Starting with the big chunk of the 27… I’m going to be reading the 2nd to the 13th book of the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong as part of the Otherworldalong I’m doing with Rosina from Lace and Dagger Books! Most of the group have read the books before but I’m going in fresh so that’s been really fun. If you want to join, we have a Discord that is separated into the different books of the series so you can avoid spoilers!
This series are all set in the same world with a few books for each different woman. There’s werewolves, witches, ghosts, vampires… all vaguely connected, I think! It’s the first time I’ve picked up an urban fantasy series and been immediately in love since my adored Sookie Stackhouse. So I’m really looking forward to continuing the series, one book a month, for the entire year.
I started a lot of series in 2020, so I want to reign it back slightly? These are the firsts that I’m most excited for. Enough that I will willingly stress myself out about being in the middle of a hundred and one series, just to start them.
The Plot is Murder by V.M. Burns is one of many cosy mystery first-in-a-series books that I have. I seem to be collecting them- but this is the highest rated and I need to start somewhere!
And The Drowned City by K.J. Maitland* was sent to me by the same person in publicity who originally sent me the first Six Tudor Queens book so I have high hopes! Set at the beginning of the Stuart period (the monarchy after the Tudors), its focus is the aftermath of the Gunpowder plot!
And then there are some classics that I’m almost certain that I’m going to love. I studied both The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot and The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford for my degree so I want to read some of their other works too. Middlemarch by George Eliot and Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford are said to be both authors best, so onto the list they go.
I didn’t study The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, I read it while procrastinating on Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, which I actually was studying, but it was incredible. If I’m going to keep defending Anne as the best Brontë, I need to actually read her only other novel, Agnes Grey.
It’s a new year! And that means new books to preorder and look forward to! I’ve tried to keep my list pretty small as it can be overwhelming when there are so many books coming out. I read around a book a week, so these 12 are three months worth of reading- but they all sound wonderful and hopefully, you’ll find something you like the sound of.
What’s a kitchen witch to do when her almost-fiancé leaves her suddenly single and unemployed? For Mia Malone, the answer’s simple: move to her grandmother’s quirky Idaho hometown, where magic is an open secret and witches and warlocks are (mostly) welcome. With a new gourmet dinner delivery business—and a touch of magic in her recipes—Mia’s hopes are high. But her first catering job takes a distasteful turn when her client’s body is found, stabbed and stuffed under the head table. She’ll have to find out which of the town’s eccentric residents has an appetite for murder…before this fresh start comes to a sticky end…
I pre-ordered this as soon as I read the blurb because it sounds such fun! Small town witches? Murder? Meddling grandma? Cosy crime has been such a balm these days. Normally these kinds of series have 100 books out before I find out about them so I’m really looking forward to reading book one on release day!
Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.
I found this while looking for blurbs for the rest of this list online and couldn’t resist clicking on that cover. I knew I needed it immediately. This weird, eerie, gothic debut is going to be quite a shake-up to my usual choice of genre but I’m excited to spread my wings. I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover – but yikes! Look at that!
Maeve Chambers doesn’t have much going for her. Not only does she feel like the sole idiot in a family of geniuses, she managed to drive away her best friend Lily a year ago. But when she finds a pack of dusty old tarot cards at school, and begins to give scarily accurate readings to the girls in her class, she realizes she’s found her gift at last. Things are looking up – until she discovers a strange card in the deck that definitely shouldn’t be there. And two days after she convinces her ex-best friend to have a reading, Lily disappears.
I adore Tarot so any book featuring it immediately has my attention, but I’m also intrigued by the relationships that are laid out in the blurb of this one. Feeling out of place in her family, struggling with friendships, I think Maeve is going to be really relatable for a lot of readers.
One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.
Historical fiction is very hit-or-miss for me so I’m a little nervous about this one. It sounds wonderful! But it’ll be all down to the writing style. I’m hoping the modern aspiring historian helps with that.
A woman torn between love and duty. Two husbands dead, a boy and a sick man. And now Katharine is free to make her own choice. The ageing King’s eye falls upon her. She cannot refuse him… or betray that she wanted another. She becomes the sixth wife – a queen and a friend. Henry loves and trusts her. But Katharine is hiding another secret in her heart, a deeply held faith that could see her burn…
I’ve been reading this series since book one and I can’t quite believe it’s nearly over! I remember seeing that it was going to take six years to publish, one book a year and thinking that would take so long. I’m really looking forward to this one as we finally get to see Henry die and the wife be the survivor, and Katherine Parr was a really interesting woman! She was regent for a while, wrote books and is the most-married English Queen ever with her four marriages.
Jeremy Harkiss, cheer captain and student body president, won’t let coming out as a transgender boy ruin his senior year. Instead of bowing to the bigots and outdated school administration, Jeremy decides to make some noise—and how better than by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend, Lukas for the title of Homecoming King? Lukas Rivers, football star and head of the Homecoming Committee, is just trying to find order in his life after his older brother’s funeral and the loss long-term girlfriend—who turned out to be a boy. But when Jeremy threatens to break his heart and steal his crown, Lukas kick starts a plot to sabotage Jeremy’s campaign. When both boys take their rivalry too far, the dance is on the verge of being cancelled. To save Homecoming, they’ll have to face the hurt they’re both hiding—and the lingering butterflies they can’t deny.
Give me lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers. Give me competing for the same prize. Give me fighting their feelings. Give me this book straight into my brain. This sounds like it’s going to be such a cute romance with a trans MC at the centre, while also dealing with things like bullies, death in the family and high school garbage. I already want them to have a happy ending.
Izumi Tanaka has lived an uneventful seventeen years in her small, mostly white, northern California town, keenly aware of all the ways in which her family is different from most of her classmates’. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity . . . and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent, can-burp-the-alphabet Izzy is literally a princess.
I loved Emiko Jean’s last novel; Empress of All Seasons, which was YA fantasy. So when I saw that she had a new book coming out, I was really surprised that it’s contemporary! Described as The Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians, I have really high hopes. I loved The Princess Diaries as a teen (and when I re-read them as an adult), so this was an easy pre-order.
Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe. When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.
Fake-dating! Is one of my favourite tropes! I can already tell that the troll exposé is going to stress me out but I will do anything to read a fake-dating-real-feelings traditionally published novel. Not to mention the five-star review by Aiden Thomas. June feels so long away.
Ten years ago, Hannah’s husband was brutally murdered in their home, and she (conveniently) doesn’t remember a thing about that night. But the police charged someone else—a stranger—and put him away for life. And Hannah packed up her six-year-old daughter and left London behind. But now her hard-won countryside peace is threatened. Conviction, a viral true-crime podcast known for getting cases reopened and old verdicts overturned, has turned its attention to Hannah’s husband’s murder for its new season. They say police framed the man who was found guilty, and that Hannah has more suspicious secrets than just her memory loss.
I have… complicated feelings about true-crime podcasts so I’m really looking forward to exploring them a little deeper with the help of this book. Truly a novel for the modern age of Serial, Dirty John and a hundred others. I can already tell I’m going to have to start this early in the morning, or risk being up all night reading.
A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love–she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.
Urban fantasy. Witches. Black girl magic. Matchmaking service. Almost 500 pages. First in a series. Sign me up! It’s going to be a tough June for prioritising reads with so many promising books coming out but I might just plan a whole week off to be absolutely destroyed by this.
When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home, it’s for an unhappy reason: her mother Colleen has killed herself, and Heather must pick up the pieces. Sorting through her mother’s belongings Heather makes an alarming discovery – carefully preserved letters from the notorious serial killer Michael Reave. The Red Wolf, as the press dubbed him, has been in prison for over twenty years, serving a life sentence for the gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women across the country, although he has always protested his innocence. The police have had no reason to listen, yet Heather isn’t the only one to suddenly have cause to re-examine the Red Wolf murders – the body of a young woman has been found, dismembered and placed inside a tree, the corpse planted with flowers. Just as the Red Wolf once did.
Jen Williams wrote my favourite fantasy, and I am a coward who hasn’t finished the series. It’s literally one of my 2021 goals. But now she’s written a thriller and I will follow her into any genre. She could start writing instructional manuals about road pothole repair and I would buy it. But luckily, she’s written a serial killer thriller. And it sounds incredible.
Car headlights. The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars. But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she? This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate. But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again … even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive…
I’ve had this pre-ordered since June and was so sad when it got, understandably, postponed. When I finally get this sapphic YA paranormal romance in my hands, I will do a little dance.
That’s all folks! What books are you looking forward to in 2021? Is there anything else I should be looking at?
When the news of the prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, came out I knew I wanted to re-read the original Hunger Games trilogy. It’s been six years since I first read the trilogy and they were really important in my journey of becoming a reader again and book blogging! My original reviews were.. sparse, and very much about my emotional response which is perfectly valid, I just wanted to do a bit of a deep dive into what makes these books so dang good in my opinion. So!
Contexts of Reading
I remember reading this series for the first time really vividly. Not so much the actual story, because I definitely forgot most of the plot points in the past six years. But my life surrounding reading this. I even remember the song I was listening to on repeat at the time. And I think that it’s really interesting that in however many years until I read this again, I might remember things like being in lockdown, playing a lot of Animal Crossing and working really hard at my last university essay. I think only a special kind of book can effect me in this way. I’ve re-read books before and mostly it’s just remembering bits of the story.
The Writing Style
I’ve mentioned a couple times this year that I’ve been struggling to read lately because I’m so focused on the act of reading. However, Collins writing style is so unique and crafted to be bare-bones that it’s incredibly easy to read. There’s no info-dumping or huge chunks of thinking, you’re just in Katniss’s head and immediately in the action. The story is left open just enough that your own thoughts and feelings can fill the gap. I thought that the pacing on the second and third books was a little weird, but by Mockingjay, I was locked in and finished it incredibly quickly.
I’m not a big fan of epilogues in general. As a reader and an attempting writer, I prefer it when the ending happens and what goes next is left to the imagination. If you want the main character to live happily ever after, you decide what that looks like. But I do like the epilogue in this case, because I think that considering how much she mentions not wanting kids because they’d have to play in the games, it was important to see Katniss no longer have that fear. Plus, Collins got to talk a little about how best to teach younger generations about bad things.
The Hunger Games trilogy are political books. Oppressed people hating other oppressed people instead of their oppressor, revolutions galore, people being used as pawns in a game they don’t understand. I mean- very applicable to almost every age of humanity.
Marking my books
I like to keep my books pretty neat and unmarked in general. I use sticky notes to mark them up for reviews and bits of writing I like. But this time I decided to underline, in pen! Mainly because I know these books are going to stick around on my shelves. I don’t have any immediate plans to re-read them, maybe I’ll wait another six years, or more, but when I do- I’ll get a little snapshot into this read and what stood out to me, and I think that’s pretty neat.
Do you re-read a lot? What is your favourite book to re-read?
As the year wraps up, I’m determined to get on top of these wrap-ups! Today, I’m talking about the books I read in September & October. Including one that took over my life for a few days, one that infuriated me beyond belief, and one that I’ve actually been reading since Summer and finally sat down to finish…
It’s been a good while since I read a Deaver! In fact, I traced it back to May 2018! Since it’s been a while, I kind of forgot how bloody masterful Deaver is at crafting a mystery. This book took me over for a few days while I flew through it. The twists, the turns, wherever you think you’re going, you’re not, whatever you think is happening, it isn’t. But it’s done in a way that you discover things at the same time as the characters, and everything makes sense. It’s also really nice to have good disability representation, both in Rhyme being a quadriplegic and Amelia having severe arthritis. In this book there’s also talk of endometriosis and fertility issues.
This is a re-read for me that I started over Summer and finally got around to finishing. This series will pop up a lot in future wrap-ups because it took over my audiobook listening for a good couple months. I just love the series and this was always one of my favourites.
Ah, if only I knew. I read this because I knew that the TV show was coming to Netflix and I loved The Haunting of Hill House adaptation. But, I didn’t really enjoy the book and I only got through two episodes of the TV show. I can’t put my finger on why, it just didn’t meet my expectations. There were a few moments that had my skin crawling though!
This is a really charming and interesting memoir about 1950’s health visitors in the UK and her role in the community. I wanted to read something similar to the Call the Midwife series of books by Jennifer Worth and this was a great choice. The timing is similar and it delved into what happened to the babies after they were signed off from the midwives and onto the health visitor. Molly is charming and headstrong, and it’s a real joy to read her experiences. I also really liked hearing about her partnership with Claire and the home they had together. “People still wondered how it worked, especially the men, who couldn’t imagine how women exist, let alone be happy, without male company.”
In comparison, Midwife on Call is a much more modern look at midwifery and maternity with the NHS as it looks at the 70s-00s. Agnes is outspoken in her opinions and her care for her patients which was really great to read, but it didn’t have the same cozy and soft vibe. This is the one to read if you’re less squeamish and like a bit of humour with your memoir! “I started getting labour contractions in the middle of the night and my husband awoke to a vision of me performing contortions as I tried to examine myself internally to check if my cervix was dilating.“
I started reading this all the way back in June and I ended up putting it down for a couple months because the pacing felt so strange. But I loved the world and the characters that I had to pick it up again and it ended up being a real blast to read. It’s great combination of urban fantasy and Wild West vibes, with a little dystopia in the mix. There’s been a climate apocalypse and now monsters and heroes and gods are all over the place. So much fun. I’d recommend this to every urban fantasy fan as it’s so different from the usual vampires and werewolves, but scratches the same itch! I can’t wait to read the second book, and her new series. “Everything you’ve done, your past, it’s all just a story you tell yourself. Some of it is true, but some of it is lies.”
I’ve been listening to a lot of Jeeves audiobooks in 2020. They were easy listens, funny and charming, and my library had a lot available. But, I’ve hit my limit now. I will definitely be back to read more once I’ve had a bit of time to forget the formula though.
What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these?