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 – Best/Worst of 2020

Man for everything that 2020 was, reading was somewhere that I really excelled. I read around a total of 110 books (plus or minus one or two as I am writing this before the year is technically over…) and gave an average rating of almost 4 stars! That’s a personal record for me on both accounts and I’m just very pleased with how the year went…in reading terms at least. Today I am going to talk about the best, worst, disappointing, and surprising reads. I’m covering all 4 because I find that a book might be disappointing, but not the worst I read, and I really want to make the distinction between the two (as it affects whether others will pick up the book). I want to say, when you’ve read over 100 books, it gets really hard to cherry pick what goes where and when you’ve read so many highly rated books, it gets even harder. This was not easy to do, so please note that. You can find a full list of the books I read on Goodreads (username is ACuppaCosy). 

One more note before we get into this…this is highly based on enjoyment and memory. What I do when I compile these lists is I mark out all of the books that I’ve read in the year and then highlight those that stood out for one reason or another. There may be 2-star books that didn’t make it to this listing at all, similarly for 5-star books. There isn’t really any massive rhyme or reason, but I will try and give a brief explanation of why each book ended up where it did. 

I’ll start with Worst and make my way up to the Best books of my reading year…

Worst Books of the Year

Verity by Colleen Hoover (2 Stars) I mean…this book was a dumpster fire of garbage from start to finish. I spent the entire time reading it in absolute anger and disgust. Would not recommend, and it is no longer a part of my collection. I feel like it should also be noted, this is the only Colleen Hoover I’ve read, and I picked it up for the “thriller” aspect, and that was overshadowed by the disgust and anger at the rest of the book. 

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher (3 Stars) This book had me until the last section, where it went in a completely unnecessary and wholly detrimental direction. I won’t spoil it, but I don’t really recommend this book and it is no longer part of my collection either. 

Disappointing Books of the Year

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (3 Stars) I had very high expectations for this book and I feel like it just…had too much going on for the book to be a true success. The author was trying to do too much, so there was a lot that felt disjointed and incomplete. 

Misery by Stephen King (2 Stars) This was just…not it for me. I don’t even know what it was, it just wasn’t what I wanted out of a Stephen King novel? It felt like a movie script…and to be honest, I loved the movie. 

Sex & Vanity by Kevin Kwan (3 Stars) This book is the epitome of disappointment for me in 2020. I had such HIGH hopes and expectations and in the end…it seemed very rushed, not fleshed out, and only a skeleton of what it could have been. I know that you can’t compare one work to another, but after the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy (which was top of my list the year I read it), this was massively…not good. 

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson (3 Stars) This one almost didn’t make the list, but I felt like I needed to include it as it was…disappointing. A literary mystery involving some of the great literary mysteries and out came one of the most predictable flat stories I think I’ve read in recent years. 

Surprising Books of the Year

American Royals by Katherine McGee (4 Stars) Ok, this book surprised me as it was the first time that I had read what is basically royal fan fiction. I’m a massive royal fan (borderline obsessed), but I had never really dipped my toe into this sphere of books. This set me off on a course of royal books that I hadn’t expected, and I loved every minute of it. 

The One by John Marr (5 Stars) I don’t know what I really expected from this book. I picked it up on a whim recommendation and thought it was going to be ok. It had choppy short chapters from a wide cast, but that ended up working out so well in this books favor. It kept propelling the story forward, kicking the stakes up, and made for an un-put-down-able story. 

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (3 Stars) I thought this was going to be a sure-fire success of a book, a woman wants to open a bookstore in a town that has…other ideas. And while I enjoyed the commentary and spitfire nature our protagonist displayed; I found this book to be depressing as hell at points. So, there’s that. 

Anxious People by Frederik Backman (4 Stars) This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it was…not what I was expecting? Or rather it was, but it wasn’t. Frederik Backman really lays it all bare, the full nature of humans when pushed to their limits, and how closely we are all tied together. Surprising, Depressing, Beautiful. It’s in most surprising as I was surprised just how depressed it made me, which is also why it isn’t in the best book category. 

Best Books of the Year

The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M Graff (NR) This book is an absolute masterpiece. I listened to the audio book and not only does that illicit a certain type of reaction, but I actually learned quite a bit of things from 9/11 that I hadn’t known, or hadn’t truly understood. 

Circe by Madeline Miller (5 Stars) This was easily one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read since maybe The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It was just beautifully written, epically told, and emotional. 

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (4 Stars) The book that got me back on my way into fantasy reading, this story was one I was eyeing since its release. Finally, when it was purchased for me as a gift and I was given a chance to buddy read it with someone else, I fell head over heels and I’m still thinking about it. 

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (4 Stars) This might as well just include all of the Brandon Sanderson books I’ve read this year. He is a master at his craft, and I am in awe at what he has done. I put off reading his books for so long and while I’m bummed that I did that, it also means that I am reading the books as they are being released (as of now) or binge reading them rather than waiting on end for the next book. 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (4 Stars) This was an odd book to pick up during a pandemic…considering it’s about what happens when the world is attacked by a virus, but I did it and I’m glad that I did. I really enjoyed how Mandel wove the hitting of the pandemic, Shakespeare and theatre troupes, and the dystopian era of the world. It was incredibly realistic, so maybe don’t read it at the height of a global pandemic. 

Between the World & Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (NR) I don’t like including nonfiction memoir books (for the same reason I don’t rate them- it feels like placing value on a life), but I’ve included two this time because of the writing and storytelling. Coates is an incredible writer, and he writes in an accessible manner. 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (NR) I mean, I’m a massive Trevor Noah fan as it is, and I feel like he really hits it out of the park in this memoir. We get an understanding of what life was like for him, how he learned reality, and how he tried to better that reality. It also really made me value and appreciate what he says even more, as I feel like he has actually seen the things that we only have a secondhand knowledge of. 

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (4 Stars) I debated on this one as I don’t know that it is truly one of the best books (especially when compared to some of the others on my list), but man I really LOVED this book. Talk about intriguing premise, but the writing, the unfolding of the story, and the final twists that just don’t seem to stop made it a perfect quick thriller. 

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole (4 Stars) This was a book that was described as a thriller, but offers up so much more than a mystery to solve. It tackles some of the very real issues in our society today and for that reason, I found this book to be so well done. It has a little bit of everything, a little bit social justice, a little bit romance, and the slightest hint of mystery. 

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (5 Stars) This book had me in a sobbing blubbery mess. A Coming-of-age novel for the modern era of technology, this book is incredible. Anyone of any age can take something away from the story and gain insight into the “modern teenager”. I don’t have much more to say than, read it. 

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (5 Stars) Again, like Sanderson you might as well just include this entire Daevabad trilogy, which I binge read in 3 weeks. I’m obsessed and after finishing the third had a gaping hole in my heart that stopped me from reading entirely for a couple of weeks. Incredible. 

Some Random Honorable Mentions (because I can’t help myself apparently)

A Heart So Fierce & Broken by Brigid Kemmerer (5 Stars) This second novel was excellent, and I am very much anticipating the third in the first part of 2021.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie (4 Stars) Another excellent short story collection. I have enjoyed every book by Chimamanda that I’ve read so far, and I’ve definitely got a couple on my 2021 reading plans.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (4 Stars) This was easily the weirdest, yet fun book I think I read in 2020. It was similar to Catherine House, but better (I read them both in the same time frame) and if you want something questionable, strange, and just a thinking story, this is for you.

Mobituaries by Mo Rocca (NR) Finally, a fun one to finish off, Mo Rocca talks through all of the “deaths” of various lesser-known trends, people, vehicles, and so forth. It is hilarious but interesting to learn all of these facts. 

And there we have it! A full breakdown of the various books that I have wanted to talk about in depth all year. If you’ve made it this far, kudos to you, I hope you enjoyed and maybe got a recommendation or two out of it!

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. 

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?