2021 in Review: Highlights

Well, the world may still be crazy, but in terms of reading, 2021 ended up pretty great! I blew my Goodreads goal out of the water (though I had deliberately set it low so that I wouldn’t stress over it this year) with 98 books read, and so many of them were fantastic! 😆 I finally got around to starting a bookstagram account in April, and I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going so far… and if I do say so myself, my 2021 My Year in Books page is looking pretty neat. 😋

As for some specific book stuff, I started some excellent new fantasy series last year. Notably, The Stormlight Archive (which has been a very long time coming); Black Sun (which has left me on tenterhooks for the sequel); and The Tiger’s Daughter (a sapphic, Mongolian-inspired fantasy with a heavy focus on its central love story – though I’m very much looking forward to more demon-fighting in the rest of the series).

I also did a lot of re-reading this year, and I’m pleased to say that a couple of the books I re-read, I liked even better than the first time around, those being Komarr, which I now rate among my all-time favourites, and The Edge of the Cloud, which was a burst of nostalgia that came at the perfect moment. And speaking of nostalgia, I managed to end the year on a real high point with Terciel & Elinor, a new prequel to a series that’s been one of my favourites since I was a teenager. ☺️

This was a great year for romance, too! It’s not a genre I’ve ever been super-into, but (like many people, I think), I’ve been appreciating it a lot in the last couple of years, and am definitely hoping to read more in 2022. Some of my favourites were Kulti (a slow-burn sports romance), Beach Read (a fun rivals-to-lovers story), as well as the political sci-fi romance Winter’s Orbit, and the Regency-inspired fantasy romance The Midnight Bargain.

… And my summer in general somehow ended up being very Regency-themed, with me (kind of accidentally) participating in #JaneAustenJuly. At long last, I read Persuasion, the last (completed) Austen novel I had left – and it was well worth the wait. 😁 I re-listened to Pride & Prejudice on my summer holiday not long after, inspired by a couple of spin-offs and continuations of that story that I’d been enjoying; namely Longbourn and The Other Bennet Sister.

And last but not least, an unexpected favourite (though also somewhat Austen-adjacent) was the Mean Girls inspired Regency rom-com Reputation. I was nervous to pick this one up, as I’ve historically had pretty bad luck with authors who I initially liked for other reasons (Lex Croucher, who wrote Reputation, is also a youtuber), but it was absolutely hilarious, and the perfect book for the moment in which I read it. 🎶 I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for their next release, Gwen & Art Are Not in Love, which should be out in early 2023. 🤞

(ROUGH) TOP 10:

  1. Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold* [REVIEW]
  2. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
  3. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson [REVIEW]
  4. Terciel & Elinor by Garth Nix
  5. The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
  6. The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
  7. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  8. The Edge of the Cloud by K.M. Peyton*
  9. Reputation by Lex Croucher
  10. Longbourn by Jo Baker [REVIEW]

(*Re-reads included only where I’ve changed my rating.)

Mid-Year Book Freakout, 2021 edition!

2021 has been another stellar reading year so far, undoubtedly helped along by the fact that I’ve  – once again – been stuck at home a lot… (Mixed blessings, I guess. 😓) As of right now, I only have two books left to read for my Goodreads challenge, and one for my 5-4-3-2-1 challenge… and although I haven’t finished off too many series’ yet, I’ve been making good progress on a few! But here are some of the highlights (and lowlights), for your perusal:

1) What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2021?

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera, though it was a pretty close competition! I’d been wanting to read this for a while, and my expectations were incredibly high, but the reality of the book was so much more than I’d imagined! 😆 If the rest of the series lives up to its beginning, it may well become one of my all-time favourites…

2) What’s the best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021?

I’m sure some of you guys thought I’d never get here, but I finally read Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor, and it was amazing. 😊 It’d been so long since I read Daughter of Smoke & Bone that I was afraid that I’d be completely lost in the sequel, but I was actually able to fall back into this world really easily! Fingers crossed that it won’t take me so long to get to Dreams of Gods & Monsters, though… 😅

3) What’s a new release that you haven’t read yet, but want to?

Despite referring to it as my most anticipated release of the summer, and having got hold of it reasonably soon after its release, I still haven’t read For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten! This is a dark fantasy (romance?), that’s said to have a fairytale-esque feel to it; I’m not sure if it’s actually a re-telling (or re-imagining) of Little Red Riding Hood, though, or if the cover is just invoking that imagery… but either way, I want to be reading this soon!

4) What’s your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

Apparently The Exile’s Gift by Tamora Pierce (the sequel to Tempests & Slaughter) is coming out next month?! Which is very exciting if true, but I’m not sure that I really believe it, as it hasn’t even had a cover reveal yet… 😥 But otherwise, Garth Nix’s Terciel & Elinor, another addition to one of my favourite fictional worlds, is due in September, and I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on it! 😊 This is a prequel to the original Old Kingdom trilogy, following Sabriel’s parents.

5) What’s your biggest disappointment of the year?

Probably The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White, which I was quite enjoying for the most part, but had a very annoying ending. 😑

6) And the biggest surprise?

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson! I don’t know why I didn’t expect to like this very much, but I didn’t… and then it turned out to be so much fun! This series is in a sad state of sequel-limbo at the moment, but I”m really looking forward to (one day) continuing! 😁

7) Do you have a new favourite author?

Is it too soon to call Rebecca Roanhorse a new favourite? I’ve only read one of her books so far (Black Sun), but I’m dying to get hold of the sequel – and although her other books look like post-apocalyptic stories, which aren’t usually my thing, I find myself intrigued by them anyway, just because the writing and characters in Black Sun were so good…

8) Or a new fictional crush?

I’m not much of a one for crushes (even fictional), but maybe Thomas from Lex Croucher’s Reputation? He’s not the most fleshed-out character in the book, but he’s just so sweet. 💕 (And I really loved the flirty letters between him and Georgiana. 😊)

9) Who’s your newest favourite character?

Basically anyone from Black Sun… I found Naranpa’s storyline the most interesting, but may have liked Okoa more as a character (though sadly he didn’t get too many chapters, as he wasn’t introduced until quite late in the book). But Serapio was wonderful as well, and although I didn’t like Xiala that much at first, she really grew on me…

10) What book made you cry?

I’m not really a book-crier (or a crier at all, for that matter), but Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn  Too by Jomny Sun had me blinking away tears a couple of times.

11) What book made you happy?

Reputation again! It was such a fun romp, despite some heavy topics, and I devoured it in a single night!

12) What’s the most beautiful book you’ve bought (or been given) this year?

love the cover of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, which I was given for my birthday last week! Such orange! & that blue foiling! 😍 But For the Wolf definitely comes in a close second.

13) What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

There are only two books left on my self-destruct list (Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater and Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas), so I should probably prioritise those even though I’m not feeling all that keen at the moment… The ones I really want to get to, though, are some of my newer purchases! Top of the TBR right now are the aforementioned (several times) For the WolfThe Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri, a new Indian-inspired fantasy; and The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow, a retelling of Pride & Prejudice that focuses on Elizabeth’s sister Mary (I’ve been in a massive Jane Austen mood this month 😅).

  

[Tag’s original creators: Earl Grey Books & ReadLikeWildfire.]

2021 Reading Goals

Click to zoom in for a closer look! (Photo taken in early January, so slightly out-of date… 😓)

So I know it’s a little too far into 2021 to be talking about my goals for the year, but as usual I’ve procrastinated the first two months of the year away, so here they are anyway! 😅 Last year, aside from my Goodreads challenge, I set myself a very vague bingo board, and a bucket list of 5-star predictions to read… and it went pretty well! But I’ve decided to change things up just a bit for 2021. 😊

So my main challenge this year will be the 5-4-3-2-1 challenge (of unknown-to-me origins, though I first stumbled across it via one of the youtubers I follow; I can’t remember/find who…), for which I will be reading 5, 4, 3, etc. books in specific categories. The ones I’ve picked are 5 sci-fis, 4 big books (by which I mean over 500 pages), 3 horrors, 2 non-fictions, and 1 thriller, which are all genres I’ve been wanting to read more of, or take more chances on. In keeping with the current Booktube trend, I’ve also swapped out my bucket list for a “self-destruct” list of six books that I’ve been on the fence about unhauling… they’ve all been sitting around on my shelf for an awfully long time, but I’ve decided (for sure this time!) that if I haven’t read them by the end of the year, they’re going! They are:

As for my more general goals, I’ve set my Goodreads challenge at 65 to start with, but I may raise it if my pace carries on as it has been so far this year. 😊 And I want to make it a priority to finish up some of the (many, many) series I’m in the middle of… I’ve managed to tick off a couple from my initial list already (you can even see one of them crossed off on my bullet journal spread!), but I’ve also put together a “series to finish” shelf on Goodreads, with a whopping 145 books on it (max. 3 books per series), and they’re all unofficially on my to-do list – though more realistically, finishing around 10 series this year would make me super-happy!

2020 in Review: Highlights

🎉 Happy New Year’s Eve, all! 🎉 Once again, the year is at an end and so everyone has to pick a favourite book (or several)! And, once again, I can’t do it. 😓 So these are some of the highlights of my reading year, rather than a top 10, and it’ll definitely include some 4-star reads as well as the usual 5-stars:

Starting with my most recent read, which was Nevernight by Jay Kristoff! I feel as though I haven’t read as much really great fantasy this year as I usually do, so I was delighted to end 2020 on such a high point! Super-edgy, with a witty narrative, a really memorable cast of characters, and a plot that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through; this book was everything I wanted it to be, and more. 🤩

However! To me, the most notable thing about my reading this year is just how much re-reading I’ve done; with my book-buying ban finally starting to cut my physical TBR down to a less anxiety-inducing size, I’ve felt a lot more comfortable with re-reading old favourites rather than always reaching for something new, and it’s been wonderful to revisit worlds that I haven’t been to in ages! I’ve discovered a new appreciation for Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series (which I already thought very highly of), and I loved Tim Curry’s reading of the original Old Kingdom trilogy, which I listened to in order to prepare to finally read the more recent entries in the series. And although Twilight has never been and will never be my favourite series, my chapter-by-chapter re-read of the first two books along with the Twilight in Quarantine podcast kept me sane through the first bout of lockdown-and-return-to-work; I’m very much hoping that book three will do the same for this most recent one… 🤞

Besides re-reads, another thing I’ve read a surprising amount of this year is science fiction! I don’t know how the numbers would hold up compared to genres like fantasy, or even romance, but so many of the sci-fi stories I’ve read this year have been truly fantastic. Notable among them were Becky Chambers’ A Closed & Common Orbit, a book which not only lived up to my sky-high expectations, but actually managed to surpass them; and Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, who may well be one of my favourite new(-to-me) authors… I’ve yet to finish up his Machineries of Empire trilogy, but I got a collection of his short stories for Christmas, and I’m dying to make a start on it, even though traditionally I don’t like short fiction that much.

And! On the subject of sci-fi short stories, I also really, really loved This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone. Was it my favourite book of the year? … Maybe? I’m not entirely sure, to be honest, but if not, it definitely comes close. The writing and imagery were absolutely beautiful, the story itself was unlike anything I’ve read before, and the audiobook – which was how I consumed this story –  was expertly narrated by Emily Woo Zeller & Cynthia Farrell.

And finally, the last book I want to mention is I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman, which was a surprise favourite early on in the year. I won’t say much about it here, since I talked about it already in my Mid-Year Book Freakout post, but it’s definitely stuck with me, despite all the other really great books I’ve read since. 😁

2020 in Review: Challenges & Resolutions

Hi folks! 2020 is finally coming to an end; it’s certainly been a rollercoaster of a year! But while real life sucked pretty badly this year, I did manage to get a lot of reading done, & overshot most of my goals by quite a bit! 🎉🎉🎉 The first of which was my Goodreads challenge, which I had originally set at 60 books, but had to raise after reaching that in the summer… I wasn’t quite brave enough to raise it to 100, but 80 turned out to be an achievable goal for me. 😊 In total, I managed to read 93 books this year. And as usual, Goodreads’ My Year in Books infographic looks pretty snazzy!

I was on hiatus this time last year, so I never shared any of my non-Goodreads-related reading challenges, but here’s a sneak peek at the bullet journal spread I made for them ⬅️ (click to zoom in for a closer look). Basically, I just made myself a small bucket list of books that I was really excited for but hadn’t got around to reading for whatever reason – of which I managed to read all but one, my current read (The Nightjar), which sadly I definitely won’t be finishing before the end of tomorrow 😑 – as well as a 5×5 bingo board with some rather abstract prompts to complete. I think I can remember the how most of the books that I read connected to the prompts, but some of them are pretty obscure… 😅

And, in very exciting news, I’ve finally cut down my physical TBR (or I had before Christmas, anyway) enough that I’m going to end my book-buying-ban! It’s been in place for almost four years now, so hopefully I’ve developed enough of a habit of restraint that I’ll be able to keep it a bit more under control than I could before! 🤞 To replace it, however, I’ll be making my Kindle ban a bit stricter, as I still have almost 100 unread ebooks, and that number has only been growing.

Lastly, in terms of life-goals, my main (relevant) one was to start blogging again, and as you can see, I’ve managed that, too, even though my posts haven’t been as regular as they used to be. I’ve been trying not to stress out over keeping to a strict schedule with blog posts, as that (and work) was what burned me out in the first place… but I’m glad to be back! 😁

Mid-Year Book Freakout, 2020 edition

Though lockdown’s been pretty awful in most ways, it’s been great for my reading! I’m 13 books ahead of schedule on my Goodreads challenge, I’ve read almost my entire 2020 bucket list, and I’ve filled in all but one square on my book bingo challenge, making for 10 of a potential 12 bingos so far! 🎊 And the things that I’ve read have mostly been pretty great, too. 😊 That said, though, here are some of the highs and lows of this strange year so far, in handy tag form:

1) What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2020?

Much to my surprise, it was I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman! Though I had very high expectations for this book when I bought it, I’ve had such terrible luck with contemporaries since then that I was very nervous about picking it up… but it turned out really great! 😁 The writing was noticeably improved from Oseman’s last book, the characters and relationships were all beautiful, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. 💕 (I was also tempted to pick the illustrated edition of Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban for this, which I read for the first time earlier this year and loved, but it’s only kind of a new-to-me book, so I don’t really feel that it qualifies…)

2) What’s the best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020?

That would be Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb, which was the finale to the Farseer Trilogy; it kept me absolutely hooked the whole way through, and ended on such a perfect note! Royal Assassin, the second book in the series, was also a contender, but although the highs of that book were very high indeed, the lows were correspondingly low, and the middle section of the book dragged a lot

3) What’s a new release that you haven’t read yet, but want to?

Loveless by Alice Oseman was just released a few days ago, and I’m eager to get my hands on it! My experience with I Was Born for This has set my expectations sky-high, so hopefully I won’t be disappointed. 🤞

4) What’s your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

If I’d tried to do this tag a few days earlier I’d have had no idea how to answer this question, as, to be honest, I haven’t really been keeping track of new releases this year, but luckily Serpentine by Philip Pullman just got announced! And while it’s not the next volume of The Book of Dust, I’ve loved all of the His Dark Materials short stories so far, and am very much hyped. 😁

5) What’s your biggest disappointment of the year?

Probably The Princess & the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux, which I had had a really good feeling about for a really long time (and for no real reason whatsoever). It isn’t the worst book I’ve read this year by a long shot, but none of the other books I’ve rated low this year – most recently The King’s General and Rainforest – were ones that I had any real expectations for, so “disappointment” isn’t really the right word for them… 😑

6) And the biggest surprise?

This one’s a repeat: I Was Born for This! And I’ve already mentioned the reason why, as well, but in case you skipped it, I’ve been slowly going off contemporary novels for a while now – and it might just be that I’m picking the wrong ones, but I have a feeling otherwise. ☹️ It’s good to know, however, that there are still exceptions to my general reading taste! 👍

7) Do you have a new favourite author?

I wouldn’t call her a favourite exactly, but I finally decided to pick up a Georgette Heyer book a little while ago, and have purchased a couple more since. While her books aren’t something I’d want to be reading all the time, Arabella was the perfect pick for the moment in which I read it, and I’m hoping that I’ll feel similarly about the other ones I’ve bought… For those unfamiliar with her work, Heyer wrote regency romances (and detective novels, which I’m less interested in) in the 60s and 70s.

8) Or a new fictional crush?

I’ve got nothing for you here, I’m afraid.

9) Who’s your newest favourite character?

This was a tricky one, too, as most of the characters I’ve come across this year that I loved were ones that I loved already (for instance Fitz from the Farseer trilogy, or Nick and Lirael from the Old Kingdom series), but I decided to go for Cassandra Cain from Sarah Kuhn’s Shadow of the Batgirl (illustrated by Nicole Goux). While I first read about Cass years ago in the 2000-2009 runs of Batgirl, Kuhn’s interpretation of her is quite different, and utterly endearing. 💕

10) What book made you cry?

No book has made me properly cry in a very long time, but Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb was an incredibly emotional journey.

11) What book made you happy?

I debated a few books for this question (& Arabella and An Enchantment of Ravens were the closest competitors), but in the end I just had to pick Goldenhand by Garth Nix, which is nowhere near as good as the previous books in this series story-wise, but had so many great character moments – and made my favourite ship canon! ⚓️

12) What’s the most beautiful book you’ve bought (or been given) this year?

That would be Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg, which I bought as a present for myself not long before lockdown started. Greenberg is probably my favourite comic book author/artist, and this story, inspired by the early writings of the Brontës, is absolutely gorgeous – and a great read, too!

13) What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Well, I’ve been pretty pro-active with my 2020 bucket list (especially when compared to the ones I made for the last couple of years), but the two on it that I have yet to read are A Closed & Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – the second book in the Wayfarers series – and The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt, which I put on the list for very predictable reasons. 😅 But other than that, I’d like to continue on with Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series, the next of which is Ship of Magic, and it’d be nice to finish up The Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin this year as well – and since I only have a few short stories left of it, that shouldn’t be too much of a struggle. 😊

[Tag’s original creators: Earl Grey Books & ReadLikeWildfire.]

Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

I’ve been seeing this tag floating around quite a lot recently, and – since I’m not really feeling the reviews at the moment – I thought it might make an interesting post. Also, it’s the middle of the year, and “freaking out” is a pretty accurate way to describe my attitude towards books right now, even though, unusually, I’m ahead on my Goodreads challenge! 🎉

lois mcmaster bujold a civil campaign1. What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2019?

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold, which I just read a couple of weeks ago! I stumbled across the massive Vorkosigan Saga at the beginning of the year, and have been obsessed with it ever since… and the books just keep getting better and better! A Civil Campaign is my favourite so far, by a small margin.

2. What’s the best sequel you’ve read so far in 2019?

Well, as above (closely followed by Memory, from the same series), but in the interest of not spending the whole of this tag gushing over the same few books… I thought that The Wicked King by Holly Black was also a really great follow-up to The Cruel Prince, and improved on it in basically every way. I can’t wait to see how the trilogy is going to wrap up! 😊

3) What’s a new release that you haven’t read yet, but want to?

My book-buying ban combined with my new Vorkosigan Saga obsession has meant that there are quite a few of these, but the one that stings the most is probably The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie… I keep going into bookshops and staring longingly at it on the shelves, which really isn’t helping, but maybe I’ll get some book money for my birthday, or something. 🤞 I really loved Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy, & am dying to see what she’ll do with the fantasy genre.

rainbow rowell wayward son4. What’s your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

That would be Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell! Rowell seems very much to me to be in the business of wish-fulfilment; when I read Fangirl, I couldn’t help thinking how much I wanted to read a read Simon Snow book, and when Carry On (one of my all-time favourite books) came into existence, all I wanted was a sequel… and now we’re getting that, too! 24th September, wait for me! 😆 (I’m also very excited for The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman, but my hype for it isn’t quite so extreme.)

5. What’s your biggest disappointment of the year?

Definitely Starfall by Melissa Landers. It’s not the worst book I’ve read this year, but it was such a let-down after the first book in the series, which at the time of reading was close to a favourite. Worst of Starfall‘s crimes, though, is that it’s kind of tainted Starflight by association… What if it was never as good as I thought it was?! 😣

6. And the biggest surprise?

Probably Before Adam by Jack London, which I wasn’t expecting to like at all, but actually turned out to be pretty gripping. I posted a review of this book recently that talks more about the whys-and-wherefores, but in short: I found the entire premise off-putting, but clearly should’ve had more faith in London’s ability to spin a good story.

7. Do you have a new favourite author?

I do! Lois McMaster Bujold, the author of the Vorkosigan Saga! My aunt mentioned her to me over Christmas as a reputedly really excellent fantasy writer, and upon looking her up I was vaguely interested in trying some of her works (though the sci-fi appealed to me more than the fantasy, surprisingly), and then I stumbled across one of her books (Young Miles) second-hand in January… Naturally, I picked it up, but I wasn’t expecting to love it nearly as much as I did. Bujold hasn’t just become a favourite author of 2019 for me, but an all-time favourite, for sure.

8. Or a new fictional crush?

This one not so much, I’m afraid. The Vorkosigan Saga is full of incredibly charming characters, but I don’t think I’d call any of them crushes, exactly…

9. Who’s your newest favourite character?

Miles Vorkosigan~! 💕 He pulls you in like he’s a planet; it’s inevitable. 😉 But really, this series has given me so many new favourite characters, Miles is only the most blindingly brilliant of them. Others include: Ivan and Gregor, Miles’ mother Cordelia, Mark and Kareen, and most recently the wonderful Ekaterin, who came as a(nother) huge surprise to me, and I might even have come to like even more than Miles himself…!? (Maybe. Don’t hold me to that; I haven’t made my mind up yet.)

Honorary mentions as well to Midoriya and Todoroki from the My Hero Academia series, the manga of which I started this year, although I was already familiar with their anime counterparts…

10. What book made you cry?

I think the last book that made me cry actual tears was The Book Thief, and I read that, what, five years ago now? I’m not holding my breath for another one any time soon… but of this year’s reads, The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa has definitely come the closest.

11. What book made you happy?

A fair few. 😊 A Civil Campaign probably made me the happiest, but I also really loved the ridiculously fluffy Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett.

satoru noda golden kamuy vol 212. What’s the most beautiful book you’ve bought (or been given) this year?

This may be a slightly weird answer, but I think it’s probably Golden Kamuy, Volume 2 by Satoru Noda. None of the (admittedly few) books I’ve obtained this year have been fancy special editions, or anything, but I really like Noda’s art style, and the picture of Asirpa on the second volume is particularly pretty. Click on the cover for a (much) closer look! ☞ ☞ ☞

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

So many books! All of the books! More specifically, though: I’ve only read two of the eight books on my 5-star predictions list, which I promised myself I’d read this year (those being Uprooted and Lies We Tell Ourselves), but of the remaining six, the ones I’m most anxious to get to are Eon by Alison Goodman and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Otherwise, I’d really like to finish Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series soon, if only so that I can finally move on to the other Shadowhunters books…

eon alison goodman madeleine miller the song of achilles cassandra clare city of lost souls cassandra clare city of heavenly fire

[Tag’s original creators: Earl Grey Books & ReadLikeWildfire.]

2019 Reading Challenges

As I mentioned in my last 2018 in review post, I found myself quite bored with my usual style of reading challenges by the end of last year (setting myself a goal of a certain number of books to read in a selection of categories), so I thought that for 2019 I’d do something a little different. As always, I have my Goodreads challenge ready to go (& set at 60 books for this year, which I think will be manageable), but recently I’ve seen a few of the Booktube people I follow trying to predict which of their unread books they’ll be giving five stars to, & I thought that sounded like an interesting (though also a little nerve-wracking; I don’t like to make myself expect to love a book before I’ve even started it) exercise, so I’ve picked out a few books on my TBR shelf that I have a really good feeling about, & am committing myself to reading them at some point this year…

I’ve made a little section for these in my bullet journal, where I’ll be keeping track of when I read each of these, and how I actually decided to rate them, but hopefully I won’t be too far off for any of them! 🤞

FIVE-STAR PREDICTIONS

The other challenge that I’ve set myself is a 5×5 book bingo square, which I thought would be fun, though perhaps 25 books will prove too much for me. 😅 Over Christmas, I asked my cousins to help me come up with some prompts, and I think they’re a good balance of difficult and less difficult ones. I’ve decided that none of the books I read will be allowed to count for more than one bingo square, but that’s my only real constraint with this challenge.

BOOK BINGO

Good luck, me – and good luck with your own challenges as well, if you’ve decided to set yourself any! I hope that 2019 proves to be an excellent reading year for us all. 🍀

2018 in Review: Challenges & Resolutions

I was in a pretty huge reading slump near the beginning of the year, so I made a point of setting myself fewer challenges than I have in previous years – but although I didn’t quite manage to complete all of them, I find myself pleased with the progress that I did make. I actually surpassed my Goodreads goal, which I set at 50, and a good number of those I also managed to review – which is another thing that I’ve been trying to focus on. And although it’s not as packed as it has been in previous years, my My Year in Books page looks as satisfyingly stylish as ever. 😊

My reading resolutions are the challenges that I did slightly less well on in 2018, and to be honest, I’ve found myself getting rather bored with them in the last few months, so I haven’t made completing them a huge priority. (I’ll be changing things up quite a bit for my 2019 challenges, so keep your eyes peeled for that post in the next few days, if you’re interested.) Nevertheless, here’s my final results:

1) Take part in the Library Scavenger Hunt every month: [completed 10/12]

2) Read a book set on every continent: [completed 6/7]

  • Asia: The Life & Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr [review linked above]
  • Africa:
  • Europe: A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond [review]
  • North America: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  • South America: The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera [review linked above]
  • Oceania: The Life & Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr [review linked above]
  • Antarctica: Mawson Lives by Douglas Mawson [review linked above]

3) Read 5 books that were given to me:

4) Finish or catch up on 5 series:

5) Read 3 classics:

6) Read 2 non-fiction books:

7) Read 2 DNF books:

  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff [series review linked above]

And with that, happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to a great many more books to read in 2019! 🥂🍾

2018 in Review: Highlights

🎊🎊🎊 Happy New Year’s Eve Eve, everyone! 🎊🎊🎊 It’s the time of year again for everyone to talk about their favourite books! 📚 … And usually I’d be joining in with the numbered-list-o-mania, but I’ve read so many great books this year, so instead I thought I’d talk about some of my bookish highlights for the year! 😊 Not all of these are necessarily my absolute favourites, but these are the books I found particularly memorable in 2018:

If you’ve been following my monthly/seasonal wrap-ups, you’ll probably have noticed that I finally got myself an Audible subscription, which I’ve been enjoying immensely. I find it hard sometimes to tell whether my feelings about the book being read are affected by the narrator’s performance, or vice versa, but quite a few of my favourites this year turned out to be ones that I’d listened to rather than read. In terms of pure performance, though, nothing comes close to Garth Nix’s Frogkisser!, which was wonderfully read by Marisa Calin; you can find my review of it here.

The other stand-out audiobook I listened to was Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, though in this case I think my enjoyment was based mostly on the story itself (though Steve West’s narration was also excellent), and I’ve no doubt that I would have liked it just as much in print form. I was a little behind the bandwagon in starting this series, but this first book definitely lives up to the incredible amount of hype surrounding it, and the sequel (Muse of Nightmares, which was released a few months ago) was almost as good.

And on the topic of more recent releases: The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff and The Conqueror’s Saga by Kiersten White both ended this year, and are by far some of the best series I’ve read in the last few years. Neither Obsidio nor Bright We Burn were my favourites from their respective series, but they both made for incredibly satisfying endings.

After a slightly disappointing start to the series, I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I liked The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan, which I finally – and reluctantly – picked up for the Fall into Fantasy readathon in November. I was never entirely sure why The Hidden Oracle didn’t resonate with me, but The Dark Prophecy has definitely saved the series for me; I’m currently reading book three (The Burning Maze), and enjoying it just as much, and no doubt it would be included in this post, too, if not for the fact that I’m unlikely to finish it before New Year. (I also have a review up for this book, which you can find here, if you’re interested.)

On the whole, my 2018 seems to have been a really great (and intense) year for fantasy books, and it’s been really wonderful to delve so deeply back into my favourite genre, including my first (kind-of) go at one of the classics: Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle! I’ve been meaning to read this series for such a long time, and now that I’ve started, I can’t believe it’s taken me so long! So far, I’ve only read the first three books, but I’ve loved them all, and the second book, The Tombs of Atuan, is probably my favourite book of the year; it was such a wonderful read. 💕 Needless to say, Tehanu (the fourth in the series) will be one of the first things that I read in 2019.

Finally, I’d like to also give a quick mention to We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, which is probably the most thought-provoking book I read this year, and was an incredible roller-coaster of emotions. I feel like I read it so long ago that it’s heard to believe that it was really still 2018, but it’s stuck with me, and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so for a long time to come.