My 2021 books

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My 2021 books

Ene 2, 5:39pm

Hi y'all! Happy new year!

I'm excited to start reading with you all again. Last year I read so much, I don't think that will happen again. But still, there's always hope.

1. Cemetery Boys, Aiden Thomas

I was disappointed by this book. Many of my friends absolutely love it and recommended it strongly, but I always felt that it fell short of what I hoped it would be. The ideas were really great: the characters, the magic system (though strangely binary), the interspersed Spanish, the very beginning of the book. But the execution left a lot to be desired in my opinion. The pacing was all over the place, glossing over important scenes while endlessly dragging out mean-girl gossip at school. The characters changed characterisation wildly from scene to scene in a way I can't explain with teenage hormones. It's like the book couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a mystery or a family story or a romance, and didn't do any of them particularly well.
The trans representation in Yadriel is really great though. I loved the way the author handled the more technically difficult aspects of that, and Yadriel himself was wonderful as a protagonist. I guess I just wish the book had been edited better.

2. Magic for Liars, Sarah Gailey

I was always a bit frustrated with the protagonist of this mystery, but I still loved the book. The magic system is so interesting, and seeing it from the perspective of an outsider trying to investigate was great. There was so much going on at the school aside from the central plot that it felt like a really full, lived-in place, not just a setting for a death. I guessed part of the solution, but only part of it. As always, I wish the perpetrators would actually go to jail, but I think the mystery genre usually doesn't agree with me there. The book certainly was suspenseful until the very last page. I loved Gailey's book "Upright Women Wanted" and after this one I'll certainly look out for more from them.

I think that's a pretty good start to the year, with two books in two days. To many more!

Ene 2, 6:14pm

Hope you have a great year of reading!

Ene 2, 6:14pm

Nice start! Happy new year!

Ene 2, 6:52pm

Happy reading in 2021, Miriam!

Ene 3, 12:15am

And keep up with my friends here, Miriam. Have a great 2021.

Ene 5, 7:11am

Thank you and happy new year everyone!

3. False Value, Ben Aaronovitch

2021 reread: I love this series, I love these characters. I also really appreciate that this book serves as an easy on-ramp for new readers, eight books into the series. Great casual explanations, and just as many jokes as ever. I could not be more hyped for the next book.

Ene 5, 8:10am

>6 BerlinBibliophile: I've seen some of the Aaronovitch books--maybe the Rivers of London series--and wondered how they were. If I were ever to venture a little more into that genre, I think that is a series I might try.

Ene 5, 5:35pm

>7 thornton37814: this is also part of the Rivers of London series. It's one of my all-time favourite series, and I just love watching the characters grow and the author improve in it. The magic system is so cool and I love Peter Grant as the narrator.

4. The Devil and the Dark Water, Stuart Turton

This book is quite long, and yet I blew through it in a day. I loved the characters and the set-up of the mystery, and it was really suspenseful reading about them trying to solve it, while everything around them goes wrong and the ship descends into chaos. I was really surprised at the ultimate resolution, but very happy with it. That doesn't happen too often, but Turton managed it very deftly, leaving my suspicions close to the truth but ultimately off the mark. I wish there were another book about these characters to read.

Ene 6, 7:57am

>8 BerlinBibliophile: I really enjoyed that one too, and was also pretty surprised by the ending. And yeah, it would be fun to read more about them!

Ene 6, 3:13pm

>9 drneutron: I had my suspicions, but they turned out to be wrong, and I was actually happy to be wrong about that! Definitely surprising.

5. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke

I think I may have found one of my favourite books of the year already. I was blown away by the beautiful, deliberate language and the slow unfolding of the world around and within the protagonist. An absolute masterstroke. I loved the House and all the little ways the protagonist interacts with It. I loved the psychology of his tangles with the Other and 16. I loved the way Clarke incorporated the journal entries in the story, and the tangible, physical way the House and the action within it is described. It seems to me at once as solid as marble and as ephemeral as a dream.

Ene 11, 11:21am

6. Murder at the Lakeside Library, Holly Danvers

I was a bit disappointed in this book. I really liked the set-up, basically the first half of the novel. The characters were nice and the setting great for a mystery, an isolated lakeside community with insiders and outsiders and interesting class dynamics. But all that was thrown away in the second half when the characters proceeded to make more and more stupid decisions (like confronting a murderer on their own when they really didn't need to) and their conversations became more and more repetitive. The writing on the sentence level is also really clunky and awkward. Lovely descriptions of nature though.

Ene 14, 4:11am

7. The Last Wish, Andrzej Sapkowski

I felt like the book got better the longer it went on. The opening was not to my taste, but with each short story it improved. We got to know the characters in more nuanced ways and the worldbuilding expanded. I'm going to keep reading the series and hope it keeps on getting better.

Editado: Ene 14, 9:29am

I’m reading them in publication order - about to start the second in that tally, Baptism of Fire. Story’s pretty engaging so far.

I think The Last Wish is a set of short stories written later to fill in back story of the characters.

Ene 15, 3:45pm

>13 drneutron: this book was a present from a friend. I'm definitely going to keep reading the series. I didn't realise there was a question of which to start with, I just picked up the one my friend sent me this week. But it was definitely a book of short stories and I'm curious to see how I'll like a full-length novel.

8. Felix Ever After, Kacen Callender

I loved Felix's development in this book. He gets a concentrated dose of teenage drama in the course of one summer, and I enjoyed reading about all his ups and downs (and backwards and forwards as well). Near the end, there was one paragraph about the power and emotion of community that made me tear up with happy tears. Felix and Ezra and the characters around them are so wonderfully drawn and fleshed out, with their petty squabbles, their seriousness, their life-shattering and then life-changing feelings. It really captures the feeling of being a teenager who questions everything and is full up with confusing feelings.

Ene 15, 8:24pm

Impressive start to the reading year, Miriam. My thoughts too about The Last Wish. I read it last year but haven't added any of the follow ups yet.

Have a lovely weekend.

Ene 19, 11:22am

9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling

In hindsight there's so much foreshadowing in this book that pays off big time in the second half of the series. Reading it again was a bit like a treasure hunt, slowly going through and picking up on the bits that will be so important later.
The book's themes of your choices defining who you are and leading to concequences later are very important to me, especially now that the author is behaving heinously and hurtfully towards so many people.

>15 PaulCranswick: have a great week, Paul! I also have the problem of starting series and then only getting the next book once I've forgotten most of what happened in the first one...

Ene 22, 5:35am

10. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

It took me a few chapters to really get into the dialogue style, but this book is simply phenomenal. Janie is a fantastic protagonist who grows and changes throughout as she slowly takes control of the narrative of her own life. The free indirect discourse is a great tool for showing her growing confidence in her own words and choices. None of the characters are perfect or evil, they're all conflicted, changeable, human figures with both light and dark inside them. Hurston's writing is absolutely beautiful and there were many sentences I underlined and kept thinking about for a while after I finished the book. This was my favourite: "Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore."

Ene 22, 1:43pm

>17 BerlinBibliophile: First time I tried that one I was not in a great place and couldn't get beyond those first few tricky chapters you described. Will try it again sometime soon.

Ene 25, 11:28am

>18 PaulCranswick: It's really worth it in the end, so I hope you'll give it another chance!

11. The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

I'm not quite sure what to think. Despite the sad premise, I liked the story and I liked Nora as the protagonist of her many lives. I also really like Matt Haig's prose style, with many short, pithy chapters. At the same time, I couldn't help but feel that the ending, considering what had come before it, was a bit trite.

Ene 26, 5:04pm

12. Squire, Tamora Pierce

2021 reread: I think this may be my favourite book in this series. It's so wonderful to see Kel coming into her own and being appreciated by her peers and authority figures for once. She meets such a huge variety of people from all stations in life in this book, it's great to see her learn so much more about all sorts of Tortallan lives.

Feb 1, 8:07am

13. Töchter einer neuen Zeit, Carmen Korn

The characters in this book are great, and they change in dynamic and believable ways throughout the story. The setting is an interesting one full of political and social change. At times it all felt a bit too "easy" (both physically and morally) for the charcters. There was still some interesting exploration of normal lives in these turbulent times. I wish the author didn't always jump from the beginning of a story (starting a new job, a relationship, a business) to another new beginning (already married and with a new baby, or with a successful business that needs new premises) for that same person without letting the reader see more of the development in between.
I was a bit disappointed that the book ends with a cliffhanger though. Not necessary, in my opinion. Still, I loved the characters and I'm excited to read more about their lives.

Feb 1, 5:41pm

14. The Lives of Saints, Leigh Bardugo, illustrated by Daniel J. Zollinger

I have to be honest, most of the appeal here is in the illustrations. The saints' lives are interesting, but the illustrations steal the show. They are marvellous, brilliant, and capture a historical fantastical style so, so well. Some of them are even aged, as though people take them out to pray over them often. This book is a beautiful object, visually stunning and a pleasure to touch.

Feb 4, 4:47am

15. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

What a beautiful book. A lovely, meaningful story and wonderful illustrations. This edition is produced beautifully, with gilt edges, embossed cloth cover, and a ribbon bookmark.

Feb 4, 4:14pm

>23 BerlinBibliophile: Glad you loved The Little Prince, Miriam. I read it again a few years back, and it was still as good as I remebered.
I would love to see a picture of your edition.

Feb 5, 8:00am

16. Hunger Pangs: True Love Bites, Joy Demorra

This book was such a fun break. The characters are great and they get the development they deserve. Their relationships are wonderful, and I was so happy to see a loving negotiation of boundaries before the leads fell into bed together.
The world building is really interesting and I found myself much more invested in the "save the world" plot than I expected to be. The politics of that world also work perfectly realistically. I could tell because I wanted to strangle the conservative parlamentarians.
It was also great to see a disabled hero who finally gets the treatment he deserves from his doctors. The whole world was simply filled with wonderful characters of all identities. I really loved the Jane Austen-inspired ball scenes. This book is so funny and charming!

Feb 5, 12:13pm

>24 FAMeulstee: it's from the Macmillan Classics Collection. It's really small, but so pretty. The illustrations were drawn by the author, really cute.

Editado: Feb 5, 10:40pm

Este mensaje ha sido reportado por varios usuarios por lo que no se muestra públicamente. (mostrar)
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Feb 7, 12:48pm

Hi Miriam - I'm very slowly finding my way to various threads and it looks like we have some reading interests in common :-) I also really enjoyed Piranesi and I haven't read The Devil and the Dark Water yet but loved Stuart Turton's first novel. I've also got Felix Ever After on my wishlist.

Happy reading!

Feb 11, 4:39pm

17. Queens of the Crusades, Allison Weir

This is a really interesting book about fascinating women. Sometimes I wish Weir had condensed some of the repeated years of progresses and bolts of cloth purchased, but it was still a well-written and well-researched history. The relationships between these queens are interesting to read about, as was their use of political power and contemporary responses to it. Everyone knows Eleanor of Aquitaine was a badass, but her successors are well worth reading about as well.

Feb 11, 4:43pm

>28 souloftherose: Hi Heather, I saw your thread too. We have so many books in common! I saw you read some T. Kingfisher recently. I read her book about a boy with an armadillo familiar recently and really enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy Felix Ever Afer! I really did.

Feb 15, 5:33pm

18. Dying With Her Cheer Pants On, Seanan McGuire

I had a fantastic time reading about these weird, wonderful cheerleaders. As a non-American I felt kind of like an outsider looking in on mysterious rituals, but I guess that might be the case for normal cheerleading that doesn't involve saving the world that often too. The characters are so fleshed out and they all get a chance to shine in their own stories. One of my favourites was about the harvest girl, who gets a little bit of an outsider's view into the world of the Fighting Pumpkins.

Feb 16, 11:10am

19. Murder by the Book, Claire Harman

2021 re-read: There are so many unanswered questions at the end of this book, but it's still an excellent examination of popular culture in the early Victorian era. I guess that's one of the frustrations of reading about a murder that was never really solved.

Feb 19, 5:48am

20. Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi

The first 300 pages of this book were great. The came a hundred pages of emotional frenzy between the characters which honestly felt unrealistic and way too quick. I don't think you start completely trusting your deadly enemy with your life, loving him even, within 24 hours of grudgingly working together. Everyone else's emotions were similarly careening all over the place and they were all making out of character stupid decisions. I could have done without the hormonal teenage horniness episode. For the final 100 pages, the book returned to great form. The ending was exciting and suspenseful and I'm eager to see what happens next. The worldbuilding in this book was great throughout.

Feb 24, 9:23am

21. The Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

This time I read the book straight through. Last time I had missed how quickly the book reads. So much happens and Lauren moves from life-changing event to life-changing event. But despite being a relatively quick read, Octavia Butler manages to express so many important lessons about life and people and politics in one short book. It really is excellent, even if it is heart-breaking to read.