Hi there lovely reader! Today’s blog post is my monthly themed TBR post. I took a break from these posts in January because my wrapping 2020 up content, but now they’re back! Now what are these themed TBR blogposts? It’s easy: for these blog posts I pick a certain theme and read books within that theme. The theme of this post is the highest rated books on my TBR. So I went to Goodreads and ranked the books on my ‘to read’ list by average rating. And below you can find the three highest rated books on there. Two of the books are sequels, which is not surprising, but I won’t be spoiling anything about the series in my reviews, however the premises do spoil the previous books, so watch out with that!
So I’ve read and reviewed those three books for you. But, and that’s the fun part of the blog post, my reviews will be little podcast type vlogs. I will not only give you my final thoughts on the book, but also the thoughts I had whilst reading the book. So it’s a bit like a reading vlog, but it’s just my voice. Now let’s get into the books I read and their reviews!
Book one: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.
Book two: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza–but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?
Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys–an old flame from Asha’s past–reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.
Book three: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.
I hope you enjoyed this themed TBR post! This is actually a monthly thing I do on my blog, so if you’re interested in any future themed TBR posts make sure you follow my blog! They’ll also always be posted on the second Wednesday of the month.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Or are any of these still on your TBR? Definitely let me know!
Your daughter went missing twenty years ago. Now, she’s finally back. You thought she had returned a few times in the past, and your husband tells you she’s not the one, but you feel it in your bones. Now, what will you do to keep her home?
Twenty years ago, Myra Barkley’s daughter disappeared from the rocky beach across from the family inn, off the Oregon coast. Ever since, Myra has waited at the front desk for her child to come home. One rainy afternoon, the miracle happens–her missing daughter, now twenty-eight years old with a child of her own, walks in the door.
Elizabeth Lark is on the run with her son. She’s just killed her abusive husband and needs a place to hide. Against her better judgment, she heads to her hometown and stops at the Barkley Inn. When the innkeeper insists that Elizabeth is her long lost daughter, the opportunity for a new life, and more importantly, the safety of her child, is too much for Elizabeth to pass up. But she knows that she isn’t the Barkleys’s daughter, and the more deeply intertwined she becomes with the family, the harder it becomes to confess the truth.
Except the Barkley girl didn’t just disappear on her own. As the news spreads across the small town that the Barkley girl has returned, Elizabeth suddenly comes into the limelight in a dangerous way, and the culprit behind the disappearance those twenty years ago is back to finish the job.
My review – spoilerfree
Call Me Elizabeth Lark starts off perfectly. The first chapter is very intriguing and vague. It’s well written and just the perfect start for a thriller. The book keeps being intriguing the entire way through. As a reader you want to know how all these characters and events are connected and why certain characters do certain things. That should be a given for a thriller, but there are quite a few thrillers out there who can’t keep on being intriguing the entire way through, but Call Me Elizabeth Lark is not one of those.
However, where the book does a great job at giving you the feeling there is so much more to the story than you expect, it doesn’t do a very well job of giving you information. It’s not that it doesn’t give you the information you need, it just feels like the author is not certain which information she should give at what time and how she should present it to you. Some very important information is just thrown in the storyline without much elaboration, even though you as a reader need that. And then there are other reveals that are being elaborated too much and those reveals don’t need that.
On top of that it felt like the author sometimes didn’t know which information she had already given. Some scenes felt odly repetitive, a bit like a déjà vu. Certain scenes appeared to be in the book twice, but just a tat different so you weren’t 100% certain whether or not you had already read that scene. However that could be because I read the ARC (advanced reader’s copy), so I’m hoping those double scenes won’t end up in the final copy of the book.
Another weakness of this book are the time jumps. In between chapters, or sometimes in the middle of chapters, there are time jumps. However, those were often times not very clear. So sometimes when you started reading another chapter or paragraph you as reader thought the characters were still at the same place and time, but then it was a week later all of a sudden and you only discovered that a few pages in to the chapter or a halfway through the paragraph. That brought a lot of confusion about the time and it also makes for a constant questioning feeling of whether or not there was a time jump between chapters and paragraphs.
The last thing that can bother quite a few readers is that characters sometimes really acted out of character. The best example, without spoilers, is Elizabeth’s child Theo. The child is five years old but sometimes really sounds like an adult. More than once you have Theo comforting his mother as if she’s his child, instead of the other way around. And that just felt really awkward. Five year olds can be smart, but they don’t sound like adults when they’re smart, they still sound like children.
Overall Call Me Elizabeth Lark is quite the enjoyable read and a true page turner because of how intriguing it is. You’ll especially enjoy this book if you love bingewatching true crime about unsolved missing (children’s) cases.
*I was provided with a review copy through Netgalley. Thanks a lot to the publisher & author. However, that doesn’t influence my opinion or the things said in this review.*
As a lead reporter for The Warrior Weekly, Eden has covered her fair share of stories at St. Joseph’s High School. And when intimate pictures of seven female students are anonymously emailed to the entire school, Eden is determined to get to the bottom of it.
In tracking down leads, Eden is shocked to discover not everyone agrees the students are victims. Some people feel the girls “brought it on themselves.” Even worse, the school’s administration seems more concerned about protecting its reputation than its students.
With the anonymous sender threatening more emails, Eden finds an unlikely ally: the seven young women themselves. Banding together to find the perpetrator, the tables are about to be turned. The Slut Squad is fighting back!
My review – spoilerfree
Whenever you see a book that was first published on Wattpad now being traditionally published, it can be quite offputting. It especially makes you a bit weary of the way the book is written and the writing style in general. However, with Revenge of the Sluts that weariness is not necessary. The book is written in a very easy-to-read way and especially doesn’t have too many words trying to say somthing instead of showing it, like a lot of Wattpad books do. Even more, it sometimes could’ve used a bit more adjectives and other ‘extra’ words, because the writing sometimes felt a bit too dry and to-the-point.
It sometimes reads a bit like a news article, which might’ve been done intentionally since journalism is such a big aspect in this book. Our main character writes for her schoolpaper and the whole story is seen through her eyes, so you really see a journalism related point of view, which is a nice switch up because that doesn’t occur often. That point of view can be very relatable if you’re a journalism student or in journalism yourself. On top of that it’s always interesting to read about the importantce of extracurricular activities in the US and how much time American students spend on those things, especially as someone who’s not from the US.
Another thing that was really nice about the main character and her background was that she actually had an ex-boyfriend, which is once again not something you come across often in YA contemorary, especially not since she is more of a shy girl. It was also just really well done in general that there wasn’t a romance storyline for the main character, because this was not her story, it was the story of the girls whose explicit photos got leaked. So a possible romance storyline would’ve brought down the actual messages the book wants to get across. So kuddos to author for that!
And in general it’s just always nice to see girls fight back. This really was an import story to tell, because the leaking of personal photos unfortunately happens way too often. The story was told in such a respectful way and brought a lot of talking points to the table. I think that young teens can learn a lot from reading this book.
However, Revenge of the Sluts was not a perfect book. Where the main character was quite atypical for a YA contemporary, a lot of the other characters felt like caricatures of characters you constantly come across in YA. Take Luke as an example. He was exactly like any other male school bully I’ve come across in YA books and films. And that’s always a pity.
On top of that some relationships felt very underdevelopped. There are a lot of important characters in this book, so to have all of their individual relationships well written, is a hard task. But there were just some relationships where it really bothered me how underdevelopped they were. Take Jeremy and Eden (the MC) as an example. At a certain point in the book Jeremy really wants Eden to go to a house party with him and his boyfriend. He does all he can to convince her, but as a reader you just don’t understand why he cares so much for the fact that Eden needs to come to this party with him. In short: some relationships and actions were just a bit unbelievable.
Let’s finish off with the ending of the book. That ending was also not fully satisfying, unfortunately. Throughout the entire book Eden and her friends are trying to discover Eros’s identiy, the person who leaked the photos of the girls. However, in the end it was not surprising at all who Eros was. From about a third of the way through the book I had already guessed an important part of Eros’s identity, the part that was supposed to be the most ‘shocking’. On top of that the ending wrapped up a bit too quickly, we discover who Eden is and there’s an immediate confrontation and the book ended. It would’ve been better to have that part go a bit more slowly.
However, I’d still highly recommend this book if you’re into YA feminist fiction, and especially if you’re maybe a bit younger than me, and actually fall within the targeted audience of the book.
I received an e-arc of this book through Netgalley, but that doesn’t influence my opinion or anything written in this review. Thanks to the publisher and author for gifting me a copy.
Hello lovely reader! Last Wednesday I gave you my top 10 favourite books I read in 2020, and as promised in that post, today I’ll give you my top 5 least favourite reads of 2020. I know there’s always some controversy surrounding these lists, but quite frankly it’s my opinion and I can express that with freedom of expression and all, and if you don’t want to hear it, than don’t read this post.
Where there was a lot of change in my top 10 favourites of the year between my mid year and end of the year one, there’s not that much change on this one, which is definitely a good thing, so let’s go!
5. When It’s Real by Erin Watt
Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.
There’s nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star’s got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he’s settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.
Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley’s image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She’ll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.
Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there’s no telling what your heart will do…
This book sounded exaclty like a book 14-year old me would’ve loved reading on Wattpad. However it turns out that you might not like the same type of books when you’re 20 as when you were a young teen. Lesson learned, and I’ll probably never read any new releases that sound like young me would’ve loved reading.
If you want to hear more thoughts about this one, I’m redirecting you to me entire review (it’s written in Dutch, but you can translate it at the bottom of the page) here.
4. Orpheus Girl by Bryenne Rebele-Henry
Abandoned by a single mother she never knew, 16-year-old Raya—obsessed with ancient myths—lives with her grandmother in a small conservative Texas town. For years Raya has been forced to hide her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are outed, they are sent to Friendly Saviors: a re-education camp meant to “fix” them and make them heterosexual. Upon arrival, Raya vows to assume the mythic role of Orpheus to escape Friendly Saviors, and to return to the world of the living with her love—only becoming more determined after she, Sarah, and Friendly Saviors’ other teen residents are subjected to abusive “treatments” by the staff.
I read this book more towards the beginning of the year and I can hardly remember anything that happens in here, so that already says something. The only thing I can remember is that it had some questionable statements in there that were quite biphobic and transphobic.
Once again, for more in depth thoughts I’m referring you to my review here.
3. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.
Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.
The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.
I’m so angry this book is on this list, because I really wanted to love it, but alas. Once again a lesson learned: I loathe romance heavy fantasies. There is so much I didn’t like about this book, that I’m redirecting you to Read With Cindy’s review, I agree with everything she says except I didn’t like the one scene she did like. Here is her review, but be warned, it’s spoiler filled.
2. Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine’s response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by online trolls. When things escalate, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices—and those of other young women—to be heard.
Another book I had hoped to love, but is once again filled with homophobia, transphobia and a little bit of racism even though it’s cowritten by a black author. And one of the characters also just annoyed the heck out of me. I have a very long spoilerfree spoken review of this book in this blog post, where I also link some own voices reviews for the transphobia & racism.
1. Lie, Lie Again by Stacey Wise
All three women who live at 1054 Mockingbird Lane have secrets…and with a body at the bottom of their apartment building’s staircase, those secrets need to stay buried.
Sylvia Webb has a plan. And a potential Mr. Right. He’s sweet, simple, and dependably clueless about what she’s up to. The only thing unpredictable about him is his needy ex-girlfriend, who is this close to shattering Sylvia’s dreams. But Sylvia’s not going to let that happen.
Riki McFarlan has a good career and an amazing boyfriend who wants to settle down. If only she didn’t have feelings for her neighbor—who happens to be her close friend’s husband. With everything going so right, why is Riki flirting with something so wrong, so…dangerous?
This was my only one star read of the entire year of 2020, so it had to be my least favourite book of the year. Just thinking about this book frustrates the heck out of me. I have an entire spoilerfree review (and it’s quite long) of this book, you can read that here. But in short: this book just was not a thriller at all and it was pointless and boring.
And that’s it, sorry that this post is so repetitive of the mid year one I did. But to be honest, I’m quite happy I didn’t read many more books I didn’t like in the second half of 2020. Anyway, I’ll see you next week for another blog post!
In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, two starcrossed lovers fight to ignite the spark of rebellion…
Londinium, the last stronghold of the Romans left in Britannia, remains in a delicate state of peace with the ancient kingdoms that surround it. As the only daughter of a powerful merchant, Cassandra is betrothed to Marcus, the most eligible bachelor in the city. But then she meets Devyn, the boy with the strange midnight eyes searching for a girl with magic in her blood. A boy who will make her believe in soulmates…
When a mysterious sickness starts to leech the life from citizens with Celtic power lying dormant in their veins, the imperial council sets their schemes in motion. And so Cassandra must make a choice: the Code or Chaos, science or sorcery, Marcus or Devyn?
My review – without spoilers
After reading several reviews I decided to DNF this book at the 50% mark because I was not enjoying it and based on the reviews the story wouldn’t develop into something I’d enjoy reading. I’ll be talking about the points I had written down whilst reading the book in this review, so you’ll still get a clear review of the story. My review will also explain why I put this book down.
If you read the synopsis you could guess that it’s quite a romance heavy book, however if you don’t like reading too much of a synopsis because it often times just tells too much, then you’re in for a surprise. You need to know going into this book that it’s romance heavy, or else you’ll be disappointed.
Even though this book is heavy on the romance, it also has a fair bit of different themes. Within the romance part we have a love triangle, soulmates, arranged marriage and starcrossed lovers. The story takes place in a science heavy world which is based on an alternate history of Europe where they’re basically still living in the Roman Empire, but it’s also quite heavy on British history. None of those world related themes are actually properly explained. There’s hardly any world building at all. The only thing about the world you get to know is that the citizens decide the fate of people who broke the law in an amphitheatre. That was very interesting to discover, but unfortunately you don’t discover anything else about the politics or the world. You don’t get to understand how the world or the politics in it work. But still the book manages to be very info dumping, but the type of info the book was dumping, was not interesting or necessary.
It just felt like the author wanted to add too much tropes and themes into this one book, that none of it was fleshed out or worked properly. Everything just lacked something. For example: the romance between Cassandra and Devyn. They’ve known each other for years but never really talked to each other. But all of a sudden they fall head over heels in love by talking once? And they’re excessively touching each other by the third time they’re talking. There was really just zero chemistry between the two and as a reader you don’t believe it or care for their relationship one little bit.
And then there’s Cassandra’s other love interest Marcus, the one she’s been betrothed since she was 12. Even though he played an obvious smaller role in the story, he felt like the most realistic and fleshed out character out of all of them. He was the only one I cared a little bit for. Even the chemistry between him and Cassandra was bigger than between Cassandra and Devyn, just because Marcus had more personality to him. And that really says something when the author obviously wants you to root for Cassandra and Devyn.
Once you discover Cassandra is supposed to be 22, Devyn 26 and Marcus 27, you’re blown off your socks because they, especially Cassandra and Devyn, act like 14-15 year olds. On top of that they, once again especially Cassandra and Devyn, keep changing personalities every single chapter. They seem to change their mind or the way they think about something and the way they act for no apparent reason. It’s just the next chapter and they act, talk and think in a different way, yep makes sense?! That also just makes the characters so unrealistic. For example: Cassandra is supposed to be the good, rich girl who always follows the rules, but then she discovers her world is not as good at it seems, so she starts rebelling. It was just that one chapter she is a rebel and the next she is goody-two-shoes again without an explanation as to why she changed her mind. It also just became so annoying and repetitive to constantly see her change from the rebel to the girl next door every other chapter. It made her a very unbelievable character.
And last, but not least, the narration style just felt really… awkward. There were these weird time jumps between chapters and they were never really explained. But then the characters would tell you what happened during the time we skipped. What happened to ‘show don’t tell’? Why not just show us what happened instead of letting a character tell us what happened? The characters would drag on and on and on when telling you what happened, so it really wouldn’t have made the book longer to just show the reader what happened without the awkward time jumps.
I still definitely think that if you like fantasy/scifi romance, you might like this. I just prefer my fantasy books to have a great world with interesting politics, and for the romance to be a very little part of the story, or even non-existent, I wouldn’t care. Unfortunately, I couldn’t judge whether or not this book had a great world and interesting politics, because it was never even explained.
*I was gifted an e-arc of this book by the publisher via Netgalley. Thank you very much. However, that doesn’t influence my opinion or what I wrote in my review in any way.*
Hello lovely reader! In today’s blog post I will be giving you my top 10 favourite reads of 2020. In August I posted a list of My top 10 favourite books of 2020 so far, so if you’re curious to see which ones made it onto my final top 10, you’ll have to continue on reading! In that post I did a number 1 to number 10 list, but now we’ll do a little countdown to keep it a bit more suspenseful!
10. Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.
Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another?
Leave The World behind is definitely my favourite adult thriller I’ve ever read. It’s a short book, but it’s so interesting. You learn so much from this book, about internalised racism, how dependent the world is on electricity and a lot of other things. This is the only thriller I really forsee myself rereading one day.
9. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
In 2020 I learned that I really enjoy reading about fantasies set in contemporary worlds, and Cemetery Boys was one of my favourites within that category that I read in 2020. Especially considering this is a debut novel, this book is just phenomenal and very much a laugh-out-loud-and-sobbing-within-two-pages type book.
8. A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy
Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.
When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.
A River of Royal Blood is the first repeat from my earlier list, so I’ll talk a bit more in short about this one (and every repeat). This book just has one of my favourite tropes, the ‘people destined to kill each other’ one and does that so well honestly!
7. Not That Bad by Roxane Gay
Cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay has edited a collection of essays that explore what it means to live in a world where women are frequently belittled and harassed due to their gender, and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.
Another repeat and hands down my favourite non fiction book ever. I really want to buy a physical copy of this book, reread it and annotate the heck out of it. If you’re taking away only one book of this list, let it be this one. Not That Bad is without a doubt the most important book on here.
6. Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer
Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.
And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
And here is the second fantasy set in a contemporary world. Witches of Ash and Ruin just has everything I love: witches, a contemporary setting, true crime, LGBTQ+ rep, mental health rep and so much more. It’s the perfect blend of my favourite things, so naturally it had to be on this list!
5. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
Where I seem to love fantasies in a contemporary setting, I love fantasies set in a historical period at least equally as much. The Bear and the Nightingale won’t be the last one on this list with that setting… I read the entire Winternight trilogy this year but unfortunatley I didn’t love the second and third book as much as this first one, although they were still great books!
4. Arc of a Scythe trilogy
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
The Arc of a Scythe trilogy is the only series that made it to my favourites list this year in its entirity and it’s also one of the only series I’ve ever bingeread, so I guess that already says a lot, eh?
3. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?
Would you look at that, my favourite book from my previous list is ‘only’ in the third spot now. I still very much love this book and I never would’ve expected a YA thriller to be one of my favourite books ever that I keep recommending to everyone, but here we are. READ THIS BOOK!
2. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.
I never would have thought I’d fall in love with The Starless Sea. Whenever I heard someone talk about it, it seemed like a book that just wasn’t for me. But oh, I was so wrong. I loved everything about this book and yes, it’s once again a fantasy set in a contemporary world, surprise!
1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
And here we have my favourite book of 2020. Just like with The Starless Sea I was very much scared to read this book because of the mixed reviews it got and me thinking from those reviews that I wouldn’t love this. But here we are. I can completely understand why this book is not for everyone, but I adored it so much. And look at that, it’s another fantasy set in both a historical and contemporary setting, are we surprised?
I can’t believe 2020 is over, and I especially can’t believe how much I read in 2020. Even though the year was as shitty as it can get, my reading was amazing and I couldn’t be more happy and thankful for that. However, of course there were some books I didn’t really like, you’ll see those in next week’s blog post!
Warning! This synopsis contains spoilers for A Curse So Dark and Lonely and A Heart So Fierce and Broken!
Face your fears, fight the battle. Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.
Fight the battle, save the kingdom. Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.
As two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all.
My review – without spoilers
This will be a rather short review since I only read an excerpt of four chapters from A Vow So Bold and Deadly. So obviously it’s rather hard to write a review for only four chapters, but here we go.
When I read A Curse So Dark and Lonely, the first book in the Cursebreaker series, earlier this year I did really enjoy my read of it, but it wasn’t a new favourite. I was quite hesitant to pick up the second book, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, because a lot of people seemed to dislike it. However, when I did read it, I ended up loving it more than the first book. But I can see why you wouldn’t enjoy it, because it doesn’t really feel like a sequel to the first book. The reason for that is that we follow a different cast of main characters than in the first book.
By reading those four chapters from the third book I do have a feeling that this book will be a balance of the two main POVs from the first book and the two main POVs from the second book. I also have a feeling, and secretly hope, that this book will once again have quite a bit of political intrigue, like in the second book.
The only thing that I didn’t like about this excerpt is that the four chapters in it were not the first four chapters, but the first chapter of the four POVs. So I read chapter one, two, three and nine. I do understand why the excerpt had a chapter from each POV but I’d have preferred just the first four chapters.
I do have to say that reading the excerpt made me so much more excited for the release of this book. The entire series just reads so quickly, without knowing it you read a ton of pages in one sitting. If you’re looking for a fun, quick YA fantasy, then I can only recommend this series. And with the release of the third and last book so close by, you’ll be able to bingeread the series soon!
*I received an e-arc of the excerpt via Netgalley, but that doesn’t influence my opinion in any way.*
Hello there lovely reader! Today it’s time for my december wrap up. So I’ll be talking about all the books I read in December and some statistics. I managed to read 10 books in December, which I’m really happy about! Let’s get into the statistics.
Those 10 books were a total of 3558 pages, or in other words the average page count for a book I read in December was 356. That also means I read 115 pages per day, which is a lot honestly! The average rating I gave out in December was 8.2 out of 10 which is quite high for me, it’s my highest monthly average rating this year (together with February). So it was quite a good reading month quality wise!
Format wise I read five physical books and listened to five audiobooks. All of the audiobooks I listened to via Storytel and for the physical books three of those were books I bought myself and two were from the library.
And then lastly for the genres I read: four contemporaries, two fantasies, one thriller, one dark academie, one poetry collection and one science fiction. For the targeted audience I read one middle grade, five young adults and four adults.
Now it’s time to list all the books I read in December, which rating I gave them (out of 10) and if I have a review for that book, it will also be linked here!
Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam – 9
A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer – 8
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden – 8.5 – review online 10-02
The Furies by Katie Lowe – 8
More to the Story by Hena Khan – 8.5
The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde – 7.5
In At The Deep End by Katie Davies – 8.5 – review online 14-07
Punching the air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam – 8
Obsidio by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman – 7.5 – review online 10-02
Clean by Juno Dawson – 8
My favourite read of the month was Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam. However I don’t think it will end up on my favourites of the year list (which might be my next blog post, who knows hehe), because I read other books in other months that I enjoyed more. So even though I didn’t read any new favourites, I still had such a good reading month quality wise, so I’m really happy with that!
I can’t wait to see what my reading in 2021 will bring!
Hello there lovely reader! And welcome to the last post of my end of the year content. I can’t believe 2021 is just around the corner. 2020 may have not been the best year in general, reading wise it was the best year of my life. But more on that next month (or year) with my beginning of the year blog post series! Now it’s time to finish off 2020 by talking about my 2021 goals that have to do with reading.
Goodreads reading challenge
So for the past four years I had a Goodreads reading challenge that challenged me. In 2016 I started reading more and more and discovered Goodreads. Since I only discovered it like half way through the year I didn’t make a challenge then. But I did make one in 2017: to read 50 books. Since I only just surpassed that with 54 books, my goal for 2018 was also to read 50 books. But then I discovered audiobooks and read so much more, I ended up reading 78 books in 2018. So my goal for 2019 was to read 65 books, because I didn’t want to stress myself out too much by putting it too high. I surpassed that goal by reading 76 books in 2019. And then I thought why not challenge myself a bit more, so I put my 2020 goal at 75 books. When I put down that goal I could’ve never imagined the amount of books I would end up reading. I read over 100 books this past year, which is crazy for me.
Now you’d think I would want to challenge myself again. And I really do, but I don’t want to stress myself out. 2021 will be a very non-typical year for me. In the spring semester I’ll be doing a 10 week full time internship and I have to write a Bachelor’s paper. In the autumn semester I’ll be starting a master’s degree. My year will just be so unpredictable, that I’m not going to put my challenge too high. I decided to go for 55 books. I would put it at 52, for one book per week of the year, but I absolutely hate numbers that can’t be divided by 5 so I’m going for 55 to stretch it a bit. And we’ll see what my reading brings. Who knows, maybe I’ll read 100 books again, but this way I’m not putting pressure on myself to read.
Finish book series
I do feel like it’s a bit of a trend, but I’m really not good at finishing series. For some reason I always start a new series to then never continue on reading it, even though I really want to. I’m currently in the middle of 22 series I still want to continue but simlpy haven’t or couldn’t because I’m waiting for the next book to be released.
So it’s my goal to finally finish some of those series. Knowing me, I’ll still also start a bunch of series in 2021, so I’m hoping to end 2021 with 15 book series on my currently reading list. It’s an ambitious goal, but I really need to learn to finish series.
Change my book buying habits
I want to change my book buying habits in two different ways. Let’s start with the type of books I buy. So where to start? I’m trying to build some sort of a system to decide which books I should and which I shouldn’t buy. And I think I’ve finally come up with one that I’m going to be happy with, so I’ll be trying it out in 2021. Basically the rule is that I can only buy books that I can’t find anywhere. Sounds vague, so let me explain. So basically I have three ways to access books right now that are not my owned books:
I have my library which has a great collection and it’s free so yay!
I have a Storytel subscription and there is an amazing selection of audiobooks on there. They also have quite a few ebooks.
I’m thinking of also adding a Scribd supscription. That’s also an audiobook and ebook service. I might try it out for free for two months and see if it adds a lot to my reading or not.
So those are three places where I can access a whole lot of books for free or hardly any money. But still I sometimes buy books that I can access via those places. So my rule is going to be that I can only buy books that I can’t access through the library, Storytel or Scribd. However, there are two exceptions.
Number one is my favourite authors/books. Basically I am collecting the books by my favourite authors and just my favourite books. I want to own those books because they mean so much to me. So I’m still allowed to buy my favourite (authors’) books and if I read a book that I end up loving (for example through the library) then I’m also allowed to buy a copy of it.
The second exception is related to language and preference. I prefer reading books in the language they were originally written in if I can understand that language. And I also learned that I can’t really read fantasy books as audiobooks because I just end up being confused and I can’t follow the story. So to give an example: I want to read the Ember in the Ashes series, which is an English series, but my library only has the Dutch translations. Storytel does have the audiobooks for that series in English, however it’s a fantasy series, so I know I won’t be able to follow it properly as an audiobook. So I’m allowed to buy the Ember in the Ashes series once I intend on reading it soon.
That’s also just going to be quite a general rule: only buy books when I intend to read them soon. I own a lot of books I still need to read, so there’s no need for me to buy a whole lot of books that will just end up sitting on my shelves for years.
Next to that I’m going to try to buy ebooks instead of physical books of the books I can’t access via any of the previously listed options, except from the books I’m collecting of course. I just bought a small tablet that I’ll be using as an ereader so I can quite easily buy ebooks wherever I can find them and I won’t be limited to only one website.
Now onto habit number two I want to change. That change is all about where I buy my books from. In the past couple of years I’ve been trying to find the cheapest places to buy books because I’m a broke college student. However, those places are not always very ethical. So in 2021 I’m going to try to not buy any books from Amazon (two expection, will talk about it later on) or Bol.com or any other mass retailers. I’ve discovered two amazing local bookshops around me and we also have a super good bookstore chain here in Belgium that I still want to support.
However, in 2021 I will still be a broke college student so I still want to find good deals on books. Especially on for example the books by my favourite authors that I’ve already read. I don’t really need a brand new copy of those books. So I can buy those second hand. There are a lot of places where you can buy books second hand: via Facebookgroups, Vinted, in second hand bookstores and even on Amazon. However, I’m going to try my very best to not buy any second hand books on there.
And the last exception on not buying from Amazon is other people’s wish list. If I want to buy someone a gift from their wish list, I will still do that.
And that’s it on my 2021 reading goals. I hope to see you all again next year on my blog!
Hello there lovely reader! It’s time for post numéro two in my end of the year ‘series’. Today I will be listing the 10 books that I really want to get to in 2021. I won’t be including any 2021 releases, because I already made a blog post about those last week. You can find that here, if you’re interested. So no let’s get into the 10 books I need to read in 2021!
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
I honestly don’t really know what it is about this book, but I have such an urge to read it. I haven’t read any other books by Matt Haig but I just need to read this one. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it made so many readers cry?
The Secret History by Donna Tart
Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.
I have fallen in love with every dark academia book I’ve read so far. The Secret History is a classic in that subgenre, so it’s a given that I have to read it soon. I’m always here for a good dark academia.
Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Powers
Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.
But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.
Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.
Wilder Girls by Rory Powers is one of my favourite books, so I preordered Burn Our Bodies Down from the moment it was announced, but I still haven’t read it. And it’s been almost half a year since it was published. This year Rory Powers is not coming out with another book, so I have time before she releases her newest book in 2022 to read this one.
Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
Warning: synopsis contains spoilers for the previous books in this series!
After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.
With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them face-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.
I adored the Diviners and Lair of Dreams and tried reading this one in February of this year. However, I fell in a reading slump so I only got around 100 pages in. So it really is time to read this one and then move on to the final book in this quartet, so I can tick off another series of my “currently in the middle of” list.
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…
I’m always on the look out for more fantasy books with quite some political and/or religious intrigue, those are my favourites. This book series always pops up in recommendations when I’m looking for those type of books, so I’m really excited to read it!
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
It is the summer of 1940. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. Although her quicksilver talents with a needle and commitment to mastering the perfect hair roll have been deemed insufficient for her to pass into her sophomore year of Vassar, she soon finds gainful employment as the self-appointed seamstress at the Lily Playhouse, her unconventional Aunt Peg’s charmingly disreputable Manhattan revue theatre. There, Vivian quickly becomes the toast of the showgirls, transforming the trash and tinsel only fit for the cheap seats into creations for goddesses.
Exile in New York is no exile at all: here in this strange wartime city of girls, Vivian and her girlfriends mean to be free, to get up to no good, to drink the heady highball of life itself to the last drop. And when the legendary English actress Edna Watson comes to the Lily to star in the company’s most ambitious show ever, Vivian is entranced by the magic that follows in the wake of this true, true star.
But there are hard lessons to be learned, and bitterly regrettable mistakes to be made. Vivian learns that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new.
Multiple readers have compared this book to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. And if you know me, you know that’s my all time favourite book. So naturally I have to read this.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.
It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.
Once again, I’m always looking for more fantasy series. I don’t think this one has a lot of political intrigue, but what sold me on this series is that the characters really feel the consequenses of their actions. For example when they’re badly hurt, they actually have to recover and you see that happen in the book. Which is something I miss often in fantasy. Sometimes characters are stabbed nearly to dead but they still can walk around two days later like it’s nothing, and stuff like that really bothers me. So I’m curious to see how Samantha Shannon wrote that in this book!
Horrid by Katrina Leno
Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.
As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all–it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….
Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?
This just sounds like such a good, spooky book. And the cover gives me Wilder Girls vibes, so I need to read this! Because good YA horror is something I’m always looking for as well.
People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins
People kill people. Guns just make it easier.
A gun is sold in the classifieds after killing a spouse, bought by a teenager for needed protection. But which was it? Each has the incentive to pick up a gun, to fire it. Was it Rand or Cami, married teenagers with a young son? Was it Silas or Ashlyn, members of a white supremacist youth organization? Daniel, who fears retaliation because of his race, who possessively clings to Grace, the love of his life? Or Noelle, who lost everything after a devastating accident, and has sunk quietly into depression?
One tense week brings all six people into close contact in a town wrought with political and personal tensions. Someone will fire. And someone will die. But who?
Ever since I heard about this book, I’ve been so intrigued by it. However, it’s written in verse, which was not something I had read when I added this to my TBR early 2019. Now I know that I can really love books written in verse, so 2021 will be the year where I finally read this book that has been intriguing me for almost two years now.
The House in the Cerulean Sea
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
If there’s one book I haven’t heard a single bad thing about, it’s this one. Everyone seems to love it. And I have to admit it sounds so amazing, so I’ll have to give it a try in 2021 to see what all the fuss is about.
And those were my ten books I really want to get to in 2021. It’s a mix of books I own, books from the library, audiobooks and books I need to buy. So fingers crossed I’ll get to all of these in 2021!
Don’t forget to also share a book or multiple books you really want to get to in 2021!