. Klune</a><br/> My rating: <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4070176770">3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br /> I think it’s important to note a couple of things about this book, so this might be a bit longer than my normal reviews. <br /><br />First off, we must address where the inspiration comes from for the story. TJ Klune has talked about the fact that he had a character and a rough idea for the story, but it became fully developed as he learned about the 60’s sweep and looked at a variety of different residential schools, ICE facilities, and other detainment/assimilation places. While I would not necessarily critique where authors get inspiration from (as that would be futile as books have been written about a variety of different traumatic events), I think it’s important to understand the history of residential schools and recognize that there is a very real, very current trauma surrounding the inspiration for this story. <br /><br />However, we should not immediately brush the book aside because there are A LOT of excellent conversations had in the story, and an over arching commentary/feeling about kindness and difference. There is something to be said for framing the story from a government workers perspective, a pencil pusher in so many words, who realizes that maybe his own opinions, what he thought was best and right, isn’t in fact what is best and right. <br /><br />It’s also important to note that while the “orphanage” did feel very much like it’s real life equivalent and there wasn’t quite a…”happy ending” beyond what was presented (and what we would have probably all preferred to see), that it was not directly representative of what it drew inspiration from, and yet still realistic in that change doesn’t come about immediately and in the way we want or think is fair. <br /><br />Ultimately, anyones thoughts and commentary on this book are their own and are valid in their own way. <br /><br />While I am rating this book a solid 3 Stars, I can see why/how it earned such a high rating. The story is heartwarming and feel good. If you are concerned about the inspiration then do some additional reading and learning about the 60’s sweep, residential schools, and the trauma of the Indigenous peoples and First Nations (as I will be doing). <br/><br/> <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/41246937-a-cuppa-cosy">View all my reviews</a>" data-type="URL" data-id="<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea&quot; style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img border="0" alt="The House in the Cerulean Sea" src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1569514209l/45047384._SX98_.jpg&quot; /></a><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea">The House in the Cerulean Sea</a> by <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5073330.T_J_Klune">T.J. Klune</a><br/> My rating: <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4070176770">3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br /> I think it’s important to note a couple of things about this book, so this might be a bit longer than my normal reviews. <br /><br />First off, we must address where the inspiration comes from for the story. TJ Klune has talked about the fact that he had a character and a rough idea for the story, but it became fully developed as he learned about the 60’s sweep and looked at a variety of different residential schools, ICE facilities, and other detainment/assimilation places. While I would not necessarily critique where authors get inspiration from (as that would be futile as books have been written about a variety of different traumatic events), I think it’s important to understand the history of residential schools and recognize that there is a very real, very current trauma surrounding the inspiration for this story. <br /><br />However, we should not immediately brush the book aside because there are A LOT of excellent conversations had in the story, and an over arching commentary/feeling about kindness and difference. There is something to be said for framing the story from a government workers perspective, a pencil pusher in so many words, who realizes that maybe his own opinions, what he thought was best and right, isn’t in fact what is best and right. <br /><br />It’s also important to note that while the “orphanage” did feel very much like it’s real life equivalent and there wasn’t quite a…”happy ending” beyond what was presented (and what we would have probably all preferred to see), that it was not directly representative of what it drew inspiration from, and yet still realistic in that change doesn’t come about immediately and in the way we want or think is fair. <br /><br />Ultimately, anyones thoughts and commentary on this book are their own and are valid in their own way. <br /><br />While I am rating this book a solid 3 Stars, I can see why/how it earned such a high rating. The story is heartwarming and feel good. If you are concerned about the inspiration then do some additional reading and learning about the 60’s sweep, residential schools, and the trauma of the Indigenous peoples and First Nations (as I will be doing). <br/><br/> <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/41246937-a-cuppa-cosy">View all my reviewsHERE. 

A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djeli Clark (PURCHASE) NR This is a novella that takes place just prior to A Master of Djinn and does a little bit of the set-up work for the book. As I’m writing this, I’m about halfway through Master of Djinn and I don’t know how necessary it is for you to read this first (which is why I read it first). It provides context and background, but not more than you would get throughout the book itself. 

No Exit by Taylor Adams (PURCHASE) 3.5 I don’t have too much to say about the next two books, except that they were solid thrillers. Neither was a standout, but I would say I think I probably got a bit more of the heart pounding thriller vibes from this one more. The premise is that there are strangers stranded in a snowstorm at a middle of nowhere rest stop. 5 Strangers and one little girl locked in a cage in a van. Where did she come from and who can you trust? 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This was the last book that I finished in June, and it was a solid way to end the month. I enjoyed the premise and I definitely think this is a good twist and turn kind of thriller, but I didn’t feel the fear or ticking clock or atmosphere of the book as I did with No Exit. 

Finally, two final books to mention. I am currently reading A Master of Djinn by P Djeli Clark and while I’m not loving it per se (and I’ve stopped and started throughout), I’m not hating it either. We have also started reading some more chapter books with the boys, starting with the Magic Tree House Series. They’ve quickly fallen in to reading a chapter or two before bed and are excited to read more of them (the other night consisted of “one more chapter mommy”). 

So, that rounds up my month in reading! What about you? Any new favorites?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – May 2021

Man, what was May?! For all it’s hard points (and there were several tough spots), there was also a major boon to my reading. I seemed to devour books like I hadn’t had a chance to this year, and I just spent a lot of my free time reading. I missed those days from 2020 and I’m glad that I am finally finding my reading groove once again. I read a total of 11 books with an average rating of 3.65 (dang those two super disappointing books). 

Let’s get into them…

The Luxe by Anna Godberson (PURCHASE) 2 Stars This was disappointing, although that might have been because I am not the intended audience? In Luxe we follow the young socialite society of early 19th century New York as they begin to come “of age”. They falter in their roles, fall in love, and fall away before being shocked by a tragic event. I’ll be honest, I do tend to enjoy this very specific genre of “social elite melodrama”, but this very much missed the mark. 

The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers (PURCHASE) 5 Stars As opposed to the above book, I LOVED this conclusion to the Wayfarers companion books. It had everything that I loved about the first book in the series, but with a different viewpoint and characters that we’ve only loosely known during the series. 

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire (PURCHASE) 3 Stars This was alright. I kind of wondered, while reading, if I was kind of “out” of this series. I really enjoy the Wayward Children books as a whole, but I have felt like the past couple I’ve read have been “ok” rather than good. 

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner (PURCHASE) 2.5 Stars This book was easily probably the most disappointing book of the year for me so far. We follow 3 young women as they each navigate their own battle against society’s expectations (maybe?). I found the premise involving a “lost apothecary” who was rumored to sell poisons to women to use against the men in their lives to be interesting, however I found that this book lacked a really well-done execution. I feel like maybe it was a “debut author” thing, but I just wasn’t enjoying this one as I thought I would. 

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell (PURCHASE) 4 Stars I well and truly enjoyed this book. I had heard it compared to a “3 Musketeers” retelling of sorts and man…it was just a lot of fun. In this first book we are following 3 Greatcoats, the original kings’ men and justice of the peace of the lands, as they try to carry out (and live) the mission of a now dead man. We’ve got excellent banter, quite a bit of action (but not in an overwhelming way) and just enough knowledge dropped throughout to keep you captivated, not bored/overwhelmed. I think my favorite thing about this story is that we have a political story told from an anti-political perspective.

What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer (PURCHASE) NR This is a poetry collection that I have been hearing rave reviews about for a little while now. I’m not a massive poetry reader, but I do enjoy it from time to time and I found quite a few of the poems in this collection to be…just perfect. It definitely lives up to the words and recommendations of others. 

Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This is the second book in the Greatcoats series (the first book being Traitor’s Blade), and while I still loved this one and was captivated from page one, it definitely lost me a time or two in the story. Still, the banter was top notch and we got to see a bit more of the politics. 

Heartstopper Volume 4 by Alice Oseman (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This is the fourth installment in a graphic novel series following late adolescents as they learn about who they are and what they want. I appreciated the focus of this fourth volume on mental health and eating disorders. I highly recommend this entire graphic novel series. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (PURCHASE) 4.5 Stars This book. This book is a tour de force from start to finish. We are following Addie LaRue who, in a desperate dramatic moment, made a deal to have a lifetime of freedom. The catch? No one will remember who she is. What follows is a woman trying to live a life, to live her life, and to learn what love and life truly mean. And let me tell you, it will sweep you up, it will punch you in the gut, and then, leave you like a deflated balloon. There was only one small bit that I didn’t get on with (that was early on in the book), but on the whole this was one of the top books of my month. 

That Way Madness Lies Edited by Dahlia Adler (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This was a collection of Shakespeare retellings written by a variety of authors. Mostly geared towards the Young Adult genre, these were very well done. I enjoyed the vastly different takes on the classic plays and would recommend to any Shakespeare lover. 

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (PURCHASE) 4 Stars My final read of the month and I really went out with a bang. In Skyward we are following a group of humans living on a different planet under almost constant attack from a different species. This book is a science fiction/fantasy, but in a more approachable way than standard books in the genre. It’s Sanderson, so every little detail is given a lot of care, but it’s also not overwhelmingly detailed. It’s enough for you to understand and appreciate, but not turn you away from the series. 

And that wraps it up! It was a really good reading month to be honest and I’m looking forward to some big books and reading plans in June. What was your favorite book of the month?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – April and May 2021

Another reading post covering two months. I very much underestimated just how long it would take for me to back into my reading swing between moving, setting up a new home, and then getting back to having time for reading. I am very much back into the full swing of things and am very excited to share that over the past two months I’ve read 16 books and given an average 3.45 star rating. 

I’m not going to break these up in any particular way (but maybe I will in the future?), but I am looking to expand some of my reading and book content over here on A Cuppa Cosy. Let me know what specifically book related content you would like to see; more single book reviews, recommendations, reading certain new things? You let me know!

Now, onto the books…

Fortuna Sworn by K.J. Sutton (PURCHASE) 3 Stars I’ll be honest, I read this back in the middle of March and…I don’t really remember any of it? This is marketed as a fantasy romance involving fae and while I was intrigued, I left the story not really caring about any of it. 

Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown & Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse by John Lithgow (PURCHASE, PURCHASE) NR These were just a fun lighthearted take on the Trump presidency, policies, and outbursts. 

House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (PURCHASE) 3 Stars This was the first of two re reads over this period of time. I was in a bit of a… what do I even want to read kind of mood, so I reached for a standby favorite: Sherlock Holmes. 

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This was an incredibly well-done novel, handling everything from fantastical elements to racism, to grief, and to love. In Legendborn we follow teenaged Bree as she comes to terms with not only the death of her mother, but with a newfound knowledge that some legends are not just legends from days past, they are still very much with us. I found that Tracy Deonn managed to touch on a wide variety of topics, but weave them together so well that it never felt overwhelming or disjointed. Highly recommend- it’s worthy of the hype it received. 

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay(PURCHASE) 4 Stars This was an interesting read as it’s a horror novel, but not horrifying. I don’t even know if I would say that it’s “scary”, it’s just thrilling more than anything. It’s a standard possession story with a family in a home, and then a tv crew, and a worldwide sensation, BUT we have a dual timeline that makes us question everything that is presented. I found this to be a story that I could have delved much deeper in, chatting with a friend about the different aspects of the story and characters. 

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman(PURCHASE) NR I don’t know one person who hasn’t purchased, read, or listened to this poem, so do I really need to talk about it? I’d rather let you know that she has a full poetry collection coming out later this year, as well as a children’s book. 

Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee (PURCHASE) 3 Stars An Anna Karenina retelling set in the upper echelon of New York Society? Sign me up, sounds like my cup of tea ( very niche cup admittedly), but alas, it was just not meant to be. In Anna K, we follow Anna K who seems to have it all. Dream school, her horses, her picture-perfect family and an even more picture-perfect boyfriend. But when she meets the mysterious Count V, she realizes that maybe none of that stuff really matters after all. I think all of my issues can be boiled down to the fact that Anna K did not feel like a 16-year-old girl. She felt like a slightly older woman, who has lived a little and is reflecting on what she had wanted to know as a 16-year-old girl. What made it even more obvious, was that all of the side characters were much more age appropriate. 

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (PURCHASE) 3 Stars So far, this is my least favorite of the series, but it was still a stellar and interesting read. 

The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed by Wendy Lower (PURCHASE) NR This is the story about how one photo, tucked away in archives, came to expose a little-known massacre during the latter half of WW2. We are given insight into how photographic evidence is dissected and used to identify dates, locations, perpetrators and victims. It also touches on how to handle perpetrators when the murder has long passed. The book also pays homage to those who we won’t know the names or faces of who died at this same massacre. This was a hard read, but also very enlightening to a side of “evidence” that isn’t talked about a lot.

The Troop by Nick Cutter (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This may end up making it to my Best of list at the end of the year, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I believe the words I used are “disgusting, horrifying, a great page turner from start to finish”. I don’t even know if I could begin to describe this book, but I will say, it deals with body horror. If you cannot stomach that then this is probably not for you. However, if you don’t have a problem with that and want some realistic horror, then this is a great read.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (PURCHASE) NR I found this to be a good read not only on understanding the history of racism in another western country, but in creating a good starting point for modern day conversations about racism and race. To be honest, this is a great “introductory” or primer on the topic, or a more generalized coverage. 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This was another re read with the hopes of continuing the series and watching the Netflix adaptation. This is an expansive fantasy universe loosely based on Russia/Poland. This “universe” includes this original trilogy, a second duology, and a third series that is currently two books published. I really enjoyed this first book, it had me wondering why I didn’t actually continue back when I first read it. 

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo(PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This is the second book in the original “Grishaverse” trilogy. We are introduced to new characters, higher stakes, and an epic battle scene that sees us wondering, what, if anything, can be done to set the world right again. I do think this was a little middle book-y, but it was still a strong story. 

The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L Armentrout (PURCHASE) 3 Stars I finally got to read the third book in the Blood and Ash series and boy was it somewhat worth the wait. I said it about the last two books, this is not a series that you can objectively explain. Objectively it is not good, but for a trashy, smutty, engrossing read? It delivers. 

Just Another Damned Thing by Jodi Taylor (PURCHASE) 3 Stars I’ll be honest; I found this book to be…ok. I feel like honestly the author wanted to write a book (or series really) of visiting different times and making observations, slight changes, and experiencing different lives, but didn’t know how to tie it all together. This book was definitely character and time heavy and VERY plot light. I didn’t hate it, but didn’t love it either. I won’t be continuing on with the series, BUT if it was a tv show I would watch. 

And that’s it! I’m very happy that, once again, my reading is back on track. I definitely had a couple of favorites out of the above books and one or two that may just make it to my best of list at the end of the year. What was your favorite book you’ve read over the past couple months?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – january & February 2021

Ah, the start of a new year. A fresh reading year full of new, endless possibilities. I’m combining two months into one as our January was manic and I wasn’t able to get the post up before we flew out of Germany, so instead of trying to put up a subpar post, I just decided to consolidate two months into one. I didn’t do as much reading as I intended, so ultimately it probably doesn’t matter much. 

Also, hi! It’s been a month since my last post and I am going to take a second to give a little hello. I took the month of February off, as it seems to be a good annual time to take a step back and just evaluate everything. This happened to also coincide with our move back to the USA. More to come on that experience, but this post is my way of getting back into my weekly blog posts. 

***I apologize for the lack of purchase links, March’s wrap up will be fully back to normal.***

So, let’s get into it. 

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton 4 Stars Well, I just started off on a strange (for me) foot for 2021. I’m not a Sci-Fi girl, but I had heard that this book was great if you wanted a little bit more in depth than the movie and I can confirm that it is. The only part I didn’t enjoy was the portions devoted to Chaos Theory, but that’s mostly my own issue. Overall, if you liked the movie and want more, then give the book a shot. 

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers 4 Stars I LOVED this. This was so far out of my standard genre’s (seriously, the last time I picked up a space sci-fi was a few years ago now) and I’m so glad I read it. In this book we follow a rag tag crew of a spaceship as they are creating a “tunnel” to one of the farthest, most volatile planets. It is incredibly character driven, but not so much so that the story doesn’t move forward. There is an element of science and space exploration, but it’s not overpowering, you aren’t focusing constantly on the logistics of it all. Highly recommend this one as well. 

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker 5 Stars I LOVED this book. Wecker has a way of spinning a story similar to Carlos Ruiz Zafon or Madeline Miller. There is something about her words and her descriptors that just really spins this beautiful web for you to get stuck in. This was incredible, and not just because there was so much Jewish and Arabic/Middle Eastern mythology that I could see a lot of my own views in. 

A Close and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers 4 Stars Ah, I really enjoyed this second, companion novel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. In this companion novel we are following to side characters from the first book as they navigate some pretty big changes. It serves as a way of expanding this massive universe, learning about some more of the politics around different creatures. I don’t know if I loved this one AS MUCH as the first, but I really enjoyed expanding the world and learning about some of the other characters and their struggles. 

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi translated by Geoffrey Trousselot 4 Stars I feel conflicted about this read. On the one hand I enjoyed the concept and some of the stories really pulled at my heart, BUT I also felt like at times it was a bit slow to read. In this collection we are following a small coffee shop that, within rules, can transport its’ patrons back in time. 

Whiteout by Ken Follett 4 Stars A pandemic related thriller set in Scotland during a snow storm? Yes please! I actually really loved this one, but I do think that short, plot driven stories are not Ken Follett’s forte. Having read his Pillars trilogy, reading something short and more plot, rather than character, driven felt like putting on a pair of pants two sizes too small and the wrong cut. As much as I enjoyed it (and would recommend), it felt like he could have really taken these characters and ran with them.

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica translated by Sarah Moses  3 Stars This takes the spot of “most disturbing book” I’ve ever read. In Tender is the Flesh humans are living in a period after all animal consumption has been banned due to a disease pandemic. Animals are not able to be consumed, so humans have turned to their own for protein. It is not only disturbing in content (serious content warnings here), but also just in the fact of what humans are capable of when pushed. 

A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer 4 Stars I enjoyed this concluding novel to the trilogy and felt like we had FINALLY reached some turning points that we were anxiously awaiting in the second book. On the whole, I really enjoyed the trilogy and would recommend it for a good in between the serious books trilogy to read. 

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson 3 Stars I have absolutely nothing to say about this book. Honestly, I’m trying to think of anything that stood out to me, but there’s nothing. It’s just a standard “high school girl goes missing, but is she really dead” story. I feel like there was some good commentary on civil issues, but overall, it wasn’t memorable. Obviously.

The Lost Shtetl by Max Gross 3 Stars This one was a tough one for me to read as I really wanted to love it. There aren’t a lot of “Jewish” stories out there that are not Holocaust related and this one just sounded so great. We are following a small Jewish town (called a Shtetl) in the heart of the Polish forest as they discover, through a series of small events, that the world has entered a modern era. In parts I loved this story and could picture a lot of what was happening (Eastern European Jew over here), but there was also a feeling of nothing truly happening. At least not in the manner that you would expect from a novel. This is very much a…town coming of age novel and while I enjoyed it, I also felt a bit let down in the same way. 

Tomie by Junj Ito translated by Naomi Kokubo NR In a massive shift from my normal, I decided to pick up a horror manga. I knew nothing about this going in, and overall enjoyed the entirety of this collection. The artwork was incredible and the storyline truly horrifying at times. 

The Deep by Alma Katsu 4 Stars I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this book from Alma Katsu. I think the Titanic is always a hard one to cover, but she did it in a way that brought a new touch. In The Deep we are following a group of characters that are traveling on the Titanic, but all have some form of connection to each other and to one major event. In a dual timeline, we are also following two Titanic survivors as they are once again reunited on the sister ship the Britannic. This was beautifully written, hauntingly enchanting, and a true feat. What I missed in her other novel, The Hunger, was brought to life in this novel to perfection. There were still some slower moments, but I just really loved the overall novel as a whole. 

I did DNF (Did Not Finish) a book in January, A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. I don’t know if this was just when I read it or something different, but the 80 pages or so that I read were quite juvenile, jarringly written, and I found myself not caring. This would have been my third by her and while I enjoyed the other two (Uprooted and Spinning Silver) this was just not my cuppa. I also DNF’d The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon in February. I had such high hopes for this book and this series, but something about it just did not connect with me. 

And that’s it! All the books I’ve read in the first couple months of the year. Any stand outs? What about your reading?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – December 2020

December was a weird month. I wouldn’t say that I read more or less in the final month of the year, but this year I read less than I had read any other month. I just…struggled to find books that would capture my entire attention. I so desperately wanted to escape reality, except reality wasn’t really letting me. I think after finishing The Empire of Gold I couldn’t figure out what was next (as I desperately wanted another fantasy series that would give me the same experience), so I spent a lot of time bouncing from book to book to book without finishing anything. Add in the holidays and the world and it was just…a month. 

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty (PURCHASE) 5 Stars I mean, I will forever read anything Chakraborty writes ever again. She just…this was incredible. I had one incredibly minor complaint that in the end didn’t affect my overall rating or enjoyment of this book. This is the concluding novel to the Daevabad Trilogy and it was everything that the reader could ask for. I also appreciated that when it was done…it was done. It wasn’t open ended in any way and that was something I think I really needed by the time I reached the end. 

It’s a Whole Spiel Edited by Katherine Locke (PURCHASE) 4 Stars. I think a lot of my higher rating for this compilation is that I relate to the characters from a faith/ethnicity standpoint. I hadn’t read such a heavily Jewish focused book (or rather short stories) ever that was also modern and I really appreciated that. It’s a Whole Spiel is a compilation of short stories all about Jewish kids and the differences in practices, in what they believe, how they practice, and how they do or do not interact with the real world. In all honesty, I wish I had had something like this when I was a teenager, it would have made some things very different for me. 

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This was such an interesting premise, but I found that there was a little TOO much going on once the story started. In this book we are following our main characters as they are in a race against time and others to solve a mysterious death. There is one catch, every morning they wake up as a different character in the mystery and they are racing against 2 others who may or may not be on “their side”. I found the book, overall, to be very well done, however I didn’t fully connect to it. It felt a bit busy, or disjointed while reading, and even though I loved the last 75 pages or so, I don’t know if that love really offset the rest of the book. 

All Systems Red by Martha Wells (PURCHASE) 3 Stars I’m not really a massive Sci-Fi reader (if you haven’t already noticed), but I was intrigued by these short, almost novella, style stories about a “Murderbot”. In this first book we are getting an understanding of our main character, what the concept of a “Murderbot” is and how they fit in the world. With it being so short, there isn’t too much to say, other than I feel like this was a good foundational book. I will probably continue through the series, mostly because the books are shorter and easier to consume. 

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie (PURCHASE) 4 Stars I will forever stand by any Agatha Christie novel, she is just the queen. Here we’ve got a classic locked room who done it and, she did not disappoint, even I was surprised at the twists. Agatha is excellent at handling the classic mystery, making something that could be truly atrocious a little bit softer. Her books are nice reprieves from our modern mystery/thriller/suspense novels that are usually so hard (in terms of content- brutality). 

I’m also currently, as of writing and probably posting, reading what will be my last book of the year. I will finish this book before the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2020, BUT not before I have to write, edit, and post this wrap up. The book I’m currently reading is Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L Armentrout, which is the second book in the Blood and Ash Duology (trilogy? Series? Who knows). I’ve got to say, at this point I know what to expect with the story, which is an almost jokingly amount of angst, riddled with lines that’ll make me laugh, and an easy world of escapism for a few days. 

And that was it! That wraps my entire year of reading for 2020. Is this something that you would continue to be interested in reading in the future? My Best/Worst list will be coming your way in January (just a couple weeks away) and I’m excited to share an overall look at my reading this year!

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. 

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?