Carrying on with my end of year posts with this lovely number. Today I am highlighting a couple of different books all which left me with a variety of different experiences this reading year. We have some incredible reads that will stay with me forever and then some just straight up not good books. Let’s jump right in!
The Most Surprising Books of 2021!
Lore Olympus Season 1 – Rachel Smythe
I read this WebToon really early into 2021. It was a spur of the moment decision after seeing it all over social media and I am so glad I decided to give it a go. The reason it comes under most surprising is, while I thought I would enjoy this comic, I didn’t expect to be as invested as I am. I follow loads of social media accounts dedicated to this series, I talk about it every week with a colleague of mine at work, I pre-ordered the graphic novel and plan to pre-order the second book. The first thing I do every Sunday morning is log onto WebToon and read the most recent episode. I am so dedicated to this series, to the point where I was genuinely heartbroken when Rachel Smythe accounted her 4 month-ish break from uploading. Though I completely understand and respect why she is doing this and whole-heartedly support it I am just so invested in the series and I want to know how it all ends.
Orange Complete Series – Ichigo Takano
On paper I should not have loved this series. This is a contemporary romance set in a high school with strong themes of mental illness and mentions of suicide. All things that don’t really appeal to me or I can personally only handle on a smaller scale. Going into this I was intrigued to see if I liked it and it was also around the time I really started focusing on getting more into comics and manga. The reason it made it onto this list was due to how much it surprised me that I loved it as much as I did. I was super invested in the characters and the plot and while the romance didn’t overly grab me, the friendships were so beautiful that I connected with the characters so wholly. I did not think I was going to love this as much as I did and I treasure my copies of this series.
Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
I picked this book up due to how much hype it was getting on BookTwitter. It seemed right up my alley so I was super excited to read it. The reason it made it onto my list was because nothing and I mean NOTHING!!!!! could have prepared me for the direction that this plot went. I should have filmed myself reading it because the amount of times I picked up and then immediately put it down because of something crazy that just happened was numerous. I read this book in 2 days I was OBSESSED. It was amazing but my god. You would not guess where this plot goes and for that I loved it!
The Most Disappointing Books of 2021!
Breach of Peace – Daniel B. Greene
Now this one hurt me. I absolutely love Daniel Greene. I owe a lot to his YouTube channel and to him specifically. He is the reason I got into the Mistborn and Wheel of Time series, two series which has shaped me personally and mean a lot to me as a reader. I bought his debut novella because I really wanted to support his venture into being a writer but sadly I just didn’t love it. I wanted more of everything from this book. More world-building, more character development, more plot development and I feel writing a novella really restricted what you could do and how far you could go with the story. I couldn’t connect to the characters and I felt the plot was quite convenient. I just felt with more time and more pages/detail this could have been a stronger book. I just really wanted to love it as I am such a fan of the author so I was pretty disappointed when I got round to it.
Labyrinth Coronation: Volume 1 – Simon Spurrier, Daniel Bayliss and Dan Jackson
The Labyrinth film is one of my all-time favourite films so when I heard they were writing a comic series giving the origin of the villain of the movie I was ready to go. I was buckled into my seat. But when I got round to reading the first issue I was really bored. I felt the story was rushed, I didn’t really connect to any of the characters and neither did I feel that we really had enough time with any of them. After I finished the volume I was just left feeling average and unsatisfied. Which is a shame as I love the film the comic was based on and was excited to read a new story set in the world.
Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo
I finally gave into the crazy amount of hype and read this book just before the show came out and this book was just not good at all. The only way I can describe it was it felt like I was reading an outline of a book not the actual finished product. I wanted there to be more world-building, more character backstory just more detail in general. This novel felt very surface level I just felt like loads were missing from this book. The only reason it didn’t make it to my worst list was because I liked the discussion surrounding The Darkling and how he can manipulate people into his service. The discussion of how good-looking older men can prey on un-assuming and innocent young women. Because of that bit only, it saves itself from being my worst book list.
The Worst Book of 2021!
The Plague Letters – V.L. Valentine
I hate to say it but this was one of the worst books I have ever read. I have read a good number of murder mysteries in my time. Quite a lot of them historical mysteries as well. I really enjoy the genre, so I picked this up super excited to read and uncover the mystery but it was just so boring. This book is marketed as a murder mystery set during a plague but the majority of the book is spent watching the protagonist fawn over a woman who is so obviously using him, it just became so hard and painful to read. Like no actual solving happens for about 60% of the book. And when we did start investigating the mystery more, the mystery itself was super lacklustre with an unsatisfying conclusion! The characters were all incredibly unlikable and I didn’t connect to any of them, the only thing that got me reading to the end was because of how fast-paced it was. That being said the structure of this novel was all over the place I got confused on who were suspects, what the motive was etc. Not a great time at all.