May Hopefuls

This month is going to be one for the books hehe (is this thing on??), because it is the first month where I have no graduate work to complete.

I submitted the thesis. I did the thing! I’m ready for nothin’ but my job and free time on the weekends!

Alright, alright. Let’s talk books.

I have plans to read six books in May, and I look forward to finishing up a couple of series that I have been working through. There is a good balance between fantasy and fiction, and there’s even a nonfiction, self-help book on the list!

Let’s get to what I plan on reading this month!

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass)

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This is it, folks. The end. The very last book in Throne of Glass. Look at Aelin on this cover. The badassery, the flowy hair, the armor. So coool. Kingdom of Ash is nearly 1,000 pages, so I am very optimistic in thinking I will get to five other books this month. We shall see. Once I finish, you best believe a series review will be posted on this blog of mine.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows)

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I have already started this one, and I enjoy this book more than I enjoyed all of the Shadow and Bone books combined. Don’t @ me (you can if you want).

I think Bardugo thrives in writing third-person narratives, and this premise is just too fricken cool. I love the representation in this book, from race and abilities to gender, and it’s giving me real Sherlock Holmes, Gangs of New York, Pirates, thievery vibes. I just really enjoy it. That’s it. That’s the tweet.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows)

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…Because I’ll need to know what happens next!

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

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She’s back! If you did not already know, I discovered Kristin Hannah the end of 2020 and love.her.books. This one came out in February, and I can’t wait to read it. I heard it’s amazing, and unsurprisingly, will make you sob. Perfect!

Your Time to Thrive: End Burnout, Increase Well-being, and Unlock Your Full Potential with the New Science of Microsteps by Marina Khidekel, Thrive Global

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So this will either be a book with tips that I’ve already read 100 times, or it will be revolutionary when it comes to managing burnout and stress. Time will tell. I do look forward to reading this one because I enjoy Thrive Global and its platform. Even though my thesis is over, I still work in a very demanding, fast-paced industry and need some help when it comes to prioritizing self-care. I am hoping this book and “the new science of microsteps” will help me in this journey.

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

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Fredrik Backman has become one of my favorite authors. I read A Man Called Ove a few years back, and in 2019, I clutched My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry while sobbing on my couch. THEN, in 2020, I laughed AND cried again while reading Anxious People. AND THEN, this year, I read Beartown and Us Against You and they are two of my favorite books EVER. SO … enter Britt-Marie Was Here … my last Backman.

What are you reading this month? Share in the comments below!

Check out these posts to see what I’ve read this year:

January Wrap-Up

February Wrap-Up

March Wrap-Up

April Wrap-up

April Wrap-Up

It’s hard to believe that April has come to an end, yet here we are. April was a super important month for me because I submitted my master’s thesis and completed my graduate degree. Being done is honestly such a surreal feeling, and I am still getting used to “doing nothing” once I log off work in the evenings. I do have a feeling that I will get used to this “nothingness” very quickly!

When I was planning my April books, I was trying to be realistic. While I might not have had time to read for fun, I realized that I was going to be reading a lot — 75+ pages over and over to be exact!

This month, I planned on reading 3 books:

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass series) by Sarah J. Maas

Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

I ended up reading 6 books, but only one from the list above. I finished Tower of Dawn, but did not end up finishing Sunflower Sisters or The Lost Village. Unfortunately, neither book piqued my interest. I couldn’t get past 60 pages of The Lost Village. It was dull and repetitive.

Instead, I dove into some comfort books this month, reading right before bed to calm my mind after hours of reading and editing.

So, without further ado, here are the 6 books I read in April:

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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This is the penultimate book in the Throne of Glass series, and I must say that I am going to be sad when it ends. Kingdom of Ash is very intimidating, and I plan on tackling that one in May. I also heard it is very heavy!

Tower of Dawn was a very interesting book, and I am glad I read it. I learned that some ToG readers often either skip the book (which horrified me) or they read it in tandem with Empire of Storms because of the corresponding timelines. Really impressive. I wish I did that, but I also enjoyed leaving behind one set of characters and meeting/revisiting others. Sartaq is perhaps my favorite SJM dude, so, there’s that.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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After finishing a very heavy fantasy book, I decided to pick up a children’s classic. Let me tell you: If you are writing a master’s thesis about society’s inability to avoid giving girl heroes conventional ends, then don’t read Anne of Green Gables. Alas, there I was, frowning in bed thinking about why we limit girl heroes so much. What a frustrating book! I never read it as a child, and if I did, I am sure that I would have a sense of nostalgia attached to it. However, seeing as how I was nostalgic towards Katniss and Hermione and relentlessly ripped their stories apart for 75 pages, I’m sure I would have had the same reaction rereading Anne as an adult.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

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I forgot how whimsical and fun Roald Dahl was, but also forgot how weird this book is. I’ve experienced this world through a few mediums in my life: book, movie, musical (don’t ask), and I realized that I really don’t enjoy this story. While I love Gene Wilder, I do not love Willy Wonka. Charlie Bucket is a sweet little gem, but that is about it.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

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This book made me want to cut meat out of my diet again, so that’s a key takeaway. This book was a little frustrating. Fern is this tomboyish, imaginative girl, but then even the doctor predicts that she will start to chase boys in a few years and shed her “weird” ways. Great. My thesis again. Will I ever enjoy children’s books?

Anyways, what really bothered me is when Wilbur is in the competition at the county fair, Fern isn’t even present to watch him win the award. Instead, she is on the ferris wheel with a boy Henry (gag), who I am sure will be her future beau. *cue eye roll*

Also, Charlotte’s death is the saddest, most depressing thing EVER.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

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I also finished up the Shadow and Bone trilogy this month. This was certainly an interesting journey. I will be reviewing the trilogy in a future post, but I will say this: these books were a great escape. They were easy to digest, the story was interesting, and I did not care about what happened to most of the characters (only Nikolai).

Ruin and Rising was, unfortunately, the most disappointing of the three, but I will get into that in a later post. For now, I will enjoy Six of Crows (a book within the “Grishaverse”)and start the show this weekend.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

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This is definitely a good one. Again, I don’t remember reading this as a kid, but I do remember watching the movie every time it came on ABC Family and wishing I had pancakes. I’ve also had Rusted Root stuck in my head since finishing it.

What did you read this month?

Take a look at my other wrap-ups from this year:

Check out these posts to see what I’ve read this year:

January Wrap-Up

February Wrap-Up

March Wrap-Up

Book Review: A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

This time last year, a good friend of mine on bookstagram posted about her love for the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas (known as ACOTAR to the fandom), and the description piqued my interest. I never heard of her books, but I love fantasy, so why not? We just entered quarantine and I was feeling scared, exhausted from long hours at work, and in need of an escape.

Enter, Sarah. J Maas. I remember tearing through the series within a month, fully engrossed in the characters and storyline. I loved the examination of trauma, sisterhood, self-love, and healing. The romance wasn’t half bad either. I was new to that type of steam; I’ve read some steamy scenes before, but nothing prepared me for chapter 55 in A Court of Mist and Fury!

After ACOTAR, I read House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) and absolutely loved it. It’s one of my favorite books. Now, I am almost done with the Throne of Glass series, and I will be sad when it ends.

In February, A Court of Silver Flames (ACOSF) was released, and I was greatly anticipating returning to ACOTAR. I’ll admit; I didn’t enjoy Nesta. I thought she was rude, arrogant, and extremely stubborn. She did horrible things. My skin would crawl when she was in a scene.

When I realized that ACOSF would be in first-person narrative diving into the stories of Nesta and Cassian, I went, “OH, so now I will love Nesta.” Great.

I was right. I found a character that I really connected with. All of the negative self-talk. The self-loathing. The destructive behavior. Pushing away from the ones who love you most because it hurts to be loved. I know those feelings. I experience them daily. I was starting to understand her.

There were things that I loved about ACOSF. There were things that I did not like about ACOSF. Without spoilers, I will talk about them so that others can have their own experience with this one.

But first, I’m going to spoil it a little bit with some trigger/content warnings. They’re important and you should know them before going into this book. I’m not seeing a lot of reviews with these content warnings included, and it’s important we do this as readers and reviewers. Now, while Maas touches on trauma in all of her books, this felt a little heavier than most.

This was a first-person narrative about battling trauma. It had PTSD flashbacks, heavy traumatic imagery, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, r*pe narratives, mental descriptions of sexual assault. It was very, very heavy. A lot of these themes are in SJM’s other books, but trauma is the main theme, and SJM does not pull back. It was hard to read at times, which is the point of this book. It’s not an easy read, so it will be difficult for some who are in different parts of their mental health journeys. I have been in therapy since 2013, and moments were triggering for me. Proceed with caution.

OK, review time (photo featuring my cat’s little body)

High level list of things I loved:

  • Nesta’s journey: As I mentioned, I connected with Nesta so much. As someone who has been in therapy for 8 years, I felt for her as she dealt with her trauma and how to combat it. There is a scene with Cassian that serves as a turning point for their relationship and her own self-awareness and I experienced similar conversations in my own marriage. Nesta is a force. She is power. She is resilient. Is she perfect? No. Does she make mistakes? Yes. But, is she raw and human? Yes.
  • The female bonds: Nesta forms strong friendships with two female characters who have also experienced trauma. I smiled big when Nesta let them in as friends and they grew physically, mentally, and emotionally together.
  • THE HOUSE. Favorite character.
  • Azriel. Always Azriel.
  • That extra Az chapter…

High level of things I did not love:

  • The amount of smut and lack of fantasy plot: Essentially, this book was STEAMY SMUTTY romance with a sprinkle of fantasy. While there were moments of world-building and the fantastic, it was really lacking. I am not a big smut person, and this book was pretty much 700+ pages of sex. Chapter 55, who? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed parts of it, but it got a little old too fast for me. If you love smut, PLEASE ENJOY! No judgment. Just not for me!
  • How the story started and ended with Feyre and Rhys. It doesn’t need to come back to them, or be centered around them. It really bothered me.
  • Not a big Cassian fan. There, I said it.

Overall, this was an average read. There were moments I really loved. There were moments I cried. Most of the time, I kind of read and shrugged. I closed this book feeling unfulfilled.

Did you read ACOSF? What did you think?

January Wrap-Up

I thought I would share my January wrap-up (over a month late)!

January was a very good reading month for me. It was freezing and snowy in Connecticut, so I used that opportunity to cozy up in my new reading nook and read 6 books. I enjoyed most of them!

Here’s a quick breakdown:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown (Beartown, #1)

I will let my review speak for itself, but this was definitely one of Backman’s best books. A Man Called Ove still has my heart, but this one really touched me and has stuck with me ever since. Backman is a go-to author for me, and after hearing how much other readers loved this one, I was not disappointed.

The Listening Path: The Creative Art of Attention by Julia Cameron

The Listening Path: The Creative Art of Attention (An Artist's Way Book)

I received an advanced listeners copy (ALC) from Libro.fm, and while I enjoyed most parts, I found a lot of the meditations and tips were repetitive from other books that I’ve read before. I wished that I had something new to take away from this book, but I still enjoyed listening to get a recharge.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden

I discovered Kristin Hannah a few years back when I read The Great Alone (a great book), and after reading The Nightingale (now one of my favorites) and Firefly Lane (another one of my favorites), I had to read Winter Garden with a buddy group on bookstagram. I really enjoyed it! I thought it was a little slow going at first but was soon captivated by the story.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

I have been reading the Throne of Glass series since last year with a buddy read group and I am really loving it. I discovered Sarah J. Maas last year during the start of quarantine, and her books have literally helped me get through the pandemic. So far, Queen of Shadows is my favorite of the series (there are 7 books and a book of short stories). I finished Empire of Storms in February (loved it) and I will be starting Tower of Dawn this month!

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea

I really, really wanted to love this book as much as everyone else. Unfortunately, I was exhausted when I finished it. Hear me out: Her writing is beautiful, but she paid too much attention to the bookish atmosphere and aesthetics than the actual plot. The stories within the story? Beautiful. The character development and plot? Not so beautiful. I was lost in the last 150 pages, feeling unsatisfied at the end. BUT — she can certainly create beautiful prose. I plan to read The Night Circus in April because people love it so much.

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

The Prophets

I listened to an advanced listener’s copy (ALC) from Libro.fm, and I found the narration to be astounding. I heard that the physical book can be hard to follow with the different chorus of voices, but listening to the audiobook and the narrator grounded me as I took in this powerful debut. This book was unique, beautiful, and heart-wrenching.

Have you read these? If you are interested in any of these books and learning about trigger warnings, please don’t hesitate to email me: kass.readsbooks@gmail.com or contact me on Instagram: @keepitkassual.