2021 End of Year Book Survey: Part II & III

It’s time for parts 2 & 3 of the End of Year Book Survey! This part of the survey looks more at blogging and future planning but you can check out part one for my 2021 Stats & ‘Best in Books’!

The End of Year Book Survey was originally created by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner.

New favourite book blog/bookstagram/youtube channel you discovered in 2021?

I didn’t do half as much blog hopping this year as I had planned so there were only a few new bloggers that I discovered but I’m so glad that I discovered them! They produce great content and write great reviews, so you should definitely check them out: Nick @ Infinite Limits of Love, Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse, Kerri @ Kerri McBookNerd , Lia @ An Ode to Fiction, Maria @ The Character Study, Georgia @ Lost in Neverland, Hasini @ Bibliosini, Sam @ We Live and Breathe Books, and Lori @ Fifty-two!

I also have to give a special shout out to my favourites on here because they’ve made this reading year even more incredible with buddy reads and great chats: Leslie @ Books Are the New Black, Julie @ One Book More, Jess @ Jessticulates, Becky @ Becky’s Book Blog and Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den!

I also started watching my fair share of booktube this year and these three were my favourites:

Jess

Gavin

Jack


Favourite post you wrote in 2021?

I’m not usually good at boosting my own stuff? But there were a few posts that I really enjoyed making and two reviews that I’m particularly proud of, even though they’re a bit lot on the long, I couldn’t help gushing about the books because I loved them *so much*!


I didn’t take a lot of bookish related photos this year but I did do a book look for my stop on the Cast in Firelight blog tour, a photo of my newly reorganised bookshelf (that didn’t last long lol) and another photo of one of the (very) few hauls I did this year!


Best bookish event that you participated in
(author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

There were none this year (but are there ever any events? no… lol) 🥲


Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2021?

I don’t know if I can really say whether I had a “best” moment because my blogging and reading life felt pretty low key in 2021. I guess one of the best moments I felt was when I came back from my extended hiatus to find that there were still people following my blog? 😂 I still feel the imposter syndrome pretty often, especially when things felt really tough this year, but yeah… I’m just thankful for all of you who engage with this weird third culture kid across the sea! ❤️


Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Oof, I’ve said it a million times already but this year was a weird one and I felt it on both the blogging and reading front. I planned to take a short break early on in the year which then turned into a several-month-long hiatus which I apparently really needed! It wasn’t a smooth journey diving back into blogging but I found my groove again after a while. I still question why I’m producing anything at times because my engagements weren’t what they were before, but I love this community and I’m still glad to be here. In terms of reading, I was stuck with a weird reading mood that didn’t disappear until… well, it didn’t really disappear all year! 😂 While I’d normally read a pretty balanced mix of fantasies and romances, I could hardly focus on anything except the latter all year and without them I probably would’ve read next to nothing in 2021. 🙈 I’m planning to try reintroducing more fantasy into my life this year but if not, I’m totally okay with mainly reading romances!


Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views?)

The most liked post on my blog this year was my Top Ten Tuesday: Goals & Hopes for 2021! The post with the most comments was also a Top Ten Tuesday: Re-reading 5-star Books Like It Was the First Time.


Post you wished got a little more love?

As with every year so far, my reviews always get the lowest views out of all the posts on my blog. I’m also sure that because I took an extended hiatus this year, my stats dropped considerably but again, I’m just glad that anyone stuck around. ❤️


I gotta be honest, I didn’t really discover any new book related sites or book stores this year because I didn’t really do much retail therapy (surprisingly!) and outside of work, I spent very little time online and engaging. 🙈 Boring, I know!


Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Well, I can say with certainty that I didn’t reach many of the reading/blogging goals I set myself this year. Some of the reasons why were out of my control and the others… Well, it just didn’t happen and that’s fine! The one goal that I did surpass was my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I set my goal for 150 books in 2021 and I ended up reading 199 (welp, that one to 200 😂). I’m happy I at least did that!


One book you didn’t get to in 2021 but will be your number 1 priority in 2022?

I’ve technically been reading She Who Became the Sun for… A long time now. It’s been on my “currently reading” list since I picked it up mid-year and I’m disappointed that I haven’t finished it yet but as I’ve mentioned, I really struggled with fantasy last year. I’m definitely going to prioritise it this year and I do hope I love it as much as everyone else seemed to!


Book you are most anticipating for 2022 (non-debut)?

Ooh, there’s not just one book I’m highly anticipating! I’ve just made a list of ten but here are ten more that I’m really looking forward to this year:


2022 debut you are most anticipating?

A Magic Steeped in Poison isn’t my most anticipated debut because it has the most gorgeous cover but it definitely doesn’t hurt! 😂


Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2022?

I’m really looking forward to reading Bound by Firelight, the second and final book in the Wickery duology.


One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2022?

I wrote last year that I wanted to spend more time engaging in the book community and sadly, I didn’t do as much as I’d like. So I think I’m going to keep this goal the same! I hope to be more active in the book community and engage with more amazing book lovers!


A 2022 release you’ve already read & recommend to everyone (if applicable)

I’ve only read two 2022 releases (I’m so behind please don’t judge) and one I didn’t quite enjoy and the other I absolutely loved but haven’t gushed much about yet.

If you’re looking for a sweet and adorable graphic novel to read this year I’d highly recommend Chef’s Kiss! It’s got great friendships, realistic and relatable adulting situations post-uni life, and a very sweet MM romance. Not to mention all the food!

And that’s a wrap on 2021, folks!

So, that’s the last bit of the End of Year Survey. I actually feel like there are maybe some things that I haven’t reflected on yet in this wrap-up—mostly to do with my 2021 goals—but that’s OK. Maybe I’ll do a separate post for that. I can’t believe 2021 is already over and we’ve started another new year, sadly with the same circumstances. That said, I hope 2022 gets better and is kinder to all of us!

How was your year of reading and blogging in 2021? What was your best blogging or book-related moment? Is there anything that you’re really looking forward to or something you really want to achieve in 2022?

December 2021 Monthly Wrap Up

Happy New Year, friends! 🥳

I can’t believe that it’s already the last day of December as I write this. How quickly time does fly! I’ve spent my month in Bali reunited with the parents in our newly renovated home. My sister has been with me and my brother recently joined us and for the first time in a very long time, it’s the five of us under one roof again. It’s been a little… overwhelming at times (lol) but it’s also been nice! 😊 We’ve been really lucky that the sun has been shining more than it has been raining which gives us time to soak up some vitamin D after a year stuck indoors.

This month was also my last month of work and… It was a bittersweet moment. Five years of my life with this organisation and its been tough a lot of the time but I know I’ve been lucky to have a well-paying job that allowed me to indulge in my pretty expensive love of books (especially pretty special edition ones)! 😂 Let’s hope 2022 brings something good my way on the employment front.

I ended up reading 26 books in December and all of them were romances. I’m not usually as a seasonal reader but apparently holiday romances have been my thing this month and I’m not mad about it at all! For the most part, I enjoyed most of the ones I read but there were a few duds that weren’t my jam or ended up being a let down (for me). I think this might be the most I’ve read out of any month this year and what a great way to end 2021, especially considering how weird my reading mood has been all year!

In terms of favourites, this month saw me reading two of my favourites for the year: The Love Hypothesis and Battle Royal! I loved these books so much and both book couples are some of my new favourites. There are so many feel good and swoontastic moments in these books and I can’t stop gushing about them! 😍

The Love Hypothesis

Battle Royal

Read More »

Mini-Reviews: Steamy Holiday Romances

I’m not much of a seasonal reader but the holiday romances have really worked for me this particular holiday season! Having spent the majority of my life living in the tropics, with a few years here and there in countries with four seasons, I actually do miss the cold weather and these reads have allowed me to immerse myself in both holiday cheer and snowy settings.

Dipped in Holly by Dana Isaly

Goodreads: Dipped in Holly
Publication Date: 17 December 2021
Genre:
Contemporary Romance, Erotica

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Holly was just dumped.
Less than a week before Christmas. In public. Dressed as a slutty Mrs. Claus.
All she wants is to hide in the bathroom and have a breakdown in peace.
But the Silver Fox who owns the bar has other plans.

The moment Nick takes in Holly’s grey eyes and sassy attitude, he’s hooked.
There’s no denying the attraction that has sparked between them.
And when that tension finally snaps, he finds himself taking Holly to bed.
A kinky one night stand later, and they’re left questioning if it was enough.

Read More »

Book Review: The Plight Before Christmas by Kate Stewart

Goodreads: The Plight Before Christmas
Published: 19 December 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Clark Griswold was onto something, at least with his annual holiday meltdown. And since the last three weeks of my life have been riddled with humbug—another breakup, a broken toe, an office promotion I deserved and didn’t get—I’m not at all in the mood to celebrate nor have the happ, happ, happiest Christmas EVER.

When Mom insisted that we all gather at my Grandparent’s ancient cabin for an old school family Christmas, I fully intended to get into the holiday spirit with the help of the three wise men, Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels, and Jim Beam. But those boys did absolutely nothing to offset the shock or temper the sting of seeing my EX on our doorstep the first day of our holiday soiree.

Apparently, Santa missed the memo, and this elf is pissed.
Stuck for a week with the man who obliterated my heart nearly two decades ago, I did the only thing I could do and put on my game face, thankful for the home advantage.

I knew better than to drink that last cup of eggnog.
I knew better than to get tongue tangled beneath the mistletoe with the only man to ever break my heart.
I knew better than to sleep with Satan’s wingman on the eve of the Lord’s birthday.

I could blame the nog. I could blame the deceitful light blue eyes, thick, angelic hair, and panty evaporating smirk…but mostly, I blame Eli because he always knew exactly which of my buttons to push.

I foolishly thought a family Christmas filled with nostalgia was going to turn my inner Scrooge around, but this year’s festivities went up in flames. Leave it to the ghost of my Christmas past to be the one to light the match.

Fa la la la la, la FML. 

Read More »

Book Review: Homecoming King by Penny Reid

Goodreads: Homecoming King (Three Kings #1)
Publisher: Cipher-Naught
Published: 14 December 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Rex “TW” McMurtry’s perpetual single-hood wouldn’t bother him so much if all his ex-girlfriends didn’t keep marrying the very next person they dated, especially when so many of those grooms are his closest friends. He may be a pro-football defensive end for the Chicago Squalls, but the press only wants to talk about how he’s always a groomsman and never a groom. Rex is sick of being the guy before the husband, and he’s most definitely sick of being the best man at all their weddings.

Bartender Abigail McNerny is the gal-pal, the wing-woman, the she-BFF. She’s dated. Once. And once was more than enough. Privy to all the sad stories of her customers, ‘contentment over commitment’ is her motto, and Abby is convinced no one on earth could ever entice her into a romantic relationship . . . except that one guy she’s loved since preschool.

The guy who just walked into her bar.
The guy who doesn’t recognize her.
The guy who is drunk and needs a ride home.
The guy who has a proposition she should definitely refuse.

TL;DR: This was a delightfully binge-able fake-dating/marriage romance that I had a really hard time putting down. Abby and Rex stole my heart and their romance made me swoon and sigh with happiness! I’m eagerly anticipating the next two books in the series, which I’m assuming will be about Cyrus and Alaric(?) and I absolutely cannot wait 😍

I was hooked from the moment I started reading and I sped through this so quickly because the pining and sexual tension were so thick that I needed to know when and how they’d *finally* get together. Abby and Rex were opposites in so many ways but as a result of earlier life experiences that made them feel unworthy, they both struggle to accept that good things won’t always get taken away from them and that they deserve to be happy!

Abby was the absolute sweetest and ugh, I just wanted to give her such a big hug throughout this whole read! Seriously, screw people who thrive on making other peoples lives hell! I’m so glad that she stood up for herself and didn’t allow her douche ex to paralyse her with fear. I was so happy when she finally allowed herself to accept the good things that came her way and embraced her relationship with Rex by taking the first real permanent steps with him. It warmed my heart! I also really loved her relationship with Kaylee and Walker but I definitely could’ve done with much more of them in the story because they were such wonderful support systems for Abby!

Rex was this hulking beast of a man with a little known soft centre, especially when it came to the people he cares for—my favourite kind of hero! This guy had it bad for Abby right from the beginning and one of my favourite parts about angsty romances is when the H/h have to force themselves to be distant because otherwise their major heart-eyes will take over and they’re worried those heart-eyes won’t be reciprocated. That said, while this angst really squeezed my heart to bits, Rex was doling out the distance in spades and it got to the point where when confession time came around, I didn’t think the strength of his feelings were entirely believable only because they spent so little time around each other. Even the majority of their text message exchanges were sparse. Another reason that I didn’t give this 5-stars is that I felt like something was missing and that something was Rex’s POV. I think his POV would’ve really added more to the story since he was so quiet most of the time and I feel like only seeing him from Abby’s POV didn’t do his character justice. I kinda don’t want to say he felt flat but he kind of did… 🙈

That’s not to say that I didn’t love what I saw of Rex though because I really did; especially in the bedroom cos it seemed like a switch flipped and he became this gruff and fairly vocal, dirty-mouthed hero who was down to play fantasies, which was so very different to his usual persona. It was hot! 🥵 Also, their chemistry throughout the whole story was undeniable. Even though they didn’t spend as much time together as I wished they did, whenever they were on the page together, sparks went flying, plus their banter was just so freaking adorable! Their sizzling chemistry is also what made their separation even more angsty and it’s also what made it all the more satisfying when they finally got together—this is definitely a slow-burn though as even their first ‘real’ kiss only happens about 61% and the slow pace continues until the very end, but it’s absolutely worth the anticipation!

Have you read Homecoming King or is it on your TBR? If you’ve read this, do you have any recommendations for similar romances?

#TopTenTuesday: Best Books I Read in 2021

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Best Books I Read in 2021

I’m always terrible at answering prompts that ask for my “best” anything 😂 I know I’ve read some amazing books but it’s also been a very weird reading year? I’ve read a lot but I’ve had a hard time retaining much of what I’ve read but also, I’ve had a hard time focusing on reading, in general, this year! I’ve only had a few 5-star reads this year so it is a bit surprising that I’m having trouble picking a top 10… but in the end, I decided to not include series’ on the list and now, before I keep waffling on, let’s get to it!

Read More »

Book Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Goodreads: The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1)
Published: 09 June 2020
Genre: Fantasy Romance (Romantasy)

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

A warrior princess trained in isolation, Lara is driven by two certainties. The first is that King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom is her enemy. And the second is that she’ll be the one to bring him to his knees.

The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara’s homeland. So when she’s sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king.

Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she’s the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she’ll save… and which kingdom she’ll destroy.

Read More »

Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp

🎄 Happy Christmas to those who celebrate! I hope you all managed to have a good time with your families despite the panorama circumstances! 🎄


We’re back with another Sundays in Bed With… meme! This meme dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

I’m still in a bit of a holiday romance mood so I’ve decided to pick up Merry Inkmas by Talia Hibbert. I’m just on Chapter 2 so it’s still early days but I always have fun with Hibberts’ romances and I have no doubt I’ll enjoy this one too! 😌

“There’s a beast inside of me. I keep it caged. You drive it wild.”

Cash Evans has come a long way since his troubled childhood, but all the wealth he’s earned as a tattoo artist can’t fix the hole in his heart. He knows that the sweet barista who haunts his dreams is off-limits… But life doesn’t always go to plan.

”There isn’t a man on earth who could ruin me.”

Bailey Cooper is determined to learn from her mother’s mistakes. She’s seen how cruel love can be, and she’s not about to sacrifice her self-respect for a relationship. But when a bad boy with a heart of gold comes to her rescue, she finds herself wondering if this beast might just be her Prince Charming.

Will these two lost souls find a happy ending under the tree this Christmas?
Or is their love doomed to wither with the mistletoe?


Merry Inkmas is a steamy Christmas romance starring a brooding, bad boy hero and a Black, BBW heroine. Be warned: this love is hot enough to melt any winter frost!

What are you currently reading?

Read More »

ARC Review: How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: How to Love Your Neighbor
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Published: 18 January 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.
Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is. 

TL;DR: How to Love Your Neighbor started out strong for me—I was immediately pulled in by the beginning and I enjoyed the slightly antagonistic banter between Grace and Noah. Sadly, as the story progressed I started to get restless with the book as my interest waned. It’s not badly written and it did have enjoyable elements to it but something felt lacking. I wanted more chemistry, more friendship, more romance, just more!

Read More »

Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp

We’re back with another Sundays in Bed With… meme! This meme dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

I’m super excited to spend my Sunday night in bed with The Bridge Kingdom! I’m buddy reading this with Julie @ One Book More and we’re speeding through it and (thankfully) we’re both loving it. This romantasy is a very binge-able read and I’m already looking forward to starting the next book in the series asap! 😂

A warrior princess trained in isolation, Lara is driven by two certainties. The first is that King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom is her enemy. And the second is that she’ll be the one to bring him to his knees.

The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara’s homeland. So when she’s sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king.

Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she’s the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she’ll save… and which kingdom she’ll destroy.

What are you currently reading?

Read More »