Hey, lovelies! I honestly don’t know how, but we’ve made it to the final month of 2021. 2021 has been an absolute whirlwind and I genuinely cannot believe that it’s over. I am here today to share with you my final monthly wrap-up of the year. I read some good books and some not-so-good books, like every month. I’m also excited to share some of the Blogmas content that I’m really proud of and some blog posts from my fellow bloggers that I really enjoyed reading this month.
End of Year-A-Thon Wrap Up
A book that was published in 2021
Float Plan by Trish Doller
A book from a series you’ve already started, but haven’t finished
Lauren’s Barbarian by Ruby Dixon
A book by an own voices author
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Most recently acquired book (bought, borrowed, gifted, etc.)
The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities by Rick Riordan and various authors
A book with gold on the cover
Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria
What I Read
Physical Books Game On: Tempting Twenty-Eight by Janet Evanovich – 3 stars Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe – 3 stars The God of Lost Words by A.J. Hackwith – 4 stars Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez – 4 stars Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan – 5 stars The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake – 4.5 stars The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang – 4 stars Float Plan by Trish Doller – 3.5 stars
eBooks The Thousand Eyes by A.K. Larkwood – 4.5 stars Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian Alien by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian Lover by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon – 2 stars Ice Planet Holiday by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian’s Prize by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian’s Mate by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian’s Touch by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian’s Taming by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars The Apocolypse Suite by Gerard Way, Gabriel Ba, & Dave Stewart – 3 stars Barbarian’s Heart by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian’s Hope by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian’s Choice by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian’s Redemption by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian’s Lady by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian’s Rescue by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Barbarian’s Tease by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars The Excalibur Curse by Kiersten White – 3.5 stars We Are Meridians by S. Ghali – 3.5 stars No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen – 3 stars You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao – 3 stars When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord – 3 stars The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities by Rick Riordan and various authors – 4 stars Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria – 5 stars Lauren’s Barbarian by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars The Barbarian Before Christmas by Ruby Dixon – 3 stars Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard – 3 stars
Audiobooks Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah – 2 stars In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner – 4 stars The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet – 3 stars
Summary: What if you knew how and when you will die? Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice. But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power. But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.
Review: Shout out to whoever recommended that I buy this over on Twitter. I picked up The Unspoken Name for the Clear Your Shit Readathon because I bought this book sometime last year only knowing that it was a queer, adult fantasy. I’m so glad I finally picked it up because I think it’s going to be making my 2021 favorites list. The story is a winding path down which we follow our main character, Csorwe (pronounced like doorway but with a ks sound like in the word books). Csorwe is meant to be the next bride for the Unspoken God. But what if she wasn’t? She runs away from the path her life has been on with Sethennai, a wizard that visits where she lives. We see them go from place to place and work toward completing Sethennai’s goals. But we don’t really get to know Csorwe until she realizes that she hasn’t been living for herself. I loved all of the characters. The three most important are Csorwe, who really grows and develops. She realizes that she’s just replaced the Unspoken God with Sethennai and what he wants. She’s made his goals her whole life. So, getting to see her fall into that trap and then get herself out of it was really a ride. Then there’s Tal. Csorwe and Tal are the frenemies that I didn’t know I needed in my life. I laughed out loud so many times at the way they talk to and behave toward each other. I’m very interested to see how or if we will get more of them in the second book. Even though I understood why Csorwe hated Tal, I really liked him. He and Csorwe had more in common than they would ever admit. I liked seeing how differently he handled come out of making his whole life about Sethennai. Finally, there’s Shuthmili (our love interest). Like Csorwe, Shuthmili has a path planned for her because of her culture and her connection with a god. But she doesn’t have to choose that path and with Csorwe’s influence, she runs. I mostly loved Shuthmili because of how absolutely brainless Csorwe gets around her. Their interactions gave me so much joy. It took me a lot longer to actually care about Shuthmili because she was a little boring having accepted and seemed excited about the path that had been planned for her. But she definitely grew on me. The world building was absolutely fascinating. We get to see Csorwe travel through these gates that take her all over for her travels, but I’m still not really sure if they’re going to other planets, or what the specifics are with that. But the places that we do see are wonderfully described from the settings to the culture. Each new place has a unique and interesting way of living (usually based on what god their people serve). I can’t wait to learn more about the gods outside of the three that this book sort of focused on. Overall, I cannot say enough good things about this book. The world was compelling and kept my interest. I never really felt confused or overwhelmed with information. The characters were likable. The romance was swoon worthy. The yearning was absolutely top tier. The plot sort of meandered about, but I found that I didn’t really mind that. I am incredibly excited to read the second book (which I have an eARC of, so I’m going to go do that now!)
Hey, lovelies! I haven’t done one of these in what feels like forever. One of my goals for 2021 was to get my physical TBR list down to almost nothing (I’ll be happy with about 20-25 books on it). So, part of that was me wanting to read all of my owned but unread graphic novels. I’d like to go into 2022 with no physical copies of graphic novels on my TBR shelf. I want to make more use of my library when it comes to graphic novels since my library uses Hoopla and Hoopla has a really good selection of graphic novels and comics on there. Let’s get into all the graphic novels I read in December and my thoughts on them!
Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe
I think all the hype has let me down for this one. The story is a romance between Hades and Persephone but it’s still in the very beginning stages. I just wanted more. I think if I continue this series it will be via the website where I can read the full webtoon for free. I didn’t love the art style and I just felt like I was left wanting for more.
TheApocalypse Suite by Gerard Way, Gabriel Ba, & Dave Stewart
I bought this because I’m a huge My Chemical Romance fan and also because I wanted to read the graphic novels before I watched the show adaptation. I have to be honest, I genuinely have no idea what just happened. This was a quick read but the plot (aside from “save the world” was hard to follow. I didn’t understand what happened to them as kids other than not being treated well or loved. There were so many things references that weren’t elaborated on or explained which I think is why I was so confused. I’m going to combine the series only because I already borrowed them from the library and I still want to read them all before I watch the show.
The Secret Loves of Geek Girls by Hope Nicholson, Marjorie M. Liu, Mariko Tamaki, Marguerite Bennett, Margaret Atwood, Trina Robbins, Noelle Stevenson, Carla Speed McNeil, Sarah Winifred Searle, & Stephanie Cooke
I sadly DNF’d this. It was entirely too much prose for me. This wasn’t what I wanted it to be, though I’m sure it’s still a very good book.
These are my mini-reviews this month. Did you read any graphic novels?
Summary: For all of Emory’s life she’s been told who she is. In town she’s the rich one–the great-great-granddaughter of the mill’s founder. At school she’s hot Maddie Ward’s younger sister. And at home, she’s the good one, her stoner older brother Joey’s babysitter. Everything was turned on its head, though, when she and Joey were in the car accident that killed Candy MontClaire. The car accident that revealed just how bad Joey’s drug habit was. Four months later, Emmy’s junior year is starting, Joey is home from rehab, and the entire town of Mill Haven is still reeling from the accident. Everyone’s telling Emmy who she is, but so much has changed, how can she be the same person? Or was she ever that person at all? Mill Haven wants everyone to live one story, but Emmy’s beginning to see that people are more than they appear. Her brother, who might not be cured, the popular guy who lives next door, and most of all, many ghostie addicts who haunt the edges of the town. People spend so much time telling her who she is–it might be time to decide for herself. Inspired by the American classic Our Town, You’d Be Home Now is Kathleen Glasgow’s glorious modern story of a town and the secret lives people live there. And the story of a girl, figuring out life in all its pain and beauty and struggle and joy.
Review: You’d Be Home Now is following Emory, who is in a violent car crash after leaving a party. She injures her leg, but in the car with her was her brother, who was overdosing on drugs, his best friend, and a girl that Emory was trying to help get home. After the accident, Emory’s brother, Joey, is sent to rehab, the driver is sent to a juvenile hall, and the girl died. We follow Emory as she recovers over the summer and lives in a quieter than normal house, hooking up with the boy next door in the pool house. This is a very slow and steady story. It all takes place over the summer and the first few months of the next school year. We get to know Emory while she’s recovering over the summer and then we get to know how things are changing once the new school year starts. We’re told rather than shown these changes because we didn’t even get to see what Emory’s life was like before. But I think Glasgow did a good job of showing how all the changes feel for Emory. I liked seeing how she adapted to these changes and the things and people that encouraged Emory herself to grow and change. Overall, this was a really tough and hard-hitting story about a girl who loves her brother so much but can do nothing for him while he struggles with addiction and recovery. I could really sympathize with what Emory was feeling but also what Joey was going through. Teenagers can be really cruel and going back to high school after everything they’ve been through would be incredibly hard, but to add trying to stay sober on top of that? No thanks. I would absolutely recommend Glasgow’s newest release for any readers that like hard-hitting contemporary books.
Summary: The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor. Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in the north-east of the Empire, a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force. Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. They claim they come in peace, and Lin will need their help in order to defeat the rebels and restore peace. But can she trust them?
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can read my review for the first book here. With the first book, it took me a little while to get into the story because there were a few different points of view that were all in different locations. So, we were learning characters and the world very quickly. I think that was definitely not an issue for this second book. I felt like I was immediately invested in the story since I was familiar with the world and its characters. The first book left all of the characters in pretty tumultuous places, most of them just having come into positions of power and now we’re getting to see what they’re doing with this power. Like the first book, we follow Lin, Jovis, Phalue, and sometimes Ranami. What I thought was really interesting was that Lin and Jovis’ parts of the story almost mirrored Phalue and Ranami’s parts of the story. Both Phalue and Lin have come into positions of power and seeing how they both deal with that was a really compelling part of the story. Lin faces so many challenges and obstacles. I really liked how Stewart didn’t shy away from showing us how Lin was upset and frustrated that things weren’t going her way. She has the best intentions, but the people of the Empire are resistant to accepting her and working with her. The development of all the characters was well done in my opinion. Their motivations were clear and understandable. I felt like it was easy for me to get invested in them. With the first book, I felt the world building was a little lacking because we only saw a small picture of a larger Empire. But in this one, we get to see more of the island between Lin’s travels and Nisong’s conquests. There were still some things that were left unanswered (hello! The islands are sinking!) but there were so many things going on that the top priority issue kept changing which I feel helped the story feel like it was more fast-paced than it actually was. I was happy to get to see more of the Empire. We also learned way more about the history of the world and of Lin’s father’s backstory. I really liked learning the history and the backstory because it definitely put some pieces together. Overall, I really liked this book. I liked it more than the first book, I think. Some of my questions from the first book were answered (we learn so much about the Algana which I totally loved and can’t wait to learn even more about) and new questions were raised. I cared about the characters and think their development was reasonable. I loved Phalue and Ranami’s romance. I liked Lin and Jovis’ but it didn’t blow me away. Jovis was honestly my biggest complaint with this book. He was so wishy-washy with whether or not he was going to spy on Lin and then he just kept making poor choices. It was incredibly frustrating. But I adored Memphi and Thrana. Their backstory is something I’m still very curious about and can’t wait to learn more about. This was a pretty good sequel and I can’t wait for book three.
Amanda- I have an incredibly full ‘currently reading’ shelf. I’m going to list them all so that hopefully I finish most of them before the new year. I think I can reasonably finish all of them except for my current Outlander read. Float Plan by Trisha Doller (physical copy) Tarnished Empire by Danielle L. Jensen (eBook) The Becoming by Nora Roberts (physical copy) Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard (eBook) Lauren’s Barbarian by Ruby Dixon (eBook) The Barbarian Before Christmas by Ruby Dixon (eBook) An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon (audiobook)
Antonia- I’m technically between books but about to start The Becoming by Nora Roberts.
What did you read most recently?
Amanda- On Monday, I finished The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang and The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities by Rick Riordan & various authors.
Antonia- I just finished Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan.
What will you be reading next?
Amanda- Next, I’m planning to read Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria to finish up my End of Year-A-Thon TBR.
Antonia- I’ve got a few from Christmas that I’m really excited about but think I’ll pick up Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty.
What are your answers this week? Leave a comment and let us know!
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is Best Books I Read In 2021.
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten of the best books I read in 2021. I’ll do a few of these lists more in-depth next month, so here’s a sort of preview.
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi
Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
What were some of the best books you read in 2021?
Summary: Going toe-to-toe with a brooding Scotsman is rather bold for a respectable suffragist, but when he happens to be one’s unexpected husband, what else is an unwilling bride to do? London banking heiress Hattie Greenfield wanted just three things in life: 2. A noble cause. 3. Marriage to a young lord who puts the gentle in gentleman. Why then does this Oxford scholar find herself at the altar with the darkly attractive financier Lucian Blackstone, whose murky past and ruthless business practices strike fear in the hearts of Britain’s peerage? Trust Hattie to take an invigorating little adventure too far. Now she’s stuck with a churlish Scot who just might be the end of her ambitions…. When the daughter of his business rival all but falls into his lap, Lucian sees opportunity. As a self-made man, he has vast wealth but holds little power, and Hattie might be the key to finally setting long-harbored political plans in motion. Driven by an old revenge, he has no room for his new wife’s apprehensions or romantic notions, bewitching as he finds her. But a sudden journey to Scotland paints everything in a different light. Hattie slowly sees the real Lucian and realizes she could win everything–as long as she is prepared to lose her heart.
Review: Portrait of a Scotsman follows Hattie who is the daughter of a wealthy banker. She’s also an artist and a part of the newly allowed females attending Oxford. Hattie has always been the “lovely” sister because she had what we now know as dyslexia and perhaps some ADHD as well. But these aren’t names that exist yet in the regency romance time period, so Hattie is just thought of as not as smart as her siblings. Anyway, she ends up finding herself in a compromising position with Lucian Blackstone. Obviously, the pair must now get married. I really enjoyed this book. I liked the romance between Lucian and Hattie. I liked that we got to see a bit from Lucian side as well as Hattie’s. I thought it was really fun for Hattie to be taken out of town and to a place where life is different from what she is used to. I thought it really gave space to show how smart and kind Hattie is. But it also let us see some of her insecurities come to life too. I liked Lucian too. He’s explained to be this heartless man. But we learn that he does everything for a reason. It was a genuine joy to see him realize that he’d fallen in love with Hattie. I also thought this book did a really good thing with showing via these characters (mostly Hattie) how women of means were kept purposefully ignorant about sex and their bodies but also expected to completely overcome that on their wedding night. The taboo that women’s bodies have been made into is still relevant to today and I liked how that was shown in the story. Overall, another book in this series that I really enjoyed. I will absolutely be continuing any books that are to be published. I liked the romance. The sex scenes were pretty good. We got a main character with a disability that was still shown to be smart and strong and kind. I would definitely recommend this one.
Hello, lovelies! I thought it would be fitting to do one last update for my NetGalley Shelf series this year. I’m definitely going to be continuing this series every so often next year. I’m writing this post early, so hopefully when this posts, the only eARCs that are left on my TBR section are 2022 releases. I’ve recently been approved for a bunch of exciting 2022 eARCs, so I really tried to focus on finishing up the last few 2021 eARCs that I let fall behind before going into the new year. I’m so, so pleased with the fact that I managed to read every single 2021 (and earlier) eARC that I had on my approval list. I will say that I DNF’d quite a few of these books, but I did my best to give them a fair try.
For transparency’s sake, when I did my first NetGalley Shelf post I had a feedback ratio of 72% with 122 books approved and 88 with feedback already sent. As of now, I have a ratio of 83% with 192 books approved and 159 books with feedback already sent. The difference of 10% feels like a real accomplishment and I hope to continue to keep my requests under better control in 2022.
We Are Meridians by S. Ghali Publication date: August 27, 2019 I was approved for this book over a year after its publication, so I didn’t really make it a huge priority to read. I’m glad I did finally read it though. It’s more of a sci-fi thriller and it was exciting. The start of the book was a bit slow but once it gets going I really flew through the story. I liked the world and history of the people we read about. I liked the characters. I would definitely read a sequel if it’s released.
Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg Publication date: November 1, 2020 I was a part of the blog tour for this book. Find my spotlight post here. I tried to read the finished copy via Kindle Unlimited but I ended up DNFing it about 50 pages in. This is a fantasy story set in a historical London setting and that can be really hit or miss for me depending on my mood. I might try to read this series again in the future, but for now it’s a DNF.
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri Publication Date: June 8, 2021 I attempted to read this in several formats, the eARC and the audiobook from the library but I can’t seem to make it past 15%. I think this is a ‘me thing’ and doesn’t have anything to do with the book. It’s just not for me. Maybe I’ll try a different book by this author and see if that goes better.
The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee Publication date: August 3, 2021 I had fun reading this romance. It was a fun, tension-filled story that ended with a happily ever after. I still love the small town of Wheldon.
Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Publication date: August 17, 2021 I sadly DNF’d this book back in October. Her books have been hit or miss for me and I wasn’t really into this one after about 20% so I chose to DNF instead of struggling through it and probably rating it low.
Cazadora by Romina Garber Publication date: August 17, 2021 I loved Lobizona, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed the sequel. It was fast-paced (though my one complaint was that the characters seemed a bit aimless at the beginning of the story). And I really loved seeing these characters again. I’m hoping that Garber will write more books set in this world.
The Boy with Fire by Aparna Verma Publication date: August 31, 2021 I have nothing negative to say about this book. The world-building was interesting and well explained. The characters were well developed and complex. I just couldn’t connect to the story which is my own personal issue with the fantasy genre at the moment.
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun Publication Date: September 7, 2021 This was a fun queer romance that followed a Bachelor style reality show. It did a really great job talking about mental illness. I think this one will absolutely be a hit with romance readers.
Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune Publication date: September 21, 2021 I DNF’d this book at 38%. The main character, Wallace, was incredibly unlikeable and I didn’t really care to read about him trying to redeem himself now that he’s literally dead. I liked the concept. I liked Hugo, Nelson, and Mei but they weren’t enough to keep me interested in this very slow story about a man that was terrible his whole life.
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao Publication date: September 21, 2021 When I requested this, I read “giant transforming robots” in the synopsis and that’s honestly all I needed to know. So, then I actually read the book and holy shit this book was so good. It’s inspired by the only female Empress of China in history but set in another world. It’s full of fire and anger at the way things are for women. But there’s also love and romance, which I didn’t think I was going to like but actually loved. I cannot say enough good things about this book. Please go buy it and read it now.
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik Publication date: September 28, 2021 I ended up borrowing the finished copy of the audiobook from my library for The Last Graduate. I DNF’d this book at 40%. It felt identical to the first book, which I didn’t really love. So, I don’t feel the need to continue the story if it’s just going to be a copy of the first book with different classes now that they’re seniors.
Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi Publication date: October 5, 2021 I enjoyed this one. My biggest complaint was that I wanted it to be longer. I think I would have absolutely loved this if it had been a full-length novel. But it was so short I felt like I couldn’t really connect with the characters or let myself get invested in their story.
Tristan Strong Keeps Punching by Kwame Mbalia Publication date: October 5, 2021 I love this series. This one was a bit heavier with the inclusion of bits of American history in the southern states, and Tristan felt like he’d forgotten some of his character development. But it was still an action-packed, adventure story filled with interesting myths and folklore.
Luminous by Mara Rutherford Publication date: October 5, 2021 This was a well-written and compelling standalone fantasy. The world and the magic were really interesting. The characters were easy to care about. There’s a childhood friends to lovers romance which is one of my favorite tropes. But the villain was the star of the show. I really liked him, even more as we learned more about him.
A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow Publication date: October 5, 2021 I loved this. I read it super late, so I bought and read a finished copy. It’s a really compelling twist on Sleeping Beauty with a main character that is dying. I absolutely loved this and I already cannot wait for the next book in the series. I hope Harrow does all the fairytales and not just the two that have been announced.
I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin Publication date: October 12, 2021 Another DNF I’m afraid. I just was so incredibly confused even 20% into the story and I didn’t want to suffer through a whole book being confused. I’ve not heard good reviews about this one, so I decided to DNF instead of giving it another low rating.
Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis Publication date: October 12, 2021 I didn’t really like this book. I enjoyed the first one but made the mistake of reading the reviews for Axiom’s End before I started Truth of the Divine. So, I couldn’t help but look for all of the things that were mentioned in the reviews for the first book. I was hopeful that Ellis had improved upon those things, but that wasn’t the case. There were some parts regarding sex and intimacy that made me uncomfortable, but I think Ellis did a great job with the conversation of “what rights would humanity give to aliens if they came to Earth?”
The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling Publication date: October 19, 2021 I loved this. It was weird and creepy and dark. The characters were excellent. The setting was perfect for October (when I read it). The magic was interesting and compelling. I’d definitely recommend this one.
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen Publication date: October 19, 2021 I loved this book. I was actually a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I really loved the fantasy elements and the world-building with the Low Gods and their magic. I loved the morally grey main character, Vanja. I loved the romances and the friendship. I totally recommend this one.
Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood Publication date: October 19, 2021 I loved most things about this book. The world and magic were fascinating. I loved learning about Andromeda’s backstory and debtera training. I loved her relationship with her mentor, Jember. But I didn’t really care for the romance.
You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith Publication date: November 2, 2021 I was a part of the blog tour team for this book. So, I was given an advanced copy to read via NetGalley (thanks, Inkyard Press!) I had fun reading this one. I think it’s definitely for fans of YA contemporary. It’s also definitely a love letter to Philadelphia, PA. I liked the characters and the romance.
All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman Publication Date: November 9, 2021 I am pretty bummed to say that I didn’t like this. I genuinely didn’t like most of the characters. I didn’t like how/where the story ended. I didn’t love the magic. I don’t know that I’ll be continuing on with this series.
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao Publication date: November 9, 2021 I really liked the concept of the story where Julie gets to talk to her dead boyfriend on the phone and take the time that she needs to move on from his death. But I just genuinely didn’t like Julie despite the growth and development that she goes through in the story. I still had a fun time reading this, it just didn’t emotionally destroy me like I anticipated it was going to.
The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart Publication date: November 9, 2021 I really liked the first book and I liked this second book even more. It was really fun to see these characters gain power and try to figure out how to use that power to help their people, but also how to gain favor and alliances. The magic was fascinating and I can’t wait for the third book.
Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee Publication date: November 30, 2021 While I really didn’t care for the pacing of this story and how it spans a period of 20 years or so, I did love the characters and the latest chaos that Hilo probably caused. I think a lot of people will really love this conclusion.
If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich Publication Date: December 7, 2021 I DNF’d this after like 10 pages. I had no business requesting this. Even when I do read YA contemporary, this doesn’t really fit into what I do read. I tend to read more hard hitting realistic fiction and not YA romance.
A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw Publication date: December 7, 2021 I really loved this one. It’s a good one for spooky season, but I think it’s also just a solid wintertime mystery/fantasy. There’s magic, murder, and characters you can’t help but get invested in. I think Ernshaw’s adult debut was absolutely even better than her YA books (which I also loved). It still has the same magical and mysterious feel that her YA books have, the writing is beautiful, but it’s just a bit darker.
The Excalibur Curse by Kiersten White Publication date: December 7, 2021 I was really happy with this series finale. I think the story was a fast-paced and enjoyable read. I think all the loose ends were tied up and I wasn’t really left wanting for anything.
No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen Publication date: December 7, 2021 This book was weird as heck, but I think I liked it? It was confusing right up until the big reveal and I still am not sure if I liked the weird science fiction twist. But it was written in such a compelling way that I couldn’t put it down.
Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire Publication date: January 4, 2022 I loved this book. I love this series. This one follows Cora after the events of Come Tumbling Down. It’s not a happy story, much like some of the others in this series. But I loved Cora and the twists and turns of the story. I thought seeing the other school for children that had found doors was really interesting. I already cannot wait for more books in this series.
When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord Publication date: January 4, 2022 I loved Tweet Cute and You Have a Match, so I expected to enjoy this one as well. It follows Millie who was a great main character. There’s lots of high school theatre stuff for those that like that. But I really enjoyed the searching for her mom aspect and the romance in the story. The theatre stuff mostly went over my head. I think this one will definitely be a hit like her first two books.
Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long Publication date: January 11, 2022 I liked this one. The world was interesting and I think the world-building was well done. It was a well-written story with a good balance of showing and telling. I think the main character was developed nicely. I would have liked to know the supporting characters a bit better. But overall, I enjoyed this book.
The Thousand Eyes by A.K. Larkwood Publication date: February 15, 2022 I was approved for this right before I read The Unspoken Name for the Clear Your Shit Readathon and I’m so glad that I was. I binge-read this book the minute I finished the first one. The world is opened up more and we meet new characters. I loved it just as much as I did the first book (though I really missed Csorwe). I will definitely be reading more from this author and recommending this series to anyone and everyone.
Approvals on my TBR
Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee Publication date: January 4, 2022 I loved Dragon Pearl so I have high expectations that I will love this book as well. I believe it’s set in the same world but follows a different set of characters, which should be really fun.
The Kindred by Alechia Dow Publication date: January 4, 2022 I really loved The Sound of Stars by this author. This one sounds like it’s going to be more science fiction than the last and I’m totally here for that.
Love At First Spite by Anna E. Collins Publication date: January 4, 2022 I’m on a blog tour for this one and a few other early 2022 romances. I honestly don’t know much about this book, but I’m always down for a good romance novel.
Light Years From Home by Mike Chen Publication date: January 25, 2022 Chen’s books have been hit or miss for me. But this one sounds like something I’ll enjoy. It seems like it’ll have some aliens and a bit of family drama which are two things I usually like in books.
Seven Mercies by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May Publication date: January 25, 2022 I genuinely didn’t think I was going to get approved for this. So, I definitely screamed a little bit when I got the email saying I was approved. This is the sequel to Seven Devils which I read and absolutely loved. I have really high hopes for this sequel.
The Broken Tower by Kelly Braffet Publication date: January 25, 2022 I seem to have an issue with requesting sequels that I have no business requesting. I haven’t read the first book in this series yet, but I have borrowed it from my library and hope to enjoy both that book and this eARC which is the sequel.
The Iron Sword by Julie Kagawa Publication date: February 1, 2022 I really loved The Iron Raven. I have no doubt that I’ll love this book too. I’ve been having issues with YA fantasy lately, but I think this series will hit all the right nostalgic notes for me to love it.
Azura Ghost by Essa Hansen Publication date: February 1, 2022 I did an oopsie with this one. I requested this after having it advertised in a NetGalley email to me. I quickly read the description and was interested because it’s adult science fiction. But after being approved, I went to add it to my ARC list on GoodReads and learned that this is the second book in a series, of which I have not read the first. But! Good news! My library has the first book as an eBook, so, I will read it there before I read this one.
Full Flight by Ashley Schumacher Publication date: February 22, 2022 I honestly don’t know what this is about. But I really enjoyed Schumacher’s debut. Also, this cover is totally stunning and I am a sucker sometimes.
Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin Publication date: February 22, 2022 The first sentence of the synopsis is “Beth and Fran spend their days traveling the ravaged New England coast, hunting feral men and harvesting their organs in a gruesome effort to ensure they’ll never face the same fate” and that’s genuinely all I need to know.
The One True Me and You by Remi K. England Publication date: March 1, 2022 I’ve loved all of England’s books so far, so I have high hopes for this one too.
Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead Publication date: March 1, 2022 This is the third and final romance that I’m on a blog tour team for. Once again, I don’t know much about it but I love finding new romance.
A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft Publication date: March 8, 2022 I liked Saft’s first book and this one sounds right up my alley. Mythical creatures and an ancient magic secret? Yes, please.
Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell by Taj McCoy Publication date: March 22, 2022 This is another one of the romances that I’m a part of the blog tour for. I don’t know much about it, but the quick blurb I read sounded good and I’m always open to new romance books.
In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power Publication date: April 5, 2022 I didn’t really love Power’s previous two books. But this one sounds pretty different, so I’m going to give it a try.
To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters Publication date: April 5, 2022 I was sent an eARC of this one like I was for the first two books in the series. These are fun Regency romances, so I expect the same from this one.
This May End Badly by Samantha Markum Publication date: April 12, 2022 The tagline for this book is “When a high stakes boarding school prank war leads to a fake dating scheme, two teens must decide if they are ready to take the ultimate risk — falling in love.” How could I not hit request after reading that?
Hide by Kiersten White Publication date: May 24, 2022 This is White’s adult debut and I’m incredibly excited about it just from what I’ve seen her share on Twitter. Hide and seek but deadly set in an amusement park? Oh heck yeah.
Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler Publication date: June 7, 2022 I saw this on NetGalley and wasn’t going to request it. But then I got an unsolicited email from someone at the publishers with a NetGalley widget. I loved Cool for the Summer so I figure I’d give this book a try too.
Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg Publication date: June 14, 2022 I genuinely don’t know why I requested this. But I was approved, so here goes nothing.
This is my final NetGalley Shelf update of 2021. Let me know if you like seeing these posts because I’ve really been enjoying creating them. It’s been a fun way to keep myself accountable and I feel like I’ve gotten to see real progress with reading and reviewing my NetGalley eARC’s.
Hey, bookworms. We’ve almost reached the end of another Blogmas, as well as, the end of 2021. We thought it would be good to wrap up the year with a quick blogging wrap up and some goals for the new year.
Amanda’s 2021 Wrap Up & 2022 Blogging Goals
Wrapping up 2021 will be a bit bittersweet for me. It’s the last year that my daughter will be an only child. It’s also the year I’m the most proud of for blogging. I am incredibly proud of the content that I produced this year. I tried new things and also managed to keep up with the things that we’ve been doing since the beginning. I managed to post for both Blogtober and Blogmas while pregnant and corralling a 3 year old. I am hopeful that I’ll be able to continue this into the new year.
That’s the perfect segway into my goals for the upcoming year. I am due to have a baby in the middle of February, so, I absolutely foresee things slowing down for me a bit after my son is born. But I am hopeful that in the first month of January, I’ll be able to get a decent amount of posts scheduled so I can work when I have time and not have a deadline to meet. I have a few post ideas planned, but I haven’t started working on anything yet.
Antonia’s 2021 Wrap Up & 2022 Blogging Goals
I’m actually really proud of myself for my reading/ blogging for 2021. I’m currently at 28 of 30 books for my yearly goal and think I can make it over these last few days. I’m already past what I read for 2020 so either way I’m pretty happy. I didn’t join Amanda in writing any reviews this year but joined in for a lot of our other posts and was pretty consistent through the whole year.
For 2022, I’d like to continue that for all of our regular posts and hopefully add in the occasional review as well. One of my bad habits is setting really high goals for myself and then being discouraged when I can’t reach it. Next year I’d like to do at least as much/ a little more than this year but I don’t want to give myself specific numbers.
What are your goals for 2022? Any reading or blogging goals?
Summary: Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him. But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams. As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self-preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.
Review: Accidentally Engaged follows Reena and Nadim as they fall in love over their shared interest in food and cooking. Reena has been trying to escape her meddling parents for most of her life and even though she’s moved out of their house, they still find ways to try to set her up with men and try to convince her to come work for the family business. She’s sick of being compared to her perfect older brother and has a whole different set of issues with her younger sister. Nadim has a story of his own, one that we don’t really get until the big conflict of the story. As a romance novel, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the romance between Reena and Nadim. They had great chemistry and hit it off right from the start. I really enjoyed their banter and their shared love of food and culture. I think I especially liked Reena’s friends and family, or the growth and development of her relationships with them. I genuinely was happy for Reena when she started to be more honest with her family, especially her younger sister (that was my favorite of the familial relationships). I thought the irony of everyone keeping secrets that everyone else already knew about was a good twist. Overall, as a romance novel, I liked this book. I was easily invested in the characters. The cooking show was fun and creative. I cared about the romance and rooted for them to be together. But I do want to mention the Muslim representation because it’s mentioned right in the synopsis. I am not a Muslim, nor am I affiliated with any religions (read this review and this review by Muslim reviewers!) But it’s pretty obvious, even to me, the things that these characters do go against their religion. I’m not here to say whether it’s good or bad representation because it’s not me being represented. But I did want to mention that there’s an excessive amount of drinking mentioned, the characters engage in premarital sex, there’s talk of some of the Muslim characters gambling, which are all things that Islam forbids. So, if you picked this one up for the Muslim representation, just know that much before you read it.
January 18 Seven Mercies by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May
February 1 The Iron Sword by Julie Kagawa 15 House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas
March 1 The River of Silver: Tales from the Deavabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty 1 Youngbloods by Scott Westerfeld 15 The War of Two Queens by Jennifer L. Armentrout 15 The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
April 19 The Genesis Wars by Akemi Dawn Bowman 19 Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse
May 3 Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire 3 Book Lovers by Emily Henry 3 I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston 24 Nightwork by Nora Roberts 24 The Inadequate Heir by Danielle L. Jensen
June 7 For the Throne by Hannah F. Whitten 7 The Last Fallen Moon by Graci Kim 14 A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow
July 12 A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers
August 2 Wayward by Chuck Wendig 30 The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
October 13 Silverborn: The Mystery of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Summary: A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter. And it is bait she fully intends to take. Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father’s clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared. But not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she’s trying to free – the husband she betrayed. With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who – and what – she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or herself.
Review: I really enjoyed The Bridge Kingdom, but holy shit I absolutely loved The Traitor Queen. This book starts off right where The Bridge Kingdom ended, which I was happy about. I don’t love when books skip a bunch of time and start six months after the end of the first book. We’re immediately thrown back into the world, and this is a world at war. Lara’s father had invaded and taken over the Bridge. He’s holding Aren captive and even though Aren has sworn to kill Lara if he ever sees her again, she’s determined to find a way to rescue him. From there, the story unfolds and chaos ensues. Lara is still pretty similar to the cunning and ruthless main character that I loved from the first book. But with the growth that she had from learning of her father’s lies and deception, she’s feeling guilt and a need for penance. I thought this was really interesting for her character because it wasn’t how we knew her to act in the first book. Also, we really get to see her fight and use the skills that she’d been trained in for most of her life and I absolutely loved seeing that. Aren is dealing with an internal struggle that’s ironically similar to Lara’s from the first book. He loves Lara, but she’s now known as the Traitor Queen, so they cannot be together. Despite knowing all this, he can’t stop loving her and he can’t seem to let her go. I still liked Aren in this book. He was a bit colder, but understandably so since he’d been betrayed after opening the secrets of his kingdom to his wife. I really enjoyed his personal struggle of not being able to let Lara go, even though his people would likely never accept her. I didn’t have the same issue of predictability with The Traitor Queen that I did for the first book. As I predicted, there were lots of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. The storyline wasn’t nearly as easy to guess and while there were a few things that I saw coming, there were way more that I didn’t. We also got to see more of the world, which was something I was hoping for. We see Lara’s country while they’re trying to rescue Aren and then afterward, they travel to another kingdom to seek an alliance before returning to Aden’s kingdom (I’m not naming any of these places only because I couldn’t spell them to save my life and I’m typing this review on my phone while the story is still fresh in my mind.) Overall, I absolutely loved and devoured this story. There were some scenes of a romantic nature that had me absolutely screaming. I also enjoyed the way the story wrapped up. It seemed as if this was a nice ending for Aren and Lara. And even though things were rather smoothly wrapped up, Jensen made the characters work for that satisfying ending. I’m wondering if the future books in the series are going to be following other characters because this felt like a conclusion to Aren and Lara’s story. But I could be wrong about that. Either way, I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment of the series.
Summary: For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse. For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.
Review: This is the sequel to Sky in the Deep. The Girl the Sea Gave Back follows Tova and Halvard in alternating points of view. Tova is Kyrr, more specifically a Truthtongue (she can see read the future from casting special stones she has). Halvard is Fiske’s younger brother (let me tell you how I screamed when I realized he had his own point of view in this book). It’s been 10 years since the events of Sky in the Deep and the Aska and Riki have become one clan, renaming themselves. Tova is living with the Svell clan which is getting ready to wage war again Halvard’s clan. Why? I literally have NO clue and I couldn’t tell you even if my life depended on it. So, we once again have two clans warring for unknown reasons, except this time, Halvard’s clan has known peace for the last ten years. I’m going to be honest, I pushed through and finished this book only because of Halvard’s point of view. I loved him as a kid in Sky in the deep so I was very excited to see him as an adult in this book. He absolutely didn’t disappoint. I loved him so much. As for Tova, I felt bad for her. She’d been pretty much abused her whole life, lied to about where she came from and used for her Truthtongue abilities. I was absolutely curious as to what we were missing about her backstory. And I was happy to find out the truth when that twist was revealed. I liked learning more about the world. It was interesting to see the Svell clan and what they knew about the details of the first book as well as other bits we got to learn about the world. My biggest issue with this story is that I didn’t care about the plot literally at all. They’re going to war again? Sure, okay, but why? I didn’t feel like the motivations were clear at all. Overall, I liked this book. Not as much as Sky in the Deep, but I still had a good time listening to the audiobook.