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.
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.
Thank you to Netgalley and publisher Dutton Books for my copy of this book. I had heard very good things about this Author, and having not read any books by Sager yet, I wanted to give this book a go.
It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.
Well this book takes place over one night, as could be guessed from the title. From receiving my copy to beginning to read it, I didn’t read too many reviews or re read the blurb. So I went in a little blind. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was set in 1991, which meant no mobile phones or internet. It was nice to revisit this time, and I have to say it makes thrillers seem more dangerous as you can’t just call for help on your phone.
The plot begins with the main character Charlie, we learn that her best friend has been murdered on a night out. Charlie feels guilty and wants to leave campus and get home. As she isn’t able to drive herself home she looks for a travel buddy to car share with. Here enters Josh. The majority of the story is between these two characters and told from their points of view.
Because the chapters are written from the two main characters point of view, I got a good sense of who they both are. Personally I didn’t like Charlie and after the first few chapters, any sympathy that I had for her was gone. I found her to be one of the most stupid characters I have ever read about. She made terrible decisions concerning her own safety and I don’t think this was due to lack of common sense I think she just decided to do stupid things. Charlie was a very frustrating character to me. The only positive part of her that I liked was that she used a lot of movie references. These were entertaining and helped to get a better idea of who she was and why she was as she is.
Josh on the other hand was a bit more interesting. I had a few theories about who he was while I read the chapters. I won’t say too much about that because it would lead to spoilers. The writing was easy to read and flowed well.
As we were reading this as part of a book club we ended up reading it much faster than we initially planned.
Overall I have to say that sadly I was a bit disappointed with this book. All the chapters lasted the one night, but then at the very end goes years to the future and tells us what happened there. Again I found Charlie to be continuing to make bad decisions.
I wouldn’t be against reading another book by this author as the writing style and the idea of the plot was good. I just felt to strongly that the decisions made were a little ridiculous. There was also a part of Charlie’s character where she had what she called ” movies in her mind” . It was left unclear whether this was a mental health condition or just part of Charlie’s coping mechanism. ( perhaps it’s the same thing?) I would have liked the epilogue to make this a bit clearer as I felt it was quite a big part of the story that wasn’t explored and explained to the reader enough.
Thank you to publishers One More Chapter, Author Sandy Barker and Netgalley for my advanced reader copy of this book.
The must-read romantic comedy for fans of Laura Jane Williams, Sophie Ranald and Sophie Kinsella.
‘Hilarious and highly original’ Julie Houston, bestselling author of A Village Affair
Once upon a time, twelve women joined the hottest reality TV show looking for love. Except one had a secret identity . . .
Abby Jones is a serious writer. Or at least she will be, one day. Right now, she spends her time writing recaps of reality television under a secret identity.
When a recap for The Stag – the must-watch dating show – goes viral, her editor thinks she should be on set, writing the drama as it happens. The good news: the next season will be filmed in Sydney. Sun, sea and a glamorous trip abroad, this could be Abby’s big break.
The bad news: the producers don’t just want Abby to write the recaps, they want her to be on the show. Abby can’t think of anything worse than being undercover and followed around by cameras. But her career depends on it, and when she meets gorgeous producer Jack, Abby begins to wonder if this job might not be so bad after all
I read The Dating Game while Love Island UK was on, and I admit that Love Island is my shameful, guilty pleasure. While watching and also reading through the chapters of The Dating Game, I wondered about the insides of these types of reality shows.If you’re like me in that you don’t really take these shows at face value and often wonder at the inner workings of the shows, then this is the book for you!
The Dating Game is a book where our lovable main character Abigail is a writer for a magazine. She has a pseudo name, which is quite clever – Anatasia Flabbergaster. Abby wants to be a serious writer, but for now she has to justwrite recaps of reality tv shows. That is until she has the “opportunity” to be on one of these shows as an undercover writer.
As the pages turn we see Abby as one of the twelve “Does” on a show where Daniel the “Stag” has to date each one and find his “true love”. So many ” ” ” ” “, but all necessary. I think the idea of the show is similar to The Batchelor, but I haven’t watched this show, so I cant be sure.
Anyway, The Dating Game was light hearted, amusing, showed us a wide array of characters and was just an all round good read. One of my favourite parts of the book was the relationships between the twelve girls who were staying inStag Manor. It did really remind me of the reality shows I see on tv, where the girls become good friends but all the while supposed to be competing against each other. We meet some nice girls and some not so nice. So the fun and games kept up throughout between all the varying personalities.
I started this review by saying Love Island is a shameful, guilty pleasure of mine. I can say openly that The Dating Gamewas neither shameful, nor guilty. It was pure pleasurable reading.
This was our book club read for July. Not my choice and probably wouldn’t be my choice of read either really. It’s a young adult book which isn’t a genre that I generally like. But I thought I would give it a go. If nothing else, I like our discussions. Also I have heard very good things about this author Nicola Yoon.
Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.
As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.
Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?
I have read a lot of good things about this author Nicola Yoon. More so her book before this ‘ Everything Everything ‘. I didn’t read that, but decided to read Instructions For Dancing as part of our July book club read. While young adult books are not my thing, I can appreciate a good author and excellent writing when I see it.
The main character Evie is dismayed with love due to her parents break up. Within the first few chapters we can see that Evie likes books and not just any books, but romance books. Unfortunately as she lost faith in love, she fell out of love with her books. Despite this there are still some great quotes worth noting here that are typically from romance novels.
” I don’t want the world Eves, just my piece of it”
There were lovely friendships in this book. Evie’s best friend Martin is a great support to her and encourages Evie to go to a dance class. Hence the name of the Book, Instructions For Dancing. The book does have a bit of dance talk but it is not full of it. The messages come through without having to know anything about dance or even be particularly keen on dancing. I personally liked the dance talk. Beautiful dresses and sexy moves. But if you’re not a fan of dance don’t let this put you off.
My favourite part of this book was the over all message that resonated throughout the book. Like I said already YA is not my thing but all my bookclub buddies do like YA and they all rated it highly. So I would recommend it if you like YA. From my point of view, the writing style was good, it was easy to read And the moral/ message throughout the story was true and good.
Book Review: Instructions For Dancing by Nicola Yoon via
Thank you to Author R J Goulds for contacting me with this book. It was a nice change to read amongst my crime books.
I often look at Goodreads before starting a book, especially if it’s been waiting on my shelf for a while and I have forgotten what it was about. I was a little frustrated when I did this for this book as one of the reviews I read was far too detailed for my liking. I will keep my reviews always about my thoughts in the book rather than relay the plot / story. 😠
Anyway, after reading Jack and Jill Went Down Hill, these are my thoughts, with no spoilers attached. 😊👍
Jack and Jill meet on Freshers Big Party Night at university and for both of them it’s love at first sight. Despite their backgrounds, personalities and interests being poles apart, the relationship flourishes during their university years. It’s not quite as comfortable when their studies are over and they start work, Jack in the City and Jill as a teacher.
Way back when they first met, they’d shared the joke that their names were those of the nursery rhyme. Down the line, they fail to recognise that their lives are matching the plot – Jack falls down and Jill comes tumbling after.
Their relationship is on the rocks. Can it survive?
Publisher: Lume Books (11 July 2019)
When I decided to download this book, I was expecting a bit of a ride back to my uni days and city life. Fun times for me and it was fun times for Jack and Jill who meet each other on the very first night at university.
I did enjoy reminiscing about those days while Jack and Jill did their time there. The Author got the right mix of other types of students, the atmosphere and the mind frame of two very different students. Jack’s Uni plans were not the same as Jill’s. But both were relatable.
It’s no spoiler to say the book follows Jack and Jill’s relationship and lives.
The Author has brilliant way of writing people. I really liked Jill. She would be the type of girl I would like to know. Jack not so much, he had his good sides and his quirky sides. As the pages turned the characters developed together and separately.
As I said the story follows Jack and Jill’s relationship and lives. But we also meet their parents, friends, other family and this allows us to get further insight into why Jack and Jill are the way they are.
The plot is not predictable. It’s easy reading and fun. When books are so centred on characters, it’s important for the reader to be invested in them, and I was. I wanted to see where they ended up. I was rooting for them.
As I said it’s not predictable so you will have to read it to see where they end up.
Light, easy reading, relatable and the characterisation is fantastic. I recommend Jack and Jill Went Down Hill.
Thank you very much to the Author H S Chandler, the publisher Trapeze and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Degrees of Guilt. I am a sucker for most legal thrillers and was excited to read Degrees of Guilt. Also it has been recommended highly by other brilliant book bloggers, in particular Meggy where you can find her brilliant review HERE!
When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.
Maria is on trial for attempted murder. She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead. Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate. She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out. You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent. You will be wrong.
Published May 16th 2019 by Trapeze
Degrees of Guilt is my first book by this author but certainly not my last.
At first I contemplated Maria’s plea of not guilty, but admittance to killing her husband! As the trial went on and we hear from both lawyers and the behind the court room door private discussions between the jurors, I wondered what if my fate lay in the minds of regular people, some I found so single minded and some so selfish. And then after having been part of a jury myself recently, the lawyers themselves! They can twist the evidence they have using clever words and phrases. I didn’t know until the jury decided themselves which way Maria’s fate lay.
How unfair it seemed sometimes, but this is our legal system and whether it’s down to clever lawyers or manipulative jurors, there are 12 people, 2 lawyers, a judge and whatever witnesses ( if any) to decide whether someone is innocent or guilty.
The author did an amazing job of portraying the courtroom, the jurors room and the characters. I felt like I was in the courtroom watching and then anonymously and quietly in the jurors room watching.
The main juror that the author focuses on is Lottie who has problems of her own. Although I felt for Lottie in her own marital situation, I didn’t agree with a lot of her decisions. She is a great character to get to know and her strength of character developed throughout the book.
This book drew me into Maria’s world, Lottie’s world and allowed me to consider what would I have done in Maria’s world and what would I have done if I were on that jury.
A thought provoking fabulous courtroom drama with a twist of thriller and domestic noir. Just grippingly fantastic.
No Further Questions is the first book I have read by Gillian McAllister. I bought the book from a charity book fair. Don’t you just love getting amazing books from book fairs. I spent a lot of time and bought a lot of books from that fair. Today, I will tell you my thoughts on No Further Questions.
Trigger warning: story includes much talk of the death of a baby.
The police say she’s guilty. She insists she’s innocent.
She’s your sister. You loved her. You trusted her. But they say she killed your child. Who do you believe? Original, devilishly clever and impossible to forget, this is a thriller with a difference. You won’t be able to tear yourself away from the trial that will determine both sisters’ fates.
Published October 4th 2018 by Penguin
This is a story of two sisters, best friends, always there for the other, always supporting, having fun and take aways…… until something terrible happens.
Becky and Martha have always been so close so it seemed only natural that Becky would look after Martha’s daughter while Martha was at work. It helped them both out….. until the night Layla died.
The plot revolves around the court case of the death of baby Layla. The chapters alternate between Martha and Becky’s points of view. I think this was a clever way to write the book as you feel for both sisters. If it was only written from one sisters side, the reader would surely side with that sister. The sisters are opposites in their personalities but as a reader the tragedy fell to both sisters in my opinion. And this is a tragic story with no winners, only great characterisation and clever writing skill.
I really liked Becky’s relationship with her ex Husband. We learn more about this as the book goes on and towards the end I really got a feeling of how their relationship worked.
The end of the book was not what I was expecting. It is a storyline that I have thought about again and again since finishing the book.
Although this is not the usual kind of book that I would go for, I enjoyed the writing and plot skill. The characters were fully developed and I got a deep sense of Martha and Becky, but also of their other halves.
I recommend this book to readerswho enjoy legal dramas.