BOOK LIST 2021

I’m a big reader, always have been and hope always will be!

I read for pleasure, I love zoning out, entering the world of the book and getting lost in the pages. I read mostly fiction although I do love a memoir/autobiography and travel stories.
Last year I read around 20 books and when I look back at that list, I only remember what happened and my thoughts on a few of them. This year I want to start keeping track of what I’ve read and giving my own rating of the book.

This blog post will be updated every month this year with the books I’ve read that month. Some will have a little blurb about the book and others will just have my thoughts on it. The books own description that you can look up is always clear and sometimes people just want to read others thoughts on a book that they’ve got their eye on.
I hope you get to add a book or two to your reading list! Happy reading.

JANUARY.

The Seven Sisters Series by Lucinda Riley.
***** 5/5 stars.
This month I finished the final book in this series [at the moment]. A solid 5 stars for me, I loved every book and am jealous of anyone who gets to read them for the first time. These books are about 6 adopted sisters who live in Switzerland with their “Pa and Ma”. Their Pa passes away quite suddenly and leaves behind letters and clues to where each of his adopted daughters are originally from. Each book is the story of a sister finding her way back to her birthplace. Each book takes you to a new part of the world immersing you in the culture and going between the past and present. There are six sisters as Pa always said he didn’t find the seventh sister so there are currently six books but the final book of the series about the missing seventh sister is being released in May… I’m so excited for that but equally sad as its the last one! Definitely recommend getting stuck into these books and as there are six/seven books in total, you’ll be set for awhile.

Aroha by Dr Hinemoa Elder
***** 5/5 stars.
My mum gifted me this book for Christmas and I’m so thankful she did! Dr Hinemoa Elder shares 52 whakataukī, traditional Māori life lessons. The book was both emotional, enlightening and full of lessons. It bought tears to my eyes and a smile to my lips and I loved it from the first to the last page. As much as I learnt, I also connected to a lot of subjects. Its well written, short chapters, easy to follow and so interesting. I recommend that everyone should read the book to learn more about Māori culture, especially all New Zealanders and also Māori people in a place similar to myself of learning where you come from, about your ancestors and who is interested in getting in touch with themselves on a spiritual and wellbeing level. This book really touched my heart and I hope it is read, experienced and absorbed by many many others.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton.
** 2/5 stars.
Following a 32 year olds love life, a cook book writer living in London who joins a dating app and gets ghosted by a guy she was seeing off there. This book was ok. It was an easy read that really didn’t go or end anywhere. Something to read and tune out to after a long day maybe.

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens.
*** 3/5 stars.
Two people born in the same hospital on the same day and one “stole” the others name. They meet later in life and the story goes from there, getting to know about eachothers lives from work, relationships, friends and families. I liked this book, it was a nice easy read.

FEBRUARY.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.
*** 3/5 stars later changing to **** 4/5 stars.
A story following the life and generations of two half sisters from Ghana that don’t know of each other and were brought up in different tribes. The two sisters lead very different lives as one sister stays in Ghana and marries a British official who came to Ghana with the slave trade and the other sold a slave to America. The book dives into racism and slavery from the 18th century to now between Africa and America. Each chapter introduces a new character who tells their story from their generation as the years go on. This book taught me many things and opened my eyes to the slavery between Africa and America. It’s made me more aware of the colonisation of Africa and how some lived during the early centuries. Truthfully I found this book hard to follow and I wanted to rate it more than I did but reading other reviews, it seems like I’m in the minority. 
EDIT: I’m coming back a few weeks after finishing this book as I’ve been thinking back on it and I’m going to give it a 4*** now. Only leaving one star out as the characters are hard to follow. But I’ve found myself thinking back to this book often during the month, slowly understanding it more as time goes on. It’s a really powerful read that will probably stick to you even once you’ve finished it too. 

Olive by Emma Gannon.
*** 3/5 stars.
I like the subject this book explores! A woman in her 30’s who doesn’t want to have children. If you’ve read something similar, please let me know. The book is based around a woman called Olive who’s in her 30’s and doesn’t want to have children. As her close group of girlfriends start settling down and becoming mothers themselves, Olive is constantly faced with the assumptions and questions from others about when she will reproduce. The women all have different struggles when it comes to falling pregnant and having babies and it was interesting to read different views of this. Olive takes us through her internal mind battle of figuring out her feelings between herself, family, girlfriends and long term boyfriend while fallouts, breakups and new connections are made.

Jump by Daniella Moyles.
*** 3/5 stars.
A travel book! Memoir of Irish woman, Daniella. Daniella shares with us her childhood and the path that led her to travel then into her travel stories. I don’t want to give too much away from this book as moments from her upbringing influence her adult life and a lot of it connects into the woman she is today. It’s an interesting book and I enjoyed reading about the places Daniella travelled, what she did there and who she met along the way. I didn’t “feel” too much about it hence the 3 star rating but glad I’ve read it. 

MARCH.

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
**** 4/5 stars.
I read this book as I saw its being made into a TV series and I wanted to read the book first.Following a 1970s rock band from the beginning to end and everything in between. This book is set out like an interview and is easy and engaging to read and follow. I turned page after page, struggling to put it down. Each band member has an interesting life of their own in and out of the band although the book emphasizes the story of the lead singers, Daisy and Billy. Really interesting read with a lot of ups and downs, struggles and celebrations.

Stolen. A Letter to My Captor. By Lucy Christopher.
*** 3/5 stars.
So just over half way through this book I Googled to see if it was a true story. I assumed that it was by the title and description and wanted to see what the main character, Gemma, and her captor, Ty, looked like. The Google answers weren’t too straight forward but I think I reached the conclusion that it’s a fiction book. Teenager Gemma is “stolen” from Bangkok airport in a moment where she is apart from her parents and taken to the red dry lands of Australia. The book is written in the shoes of Gemma to her captor telling him about the way she experienced the days and her feelings and thoughts. I enjoyed the read, it was an easy page turner. The “relationship” between Gemma and Ty keeps it weirdly interesting.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary.
*** 3/5 stars.
When London city life gets too much for hardworking 20 something year old Leena, she proposes a 2 month swap with her grandmother that lives in a little village in Yorkshire.Its a good read with plenty of family issues, relationships and friendships to follow. There’s all the emotions in this book – highs, lows, happy and sad. It was nice to read about an older character getting back into her life approaching 80 and the relationship she and Leena shared. I enjoyed this book as I did her first, The Flat Share, and have added her latest book to my “to read” list as well.

Together by Julie Cohen.
*** 3/5 stars.
Following a relationship from 1962 to 2016, learning about the couple as individuals and their life together along the way. This book took me a few chapters to get into but once I was on a roll, I really looked forward to the next time I could pick it up. The book starts at the end of their story and you read about them backwards that leads to a secret they share between them… that was not what I expected it to be! Good read, not a standard love story.

APRIL.

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbra O’Neal.
***3/5 stars.
I chose this book because the main story line is situated in New Zealand. However the white American author had never been to New Zealand and had some help from who she referred to as a “native Aucklander”. There’s a few things a little off with some of the descriptions here and there and she feels the need to specify a Maori person eg; a Maori boy and a white boy walked passed” which I found a bit odd, there could’ve been other ways to acknowledge the Maori culture. There’s a lot of mention of feijoas and L&P. So onto the story – Josie was killed 15 years ago in France in a train attack. That is until she is caught on TV in the news of a club fire in New Zealand which her sister and her mum saw where they live in Santa Cruz. Her sister, Kit, flys to NZ to search for her. But when she gets there, the search is hardly urgent with Kit putting a few dates with a man she meets and morning surfs before trying to find Josie. Their reunion was underwhelming to me. The story goes between their troubled, complicated life growing up to the present. An ok read, enjoyed it for what it is.

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour.
*****5/5 stars.
Loved this book! Darren, who is nicknamed “Buck”, is working at Starbucks on the ground of a big office building in New York and is offered an opportunity from one of the officemen when he challenges his drink order one morning. When Buck finally accepts his offer, his life is picked up and thrown around as he enters the corporate world in a new sales job. The office is hectic, his bosses are unpredictable and Bucks priorities start to shift. He’s put under immense stress and pressure in the job and deals with a lot of racism as he becomes the first black man in the company. The racism in the book is written in a satire way and there’s also some dark humor. I enjoyed reading about Buck coming up against white men in the industry and challenging them at their own game.The way the book is set out keeps it fresh and interesting, a mix of self help, sales manual and pseudo memoir [learned that meaning from this book]. Following his story, I was always engaged, interested and wondering what would happen next. It was a hard book to put down.
As a debut novel, I look forward to reading what else Mateo Askaripour puts out in the world.

Radhika’s Story – Surviving Human Trafficking by Sharon Hendry.
***3/5 stars.
A sad story about a young Nepalese girl who leaves her small village to sell produce in a market in the bigger city nearby as a way to help her family with money. There, she puts her trust in a man that has visited her at the markets for sometime, grooming her into a trusting friendship. She takes up his offer of a “better job” that he can provide her. From that decision, her life takes suhc a turn, being tricked into kidney removal, marraige and pregnancy into prostitution. This story is heartbreaking and it’s scary to think this is one woman’s story out of millions that don’t all have endings like hers.The writing however, I didn’t enjoy so much. It seems rushed and skims over some details. I rated it 3 stars out of 5 for the writing, it’s an important story and it didn’t do it justice. 

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton. 
***2/5 stars.

So I had no idea who Dolly Alderton is, I haven’t listened to either of her podcasts or come across her Instagram before. I read her other book [fiction] “Ghosts” in January and rated it **2/5. Now I’ve read this memoir, I have downloaded a couple of her podcasts and had a look at her Instagram. This was a little more interesting than Ghosts, maybe because it was a memoir. Of course it was mainly about love, as the title says, both with herself and the relationships she’s had. It’s a pretty straight forward read of going through Dollys life and ending in her 30s. I personally didn’t relate to much of it. I don’t have much to say about this book?…

MAY

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth.
I forgot to write about this when I finished it and now I already can’t really remember it! Opps. My apologies.

Other People’s Houses by Kelli Hawkins.
**2/5 stars.

A book about a grieving mother who lost her son while he was young in an unexpected way. She then becomes attached to a family whos open home she visits. One discovery leads to another and shes in deep with the family secrets. I didn’t really enjoy the description of her, her behaviour or motives. It was an ok storyline with a twist here and there but I wouldn’t recommend it.

JUNE 

The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley.

****4/5 stars.
Book number 7 in this series and it was as good as the previous 6 but maybe because I was looking forward to it so much. The story line didn’t keep me as engaged as the previous books but I still enjoyed the read. This was originally meant to be the final book in the series, tie up all the loose ends and answer all the questions. However after 700 pages… there is another book coming out next year! That the author says is definitely the last one. I’m not complaining, I’ll be happy to read on! However while I was writing this review and had my Goodreads page open, I’ve learned that Lucinda Riley has sadly died in her 4 year battle to cancer. Her son, who was co-writing her 8th book of this series with her, will publish it in 2023.
This book is set in Ireland but starts in New Zealand so it was fun for me to read a little about NZ. It follows the search for the missing sister around the world, interesting characters are introduced and places visited. Its book number 7 so I can’t explain much without spoilers.
Still a 5/5 series of books in my opinion.

JULY

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
****4/5 stars.
This was massively hyped on social media and caught my eye with its pretty cover. It was an easy to follow read and I didn’t get bored throughout the book.
The story is set around a family, the Riva’s, and each family member has an interesting story. The main event of the story is the annual party the eldest daughter, Nina, holds at her house. Follow the family and their acquaintances throughout the night as many scenarios and events come to the surface.

Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren.
***3/4 stars.
Good easy read. Read it while actually on summer holiday so its natural I say “good summer read” given that the book is set on a vacation in Hawaii.
Both wedding party and guests go down with a terrible stomach bug at a wedding from the food apart from 2 people, who dislike each other, and they’re given an opportunity to take the honeymoon in Hawaii that the bride and groom can no longer attend. After agreeing to go, navigating around each other gives the story.
I liked the epilog near the end thats written from the other main characters point of view. It would have been even better if the book was split between the two main characters.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover.
****4/5 stars.

Trigger warning – domestic abuse.
Wow this is a great read and really well written. From a place of the author being in a similar situation to the main character she writes. The book is emotional and you really ride the waves of all the feelings. Such an in depth book and very gripping. Highly recommend if you’re comfortable with reading this genre.

You Need to Know by Nicola Moriarty.
****4/5 stars.
Story kept my interest at peak all the way through. About a family who holds many secrets each/between them and the way they work around them. Each family member is described and has their own part in the book that tells their background, what they’re going through and how they link in with everyone else. The story focus on a tragedy that the family are in together and what happens from it and after it.

Eat, Pray, FML by Gabrielle Stone.
**2/5 stars.

An autobiography about a woman who was married, cheated on, went through a divorce, found love again, got heartbroken again and then travelled Europe for a month for self discovery, answers and healing. I came across this book online and it caught my interest with the travel aspect. It was a very “about me” book which I guessed so but I really wanted it to be more about the places she traveled. There were a lot of cringey quotes she seemed to live off. It was an ok book, interesting hook ups and partying to read about. And I am sensitive to that this is her actual life!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
*****5/5 stars.

Loved this book! So captivating from the first to the last page. I read it super quickly as I couldn’t put it down.
Evelyn Hugo, Hollywood star, married 7 times and ready to sell her life story to a young magazine reporter, Monique, before Evelyn dies. Monique sits day after day with Evelyn, listening, writing and putting together her story. So interesting and an ending that succeeded expectations. A must read!
I’ve enjoyed Taylor Jenkins Reids latest books and might look at her older books to read next.

AUGUST

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
***3/5 stars.

A romance. Delves into a relationship with two different men. One, Emmas high school sweetheart husband who went missing during their wedding anniversary and was later declared dead. The other, a high school friend turned fiancé when she decided to move on. The husband comes “back from the dead” after years of keeping himself alive and trying to get back to her and Emma needs to decide who she wants to be with. To continue her marriage or choose her current fiancé? The story goes between the decision of both and I found it pretty interesting. Not life changing but it kept me reading.

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz.
***3/5 stars.
SPOILER!…

3 stars because the ending was disappointing to me. The story had me feeling on edge the whole way through and by the end there was no “plot twist”, the book was just spelling out how the ending would be. I really thought it would turn back and make the main character the bad guy. But it didn’t. A shame about the ending because it was a good suspense thriller that just wasn’t finished to its potential.

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch.
**
2/5 stars.
A very young/teenage read! Just not the right type of book for me.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.
****4/5 stars.
Ok so for some reason I compared this book to Seven Husbands [few books up] and I rated this less. Maybe just not as gripping? But it was a good story and I enjoyed it in itself! The book is set in 1940s New York and follows a family, mostly an aunt [Peg] and niece [Vivian], living at a theatre that Peg owns and runs. The story of drama, family conflict and soul searching is narrated by a 95 year old Vivian, re-living her youth.

SEPTEMBER

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi.
****4/5 stars.
Captivating story set in Jaipur, following a strong woman called Lakshmi who escaped her arranged and abusive marriage at 17 years old and set a life for herself in Jaipur as a henna artist. She creates her art on the well known and wealthy women of the city and is trusted in their homes and with their secrets. When her ex husband shows up out of the blue one day and introduces her to a little girl who is her sister, Lakshmis life changes in an instant. They must adapt to each others life and Lakshmi adds another element to hers by looking after her sister and saving face with her clients. The Goodreads description puts it well with “Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.”

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou.
Most boring book ever. I saw someone recommend it somewhere online and when I read the blurb, it sounded interesting. Billion dollar Silicon Valley start up company that wants to make blood tests faster, cheaper and easier – one problem, their technology doesn’t work. Founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, is now said to have pulled the biggest corporate fraud. Maybe because I’d never heard of the story and scandal before I started reading this book, it holds no significance to me and following the thousands of characters involved just got confusing and tiring. I got 53% through the book before giving up on it.




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