My Top Ten for 2021

That’s right- it’s time for the best post of the year because these are the very best books I read!! And as usual, it’s a very different mix! This was the year of historical fiction and big surprises! Okay- let’s not waste any time and get to the good stuff!

Pumpkinhead– some books are just like getting a big, warm hug! This is the kind of story I know I’m going to return to again and again… and now that I have a copy of my own you can be sure that’s what I’m going to do every autumn 😉

Hunchback of Notre Dame– as good as I thought it would be! Far, far from the Disney version, this is a harsh and yet still stunning story. Set in 15th Century France, it is a moving tragedy of good, evil and those who fall in between.

Girl With Seven Names– I don’t know how I haven’t managed to talk about this on the blog before now. This was a phenomenal memoir about a North Korean defector. I was simply bowled over by her story- she’s such an inspirational, incredible woman!

Bring Up the Bodies– I finally read the Wolf Hall trilogy and it was genius! My favourite instalment was easily Bring Up the Bodies– where the threads of the story knit together… and where we can also see them beginning to fray apart.

Kindred– this was so much more than a sci fi about time-travelling- it’s about a woman’s journey through history and personal self-discovery. It’s a masterpiece. I can’t wait to read more by the author!

Salt Path– I listened to this on audiobook and that made the experience all the more evocative. Raynor’s voice brought her descriptions to life and made me feel like I was going on the walk with her. Such a surprising story of human endurance, this begins with an ugly situation, but winds up revealing the beauty that is all around us.

House of Hollow– I normally don’t like creepy stories, so this YA horror was a huge surprise. I have to admit, I was initially drawn in by THAT COVER- I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. And once I started reading, it was even worse. I fell under its atmospheric spell with every turn of the page; I was captivated by each and every character. I was taken far out of my comfort zone and blown away by what I found. This is not the kind of book that lets you forget about it either- it leaves you hungering for more and stuck ruminating on everything that happened. By far the best of its kind I’ve ever read. 

Nightingale– this shattered my heart… and now I want everyone to have the same experience! Such a powerful WW2 story- I love how it captured the beauty of the human spirit and managed to stay true to the realities of the time period. 

Code Name Verity– another WW2 book… and yet this is a book unlike any other. Soaring to unbelievable heights and shocking lows, I honestly didn’t expect to fall for it as much as I did.

Where the Crawdads Sing– this was nothing short of beautiful. This book has *everything* I could ever want in a story- a moving story, twists, mystery, love, coming-of-age. All of which flow seamlessly into each other, sweeping you up in the current of a melodically written narrative. Truly, I cannot applaud it enough. 

So, have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? And what was your favourite book(s) of 2021? Let me know in the comments!

My Most Disappointing Books in 2021

Oof this is always my hardest post to write. It’s miserable not loving every book- yet sometimes you read something that makes your eyes roll back into your head so hard you think demon possession is real and it happened cos of the book you’re holding. The main thing to remember is, if you don’t want to be mentally scarred/don’t like controversial opinions/think you’re the only one in the world entitled to an opinion, you don’t have to read this post (which is my apparently non-confrontational way of offering a disclaimer this year 😉) You have been warned- onto the list!

You and Me on Vacation– I’m mostly just sad this didn’t live up to my expectations- which were really high after Beach Read. In all honesty, I just didn’t see why the couple weren’t together already and felt irked by the borderline-emotional-cheating that had gone on while they failed to figure out they should get it on already.

A Court of Silver Flames– look, I know it’s just a book series, but I’m actively annoyed after this one. I am so frustrated with myself for continuing to waste my time on a series that keeps on disappointing me. I don’t know why I keep doing the same thing and expecting different results! This may be a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, because I am definitely not the audience for this book series anymore and it didn’t feel like a continuation worth waiting for.

The Quiet at the End of the World– I thought this had so much promise and it let me down!! I just can’t get on board with a story where the “uplifting” message is nihilistically giving up on humanity. I find it kind of foul to have a YA book that is so full of self-loathing and argues that the world would be better off without people in it.

The Duke and I– because of that rape scene.

Iron Widow– annnnd my next two picks are going to make me super unpopular, but I just didn’t like this book at all (massive understatement haha). To summarise what this book is about in a single word, I’d say: RAGE. Which, may not sound that bad, but after 400 pages, it’s pretty one-note and exhaustingly dull. In fairness, the mc could be described as having a static arc, inspiring others around her to change… except that I don’t find anger all that inspiring. And personally, I prefer books with a bit more emotional range than a hormonal teen on steroids. Although, on that note, I didn’t actually get why this was YA at all. Aside from the “technical” age of the characters, this was no coming-of-age story, it was full of dubious messaging and lots of sex/violence/adult themes… I simply don’t understand why this book had to be aimed specifically at teens when for all intents and purposes, it reads like adult fic.

Ace of Spades– Oh boy, you may as well just cancel me now for hating on this social media darling. But I can’t lie: I actively disliked this book. I had high hopes- but I was played for a fool. This is basically Robin Diangelo’s wet dream transformed into a YA thriller. And if you like that kind of thing… then have at it I guess?! But sorry… I have standards? I won’t be jumping on that toxic bandwagon. Even glossing over the gross inspiration, I can’t get behind this as a piece of fiction. Believe it or not, once you pick up on the “all white people are evil” messaging, you can guess *every single* “plot twist”. This book really makes me despair at the world- is it really the best we can do to combat racism?

And that’s all for now! I’ve decided to keep it short, just to the books I *really didn’t like*. Dare I ask- do you agree or disagree with me on any of these? And what were your most disappointing reads? Let me know in the comments!

(Most of) My 2021 DNFs!

This is gonna be a weird post this year- because I DNF’d A LOT of books for a change… and then promptly forgot about half of them. That’s right: there has been a serious shift in my reading habits. I have gone from being the shy, timid monkey who would never close a book before finishing it well, (sort of 😉) … to a serial DNFer. It’s meant I’ve read fewer books this year- and yet I’m happier for it and (usually) more satisfied with the ones I do finish. For the most part, I simply wasn’t vibing with the style and would consider picking it up again one day. That accounts for these books:

These, however, earned their DNFs:

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck- oh FFS, I’m no stranger to swear words but this seems excessive, even to me. I wasn’t getting anything out of this. I don’t agree with the premise anyway, so this lost me very early on. I guess I’ll just go on caring too much.

Genuine Fraud– I love the idea of stories told backwards… it’s only a shame that they rarely work for me. I didn’t click with the structure and found it made it impossible to get to know the characters. I was completely lost at 15% and decided to call it a day.

Shadow of Night– mea culpa- I shouldn’t have picked up this book. I’ve no idea why I impulsively bought it (well, except for the fact it was on sale) since I didn’t like the first one. However, I did enjoy the show and really, really wanted to know what happened. Bit silly, because I do still intend on watching it- and I reckon I’ll get more out of it that way.

Such a Fun Age– I was promised humour and didn’t laugh in the first 33%. Not even a wry chuckle or a smirk. Who knows, maybe the last 67% would have me in side-splitting hysterics- but sadly I’m not willing to take that chance.

Cinderella is Dead– the cover and title are amazing, but the book is so full of bitterness and anger. It’s not a mood I enjoy.

Rose Code– believe me, I wanted to love this book. I tried for such a long time. I still consider this author to be great- it’s only sad this one wasn’t for me. I couldn’t put my finger on why, since the only thing I actively disliked was the use of real people. I just wasn’t clicking with the characters or story, so sadly gave up on it.

Gods and Monsters– I don’t care enough to finish this series. Honestly, I shouldn’t have bothered after book 2 let me down.

House of Leaves– I didn’t only find the style unappealing… it was actively off-putting. I don’t see myself ever finishing this, which is a shame, because I love this kind of experimental story. Although on that note…

Lincoln in the Bardo– this is the kind of literary “experimentation” that gets on my nerves.

And that’s all (I remember quitting)! Do you think I made the right choice? Would you recommend powering through any of these? And what are your feelings on DNFing? Let me know in the comments!

My Resolutions for 2021

Well, last year was… different. Like so many of us, for reasons outside my control, a lot of my plans for 2020 didn’t quite work out. Needless to say, I didn’t complete my goals. Because of that I’ve decided to shift my perspective for 2021. Instead of using this time of year to get powered up for the next year, I’m actually going to be thinking of how I can give myself a break.

That’s why, before I get into my resolutions, I’m first gonna talk about the goals I’m notsetting myself. I’ve basically removed any tough goals or anything that’s subject to massive changes like a global pandemic. This year I’ve decided to just go with the flow (for the most part) and won’t be putting down things like a challenging books, poetry or plays (though mentioning it is a bit like a placeholder to my future self that I want to start thinking about these things again midway through the year). And any resolutions I do make will be significantly more chill- for instance:


Read 10 Non Fic!

Despite the fact that reading 10 non fic, I’m not going to up this number. Given that I’ve clearly exorcised my non fic demons, I was in fact on the verge of taking it down a notch. However, at the last second I decided there were a few non fic I *have to* read for research purposes. So, this number is just gonna stay as a staple!

10 Classics

This is the first year ever where the number of classics I read went down drastically– from 13% (28 books) to just 5% (11 books). I’m not happy about that and want to fix it! This is, to be fair, quite a doable number, so I may have to up this number mid-way through the year.

5 Rereads!

Because if I don’t put it on the list, I won’t do it. Even though I enjoy this challenge the most!

Read 10 books I’ve been promising to read for years

This should be fun, because there are an amazing selection of books I’ve been saying I’ll read *for years*. And because I’ve been thinking about this a while, I did a helpful tag at the end of last year. I’m going to be keeping a vague TBR each month to make. this. happen!


3 yoga challenges

Yes, I did more of these last year, but this still feels like a good solid number. Doing 3 would be great!  

And that’s all I have for this year! As you can see, I’m definitely keeping it shorter than normal! I have some hidden goals (that I’m not putting up just yet cos I don’t want to pressure myself too much) which I may add in the middle of the year! I just want to give 2021 a chance to show me its true colours get going before I pin my sails to the mast!

What about you? Do you have any plans for 2021 big or small? Let me know in the comments!