Comfort Reads

I have been in one of the worst reading slumps of my life over the past two months. I can’t tell if it is grief or being overworked or lack of sleep or a combination of all of these plus some. Truthfully, my guess is the later. I feel like I have tried everything to get out of it. I have been turning to comfort reads to have something to do and try to reignite that reading spark. This list felt really random until I began putting it together and then realized it was all stories of people settling into a new place. Let me know if you have a book you always return to that I can try.

Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffery (Fantasy – Young Adult)

Eva Evergreen, the Semi-Magical Witch by Julia Abe (Fantasy – Middle Grade)

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (Fantasy – Middle Grade)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Historical Fiction – Adult)

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot – (Non-Fiction – Adult)

Predictions: Bridgerton Season 2

It is almost here, coming on March 25th to Netflix will be Bridgerton Season 2. After Season 1 went viral at the end of 2020.This series is based on the best selling romance novels by Julia Quinn, each book and now season following one of the Bridgerton siblings love stories. This season is based on my personal favorite “The Viscount Who Loved Me”. However, the series expands past the books to maintain stories for all the siblings and other major characters until time comes for their book. I wanted to share my predictions for what will be added or changed in the story for the upcoming season. What do you think will happen and are you planning on watching?

  1. Edwina acknowledges Kate and Anthony’s connection to Mary or we see that she has a better connection with other suitors and the sacrifice she is making for the family before the bee scene.
  2. Francesca is in at least two episodes (especially because she gets married for the first time in the same season as Benedict).
  3. Eloise and Edwina bond over wanting to pursue scholarship and higher education.
  4. The Cheese couple (Finch and Phillipa) get married.
  5. Kate bonds with the Bridgertons after the wedding.
  6. We see Anthony pick up the trumpet.
  7. Eloise’s love interest will effect the Featheringtons.
  8. Colin shows some anger towards Lady Whistledown in front of Penelope.
  9. Daphne and Violet argue about how to best parent Daphne and Simon’s son.
  10. The season ends with the masquerade ball or at least the planning of it.

My Favorite Books of 2021

This year was a weird reading year. There were not a lot of bad books, but there weren’t a lot of stand outs either. In 179 books, most were three or four stars. I found that while I read a lot outside of my comfort zone, I found that there were fewer standouts. I found that I read a lot of epics and tried to keep things a little quicker and lighter, especially considering the year I had. I am including a breakdown of feeling and genre below from Storygraph. What was your favorite book of the year?

Adult

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – This was a beautiful and haunting historical fiction. For lovers of books and tragedy.

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Lacey Lamar and Amber Ruffin – I felt guilty about laughing, but it is a must read if you live in the United States. Witty and important.

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian – A character study of one of my childhood favorites. It gives a great understanding of the Arthurian legend while still being new.

White Ivy by Susie Yang – Dark, gothic, and shocking. If you aren’t sure you are into to thrillers this was so gripping and I have recommended it to everyone I know.

The Red Threads of Fate by Neon Yang – The Tensorate series is so high concept, but I loved the grounding of this book in love and grief. The whole series is excellent, but this was my favorite so far.

New Adult

The Princess Search by Melanie Cellier – Ugly Duckling retelling meets romance and politics. I loved that this was a story about processing trauma that wasn’t focused on forgiveness.

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi – Sisterhood. Insurance fraud. Food-filled pages. You will cry but it is worth it.

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce – This is the start to the third series following our young mages from the Winding Circle. I was so impressed by how authentically they grew up, their relationships when coming back together, the uniqueness of their magic, and how sex positive it was.

Young Adult

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas – A perfect coming of age story plus ghosts. It’s a super fast-paced story about love, death, and community.

The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead – This is conclusion to the Glittering Court series. It was a great story of survival. There were a lot of safe choices that the author could have made, but they didn’t. I also deeply loved the relationship.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust – This dark, new fairytale was such a beautiful read. It was magical and traumatic.

Anna K by Jenny Lee – This modern day Anna Karenina has stuck with me for most of the year as a favorite. I was amazed at how authentically they modernized it, while still being true to the tragedy of the worlds then and now.

Thorn by Intisar Khanani – I think Goose Girl retellings are slowly taking over the favorite slot. I absolutely loved the world. Alyrra was my favorite protagonist of the year. Her sense of justice, kindness, and quick thinking made her so engaging.

Middle Grade

Eva Evergreen, Semi Magical Witch by Julia Abe – Purest little hearts. A perfect mix of Klaus, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Kiki’s Delivery Service (three already existing favorites). I cannot recommend this book enough.

The School Between Winter and Fairyland by Heather Fawcett – I do have a full review of this book, but it was such a refreshing take on both the chosen one and magic school tropes. A great adventure of prophecy and family.

Fall Seasonal Wrap-up

The fall season (9/21-12/21) has officially come and gone. And at least in the northern hemisphere, winter is heavily upon us. The fall was a decent-reading time I completed 46 books in the last three monhs. I am practicing self-care by DNFing this season more than ever (those are not reflected in my review). Unfortunately, I felt like the special and engaging reads were farther between than I would have liked. Plenty were good and a lot were in my regular interests, but they just didn’t grip me. However, I feel like I am ending the year on a solid footing, ready to leap into a new year and new stories.

Target Level# of Books
Middle Grade14
Young Adult22
Adult10

Stand-Out Reads

  • The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead
  • Thorn by Intisar Khanani
  • The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah
  • Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
  • A School between Winter and Fairyland by Heather Fawcett
  • A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee

The School Between Winter and Fairyland by Heather Fawcett (Spoiler Free)

Summary

Twelve-year-old Autumn Malog is a servant at the enchanting Inglenook School, where young magicians study to become the king’s future monster-hunters. Along with her Gran and three too many older brothers, she works as a beastkeeper, tending to Inglenook’s menagerie of terrifying monsters.

But when she isn’t mucking out the wyvern stalls or coaxing the resident boggart to behave, Autumn searches for clues about her twin brother’s mysterious disappearance. Everyone else thinks he was devoured by the feared Hollow Dragon, but Autumn is convinced she’s heard–and glimpsed–him calling to her from within the castle walls. But who will believe a lowly servant?

So when Cai Morrigan, the “Chosen One” prophesied to one day destroy the Hollow Dragon, comes to her for help, Autumn agrees on one condition: Together, they’ll search for her brother and uncover the dark truth at the heart of enchanting Inglenook School once and for all.

Rating: ✨✨✨✨✨

My Thoughts

I have been having a really hard time picking up books that I am loving lately, but I was entirely enchanted by this read. This is a switched take on a boarding school and chosen one tale. Our two main characters, Autumn and Cai. could not be more different in their social status or their understanding of the world. However, their stubborn beliefs and talent make them logical allies and interesting friends. The family dynamics felt really authentic and I liked that they showed siblings that weren’t friends but still loved and supported each other.

The world was nothing super new, but I felt like we were getting to see a new side of it, through the Malogs who are decidedly not “special”. I think the monsters were super engaging and endearing. However, due Autumn’s relationship with the monsters of the world make scary situations with them feel tense but not threatening. I felt that this was a story that grew really well and was really well paced especially for a stand alone. It was not a magic bullet ending, but definitely a satisfying one.

In general, this was incredibly charming story that made me laugh and gasp as an adult. I feel like it would be appropriate for 4th grade and up. I would definitely recommend for anyone who is interested a tenacious protagonist, flipped tropes, and figuring out the moral compass of the world.

Halloween Candy Book Tag

I love Halloween and I was looking for a tag that reflected by favorite piece of it: the candy! I found this one which I really enjoyed created by Book Adventures with Katie on Youtube. Personally my favorite is anything involving nougat, which doesn’t have a question on this tag but I felt it covered all the classics. What is your favorite Halloween candy?

Reese’s Cup: Classic YA book everyone loves

I feel like for this I am going to have to go with the Hunger Games. I reread these over the past year and it really holds up. From what I have seen it looks like it is going to continue to be a classic for a long time.

Sour Patch Kids: Grew on you over time

Mind of My Mind by Octavia E. Butler. I think that this book in general has very unsettling themes but it took me a while to get into. By the end, I was totally committed to the book.

Bubble Gum: Great at first but “lost its flavor” over time

For this I am going the the Throne of Glass series. The flavorful moments that were satisfying but were too few and far between as the series went on and unfortunately I lost my taste for it.

Candy Corn: Polarizing read

I genuinely do love candy corn and someone how ended up with the only other person my age I know who also likes it. However for this one I am going with a book that made me feel polarized by not liking it. That was The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. So many people love this author and I love the idea of dark academia but I did not like and I have found this tends to be a totally love or totally hate.

Laffy Taffy: Made you laugh

I should read more joyful books, I don’t really remember the last time a book made me laugh. The only thing that comes to mind recently is some of the short stories from Once Upon an Eid, an anthology edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed. In general the stories were beautiful and joyous but the special holiday chaos of “Yusuf and The Great Big Brownie Mistake” and “Eid and Pink Bubble Gum, Insha’ Allah”.

Sucker: Cliché but sucked you in

I’m not going to explain myself but the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, or at least the original trilogy.

Fun-size: Short and sweet

Again, I need to read more positive books because I had to reach back to some of the classics. Coming in at 110 pages (or at least the version I have) I am hitting this off with The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I know that not everyone would consider it “sweet” but I think it is heartwarming and you leave the book with a positive feeling.

King-size: Gave you more than you thought you needed

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi was one of my most surprising reads of the year in a really good way. I was expecting a darker coming of age story but I was really impressed by the complexity, the relationships: romantically, with family, and with herself.

York Peppermint Pattie: Refreshing read

I like to use graphic novels to refresh the brain. Lately I have been moving through the Orange volumes by Ichigo Takano and The 5 Worlds series by Mark and Alexis Siegel.

Krackel/Mr. Goodbar: Underrated read

I never know exactly what this is asking so I have prepared an answer for each option. A book I think people rated under its value is White Ivy by Susie Yang. An incredible contemporary thriller surrounding privilege. A book that I think not enough people have rated (read) is Each of Us a Desert.

Twix: Told from dual perspectives

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal is a of the hyped-variety but a great dual perspectives. It absolutely deserves the hype it gets and the perspectives genuinely feel different and give you new insight to the story.

Twizzlers: A book you want to be made into a movie/show

My cheating answer is the Witchlands series by Susan Dennard, but that is already being developed for TV, so hooray! My non-cheating answer is The Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow. It is such an engaging and timely story. The world has already been expanded in The Chorus Rises and I would love to be able to continue to explore it on a show.

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo (Review)

Summary:

We shall all, in the end, be led to where we belong. We shall all, in the end, find our way home.

In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all—for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why.

Review:

I have been a long time fan of Kate DiCamillo since “The Tale of Despereaux” and I was very excited to get my hands on this book. Mostly it is a story about stories and the power of words. It could definitely be a little corny, but overall I found the writing to mask many of the repeat tropes. It felt a little bit like floating through the tale. Most often we were peripheral to Beatryce moving tangentially or even back tracking before a character joined her group. This made a lot of the story feel more passive.

I felt like the characters in themselves were very morally good, but not as interesting or unique on paper as I have come to expect with DiCamillo. What I really liked though was that the acts of the generation before were incredibly important to the story. How Beatryce was raised and what she was taught to believe in value were integral not the page time and the story as a whole.

Overall I gave this book 4 star and had a pretty enjoyable time reading it. It was heartwarming and built at a comfortable pace. I would go to the ends of the earth for the “demon-goat” Answelica though.

Publication Date: September 2021

Publisher: Candewick Press

Read more reviews and content warnings here.

Finally Fall Book Tag

The season has finally started to change. The weather is getting cooler during the day and not just at night. The candy corn is back in the aisles. I found this awesome book tag that celebrates some of my favorite things about the season, plus I missed doing tags. Enjoy!

In fall, the air is crisp and clear: Name a book with a vivid setting!

For this one I am going with a historical fiction book: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah . This book made the dustbowl, migrant camps, and work fields come alive. The writing is so vivid and beautiful, even in this book that is largely heartbreak.

Nature is beautiful…but also dying: Name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

Unfortunately for this question and perhaps myself I have read quite a few books that fit in this category. I would pick Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi and The Deep by Rivers Solomon but for very different reasons. Yolk is a contemporary that focuses on health, growing up, and food. The Deep is a fantasy that surrounds generational trauma, identity, and mermaids.

Fall is back to school season: Share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

I have been reading a lot more non-fiction lately. One that really stuck with me was Pushout by Monique Morris. This focused on the criminalization of Black girls and the structures that work against them in the school systems, especially in the US.

In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: Name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.

Even though i wasn’t a huge fan of the last book I would love to be a member of the Penderwick clan from the Penderwick series by Jeanne Birdsall. This passionate, loving, wild family is so endearing and cares for each other so deeply that I would just love to be another member of this ever growing family.

The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: Show us a pile of fall-colored spines!

Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: Share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.

Definitely going with the classic The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss for this one. This fantasy epic is Kvothe telling his own story to a biographer after years in hiding from his past.

The nights are getting darker: Share a dark, creepy read.

I am not a huge horror or gore fan but I do like a good mystery or suspense novel. The best creepy novel I have read recently is A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell. This is the story of massacre, class, and coverup. This was brutal but not gorey or gross and definitely a great stay-up-all-night nervous book.

The days are getting colder: Name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch by Julia Abe is an incredibly heartwarming book that also deals with an impending storm. I absolutely adore this book about a young witch going to find her talents and her place in the community (both magical and non).

Fall returns every year: Name an old favourite that you’d like to return to soon.

This is not a book but a world favorite. I absolutely love Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legends of Korra. I am super excited to return to the world with the Kyoshi duology by F.C. Yee and Suki, Alone by Faith Erin Hicks this fall.

Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: Share your favourite cozy reading “accessories”!

I got a large mug with a hot beverage and cozy cat. I am all set to settle in for a long reading night.

The post Finally Fall Book Tag appeared first on Kristin Kraves Books.

Summer Wrap Up

This summer was incredibly long personally. I did get a lot of reading done though despite work, memorials, and finally taking a break. This season I got through 36 books, which felt really good for me. I also was a little more liberal with myself and not finishing books after I had started them. I had a pretty solid reading month. I enjoyed most of what I read, but there were very few stand outs. Over the month, I averaged 4.04 stars in the books that I finished. This felt pretty solid. I enjoyed most of the books I read. They were solid, but there were very few standouts for me personally, even in the ones where the books themselves were excellent.

Genre Breakdown:

Rating Breakdown:

RatingNumber of Books
2.0 – 2.5 Stars 2
2.51 – 3.0 Stars1
3.01 – 3.5 Stars7
3.51 – 4.0 Stars8
4.01 – 4.5 Stars7
4.51 – 5 Stars11

Standouts of the Season

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Ash by Malinda Lo

Monstress Vol. 1 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takenda

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

Books that focus on Education

Happy back to school season! School and education has always been such a major part of my life. For me there are a lot of aspects to an education, not just learning algebra and going to class. There is building a strong foundation to move forward, finding passion and deciding what you are excited about, and taking new opportunities through extra curriculars and chances provided to you. All the books below take place at a school, but focus in a different space of the education process.

Changing Your Life (Core Classes)

Princess Academy (series) by Shannon Hale – Middle Grade/Fantasy

We are Okay by Nina LaCour – Young Adult/Contemporary

Educated by Tara Westover – Adult/Autobiography

Following Passion (Field of Study)

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells – Adult/Autobiography

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – Young Adult/Contemporary

Truly Devious (series) by Maureen Johnson – Young Adult/Mystery

Taking Chances (Extracurriculars)

Again, but Better – New Adult/Contemporary

Check, Please! – Young Adult/Contemporary/Graphic Novel

Smash it! by Francina Simone – Young Adult/Contemporary