A Cuppa Cosy Reads – August 2022

It’s September? Talk about a month flying by- I don’t even know if I truly know where the time went…truly, I’m not just saying that. I feel like we were all just excited about August and here we are school starting, leaves changing, crisp mornings (maybe, we’re still lagging a bit in that department). My reading was really good for the month of August- a total of 10 books and an average rating of 4.16. A great month! Lots to talk about, so I’m just going to jump right in…

The Tea Dragon Festival by Kay O’Neil 5 Stars Much like the first, these next two graphic novels are just the most feel good, quaint ones of the bunch. I just loved seeing our characters change and grow and learn more about the different tea dragons. 

The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Kay O’Neill 5 Stars In this one we found one of our characters really grow into who she is now, rather than living in the past of who she was and that was really special. 

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes 5 Stars This is easily one of those books that I could recommend to anyone (and everyone). It may be a science fiction thriller, but it doesn’t feel like science fiction. It is set in space, but atmospheric enough that the fact that it is set in space simply fades to the background. It’s definitely just one of those books that I love. 

Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay 3 Stars I’ll be honest…I’m drawing a blank with this book. I think it was just a standard cozy mystery.  

This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede 4 Stars Now this book I remember. I found the premise interesting, the execution well done, but a smidge predictable. It’s a good book and one that I enjoyed reading as you get to see characters fight against what they truly want, only to get it and it’s maybe not what they expected or needed. 

Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace NR This is a poetry collection, the first in a series that I enjoyed, but didn’t find groundbreaking. I’ll continue on though.

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair 4 Stars Ah another Hades and Persephone retelling. I don’t know where this obsession has come from, but oooo do I love a good Hades and Persephone dark re-imagining. I’m definitely excited to see what comes next…

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare 3.5 Stars I started this on a whim after seeing someone do a “outfits inspired by”. I haven’t read a Cassandra Clare since ages ago when she was still doing the Infernal Devices series and I…petered out from those. However, this one I enjoyed. Something about it really struck a chord, whether it was the time period or the location I’m not sure, but I definitely preferred it. Might dip my toe back in to the world. 

The Game by Linsey Miller 4 Stars This is a, basically, novella about a game that high school seniors play at a prestigious school that turns deadly one year. Fast paced, good action, and just enough suspense to keep you on your toes, but short enough you won’t stop- this had it all. 

Jade War by Fonda Lee 4 Stars The second of three novels in this trilogy and while it was a bit slow to start (it started off veeeerrrrrryyyyy middle book in a trilogy), it quickly shed that and went to work on destroying my heart. I want to read the third…but I don’t want to read the third (in a good way).

And that is it! I’m about 2/3rds of the way through my current read as I’m typing this (8/31/2022) and it’s a good one too. What was a big hit for you in August?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – April 2020

Has April finally come to an end? Not quite, but I am taking a moment to go ahead and wrap up all of the books that I have read in April. Maybe it’s jumping the gun a bit (but in reality it’s not and you’ll see why at the end of this post), but I’m also just over April so this is my way to hurry it out the door haha.

So, some stats and info about April. I participated in a readathon over the past month called the O.W.L.S. Magical Readathon (because I am that kind of Harry Potter fan). I participated last year and was excited to do so this year. This year was my goal was to complete 8 challenges and achieve the first set of exams for the Hogwarts Librarian position, with the additional shop training (…HERE is a link to the video explaining all of this- just in case you are this kind of Harry Potter fan too).

In the end, I read (or will have read by midnight Thursday 30. April) 8 books, completing 7 of the challenges. Thankfully only 5 are necessary for my career, but I am still fairly pleased with my reading total. I read across quite a few genres, including some I’ve never read from before, and read one incredibly long, fantasy novel. My rating average was a whopping 4.6/5 (the highest it’s been in a while) and I genuinely loved most of what I read.

*Before I really want to get into this list, I want to make a quick note. I have included a link below to the Amazon page for each book, HOWEVER I would highly recommend (and honestly prefer if it is a possibility for you) checking your local independent bookstore before purchasing from Amazon. Many local bookstore are either shipping or doing some form of curbside pickup and they could really use your business. If they don’t have the book, they may still be able to order it for you on request. You could even check your chain bookstore if your local bookstore can’t help you (or if you do not have a smaller independent bookstore in your area). My point is, Amazon is great for some things, but right now it is better to support our small businesses so they can survive this time.*

So, let’s just get into the books that I read in April…

A Cuppa Cosy Reads - February 2021

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (Amazon) 5/5 Stars. This is one of those books that is just beautifully done. We follow a young January Scaller as she is learning that the world she has grown up in is not the world she belongs in, nor the world that she wants to be in after she discovers a door. This book not only contains a beautifully done story, mixing together a coming of age story with a fantasy/magical door concept, and the unique power of words and books, BUT contains so many beautiful one liner quotes. An easy, but savory read for a rainy week/weekend.

Circe by Madeline Miller (Amazon) 5/5 Stars Another just incredibly written story. Circe follows the Greek Myth of Circe, giving her a story that is told “by her” rather than by the men in her life. This is easily one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read, not because the story was incredible, but because of Madeline Miller’s writing. She just created these moments where you felt with the character (as opposed to for, besides, whatever). Beautifully crafted, effortless to read, and incredible from start to finish, I highly recommend this book.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Amazon) 3/5 Stars This was my first Neil Gaiman book and I found it to be OK. Not blow my socks off, not absolutely horrible, but OK. In The Ocean at the End of the Lane we follow a young boy who experiences something…not of this world. In a short time, his world is upended and then set back to rights with no memory of it happening. So, overall I liked this book. It was really enjoyable, and it wasn’t anything deep or scary. However, because it is written from a juvenile perspective, it did come off as juvenile at times.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (Amazon) 5/5 Stars This was a re-read and something I don’t really feel like I need to really elaborate on. Loved the experience of listening to this on audio and just love this series.

Orange Vol. 1 by Ichigo Takano (Amazon) NR This is a manga that has a contemporary storyline. We follow a young lady and her group of friends as she receives a letter from the future. Overall this was pretty good. My only overall issue was, at times, I didn’t care for the “innocence” or (stupidity) as it got a bit annoying. With that being said, our group of characters are predominantly in high school, so it’s to be expected.

Werewolves by Konstantinos (Amazon) NR This was a book that I read purely for the readathon and don’t have any major thoughts on. Basically, this covers werewolves, from the myths, to the rules, to history. Honestly, I don’t care about werewolves to this extent, so this was a bit of a throw away read for me.

And now, the two books that I am currently reading and have full plans on finishing before Friday (1 May)…

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (Amazon) This is a high fantasy novel about two warring kingdoms and dragons (both of the good and bad kind). We follow several characters, evenly distributed through both kingdoms as they start to realize that they may be united against one common enemy. I’m still currently reading this, although I will definitely have it done soon and I’m loving the story! This book has just wrapped me up and I’ve been super impressed with Samantha Shannon’s writing and world building. No detail is too small for her and she balanced telling us about the world with telling us the story pretty well.

Sex With Kings by Eleanor Herman (Amazon) My final read of the month of April; this book is like a real-life guilty pleasure. This book is basically just talking through the monarchs and their mistresses and EVERYTHING that comes with that. Scandalous, juicy, if you need some reality tv reading, this is the book for you. I’ve learned so much that I’ve actually looked at some of the places we’ve seen here a bit differently (Neuschwanstein Castle is one…). It’s just a fun time.

And that wraps up my April Reading Month! I can’t really name any favorites, or disappointments, and it was a very positive month overall. What was your favorite book you read?

 

Binge-able Books/ Book Recommendations | Spring 2020

Going along with the bingeable theme of the week (catch my Bingeable TV HERE), today I am going to share some book recommendations. All of these books are books that I think are perfect to just dive into and get lost in the story. These aren’t all necessarily read in one sitting books, but they are all books that are easy to read and enjoyable. I’ve divided my list up into different categories which I’ll explain as I go along. I tried to keep it to three in a category, but in some cases I went over and had a couple Honorable Mentions.

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First up, it’s “Light/Fluffy” books. These are the books that are just what they are at face value. There isn’t a deeper story to fall into (although you can make one) but rather books that you can just binge read in one setting.

The Secret Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams (Amazon): This is one of those cozy town mystery books that revolves around a bookstore in a small town as its main location. This particular book is the first in a series that is just a nice little mystery, easy to read in one setting, and some fun characters.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (Amazon): This is a fun romantic contemporary about a woman who seems to lose it all, only to find her true life calling. Set in the backdrop of the highlands of Scotland this is the PERFECT read in one day romance there is. Like the above, it is just a nice little story to read.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Amazon): I mentioned this in my bingeable tv, but I think the books are absolutely incredible. This is probably the one book out of these three that is a bit “heavier” and can be read a bit deeper. This book (and series) mixes romance, with drama, science, and history in a way that I just really love. It also features a character that I see myself in so much as an adult and has a much more realistic relationship form (once you get past one bit) in the storyline.

Next, I’ll be touching on some “Young Adult” books to read. I kind of go back and forth about how I feel about the whole concept of “young adult”, but these are books that aren’t quite adult in nature and may be a bit easier to read.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (Amazon): A Beauty and the Beast retelling that has a parallel universe to our modern-day D.C., I really enjoyed this take on the classic tale. We have a great main female character who doesn’t take any sh*t and stands her ground from start to finish. This is an easy book to read, and the second book is even better than the first.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (Amazon): A Sherlock Holmes re-imagining following his descendent as she goes through an elite, private boarding school. Don’t worry, Watson’s descendent is there too and together they solve some eerily familiar cases throughout the four books of this series. This would be perfect if you wanted that cozy mystery feel, but at a boarding school.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Greene (Amazon): Again, my third rec is a bit darker than the previous two, but I absolutely love the way John Greene explains mental illness in this book. It is plain and clear exactly what the character feels, how it can affect her life, and different (or the lack thereof) coping mechanisms that people can use.

If you are wanting a “Reality TV Style Guilty Pleasure” read, I think the following will definitely meet that…

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Amazon): I absolutely adore this trilogy of books. These characters are just obscene enough to allow you to escape to their elaborate lifestyle, and there is just enough drama to let you forget about your own. If you are a fan of any iteration of Real Housewives you will absolutely love this whole trilogy. Highly bingeable, I read each of the three books in two days (a book).

A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter (Amazon): This is honestly just pure paranormal romance and I’m not ashamed to put it on here (…ok maybe a little ashamed). This was probably the most guilty pleasure read I’ve had in a long time and I loved every minute of this high paced, vampire, book mystery romance. Be prepared for some steamy scenes.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Amazon): Alright, here’s the deal…these books are not the best written, they are not the best at really anything other than delivering the best drama and trashy that you just know you want. It’s a love to hate situation as I know they are really not the best out there, but man did I eat all three books up so quickly.

Moving on to some of the more “serious” books now with some “Darker/Thriller” esque titles to read…

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (Amazon): If you want something dark, with questionable themes and characters, then I would highly suggest this book. Karin goes dark (with maybe not an entire reason), but she did a great job at keeping my attention and making this longer book paced perfectly to keep me reading late into the night.

You by Caroline Kepnes (Amazon): Ok, another I mentioned in my bingeable tv post, but I LOVED this book. The creep factor is 100% there and the entire book had a spooky element that I hadn’t read before (at the time I read this a few years back). Neither of your main characters is likeable (really none in the entire “cast” is) and it is the definition of picking the better of two bad people to root for.  I highly recommend this one, even if you’ve watched the TV show.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (Amazon): This wasn’t my favorite thriller, but I still really loved it and I flew through it in a day or two. There are some major twists that the reader doesn’t see coming and it is paced in a way that, again, you won’t want to put it down until the end.

I’ve got to give an honorable mention to Stephen King and his Mr. Mercedes series (Amazon). Three compulsive reads that are scary because they could be real and really good reads overall.

Now, for a few “heavier” book topics. These aren’t longer, heavier, anything, but rather the topics are a bit heavier than what I’ve listed so far.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Amazon): This is one of the most incredible books that looks at some very serious family dynamics and topics. Celeste Ng is one of the most beautiful writers that I have read that writes contemporary and I’ve loved both this and Little Fires Everywhere.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (Amazon): Did you really think I was going to put a couple of heavier titles out and not include this gem of a book. This will definitely be a tissue grabber of a story, but it is so incredible and so worth it. It gives an insight to some of the powerful people in World War 2 that we don’t often recognize.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thompson (Amazon): Honestly, this was THE book on gun violence that I wanted because it contains the best conversation on gun violence (the conversation that I’ve always wanted to have). This is classified as a young adult novel, but it is so beyond worth the read. This is still a hot button conversation that needs to take place.

I’m going to insert some Memoir recommendations here, before my last fiction section…

Educated by Tara Westover (Amazon): The story of Tara’s life dealing with survivalist parents who didn’t believe in a mainstream life, and an abusive childhood, this story was incredible. She talks about what her childhood was like, how she educated herself, attended some of the prestigious universities, and came out of her trauma a better person.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (Amazon): This was easily one of the most incredible memoirs I’ve read. Written by a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with lung cancer, Paul tackles the question of “What makes life worth living”. Paul passed away while working on this book and I think that makes it all the more poignant of a read.

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou (Amazon): In this memoir Maya Angelou talks about both her own relationship with her mother, with her grandmother, and then her own relationship with her son and her life as a mother. This was incredible to read as she has such insight in dealing with a mother who may not have always been considered the best.

A Couple of honorable mentions would be The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Amazon), which was great and talked about a strong women conquering a childhood that was not the norm. I also enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (Amazon) which gave insight to a childhood and life in the belly of America.

Finally, let’s talk about some “Long” Books. Books that are bigger, longer, more in depth stories, but still worth the read and time to read.

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (Amazon): I never thought I would love a book that was about building a cathedral as much as I loved Pillars of the Earth. Ken has a way of spinning a story, creating characters, locations, and plots that you absolutely love, and have you spellbound within the story. These are long books, but amazing ones.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Amazon): This book is incredible. I hadn’t read a High Fantasy novel in ages until I just dived into The Name of the Wind. There is something that feels very “everyday” to this story, not as if you’re in an entirely different world.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Amazon): My very last recommendation is not as long as the other two, but it is a denser read and so incredibly worth it. It’s a beautifully written story, a story for readers and authors alike. I honestly think everyone needs to read Zafon at some point and now is a better time than any other. Dive right in and escape into his vivid story.

I am going to give an honorable mention to Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (Amazon) (the only of his books that I’ve read- and based on it I would probably recommend his others). I loved the politics of this story and the overall premise. He does a great job at creating this world and I really enjoyed the book. I am also going to give an honorable mention to a book that I am currently reading which is Priory of the Orange Tree (Amazon). This behemoth of a book has a story that has Asian inspiration, is high fantasy court/political intrigue, and has dragons. I am still reading it so I can’t be fully sure of the recommendation, but so far so good!

Since I included this on my bingeable tv shows, I figured I would share some of the books that are on my radar. I am currently participating in a readathon, so I won’t be getting into any of these until May at the earliest, but these are what have been popping up in my mind…

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, and The Mirror & the Light, all by Hilary Mantel

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

American Royals by Katherine McGee

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

And that about wraps it up! What are you currently reading? Do you have any book recommendations?