So this is sort of a wrap up, but only for the books I read whilst in Italy. I read four books prior to leaving to Italy in September, which I will talk about at a later date. One of those books is technically part of a blog post idea that I have…so we shall see.
Anyway, I read 15 books when I was in Italy (27 days, including the two days to and from Melbourne on the plane) and two of them were novellas as part of series, one was an audiobook and all of them were read as ebooks. I mostly read romance and fantasy with a side of some mystery books. I also read one memoir, which was the audiobook.
Let’s organise this by book title, shall we? I read some fantastically titled novels! I’m going to organise by my favourite title to least favourite title. This will be interesting actually…what makes a great title? What do you think?
Like most of these posts I do – I won’t be summarising or telling you a detailed (or any) synopsis. I will link each book to storygraph so that you can read the synopsis if you would like.
My favourite titles of the month has to go to 𝑻𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑻𝒊𝒎𝒆 𝑰 𝑮𝒐𝒕 𝑫𝒓𝒖𝒏𝒌 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑺𝒂𝒗𝒆𝒅 𝒂 𝑫𝒆𝒎𝒐𝒏 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑻𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑻𝒊𝒎𝒆 𝑰 𝑮𝒐𝒕 𝑫𝒓𝒖𝒏𝒌 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒀𝒆𝒆𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝒂 𝑳𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝑷𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒂𝒕 𝒂 𝑾𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒘𝒐𝒍𝒇 𝒃𝒚 𝑲𝒊𝒎𝒃𝒆𝒓𝒍𝒚 𝑳𝒆𝒎𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒈. These two books are books one and two in the Mead Mishaps series and I absolutely adored them. These books are fantasy romance, heavy on the romance, but I think I would technically still define them as cozy fantasy romance. These were an absolute treat to read. I’ll quickly talk about 𝑻𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑻𝒊𝒎𝒆 𝑰 𝑮𝒐𝒕 𝑫𝒓𝒖𝒏𝒌 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑺𝒂𝒗𝒆𝒅 𝒂 𝑫𝒆𝒎𝒐𝒏 first. Literally what it says on the tin. We have a woman named Cinnamon Hotpepper (yes, that is her name, isn’t it hilarious) who works on her family’s spice farm (YES, A SPICE FARM AND HER NAME IS CINNAMON HOTPEPPER). In this fantasical world, the word ‘Demon’ is essentially an umbrella term for fantastical/supernatural creatures, such as any sort of shifters, orcs, witches, ghouls – if it exists, it’s most likely in this world. But they refer to them overall as demons. When a ‘demon’ shows up, Cinnamon accidentally saves him…and then she gets dragged along a quest to save all the demons from an evil sorceress. It’s just so cute and adorable and so fucking hilarious.
The sequel is much the same, although I would consider this to feel slightly more serious? Our main character in 𝑻𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑻𝒊𝒎𝒆 𝑰 𝑮𝒐𝒕 𝑫𝒓𝒖𝒏𝒌 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒀𝒆𝒆𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝒂 𝑳𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝑷𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒂𝒕 𝒂 𝑾𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒘𝒐𝒍𝒇 is more of an overthinker. Her internal monologue was something that I quite related to. And as a result, although this was still freaking hilarious, it was slightly different to the first book in that the romance felt more grounded. Even though it was about a werewolf who essentially imprints on our main character, Brie. Imagine if Legends and Lattes had more explicit sex scenes. I loved them.
I gave them both 4 stars.
I also read the novella, 𝑴𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒍𝒆𝒇𝒐𝒆 for this series and it was so cute. 4 stars.
I think this might also be tied for first place. I finally read 𝑰’𝒎 𝑮𝒍𝒂𝒅 𝑴𝒚 𝑴𝒖𝒎 𝑫𝒊𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝑱𝒆𝒏𝒏𝒆𝒕𝒕𝒆 𝑴𝒄𝑪𝒖𝒓𝒅𝒚. I don’t know what to say that hasn’t been said before. This was brilliant. Brilliant. All the hype surrounding this? Deserved. I also highly recommend the audiobook because 𝑱𝒆𝒏𝒏𝒆𝒕𝒕𝒆 𝑴𝒄𝑪𝒖𝒓𝒅𝒚 herself narrates and it adds something so emotional to hear her narrate her life, sometimes so blase when describing her trauma, that it hits you in the heart even more. I also highly recommend watching some of 𝑱𝒆𝒏𝒏𝒆𝒕𝒕𝒆’s interviews (especially the one with Trevor Noah and Drew Barrymore) to hear her speak about not only her book and her life, but her journey to get to the point where she could write about it. I just want to highlight that, for me, the writing was truly wonderful. 𝑴𝒄𝑪𝒖𝒓𝒅𝒚 split this novel in parts, before and after. When you read the ‘before’ section, when 𝑴𝒄𝑪𝒖𝒓𝒅𝒚 was a little girl just starting out in Hollywood – it’s written from the perspective of a little girl. At times, I forgot that this was a memoir. 𝑴𝒄𝑪𝒖𝒓𝒅𝒚’s ability to tell a story is incredible.
This might be a surprise for some of you…I actually read a YA murder mystery! As you all know, YA and me are having a bit of a tumultuous relationship. But I picked up 𝑨 𝑮𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝑮𝒊𝒓𝒍’𝒔 𝑮𝒖𝒊𝒅𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝑴𝒖𝒓𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒃𝒚 𝑯𝒐𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝑱𝒂𝒄𝒌𝒔𝒐𝒏 and I am so happy I did. I know I’m a few years too late in hopping onto this bandwagon – I feel like it was super hyped when it came out, a whole three years ago! But I finally did, only because Hannah read it whilst we were in Italy and told me to read it. So I did.
This was really good! I don’t know why I was so surprised, but I was. 𝑯𝒐𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝑱𝒂𝒄𝒌𝒔𝒐𝒏 wrote such a great, twisty and also compelling murder mystery with a really great main character. Pippa was great – incredibly intelligent but also slightly stupid but it was frustrating in an engaging way – screaming at Pippa to realise what was right in front of her. I couldn’t stop reading! I wanted to know the twists and turns! I was on the edge of my seat in such a great way. I really enjoyed it and immediately moved to the sequel, 𝑮𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝑮𝒊𝒓𝒍, 𝑩𝒂𝒅 𝑩𝒍𝒐𝒐𝒅.
I think the sequel isn’t as strong as the first novel, but it was still enjoyable and I absolutely flew through it. 𝑯𝒐𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝑱𝒂𝒄𝒌𝒔𝒐𝒏 weaves an intriguing and engaging story, and I also think that the fact that the two books technically follow two different storylines…they’re still quite intimately connected. But it never felt repetitive. Thank the universe above.
I gave both books 4 stars.
I finally finally completed 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗣𝗼𝗽𝗽𝘆 𝗪𝗮𝗿 𝗧𝗿𝗶𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘆: I reread 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑷𝒐𝒑𝒑𝒚 𝑾𝒂𝒓, 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒓𝒂𝒈𝒐𝒏 𝑹𝒆𝒑𝒖𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒄 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑩𝒖𝒓𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑮𝒐𝒅. I first read 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑷𝒐𝒑𝒑𝒚 𝑾𝒂𝒓 in 2020 and absolutely loved it. I think it might have been the first ‘military’ fantasy I had ever read – and possibly the first proper high epic fantasy…I need to double check that. But I thoroughly enjoyed the way it was written, I thought the focus on the realities of war and the horror of combat – was something quite refreshing for me to read. Mind you, at the time, I don’t think I read any sort of fantasy depicting a war such as that in 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑷𝒐𝒑𝒑𝒚 𝑾𝒂𝒓. I was honestly blown away by R.F. Kuang.
In my first week in Rome, I decided to reread 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑷𝒐𝒑𝒑𝒚 𝑾𝒂𝒓 – and everything I have said about it remains true. I then moved onto 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒓𝒂𝒈𝒐𝒏 𝑹𝒆𝒑𝒖𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒄 . I think this book is my favourite in the trilogy. It was magnificent. We see the development of Rin’s character and we begin to understand the trajectory of her story. I both loved and hated Rin and I am pretty sure that is what is supposed to occur when you read this trilogy. Though there was action (obviously), this felt more character based and I absolutely adored that. Kuang is a master story-teller, and 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒓𝒂𝒈𝒐𝒏 𝑹𝒆𝒑𝒖𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒄 is where she shines. The cast of characters, the intricate interweaving storylines, the betrayals and secret plans – it was all so gripping to read.
I then read the novella, 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒓𝒐𝒘𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑭𝒂𝒊𝒕𝒉 and it was fine. I do think you need to read it before going in and reading 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑩𝒖𝒓𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑮𝒐𝒅 as it provides a little bit of context pertaining to the beginning of the last novel.
𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑩𝒖𝒓𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑮𝒐𝒅 was good. The first half of the last book in the trilogy was great – it was furthering the plot well. We were seeing the effects of the previous two books on Rin and her mental health. However. The last half or third of the book was slightly disappointing. I still cannot pinpoint why, but I felt let down. Did anyone else feel like this? It wasn’t in result of the ending because I was expecting that – it felt like the only real way the story could end. But the way it was written and the build up to that point felt lacklustre or it felt like it didn’t reach its potential. It should have been this epic, climactic scene but I read it and my immediate reaction was, ‘okay’ and I closed the book and that was that. The potential wasn’t reached.
I gave both d 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑷𝒐𝒑𝒑𝒚 𝑾𝒂𝒓 and 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒓𝒂𝒈𝒐𝒏 𝑹𝒆𝒑𝒖𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒄 5 stars and 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑩𝒖𝒓𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑮𝒐𝒅, 4 stars.
I was so excited to read this in Italy and it does have a great title! 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒏 𝑾𝒉𝒐 𝑫𝒊𝒆𝒅 𝑻𝒘𝒊𝒄𝒆 𝒃𝒚 𝑹𝒊𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒓𝒅 𝑶𝒔𝒎𝒂𝒏 is book two in the 𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐌𝐮𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐂𝐥𝐮𝐛 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬. I wanted cozy muder mystery and I got cozy murder mystery. I read 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑻𝒉𝒖𝒓𝒔𝒅𝒂𝒚 𝑴𝒖𝒓𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝑪𝒍𝒖𝒃 (TTMC) in 2021 not really expecting to adore it but I did. When the sequel came out in the small paperback edition (to match my edition of TTMC) I immediately purchased it. But like joke’s on me – I read it as an ebook in Italy because I only took one physical book with me overseas!
𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒏 𝑾𝒉𝒐 𝑫𝒊𝒆𝒅 𝑻𝒘𝒊𝒄𝒆 takes place quite soon after the events of the first book and it centres mostly on Elizabeth and a man from her past coming back requiring her help. This didn’t feel as action-packed as the first one, if you could even describe TTMC as such, but I think the sequel felt much more cozy. Joyce and Elizabeth’s friendship is the main attraction for this book and we see their friendship grow deeper. We also see the different sides of Elizabeth, who at this stage is my favourite character. This novel is also quite emotional in terms of Abrahim’s character and storyline. He had me crying. The mystery aspect was predictable and easily figured out but I read this books for the characters now and not the murder mystery, so that was not an issue for me.
I randomly picked up 𝑯𝒂𝒏𝒊 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑰𝒔𝒉𝒖’𝒔 𝑮𝒖𝒊𝒅𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝑭𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝑫𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒃𝒚 𝑨𝒅𝒊𝒃𝒂 𝑱𝒂𝒊𝒈𝒊𝒓𝒅𝒂𝒓 – what a great title, honestly. The title in this case is literally what the book is about. I read 𝑱𝒂𝒊𝒈𝒊𝒓𝒅𝒂𝒓’s previous novel, 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑯𝒆𝒏𝒏𝒂 𝑾𝒂𝒓𝒔 and really enjoyed it so this novel has been on my ‘want to read’ list for as long as it’s been out but I never picked it up. I was in the mood to read it when I was in Florence so I did. If you want to read a really great young adult contemporary queer romance, I highly recommend you pick this up. 𝑱𝒂𝒊𝒈𝒊𝒓𝒅𝒂𝒓 writes some of the most authentic and realistic young adult novels in terms of highlighting the experiences of growing up in all girls’ Catholic school. The toxic friendships between young women, the pressure and stress of conforming yourself – 𝑱𝒂𝒊𝒈𝒊𝒓𝒅𝒂𝒓 knows it and writes such fabulously written stories with wonderful characters. The sapphic romance was also fantastic. Read it!
I then decided to read 𝑶𝒏𝒍𝒚 𝑾𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝑰𝒕’𝒔 𝑼𝒔 𝒃𝒚 𝑪𝒉𝒍𝒐𝒆 𝑳𝒊𝒆𝒔𝒆 because I’ve seen it on TikTok and it was fine. I don’t really know what else to say about it. It was fine. I’ve read better and I’ve read worse. It was slightly dull and boring – and I would love to know the opinions of people who have read it and are from the Deaf or hard of hearing community as the main romance interest is a deaf man who then gets a cochlear implact and everything is perfect and ‘fixed’. Let me know.
The last two books (and book titles) I’m going to talk about together. The book titles are not only boring but the actual books themselves were trash. Actual garbage. I read 𝑻𝒐𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝑴𝒆 𝑮𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒍𝒚 𝒃𝒚 𝑱𝑹 𝑳𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑯𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒃𝒚 𝑫𝒊𝒂𝒏𝒂 𝑷𝒂𝒍𝒎𝒆𝒓 because I read these books when I was a teenager, possibly around 15? And they were favourites back then but I had never really reread them since. So I did. Why did I do that to myself? WHY? 𝑻𝒐𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝑴𝒆 𝑮𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒍𝒚 is incredibly dramatic and written by a woman who does not understand gay man relationships. There was such a focus on the main character being effeminate in order to justify the romance lead’s interest in him (since the romance lead has never been attracted to men before). But it became ridiculous. The main character’s small stature and woman-like figure (?) and his young age – it became creepy. Also, the trauma the main character has gone through is horrible and it comes to a point where his trauma becomes a way to again position him as a damsel who needs constant protection. Also, the age gap was weird and the main romance lead kept calling him ‘kid’ and ‘the teen’ – WHY.
And 𝑯𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒃𝒚 𝑫𝒊𝒂𝒏𝒂 𝑷𝒂𝒍𝒎𝒆𝒓? Horrible. Terrible. Women should not be treated like this in a relationship. Trash.
And that’s it! All the books I read whilst I was in Italy! I hope you enjoyed! What have you read? Any new favourites? Let me know, please!
Until next time, happy reading.
All the love,