Hello readers! I can’t believe is already the first day of February. January went by so fast! Today we are going over the 11 books that I read in 2021 including my very first ARC! Keep an eye out for February’s wrap up, cos I have another ARC that will be in that post. Please comment down below and let me know how your reading went in the month of January! Without further ado, let’s just jump right in!
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Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn &David Levithan (⭐⭐⭐)
I started this book in 2020 and I hoped to have it finished. However, I read most of it on the first day of 2021. This book was an interesting read, but it just wasn’t my favorite thing. I’m going to try to get to the rest of the series in later in the year, but we will see how that goes. I am not happy that this was my first book of the year.
Synopsis: So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
Trigger Warnings: underage drinking, blackouts
I Found You by Lisa Jewell (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
I really enjoyed this book. Lisa Jewell is becoming one of my favorite authors! I originally planned to read a different book by her in January, but I bought this one right before the beginning of the year, so I read it instead. This one reminded me a lot of The Family Upstairs by her. There are 3 perspectives and one is in a different timeline and we are waiting for all three to connect. Jewell never does what I expect and I love that about her books.
Synopsis: East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.
Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.
Trigger Warnings: memory loss, mentions of parents with dementia, violence, kidnapping including that of a minors, murder, drowning, sexual assault and attempted rape of a minor, drug use of minors, underage drinking, grooming, death of a parent, death of a minor
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
This book was such a relief. I previously read Way of Kings by Sanderson. It was a good book, but very long and overly detailed. That one took me over a month to finish. I like the way Sanderson writes female characters. This is a really good one to start with if you haven’t read Sanderson or many adult fantasy books.
In my opinion, I think this book is a metaphor for depression. It is about a lot of people who are going through things that make them want to end it all, and finding a reason to keep going.
Synopsis: Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
Trigger Warnings: violence including violence against a child, misogyny, suicide ideation, depression, starvation as a main focus, chronic pain
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
I loved reading this book. I wasn’t sure about it before going in, but I loved it. Book 1 was a 3 star read for me. However, everything takes a major turn in this one. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series and see how this all ends.
Synopsis (of book 1): Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
Trigger Warnings(for the series): PTSD, suicide ideation, murder, torture, drugging, kidnapping, confinement, violence
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
This one was interesting. I didn’t know if I would like it going in, but I ended up enjoying. I think the pacing was a bit off for me. I wish there were more detail in the more interesting bits, but I will continue this series when the next one comes out later this year. The story was unlike anything I have read before.
Synopsis:In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.
But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.
Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.
Trigger Warnings: mutilation of self and others, animal death, attempted murder, death during childbirth, occultism, pedophilia, racism, sexual abuse, sexual assault, torture, violence
Guts by Raina Telgemeier (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
This is the finale of a non-fiction graphic novel series about the author. They really don’t have to be read in order and I think this book actually takes place before the first two. I did read this in one sitting and I think it was an interesting read. Telgemeier also draws all her own art, which is a plus.
Synopsis: Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it’s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she’s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina’s tummy trouble isn’t going away… and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What’s going on?
Trigger Warnings: Mental and physical illness, anxiety, panic attacks, IBS
Wrecking Ball (⭐⭐⭐⭐) + Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure by Jeff Kinney (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
I loved reading this one! It is a sequel to a companion series of the Diary of A Wimpy Kid. I liked that this one wasn’t so much about Greg like the first book was. This was about Rowley writing his own book, and it took some wild turns. It included a male cow named Stephen, Medusa, Sherlock Holmes, Santa, and many other unforgettable characters.
Synopsis: You’ve never seen the Wimpy Kid World like this before—an entirely new, awesome, friendly, truly fantastic fantasy quest from #1 international bestselling author Jeff Kinney!
From the imagination of Rowley Jefferson comes an adventure of epic proportions. Join Roland and his best friend, Garg the Barbarian, as they leave the safety of their village and embark on a quest to save Roland’s mom from the White Warlock. Will our heroes survive? Find out in Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure!
The Lying Game by Lisa Jewell (⭐⭐⭐)
At this point, I am not sure why I am still reading Ware’s book. I really liked In a Dark, Dark Wood, and I didn’t like Woman in Cabin 10. There wasn’t much that happened in this book and the twist was weak and sort of predictable. I don’t like how it was brushed off that the father of one of the MC’s drew them naked as teens. It was brushed off as no big deal, and that isn’t okay. I feel like Ware’s MC’s are always really close to the same person and this one is no different. I will read her next book, because I already bought it, but no promises after that one.
Synopsis: On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…
The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”
The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).
Trigger Warnings: murder, overdose, nude drawings of minors, religious prejudice, infidelity, anxiety
Mr. Lemocello’s All-Star Breakout Game by Chris Grabenstein (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
This is the fourth book in a series. They are episodic, but they reference the previous books on occasion. This is my absolutely favorite in the series! In this one, there is a competition where teams have to go into five different scenarios, which are genres of books, and play out a story in that genre. It was so interesting to see all the characters go to virtual worlds of fantasy, comics, humor, horror, mystery, and more! I love that we get to solve the puzzles with the characters. These books are perfect for people who love books, libraries, and games.
Synopsis: Greetings boys and girls, gamers of all ages—are you ready to play Mr. Lemoncello’s BIGGEST, most dazzling game yet?! After months of anticipation, Mr. Lemoncello is taking his games out of the library and LIVE across the nation on the world famous Kidzapalooza Television Network! Everyone’s invited to audtion, but only a lucky few will be chosen to compete in front of millions of viewers in a brand new, completely immersive, live action breakout game where kids will be the playing pieces! Kyle Keeley is determined to be one of them. Each of the winning teams will have to make it through 5 seperate rooms in Mr. Lemoncello’s fantastic new Fictionasium to find the answer to a puzzle that will unlock that room’s lock and allow them to break out! But nothing is ever as it seems with Mr. Lemoncello and the surprises in store just might stump even the gamemaster himself. Can Kyle break out of his own expectations—and win Mr. Lemoncello’s ultimate gameshow?
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
This is my very first ARC! Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry comes out on May 4th and is Goffney’s debut novel. It is essentially about a girl who has her journal, of all her private thoughts, told in lists, stolen. She is also blackmailed. She goes on a journey out of her comfort zone and learns to stand up for herself. I think this would be more enjoyable for POC readers, especially biracial readers. My biggest grief with the story is that her grandma wasn’t in the book more!
Synopsis:Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud” and all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing . . .
Then an anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.
Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.
Trigger Warnings: Microaggressions, racism, anxiety, bullying, family member with Alzeimer’s
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