**Welcome to Weekly Reads! Each Monday I’ll share reviews for my most recent reads. For more reviews, please visit my page, The Reads: From A to Z.**
Hi friends! I hope y’all had a great weekend!
While our weekend was relaxing, we’ve been traveling/visiting with family pretty much every weekend for the last few weeks and it’s finally catching up with me. These days a short paragraph is all it takes and I’m out! That and Orange is the New Black = no productivity.
No wonder I’m a few books short on my reading challenge! But no biggie, it’s only a handful – nothing a few fast-paced thrillers can’t solve. The only real issue (besides the lack of time) is my library stack – I have way too many options and I just can’t make a decision!
Maybe y’all can help a girl out, what should I read next!?
Of course I want to read them all, but at my current pace that’s highly unlikely. Plus, even at my normal pace there are bound to be stragglers. And, surprise, surprise, I have even MORE books to pick up this week!! But really, I’m pretty excited, I have all the books I’ve been waiting for and that’s an AMAZING thing in itself. Right now I’m finishing up Zero K by Don Delillo (a little too out there for me, thus taking an eternity to read) and juggling between Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Modern Lovers by Emma Straub.
But, more on that later. It’s time for the reviews:
The Tea Book by Nick Kilby and Louise Cheadle
An excellent new book all about tea! What’s not to love!? The Tea Book is a highly engaging book with beautiful, full page info-graphics covering every aspect of the beloved beverage. The book starts on a visual journey across the world, exploring the different traditions for serving and drinking teas, as well as the traditional types of teas for each region. For every country explored, they also list a few recommendations for tea houses to visit on your next trip! The book also discusses the history of tea, the growing and processing of tea, and finally, the different ways to brew and drink tea, along with delicious recipes! I learned so much from this book, from the cultural differences between tea drinkers to new teas to try. If you’re a tea lover, you have to check this out!
The Queen of the Tearling (#1 and #2) by Erika Johnansen
After her mother’s death, Kelsea Raleigh was taken into hiding, raised by two devoted servants who have pledged their lives to protect her from harm. Living in isolation, Kelsea spent many happy years in the small forest cottage, learning everything she could from her adoptive parents and devouring as many books as possible, knowing one day she would grow into her right as queen. But that day has come too soon, now in her nineteenth year the Queen’s Guard has returned to escort her to the capital and reclaim her throne – a feat much simpler said than done as both her uncle Regent and the neighboring Red Queen of Mortmesne are out for blood. In her quest to save the Tearling, Queen Kelsea will spur a treacherous rebellion against the sorceress queen of Mortmesne, a trial riddled with betrayal, magic, and mystery.
“Carlin always said that most men were dogs, and Kelsea had never taken her seriously; there were too many good books written by men.”
After reading the first installment, I wasn’t sure what to think about The Queen of the Tearling. I absolutely love Kelsea, her innocence, her establishment as a non-beauty in a traditionally feminine role, her intelligence – there’s little lacking in her personality and growth as a character, but the Tearling, itself, was a complete mystery. What is “the crossing”, what kind of utopia establishes itself without medicine, without religion, leaving behind every technological advancement of the 21st century? Really, I was beyond frazzled. Luckily, all of my questions about the Tearling and the crossing were answered in second installment – a big OOOOH moment, if there ever was one! I absolutely loved Kelsea in the first book, but wow, did she change in the second – she lets herself be overwhelmed by her magical family jewels, a pair of mystical sapphire necklaces passed from generation to generation. She becomes darker, dancing the line between right and wrong, justice and mercy, becoming an entirely different person physically and emotionally. She wonders so far, you doubt her ability to come back to herself when her country needs her the most, but she does! Her personal journey throughout the novel is extremely relatable for those in our twenties, we’re still learning who we are and who we want to be, and what’s more, learning if who we want to be is who we should be.
“Even small gestures of kindness have the potential to reap enormous rewards. Only the shortsighted man believes otherwise.”
I don’t really want to get into the Fetch or who Kelsea’s father might be (although, in all seriousness it could be the Fetch, who she’s kind of romantically attracted to), this is still a mystery after the second book. But man oh man, let’s talk about Pen! How amazing is he!? He’s always there for her, ready to defend whatever action she might take, no matter the consequences. He will always follow her lead, knowing she may need to be caught, but more than that, he’s head over heals in love with her, and I just can’t wait for her to see that too! Of course, the most amazing part of the series is the lack of romance. There is absolutely no romance in the first book – her journey is not about finding a prince to whisk her off in the sunset and magically solve all her problems. Kelsea is there to solve the Tearling’s problems, on her own, with all the authority of the crown – this is what the series is about! I love that romance is a side story, at best, and not the main focus of the story just because the lead character is a woman.
Please, do yourself a favor, and read this series!
How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz
Like many friendships, theirs started after a random party in college. Kate and Anna, already inseparable, rescue a boozed out Georgiana and practically steal her away on their weekend camping adventure the next day, solidifying a long-life friendship from that day forward. Together, they’ll face the everyday atrocities of life, but apart, they’ll deal with the overwhelming consequences of one seemingly innocent mistake, resulting in a tragedy that will haunt them for the next twenty years. Whether together or apart, their friendship is unyielding, a true testament to female friendship in modern times.
“Sometimes it’s not the truth itself but the surprise that feels like a blow.”
Though the novel lacks the suspense of her latest novel The Passenger, How to Start a Fire is an absolute treasure to read. Each chapter is set in a different year, presenting the story out of its chronological context but still centering around one tragic event that effects each girl differently. Told over the course of twenty years, each of them will face unimaginable consequences as they struggle to overcome their fears and regrets of the past. While I really enjoyed the audiobook, the novel was a slow start as I tried to get a handle on the jumps in time and who was who – nothing made much sense until I started making a list a third of the way through. But, difficulty aside, this was an amazing story, full of love and friendship and all the heartbreak that comes with any kind of relationship. While the characters are a little extreme for real life, their growth comes natural, exposing the raw emotion a tragedy can spark and the different reactions a person can experience. For anyone who’s ever fallen out with an old friend, or who has a best friend now, this is a great story to read.
What have you been reading lately?
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