Books, Comics & Zines I Read in 2021

I’ll be updating this page throughout the year, hoping to meet my reading challenge of 52 books (eligible books are numbered below) and read a lot of the books in my Unread folder. You can follow me on Goodreads too or read about what I read in 2020, 2019 & 2018. Some links to buy are affiliate links. Please note I am a kind and generous reviewer and usually give a 4 star review. I mainly choose books by whatever is under £3 on my wish list and try to keep switching between genres and fiction/non-fiction.

kindle

March

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I remember being so bored watching the movie of this (we gave up half way through) but the Disney+ TV series was cool and made me want to read more about Mercury so I dug this up from the depths of my Kindle. The writing style takes a bit of getting used to but it has a real rhythm to it and pulls you back to the 1960s. It’s a good overview of the Mercury astronauts and missions, plus weaving in the stories of their erstwhile test pilot colleagues flying rocket planes adds a lot of interesting stuff I didn’t know about. All the patriotic good old heroic military men stuff does get a bit tedious though, as is the starry-eyed admiration for their general macho nonsense. [Buy]

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Very similar sequel to his original year long diary of running a second hand bookshop in Wigtown. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable though as enough time has passed that there’s new employees, friends and customers to poke fun at. I also really liked the excerpts from an old parody book about a book seller at the beginning of each month and will need to try and find a copy. [Buy]

Bunny by Mona Awad ⭐️⭐️⭐️
This starts out as a decent college-based book about outsiders vs a weird group of girls who call each other Bunny, but I don’t think anyone could possibly guess where it all goes next and what the bunnies are up to. There’s an incredible chapter written as a stream of consciousness from the mind of a bunny girl that will stay with me for a long time. However, the twist ending was a too obvious that even I guessed it. I was also a bit uncomfortable with the way the bunnies were portrayed as silly, childish and hateable for liking cute things, while another girl who was into punk goth stuff was obviously much smarter and admirable. [Buy]

Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief by Maurice Leblanc ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The (great!) Netflix show made me wonder why I have never read these books, since Castle of Cagliostro is one of my favourite films of all time. They’re in the public domain now so there really is no excuse. As expected, I loved this and it has the same style as other classics of that era with a big debt to Sherlock Holmes (who even makes an appearance!). Great fun and I am already planning to ration the other books so I have more to look forward to. [Free to download]

February

8. Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 2 by Kamome Shirahama 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
This continues to be great so I am in for the long haul now. It’s such a cute and magical story with beautiful art. I was glad to see the other girls getting a bit of the spotlight as the big flaw with the first book was their elitist mean girl attitude. Especially loved them working together to make the cutest spell to escape a dragon! [Buy]

The rest of the month I have been re-reading all the Grishaverse books to be ready for the new Nikolai book and Netflix show. So excited about both.

January

7. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I’ve only read 2 or 3 things by Stephen King as I’m not a horror fan but he’s undoubtably a great writer and this is a really good book. It’s part memoir and part writing advice and both parts are interesting, though the memoirs were probably my favourite. I really got into his origin story of how he became a writer and there’s a bunch of extras at the end including a gripping tale of getting hit by a truck, a look at his real-life editing process and loads of personal book recommendations. The descriptions of some of his own books made me realise they’re not all straight up horror either and I’m going to add a few to my wish list. [Buy]

6. Paradise Kiss: 20th Anniversary Edition by Ai Yazawa 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I don’t usually count re-reads for this challenge (no shade on anyone who does!) but this is a new edition of my favourite manga ever with what appears to be an updated translation, plus some beautiful new full colour illustrations. I was tempted to buy the paperback but I already have the individual books so I got the ebook to read on my iPad. It’s the story of serious student Yukari who gets involved with a group of misfit fashion students and all kinds of drama occurs. I loved catching up with these characters again but they still break my heart (especially adorable super-kawaii Miwako). [Buy]

5. Rescue Me by Sarra Manning ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Even though she only writes adult romance books now, that aren’t generally my thing, I will always give a new Sarra Manning book a go, due to her incredible run of YA novels back in the day. This is a cute romance about 2 people who both fall in love with a rescue dog and agree to co-pawrent it. Of course they end up falling in love with each other too. Even though I’m not a dog person at all, Blossom the staffie is so well written that she’s really the main character and goes through even more character development than the humans. [Buy]

4. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I don’t even remember buying this but I accidentally opened it when choosing my next book and the first page was interesting enough that I kept reading it. The first few chapters set out the circumstances of 3 unsolved crimes and the rest of the book is about the relatives and a private detective who comes to discover they’re all connected. It keeps you guessing all the way through and is generally a good read but it does tend to keep picking the obvious explanation and then adding an extra twist at the end that gets a bit annoying. I enjoyed it but probably won’t read any more of the series. [Buy]

3. The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A real version of the book Alina reads in Shadow & Bone! It’s set out like a book of fables with stories about each saint – either their origin story or a person who called on them. Each story is short and surprising but they do get a bit repetitive so better for dipping into than reading all in one go as I did. Lovely artwork too. [Buy]

2. I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I never read any of Emily Nussbaum’s work when she was writing about the golden age of peak TV so it was cool to catch up and read about some of my favourite programmes. I realise there’s not much you can do about it now, but some pieces are just too short or focused on a specific season that make them a little less interesting so long after. Much better are the long profiles with showrunners and other major TV players including Ryan Murphy, Jenji Kohan and Joan Rivers. I didn’t really know anything about any of these people or their work but they were all fascinating. [Buy]

1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
A treat to begin the year. I follow VE Schwab on social media and went to one of her readings a couple of years ago so have been following this book’s journey for a long time. The tale of a girl who makes a deal with the devil and gets freedom and immortality but is forgotten by everyone as soon as she is out of their sight. I initially felt like this was a pretty good deal until I understood the sneakiness of this bargain in reality – having no home, money, job, possessions, friends and family, or even the ability to create anything or tell your own story. Addie’s journey over 300 years as she finds a way to survive and make some mark on the world is so well done, and then she meets someone who remembers her. I kind of wish I hadn’t waited to read this as I think it got a bit overhyped and could only feel a little disappointing. But I still loved it and look forward to reading it again once the attention has died down a bit. [Buy]