There’s every chance this blog post could get very long very quickly so I’ll keep it as brief as I can – here is a rundown of every book I finished in 2021, my star rating and a few words (though let’s be real, I’ll probably get carried away).
Just to give you an idea if you might be interested in similar books to me, here is the data on the moods of books I read in 2021, the pace and the genres, all in beautifully colour coded graphs courtesy of StoryGraph (the fantastic alternative to GoodReads that isn’t owned by Amazon).
Without further ado – my 2021 reads:
- Worlds Away From You (Charlotte Mednick) – 4 stars
A self published novel by a friend actually, but a lovely gentle YA romance to start the year with and a very proud moment to see a friend publish an actual book!
- Suspicious Minds: Stranger Things Novel #1 (Gwenda Bond) – 5 stars
I picked this book up almost exclusively because it was £2 in a charity shop but boy oh boy if you’re a fan of Stranger Things, this is a fantastic expansion of the universe which I’ve thought about rereading at least once a month since I finished it in January.
- A Quiet Kind of Thunder (Sara Barnard) – 5 stars
Been on my tbr for a long time, I was very intrigued to read a story about a girl with selective mutism and a deaf boy and I’ve not been so moved by fiction in a very long time. I really need to learn sign language because the power of communication is just huge.
- See Through Me (Kevin Brooks) – 1 star
Really disappointing – a massively out-there, sci-fi concept that doesn’t come to anything – there was no story, no plot, nothing happened and it was a slog to read.
- The Time of the Reaper (Andrew Butcher) – 3 stars
A book about a pandemic during my country’s third national lockdown? Not great timing. But also below average storytelling about a group of very bland teenagers in an apocalyptic pandemic. This one quickly went in the charity shop pile.
- The Selection #1 (Kiera Cass) – 4 stars
A ‘blind date with a book’ gift my sibling got me for Christmas that I wasn’t sure about – Royal romances have never really appealed to me before but wow I dove in head first. Somehow I didn’t love the characters but I immediately ordered the box set simultaneously? The concept and the male protagonists were so interesting, I will probably reread the first three books in this series at some point in 2022.
- Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Rachel Cohn with David Levithan) – 5 stars
I really loved this book but it’s been overshadowed in my memory as ‘the book I read whilst I waited for my The Selection box set to arrive’. I loved how whistfully Nick and Norah’s story was told over one night and I still really need to watch the film because the source material had a lot of potential.
- The Elite – Selection #2 (Kiera Cass) – 4 stars
Just obsessed with this series. Protagonist America Singer (yes, that’s actually what the main character is called and yes, she’s a musician… you can practically hear me rolling my eyes) becomes more bearable in this one and there’s much more of a sense of purpose and community. Adored it.
- The One – Selection #3 (Kiera Cass) – 5 stars
And the conclusion? Wow, just top notch. America and Maxon’s story is emotionally and dramatically told and I think it was at this point that I was describing the series as ‘reality TV in a book’ – it’s trashy in the best way and I adored it. Now I desperately want to reread it.
- The Heir – Selection #4 (Kiera Cass) – 2 stars
The duology that follows was much more disappointing – America and Maxon’s daughter (who’s name I can’t even remember) is significantly less interesting. Plus the characterisation of King Maxon and Queen America all grown up is nothing like who they were described to be in the original trilogy. I think 2 stars is generous to be honest.
- The Crown – Selection #5 (Kiera Cass) – 3 stars
Although I have no recollection as to why, apparently the second part of this storyline picked up and earned an extra star. I remember the climax being surprisingly refreshing but then rushing into a very abrupt ending. If the box set didn’t look so pretty together I would absolutely only keep the first three.
- In At The Deep End (Kate Davies) – 3 stars
After falling so deeply in love with The Selection, anything I read afterwards was going to struggle, but In At The Deep End was an interesting saphic story about someone just figuring out their relationship and seeing emotional abuse from the inside. However it was quite slow paced and felt a bit repetitive towards the end.
- It’s Now or Never (Carole Matthews) – 4 stars
A really lovely contemporary story about twins approaching 40 deciding to do something about their lives. A little strange in that it was told from three narrative perspectives – one told in first person, the other two in third – and it was a bit annoying to follow. But otherwise, I’m excited to read more from Carole Matthews.
- Ketchup Clouds (Annabel Pitcher) – 3.5 stars
This book I picked up in a charity shop because it had the most beautiful pattern sprayed on the edges. The story itself had potential, but the protagonist was written quite inconsistently and I can’t remember the main event of the book, so not that memorable in hindsight.
- Lore (Alexandra Bracken) – 4 stars
Adored this one – any story about Greek mythology I’m all over. My only slight thing with this one is that there are a lot of names from the mythology that the reader is just expected to know, especially when some characters are referred to by many titles, so it got a little confusing, but I can’t wait to reread this one with more clarity.
- A Nearly Normal Family (M. T. Edvardsson) – 2.75 stars
Potentially my most disappointing read of the year – really slow paced, really anticlimactic and really repetitive where basically the same story is told from three perspectives. The father character was an absolute wet wipe, the daughter was actually really interesting but her segment was really short and the mother didn’t really have a character, it was like she was just a vessel to conclude the plot. Very odd.
- Flawed (Cecelia Ahern) – 2 stars
I don’t know how to describe this book because I hated the protagonist – I thought she was whiny and entitled and painfully irritating, but I somehow became so attached to the book that I immediately ordered the sequel and deliberately chose a short book to read in the interim so I could start reading it quickly. Still haven’t figured that one out.
- The Mayflower Project: Remnants #1 (Katherine Applegate) – 1 star
One of those books that I kept from my childhood because it sounded interesting, but actually it was awfully written, the characters were so weird and apparently it’s one of those series that has about a million books, but they’re out of print and really hard to find. Not that I think I’m missing much.
- Perfect – Flawed #2 (Cecelia Ahern) – 3.5 stars
The sequel to Flawed picked up a bit judging by my rating, but I really have very little recollection of what happened other than the dystopian ‘Hunger Games’ revolution thing. Mixed reviews for Cecelia Ahern.
- Peter Pan (J. M. Barrie) – 3 stars
I felt weird rating this one because it’s such a classic, but it was further from the Disney film than I thought it would be, but interesting none the less to read the source material.
- Adrenaline – Sam Capra #1 (Jeff Abbott) – 3.5 stars
I’ve had the sequel to this book for years so was glad to buy the prequel and actually get to reading it in 2021! Sam Capra as a character was superbly written and wonderfully emotional and I was fascinated to read the kind of mindless-action-adventure story that my mum loves watching in films and I found it far more engaging!
- The Last Minute – Sam Capra #2 (Jeff Abbott) – 4 stars
I don’t remember enough about this series to differentiate the first and second book, but I remember the second one taking me ages to read and I have no recollection as to why I ranked it higher. My greatest apologies.
- The 39 Steps (John Buchan) – 1.25 stars
A classic I picked up because my dad and I watched a film adaptation once. Was incredibly difficult to read, I could barely keep track of what was happening and I had absolutely zero emotional connection to any of the characters and consequently couldn’t have cared less.
- The Shelf (Helly Acton) – 4.5 stars
At this point, I really needed something to pick me up get me excited about reading again and ‘The Shelf’ was exactly the one – the same kind of ‘reality TV’ easy viewing as The Selection but in a contemporary rather than a dystopian style. I adored it, I devoured it, it was so much fun and I loved it so much – feel good, girl power sassiness!
- The Magpie Society: One for Sorrow (Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch) – 2 stars
My first ever audiobook… and I kind of hated it. The narrator of the Texan character was incredibly evening and even the English character had a snooty, know-it-all tone. The story was poorly written and the plot was frankly boring. No intention of reading the sequel this year.
- Beach Reach (Emily Henry) – 5 stars
My second audio book was the polar opposite and one of my favourite books of the year – a book about writers gradually falling in love? It was like it was written for me. This was the book that really solidified that I really enjoy romance as a genre, when I’d never considered it to be one of my primary favourites before.
- MumLife (Louise Pentland) – 4 stars
My one and only non-fiction read of the year. I only listened to this one because I used to be a big fan of Louise Pentland so I’ve read all of her books an even though I’m absolutely not the target market for this one as I’m not a mum and I’m not really anywhere close to being there yet. But it was an insightful listen.
- Tarzan of the Apes (Edgar Rice Burroughs) – 2 stars
Comparing this classic literature to the Disney movie was incredibly interesting – the book is way more savage but the ending was much sweeter I think. It took me a bit longer to read because I’m not very good at understanding older English and I don’t really enjoy reading it. Will probably opt for watching the film next time.
- The Cove (L. J. Ross) – 4.5 stars
Although the protagonist was a little irritating, this story was really fun to listen to and it was a perfect blend of crime/murder mystery and romance. It was the kind of audiobook that got me excited to get in the car and drive so I could listen to it again.
- Good Girl, Bad Blood – A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #2 (Holly Jackson) – 4.75 stars
I loved ‘A Good Girls Guide to Murder’ and I was so excited for the sequel – the way Pip’s story developed and the direction the story went was amazing and I was all over it. I was glad I’d already got the third in the trilogy so I could read it straight away…
- As Good As Dead – A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3 (Holly Jackson) – 2 stars
Then came the most disappointing book I read this year. Pip’s character was completely different and I know a big part of that was because of what she experienced at the end of the previous book, but it was just too extreme, it went way too far and it stressed me out reading it. So I’m going to pretend it’s a duology and ‘As Good As Dead’ doesn’t exist.
- Red, White & Royal Blue (Casey McQuiston) – 5 stars
With the end of the year and everyone talking about their favourite book of the year, this is the one that always sprung to mind. Listening to this audio book was the most engaging reading experience I’ve ever had – I gasped, I laughed, I felt everything and I actually said it out loud, to myself in my car. It was beautiful, it was funny and it was so romantic. It’s worth every bit of hype and I thoroughly recommend listening to the audiobook because the narrators are perfect and I don’t think I’d have had the same experience in reading it in my own voice. 6 stars. 7 stars. All the stars.
- The Switch (Beth O’Leary) – 4.5 stars
One of my most highly anticipated books of the year – everyone was going off about the Flatshare but the concept of the Switch sounded fantastic to me. And it was – the characters were wonderful, it was so realistic, I could have stepped right into the story. Lovely reading experience.
- Every Other Weekend (Abigail Johnson) – 4.5 stars
I’m so much more detached from YA than I used to be but occasionally I dip back in and I always have a good time. This was a really sweet stories about broken families and finding solace where you can. It was so heartwarming to see a story about teenagers handling difficult situations and growing and learning to be better. Another top notch audiobook from Audible’s plus selection.
- In The Time We Lost (Carrie Hope Fletcher) – 2 stars
I love Carrie Hope Fletcher and I’ve read two of her other books and adored them so I was excited to use one of my Audible credits on her latest work, but I actually hated it. The protagonist was insufferably stubborn, the groundhog day concept is so unoriginal and the narrator was overacting so much.
- The Source (Sarah Sultoon) – 3.5 stars
I love a dual narrative story so a story that was dual perspective, set in two different time periods and describes a journalistic investigation into the events of the past narrative was so clever. There was a lot of names and characters to follow which was a bit complicated, but otherwise it was very well written and fantastically performed.
- Bookish and the Beast – Once Upon a Con #3 (Ashley Poston) – 5 stars
I own the physical version of ‘Geekerella’ so I didn’t want to listen to it, but another in the series would be fine right? Oh my goodness I fell in love – I loved Vance’s character, Rosie was so organically brilliant and it was just so sweet, I’m obsessed – nerdy fangirl contemporary is my new favourite genre.
- Geekerella – Once Upon a Con #1 (Ashley Poston) – 5 stars
So of course I had to go back to the beginning of the series – which all made significantly more sense now that I had more context. Nerdy fangirl contemporary – new favourite genre.
- The Princess and the Fangirl – Once Upon a Con #2 (Ashley Poston) – 4.5 stars
I still loved this one, but I just didn’t quite connect to the characters in the same way as I did in the first and the third.
- Bookish and the Beast (again)
I truly believed the ‘Once Upon a Con’ series didn’t need to be read in order. They don’t really but it made so much more sense the second time round. I had to finish the trilogy properly after listening to the first two, right?
- The Plus One Pact (Portia MacIntosh) – 1 star
This is where the Audible Plus catalogue let me down – I thought it would be a nice easy listening romance, but it was badly written, really unrealistic characters and so cringey. I’m too stubborn to not finish a book, but I’m so glad this one was short.
- Sunrise on the Coast (Lilac Mills) – 3.75 stars
This one took me a while to finish because I spent the last 12 weeks of the year absolutely exhausted and reading before bed either didn’t happen or I only managed 10 pages at a time. This was the nice easy reading romance I was hoping for though – a relatively light story of a girl making a life for herself after being a carer for her mother, falling in love with the island of Tenerife and, inadvertently, one of it’s inhabitants.
- The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman) – 4 stars
It took me a while to jump on the hype of this book that been at the top of the Sunday Times Best Sellers list for months and months, but it was so worth it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a group of elderly people living in a residential home, let alone read a book about a group of elderly people solving crimes in weekly meetings – it was funny and every bit an interesting murder mystery in equal measure. Very enjoyable.
- When Harry Met Harry (Sydney Smith) – 4 stars
This had so much of the vibes of ‘Red, White and Royal Blue’, but that might be because it’s a gay love story set predominantly in the US, but it was brilliant regardless. It was funny, it was heartwarming and the actors were fantastic. I wanted to turn this one into a film or a Netflix series and when a story inspires me to create something I know it’s really good.
- A Perfect Paris Christmas (Mandy Baggot) – 3 stars
I bought this book at the end of 2020 and have been saving it as my Christmas read ever since. It was lovely – a wonderful description of Paris that made me want to hop on a plane immediately. A somewhat predictable but still romantic love story that took some characters that could have been really stereotypical and absolutely weren’t, which was really refreshing. Nice, easy festive reading.
So my favourite books of the year were:
- The Selection
- Beach Read
- Red, White and Royal Blue
- Bookish and the Beast
I refuse to pick a favourite any further than this because Red, White and Royal Blue is so good but after finishing Bookish and the Beast for the second time (my only reread of the year) I planned an entire sequel novel (hit me up Ashley Poston) so they both had their impact on me in their own ways and it’s my blog post so I can choose what I want lol.
If you’ve made it to the end of this mammoth 3000 word blog post, congratulations and thank you! I hope you found some books that you’d like to try!
Thank you for reading,