Reflecting on 2021: Reading

Although 2020 was a great reading year for me, I was hoping 2021 would be an even better one. But it wasn’t. Sure, I managed to pass my Goodreads reading goal of 50 books, but I only did so by reading 16 books over my goal. I was secretly hoping for much more than that.

It’s not that I was pressuring myself to read much more than 50 books. I try not to pressure myself about reading because otherwise the hobby won’t be fun anymore. It’s just that I was expecting (hoping) for a reading year that was similar to 2020, when I read 90+ things. But while I used reading to cope with 2020’s reality, I guess the stress and worries of 2021 were too much (especially when added to those carried over from 2020); so instead of reading helping me to cope, I slowly began to lose interest in the activity as a reading slump took over. The more stressful things became for me, the less I read until I wasn’t reading much at all in December. I’m just now turning back to books.

So 2021 wasn’t at all the reading year I was hoping for, but I’m still curious to see what my reading stats were for it. If you are interested in such stuff too, read on.

ALSO SEE

ZeZee’s Favorite Reads of 2021
ZeZee’s Most Memorable Reads of 2021
ZeZee’s Most Disappointing Reads of 2021


FAVORITES OF THE BUNCH

BOOKS

In the Garden of Spite
Kushiel’s Chosen
Cinnamon and Gunpowder
The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry
Paladin of Souls

Comics & Picture Books

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile
Milo Imagines the World
DCeased
Ramayana: Divine Loophole
Park Bench

Articles

(I didn’t read many articles, so I only have one.)

Going In-Depth: A Seat at the Table: The Importance of Black Representation in Nerd Culture (blackgirlnerds.com)

An opinion piece on Black folks participating in nerd culture and the push-back they receive

“When the representation of your culture is prevalent, your existence is normalized, therefore eliminating the feelings of alienation or unconventionality. In simple terms, representation shows people, ‘We belong here.’”

Podcasts

Dateable (dateablepodcast.com)

Marlon and Jake Read Dead People (readitforward.com/deadpeoplepod)

Khadija Mbowe: Race-Baiting, Queer-Baiting, Colorism, Featurism, and Performative Diversity (youtube.com)

TV Shows

Bridgerton, season 1
Punisher, seasons 1 & 2
Kingdom, seasons 1 & 2
The Boys, season 2
Schitt’s Creek, season 6

Movies

Knives Out [rewatch]
Rush [rewatch]
Gladiator
Blood Red Sky
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before


Least Liked

Books

The Other Black Girl
Wrapped Up in You
Grave Mercy
The Beautiful Ones
The Colour of Magic

Comics & Picture Books

The Adventures of Rama
Marvel 1602, #1
Assassin Nation, Vol. 1: Number One With a Bullet

Did Not Finish

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
Kink: Stories edited by R.O. Kwan & Garth Greenwell
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories by Mariana Enríquez, transl. by Megan McDowell
My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (attempted reread)


BEST STORIES

Books

Kushiel’s Chosen
Paladin of Souls
In the Garden of Spite
Cinnamon and Gunpowder
The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry

Comics & Picture Books

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile
DCeased
Park Bench
Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu
Conspiracy of Ravens

BEST WRITING

Cinnamon and Gunpowder
Paladin of Souls
In the Garden of Spite
Kushiel’s Chosen
Black Buck

Best Narration (audiobooks)

A Game of Thrones [reread] — narr. by Roy Dotrice
Eragon [reread] — narr. by Gerard Doyle
The Goblin Emperor [reread] — narr. by Kyle McCarley
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow [reread] — narr. by Gemma Whelan
The Duke and I — narr. by Rosalyn Landor

Best Illustrations (comics & illustrated books)

Ramayana: Divine Loophole
1602: Witch Hunter Angela
The Widow’s Broom
Deadpool: World’s Greatest, Vol. 1: Millionaire With a Mouth
Moonstruck, Vol. 2: Some Enchanted Evening

Most Outstanding Character(s)/People

Phèdre from Kushiel’s Chosen
Delly from The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry
Sand dan Glokta from The Blade Itself
Chef Owen Wedgwood from Cinnamon and Gunpowder
Pirate Hannah Mabbot from Cinnamon and Gunpowder

Great Worldbuilding

Kushiel’s Chosen
Paladin of Souls
Before the Devil Breaks You
Renegade’s Magic
Raybearer

Most Fitting Titles

DCeased
In the Garden of Spite
Paladin of Souls
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

Most Unique/Impactful Stories

Black Buck [impactful]
DCeased [unique]
Park Bench [unique]

Awesome Covers

The Beautiful Ones
The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry
DCeased
1602: Witch Hunter Angela
Oona


Reading Challenges Hits ‘n’ Misses

**2021 reading challenges announcement**

GOODREADS CHALLENGE

Goal: 50
Read: 66
Success or Fail

Books I MUST Read in 2021

Goal: 8
Read: 0
Success or Fail

Read Some Comics/Graphic Novels

Goal: 20
Read: 18
Success or Fail

Read some picture books

Goal: 8
Read: 10
Success or Fail

Pick Up a Classic

Goal: 4
Read: 0
Success or Fail

Three Terrifying Reads

Goal: 3
Read: 3
Success or Fail

Where Are the Middle Grade Ones?

Goal: 12
Read: 5
Success or Fail

Turtle Recall

Goal: 5
Read: 2
Success or Fail

Read My Own Stuff

Goal: 30
Read: 18
Success or Fail


READING STATS

Read = 66
Reread = 10
DNF = 7
**“Read” includes rereads.**

LONGEST | SHORTEST

A Clash of Kings = 1010 pages
Oona = 32 pages
**These picture books were also 32 pages long: The Widow’s Broom, The Tea Party in the Woods, The Way Home in the Night, The Storm.

Most Popular | Least Popular
**According to Goodreads**

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (MinaLima edition) = 10,405,868 people have shelved it
Grand Isle = 28 people have shelved it

Format

Physical = 41
E-books = 14
Audio = 11

Genre

Fantasy = 41
Contemporary = 6
Romance = 6
Horror = 3
Mystery = 2
Nonfiction = 2
Thriller = 2
Historical = 1
Humor = 1
Paranormal = 1
SciFi = 1

Age Group

Adult = 39
YA = 8
MG = 10
Kids = 9

Protagonist Gender

Female = 28
Male = 25
Ensemble = 12
Unknown = 1

Author Gender

Female = 35
Male = 28
Both = 2
Nonbinary = 1

Ownership

Mine (bought before January 1, 2021) = 18
New (bought on/after January 1, 2021) = 15
Library = 25
ARC = 7
Free = 0
Other Loan = 1


OTHER STATS

BOOKS BY MONTH

These numbers reflect well my reading struggles in 2021. The numbers for January to April show my typical reading numbers, while the sharp increase in May of 15 books read reflect my participation in Wyrd & Wonder. I always have a great time with that reading event. But after that, things got shaky.

June was another typical reading month, but July was a slump and the 3 books read reflects that. Things began to look up in August so that by September I felt as if I was back on track when I participated in the Magical Readathon, but struggles in my personal life seeped into my reading, so I only managed to read one thing in October, not much in November, and barely hit my average in December by rereading comfort reads via audiobooks.

66 isn’t a bad number. That’s still a lot of books read, but it’s been a rocky year reading-wise, so I kind of feel like I didn’t achieve much.

Book Type

Novel = 36
Graphic Trade = 17
Picture Book = 10
Comic Book = 1
Novella = 1
Anthology = 1

I’m plenty proud of myself that I managed to read 10 picture books. I own so many that I’d like to put a dent in that bit of my TBR and this is a start, although maybe half of that 10 are books from the library.

I now consider a single issue of a comic books as “Comic Book” and bounded volumes as “Graphic Novels.” I only read one single-issue comic last year. I hardly read those, however, because they are often so short. Although I didn’t hit my goal to read 20 comics, I’m happy that I read 18 of them. As with the picture books, I own many and would like to read a bunch of those I own.

Regarding series… I started many new ones in 2021 and completed only two.

Page Length

I mostly read books of average or short lengths. I hadn’t realized that until now (although StoryGraph kept telling me this was my preference, which I refused to believe… until now). These days, it seems that the longer books I read — those over 900 pages — are usually rereads. I’d like to change that and read more longer works.

As for the years the books were published, I read only one thing that was published in the 1980s, and that’s as far back as I went. Eight books were published in the 1990s, and everything else was published in the 2000s, the majority being in 2010 (33 books published then) and 2021 (18 books published then).

Rating

5 stars = 18
4.5 stars = 0
4 stars = 8
3.5 stars = 7
3 stars = 24
2.5 stars = 5
2 stars = 4
1.5 stars = 0
1 star = 0

It seems that I favored giving out 5 stars or 3 stars, so the books I read last year were either great or average reads. That’s good. I guess I read a decent bunch of books. I didn’t read any that was so horrid that I’d have to curse with just 1 star.

Author Countries

As is typical, I mostly read books by authors from the U.S. and the U.K. I seriously need to diversify more. I also read books by authors from these countries:

Canada
Australia
France
Belgium
Norway
Japan
Ireland
Mexico
New Zealand

That was a lot stuff. I don’t expect anyone to read it all, but whether you did or just skimmed, thank you. 🙂


READING PLANS FOR THE NEW YEAR

Spend less.
Read more of my own books.


THE BOOKS OF 2021

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.

Continue reading “2021 End of Year Book Survey”

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.

Continue reading “ZeZee’s Disappointing Reads of 2021”

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.

Continue reading “Zezee’s Most Memorable Reads of 2021”

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.

Continue reading “ZeZee’s Favorite Reads of 2021”

Reflecting on 2021: Life

2021 was quite a year, and it ended on such a surprising and busy note that I’m still reeling from it and feel unprepared for 2022.

The end of 2021 was a busy time, so much so that I haven’t done a monthly roundup post on here since October and am very unprepared for the roundup and “best of” lists that we all tend to post this time of year. It’s now the second week in January, and that’s when I’ve finally gotten around to putting up this reflection on life in 2021.

2021 wasn’t quite the recovery from 2020 that we all hoped for. It certainly wasn’t in my personal life. The fall months were especially hard for me. Things became stressful and my anxiety grew, but, with help and lots of motivation from friends and family, I was able to stick to my goals and managed to make some amazing moves by the end of the year.

Continue reading “Reflecting on 2021: Life”

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.

Continue reading “Christmas Eve Book Tag”

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.

Continue reading “Christmas Characters Tag”

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).

Continue reading “Top 5 Tuesday #68: Top 5 New Authors of 2021”

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.

Continue reading “Holiday Drinks Book Tag”