I read 46 books last year. This is largely due to the book club that I joined and also a lot of buddy reads with Irena. I reviewed a lot them, but not all. Reading is the best part for me, so sometimes the reviews slip by with just a number rating.
Here are all the books I read in 2021.
It is a difficult decision to chose my top books of the year as so many of them were really gripping, entertaining and some so funny. But as a bookblogger and keen to recommend the best books in my opinion, I will tell you my top 4 of 2021.
I haven’t reviewed this one, but it is well reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon. A very twisty thriller based on the main character Louise receiving a Friend Request from a former high school student who is dead.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this one so much as it was a different genre from what I usually like best. This was based on monster type sea creatures and a group of explorers and scientists going out on a ship to find proof that they exist. Very different and very good. Thanks to Irena again for this recommendation.
What were your favourite books of 2021? Give me your recommendations of what I should read in 2022.
If you saw my last post, you will have seen that I read a lot of books in 2021, but I didn’t manage to review them all. So these few days of posts will be mini reviews of some of the books that I read but hadn’t reviewed until now. They were read over the past year, so my reviews will be shorter than normal, but I will give you the jist of what I thought of each of them.
The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall
I buddy read this book with Irena, and what a fun time we had with this one. We both agreed that this was one of the best books we’ve read in 2021. It was easy to read, funny and a really pleasant surprise from an author that was new to us both.
Sophie is a professional Bridesmaid, people hire her to be their Bridesmaid and to ensure that their Wedding goes perfectly. Yes, she pretends to be whoever the customer / Bride wants them to be, and she ensures she plays the perfect Bridesmaid and that the Weddings go exactly as planned, sometimes even edging her clients in the right direction if they seem a bit lost in all the planning.
Sophie is hired by Lady Victoria, to be Bridesmaid for her daughter Cordelia. Cordelia does not feel this is necessary and here is where the fun starts. Cordelia is hilarious and does her best to throw a spanner in all Sophie’s plans and asks her to do the weirdest things.
If you have seen and enjoyed the film ’27 Dresses’, then you will love this book even more. That film was fab, this book is even better in my opinion.
Definitely among my top books of 2021. I look forward to reading more from Katy Birchall in 2022.
Romance By The Book by Sarah Ready
This book appealed to me because of the title and the blurb. Book loving, librarian Jessie has loved Gavin since she was a child. She lives in a town called Romeo, where there is a psychic who can predict people’s soul mates. Of course Jessie is over the moon to hear that the guy she has loved for so long is her actual soul mate, but the problem is that he is already engaged. So, Jessie makes plans (based on literary romantic scenarios) to show Gavin that they are soul mates.
I liked that this was escapism, easy reading. The plans that Jessie came up with were stereotypical ideas of romance, but the way she went about them were amusing.
The book was predictable, but then most romance books are, so that wasn’t a problem. I found it a little strange that we hear about Jessie’s friends in the first few chapters, but when it comes to putting her plans into action, she enlists the help of a group of older ladies from the library. I wonder if this was for amusement factor? Though to me, it made it a little unrealistic. I would have liked to hear more from her friends.
This is book 3 in the ‘Soul Mates in Romeo’ series. I hadn’t read book 1 or 2, and I think there were enough spoilers in book 3 that I wouldn’t go back to previous books. But this did work ok as a standalone.
I buddy read this book with Irena, and we both enjoyed the book and the discussions that we had while reading it. A nice easy read, with a few chuckles and a predictable ending.
Let me know any of your favourite books of 2021, I’m always looking for recommendations to add to my reading list.
I have read a lot of books this year, and I didn’t get a chance to review all of them. So here is a round up of some of the books I read and my brief thoughts on them. They will probably come in multiple posts as there are a lot of unreviewed books this year!
Some I read by myself and some I read as part of my book club. Thanks to Irena for introducing me to lots of new books and genres. Irena’s links below.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This book was a bookclub read and not really my top choice, but I was ready to try new genres. I would describe this as historical, horror fiction.
Our main character Noemi gets a letter from her cousin asking for her help. So Noemi goes to see her cousin and stays in a very old gothic building in attempt to help her cousin who seems to be quite sick and scared. The descriptions within these pages are my favourite part as you can really imagine the dampness, the creepiness and the eerie atmosphere that Noemi’s cousin lives in.
I have to say, I was hoping for more Mexican influence, but the family were English so despite being based in Mexico there wasn’t much Mexican influence in it.
I knew I was going in for a horror read, we read this as part of our October Halloween bookclub read. But the supernatural element just didn’t work for me. I was hoping there would be believable (to me) reasons for what was happening, but I just didn’t believe it.
As you can see for yourself, the cover of this book is gorgeous and that was one of the things that attracted me to the book. Sadly, this book wasn’t for me.
Cackle By Rachel Harrison.
This was our second Halloween read, and I liked this one so much better than Mexican Gothic. It was marketed as a horror / thriller by some reviewers. I want to be very clear on my and my co reader’s thoughts here. This is definitely not a thriller or a horror. We decided that at best it can be describe as a cosy women’s fiction with paranormal / witchy elements. It was the Halloween book that I wanted.
Annie leaves Manhattan to try to start again after her boyfriend dumped her. She is feeling low in confidence and hopes her new job, house and location will bring her more happiness. Apart from a spider infestation, her house and area seems lovely. Then Annie meets Sophie, who is super confident, super hot and super nice to Annie. One odd thing though, the other locals seem a bit scared of Sophie!
This was such a cosy, easy read. We see the character development of Annie and Sophie throughout the book. Particularly with Annie there are many pro feminism aspects as her character grows.
I love the cover of this book, despite there being a spider on it. The Author may think this book will lessen readers fear of spiders! For me it did not. I would be totally freaked out in Annie and Sophie’s houses. But whats a Halloween book without a friendly spider or 5!
I really liked this book as just an easy read with a hint of paranormal, that even me as a total non believer could enjoy. Highly recommended.
Well, thats it for today. More mini reviews to come soon as I look over all the books I’ve read this year. As I look at what I’ve read, I will consider my favourites of the year? Let me know your favourite book(s) of 2021 and perhaps I will add them to my tbr list for 2022. Happy Reading Folks.
Thank you to Netgalley, the Author Georgina Lees and publisher One More Chapter for my advanced copy of this book. I was in the mood for a good thriller when I read this one and it was just what I wanted after reading a few other genres with my bookclub.
How well do you know your neighbour? Would you trust them with your life?
I heard Emily before I saw her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The loud phone calls. The incessant music.
I knew Emily before I met her. Discarded receipts in our communal hallway. Sticky leftovers in the shared food waste bin. Wine shop vouchers in the letterbox.
Now she’s gone missing, and I’m the only one who can find her. The only one who can save her.
Because I know her best, and I heard everything.
The Girl Upstairs is a spine-tingling psychological thriller of grief and obsession that explores how lonely London can be and how sometimes it’s our neighbours who see us most, who know us best…
A must-read for fans of Lisa Jewell and Sarah Pinborough.
I think the moral going into this book, is that not everything is as it seems. I guess that is true with many thrillers and often in life. I wouldn’t describe this book as a page turning suspenseful thriller, but it is a thriller. We hear mainly from Susie’s point of view, that she hears everything her upstairs neighbour does. Susie is a bit down in the dumps and can’t help but get annoyed with every little and loud noise that the girl upstairs makes. Susie knows when the girl upstairs is in the shower, cooking, having guests. Its not creepy, there are just very thin walls and Susie is in her house and quiet a lot.
When the girl upstairs goes missing, Susie can’t help herself but to get involved. She feels like she must know something and be able to help find Emily. From all she has heard from Emily, Susie feels she knows her well enough to help, despite only having met her a few times.
Things and people are not as they seem. I started off feeling that Susie was being a bit harsh, but as the book continued I started to feel for her. I think the moto of ‘being kind to everyone because you neverknow what someone is going through‘ is quite apt for this book. I found it got more interesting when we heard Emily’s point of view aswell. Both women have plenty going on with them that we don’t see on the surface.
It is a slow burner and very character led. I wouldn’t describe it as a twisty thriller, but it did keep me gripped and I wanted to know what happened to Emily, and what Susie would do next. The end was good and I closed my kindle with satisfaction. I hadn’t heard of Georgina Lees before, but I will be looking out for more of her books.
If I can recommend one festive book to read this year, it would be this one. It was a real pleasure to be back in Becky’s life again so she could bring me some laughs at this seasonal time. I buddy read this with Irena and we had a great time reading and discussing it.
Celebrate Christmas with the ultimate Shopaholic! The brilliant laugh-out-loud festive novel from the Number One bestselling author. Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adores Christmas. It’s always the same – Mum and Dad hosting, carols playing, Mum pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the next-door neighbours coming round for sherry in their terrible festive jumpers. And now it’s even easier with online bargain-shopping sites – if you spend enough you even get free delivery. Sorted! But this year looks set to be different. Unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocado, Becky’s parents are moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch and have asked Becky if she’ll host Christmas this year. What could possibly go wrong?
With sister Jess demanding a vegan turkey, husband Luke determined that he just wants aftershave again, and little Minnie insisting on a very specific picnic hamper – surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear . . . Will chaos ensue, or will Becky manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas?
It was so much fun to be back with Becky Brandon nee Bloomwood again. I was really hoping I would enjoy this book, as the last Shopaholic was quite disappointing. I am happy to say, that this one was a lot better. I buddy read this one with Irena and we had lots of interesting discussions as we read along.
It was a great idea to get Becky to host Christmas lunch for her family. Having to host, buy, prepare and feed her parents, sister, neighbours and best friend and their families is some job for anyone. But for Becky, who wants to make everybody happy and will do whatever she can to make it perfect for everybody, it is a very large job. Anybody who has read previous Shopaholics will know that this is the perfect opportunity for Becky’s shopping addiction and also for her to get into plenty of scrapes.
One thing I would say about this book, is that it would probably best to be read as part of the series and not to read this one before the others. There are a lot of past reference points to the many other books. This is not an negative point, because there have been lots of Shopaholic books and if you haven’t read any, you have a bookish feast ahead of you.
We meet all the usual characters again. Becky’s parents have taken on a new adventure so we get a few giggles from them. Suze and Becky’s friendship is as lovely as ever. And Jess, Becky’s sister is home for Christmas. Jess is a vegan and the most eco friendly person I have ever heard about. Being eco friendly is of course a good thing, but Jess takes it to another level, and the most annoying character in the book. Becky is extremely patient with her.
Becky is such a great character. She is funny, caring, generous and just makes the most entertaining character I know from a book series.
If you have read previous Shopaholics and not this one, then now is the time to read it. If you haven’t read any Shopaholics and you like light funny reads, then this is the series for you.
I read some great Halloween reads over the last month. The first I will tell you about is a horror book, which is entirely out of my usual comfort reading zone. But I was buddy reading it with Irena, which would make it enjoyable whatever I thought of the book. Luckily for me, I rated the book 4 out of 5 stars.
Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats.
Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.
As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children.
The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.
I think this is my first proper horror book that I have read in quite a few years. I used to enjoy Stephen King books when I was a lot younger. But since then, my genre preferences stayed between thriller and womens fiction. Branching out to a horror book at Halloween seemed the perfect time to give it a go. Even better, I got to buddy read it with Irena.
So, onto House of Hollow. This book starts with three sisters who are as close as sisters can be. They have arranged to meet up as only Iris now lives at home. Vivi and Grey are out living their own lives. Grey as a famous model, and Vivi in a band. The three sisters share a bond like no other as they disappeared as children for 1 month, and when they were found unharmed except for a scar on the throats, they remembered nothing.
The mysterious things start to happen pretty much straight away in this book. Grey doesn’t turn up for their meeting so Iris and Vivi start to look for her. This leads them on a journey neither of them were expecting, and gives them answers and many more questions about their lives along the way.
The writing in House of Hollow is so descriptively amazing and really painted a picture in my mind. It was good to discuss these parts with Irena, as some parts of it really made me cringe, but Irena had different views. When I first saw the cover, I thought it was lovely, as I read on and discovered these were flowers of death, it seemed more creepy than nice. It wasn’t the traditional horror story with blood and gore, or ghosts and ghouls. This horror had mythical dark fairytale vibes, the type that is super creepy to me. While I didn’t know much about faeries at the time (I knew only that fairies were good and faeries were not so good). Irena knew quite a lot about them, so I also learnt about faeries and myths while reading the book.
The concluding chapters to House of Hollow are gripping, fast paced, earie and answered all the questions that I had built up over the read. The ending was both sad, happy, weird and so imaginative. There was an epilogue which was not really necassary and may or may not have been written with a book 2 in mind?? I’m not sure. Personally, I think House of Hollow ended and should remain ended in this way. But saying that I really did love this Author’s writing style and creative imagination. I would read Krystal Sutherland’s books again. I didn’t think I would say that before I started this book, but again my buddy reads have pulled me out of my comfort zone and found something exciting. I highly recommend House of Hollow. Thanks to Irena for suggesting the book and buddy reading it with me.
See this amazing trailer, if my review didn’t convince you to read, then this will.
Welcome to my spot on the blog tour for the amazing new book just published by the very talented OllyJarvis. I am very happy to be sharing my spot with Louise https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/. We will be telling you our thoughts on the brilliant new book The Genesis Inquiry. Thanks to publishers and blog tour organisers Hobeck Books for my copy of the book and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
I have been a big fan of Olly Jarvis since his first published book . In fact I have read and reviewed all his books, which you can read on my blog by searchingOlly Jarvis.
But today I will tell you my thoughts in his new book The Genesis Inquiry. Please check out all the other bloggers on this tour and see their lovely posts too.
Is there one last undiscovered, great truth?
A moment zero, a place in time that links all cultures and creeds.
A revelation that will unite us all and change the way we see history forever.
Brilliant but burnt-out barrister Ella Blake accepts an apparently simple brief: investigate the mysterious disappearance of an African American polymath from his rooms at Cambridge University. The Inquiry quickly becomes the greatest challenge of her life – solving the mystery of Genesis.
Facing danger at every turn, can Ella find the answers to the riddles and clues left by the missing genius?Reunited with her estranged daughter, the Inquiry sends them on a quest across the world and through ancient texts.
What is the secret that binds us all?Who is behind the dark forces that will stop at nothing to prevent the world from knowing the truth
The Genesis Inquiry is a little different from Olly Jarvis’ previous books. The Author still uses his own experience of legal knowledge but in an alternative and very interesting way than his previous books. The Genesis Inquiry is a book that entertained and taught me a lot of factual information. It is obvious that a lot of research has gone into this book.
The main character Ella Blake is a barrister who was well known in her area but has been on an extended break for a while. Ella is offered a job which seems a lot simpler in the beginning than how it actually turns out to be. Ella does know that it will bring her closer in distance to her daughter and that has to be a good thing. As the pages turn, we follow Ella, her daughter and a few other interesting characters as they search for a missing polymath from Cambridge and try to find out what was so important about his work before other not so savoury people find it. The book leads us across many locations as Ella cracks the clues she finds along the way.
Legal thrillers are my favourite kind of book. But this one is a little different as the legal work does not happen in court. Ella uses her legal knowledge to try to solve the mystery of a missing man and what he was working on at the time. The Genesis Inquiry made me consider many worldly issues and made me think about both history and the future of the planet and humanity. It’s a book that I got totally engrossed in as I wanted to really understand the theories that the missing polymath was studying and the clues that led Ella to find out what it was. I would say it’s a book that needed concentration and is not a light read. But it is highly entertaining, clever and extremely well written. I love Jarvis’ writing style and he is absolutely my go to author that I wouldn’t need to read the blurb on any of his books before I bought one. I know i will enjoy whatever he writes.
There is an eclectic bunch of characters in the story. My favourite was a young computer hacker called Jay. Young, a little down on his luck but full of optimism and compassion, he and Ella help each other along the way. Like Ella did, I also grew to have a soft spot for this young man.
The Genesis Inquiry is packed with intrigue, mystery, thrills, intensity and spectacular knowledge. I’m already wondering if Jarviswill write a sequel? I for sure would love to see Ella Blake again.
Follow this blog tour for the rest of this week. There are sure to be so many great things said about this book. Also check out Hobeck books for many more titles.
Blog Tour, The Genesis Inquiry, by Olly Jarvis. @hobeckbooks.
Blog Tour, The Genesis Inquiry, by Olly Jarvis. @hobeckbooks.
Thank you to Netgalley and Spiderline publishers for my copy of this book. I love psychological thrillers and even the name of this one had me hooked from the beginning.
From the mind of a psychologist comes a chilling domestic thriller that gets under your skin.
What happens when a psychologist begins to question her own sanity?
Sara runs a private psychology practice for troubled youth in the newly inherited house she is refurbishing with her husband, Sigurd. One morning, a voicemail from Sigurd tells Sara he’s arrived at a holiday cabin for a weekend away with the guys. A couple of hours later, Sigurd’s friends call from the cabin asking where he is — according to them, Sigurd never arrived.
Sara is irritated by what she thinks is a practical joke. But as the hours stretch out, her anger turns to fear, and the large empty house begins to feel increasingly threatening.
To get to the root of Sigurd’s disappearance, Sara must question everything she knows about their relationship. But can she trust her own thoughts? And where is she safe?
I love the strapline to this novel – “The truth is inside her head“. Sara is a therapist, treating her patients in her office at home. Her husband Sigourd is supposed to be renovating their big old inherited house. But Sigourd is so busy with his work, he doesn’t get around to doing much renovating. He needs a break away with the boys for the weekend, so Sara is home alone. But when Sara gets a call to say Sigourd never arrived, things start to unravel. At first Sara thinks its a weird stupid joke from the friends of her Husband, friends she never really liked. But as the hours pass, Sara gets worried.
Sara was not a likeable character, but as a therapist, I enjoyed seeing the way her mind worked. As the police investigation continues into Sigourd’s disappearance, strange things continue to happen around Sara. So much so that she starts to doubt herself. We didn’t hear to much about the investigation from the police side of things and as their suspicions are told to Sara, this is when we learn about them. The fact that a Sigourd left a message on Sara’s phone to say he arrived to see his friends makes this all the more strange and makes the reader question, why Sigourd lied? For the first half of the book, I didn’t have any suspects, which is odd as usually I suspect everybody. As I got into the second half of the book, more suspects appeared.
The writing and translation of this book was excellent. If it wasn’t based in Norway with Scandinavian names, then I would not know it was not originally written in English. I have read quite a few Scandi Noir books over the years and I was not disppointed with this one. The ending of the book was very good and I felt satisfied that all ends were tied up.
Author Helene Flood is a psychologist herself. The book has already had been bought for film rights, which I look forward to seeing. She also has another book due out next year which I look forward to hearing about.
The Flat Share was a book club read with Irena and Monika . This was a different read from our usual genre, but we decided to go for something light hearted and an easy read.
Tiffy and Leon share a flat Tiffy and Leon share a bed Tiffy and Leon have never met…
Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…
The description of this book was what initially appealed to me about this book. The idea of a man and a woman sharing a one bedroom flat, where he sleeps there in the day and she sleeps there at night sounded like it would be fun, quirky and an easy read.
Leon and Tiffy share a flat but are never in it together. They have never even met. The idea is very strange for a living arrangement, but Leon needs more income and Tiffy can’t afford a place or room of her own in expensive London . So they agreed to a 6 months agreement.
The first half of this book was funny and weird and parts of it did make me chuckle. Tiffy is low on self esteem but she has a quirky dress sense and she is very chatty and tends to say what’s in her mind at the time . She is the opposite to Leon who is very quiet and tends not to say what’s in his mind. As with most romantic comedies you can tell where this will end up. There are a few extra parts of the story which are not obvious and gave our book chat plenty of things to discuss.
As the book turned to the second half of the plot, I found it not as humorous and easy going as it was to begin with. This disappointed me a bit because I wanted a funny easy read. There were more difficult topics that came up and I found that the light heartedness had almost gone from the book. It picked up again at the very end of the book, and although the book ended as I would have liked it to, I thought that there were quite a few unnecessary parts which made the book longer than it needed to be.
I did like the writing style which was alternated between Tiffy’ s point of view and Leon’s point of view. I could see a different style between the two and it was quite obviously a male / female difference. Leon and Tiffy communicate to each other through post it notes for the other to read during their time at the flat. The notes were amusing, despite the notes being left around for ages and making a mess.
Personally I wouldn’t read books from this author again as for me it didn’t prove to be the light easy read I expected. If you like romantic comedies with a mix between funny and serious topics then you will probably love The Flat Share. Sadly for me this was not a satisfactory read and this was primarily due to the change in tone over the chapters.
Thank you to netgalley and the publisher and author for my copy of this book.
This was chosen as our June bookclub read. It seemed like a great choice for a thriller and for discussing.
Meet Chloe Sevre. She’s a freshman honor student, a legging-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. Her hobbies include yogalates, frat parties and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her.
Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study for psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements.
When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.
Never Saw Me Coming is a compulsive, voice-driven thriller by an exciting new voice in fiction, that will keep you pinned to the page and rooting for a would-be killer.
Published 7 September 2021
This was our book club choice of read for June. I didn’t choose this one but loved the sound of it and was excited to read and discuss it.
Lots of psychos in a thriller book! Perfect recipe for murder, plotting and me being a book detective. 😊🤔
This was a very original plot line where a doctor at a university finds and enrolls several diagnosed psychopaths to take part in his study whereby he claims to be able to help them live a “normal” life. I learnt a bit about psychopaths in this book. I wrongly assumed psychopaths were dangerous. I learnt that they don’t feel guilt, empathy or fear and after reading this I think psychopaths are far more common than I believed.
The characters in this book were very intriguing. Obviously I couldn’t relate to many ( any) of them of myself but I think that is why they were so interesting to me. You’d think to not feel fear would be a good thing, but then you aren’t aware of danger. And when there is a killer targeting students you need to be aware of danger. Our main character Chloe does not fear the deaths around her, she has a mission of her own. The lack of fear is a big part of what made me suspect everyone.
The fact that there are many psychopaths in this book made for quite a guessing game. I did not guess the killer which is a good thing as I like to be surprised with twists and red herrings. The ending to me was a little disappointing, but overall this was a good read with a really original plot.
I think this would make a great film or even a tv series.