And That’s a Wrap: Jan and Feb 2021 Edition

As hard as it is to believe, we’re already two months down on 2021. Summer is over and I am so ready for Autumn to hit me up. I’ve been watching less TV over the last few months and reading more than normal, which is why I’m around 6 books ahead of where I was this time last year. Who would have thought, in order to make reading goal progress you just have to…read more? I know, I’m shocked too. Now, before you scroll down and see for yourself, let’s just get it out of the way early: yes, there’s a lot of ACOTAR going on in this wrap up.

In January I read a total of 9 books. *blinks* I’m still confused as to how I did this, especially since several of them were pretty chunky.

The Duke and I (Bridgertons 1#) – Julia Quinn ★★ | Review

As you can already tell, I liked the adaptation better than the book here. I didn’t mind the first half. Sure, there’s A LOT of dialogue and we’re reminded that Daphne knows about men because of her brothers 50 million times, but the banter is good and the friends to lovers shift is nice. The second half, however, is.. icky. Simon telling Daphne that he “owns” her, NO. Daphne taking advantage of drunken Simon to get pregnant against his wishes, MILLION TIMES NO. Also my god, the last couple of pages are so sappy I was inwardly cringing. Not what I was hoping for.

The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager ★★★★

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. The story revolves around the reopening of a summer camp that three girls went missing at 15 years before. The camp setting was a great choice and provided some quality, creepy atmosphere and tension. I really liked the way the book utilised past and present timelines and how these wove together. The idea of an unreliable narrator was good but I do think it could have been used to better effect. There are parts of the climax that feel unbelievable and lazy, although the epilogue is great. I only wish that the reveals presented in it had been integrated into the main story rather than just the last couple of pages. I’ll definitely be checking out Sager’s other books.

The Burning God (The Poppy War 3#) – R. F. Kuang ★★★★.5

This series is officially one of my favourites. I finished TBG and stared at the wall for ten minutes trying to process the emotional roller-coaster of it all. There were a couple of plot threads I wish had been handled more satisfyingly or with greater purpose (e.g. The Trifecta) but overall, this was great and I wasn’t disappointed. The writing and world building is still fantastic, and I continue to remain in awe over how complex Kuang’s characters, relationships and plotlines are. Nothing is ever easy or what it seems, characters always exist in shades of grey, and despite what the victors lead you to believe, there are no true winners in war. The Burning God is grim, compelling, bloody, and memorable right til the end.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR 1#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★

This is the third time I’ve read this book and my thoughts haven’t changed much. It’s still a solid three star read for me – enjoyable but nothing mind-blowing. I think that’s mainly because most of the action doesn’t start until well into the book, many of my favourite characters aren’t introduced until book two and Feyre as a lead is on the boring side until later.

A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR 2#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★★.5 | Review

ACOMAF is my favourite of the original series, but I think that’s the general consensus. I still loved it but while my original review was 5 stars, on re-read I’m knocking it down to 4.5. The second time around I definitely felt the length of the book. As much as I adore the slow-burn of Feyre and Rhys, overall it’s a bit slow at times and probably could have been cut down somewhat. Also, the storyline outside the romance could be better handled and I still agree with myself that the climax is rushed and kind of convenient.

A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR 3#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★.5 | Review

ACOWAR was also noticeably less enjoyable on re-read. Not hugely so, but enough to push it down from 4 stars to 3.5. I still had fun and love the characters but a couple of things impacted the enjoyment factor. First, the constant uses of ‘mate’, ‘female’ and ‘male’ bugged me more this time and were pretty uncomfortable. Second, there’s a few too many Feysand sex scenes. I love a bit of steam but there comes a point where it becomes repetitive and boring. Third, having just binge-read the previous two books, I found that the 700 page run dragged a lot more this time. And lastly, there are some major plot conveniences, especially when it comes to the death count of characters we know the names of.

From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash 1#) – Jennifer L. Armentrout ★★.5 | Review

Blame Goodreads. The hype made me do it. While it may not have lived up to it, I had an alright time just the same. This book is a trope mine-field and very predictable because of it. The pacing is messy at times and the world building is questionable, too. There’s also a couple of noticeable and repetitive issues with the writing itself. Regardless, it’s a pretty addictive read with decent characters and an engaging enough romance. Not the best fantasy-romance I’ve read by a long shot, but fun enough for me to want to read the sequel.

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood and Ash 2#) – Jennifer L. Armentrout ★.5 | Review

I’d heard that the sequel was better than the first book. Um, no. Definitely, no. My main issue with AKoFaF was the lack of plot. Almost nothing happens and for a 600+ page book, that’s saying a lot. The Poppy-Hawke angst was really frustrating and repetitive, and I will never understand why JLA decided that the fake dating trope route was the way to go. This felt a lot more romance based than book one and the vampire aspect was definitely played up more too (which I did like). I’m kind of annoyed because I wasn’t planning on reading the next book but then I got to the last few chapters and they were actually interesting so now…ugh. I think I’m in for more suffering.

If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio ★★★★★

To my surprise, I loved this book! There are a lot of similarities to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History but as blasphemous as it sounds, I liked this slightly more. The story follows a group of Shakespeare players/friends who slowly implode after they let one of their number die. Watching the lies, secrets and guilt slowly tear everything apart was enthralling and I was hooked. I love how Shakespeare’s plays were incorporated into the story (life imitates art) and the way the book was structured like a Shakespearean tragedy. The characters are designed to feel like stereotypes but Rio tries to get underneath the surface to explore their strengths, insecurities, and relationships. James and Oliver’s bond in particular was so good and their scenes were magnetic. Honestly, I’m shocked this was a debut and I’m positive I’ll re-read it in the future.


February was closer to my usual reading pace, still slightly ahead of normal though, and included two of my most anticipated 2021 releases. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with as many high rated books as I did in January (then again, part of January was taken up by re-reads) and I finished up on 6 books.

Lore – Alexandra Bracken ★★★

I really thought I’d love this book considering it was pitched as The Hunger Games meets Percy Jackson but, in the end, I couldn’t get past a 3 star rating. I really liked the use of Greek mythology and world building (the NYC setting gave me serious Mortal Instruments vibes) but I found myself disinterested in the plot and characters for large stretches. My engagement picked up after the halfway mark but not as much as I wanted it to. One of the other problems I had was that the main villain of the story felt very flat in that there was barely anything to him aside from wanting power for power’s sake, which is super boring. Still, a fairly well-done YA urban fantasy.

The Project – Courtney Summers ★★★.5 | Review

I’d been really looking forward to reading The Project ever since it was announced because I loved Sadie. While this didn’t reach the highs of Sadie in terms of emotional intensity and immersion for me, I still enjoyed it. Well, as much as you can “enjoy” a book about a cult with such dark themes and content. It’s a slow read which takes time to really showcase what it’s trying to say but it’s also very clever, subtle and insidious in how it goes about it. I like that Summers isn’t afraid to use typically unlikeable heroines and that the heart of the book was another complex sisterly relationship. The ending may have let me down in some ways but overall, a strong and emotionally grounded story.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne ★★★★.5

I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this. It follows the life of an adopted, gay man named Cyril living in Ireland in the decades before homosexuality became legalised. The writing in this is so darn good! I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that’s managed to blend comedy and tragedy together as well as this book does. The dialogue is perfection – it’s so quick-witted and flows beautifully. It’s a quirky read and feels a little absurdist at times with the events that occur and coincidences that pop up, but it works. I only wish that I’d gotten to know certain characters better to properly feel the emotional moments surrounding them. I’ve already added two of Boyne’s other books to my to-read shelf.

A Court of Frost and Starlight (ACOTAR 3.1#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★ | Review

Like the other ACOTAR books, ACOFAS has also gone down rating wise on re-read. I like that the novella tries to show the impact of the war, but it does feel a lot like fan-fiction-ish fluff. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and as a lover of these characters it’s fun seeing them get drunk, have snowball fights and hang out. However, there’s a lot of shopping, talking about gifts for solstice and SO MUCH Feysand acting like sex-crazed teens for such a short read. Can you not for just two seconds? Feyre’s sections also felt more tedious this time through. I do appreciate the way it sets up Cassian and Nesta’s story in ACOSF though.

A Court of Silver Flames (ACOTAR 4#) – Sarah J. Maas ★★★.5 | Review to Come

What a ride. There were certain parts of ACOSF that I really liked and others that were a let down or just frustrating. In the good column was Nesta’s journey. I would have liked a teensy bit more gradual mental/emotional development to go with the physical, but overall I was really happy. Also in that category was the friendship element which I adored. Super sweet and so much female empowerment. In the ‘not so good’ column was the human queen/magician/Eris plot, which I honestly did not care about except for cool magical objects, and the over reliance on sex scenes to build the Cassian-Nesta relationship. Finally, in the GTFO column, we have the Feysand storyline. Like, why? Why are you trying to steal my babies’ limelight? And Rhys, you’re massively on my shit list after this book.

Piranesi – Susanna Clarke ★★.5

This is one of those ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ experiences. For the first 70 pages or so I was bored, confused and considered DNF. Yet, I decided to stick it out to page 100 and shortly after that it started to grow on me. There were definitely stretches of this that I enjoyed but l feel in the end that I wanted so much more from it. Viewed broadly, I like the basic concepts of Piranesi‘s tale (a labyrinth classical mansion in another universe, scholars with crazy theories, an unreliable narrator who has to unravel a mystery of sorts, etc.) but I feel like it either should have been shorter, to cut down the empty beginning, or longer to properly develop the background events, characters, and dramatic reveals. On the whole, different, weird, and something I see other people really liking but not for me.


So, I actually bought a couple more books over the last two months but since I managed to read them during this period as well, I’d rather not list them here again and double up. Besides, it makes me feel better about how much money I spent. Living in a state of denial works for me, thank you very much. A few very different types of books here and I’m looking forward to each of them. I’m so excited I got approved for an ARC of She Who Became the Sun. It’s due out in July which makes me want to hold off on reading it for a while but that may be difficult as it’s being promoted as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles which, as you can imagine, makes me do love heart eyes.


Just in case you missed them, other than my book reviews which are linked above, here are the posts I published over the last two months:


Not much to report so far. Lately I’ve been trying to get some online courses done which relate to qualifications I need to stay in my job. It’s been pretty time consuming and painful, and motivation is low. This month I also started posting the occasional photo to my bookstagram again. The effect my long absence has had on how the algorithm shows my posts to people now compared to how it did a year ago has been disheartening and frustrating but I guess the only thing to do is keep at it, I guess.

On the social side, I finally got to see one of my closest friends recently after not having seen her in over a year. I’m sure you can all relate to this – the struggles of Covid-19. We’re extremely lucky that we live in Australia where our government has managed the virus so well but border restrictions and closures since things first started have made it very hard to see people in different states. My friend and I had a good catch up and went to see Frozen The Musical which was a lot of fun but definitely an experience in having so few people in the audience.


I hope 2021 is treating you all well so far and that good things are in store for March. Let me know what your favourite reads from the last two months were and what you’re most looking forward to next month!

And That’s a Wrap: January ’19 Edition

Just like that, the first month of 2019 is over. Finito! For those of you who aren’t friends of mine on Goodreads, I’ve set myself a reading goal of 80 books for this year. I managed to hit 90 in 2018 (after a lengthy, last-minute cram week but that’s neither here nor there…) so I’m fairly confident that this will be achievable. That’s only about 6-7 books a month. Easy peasy, right?


I’m really happy with how things are progressing so far for the year. I read 8 books in Jan (& one was even over 500 pages *shock*). Three of my most anticipated releases for 2019 came out this month and surprisingly I managed to read two of them straight after purchase. Look at me go, being organised and stuff.

The Cruel Prince – Holly Black ★★★★ | Review

My first book of 2019 was a re-read because my memory sucks and I’ve found that in order to properly enjoy a sequel, you kind of need to remember what happened in the first book… TCP was just as good the second time. I may have even enjoyed the first half more this time because I knew where things were headed. I also gained a much greater appreciation for Jude as a character – the girl is a total badass.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell ★★★★

I’m so glad I finally read this one. The poor thing’s been sitting on my shelf for ages. While I’m not crazy obsessed, I did really enjoy it. I liked the fact that the story was a little more mature due to the university setting and that the book took the time to deal with some more serious topics like broken families, binge/underage drinking, and mental health. Cath was sweet, and expectedly, very relatable. I also thought Levi was pretty adorkable, too.  

The Wicked King – Holly Black ★★★★.5 | Review

So damn good. I finished this in less than a day and it was a blast. It has a bit more momentum than book one and the world building was expanded on slightly. There were more twists and turns, the toxic romance between Jude and Cardan was addictive, and gosh, the ending. Holly Black gets me every time. Love.

The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi ★★★.5 | Review

There were quite a few things I really liked about this book – the concept, great cast of characters, sense of diversity, pacing, and twist ending. Yet, my enjoyment was greatly affected by the fact that the world building confused the hell out of me, leaving me lost and disconnected through a lot of major plot points (especially during the climax).

Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson ★★★.5 | Review to Come

It took me some time to warm up to this one (the first third is over-padded with intro info) but after a while, I had a great time. I’m always on the lookout for a good YA crime/thriller fic. Everything about this book is very quirky – the tone, writing, oddball characters, secluded private school setting. Sure, it’s unrealistic but it’s also a lot of fun. However, I do wish the ending had held more closure on one of the book’s two big mysteries.

The Quiet You Carry – Nikki Barthelmess (ARC) ★★★| Review to Come

This was an honest and raw read which handled some heavy subject matters such as domestic violence, paedophilia, sexual assault, the US foster care system, and suicide. For the most part, it’s a decent debut with some solid characters and real emotion behind it, but, unfortunately, it also suffers from some pacing issues around the middle and a degree of melodrama & cheesiness in the last third.

The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang ★★★★★

Oh my gosh. I loved this book, but boy, was it INTENSE. The writing is great, especially the world building. Every time you think you know where things are going, the plot just flips. It didn’t hurt that it also included two of my favourite tropes – training academies and mentorship. I really liked Rin as a protagonist – she’s strong, well-written, and the perfect underdog. I do have to say though, this is definitely not a story for the squeamish. Despite the quieter first section, this is a book about War in all its horror. Some sections are very graphic. But if you’re up for action, magic, and nail-biting drama, this is a perfect choice.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin ★.5

It’s raining tropes (bad ones this time). Damaged girl meets bad (yet, still somehow perfect but really super controlling) boy. He understands her in a way no one else seems to be able to & she somehow changes him. There’s even the gorgeous-mean-girl nemesis and the funny, outsider new bestie. I believe there’s a paranormal story buried somewhere underneath this eye-roll worthy romance but from what I could see, it doesn’t make much sense. *sigh*

Nine purchases and one ARC approval. It’s a lot, but in my defence, I’ve already read 4 of them and am currently working on the 5th. Not too bad after all? Huh? (She tells herself, over and over again).

Obviously, I plan to get through more than this but here are a couple of books I hope to tackle this month:

I’m already stuck into King of Scars (I couldn’t wait!) and so, so excited. Normal People looks to be a nice, short read but the reviews for it have been amazing. City of Glass will be a re-read and hopefully get me re-started on my efforts to finally finish TMI series so that I can read The Dark Artifices. Fingers crossed!

Book Tags

The Fellowship of the Ring Tag

Other Book Reviews

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang & The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

To Best the Boys – Mary Weber (ARC)

Discussions

What’s so Good about Fanfiction?

Top 10 Tuesday

Books I Meant to Read in 2018 but Didn’t

Miscellaneous

2019 Releases to Get Excited About – Part 3

New Additions to my Goodreads To-Read Shelf


And that’s a wrap on January. How was your first month of 2019? What’s your new reading goal and are you on track?