The Books I Started 2021 With

Sunday, 4 April 2021

 


Can you believe it's April already?! This year is going so fast already, I'm pretty sure it was Christmas about three days ago!

If you've read my blog before, you'll probably know that I set myself a goal to read 25 books this year. We're just over three months into 2021 and I've already finished nine books! All these months in lockdown have probably been the contributing factor, but so far I'm definitely on track to hit my 25!

I'm always getting asked by friends for book recommendations, so I thought I would do a little round-up of everything I've read so far, what I thought and a little rating out of 5.

You may have seen me write about some of these books before in my Favourite Reads of the Last Year post - so head over there for more bookish goodness!

Ready? Let's dive in.


Girl, Woman, Other - Bernadine Evaristo

From the top of the country to the bottom, across more than a century of change and growth and struggle and life, Girl, Woman, Other follows twelve very different characters on an entwined journey of discovery.

I LOVED this book. I think Evaristo is a brilliant writer, and although the writing style of this novel took a little bit of getting used to, before long I got so stuck into the story that I barely even noticed. Girl, Woman, Other tackles a multitude of themes like racism, relationships, abuse, class and culture, and it gives the opportunity for the reader to really learn just part of what it means to be a Black woman in Britain. I loved how the characters' stories intertwined at various points too, I was absolutely glued to this book the whole way through.

Rating: 4.5/5

Away With The Penguins - Hazel Prior

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of tea and a good wildlife documentary. And she's never seen without her ruby-red lipstick...
Veronica doesn't have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway... And she has no idea where she's going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies. 
But today... today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change everything.

I devoured this book in just a few days, and I absolutely adored it. I warmed to Veronica straight away, on the surface she's a grumpy old rich woman, but the more you read, you discover that she's headstrong, stubborn and gutsy. The storyline is a little bit out there in places, but I didn't care because I've never read anything like it before! Plus, I LOVE penguins! It's such a funny, heart-warming story which I never wanted to end, that's how you know it was a good book!

Rating: 5/5



In Five Years - Rebecca Searle

Dannie Kohan has held true to her meticulously crafted five-year plan since she understood the concept. On the day she nails the most important interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfec man, she's well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.
But that night Dannie falls asleep and dreams of a night five years in the future where she's engaged to another man. It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real...

As someone who also feels the need to live her life by a five-year plan, and is terrified of not sticking to life's 'schedule', I thought In Five Years would be perfect for me. It's set in New York, with all the glitz of being a twenty-something in the city, which is my Devil-Wears-Prada-dream. And while there were a few instances where I did relate to Dannie, I just didn't find her incredibly likeable. In all honesty, I didn't love any of the characters, I didn't think they had much depth. And because of that, I found it really hard to get properly into the book. Saying that though, it was a nice easy read, and if you're a fan of chick-lit, you may well love it! Just not my favourite.

Rating: 2.5/5



Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say...

You've probably seen Where the Crawdads Sing get a lotttttt of hype. And when a book gets a lot of hype, I tend to worry about starting it, in case I'm disappointed. I'll be honest, it took me a while to get into this one, I had to persevere through the first third to see if it picked up. Once I'd fully warmed to Kya's character I was hooked on her story, and I was desperate to know whether or not she got the ending she deserved. I think it's a really original story concept, a murder-mystery and love story hybrid. One which was worth the hype for me, if you've started it and you're struggling, trust me, stick with it!

Rating: 4/5

Normal People - Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation - awkward but electrifying - something life-changing begins.

Normal People is another one while is really hyped up, and I so badly wanted to love it. But I thought it was just... okay? It was an easy read, but I found the story to be really slow in places and the whole 'will-they-won't-they' narrative just got a bit tedious for me. Unpopular opinion, I know! But I just didn't fall in love with it like a lot of other people have. 

Rating: 2.5/5



Such A Fun Age - Kiley Reid

When Emira is apprehended at a supermarket for 'kidnapping' the white child she's actually babysitting, her employer Alix resolves to make things right. So begins a crash course that will upend everything they think they know - about themselves, each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege. 

I'm not sure I even know where to start when talking about Such A Fun Age. I thought it was incredible. Funny in a lot of places, thought-provoking in many more, and so well-written. I loved Emira as a character, a 26 year old who's still trying to figure herself out (which I can definitely relate to), but she's also strong and sure of herself in equal measure. The themes of the book tackle racism and privilege in a way that made me think about how I would react or think in certain situations, which guides the reader to consider their own privilege, and honestly I think it's essential anti-racism reading. I can't fault Such A Fun Age whatsoever.

Rating: 5/5

The Eve Illusion - Giovanna & Tom Fletcher

After sixteen years imprisoned in the Tower, Eve has escaped with Bram - into the unknown.
Fearing her captors won't rest until she is found, the most famous girl in the world must hide. 
The Freevers - calling for revolution - claim they'll protect her. But is she swapping one prison for another?

For anyone who isn't familiar with the Eve of Man trilogy - written by my favourite celebrity couple ever - it explores the idea of a world where a baby girl isn't born for 50 years - and then Eve arrives. The Eve Illusion is the second in the trilogy, and I started it firm in my opinion that the second instalment of any series is almost always my least favourite. Not this time. The only thing I would say is that I wish I'd read the last couple of chapters of the first book before starting, just to refresh my memory, because I spent the first third of the book slightly confused about who certain characters were and their stories - but apart from that I absolutely loved it. It was exciting, fast-paced and ended on a total cliffhanger, I actually can't wait for the third one! 

Rating - 4/5

Fifty-Fifty - Steve Cavanagh

Alexandra Avellino has just found her father's mutilated body, and needs the police right away. She believes her sister killed him, and that she is still in the house with a knife. Sofia Avellino has just found her father's mutilated body, and needs the police right away. She believes her sister, Alexandra did it, and that she is still in the house, locked in the bathroom. Both women are to go on trial at the same time. A joint trial in front of one jury. But one of these women is lying. One is a murderer.

It's been SO LONG since I read a truly brilliant thriller. While I thought Fifty-Fifty sounded really intriguing, I worried that it would be predictable and cliche. I needn't have worried though. This book is full of twists that I never saw coming, it's fast-paced, gripping and it kept me guessing who the murderer was right up until the very end. If you love a thriller, you need to put this on your To Be Read list!

Reasons To Stay Alive - Matt Haig

This is the true story of how Matt Haig came through crisis, triumphed over a mental illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. Moving, funny and joyous, Reasons To Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

Oh my goodness, how I wish that this book had been around when I first suffered from depression and anxiety way back in 2013. I think when you're in the throes of mental illness, it's so easy to feel like you're totally alone in how you are feeling. But Reasons To Stay Alive is the reminder and the comfort in the knowledge that someone else has felt the way you do, and come out the other side. The chapters are short, it's easy to digest, perfect to dip in and out of when you feel your mental health is taking a wobble. An absolute breath of fresh air, and I know it's one I'll always have a copy of on my shelf to go to when I need it.

Rating: 4/5

What books have you read and enjoyed recently? Let me know in the comments, I always need recommendations!

Love, 
Sian xo

1 comment

  1. Girl Woman Other was absolutely brilliant and beautifully written! I agree with not liking any of the characters in Five Years, but I thought it was well written for a "chic-lit" and I quite like the twists. fifty/fifty and away with the penguins are on my TBR pile xx

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