Books,  Reading

First Reading Wrap of 2021

Hi there! I’m kind of surprised I ended up having a good reading month. The first 10 days were a bit rough, but it ended really well, and I loved almost everything I read.

Per my new “not gonna torture myself with books I don’t like” policy, I DNF’ed four books this month.

DNF #1 – (The Mask of Mirrors) mildly interesting but super hard to read fantasy: quit on page 24 of 630
DNF #2 – (The Scavenger) a horror novella that dragged a bit too long: quit on page 13-ish of 84
DNF #3 – (The Countess) dry, textbook-sounding historical novel: quit on page 26 of 284
DNF #4 – (Winterspell) actioned-packed YA fantasy retelling that I couldn’t get invested in: quit on page 174 of 454 (after 3 months of slogging)

I feel empowered. There’s no pressure anymore! I should have started doing this sooner.

Here’s what I finished in January:

1: The Time Weaver
Author: Shana Abé
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2 stars
I guess this is supposed to be romantic. They’re SOULMATES, don’t ya know, but their future together is doomed! Who gives a crap? This was a convoluted, flowery mess with unnecessary POVs and characters I couldn’t connect to because the author couldn’t stop reminding me that their love was DOOOMED. You think a romance with a time hopping MC and dragons would be interesting. Maybe I was just in a bad mood, but this is like a melodramatic, sloppily written historical romance with tacky dragon wallpaper over it. I feel nothing. I am made of the same icy quartz that stupid palace was made out of.

2: Alice in Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll, Audiobook Narrator: B.J. Harrison
Genre: Classic/Children’s
Rating: 4 stars
The narrator did a great job with all the voices and with capturing the atmosphere of whimsy. I haven’t read this book in a long time. It’s a pretty funny story, actually making me laugh out loud. It doesn’t make the most amount of sense, but I guess that’s the point.

3: Death Note: Black Edition, Volume 1
Author: Tsugumi Ohba, Illustrator: Takeshi Obata
Genre: Manga/Supernatural/Horror
Rating: 5 stars
This is SO GOOD! It has way more depth than I was expecting. I’m obsessed and I love it so much. This is about this teenager who finds a Death Note, which is a notebook owned by a god of death. If you write someone’s name in the notebook, and you know what they look like, they die. This particular death god dropped the notebook on purpose because he’s bored, and it falls into the hands of Light who uses it to kill off criminals around the world. Now there’s a manhunt to find him, and the NPA – the National Police Agency, Japan’s FBI equivalent – is working with this guy who goes by L. Both L and Light are geniuses; it’s like a battle of the wits, and it’s so, so good.

4: Death Note: Black Edition, Volume 2
Author: Tsugumi Ohba, Illustrator: Takeshi Obata
Genre: Manga/Supernatural/Horror
Rating: 5 stars
I had to pick up volume two right away! Just when I thought the stakes couldn’t get any higher, all sorts of crazy ish starts going down! So fun. I almost can’t even stand it.

5: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
With the Netflix show arriving in April, I moved this book to the top of my TBR, and you guys, this book made me cry! It’s about this girl in the army and one day these powers spill out of her when her regiment is attacked, and it turns out she’s Grisha – or a soldier with powers – and she’s been unknowingly suppressing it for years. I love this so much. It’s cold and dark and hopeful and wonderful, and even though I knew certain plot points going in, because it was the spoilers that got me to pick up this series in the first place, I was still surprised by so many things and still found myself falling for lies! Very well done.

6: Through the Looking Glass
Author: Lewis Carroll, Audiobook Narrator: B.J. Harrison
Genre: Classic/Children’s
Rating: 4 stars
The narration was, of course, fantastic. Quite high nonsense like Alice in Wonderland, but this one felt more dream-like, transitioning from scene to scene with little or no explanation, much like a dream does, which somehow made it easier to follow. It can also stand completely on its own. Overall fun story.

7: Death Note: Black Edition, Volume 3
Author: Tsugumi Ohba, Illustrator: Takeshi Obata
Genre: Manga/Supernatural/Horror
Rating: 4 stars
I didn’t like this volume as much at the beginning. Things were super chaotic and L, our resident arrogant avenger, was just going too far. WAY too far, and I’ve rather turned on him a bit. Plus the plot took a turn that completely pulled me out the story – like my suspension of disbelief completely slipped, and it took several chapters to get even one wall of it back in place. While the story is still very exciting and intense, I’m a little concerned about the number of forks still left in the road. I’m only halfway through the series. I can’t even imagine the number of twists and turns left to come, but I’m still 100% on board for it.

8: The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia
Author: C.W. Gortner
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
There was no reason not to give this five stars. It’s so well-written. It’s heartbreaking. It’s engaging and dramatic and perfectly-paced. It covers a span of nearly 8 years. We see Lucrezia go from wide-eyed adoration of her father and brother Cesare, and then on through the trials and experiences that lead her to seeing her family for the monsters they are. I almost cried. It was awful. I though the author did a great job balancing fact with speculation and myth and filling in all the blanks in a consistent and believable way. Brava.


  • Tonja Drecker

    Neat that you’re having a ditched list. I end up turning down two this week alone after taking a peek at the first pages…is it us or them? Death Note sounds amazing as does The Vatican Princess. And I didn’t know Shadow and Bone is coming to Netflix! I haven’t read it yet either but have had it in eye-range for awhile. Ugh. I need another me just to read everything. Can’t wait to see what goodies you have for the next month.

    • Krystal Jane

      Yes! Calling it my Ditch List now. ^_^ Maybe it’s both us and them. Lol! Leigh Bardugo is such a great writer! They worked with her to adapt the Six of Crows characters into the same timeline, so now I feel like I need to read before watching the show, but I don’t have a clone either, so we’ll see. Lol! The show drops at the end of April. Tempering expectations. Haha.

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