Round the Kettle Ep. 31 Dipping MY Toes Back In

It’s that time again…it’s time for me to talk about how I’m bringing these posts back once again, but this time it’s for real (see last POST dated 4/21 :|). If you don’t know, or are new, Round the Kettle is a biweekly series that I do that I use as a bit of a brain dump of life. It wasn’t intended to stay in blog format, but rather transition into a podcast, but that quite obviously hasn’t happened yet. I keep talking about doing it, about getting the podcast going, but then I get these little thoughts in the back of my mind…what if it sucks, what if no one listens, what if I can’t do it. But then again, are you here? Are you reading this? Am I screaming into a void? Screaming into a void can be quite nice though…A thought for 2022 possibly.

I digress. That’s the beauty of Round the Kettle, you get my pure unfiltered, unadulterated thoughts on a wide variety of things. Quite honestly, I sit down at my desk with a small outline of what I’d like to cover from the previous two weeks, then I type a bunch of stuff, do a basic spell check and hit publish. It’s great. 

I originally had stopped these because we were moving, things were hectic and chaotic and, I finally found a routine with the blog and doing one post a week. That was manageable. Then somethings shifted in the world at large and I really needed to take a step back from everything and breathe in my own headspace. However, things are levelling out now (I say that- back to school is right around the corner and the world is still doing its thing) and I feel like I want to maybe…dip my toe back in. 

First things first, some lighter things to talk about…

Surprisingly, I’ve actually watched quite a bit of TV that I want to talk about. I’m not a massive TV watcher, mostly due to the fact that the TV tends to be monopolized by my husband and children, but also because I tend to prefer reading quite a bit more. However, Netflix has been doing a lot on the docuseries and reality shows that have been working for me and I’ve watched several. 

On the reality side of things, I obviously watched the After the Alter Love is Blind special and I’ve got a couple of quick thoughts: 1) STOP. Stop dragging these people through this, if we want anymore updates, we can see those on their social medias. I basically only watched to see Lauren and Cameron because they’re adorable, but the rest of the cast is full of such toxicity that it just turns into manufactured drama that doesn’t need to play out on a screen in front of us (especially that whole Damian and Gianina situ- so manufactured and edited my goodness). 2) If you want to keep the team of the Love is Blind “phenomenon” (which the first season and reunion WERE), then do a season two of all new people. Let the show continue to move on. Put this first season to bed. 

I also watched the second season of Too Hot to Handle and…oh my word was this next level compared to the first season. I mean, anything really went and they really went with anything. I don’t have much more to say on this one, except that I really rooted for a couple of people and I’m so happy with how it turned out and who is still together post show. 

Finally on the reality side of things, I’ve gotten about halfway through My Unorthodox Life and…I don’t know if I’ll go much further in it. Here’s the thing, I think the show is great at showing Julia’s life and how she has found “herself” and who she wants to be. I LOVE that she advocates that for everyone, that each person needs to find their own way and what they want out of life…BUT (and it’s a massive but) I feel like in some ways she doesn’t allow the same grace to others as she expects to be allowed her. Let me see if I can explain that better…Julia wants to be accepted and acknowledged as a woman who is no longer part of the Orthodox community, she wants to be free to be herself (which we can sit and debate the true realities of different parts of that statement- there are plenty of people already covering that), BUT she is disappointed or makes snide remarks that her children may hold a different view than her. Point in fact, she regularly referenced the fact that her older son still held some facets of orthodoxy (I think both her older daughter and son would be “modern orthodox”, but I’m not sure- I’m not a fan of labels) such as keeping Shabbos and Kosher as disappointing or confusing to her. If you want people to accept what you have decided for your own life, you need to accept what they have decided for their own lives, even if you don’t understand or agree all the time. It got to be a bit too much judgement and hypocrisy (especially with her older daughters marriage- my goodness) that I had to stop watching. And I don’t know if I’ll continue. 

We’ve also been watching Man with a Plan, The Heist, and I’ve watched an episode of Cooking with Paris as well as Shadow and Bone. I’ve been binging on a few YouTube videos and Podcasts- notable ones would be The Morning Toast & Not Skinny but Not Fat on Podcast, Observe, Morgan Long, The Book Leo, and Emmie on YouTube. It’s been kind of an eclectic time and I find myself being drawn mostly to aesthetic styles in my content consumption (outside of TV and Books) rather than specific topics. 

I referenced this earlier, but I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading. I talk about all of the books in my monthly wrap up, but I’m currently reading These Violent Delights, which is a Romeo and Juliet retelling taking place in Shanghai with a supernatural twist. I’m enjoying it quite a bit (I’m a bit of a sucker for a hate/despise to love romance) and while I think it’s good, so far it’s not GREAT, just good (like the difference between a 3 and a 4 star book). I recently finished both Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca (which I don’t even know what to rate or say about) and The Royal Art of Poisoning by Eleanor Herman (which I loved). It’s been a pretty stellar period for reading this August. 

In the real world, it’s been a lot of heartbreak hasn’t it? Devastation from Mother Nature in Haiti, heartbreak in Afghanistan, and a world still very much in flux and fighting over this pandemic situation. Sometimes it feels like we can’t do anything, we see all this destruction and pain and heartbreak and we get paralyzed with the sheer amount of it all. It sits heavy on our soul and we carry it forward with an additional feeling of “what can I even do about this?”. Sometimes its hard not to feel like a small ant in a very big colony, but we can each do SOMETHING. Whether that is sharing links to resources, sharing information with our community, writing our leaders, or simply being the ears and shoulders for someone to share their burden, it all matters. Everything matters, from everyone. I want to say, that while I don’t or can’t always share my personal opinion on certain topics publicly (for a couple reasons that I won’t bring up here), note that I am ALWAYS doing something behind the scenes, something in my community, something in my home. I will always fight for what I believe in and what I feel is right, even if that’s not always a public fight. 

And that wraps this super long, super rambly new episode…there is something just freeing about the fact that I am about to just press publish and walk away. So many of my blog posts are so well thought out, edited down, researched, and worked on over a period of time. And I LOVE them, but I also love this style too. 

Which is your favorite?

Mid Year Book Freakout Tag 2021

I figured this year, since I’m sharing more of my reading, it would be fun to talk about the books I’ve read so far this year and where I stand with my reading. A good way to do that is the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag, which was created on youtube by Chami (HERE), though she doesn’t have the video up anymore to my knowledge. I find it’s a good way to sit down and look at your reading so far and see where things stand.

For me, something I realized is that I’ve been VERY stingy about giving out 5 stars to books this year. I’ve read a lot of great novels, but I have been sticking to the 4 star rating. Out of the almost 50 books I’ve read this year so far, I think I’ve given maybe 2 or 3 a proper 5 Star rating. 

Best Book You’ve Read So Far

Just starting off with the big guns, right? I mean I could list so many books, but I think The Golem & the Jinni takes the cake for me personally. I’ve read a lot of good ones though. 

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far

Hands Down, The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker. These two books will always have my heart. I would also count The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers, which was the final companion novel in the Wayfarers Quartet. 

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. This year I’m trying to read new releases/new books I’ve purchased as I purchase them, so I’m not just buying and adding to the endless tbr shelf. 

Most Anticipated Release for the second Half of the Year

I’ve got a few: A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee, Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer, and Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson. There are so many coming out though that I’m sure I’ll only be adding to that. 

Biggest Disappointment

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner. I had such high hopes for this one and the more that I think about the more disappointed I get. I would also add Answered Prayers by Truman Capote as well. I very rarely wholeheartedly say not to read something, but this is one of those times. 

Favorite New Author (debut or new to you)

Ok, I’m trying not to repeat any of my previous answers (like by the end of this post you will know that I love Helene Wecker and her Golem & Jinni books), so I’ll go with Becky Chambers for this one. Her stories in the Wayfarers Quartet (companions) were great. I also would add Arkady Martine, who wrote A Memory Called Empire, which was great as well. 

Newest Fictional Crush

I don’t really do the whole fictional crush thing haha.

Newest Favorite Character

I don’t really do like favorite characters either. 

Book the Made You Cry

I have not read a book this year that has properly made me cry (Addie LaRue came close though- that one delivered a couple of punches right to my heart).

Book that Made You Happy

Ok, so instead of happy, I’m going to talk about the book that just gave me warm fuzzy feelings, which was The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. There’s just something about reading about these 70+ year olds solving crimes and being underhanded about information. 

The Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year (or Received)

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. This edition was not only beautiful, the story was beautiful, AND it was the sweetest gift from my best friend. 

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year           

Ah, I want to finish the Greatcoats Series by Sebastien De Castell (I have two more to go), as well as the Skyward series by Brandon Sanderson. 

Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation you’ve Seen this year

The only one I’ve seen this year (that I can recall) is the Netfix Shadow & Bone Season 1 and I loved it. 

And that’s it for the Tag Questions! It’s been a great reading year so far, even though I’ve had a couple of duds, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the second half of 2021 contains in books. 

Let me know, what’s been the best book you’ve read so far? The worst?

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?