Reading Firsts | 2021 & 2020

I’m calling this an impromptu half book tag week because here I am again with another book tag. I just wanted to do a post where I chat about a bunch of books while continuing to procrastinate on reviews.

I found this over on Tammy’s Books, Bones & Buffy. It’s not exactly a book tag; it’s a reading reflection post that Tanya & Kim of girlxoxo started to reflect on their reading experiences in the first couple months of a given year. However, since I’m in a book tag mood, I’ve decided to call it a book tag and combine the categories Tanya & Kim have included in their posts over the 3 years they’ve been doing these posts (because I’m feeling extra today).

AND because I’m feeling even more extra than I thought, I’ll consider for this books I read in 2020 and books I’ve read so far this year since I’m in a chatty (typey??) mood and I want to play with the WordPress block things that I FINALLY figured out how to use (so if you have difficulty seeing this post, please let me know).

Anyway… TO THE TAG! 😀

First book read


Renegade’s Magic by Robin Hobb

It’s the third and last book in the Soldier Son trilogy, a fantasy story about a young man who believes he’s destined to become a soldier but gets caught up in a conflict between his country and the land his country is invading, which causes some… spiritual difficulties for him. I loved the first book in the trilogy but the second and third were hard to get through at times. Shout out to my buddy-reader in all things Hobb, Emily at Embuhleeliest, because the buddy-read kept me going.


Blue Monday by Nicci French

I believe Nicci French is a husband-and-wife team. Blue Monday is a slow-paced mystery about a psychotherapist who gets caught up in a child abduction case when it seems that one of her patients may be involved. It was a good read that kept me interested despite its slow pace, but the end so frustrated me that I’ve yet to continue with the series.

First 5-star rating


Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

This was my first 5-star read that is not a reread. (My reread of Katherine Addison’s Goblin Emperor was my overall first 5-star read.) It’s the second novel in a fantasy series about a young woman who’s raised to be courtesan using her talents to save her kingdom… That’s best way I can describe it succinctly, but it’s about that and much, much more, and it’s such a good read as well. I can’t wait to read the third novel.


The Wilful Princess & the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb

This also is the first 5-star read that was not a reread. (The actual first 5 stars went to my reread of Assassin’s Apprentice, also by Hobb.) This is a prequel to the Farseer trilogy; however, I recommend that those interested read it after completing the entire Realm of the Elderlings series, or at least after completing the Tawney Man trilogy. This prequel touches on how the Wit, a magic system in this fantasy world that allows humans to communicate with animals, became taboo. It was a great read for such a short book.

First book that slayed me – dead!


In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce

It’s a historical thriller about a female serial killer. This book had me so hooked that it still kept my interest even after I was done. I just kept on buzzing about it, telling everyone and looking up the woman the protagonist is based one. Now I need to try other books by Bruce.


Vicious by V.E. Schwab

I read it in April 2020 and, yea I read some great books before this one, but I had to take a breath after completing Vicious because I liked it so much and couldn’t stop talking about it. It’s about two friends who become enemies after they discover that near-death experiences can imbue them with supernatural abilities. This was my kind of story because it’s all about morally grey characters and unpacking the making of monsters.

First book by an author I’ve read before


The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

In addition to Hobb’s Renegade Magic, Pratchett’s Colour of Magic would also fit this category. It’s the first novel in the Rincewind subseries of the Discworld series. It’s a fantasy story about an unlucky wizard who knows only one spell that he can’t use. It was a fun read, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the other Discworld novels I’ve read.


The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

It’s a mystery-thriller about a professor of symbology helping to solve a murder that occurred in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The story moves along at a fast pace, which I thought was a bit too fast. Still, I enjoyed it although not as much as I did the first book, Angels & Demons.

First book that I wish I could get back the time I spent reading it


The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

It’s a novel I thought I’d love, but it didn’t work out for me. I’m still surprised I finished it. It’s a thriller about a young Black woman who’s the only Black person working in the editorial pool of a publishing company until one day another Black girl is hired. The other Black girl seems cool at first but then weird shit starts to happen.


The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

2020 was a good reading year, so it was hard to find something for this category. I decided to go with the Twisted Ones since the protagonist really frustrated me toward the end. I wanted her to be more serious about the situation. The book is horror about a young woman who goes down south (I forgot where exactly) to clean out her late grandmother’s house and sees some weird stuff while there.

First favorite


Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

A big reason why I loved this one is because the gods’ influence is a bit more obvious.


Nimona by Noelle Stephenson (illus.)

Nimona was my first favorite that isn’t a reread. It was such a fun, heartwarming read. It’s a YA fantasy graphic novel about a girl who joins a villain as his assistant. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did.

First book hangover

Renegade’s Magic by Robin Hobb

Hobb’s books always give me a book hangover because of how much her characters endure, how detailed the stories are, and all the emotions I feel as I read them. After completing Renegade’s Magic, I turned to shorter and lighter reads for a while.


The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb

Despite its short length (because it’s a novella), I’m sure this one gave me a book hangover as well. The stuff I turned to after completing it were light and short or rereads via audiobook.

First reading slump and book that pulled me out


So far, I haven’t suffered from a reading slump this year; however, I am suffering from a blogging slump. I don’t know… book reviews intimidate me at the moment.


Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

I suffered from several reading slumps last year. Actually, I began the year in a reading slump. I read Witches Abroad, a fantasy novel that’s part of the Discworld series, during the fall months, and it successfully helped me to get out of the slump. I’ve been doing well, reading-wise, ever since. Btw, it’s about the Ramtops witches — Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick — travelling to foreign parts to stop a fairytale from happening. It was SO entertaining!

First novella


Wrapped Up in You by Talia Hibbert

It’s a romance novella set around Christmas time, which I thought meant it would be light, entertaining, and quick but was quite emotionally heavy, slow, and unappealing to me, unfortunately. It’s about a popular actor returning to his hometown for Christmas to see if he has a chance with his longtime crush. I listened to it on audio (also didn’t like the narrator style) and was so bored that I often fell asleep while listening.


Drowned Country by Emily Tesh

Actually, the first novella was The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince, but since I’ve mentioned it about three times already, I chose the second novella instead, which is the second novella in the Greenhollow duology. Drowned Country is a fantasy story that focuses on the new Wild Man of the Greenhollow wood. I actually enjoyed it more than the first book since this protagonist is more… chatty (lol). I wish there would be more books in this series.

First audiobook


Wrapped Up in You by Talia Hibbert, narr. by Selina Scott-Bennin and Philip Batley

It’s a novella, but I listened to the audiobook version since that’s what my library had available. As I mentioned above, I didn’t like the story or how it was narrated.


Blue Monday by Nicci French, narr. by Beth Chalmers

I was surprised that I was able to keep up with the story since I don’t often listen to new-to-me books on audio, much less ones that are as detailed as this one, but I enjoyed Chalmers’s narration, and it helped that the story kept my attention.

First graphic novel


Lady S., Vol. 1: Here’s to Suzie by Jean Van Hamme, illus. by Philippe Aymond, transl. from the French by Jerome Saincantin

It’s the first volume in a French comic book series about a female spy from Russia who’s blackmailed. It’s very dialogue-heavy, but I didn’t mind that since I got caught up in the story wondering how the protagonist would resolve her situation. I also liked the illustrations.


Nimona by Noelle Stephenson (illus.)

As I mentioned above, I enjoyed reading this graphic novel. The story appealed to me and I didn’t mind the illustrations. They fit the tone of the story.

First Did Not Finish


American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

I wanted to read this for a book club that I sometimes participate in, but I really wasn’t in the mood for it. I might return to it another time. It’s a mystery novel.


The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber

Macomber’s books are popular at the book store I work at, so I wanted to try one to see what’s so great about it. I believe I listened to the audiobook, but I DNF’d it because I wasn’t in the mood for it at the time. I also don’t think it’s my kind of read, so I doubt I’ll return to her books.

And that’s all folks!


7 thoughts on “Reading Firsts | 2021 & 2020

  1. I’m impressed at your columns!! I’ve not tried that yet. Looking at what else you read, I don’t think Debbie Macomber would be your thing – I read her a lot (not sure how popular she is over here in the UK but you can now get her books; when I started with her I relied on finding random US copies in charity shops!) as a kind of palate cleanser / comfort read but she’s very predictable and horribly non-diverse. Like a comfy pair of slippers! Anyway, good idea for a blog post and great work checking back on last year, too – impressive!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Liz! I appreciate that you’re impressed by them because it took me forever to figure out how to do these column things. I assume then that they are showing okay, so I’m really glad about that.
      Lol! Thanks for sharing that about Macomber’s books. In that case, they really aren’t my thing so I won’t be going back to them then.
      Thanks! Tanya & Kim did a great job coming up with this fun way to reflect on one’s reading progress.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an interesting way of looking back at what we’ve read. And I like comparing the years, I find that even more interesting. Glad to hear you’ve not had a reading slump this year but sorry to hear you’ve traded one slump for another. These things happen, but thankfully they eventually pass. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoy these sorts of tags, because they are book focused. Love that In the Garden of Spite got the “slay me dead” distinction though, that one sure killed me too! Gosh, the book hangover I got from that one…


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