Happy 2022! Last year completely flew by. I can’t believe it’s the new year already. Though I stopped posting my monthly recaps I wanted to give a summary of the books I did read last year. This post may contain spoilers.
Let’s get into it!
Reading Goal for 2021
Initially, I planned to read 50 books last year. I set this goal after reading 20 books from September to December of 2020. I thought it would be reasonable to read 50. However, by June I had already read 50 so I bumped up my goal to 100. I thought that it was totally achievable. What I didn’t anticipate was how busy I would be the second half of last year. I quit my previous job, my best friend got married so I had her wedding and bachelorette party, I got a new job, went to Disney World all while still being enrolled in school. I ended the year reading 85 books which is way more than I initially planned. I think this year I’m going to pace myself a little better and aim a little lower with all of the things I anticipate happening this year.
Anticipated Reads of 2021
I went into 2021 with a few anticipated reads. I preordered these books month in advance and was counting down the days until I had them. The first was The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson. It came out in the summer of 2021. I read all of the Truly Devious books in the fall of 2020. I binged them. I could not put them down. Its one of my favorite book series. I have a post dedicated to the series and I will link it. Though The Box in the Woods is a standalone book separate from the series, it contains the same characters. Maureen Johnson has posted online stating that she plans on writing more detective books with Stevie Bell and I can’t wait to read them all. The Box in the Woods was just as good as the original trilogy with a mystery you felt like you could help solve. I highly recommend it.
The next book was The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. It is the second book of The Inheritance Games trilogy. Like the first book, the characters playing games and finding clues to solve the mystery as to why Avery Grambs was named the heir to oil tycoon Tobias Hawthorne’s fortune. The first book ends with a plot twist that pushes the story of the second book. I thought the second book was really good, I did like the first better though. The last book of the trilogy, The Final Gambit, is supposed to come out this fall and I’m very excited to see how the series ends.
My final anticipated read for 2021 was Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco. I read Kingdom of the Wicked at the beginning of 2021. I saw a tiktok about the book and found out the main character’s name was Emilia, which never happens. Emilia is a pretty uncommon name, so I bought the book because I never find things that have my name in them. I did not expect to love the book as much as I did. Set in Italy, Emilia makes a deal with the devil to find out who murdered her beloved twin sister. Only as a witch, making deals with the devil and using dark magic is unacceptable. The second book begins with Emilia finally going to hell with one of the princes of hell, Wrath. She is trying to figure out why her sister was killed. I loved this book. It was just as good as the first one and had interesting characters and an interesting plot. The final book of the series, Kingdom of the Feared, is supposed to come out September 27th, 2022. I can’t wait for this book and how the series ends.
With all of the books I read this year there were some that surprised me with how much I liked them and how much I didn’t enjoy them. The first book that I was surprised I enjoyed as much as I did was The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. I read Michaelides’ book The Silent Patient at the beginning of the year and really did not enjoy it. I do like the occasional thriller, but it just wasn’t something I enjoyed. However, I had the chance to listen to an advanced copy of The Maidens to review and I really loved it. I have a full review on my blog, which I will link. Mariana Andros is mourning the loss of her husband, when her niece tells her that there has been a murder on her college campus. Mariana arrives to help Zoe and dives headfirst into a murder investigation that leads to a secret society and dark secrets. I loved this book. It had a great setting and tone. The characters were interesting and as I was listening, I wanted to know what was going to happen. It was hard to put down.
The next books that I was completely blown away by was the Raybearer Duology by Jordan Ifueko. In Raybearer, Tarisai, who has spent years alone, longs for a meaningful connection to anyone. Her mother, The Lady, sends her on a mission to kill the crown prince of Aritsar. To do this she must gain a seat on his Council of 11 and gain his trust. I love fantasy books especially when the author creates a creative multidimensional world like in Raybearer. I absolutely adored this book. The sequel was just as good. In Redemptor, Tarisai has learnt that not only is she a Raybearer like Dayo, and she sits on the throne alongside him as his co-ruler. But because of this and a deal made with the shadow realm, Tarisai must create her own council in two years’ time to save the kingdom. Sometimes with sequels, the author tries to shove far too much information and change to further along the story, but I don’t think that was the case for this book. Ifueko created a vibrant story that took the best parts of the original story and expanded it into a grand addition. I plan on doing a full post dedicated to this duology, there is a lot I want to share about these books that I can’t fit in a smaller recap.
Not all of the books I read this year were great. There were a few that just fell a bit flat for me. The first was House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland. I saw a lot of sponsored TikToks about this book around the time it was published. I follow Penguin Teens on TikTok and they obviously promoted the book heavily. But I also saw other accounts talking about it and thought it was going to be super interesting. Iris Hollow, and her older sisters Grey and Vivi had something happen to them that they can’t remember. But when Grey goes missing, Iris and Vivi have to figure out what happened and why. I really wanted to like this book. The idea was something I thought I would like, but upon execution it fell flat. I didn’t really root for the characters and a lot of the surprises felt predictable. It wasn’t my favorite book of the year, but I hope the author comes out with more books. I did enjoy the writing style.
The next book I was disappointed in was The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He. While I don’t typically like science fiction, the buzz around this book made me want to read it. With two parallel stories of two sisters. One is left alone struggling with her memories on a desert island, the other is trying to find a way to save the people on Earth after decades of natural disasters. The idea was good but the world building necessary for a book like this was lacking. The plot twist didn’t come soon enough, and the characters were just unlikeable. I really wanted to like this book, but I couldn’t.
This one is a bit of a controversial opinion, but I didn’t like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Evelyn Hugo, a famous and glamorous movie star, decides to give her life story to Monique Grant, an unknown magazine writer. Separated but each of her marriages, the story is told by Evelyn to Monique with some passages being Monique’s point of view. I found Evelyn and other characters of the book to be so frustrating and unlikable, that I didn’t want to root for them or give them any understanding. The big reveal at the end of the book just solidified my distaste for Evelyn. I know that Evelyn isn’t meant to be perfect, but I just couldn’t find it in myself to want to like Evelyn. Some people really love this book and I like Jenkins Reid as an author, but this book just wasn’t for me.
I read so many books that I really enjoyed in 2021, aside from my anticipated reads, these books were my favorites out of the bunch. The first was Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. While I didn’t like Evelyn Hugo, I absolutely loved Daisy Jones. Written as if you were watching a documentary, Daisy Jones & The Six tells the story of Daisy Jones, a groupie turned rockstar, and Billy Dunne, leader of The Six, and their rise to fame. The story covers each star’s rise to fame, their collaboration and eventually the end of Daisy Jones and The Six. I loved this book. The tone, writing style and setting made it so hard to put down. Because the story is told through interviews, the readers sees each character’s interpretation of the events and how they unfold. The reveal of the narrator and songs at the back of the book really added to the overall feel of the book. I loved it and can’t recommend it enough.
The next book I loved was XOXO by Axie Oh. I found this book on Barnes and Noble when I was scrolling through the preorders. Sometimes I’ll browse what the upcoming releases are so I can see if there is anything I would potentially want.
XOXO is a YA romance/fiction novel by Axie Oh. Jenny, a teenager from LA, meets KPOP star Jaewoo one night at her uncle’s karaoke bar. They share a night of fun and Jenny thinks she’ll never see him again. When she and her mom move to South Korea to take care of her ill grandmother, Jenny transfers to a prestigious arts academy where she runs int Jaewoo and his band members. It was very cutesy and kind of predictable, but I loved it so much. It was a quick fluffy read that I really enjoyed. Oh has a new book coming out this February that I plan on preordering.
I only read one memoir last year and it was In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park. I wanted to read more nonfiction last year, but it just didn’t happen for me. However, the one I did read was so amazing I think it made up for it. Park shares her childhood and ultimate escape from North Korea in such a brave and heart bearing way. Most people think they understand what happens in North Korea, myself included, but after reading this book it is evident that it is so much worse than anyone can imagine. I can’t recommend this book enough. If you don’t want to commit to her novel, Park gave a moving speech in 2014 at the One Young World conference. I highly recommend watching it.
I’m really excited for 2022 and all the books I hope to read. My starting goal for this year is again 50 books, but we will see where the year takes us. I hope to read as many books as last year.
Until next time!