BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // END OF YEAR UPDATE

A look at my 2021 year of reading by the numbers and an update to my reading goals + intentions

Facts and Figures

Total: 84 books
Pages: 27,037

Nonfiction: 21
Biographical: 7
Humor: 1
Memoir: 1
Race: 5
Poetry: 1
Self-help/personal development: 2

Fiction: 63
Fantasy: 6
Fiction: 10
Historical fiction: 10
Mystery, suspense, thrillers: 21
Romance: 9
Science fiction: 6
Short stories: 1

Physical books: 36
Audiobooks: 43
Ebooks (Nook): 5

Library or borrowed books: 61
Personal collection: 23

Book of the Month purchase: 6
Buzzword Readathon challenge: 25
2021 TBR: 25

BIPOC authors: 26
Queer authors: 4

5 star reads: 20 [23.8%]
4 star reads: 32 [38.1%]
3 star reads: 30 [35.7%]
2 star reads: 1 [1.2%]

Reading Goals + Intentions

1 | Backlist titles from 2020 favorite authors: Goal met
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

2 | 2021 releases from 2020 favorite authors: Goal met
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

3 | New to me authors: 50% complete
☒ Fredrik Backman
☒ Leigh Bardugo
☐ Alice Feeney
☐ Lisa Jewel
☐ Lars Kepler
☐ Jo Nesbø
☒ Stuart Turton
☒ Ruth Ware

4 | Author diversity and inclusion: 50% met
☒ Oyinkan Braithwaite
☐ S.A. Cosby
☒ Eva García Sáenz
☐ David Heska Wanbli Weiden

5 | Genres and reading format: 75% met
☐ Poetry collection
☒ Humor/comedy – Yearbook by Seth Rogen
☒ Memoir – Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
☒ Audiobooks – 43 in total!

6 | Buddy reads: Goal met
Read and discussed a couple science fiction titles with my brother with our collective favorite being Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary. My reading BFF and went back and forth recommending books to one another for the entire year. Books we discussed included, but not limited to: Hood Feminism, The Dutch House, Catherine House, Circe, Daisy Jones & The Six, The Midnight Library, Everything I Never Told You, Pachinko, and The Martian

7 | General goals: Goal met
☒ 60 books
☒ 20,000 pages
☒ 5 books about race/racism

Until next time, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // 42 BOOK UPDATE linked here
BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // FIRST QUARTER UPDATE linked here
BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // SECOND QUARTER UPDATE linked here
BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // THIRD QUARTER UPDATE linked here

TOP 10 FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2021 + HONORABLE MENTIONS linked here

2021 TBR // FOURTH QUARTER UPDATE + CONCLUSION

Toggle the bar below back and forth to see the progress i made throughout 2021!

Back in 2020 when I made this list of books to read in 2021, I didn’t really expect to read them all, so to read 25 of the 30 is a huge success. That brings my completion up to 83% from 53% at the end of Q3

Looking at this grouping of books just brings me so much joy. Of the 25 I read, four were 5 star reads, and twelve were 4 star reads. The only true flop in the bunch was The Devil and the Dark Water because I DNF’d it twice. Of the 5 books I didn’t read, this is the one I’d be the least likely to pick up in 2022

I definitely still want to read The Sandman as a have a physical copy on my bookshelf – maybe I’ll pick that up in September or October in prep for spooky season. I keep hesitating on starting American Dirt and Nine Perfect Strangers because I feel like I’ve seen more negative reviews than positive reviews at this point for them both, for different reasons. That leaves The Happiness Project, which I started reading and annotating years ago, but for some reason, that makes me really not want to pick it up again. In my head, I need a fresh, new, clean copy to read, silly I know

I spent about two months perfecting my 30 book, 2022 TBR that I am so excited to share and start in 2022. Again, it has a mix of booktok, booktube, and bookstagram recommendations, throwback titles, and new releases of 2022 – blogpost to come soon!

Until tomorrow, Meryn


Original blogpost READING GOALS + TBR LIST // 2021 linked here
FIRST QUARTER UPDATE linked here
SECOND QUARTER UPDATE linked here
THIRD QUARTER UPDATE linked here
Goodreads 2021 Bookshelf linked here

BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 17

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

Vicious
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publication Date: September 2013
Genre: fantasy, science fiction
Method: personal paperback

This is the story of two college friends who force upon themselves superpowers, but don’t become superheroes, unlike classic comic books storylines. Instead, villians with vicious intents.

I will admit, I was nervous going into this given how mehh I felt about VE Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. But this story? Incredible. Deliciously wicked, genius, and seamless from start to end – this was near perfection.

This was fun to read, probably the most fun I’ve had reading in the past 6 months. I was intrigued and invested right from the start. Personally, I’m not one for superhero movies, tv shoes, comic books, etc. But this was fantastic. A story all about villians is definitely something I can sink my teeth into. As a reader, I like cheering for the bad guys, and this book perfectly lends itself to that. My only complaint is that I lost interest in the last quarter or so. I loved the initial set up and the character backgrounds but when we got into the meat of the combat and violence near the conclusion of the book, I just lost interest, thus the 4 star rating.

Atomic Habits
Author: James Clear
Publication Date: October 2018
Genre: nonfiction, self help, personal development
Method: personal hardback

Finally a self-help, productivity book that left me feeling like I actually learned something. So much of what the author James Clear shares feels practical. I know going into 2022 that I can and will implement what I’ve learned in this book to improve my habits to achieve my goals.

In addition to the actual instructional and educational tips and tricks about productivity and habit formation, I really enjoyed the real life examples and historical references shared to drive home whatever point Clear was making. More than once I found myself discussing something in the book with Kyle. The section about climate, crops, and agriculture was fascinating! Definitely would recommend to others.

Daisy Jones & The Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication Date: March 2019
Genre: historical fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

If you will recall, I wasn’t a huge fan of this story the first time I read the ebook back in April of 2020, when my journey back into reading first began. Honestly I didn’t understand the massive and extreme hype, gave it 3 stars.

Since then, I’ve continued to only heard people ranting and raving about this story, literally everyone, everywhere – Bookstagram, Booktube, Book Tok, and even in my personal circle of book friends. Once I found out the audiobook had an entire cast of voice actors, I was re-intrigued. So when the year was winding down and I had time for one last audiobook, the time had come.

And oh my god, could I have been more wrong. The magic in the story lies inside the audiobook. For me, this story was so much more incredibly engaging and enjoyable via audio. I found the humorous moments to be more obvious and funny, especially when band members would misremember an event or details, something that I think I totally missed reading the physical book.

The TV adaptation produced by Amazon CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH

Vengeful
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publication Date: September 2018
Genre: fantasy, science fiction
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

I didn’t know this story could get better, but with the introduction of the deliciously evil Marcella Riggins and the added layer of evil and vengeance she brings to the story, top tier excellence. Which is very surprising for me because the reveal of her connection to the mob wasn’t followed by personal dread and annoyance, as is the same reveal in a mystery or thriller story.

I think the mafia/mob angle works for me in this story, where it doesn’t in thrillers, is two fold: firstly because she’s a woman, uh hello badass, and secondly, because it actually becomes an integral part of the story (and gives context to Marcella’s backstory). There’s two mystery-thrillers I read in 2021 that once the reveal of a characters involvement in the mafia/mob happened, immediately no, I lost all interest. It’s just cheap and lazy to me.

What I love about this duology as a whole is how many different timelines, plot points, and characters with their own unique, personal missions and reason for seeking revenge. There’s just a lot going on, all the time, and I love that in this story. Similar to Vicious, I like following the trail of clues V. E. Schwab is making me chase after. And don’t get me started on Eli’s back story, the emotional roller coaster VES had me on? The audacity. Thank you.

Now how many more years until Victorious is published?

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 16

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication Date: July 2017
Genre: historical fiction, romance, LGBT
Method: paperback borrowed from TPL

Let’s just state the obvious, this book has an extreme cult following with mega, insane hype. The #1 question – is it worth the hype? Undoubtedly, yes.

The story opens with a news article, which for me, is a huge turn on. If there is one thing I love in books, of any genre, it’s a multi-format approach for the story telling. In The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, we get snippets from tabloid and magazine articles intermixed with the conversational interview between main character, Hollywood legend Evelyn Hugo and unknown journalist, Monique Grant.

This book likely would have been a 5 star read if it weren’t for booktok and bookstagram spoiling the plot. I wish, wish, wish I could have read without knowing! I was truly surprised by the big reveal tying Evelyn and Monique together. This is my plea, TJR I need a follow up story surrounding the lives and love between Harry and John. Then and only then, I can die happy.

November 9
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publication Date: November 2015
Genre: romance, new adult, contemporary
Method: audiobook via TPL

I liked this book, I did. The audiobook was great, really liked the dual narrators. It was intensely entertaining and surprising. The plot was interesting, the plot twists were immaculate which literally had me screaming in my car with not one, not two, but three jaw dropping moments.

But. Buuut. This story is incredibly problematic.

Like what the actual fuck. Truly, what the fuck.

The male main character, Ben, is consistently objectifying, controlling, abusing, and manipulating Fallon, the female main character. When Ben remarks, “I can’t believe this girl found it in her heart to forgive me” I lost it – YOU FUCKING THINK?! Your dumbass actions nearly killed her!!!!!!!!!!! Immediately no.

Don’t take my 2 star rating to mean that I hated the book, because I really didn’t. Colleen Hoover knows how to write one hell of a problematic story. I feel like I could justify a star rating anywhere from 1 to 5. If ratings were based on entertainment alone, it’d be a 5 star, but I just can’t justify a higher rating given Ben’s character. 2 stars.
Buzzword Readathon: December selection

Somebody’s Daughter
Author: Ashley C. Ford
Publication Date: June 2021
Genre: autobiography, memoir
Method: audiobook via TPL

I first came to hear of Ashley C. Ford from a podcast interview with Chelsea Fagan of The Financial Diet (episode linked here) and was drawn in immediately by her soothing voice and calm persona. The episode touches on topics such as money, shame, race, poverty, socioeconomic status, and childhood trauma as Ashley grew up having an incarcerated father. I’ve come to appreciate how effortlessly and eloquently Ashley speak about these difficult topics – her vulnerability is inspiring.

Ashley’s memoir was incredibly written and powerfully moving. While I will never claim to be able to understand Ashley’s life struggles or experience as a poor black girl, I could relate to her childhood in some sense that I grew up only 50 minutes from her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Listening to Ashley read aloud and share her story reminded me of the short stories found in a favorite book from earlier this year, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw.

The Holiday Swap
Author: Maggie Knox
Publication Date: October 2021
Genre: holiday, romance
Method: paperback borrowed from TPL

This story was totally fine and dandy, a great quick little holiday romance covering the story of twin sisters who swap places during the Christmas season. Nothing wrong with it, just nothing super spectacular either. If this became a Hallmark movie, I would definitely indulge. A holiday romance is likely never going to get a 5 star rating from me. Romances in general likely will never get a 5 star rating – unless you are Emily Henry, to be honest.

Would recommend if you’re in the mood for a food-centric, holiday story!

The Last Thing He Told Me
Author: Laura Dave
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: mystery, fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

My plan was to read this in 2022 given how much hype it’s gotten recently with the news of the movie adaption starring Jennifer Garner and winning the Goodreads Choice Award for best mystery & thriller in 2021. But, when 2 of my coworkers both read the book in a matter of days and both rated it 5 stars, I knew I had to get to it immediately.

I’d heard good things about the audiobook and went that route, which was a great decision – the audiobook was excellent. I was drawn in by the story immediately. So much so that I got through 70% of the story in the first day listening during my daily work commute and also while at the gym later that night.

I loved the overall plot and the mystery surrounding Owen’s disappearance and Hannah’s investigation into his past. I was obsessed with the story and the adventure the reader had gone on up until the point of Hannah meeting Owen’s brother-in-law and then father-in-law, and that’s when my enjoyment took a complete nose dive. Why, you may wonder? Because the second the story crossed into mob/mafia/organized crime territory – immediately no.

Immediately no.

If there is one thing I absolutely hate in mystery, thriller, or crime novels, it’s the mafia and/or mob. I just find it lazy and boring. There’s a million and one other ways to make a story thrilling and interesting that doesn’t involve organized crime. In the end, I was left feeling disappointed. I would definitely recommend this book to others, but I just didn’t care for the direction the story took after the half way point. Author Laura Dave has hinted at a possible sequel, which I would pick up out of curiosity.

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 15

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

Memorial
Author: Bryan Washington
Publication Date: October 2020
Genre: fiction, LGBT
Method: audiobook via TPL, hardcover BOTM

It was a strong start for me, but inevitably, it fell flat, but I’m fairly certain that was the point.

I might be in the minority who really enjoyed part 1 from Ben’s perspective and his stream of consciousness type storytelling and writing style. I liked how there was an obvious, chorological progression depicting Ben and Mike’s relationship, intermixed with almost vignettes or flashbacks to add context about Ben’s past and it’s influence on him present day in his relationship with Mike.

I went into part 2 really hating Ben and Mike’s relationship obviously built due to sheer convivence. But then started to warm up to Mike specifically as we learn about his relationship with his father while in Japan.

I was surprised how distinct Ben’s perspective and chapters were from Mike’s perspective and chapters. Given what I know and have read about Washington, it’s easy for me to read Ben’s perspective and inherently know Washington wrote those chapters. But what I found really impressive is how seamless and effortless Mike’s chapters felt given their heavy Japanese influence and references. If you would have told me a Japanese co-author wrote those chapters, I would have believed you because the attention to detail related to food, culture, music, etc was spectacular.

Overall, the character representation was exceptional and the commentary on generational trauma, parental relationships, and grief was excellent, but I’m just not wow’ed enough for anything over 3 stars. I believe Bryan Washington set out on a goal to write a story about love and grief, and he absolutely did achieve that, but I’m just left feeling meh. Which again, I think was the point.

A book that is recently on my radar to read in 2022 is Fates and Furies which based on the synopsis, seems similar to this story in that the book is divided into the two perspectives of a romantic (married?) couple. I don’t know much, but my BFF demanded I read it in 2022, so I will.

The Lost Ones
Author: Sheena Kamal
Publication Date: July 2017
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

This was a wild ride with an ending I really didn’t see coming. Definitely a mystery thriller out of my comfort zone with a political-type plot that personally, I found hard to keep interested in. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the main character but I rarely am when they are alcoholics or recovering alcoholics – it’s just not my thing, maybe that has something to do with my day job. I enjoyed the setting as I don’t think I’ve read a thriller set in Canada. Oddly enough, I was reading this hardcover book the same week I was listening to Seth Rogen’s memoir Yearbook which also has many references to Vancouver and Canada – so fun to read in tandem! Always happy to read from a BIPOC author, especially in the mystery thriller genre. This is the first book in a 3 part series, I won’t be continuing. Overall, it was fine, nothing really super stands out for me – 3 stars.
Buzzword Readathon: November selection

Yearbook
Author: Seth Rogen
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: nonfiction, memoir, humor
Method: audiobook via TPL

I had exactly zero intention of reading this book given that I know next to nothing about Seth Rogen, but omg I think that made the experience all the more enjoyable. Honestly the only reason I picked this book up was because one of my 2021 goals was to read more from the humor/comedy genre, I saw that this book was up for a Goodreads Choice Award in the humor category, and the audiobook was a short 6 hours. A perfect storm.

Seth Rogen narrates the book perfectly, as expected, but what elevated the listening experience was the diversity in the cast of supporting voice actors. The attention to details was incredible – child actors voiced dialogue from Rogen’s childhood, there were spot on impressions for Hollywood stars like George Lucas and Nicolas Cage. I couldn’t stop smiling at the conclusion of the audiobook when crediting all of those who lent their voice to the production, including Seth’s wife, parents, siblings, in laws, friends, and colleagues.

Obviously I knew it was going to be funny, and I definitely laughed out loud, but Rogen also discusses at length his childhood and adolescence as a Jewish Canadian, two pieces of his identity I literally didn’t know existed (because I’m not really a huge fan of his film work, let’s be honest). His commentary on film, production, wealth, Hollywood, social media e.g. twitter, was also incredibly insightful and poignant.

The amount of people I’ve recommended this audiobook to is actually insane. When reflecting on what rating to give this book, I couldn’t justify anything less than a 5 given how many people (bookish or not) I encouraged to read or listen to this book. Like I really didn’t shut up about it for a week. Chef’s kiss, bravo, mazal tov.

Tuesdays with Morrie
Author: Mitch Albom
Publication Date: 1997
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Method: audiobook via TPL

All I have to say is, book magic. I picked this book in December of 2020 to read in December 2021 as my #buzzword pick solely due to, what I feel, the iconic and familiar book title and cover. A year ago, I had no idea the emotional impact and significance this book would hold for me in this season of life.

By minute 5 of the audiobook, I was crying, nearly sobbing. You wouldn’t know from the synopsis that this is the story of a man faced with an ALS diagnosis, inching towards death chapter by chapter. I pressed play on this story less than a month after the ALS diagnosis of a close family member.

I recently picked up a used copy from a library book sale, another magical book moment. This is a story I hope to revisit time and time again, but is both hard and devastating to consume in this moment and also so comforting.

This book will forever be shelved alongside The Last Lecture, another lifelong favorite.
Buzzword Readathon: December selection

The Santa Suit
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Publication Date: September 2021
Genre: holiday, romance, chick lit
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

Super quick read, very cute and festive. Enjoyed the cast of characters and the couple different plots we were following. Nothing ground breaking or revolutionary, but worth picking up to get ya in the holiday spirit! My only criticism is that it feels like while the author is 65+ her self, she’s trying to write a character in her mid 30s but the pop culture and social media references more so place her in her 20s. Just some odd references that felt misplaced. Like the manuscript edits needed to be in the hands of a late 20s, early 30s year old woman, as this is the assumed age of the main character. Chick lit isn’t my favorite genre, but it’s always easy, breezy to pick up this time of year.

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 14

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

A Slow Fire Burning
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publication Date: August 2021
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

I had really high expectations for this one after obsessing and loving Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train last year. However, this just wasn’t it and didn’t live up to the hype. The Girl on the Train was a finish-in-3-days-at-4:30-am-because-I-physically-cannot-put-this-book-down book for me. ASFB was just okay.
I liked the cast of characters and how they connected to one another in various ways but overall I just felt disappointed. I wanted jaw dropping reveals or heart racing suspense and this missed the mark. Also, I always internally cringe when a “potential” or “suspected” dementia/Alzheimer’s diagnosis is used as a device to make a character appear unreliable – feels cheap, over done, and disrespectful to me.
Even so, there were some surprising moments and I did like the small hints and clues that kept me semi-engaged throughout the story. But, 3 stars.
Buzzword Readathon: October selection

When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Publication Date: January 2016
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Method: audiobook, ebook via TPL

Quick, emotional, impactful audiobook listen detailing a young neurosurgeon’s journey when faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Can confirm the epilogue had me wiping away tears. As always, guaranteed 1 star for the positive and accurate physical therapy representation. Definitely would re-read or would re-listen to the audiobook when needing perspective while working in healthcare.
Buzzword Readathon: October selection

The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Publication Date: August 2019
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: audiobook via TPL, hardcover BOTM

Happy to have another Ruth Ware favorite! Not as top tier as The Death of Mrs. Westaway but far better than The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark, Dark Wood, all of which I’ve read this year!
This thriller had a lot of my favorite elements, some I expected but others that were a surprise. It was presented in a letter format which made the tone very conversational, something I really enjoy. The setting included an historic, haunted Victorian house with a creepy and ominous garden with a mysterious past including poisonous plants. I liked the juxtaposition between the Victorian “smart house” and the atmospheric, overgrown cursed garden.
I feel like Ware is notorious for writing unreliable main characters, usually due to substance or alcohol abuse or misuse, but this story’s main character Rowan was unreliable in a different way that I personally find more palatable and interesting. There was a big character reveal that I definitely did not see coming that was a jaw drop moment which I always love. Like other readers, I wasn’t a fan of the ending in terms of who is at fault for the death of the child (mentioned in the synopsis) but I did like the ambiguous ending.
Knowing that Abby from Crime by the Book loved this story and gave it 5 stars, I asked her for a book recommendation with a “spooky and sinister garden” as a follow up to this story. She personally recommended In the Vines by Shannon Kirk and said this about it, “It’s got major gothic vibes + an old mansion that’s got TONS of wild gardens all around it. The gardens aren’t quite as much of a focal point as they are in THE TURN OF THE KEY but I feel like it’s exactly the vibe you’re looking for!!!” Even more excitingly, Shannon Kirk herself responded in the thread on Instagram to mention that she has a book publishing in 2022 that is in the same genre as Vines with a definite creepy garden as a focal point.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Publication Date: February 2018
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: paperback

Surprisingly, I had to force myself to finish this book. So many people in my personal life, bookstagram, and booktok love this story, and I get it, but I could not get passed Turton’s writing style. I don’t know if it’s just too masculine for me or what. I ran into this exact problem trying to read his other novel, The Devil and the Dark Water, in September and October of this year and ended up DNF’ing it.
The first few chapters had clear fatphobic language that I just could not reconcile with or look past. Truly I was annoyed with his characters nearly from the first chapter – it was destined to be a poorly rated book from that point forward. I had trouble keeping the characters straight and couldn’t be bothered to try. But also, I wasn’t interested in trying to solve the mystery altogether.
All in all, I finished it but solely because I had purchased a copy and wanted to get my money’s worth. I might donate it to Goodwill, honestly.

The Chestnut Man
Author: Søren Sveistrup
Publication Date: September 2019
Genre: thriller, crime mystery
Method: audiobook via TPL

First and foremost, listening to this audiobook while running was WILD. Did a feel like I was running for my life while inside a Planet Fitness under hundreds of fluorescent lights? Yes, I did.
A moody atmosphere, brutal killer, and an intricate, complex plot make for a terrorizing and thrilling read. I’ll admit at times I had trouble keeping the characters straight but I could follow along well enough to get the gist of it. The themes threaded throughout the story involving the foster care system hits a little to close to home right now, but definitely added a unique dynamic to the story. And finally, automatic +1 star for correct use of the term physiotherapy.

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // THIRD QUARTER UPDATE

Excuse me while I pick up my jaw from the floor. Here we are, at the closure of the third quarter of 2021! In this post I’ll be sharing all 64 books I’ve read this year, an update on the facts and figures from the past 9 months, and reflecting on my 2021 reading goals and intentions!

Facts and Figures

Nonfiction: 16
Autobiographical: 5
Feminism: 1
Race: 5
Poetry: 1
Self-help: 2

Fiction: 48
Fantasy: 3
Fiction: 11
Historical fiction: 6
Mystery, suspense, thrillers: 17
Romance: 5
Science fiction: 6

Physical books: 32
Audiobooks: 27
Ebooks (Nook): 5

Library or borrowed books: 49
Personal collection: 8

Book of the Month purchase: 4
Buzzword Readathon challenge: 20
Buddy reads: 11

2021 TBR: 16

5 star reads: 17
4 star reads: 20
3 star reads: 25

Reading Goals + Intentions

1 | Backlist titles from 2020 favorite authors: Goal met

2 | 2021 releases from 2020 favorite authors: Ongoing, 75% complete
Only one book left to complete this goal which I plan to read in October as it’s my buzzword pick for that month
☒ Alex Michaelides’ The Maidens
☒ Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop
☒ Riley Sager’s Survive the Night
☐ Paula Hawkin’s A Slow Fire Burning

3 | New to me authors: Ongoing, 37.5% complete
No progress to report this update. I did start Stuart Turton’s novel The Devil and the Dark Water twice while on our road trip, but DNF’d it twice. I’m hoping to get actually read and enjoy The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by the end of the year! I also have Alice Feeney’s newest book Rock Paper Scissors on hold at the library, so that might happen before the year is up
☒ Fredrik Backman
☒ Leigh Bardugo
☐ Alice Feeney
☐ Lisa Jewel
☐ Lars Kepler
☐ Jo Nesbø
☐ Stuart Turton
☒ Ruth Ware

4 | Author diversity and inclusion: Ongoing, 50% complete
Of the 64 books I’ve read, 22 titles are by BIPOC authors and 3 identify as queer. I now own two books by S. A. Crosby, maybe I’ll get to one of them but I’m not too hopeful
☒ Oyinkan Braithwaite
☐ S.A. Cosby
☒ Eva García Sáenz
☐ David Heska Wanbli Weiden

5 | Genres and reading format: Ongoing
I did attempt to read a poetry collection this quarter but ultimately DNF’d it – sorry Mary Oliver. No progress picking up comedies or memoirs this year either. At the time I’m writing this, there are only 2 months left in the year, not sure I’ll really get to either at this point. Of the 64 books I’ve read so far this year, 27 have been audiobooks

6 | Buddy reads: Ongoing
Loosely buddy read Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary with my brother – we both gave it 5 stars! Honestly, I’m a little burnt out on science fiction, so I won’t likely pick another book to buddy read with him until 2022

Buddy reads with my BFF slowed down this quarter to basically nothing, which was to be expected since we were traveling for the months of August and September. A couple books we both plan to pick up and discuss before the year ends include A Man Called Ove, The Ex Hex, and Ghosts

7 | General goals: Goal met
☒ 64 books (goal 60 books)
☒ 20,409 pages (goal 20,000 pages)
☒ 5 books about race/racism (goal 5 books)

Until next time, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // 42 BOOK UPDATE linked here
BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // FIRST QUARTER UPDATE linked here
BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // SECOND QUARTER UPDATE linked here

BUZZWORD READATHON READING CHALLENGE 2021 – THIRD QUARTER UPDATE linked here
2021 TBR // THIRD QUARTER UPDATE linked here

BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 13

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

Project Hail Mary
Author: Andy Weir
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: science fiction
Method: audiobook via Audible

This book feels so special to me, and likely always will, as it’s the first book Kyle and I have ever read together AND because it’s a book we listened to in the car during our 3 month road trip. I was hesitant to start this because I was concerned it was going to be too similar to The Martian, but wow was I wrong. I really loved Ryland Grace as a main character and was so happy with the voice actor selection, Ray Porter. It’s rare that I feel attached or actually care about a character, but I genuinely needed Ryland to have his happy ending.
I loved how the story was told in flashback moments and how unexpected they were, at least in the audiobook. Present day Ryland would be mid sentence or mid thought then BAAM, flashback! I will admit I was slightly confused the first time or two while listening to the audiobook, but we quickly caught on.
I’d never read a book before which included a component of language creation and found that to be really fascinating and satisfying. Another element I unexpectedly loved was the journey Ryland takes to learn everything about Rocky, from his origin, to his language, to his physical properties and chemical makeup. Overall, PHM was smart, witty, and IMO, ended perfectly. Like honestly, I cried at the end. Kyle can confirm.

The Summer of Broken Rules
Author: K. L. Walther
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: romance, contemporary
Method: ebook read on Nook

This was cute and adorable, a perfect summer romance read! Was it predictable? Yes, of course, but still so enjoyable and a quick read. Lots of characters to keep track of and families to keep straight, including alliances. The summer game ‘Assassins’ weaved throughout the story was entertaining and heart felt. Overall, cute! Would recommend to friends, but likely won’t reread.

The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publication Date: February 2014
Genre: science fiction
Method: audiobook via Audible

This was a reread for me, but the first time listening to the entirety of the audiobook, which we started just days after finishing Weir’s newest book, Project Hail Mary. Kyle was hesitant at first – he wasn’t sold on Wil Wheaton as the narrator, but Mark Watney’s charm and humor quickly won him over.
I didn’t think it was possible to like the story more the second time around, but I found myself laughing out loud. Some jokes definitely land better on audio, e.g. the Fonz moment with NASA.
Even more than the story, I really enjoyed the discussions we had after finishing both The Martian and Project Hail Mary, getting to compare and contrast main characters and overall storylines.
The only criticism I have is that I hated the epilogue that concluded the audiobook. I did some digging and it seems the epilogue was added later and wasn’t printed at original publication, but somehow made it’s way to the Audible audiobook. Not a fan, would not recommend the epilogue, TBH.

In a Dark, Dark Wood
Author: Ruth Ware
Publication Date: April 2016
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

Ugh. I keep coming back to Ruth Ware hoping to rediscover the magic that was The Death of Mrs. Westaway. But, this wasn’t it. Couldn’t really stand the main character, Leonora. Personally, I’m so sick of an unreliable main character or narrator, it just feels so overdone to me. Granted, I didn’t know when I snagged this audiobook that would be the case. Even so, unimpressed. I still have the literal highest hopes for The Turn of the Key, which I expect to read by the end of the year.
Buzzword Readathon: September selection

The Break-Up Book Club
Author: Wendy Wax
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: fiction, women’s fiction, chick lit
Method: ebook read on Nook

I will unashamedly admit I picked up this book solely based on the cover. And I’m not mad about it! The Break-Up Book Club follows the lives of four different women and their experiences regarding love and romance, all tied together through one common interest – weekly book club. I loved the age range, ethnic diversity, and LGBT+ inclusivity in the main and supporting characters. The story itself hit a little to close to home at times e.g. familial drama regarding marital deception and cheating. But in the same way, it felt comforting.
This book solidified my love for stories told in multiple perspectives by a group of women and has me excited to revisit The Joy Luck Club (hopefully sooner rather than later). Also, I’m not usually one for like an enemies to lovers romance, but when it comes out of nowhere??? Yes, please. Overall, loved the multiple female perspectives, diversity and inclusivity in characters, and the exploration and discussions surrounding grief, loss, new beginnings, self discovery, and the importance of friendship.

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


2021 TBR // THIRD QUARTER UPDATE

At the time I’m writing this, I just hit 65 books for the year. Reading was slower this quarter than I would have expected at the start of 2021, but life took us on an exciting adventure traveling the US for the months of August, September, and half of October

I definitely over estimated how much time I would spend reading on our road trip. Nonetheless, I knocked another 6 titles off this TBR which brings my completion to 53%, up from 33% at the end of Q2

I don’t expect to actually read all 30 books by the end of 2021, but I think I’ll finish out the year somewhere around 75% complete. Who knows, I may roll over some titles into 2022. I’ve already started brain storming selections for next year!

My predictions for what I’ll have finished by end of Q4 include:

1 | A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (OCT)

2 | The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (NOV)

3 | Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (NOV)

4 | The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (DEC)

5 | Vicious by VE Schwab (DEC)

FYI, I’m definitely not going to finish The Devil and the Dark Water considering I’ve DNF’d it twice. I set it aside in September because I just couldn’t get into it, then tried revisiting it in October when I got the audiobook from the library and it dragged even more. I give up. It’s not happening this year. Though I still fully expect to enjoy The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by the same author, given the absolute mega hype it has.

Until tomorrow, Meryn


Original blogpost READING GOALS + TBR LIST // 2021 linked here
FIRST QUARTER UPDATE linked here
SECOND QUARTER UPDATE linked here
Goodreads 2021 Bookshelf linked here

BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 12

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

White Pine: Poems and Prose Poems
Author: Mary Oliver
Publication Date: November 1994
Genre: poetry
Method: paperback borrowed from TPL

Sadly and surprisingly, this was a DNF for me. I found it so boring. Do I even know how to read poetry? I don’t think I jumped into this at the right time, tried to force it on myself. I’m not swearing off poetry, but this wasn’t it. Will circle back at some point, TBD.

One Last Stop
Author: Casey McQuiston
Publication Date: June 2021
Genre: romance, LGBT
Method: ebook read on Nook

I had relatively high hopes for this one. I really enjoyed McQuiston’s debut Red, White, and Royal Blue but I just found this to be such a different vibe. I get why people love this, that’s fine, wasn’t for me. I liked the mixed media, almost 2000s chat forum vibes with the inclusion of various news clippings, craigslist postings, etc. However, I can’t get over the crass, crude, and childish undertones and dialogue. Also, I now know WLW romance is not for me, I basically glazed over every sex scene. It’s a no for me.
Buzzword Readathon: July selection

The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Publication Date: September 2020
Genre: fiction, fantasy, contemporary
Method: ebook read on Nook

Another hugely, hugely hyped book that didn’t deliver for me. I enjoyed the short chapters and the musical references. But other than that, it was just fine. I thought it was going to be so much more, like I fully expected to sob and connect to the main character, and that just didn’t happen. I can definitely see why people love this, it just didn’t go far enough for me.
Buzzword Readathon: August selection

Endless Night
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication Date: 1967
Genre: mystery
Method: ebook read on Nook

This was my first Agatha Christie and it won’t be my last! Before diving in, I was concerned it would be dull and predictable given its age, which was my experience re-reading a Nancy Drew classic last year, but no! Suspenseful, smart, unexpected, and gothic. Slow to start but definitely intriguing and sinister that kept me engaged and constantly guessing up until the end. Really interesting cast of characters with one of my favorite tropes or themes → marrying into money or coming into money and how that changes a character’s life and lifestyle. Overall, very enjoyable. Definitely interested in reading more classics from Agatha Christie.
Buzzword Readathon: August selection

The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: February 2020
Genre: mystery, thriller, horror
Method: ebook read on Nook

Let me just get it out of the way – automatic deduction of 1 star for incorrect use of the term “physiotherapist.” Nothing grinds my gears more than the assumption that physiotherapist is a universal term because it’s not, it has regional significance and connotation. This is a common mistake I’ve seen from Australian and Canadian authors, but I can not offer forgiveness. This story is set in the US, therefore the US term “physical therapist” should be used. This is a hill I will die on.
*Steps off soapbox* I thought this book was great. I found it suspenseful, gripping, and eerie. Also, relatable in a scary, I-could-be-raped-and-murdered-at-any-moment-on-this-cross-country-road-trip, kind of way. Definitely had my heart racing while I read in the middle of the night in a pitch-black tent. I’ve seen negative reviews for the two different timelines and how similar the two main characters are in their respective timelines, but that made the story really enjoyable for me. As the reader, I liked being one step ahead of the main character in the present day given what we were uncovering from the flashback chapters.
While the story centers around the mysterious disappearance of main character Carly’s aunt, there are other adjunct mysteries and supernatural elements that kept me engaged, guessing, and trying to connect all the pieces to the puzzle. I’m intrigued by this author. I’ll likely pick up The Broken Girls, a 2018 release, and The Book of Cold Cases, set to release in March of 2022.

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn