12 Challenge

REVIEW: A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

Narrated by Kate Reading.

Everyone knows Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, prospects, and her life to satisfy scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the mountains of Vystrana, where she made discoveries that would change the world.

First off, I’ve got to say how much I enjoyed the narrator for this book and while I’m sure I’d still have liked A Natural History of Dragons if I’d read a physical copy, the audiobook was brilliant and if/when I carry on with the series, I’ll definitely be doing so via the audiobooks. It brought Isabella’s story to life in a way I wasn’t expecting. The narrator had a wonderful old posh British lady kind of voice and it just worked. It was easy to imagine an elderly woman writing her memoir and throwing in the odd aside about what she’s learnt since and how her attitude towards certain things might’ve changed in the intervening years.

A Natural History of Dragons is a historical fantasy memoir of a fictional character who lives in a world that’s inhabited by dragons. I would say there is not that many dragons in a book titled A Natural History of Dragons but I didn’t mind that. Instead, it’s more character focused as a good portion of the novel is about Isabella’s childhood, how she became obsessed with natural history and dragons and how that hindered/helped her find a suitable man to marry. I liked how A Natural History of Dragons spent time building Isabella as a character and the world around her which often feels like a nineteenth century world. There’s a lot about the upper society and how Isabella doesn’t fit in with her interests and not being very lady-like but still knowing that she needs to marry in order to be a respectable daughter. I liked the struggles Isabella goes through personally just as much as her “professional” ones when she gets involved more with dragons. It’s interesting to see her straddle this line between respectability and following her passions and how love could possibly combine the too.

The main dragon stuff comes in the latter half of the book as Isabella gets to join an expedition to Vystrana. I really liked how while dragons were known and excepted creatures in this world, the people don’t know too much about them. Isabella and her fellow naturalists are what I presume were like the people who first started any animal in our world, especially potentially deadly ones like sharks. It’s clear in the beginning they don’t know a lot and some of their theories are wildly inaccurate while others are the basis of bigger discoveries. I liked how there’s references to things later in Isabella’s life throughout the book but especially when she comments on their research process or ideas and how they might’ve changed over time. I also appreciated the trial and error of their expedition and how Isabella gets into various scrapes due to her impulsiveness.

I really enjoyed A Natural History of Dragons. It’s a book I’ve seen around over the years but the fact it’s a fictionalised memoir did put me off a bit. I’m glad to say I’m wrong and that interesting narrative choice really works, especially via the audiobook. 5/5.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2022

We’re officially half way through the year so it’s time for the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag! I do enjoy doing this tag and taking a moment to check in on my reading goals and seeing how I’m doing with them. I am doing far better with my reading this year compared to this time last year so that’ a huge positive.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2022
Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li
I absolutely adored this book. It’s about art and culture and is about art heists and who museum artifacts should really belong to – the international museums where people can see it, or the country the artifact was originally stolen from. Then there’s the Fast and Furious vibes with a uni student being a street racer but also the found family vibes.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2022
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I haven’t read any new-to-me series this year and have instead been rereading the Saga graphic novel series and The Hunger Games trilogy. I’ve been rereading The Hunger Games on audio from my library, and I haven’t reread Mockingjay yet (my hold comes in later this month) but I was blown away by Catching Fire. I haven’t read the series since the first time I read it about 10 years ago (read the trilogy just before the first film came out) and haven’t seen the films recently either so it’s fun to see what I remember and noticing the foreshadowing now I know how it ends though not necessarily how it gets there. I was surprised by how much happened before it was even announced that former victors would be going back into the Games. So much setup and character work and the alliances that Katniss isn’t really aware of are so interesting and then the Games themselves are thrilling. I honestly think Catching Fire is one of the best sequels ever.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
I’m so bad at keeping up with new releases as I’m so focused on my Read the World Project right now. That being said, I remember seeing When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill everywhere on Twitter when it was due to be released and it definitely sounded like a book I’d like. I don’t have a copy yet (will probably wait till it’s in paperback) but it’s something I am looking forward to reading soonish.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Likewise, I’m often unaware of what books are coming out until I see them sitting in Waterstones. In the latest Top Ten Tuesday I saw The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Alias Emma by Ava Glass featured on a few blogs I visited and both of them sounded interesting, so I’ll try and keep my eye out for them when they are released.

5. Biggest disappointment
Angel Mage by Garth Nix
I love the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix and have read the other odd book by him when I was a teen but nothing outside of that series recently, so I was intrigued to see what I made of this standalone fantasy. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. I never really got attached to any of the characters and I don’t think I’d ever read something where the magic/fantasy aspects were so linked to religion (a kind of Catholicism religion) and that kind of weirded me out and I could never really get my head around the magic system. Plus, I didn’t realise this when I picked it up, but Angel Mage is sort of inspired by/a retelling of the Three Musketeers and that aspect was a bit jarring too. So overall, it just didn’t work for me and if I wasn’t reading it for the Magical Readathon I’d have probably DNF’d it.

6. Biggest surprise
Nina is Not Okay by Shappi Khorsandi
I don’t read contemporary books that often, or at least not contemporary books set in USA/UK (I’ll read any sort of book for my Read the World Project), so Nina is Not Okay which was one of the 12 Books recommended by 12 Friends books was a little out of my comfort zone. It’s about a teenage girl who’s an alcoholic and who may have been raped when drunk but she can’t remember. I found Nina is Not Okay fascinating and frustrating in equal measure and that was down to Nina as a character. She was so unlikable at times, and while I’ve thankful never had any real interaction with an addict, I feel it was a good depiction of their self-destructive tendencies and how there’s no helping someone until they actually want to help themselves. Enjoy would be the wrong word considering the subject matter, but I found the experience of reading Nina is Not Okay a powerful and important one which I didn’t expect.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
Tété-Michel Kpomassie
I don’t really have a favourite new author (or favourite authors in general to be honest) as the only authors I’ve read multiple books from this year are Suzanne Collins and Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples which were both rereads. I will say though out of all the new authors I’ve read this year I’d like to read more from Tété-Michel Kpomassie. I don’t know if his written more travel memoirs, but I really enjoyed An African in Greenland and how he described the different people, places, and cultures he came across and learnt about.

8. Newest fictional crush
I don’t think I have one? Perhaps I’m getting too old for fictional crushes. Will Chen from Portrait of a Thief was certainly charming but neither he nor anyone else I’ve read about was really a crush.

9. Newest favourite character
Peeta Melark – The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Once again, I’m kind of cheating here as Peeta is neither new nor a favourite but he’s the closest fit for this question. I was never Team Peeta or Team Gale (always thought Katniss would end up like Haymitch/with him as platonic besties as they understood each other so well) but I’m definitely liking and appreciating Peeta so much more on reread. He’s so kind and loving and smart, and with hindsight seeing how he can manipulate the audience is a lot of fun.

10. Book that made you cry
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Even though it’s been almost 15 years since it was released, I won’t say too much because I’m nice like that when it comes to spoilers. I will say what made me teary-eyed was to do with a character called Rue and it did surprise me when it happened. I don’t think I had that reaction when I first read The Hunger Games 10 years ago but maybe now knowing how it starts a chain reaction and impacts other characters it hit me more on reread.

11. Book that made you happy
Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by Kyle Buchanan
This is one of those books that if I’d started it earlier in the day, I would’ve read it in one sitting. I absolutely loved Blood, Sweat & Chrome and often found myself with a huge grin on my face with how various parts of the production of Mad Max: Fury Road unfolded. The language used made it feel like all the various members of the cast and crew were just talking to you about their experiences, and how it was put together made the story of how this extraordinary film got made flow really well. It was funny and interesting and I learnt so much about not only how Mad Max: Fury Road was made but filmmaking in general and how Fury Road was so different to a lot of mainstream Hollywood films – they didn’t even have a script with dialogue!

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
This Woven Kingdom by Tarereh Mafi
While I have acquired more books than I should’ve so far this year, there’s not many I’d call beautiful. I haven’t read This Woven Kingdom yet (and I’m not sure if/when I’m going to) but I received it in my now-cancelled Illumicrate subscription earlier this year and it’s definitely the most beautiful book I’ve got. It’s a naked hardcover with foiling and stencilled edges and I’s so different from the standard cover. I wouldn’t have picked up this book based on the standard UK cover, but this one is definitely more eye-catching.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
The end is in sight for my Read the World Project so that’s my focus. I have 11 books to read before the end of September (my new self-imposed deadline) which is totally doable and most of those books are featured in my latest TBR. I still need books for Tuvalu and Monaco so if you happen to know any writers from either of those countries who have work in English, please let me know.

Now for my reading stats. My goal is to read 52 books and review half of that and I’m at 40 books so I’m right on track with that – a long weekend away in a cottage plus some comics/graphic novels has certainly helped with that. I have read 7 of the 12 Books Recommended by 12 Friends challenge and I’m currently reading and very much enjoying book number 8 – A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan.
A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Slade House by David Mitchell
Himself by Jess Kidd
Nina is Not Okay by Shapi Khorsandi
John Dies at the End by David Wong
The Cabinent by Un Su Kim
They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera
Darius the Great is Not OK by Adib Khorram
City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai by Paul French
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

I like to have an equal split when it comes to reading books by men and women but at the moment it’s leaning towards more male authors. While most of the books I have left for my Read the World Project are by men, hopefully once that’s done and I read more different books on my TBR it’ll be more of an equal split. That’s because outside of my Read the World Project, my physical TBR does lean more towards women writers.

The genres I’ve read so far this year are a nice eclectic mix which I’m always happy about. Once I’ve finished my Read the Word Project, I’m interested to see what my taste is when it comes to genres because so much of what I’ve read for the challenge has been historical or non-fiction and I always thought I was a big fantasy fan but that’s not something I’ve picked up as frequently.

How has your reading gone for the first half of the year?

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Summer 2022 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. I love setting a seasonal TBR even though my picks are hardly ever summery, wintery etc. My main focus at the moment is my Read the World Project as my self-imposed deadline is the end of September. I have 11 countries/books still to read so they are my priority. I have eight books on my TBR for my Read the World Project and two for the 12 Books from 12 Friends challenge. If you happen to know of any writers (whether their novelists, non-fiction writers, poets, or playwrights) from Monaco, Liechtenstein, or Tuvalu please let me know – they’re the last countries I need to find some sort of book for.

The Golden Horse: A Novel About Triumph and Tragedy Building the Panama Railroad by Juan David Morgan
My read for Panama is a saga of the events that transpired as a result of the rivalry between New York shipping magnates, William Aspinwall and Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the enormous personal cost that was borne by the people involved in the construction of the Panama Railroad built during the California Gold Rush.

A Spare Life by Lidija Dimkovska
My read for North Macedonia is set in 1984 and follows twins who are conjoined at the head, their life as they grow up considered freaks by even their family, and how they struggle to decide if they want to be surgically separated from one another. I have tried to read this once and couldn’t really get into it at the time because it’s more of a literary fiction style which I don’t read so often but hopefully second time’s a charm.

Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo
My read for Madagascar is the first novel from Madagascar to ever be translated into English and it’s set in the nineteenth century and it’s about the relationship between a slave and his master’s daughter.

Ali and Nino by Kurban Said
My read for Azerbaijan is a novel about a romance between a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and Christian Georgian girl in Baku in the years 1918–1920. Had this one on my kindle for a while and I think a historical star-crossed romance will be a pretty quick read.

Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Balakian
My read for Armenia is memoir about Grigoris Balakian’s eyewitness account of the Armenian Genocide which happened from 1915-1918. I have started this, as in I’ve read the introduction and background info as it is a chunky book about a heavy topic, and I think when I do read it properly I’ll read it in parts so I don’t get too overwhelmed by it.

I, the Supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos
My read for Paraguay is a fictionalised account of the nineteenth-century Paraguayan dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia. Out of all the Read the World Project books I have left to read this is the one I know the least about.

Weeding the Flowerbeds by Sarah Mkhonza
My read for Eswatini is a memoir about Mkhonza’s childhood at a boarding school in the seventies where there’s a lot of strict rules. Another one I did start for a readathon but couldn’t get into at the time. It is a short book at less than 200 pages so if I just sat down and read it I could probably read it in a day.

The Fury and Cries of Women by Angèle Rawiri
My read for Gambon follows Emilienne’s life through her university studies, marriage, children, work, and how she tries to search for what feminism means to her while dealing with cultural expectations and the taboos of sex and motherhood.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
This 12 Challenge book is one I don’t think I’d even heard of before it was recommended to me which is half the fun of the challenge. It looks to be a contemporary YA about a teen who’s struggling with his cultural identity and mental health. I don’t read contemporary YA that often so I’m looking forward to seeing what I make of it.

A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos
One of the 12 Challenge books. This is one I’d definitely seen people talk about online. I know it’s the first book in a fantasy series translated from French and that’s about it to be honest. I don’t really have the time to start new series’ but I’ll give this a go and see if I want to continue with it.

What are you hoping to read over the next few months?

REVIEW: Red Seas, Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Audiobook narrated by Michael Page.

This is the second book in the Gentlemen’s Bastard series, the first being The Lies of Locke Lamora, so there may be vague spoilers for the first book.

After barely making it out of Camorr alive, Lock Lamora and Jean Tannen arrive in the city state of Tal Varrar where they are soon planning to take on the legendary gaming house The Sinspire. No-one has ever taken even a single coin from the Sinspire that wasn’t won on the tables or in the other games of chance on offer there but Locke and Jean plan to change that. The course of crime rarely runs smooth and soon Locke and Jean find themselves entangled in the politics of the city and are coerced into setting sail in order to find some pirates

Red Seas, Under Red Skies is almost a book of two halves and I very much enjoyed both of them. The first follows Locke and Jean about two years after the events of The Lies of Locke Lamora as they are putting the final touches to the long con they’ve been pulling. In that half there’s also flashback chapters to see what happened to them in the first few months after they left Camorr. I’m always impressed by the flashbacks in this series. They never bore me and do a good job of actually adding to the characters and their newly changed dynamic as Locke and Jean have been affected by what happened to them in the first book. The second half is the seafaring adventure as they’re forced to learn how to be passable sailors and go searching for pirates to bring back to the city. It’s like the first half is a city book and while the setting is different to where they grew up, Locke, Jean and you as the reader know what they’re up against and how to rig the system. When it becomes a sea/pirate adventure book, that’s when Locke, Jean and the reader are on uncertain ground as no matter how much charisma and smarts they have, there’s things out to sea that you can’t talk your way out of.

It was fun seeing Locke and Jean out of their element when they’re out to see, but really through the flashbacks you see that they haven’t really been 100% themselves since they left Camorr. They relationship has shifted a but and while they still definitely trust and care about each other (don’t think I’ve read about such ride or die best friends like them for a long time) they aren’t always quite on the same wavelength anymore. Locke especially is unsettled and doesn’t always believe in himself and his schemes and it’s interesting to see him doubt himself and work to overcome that.

There’s a lot going on in Red Seas, Under Red Skies with various outside forces having their own schemes that attempt to ensnare Locke and Jean, but I never felt lost or confused when reading it. There are schemes within schemes and it’s fun to see how things unfold and while there’s certainly surprises, when you think back, the groundwork for them was there and pretty much everything was meretriciously planned.

I love the blend of magic and science in this series. You get to see more of Locke’s bag of tricks and how a pack of playing cards can be more than what they seem. Alchemy is the main sort of “magic” but there’s a few instances where mind control and telepathy may come to play, and when they’re out to see there’s clearly some large, deadly and fantastical creatures in the water.

I love the characters, the world, and the whole vibe of Red Seas, Under Red Skies and this series as a whole. It’s a series I want to take my time with as there’s only three books released but even though it’s been a couple of years since I read the first book, I soon found myself immersed in this world again. Locke and Jean’s character development was so good and interesting and the new characters, especially the new lady pirates, were great too. 5/5.

Asian Readathon 2022 TBR

In May in the United States, it is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and in honour of that Cindy from WithCindy on YouTube created a readathon where the main aim is to read books by Asian authors. Her announcement video explains it all really well and she also has a Google Doc with extra info and resources and there’s a Twitter account for the readathon too.

This year’s challenge is loosely themed around the film Everything Everywhere All At Once (which I can’t wait to see) and is meant to be easy, accessible, and open to interpretation. The reading challenges are:

– Read a book written by an Asian author.
– Read a book featuring an Asian character who is a woman and/or older.
– Read a book by an Asian author that has a universe you would want to experience or a universe that is totally different from yours.
– Read a book by an Asian author that has a cover worthy of googly eyes (aka a gorgeous cover).
– Read a book by an Asian author that has a high rating OR was highly recommended.

These challenges can be combined if you want to make it even easier! There is a twist though. You can combine challenges and read in any order; however, each book you read should feature a character or author of a different Asian ethnicity. This is to encourage cultural diversity. I’ve made a note of each authors nationality/identity as is available online.

Read a book written by an Asian author (though any of these books meet that challenge)

QuixotiQ by Ali Al Saeed (Bahraini)
This is a book I’ve already started once but struggled a bit with but as it’s less than 200 pages I know I can get through it if I just knuckle down and focus on it.

Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Balakian, translated by Peter Balakian (Armenian)
A memoir about Grigoris Balakian’s eyewitness account of the Armenian Genocide which happened from 1915-1918.

Written in Black by K.H. Lim (Bruneian)
A coming-of-age novel offering a snapshot of a few days in the life of ten-year-old Jonathan Lee, attending the funeral of his grandfather, and still reeling from the drama of his mother leaving for Australia and his brother getting kicked out of the house and joining a rock band. I got the ebook of this for cheap recently so it’d be good to read it this month.

Read a book featuring an Asian character who is a woman and/or older (most of these books have female leads though)

Mama Hissa’s Mice by Saud Alsanousi, translated by Sawad Hussain (Kuwaiti)
Three friends who share neither ethnic origin nor religious denomination, get involved in a protest group and one of their grandmothers, Mama Hissa, warns them against it. This is another ebook.

Read a book by an Asian author that has a universe you would want to experience or a universe that is totally different from yours (a few of these books can fit this challenge)

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (Chinese-Canadian)
While the societal aspects of Iron Widow don’t sound great, the world of giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall sounds very cool. Plus, it’s been a wile since I’ve read a sci-fi novel.

Read a book by an Asian author that has a cover worthy of googly eyes

The Cabinet by Un Su Kim, translated by Sean Lin Halbert (South Korean)
This is one of the books from the 12 Books Recommended by 12 Friends Challenge and I have the audiobook. It sounds like a bit of a weird story and I love the cover.

The Beast Player and The Beast Warrior by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano (Japanese)
These two are some of the most gorgeous books I own. This is a YA duology about a girl who discovers she can talk to the huge, magical beasts of her world and becomes entangled in politics and war as she tries to keep herself and the beasts safe.

Read a book by an Asian author that has a high rating OR was highly recommended

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (Chinese-American) and She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (Chinese-Australian)
I’ve heard nothing but good things about both of these books. They’re both fantasy books that are inspired by Chinese history and it’s been a while since I’ve read an historical fantasy epic.

Are you taking part in the Asian Readathon? Or do you have any books by Asian authors on your TBR in general? I would love to hear about them.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Spring 2022 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I love doing these seasonal TBR posts even though I hardly ever read more than three of the books featured in the post before the next seasonal TBR come around. In May I’ve booked myself a short holiday in a cottage where all I plan to do is relax and read so some of these books will definitely be part of my reading plans then.

Watch Us Rise by Ellen Hagan and Renee Watson
One of my favourite subgenres of contemporary YA is the teen feminist YA. It makes me feel good and they’re often very quick reads for me. I especially like them as I just like the thought of teen girls (and boys) reading these books and getting inspired and exposed to ideas that I very rarely read about myself when I was that age.

Dangerous Remedy and Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn
Recently I learnt the third and final book of this trilogy is being released in June so I thought I should probably read these two for the first time. I’m so bad at reading series nowadays that I only tend to start them when all books are out or the final books is set to be released imminently. My copies are two very pretty Illumicrate editions so I hope I like the actual story.

The Desert and the Drum by Mbarek Ould Beyrouk
My read for Mauritania for my Read the World Project. This is another book where I think I read the first chapter but wasn’t in the right mindset to continue. I did like the writing style and think it’ll be the kind of book that’s very readable.

QuixotiQ by Ali Al Saeed
This is for Bahrain for my Read the World Project and I started reading it last year and found it a bit of a weird story as the way it was written made me unsure if what characters were experiencing was real or almost some sort of simulation. It’s not a particularly long book so if I just knuckled down, I could probably get my head around it and read it quickly.

The Fury and Cries of Women by Angèle Rawiri
My read for Gabon. I believe The Fury and Cries of Women follows Emilienne’s life through her university studies, marriage, children, work, and how she tries to search for what feminism means to her while dealing with cultural expectations and the taboos of sex and motherhood. I have a fair few ebooks for my Read the World Project that I just haven’t been reading as they’re almost easy to forget about as I don’t have a physical copy. This year I’ve been using my kindle a lot more so I hope to get to this one soon.

City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai by Paul French
This is one of my books for the 12 books recommended by 12 friends thing I’m doing this year – I’m pleasantly surprised by how well I’m doing with that challenge as I’ve already read three of them. This is a true crime book about 1930s Shanghai and the two men who built their own criminal empire there before it came tumbling down.

Jade City by Fonda Lee
As I said, I’m not good with series but now all the books are out and I have the option to binge read the series if I do love it. I think I’m finally ready to give this much-loved series a try. I went to Waterstones on World Book Day and finally picked up a copy, there was a double points offer on so it’d be rude not to.

Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo
This is the first novel from Madagascar to ever be translated into English and it’s set in the nineteenth century and it’s about the relationship between a slave and his master’s daughter. It’s another ebook that I hope to read soon.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
I’ve heard nothing bit great things about Legendborn and as the sequel is out later this year, now feels like a great time to finally read it. Plus, the TV show Merlin was one of my favourite things when I was a teenager so I’m always down for an Arthurian retelling/twist.

What books are you hoping to get to soon?

My Reading in 2021 and my Bookish Goals for 2022

It’s the second week of January so it’s about time I took a look back at what I read in 2021, if I met my reading goals (spoiler alert I did not) and what my bookish plans for 2022 are. Like I said when it came to my film watching last year, I think 2021 is when things started to take a bit of a toll and I was very slumpy when it came to my reading especially. I know I didn’t make the time for reading like I have done previously and instead would scroll through social media or watch TV shows.

My 2021 reading goal was to read 52 books but I missed that by a fair bit and ended up reading 42 books of which four were rereads. 42 books isn’t terrible but for me it’s the least amount of books I’ve read in a year since when I was at university where reading for fun took a back seat. I reviewed 36 of them which is more than half so I am happy about that. Side note: on Goodreads and The StoryGraph (which I’m still learning to use and am happy to friend/follow people on there) it says I read 41 books as Why the Sky Moved Away from the Earth by Christine Gnimagnon Adjahi isn’t in their database and I’ve been having some trouble adding it so that’s why my numbers don’t tally up there. As I haven’t really read a lot and not a lot really stuck out to me I haven’t actually done a top ten books of the year but I’ve got a full list of what I’ve read with links to all my reviews if you’d like to see my thoughts on them.

I didn’t have any challenges or big goals in 2021 besides my Read the World Project and trying to get my TBR down. At the start of 2022 I had 41 countries left for my Read the World Project meaning I read 29 books/countries in 2021 and that made up more than half of my reading last year. I ended 2021 with 88 books on my physical/digital TBR which is the exact number I started 2021 with! I didn’t know that until I was looking at last year’s goals and was very surprise by that stat. So while I’ve read books, acquired books, and donated a whole lot of books when I came to terms with the fact I was never going to read them, my actual TBR number hasn’t changed. Quite impressive really.

I like to read an equal amount of books from male and female writers with the presumption that if it’s going to skew one way it’d be towards women and that’s what happened in 2021. I didn’t have a target in mind for how many authors of colour I wanted to read but it ended up being an exact 50/50 split between white authors and authors of colour. Honestly, I probably couldn’t have done that if I’d have tried. The only authors I read multiple books from were Garth Nix and Leigh Bardugo so if we’re going with authors in general, not by their books, I read more different authors of colour in 2021 than different white authors. I hope that makes sense.

Now for my 2022 reading goals.

The main thing is finishing my Read the World Project. I’ve already said I’m extending my deadline until I turn 31 which is at the end of September so that’s pretty much nine months to read 40 (I’ve already read one book this year) books before then. Honestly, I do think it’s doable. I just need to put time aside for reading. A lot of the books I’ve got for this project are on the shorter side at 300 pages or less so I know if I didn’t get distracted, I could probably read a couple of them a week. There are 14 countries I still need to find a book for but I think that’s doable and, in the meantime, I have 26 books/countries to keep me busy.

I will set my Goodreads goal at 52 yet again (maybe this time I’ll hit it) and will aim to review half of all I read. As I review all my Read the World books that should definitely be done. I’ll again suggest getting my TBR down to 75 but we’ll see how that goes. Last year I started getting the book-only Illumicrate subscription from about February I think and to be honest I’ve skipped one month and only read one of the books I’ve been sent. So, in the 10 books I’ve acquired through that, I’ve still got 9 on my TBR. While it’s nice to get a brand-new hardback book that often has a fair bit of hype around it I don’t see the point of me continuing to pay for the subscription if I don’t read the books promptly, especially when they are not my priority at the minute. So this is a sort of note to myself to not have my subscription automatically renewed in a few months and to maybe try and read at least a couple of the books I’ve received via Illumicrate before 2022 is over.

The final challenge I’ve got is the 12 Challenge that was on Instagram/Twitter – 12 months to read 12 books recommended by 12 friends. These are the books that was recommended to me for this challenge:
A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Slade House by David Mitchell
Himself by Jess Kidd
Nina is Not Okay by Shapi Khorsandi
John Dies at the End by David Wong
The Cabinent by Un Su Kim
They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera
Darius the Great is Not OK by Adib Khorram
City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai by Paul French
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Seven of them are available via my library and two of them I already own so I may have to buy copies of three of them in the year at some point.

Those are my reading goals for 2022. Generally, they’re pretty simple ones and it’s the 12 Challenge that will be pushing me out of my comfort zone a bit. I want to focus up on my reading and try and spend at least 30 minutes a day reading – something that is pretty easy to do if I just put my phone down. Do you have any reading goals for 2022? I’d love to hear them.