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.)

August & September Wrap-Up

Another wrap-up, and a whole month late! (Or two months, even, for some of these.) But in my defence, October was pretty crazy. 😓 However! August and September seem to have been some of my best reading months of the year – helped along by a long family holiday, then three concurrent readathons… So here’s what I read (featuring quite a few great rereads, and even a new – though unsurprising – favourite!):

BOOKS I REVIEWED

[INSTAGRAM REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

[INSTAGRAM REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

OTHER BOOKS I READ

The Lady & the Fox by Kelly Link. [SHORT STORY; from My True Love Gave to Me]

A cute story about a girl who visits her extended family every Christmas, and a boy who’s under a curse, and can only visit her if it’s snowing. I don’t have much to say about it, but I liked it more than I do the average short story; naturally, it was too short for me to get fully invested, but the premise was interesting, I liked both the main characters, and I thought their romance was very sweet.

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten.

As the first Second Daughter born in generations, Red’s fate is to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wilderwood in hopes of persuading him to release her kingdom’s trapped gods… but neither the Wolf nor the Wood turn out to be quite what she expected, and while she’s slowly making a new life for herself, her older sister Neve will do anything to bring her home.

This was such a great book! I loved the world that Whitten created, and the romance between Red and Eammon was super-cute, and the story ended on a very tense note – so I’m relieved that I don’t have too long to wait until the sequel (next June)! The characters were all pretty great as well; I wish that some of the side characters had had a bit more devlopment, but can’t fault Whitten for wanting to focus more on Red, Eammon, and Neve – and I was pleased that the relationship between the sisters seemed to be just (/almost?) as much a focus of the novel as Red and Eammon’s romance. To be honest, Neve was probably my favourite character; her chapters were only sporadic, but she was so interesting! And from the title (For the Throne), I assume that there’ll be a lot more of her in the sequel! 😆 

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Lindsay Duncan]

The classic romance between Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy, who are the very definition of mistaken first impressions. This is an old favourite of mine, and I’m sure I’ve read (and probably talked to you guys about it) a million times before, so I don’t have much to say here, but: Pretty much the perfect book, and Lindsay Duncan’s performance of the audiobook is absolutely wonderful. 💕

Ghostweight by Yoon Ha Lee. [SHORT STORY; from Conservation of Shadows]

A sci-fi short story about a girl and a ghost who steal a warship together in order to get revenge on the people who destroyed their world. I’m not generally a fan of short stories, but I loved this, and really wish it had been a full novel. The worldbuilding was really interesting, and I love the concept of people carrying ghosts within them (after which the story is named).

The Shadow Postulates by Yoon Ha Lee. [SHORT STORY; from Conservation of Shadows]

Another short story, about a student who’s struggling to complete a research project, for which she ambitiously chose to study a mathematical concept that’s baffled her predecessors for generations. I didn’t like this as much as Ghostweight (it’s very maths-y, and a little confusing), but I liked the characters a lot, and (once again) loved the world and concepts that Lee explores here.

Klara & the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Klara, an artificial friend, watches the people in the streets each day from her shop window, as she waits to be purchased – and then, afterwards, must adjust to a new role as companion to a sick child. This was an interesting book, and very well-written, but I ultimately found it a little disappointing. There was a lot of interesting worldbuilding going on in the background which never became part of the story; lots about the characters was never explained; the explanation of “lifted” children wasn’t as interesting as I had hoped; and the twist was kind of intriguing, but not as impactful as it might have been had Ishiguro actually followed through on it.

However! I really loved Klara’s perspective: her perceptiveness about people, contrasted with her misunderstanding of many simple concepts, eg. the Cootings machine, or “oblongs”. And her acceptance of her role as something to be of use, and then discarded, was also quite chilling, considering her very human-like feelings. My favourite part of the book was definitely the first, when Klara was in the shop with Manager and the other AFs, observing people through the window.

Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz.

The second Alex Rider book, in which Alex is asked to go undercover at Point Blanc, an exclusive reform school for the children of the incredibly wealthy, to see if there’s any connection between the school and a couple of deaths of the parents of former students. This is my favourite in the series, and I decided to reread it after watching the Amazon series, which (loosely) adapts this book… And it was a little more rushed that I remembered, & its characters a little less fleshed out, but I still had a lot of fun with it. 😊

XOXO by Axie Oh.

A cute romance about a cellist who falls in love with a k-pop star without knowing who he is, and then meets him again when she temporarily transfers to an arts school in South Korea. I didn’t think that this book had the most realistic relationship development in the world, but to be honest I didn’t really care. The characters were wonderful, their relationship adorable, and I could really feel the love of music that went into this book. 🎶💕 Predictably, my favourite character was Sori; I’m a complete sucker for the popular-girl-who’s-never-had-a-real-friend trope… 😅

Vampire Knight, volume 2 & volume 3 by Matsuri Hino. [MANGA; Illustrated by the author]

Yuki is a Guardian at Cross Academy, charged with keeping the Day Class (made up of humans) and the Night Class (full of vampires) apart, and torn between her fellow Guardian Zero – a former vampire hunter whose whole family was slaughtered – and Kaname, the mysterious leader of the Night Class, who saved her life years ago.I don’t have all that much to say here: Volume 2 contains a lot of angst, as it details some of Zero’s backstory, and I loved the flashback scenes with a young Yuki in volume 3 (she’s the cutest 💕). These were both rereads (I need a refresher before I move on to some of the later volumes in the series), so while I’m enjoying getting to know the characters (again) at the moment, I’m looking forward to the story picking up a bit more in the next few volumes.

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan.

The second book in the Kane Chronicles, in which the Egyptian god of chaos Apophis threatens to destroy the world, and Carter and Sadie Kane have five days in which to stop him. This was a quick, fun read, but for some reason I’m just not as invested in Riordan’s Egyptian books as I have been in his Greek and Roman ones. I like Carter and Sadie, and new character Bes was a great addition to the story – but most of the other side-characters were pretty under-developed (even Walt, who had more page-time than the others). And it’s no secret that I generally dislike Riordan’s romances, but I think that Sadie’s love triangle might be one of the worst he’s written; it’s actually kind of creepy, given that she’s twelve/just thirteen, and her two love interests are 16 and older-than-time… 😓

The Rift Walker by Clay & Susan Griffith.

The sequel to The Greyfriar, wherein Gareth and Adele try to prevent an all-out war between humans and vampires, while Adele’s heroic husband-to-be hatches a plan to instead win the war, but at the cost of the entire human population of the North… Like its predecessor, The Rift Walker was a bit slow to get started, but I really enjoyed it once it did. ☺️ And I wish that there had been more scenes where Gareth and Adele got to spend time alone together (unsurprisingly, since I’m kind of living for their romance), but the scenes we did get were some of my favourites of the whole series!

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Lauren Fortgang]

The final book in the Nikolai duology, in which Ravka faces the double threat of a looming war with Fjerda, and a blight on its lands which is reminiscent of the Fold that still haunts its people. King of Scars felt like it was mostly build-up, and that definitely paid off here! I was still more invested in Nina’s plotline than in Zoya or Nikolai’s (and likewise more invested in her new romance), but I was very pleased with how all the branches of the story came together in this book, and I absolutely loved the ending! 😆 So satisfying!

Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrated by the author]

A strange tale about an author who’s writing the biography of the personification of death. I had very mixed feelings about this one: It yo-yos between poignant and gross, with a lyrical writing style that I loved, and some really interesting historical references (I got sucked down quite a few wikipedia rabbit holes while listening to this). So parts of it I liked a lot, but other parts of it I really, really disliked. 😓 On the whole I would say that I respect this book a lot though. The narration was also great, but very, very slow – presumably for dramatic effect? But I could never have listened to it at normal speed, even though in general I hate speeding up audiobooks even a tiny bit.

Nightwing: A Darker Shade of Justice by Chuck Dixon. [COMIC; Illustrators: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story & Roberta Tewes]

The fourth volume of Nightwing, in which Blüdhaven is overrun by refugees from the disaster-torn Gotham, and Dick heads back to Gotham to help out. This is definitely my favourite volume so far, with no real low points! Dick had a really great team-up with Superman near the beginning, and the Blackgate arc (though I’d read it before, as part of the Batman: No Man’s Land collection) was a little fleshed out here, with a whole extra issue where Dick hallucinates an encounter with Robin, and a short arc afterwards where he recovers from his ordeal under Oracle’s care. In general, this volume was more character-driven than action-driven, which very much worked for me. 😊👍

#Bookoplathon & #MagicalReadathon Update 4! (+ #BotWathon Update 1)

JUST FINISHED: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

Set in a world where two factions – the Alethi and the Parshendi – have been fighting a long, drawn-out war since the assassination of the Alethi king, an unlikely set of characters are caught up in combat and politics of this world. Kaladin, a surgeon’s apprentice-turned-soldier-turned-slave, is brought to the Shattered Plains as a lowly bridgeman, and hopes to lead his new crew to freedom – but first they must survive, and keep surviving; Shallan hatches a plan to save her family from ruin by stealing a powerful magical artifact from the heretical Princess Jasnah; and Dalinar, the new king’s uncle, has begun seeing visions that tell him to unite the Alethi people, who very decidedly do not want to be united.

Brandon Sanderson does it again! 😁 As the first in a really long series, The Way of Kings is naturally made up of a lot of world-building, scene-setting and character development, with big Plot Implications only really coming into play near the end, but wow, was everything in this book done masterfully! I loved all the main characters, and plenty of the supporting ones, too; the world was fascinating, and was introduced to us in a really organic way, with barely any info-dumping at all; Sanderson’s writing style was incredibly gripping, even when nothing in particular was happening; and the ending was absolutely exhilarating! (I was reading this at work this afternoon, and had to actively hold myself back from excited bouncing/pacing/making other sudden movements on the shop floor… 😅)

I do find myself left with a lot of questions, which sometimes frustrates me, but this time I’m genuinely excited to search for the answers in the future books… probably because I have faith that they’ll definitely be answered – and that the answers will be incredible. 😆

Some final feelings:

  • I want Kaladin and Dalinar and Adolin to all become bros. It was super-satisfying whenever any of the main characters crossed paths, and I’m really looking forward to them all interacting more in Words of Radiance. (And hopefully meeting Shallan, too!)
  • The Wit definitely seems like he Knows Things. I feel like he might be a crossover character, but I’m not familiar enough with the wider Cosmere to be able to tell for sure.
  • I didn’t find the excerpts at the beginning of the chapters in this book as interesting as I did the ones in Mistborn, but I loved the reveal (or strong implication?) we get at the end, of where they all come from!

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Done! 😆 I finished The Way of Kings with about an hour to spare, which I’m really pleased with! And it counted for all three of my current readathons! (Juggling all of these has been a little exhausting, to be honest, but now that we’re into October, at least I’ve only got Breath of the Wild-athon to finish. 😅) For Bookoplathon, this counted for the highest rated prompt, for the Magical Readathon it was my Tower of Rumination pick (a five-star prediction), and for BotWathon it was for the Lurelin Village prompt (which was also a five-star prediction).

In between this update and my last, I also finished Nightwing: A Darker Shade of Justice, which was my chance card pick for Bookoplathon, and my Bridge of Hylia (a book where a character crosses between worlds) pick for BotWathon, along with the Eventide Island bonus challenge (to read a book in one sitting). I still have my three character prompts to fulfil for Magical Readathon, but thankfully I have until April (I think) to get that done… And as for the rest of BotWathon: I’m currently almost halfway through the audiobook of Beach Read, and my next physical read will probably be The Kingmakers. 😊

Bookoplathon Books Completed: 5
Magical Readathon Books Completed: 7
BotWathon Books Read: 2
Pages Read: 3386
Hours Listened: 12:02
Bookoplathon Challenges Completed: 5/5
Magical Readathon Challenges Completed: 7/10
BotWathon Challenges Completed: 3/8

Breath of the Wildathon: Vah Ruta Quest TBR!

As if two readathons at a time wasn’t enough, I’ve decided to add a third with the next round of the Breath of the Wildathon, which started last Monday, and will be running until Wednesday 20th October. This round is the first section of the main quest, during which we’ll all be making our way to Vah Ruta and hopefully defeating Waterblight Ganon! 🤞 I’ve joined Team Revali 🦅, which will be taking me on a path around the Southern edge of the Faron Grasslands and East Necluda.

1) THE GREAT PLATEAU – read a book that’s out of your comfort zone – This first book is the one I’m most torn on; it’ll either be The Second Sleep by Robert Harris, a post-apocalyptic thriller, or Cod by Mark Kurlansky, a non-fiction about, well, cod. The Second Sleep is the one I’m most drawn to, but I just played my TBR game for October and landed on a non-fiction square, so reading Cod here would combine those two, and thereby slightly increase my chances of getting to Empire of the Vampire next month? (Which is definitely a priority.) Let me know what you guys think! 🐟/🐎?

2) BRIDGE OF HYLIA – read a book where a character crosses between worlds – I’m stretching this prompt somewhat in order to fit in something that’s not fantasy (for those pesky bonus challenges), but I’ve decided to go with Nightwing vol. 4: A Darker Shade of Justice, in which Dick has to go undercover to infiltrate Blackgate Prison… which is kind of another world?

3) LURELIN VILLAGE – read a 5-star prediction – This one was a pretty easy choice, since this is also one of the Magical Readathon prompts that I haven’t fulfilled yet: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson! I started this on day 1 of the readathon, and am currently almost halfway through, and really enjoying it, even though I was definitely not looking forward to fitting a 1000-page book into an already busy reading month. But oh well, it seems to have worked out. 😅

4) BLOOD MOON – draw a blood moon card – The card I drew told me to pick a book over 500 pages, but I will be cheerfully using my Team Revali perk here to ignore that card and read whatever book I want instead… And that book is The Kingmakers by Clay & Susan Griffith, the final book in the Vampire Empire trilogy, which is decidedly less than 500 pages, and is essentially a romance between a human princess and a vigilante vampire hunter with a lot of secrets. 💕 There’s an interesting plot, too, but to be honest I’m mostly into this series for the romance.

5) DIVINE BEAST VAH RUTA – read a book with a water-related word in the title – Last up is Beach Read by Emily Henry! A romance between two rival authors, who decide to switch genres in order to combat their writer’s block. I started the audiobook of this a couple of days ago, and am really enjoying it so far! 😁 I was initially going to pick The Ocean at the End of the Lane for this challenge (because I didn’t realise that we could double up with the bonus prompts), but am really happy with the change – and not just because I now have something to listen to while I knit!

6) BONUS CHALLENGES – I’ve doubled up for all of these, so Beach Read will be counting for the Dueling Peaks Tower challenge (to read a book with a rivalry or a competition), and I will be attempting to read A Darker Shade of Justice in one sitting to fulfil the Eventide Island challenge. And the final challenge – weapon connoisseur – is for every book on my TBR to be from a different genre, which I’ve just about managed: I’ve got either a thriller or non-fiction, a superhero comic, a high fantasy, a steampunk/urban fantasy, and a romance! The only potential overlap is between The Second Sleep and The Kingmakers, which are both post-apocalyptic, but they each blend in other (different) genres as well. 👍

Luckily, I managed to complete all the rune trials during the Great Plateau round, and earned myself the glider perk, so I’m allowed to read these in whatever order I like – and I’ll be starting with (have already started with, in fact) The Way of Kings and A Darker Shade of Justice, as they overlap with my Bookoplathon and Magical Readathon TBRs. After that, it’s anyone’s guess what I’ll be reading.

#Bookoplathon 2021: TBR

It’s Bookoplathon time again! 😆 And also Magical Readathon time, and almost Breath of the Wild-athon time… (September’s going to be packed) but today I’ll just be sharing my Bookoplathon TBR, as that’s the only I’ve absolutely decided on at the moment. 😅 Last year’s month-long Bookoplathon was so much fun, and fingers crossed this round will be just as great! 🤞

THE BOARD:MY ROLLS:


CHANCE CARD: I decided to just draw from my TBR jar for this prompt, which contains every unread book I own, and is therefore a hazardous place to be… but I was pretty lucky this time around, and drew the next volume of the original Nightwing comics: A Darker Shade of Justice by Chuck Dixon (and others). I haven’t been super-enjoying this series, but it definitely has its fun moments, so I’m looking forward to continuing. (And, best of all, it’s short.)


BUZZWORD – COLOURS: For this prompt I decided to pick one of my newest books: The Greyfriar by Clay & Susan Griffith. I picked this up on a whim, and don’t really know much about it, but it’s apparently set in a future ruled by vampires, which sounds exciting. 🧛🏻‍♂️ Plus, I’ve really been in the mood for vampire stories lately (as you may notice).


BUZZWORD – TIMES OF DAY: … and next up is Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer! I drunkenly reserved this from my library several months ago, and I finally got to the front of the queue, so I’d better read it before I have to take it back! But I do genuinely want to read this; I don’t really expect it to be good, but Twilight can be a lot of fun, if I’m in the right mindset for it. 😋


POC REP.: This was probably the hardest choice for me, as there are a lot of books with POC rep. that I’m really excited for at the moment, but given the length of my last pick (and the one that’s about to come up), I wanted to go for something quick… so I’ve decided on The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, which is a YA fantasy about an army of girls with demon blood (I think). I was seeing this around a lot a few months ago (because it was in a subscription box?), but I haven’t really hard anyone talking about it since, so fingers crossed it’s good! 🤞


HIGHEST RATED: And at the final hurdle, Bookopoly decided to smack me in the face with The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson… 🤦‍♀️ Which, you know, I do want to read. It’s just long. Very, very long. Wish me luck! 🍀

… And that’s all! Apart from that last roll, I feel like the board was fairly nice to me this year! 😊 But I suppose the real challenge will be fitting all these prompts in with the Magical Readathon ones (and eventually the BotW-athon ones, which haven’t been announced yet). Are any of you guys going to be participating in these readathons, too? & of so, what books have the Bookopoly gods selected for you?