June went by so quickly – it was a very good month for reading because I had a few unexpected days off work and had plenty of time to read. Plus I’ve been listening to a lot of books in high speed, so I managed to get my TBR to below 130 books, which is quite amazing.
I ended up taking a few days off work from last week until tomorrow, so of course I used the time to read a bit more than usual, relax and enjoy the sun. I’ve also listened to a few audiobooks at speed 2.0x, which means I got through quite a few of them (the house is sparkling clean).
I finished Howl’s Moving Castle, which was such a joy to read! And then the SFF Yeah! podcast episode this week was about the book vs the movie, so that was very fun to listen to.
I also used the extra time to pick up a classic I have wanted to read for a while (The Age of Innocence) and a couple books I’ve had on my radar lately that picked my interest but that I didn’t want to pick up because they weren’t “officially” on my TBR – and I highly enjoyed them.
I wanted to talk today about some of my favorite reads that I don’t feel gets enough space in this blog: crime fiction and non-fiction.
Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been gravitating towards the same few genres – even though I normally read pretty broadly, I’ve been reading a lot more thrillers and mysteries, and even some true crime. I’m going through a lot of those and discussing them with friends and family who also love reading this kind of books as a “comfort” read (I find it an interesting thing that murder can be so comforting… should I tell my therapist? Probably). I haven’t added to this list books that I was interested in but ended up disappointed on, so if it looks like I haven’t read a lot of these, it’s because I’ve had a bit of bad luck with thrillers this year but STILL I am super hyped for these. I have been going through these like crazy and I know I’m not the only one, so if you are looking for some recommendations, some of these I’ve read, most of these I haven’t, but I’m excited for ALL of them.
I have a varied assortment here, from YA horror/mystery to cozy mysteries, translated thrillers and true crime. I hope you find something that calls your name – because oh boy, do I have options!
Nearly half of the year is gone (wow), and I’ve read around 70 books so far – and the ten below are my favorite reads of 2021 as of now. It was very hard to narrow the list down to 10 books only, but these are books, stories and characters I can’t stop recommending and thinking about, and I’m quite sure they’ll show up on my favorites of the year list!
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Louise Maude, Alymer Maude
This intimidating epic was surprisingly readable and fast-paced. I adored this story, which is focused on Anna Karenina, who falls in love with a handsome man despite being married and challenges the societal norms by refusing to be discreet about it or give up her happiness. It’s really a very entertaining story and wonderfully written.
Illusion by Paula Volsky
This is the most charming fantasy I’ve ever read, a standalone story focusing on a young woman who is looking forward to living a glamorous life at court, and suddenly finds herself at the heart of revolution.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
I loved this first installment of The Broken Earth trilogy, which is a post-apocalyptic story about a woman trying to survive, and a young woman finding out about her powers. This was gripping , gritty and full of twists!
The Unseen World by Liz Moore
This is a backlisted title about a woman finding out that her beloved, brilliant father lied about who he was. I loved that this was so focused on coding and computer science, making it such a fascinating read to me!
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
This is a book that definitely deserves its hype: it focuses on two sisters, one who decides to live her life passing as white, and the other who lives as a Black woman and not hiding who she is. This was heartbreaking, wonderful and such a great read.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
I did not expect to love this as much as I did, but its beautiful exploration of grief, religion and working in science really touched my heart. I loved the writing, the story, the main character, the themes it explored. Such a beautiful book.
The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey
This is the second installment on the Perveen Mistry series, which I adore. I remember really liking the first book, but this second somehow just hit all the right spots, being both interesting in its mystery and perfectly cozy, with the smallest hint of romance and a very likable main character that I love reading about. I’m so happy there is a third book out this year!
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Another book I did not expect to love this much! This was a recommendation by my sister and wow, so many plot twists. It also has one of my favorite tropes (which I won’t tell because it’s a bit of a spoiler, I guess) and it was just such fun!
The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey
I knew I was going to like this book because its synopsis is so fascinating and because it had won the Costa Awards – it’s just such a great book! The audiobook was also executed wonderfully, with a bit of haunting music on the narrations by the mermaid (which I think is done in verse in the physical copy) and I had such a great time reading it. It’s about a mermaid that shows up in Black Conch, a woman who has been cursed for millennia to live in the sea, and one day is captured by two men, starting a series of events in the Caribbean island.
Everyone in This Room Will Someday be Dead by Emily R. Austin
This is my favorite disaster woman book of all time – even surpassing my much-beloved The Pisces. It is the story of a lesbian young woman who can’t stop self-sabotaging as her mental health declines. This read like a nightmare, honestly, and it can be a difficult read, but I loved how raw and honest the depiction of her mental illness.
This has been a lighter week at work, so I had a lot more time for reading than usual. I was also quite in a reading mood this weekend so I plowed through The Jasmine Throne, listened to When The Tigers Came Down the Mountain at high speed while going to the supermarket, started both Girl in the Walls and Howl’s Moving Castle. All books I finished this week were solid 4 stars and although I hoped to get at least one 5-star read, it’s still a very good reading week!
This latter one is the result of a Twitter poll I put up on Saturday, which it won by a large margin!
I am a bit late with this post but since it’s Pride month, I think it’s still a perfect time to talk about Sapphic releases! There are all the Sapphic releases I am interested in (whether I’ve read it already or not) and are published in 2021. Let me say, the releases this year are *chef’s kiss*.
I am not really into YA anymore, so there are very few that I decided to include here, but if you like reading YA – there are TONS of amazing new releases!
Without further ado, here are the 2021 releases with Sapphic main characters that I am VERY excited for!
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers Published February 23rd 2021
This is a very popular romance that I am looking so much forward to reading! It tells the story of a young woman who goes to Las Vegas to celebrate getting her PhD in astronomy, gets super drunk and ends up marrying another woman, very different from herself. I love the “first comes marriage, then comes love” trope and I’m also getting grumpy vs sunshine vibes from the synopsis, which is another of my favorite tropes! High hopes for this one.
With Teeth by Kristen Arn Published June 1st 2021
I didn’t realize this was the author of Mostly Dead Things until I googled her! I had my eye on that book for a while until it inexplicably fell off my radar. But this is supposed to have “the warmth and wit of” Mostly Dead Things, which sounds very appealing to me. It’s about family dynamics and focused on a mother, her absent wife and their son, with whom she has a difficult relationship. It’s giving me hard-hitting contemporary vibes and I’m quite curious to pick it up!
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan Expected publication: July 20th 2021
I am VERY excited for this one – it’s an epic set in 14th century China, where two children, brother and sister, are given two fates: for him, greatness; for her, nothing. When the village where they live is attacked, however, the brother dies, and the sister decides to pretend she’s him in order to survive and seek greatness. It’s supposed to be lyrical and intense and I’m dying to get my hands on this!
June is here and I’m still surprised, as every month, that time keeps going by so quickly. I’ve been on the mood for some historical fiction and non-fiction lately, so I picked up a couple of those this week, as well as a F/F romance and a bleak Brazilian classic. All books are quite different from each other, and my reading mood seems to be kind of everywhere (no wonder my TBR is always so long). Still, I’m glad to have taken a 500+ pages book off my TBR!
Also I ran a poll on Twitter about what to read next on audio:
So I picked up Unspeakable Acts as well today! Quite excited to read this, because I haven’t read True Crime in a while and it’s something that my sister usually enjoys reading so we can exchange book recs and impressions!
I am very excited that it’s June! The weather has not been great in May, but hopefully it will be less rainy this month. Reading-wise, I expect this will be a very fun month – I have a varied assortment, including a depressing Brazilian classic, one litfic that will for sure be a tough read, one romance, one fantasy and a historical fiction.
So this is the TBR I’ve decided for this month!
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
Vidas Secas by Graciliano Ramos
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse
Not a very long TBR so that I have some space to pick up books depending on my mood, and I think the selection is varied enough to keep things interesting!
Three Sisters, Three Queens is a carry-over from May, and although the main character is a bit whiny, I always find Philippa Gregory’s books fun and this is no exception – Tudor drama is always very entertaining to read!
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is the last book of the shortlist for the Women’s Prize this year that I have to read before the winner is announced, so I will read it this month and try to predict the winner (I always get it wrong)! I will for sure be correct this time, probably. I mean, statistically, I should be right 17% of the time if I chose a winner at random, so after reading all the shortlist books a few years in a row, you’d expect I’d be right more often than a random guess. *sigh*
Vidas Secas I will be reading together with my husband, my sister and my dad (my mom, having read the book in school, refused to pick it up again, even when my sister and I teamed up and tried to give her enough FOMO to join. Battle-hardened after decades of being victim to our scheming, mom did not bulge. So it’s just the four of us). My husband is reading a German translation, and I just found out that it’s also available in English (translated to Barren Lives), so you can pick it up if you’d like to read it, too!
Finally, Chelle and I will be buddy-reading Girl in the Walls, a book I don’t know much about but I’m excited for – I’ve been thinking of picking up a few thrillers and this sounds like a great pick!