A Cuppa Cosy Reads – August 2021

How is it already the end of August? How are we only 4-5 months away from 2022? How has this year quite literally flown by??? Minor crisis over, let’s talk about August in Books. I read a total of 11 books, with an average rating of 3.93 (whoa!). I will be honest; I ALMOST got a little slumpy there for a week. I read one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it might find its way on my most disappointed list for the year. It put me in quite the mood that took a bit of work to get out of. Any guesses on what book that was? Let’s get into it…

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton 3.5 Stars This needs to come with trigger warnings for abuse, school shooting, terror to children of all ages, and some pretty harsh words and content. This story is about a school shooting that seemingly melds the school shooting, family life, and diversity together in a way that just feels so real. 

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson 5 Stars Honestly, at this point I’m just a sucker for anything Brandon Sanderson writes, and I need the third book in this series STAT. 

The Nesting Dolls by Alina Adams 4 Stars I really really enjoyed this novel. It’s a generational saga of sorts, following a single-family line as they go from a small shtetl in the USSR to America and the struggles that each generation faces in each space. Part of this reason I enjoyed this is because there are similarities between my own family and that of the Nesting Dolls family (it’s basically the same in so many ways), but I found it to be beautifully written and a great insight into a time that was complicated for so many. Honestly, I could do a whole standalone chat about this book…maybe I should?

Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong NR I’ve added 10 minutes of poetry reading into my morning routine and loving it. This was the second book that I worked through a little at a time and it was just so beautifully, artfully written. You could feel the authors pain and longing to be in each and every poem, almost as he was writing himself into existence and into memory. 

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee 3 Stars Ah, the disappointment of disappointments. I had such high hopes- EVERYONE had talked about how good this was. And it wasn’t BAD, it just…well it wasn’t really sure what it wanted to be. It focused so heavily (and did so well) on the atmosphere, the school setting, the love of literature, that everything else (namely plot) kind of fell flat. I had read almost half of the book before I even took a look at genres and the fact that it was a thriller helped and hindered it. Honestly, this is another book that I could do a whole standalone chat on…so many thoughts.

They Never Learn by Layne Fargo 4 Stars  Man was this book a ride. I don’t know if part of my enjoyment of this was just because I read after the disappointment referenced above, or if it was actually that good, but this twist…man this twist. I read this in 24 hours- I could not stop. 

The Royal Art of Poisoning by Eleanor Herman NR This was my second Eleanor Herman novel, and I loved this one just as I loved the other that I read, Sex with Kings. She has this way of writing such detailed history but infusing it with dry humor that leaves you both dumbfounded and cackling. This book divides into three sections, the first about the general concept of poisoning in history, the second notable figures in history that were thought (at one time) to be poisoned, and the third the modern art of poisoning in the political/royal realm.

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca NR This is a struggle. Honestly, I don’t even know what I actually read with this book, let alone how to talk about it. 

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong 4 Stars. I very much enjoyed this book, borderline loved it. If you like (but maybe not love) Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, this is a retelling that shakes up the initial narrative, introduces a sci-fi/supernatural hit, and sets it all in Shanghai. I found it to be a dynamic read that is just enjoyable from start to finish. And then I immediately pre ordered the second book. 

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix 4 Stars I really enjoyed this book. The entire book is a sort of satirical look into what life in the small-town south in the 80’s was like with a supernatural twist. It’s a fun one to read through and enjoy the ride. 

Know My Name by Chanel Miller NR This was easily the most incredible, powerful book that I’ve read this year. Beautifully written, incredibly powerful, and provides a massive insight into the court system and looks at various different things that we can work to change for the court system. 

And that was it! I’m currently reading For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing and enjoying it. What was your favorite book of the month? Any above interest you or have you read any of the above books?

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?