How I traveled Fictionally Last Year
I wrote a similar article about the books I read in 2020, which you can read here. You’ll find I was a much more “productive” reader back then, with 19 books read, as opposed to only 12 this past year. For some reason, despite the very long to-read list, I can’t seem to get myself wrapped up in a story the way I used to… I do blame social media and Netflix binging for it, but also, it might be just me.
I’ve also started the year with the idea of writing book reviews…that only lasted for a few months. However, laziness aside, I did discover some superb stories this year, one of which I can now count as a favourite.
So, here’s my list of 12 books I read in 2021 and be careful, there are spoilers ahead:
1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E.Schwab
Not a bad read at all and based on the clever idea of someone living for several centuries (without being a vampire) and being “invisible”. Addie LaRue prays to the wrong god, wishes for the wrong things, and starts living an extraordinary life, spanning centuries, with no one acknowledging her existence, until one day, when she steals a book from an old books shop, she gets caught…for the first time. This is marked as an adult fantasy novel, although, at times, it felt a bit more like young adult. Overall, I enjoyed this story and got to write in more detail about it here. I gave it 4/5 stars.
2. Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
I am a fan of Joanne Harris, after reading her “Chocolat” series and this book did not disappoint either. A historical fiction novel, with a strong family/mother-daughter relationship theme, it’s the story of Framboise and her family living through World War II on a farm in German-occupied France. You can read more details about it here. I gave it 4.5/5 stars.
3. Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
Also reviewed in the same article as the previous book. Silver in the Wood is more of a short fantasy novella about a large man living in the forest, protecting its fairy inhabitants as well as the villagers nearby. The story starts when Andrew Silver moves into the mansion at the edge of the forest and the two develop a strong bond. 3/5 stars from me.
4. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Another historical fiction novel with two intertwined storylines, one from World War I and the other from the late ‘40s. A young woman goes in search of her long-lost cousin and the only connection she finds is a war spy, who is, at first, reluctant to help. While the story of the spy (Eve) is very intense and at times borders on the grotesque, the story of the young woman (Charlie) is softer, with some romance and lots of fashion. Overall, I very much enjoyed this book, reviewed it in more detail here, and gave it 5/5 stars.
5 – 6 -7. The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty
Now, this – is a favourite. I started reading the first volume “The City of Brass” now knowing what I’m getting myself into and got so wrapped up, I read the next two books like there was no tomorrow. They were “unputdownable” to me. Let me tell you why. This is an adventure-fantasy novel, with a heavy socio-political theme. We have a girl from the 1800s in Cairo with powers she doesn’t quite understand, who meets a strong and mysterious man who guides us to the city of the daevas, or as we know them, djinnies. The city is ruled by a not-so-loved king, whose son, prince Ali, has connections with the rebels. From here, we get deeper into the story and the magic unravels more and more. I wholeheartedly recommend this trilogy for adventure and fantasy lovers. I wrote a review of the first volume, which you can read here. Overall, 5/5 stars
8. The Binding by Bridget Collins
Another fantasy novel with a very interesting subject: people (their memories) get bound into books. In a society where people and their thoughts and memories are discarded and seen as disposable, a young man becomes an apprentice to a bookbinder. His life gets complicated when he encounters another young man looking to get bound. Check out the entire review here. Another 4/5 stars for this book.
9. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I know, I should’ve read this one a long time ago, but hey, better late than never. Everyone’s at least heard about it, so I won’t go into details. I enjoyed it and was surprised at how modern it was and in awe at the brain of the young author, who’s cooked up such a story. Again, 4/5 stars.
10. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
A novel slightly different from my usual reads, set in the theatre world, with extensive passages from Shakespeare’s plays, it follows the story of a group of theatre students, who get a little too into their characters. Kind of a dark gothic story. I liked how it was written and very much enjoyed the descriptions of the sets. 3.5/5 stars from me.
11. The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith
This is the second book in the Hell’s Library trilogy, the first of which I read back in 2020, and the last of which I read in the first days of 2022. Also a fantasy novel, it follows former librarian, now arcanist Claire, muse librarian Brevity, the angel Ramiel and the book Hero through some adventures as they try to uncover the mystery of the ink pool which appeared in the middle of the Arcane Wing out of nowhere. The entire series was to my liking as it’s first and foremost about books. I give it 5/5 stars and I recommend you read them all.
12. How to Argue with a Cat by Jay Heinrichs
I almost forgot about this one, a non-fiction book I got as a present. It talks about how to convince strong-minded people (and cats) or how to negotiate with them. I’m not a big fan of this kind of books and I find that mostly they say things I already know, but it wasn’t a bad read overall. It’s a short and easy book, so if you’re curious or maybe you have a cat, you could give it a try.
Did you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?