2021 End of Year Book Survey

I always enjoy doing this year-end survey that Jamie, the Perpetual Page-Turner, created. It’s a fun way to reflect on things I read in the past year. It’s also very long, so this time I’ll only do the first part, which focuses on books read.


2021 Reading Stats

Number of books read: 66

Physical: 41
Audio: 14
E-books: 11

Number of books reread: 10

Number of books I Did Not Finish: 7

Genre I read the most: Fantasy


BEST BOOK I READ IN 2021

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce

It’s probably my favorite book of the year. And it’s one I couldn’t stop talking about. I recommended it to everybody, although it’s not one that will appeal to everyone. It’s a historical thriller about a female serial killer and is based on a real person. I think Bruce did a fantastic job with it. It’s my first time trying one of her books and I look forward to reading more.

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ZeZee’s Disappointing Reads of 2021

With my favorites and most memorable books of 2021 out of the way, it’s now time to focus on the disappointing ones, because they need some attention too.

I know many people shy away from making lists of books that disappoint them, but I don’t. This is a blog about what I read and what I like and dislike. It’s a blog for readers. Plus, I often get recommendations from lists like these. After all, just because someone disliked a book doesn’t mean I will too.

My ratings for these books are middling and aren’t exactly low. I mostly rate based on my enjoyment of what I read, because I read to be entertained, but I also consider how well-crafted the book, comic, or picture book is. 

These are listed in the order that I read them.


The Conductors by Nicole Glover ★★☆☆☆ ½

Aww man, I really thought this would be one I’d like. It’s a debut historical fantasy that mostly takes place in Philadelphia shortly after the Civil War. The story focuses on Hetty and Benjy, a married couple who used to work as conductors on the Underground Railroad but now help Black people in their community to resolve dire situations — like finding someone who’s gone missing. I think the story has a lot of potential, but it fell flat for me. I think the world building, magic system, and characters needed more development and the plot needed to be ironed out a bit more to make it flow more smoothly. However, there’s enough potential here to make me curious about the second book, so I might give it a try.

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Zezee’s Most Memorable Reads of 2021

I get a kick out of doing these end-of-year lists, so of course I found an excuse to do another one after posting my favorites list a few days ago.

The following are the most memorable books I read last year that didn’t make my favorites list. These are stories that lingered with me long after I completed them either because of their great storytelling, strong characters, impressive worldbuilding, beautiful prose, or a combination of those qualities. These are stories I couldn’t help thinking about at odd times or considered returning to in the new year.

They are listed in the order I read them.


The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw ★★★★☆

This one was a surprise because I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. (Actually, the same is true for many of the books on this list.) Philyaw’s Secret Lives of Church Ladies is a book of nine short stories exploring the lives of Black women. I enjoyed several of the stories for how they are written, the snarky tone used in a few, and the variety of topics covered, such as grief, sexuality, and mother-daughter relationships. If I should reread it, I intend to do so by audiobook. I initially began the book on audio but loved the prose so much that I had to read the physical book. The narrator’s (Janina Edwards) voice is so soothing and mellow that I’d like to listen to it again, so I have to find something else she narrates, whether it’s this or another book, to listen to.

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ZeZee’s Favorite Reads of 2021

It’s January, the beginning of a new year, and one of my favorite times of a year because of the “best of” lists everyone posts. I’ve very behind on visiting blogs and things, but I fully intend to catch up this weekend because I’d love to see what’s on everyone’s Best Books of 2021 or Favorite Books of 2021 lists. I get many book recommendations from such lists and have already added a few to my Goodreads TBR.

Below is my list of favorite books read in 2021, which I’ve managed to quickly cobble together. These were all outstanding, highly entertaining books that left me wanting more when I was done. They aren’t listed in any particular order.


Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey ★★★★★

Carey’s series is shaping up to be one of my favorites. Kushiel’s Chosen is the second novel in the Phèdre trilogy, a fantasy story that focuses on a courtesan who’s also a spy. The story begins in a land where the people are said to be descendants of angels. I enjoyed the first book, Kushiel’s Dart, but I loved this one more. Kushiel’s Chosen was more exciting to me than the first book, and I loved that the actions of the gods were a bit more apparent in this one. It was more obvious that they were effecting events to help Phèdre. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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2021 Reading Wrap Up: Fourth Quarter

The last quarter of 2021 was a rough one, so I didn’t get as much done as I’d like. It’s not even done yet, but I already know that I won’t complete another book before the end of the year. There’s just too much going on, so my reading speed has been much slower than usual. Below are the few things I managed to complete this quarter.

BOOKS | AUDIO | COMICS | PICTURE BOOKS

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Christmas Eve Book Tag

It’s my favorite time of year, and despite how busy I’ve been lately, I am very happy because some wonderfully amazing things have been happening that I didn’t expect. I keep pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming about having achieved a major goal.

My plan was to bring the Christmas cheer to my blog by doing Christmas-themed book tags all week, but I wasn’t feeling well the past 2 days, so I wasn’t able to post anything yesterday.

BUT! I’m back in the Christmas spirit now, so I’ll kick things off with the Christmas Eve Book Tag — since it is Christmas Eve. It was created by booktuber Sam’s Nonsense, whose channel introduced me to Robin Hobb’s books. I found this tag over on Embuhleelist, my buddy-reader in all things Hobb — and now Joe Abercrombie, lol.


Christmas Eve Morning: What is a book you wake up excited to read? (It can either be one you anticipate reading or one you read in the past that you want to get back into.)

Velvet comic book series by by Ed Brubaker, illus. by Steve Epting

I’ve read the first and second volumes and would like to reread them and then round out the series by completing the third. It’s sort of a mystery comic book series about a woman working at a secret agency who’s framed for a murder. I enjoyed it and was hooked.

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Christmas Characters Tag

Here’s another Christmas tag that has been too long on my to-do list! It sounds like a cute one.

I stumbled across it while Falling Down the Book Hole back in 2019, and finally, I’m now doing it.  The Christmas Characters Tag was created by Anthony at Keep Reading Forward.


Santa Clause: A Gift You Received or Want This Year

The Deep by Mayur Vayeda & Tushar Vayeda (illus.)

I would LOVE to get a copy of this book as a gift, but I know no one will gift it to me, so most likely I’ll gift it to myself for my birthday in the new year.

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Top 5 Tuesday #68: Top 5 New Authors of 2021

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.


This week’s topic:

Top 5 new authors of 2021

(Tell us all about your favourite new authors, either debut authors from 2021 or new-to-you this year.)

I met some great new-to-me authors this year who I’d love to read more from. Here are my top five.

Camilla Bruce

At the top is Camilla Bruce whose In the Garden of Spite I read earlier this year, thanks to Mogsy and Tammy. The novel is a historical thriller about a female serial killer in the late 1800s. It’s slow paced but such a riveting read. Both my aunt (who I made read it) and I want to read more from Bruce, and I need to get another copy of the book to let my mom read it too (I gave my copy to my aunt).

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Holiday Drinks Book Tag

Cue all the Christmas and winter-themed book tags I’ll post for the next two weeks because I found a bunch of such tags over the years and want to do them all! Ho! Ho! Ho!

I’ll kick things off with the Holiday Drinks Book Tag, which seems to have originated on the blog Browsing for Books, but that blog doesn’t seem to be active. However, I was lucky enough to find the tag over on Way Too Fantasy.


Hot Chocolate | Marshmallows and chocolate and whipped cream, oh my!
Recommend a book that’s sweet through and through.

Pandora by Victoria Turnbull

It’s a children’s picture book about a lonely fox who helps a bird heal and how the bird helps the fox feel less lonely. It’s a sweet read that I actually didn’t like much when I first read it, but I think I’d appreciate it more now if I should reread it.

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Comics Roundup #64: “Assassin Nation, Vol. 1”

I’m still catching up on discussing books I read in the late summer/early fall months, especially for the Magical Readathon. So, here’s another comic book I read way back then.


Assassin Nation, Vol. 1: Number One With a Bullet by Kyle Starks, illus. by Erica Henderson

Genre

Thriller; Humor

Series

Assassin Nation

Pubbed

2019

From Goodreads

The World’s Former Greatest Hitman hires the 20 best assassins in the world to be his bodyguards. These mean-as-hell hired guns and murderers must work together to keep the new crime boss safe, survive, and also attempt to solve the mystery of who’s trying to off him! (Goodreads)


My thoughts

Assassin Nation is an action comic book about a dude who was once one of the best hitmen in the world hiring the 20 best assassins to serve as his bodyguard because someone’s targeting him.

I read the first issue last year and thought it was okay. I wasn’t really intending to continue with it, but my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to see how the first volume would pan out, so I borrowed it from the library when I saw it available.

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