Most Disappointing Reads of 2021 

I’ve read 150+ books in 2021 (the most I’ve EVER read in a year & I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be able to top this amount, unless this is my new reading normal??). That being said, as much as I’ve really made an effort to read books I have a very good feeling that I’ll enjoy (hence why most of my reading in 2021 were contemporary books), I’m not going to love or even enjoy EVERY single book that I read. Today I’ll be discussing my most disappointing reads of 2021. I think the theme of most of the books below & why they’re on this list mainly has to do with that I wasn’t expecting MORE from them. 

As always, I want to include a disclaimer that my disappointment in the following books has nothing to do with anything other than the fact I simply didn’t enjoy the book or that it didn’t meet my expectations. Additionally, just because I may have not enjoyed a book, doesn’t mean that you won’t or doesn’t discredit your love for it! 

Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell (Simon Snow #3) – Controversial opinion, especially for someone like me who considers Rainbow Rowell to be one of her favorite contemporary authors, but I’ve come to the conclusion in 2021 that I likely wouldn’t have read the Simon Snow trilogy if it hadn’t been written by Rainbow Rowell. I’ve realized that I love the ‘contemporary-ness’ of this trilogy & this finale (aka Baz and Simon’s relationship), but I just can’t get into the magic and fantasy world of this series.This book isn’t necessarily a case where I didn’t like the book or couldn’t stand it, it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be??

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave – The Last Thing He Told Me falls into the category of a book that was super hyped that I normally wouldn’t have read on my own (and I think it was also chosen as a Bad on Paper Podcast book club pick) and ultimately walked away feeling okay about it. It was much more of a domestic thriller than expected.

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Favorite 2021 TV Shows

I always say that I read more than I watch TV, which might be true…but then I compile my favorite TV shows of the year and somewhat doubt myself. I always talk about what I watched in my monthly wrap ups, but today I’m sharing the best of the best of my 2021 TV watching. You’ll likely notice that most of my favorite shows come from streaming platforms, and I also recently started subscribing to Hulu (Only Murders in the Building is on the top of my Hulu list). I’m highly anticipating this week’s release of Just Like That, the Sex & the City spinoff, on HBO Max and here’s to hoping that Bridgerton Season 2 makes a surprise release over Christmas – I can so see it dropping during the holiday break, if not in early 2022 (sidenote that I finally bought the first book, the Duke and I, to spread some good karma & hope!). 

Anyway, I decided to forgo descriptions of each show and separated the post into my absolute favorites & honorable mentions – I’ve mentioned nearly all of the shows included in my monthly wrap-ups. If you are fortunate enough to have some extra time off around the holidays, I hope this list helps guide your TV watching decisions!

Favorites

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End of Year Book Tag: 2021 Edition 

As we’re now fully in the last two months of 2021 (!!), it’s time to slowly but surely begin wrap-up season. December is always filled with posts about my favorite books of the year and my anticipated books for the new year, but I’ve kicked off the reflective season with the End of Year Book Tag for the past few years. This book tag is always a great way for me to think back on what I read this year (and yes, start forming my favorites posts) and do a little goal-setting for the rest of the year. 

I’ve linked to my previous years’ End of Year Book Tags below, and this tag was created by Ariel of Ariel Bissett.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

Since I’m publishing this post on a Monday morning, I thought it’d be fun to share the books I’m currently in the middle of and that I will finish by the end of this week (which means this year, haha) – I’m currently reading My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan – this contemporary romance had been on my TBR radar for a while since it’s written by audiobook narrator star Julia Whelan and it was recently mentioned twice in two of my favorite bookish podcasts, Bad On Paper and Friends to Lovers. I also have Dolly Alderton’s memoir, Everything I Know About Love, on my nightstand because I immediately needed more of her writing after finishing Ghosts two weeks ago. I’m sure this question will be a bit more pressuring during the week in between Christmas and New Years, as I hope to do a lot of reading since I’m off from work then. As always, I *try* to finish any book I’m currently reading by New Years’ Eve so I can start the new year with a fresh read, but sometimes that plan doesn’t work out depending on my NYE plans and my desire to always being currently reading something! 

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2021 FAVORITE ROMANCE: The Love Hypothesis Review

9780593336823Summary (from the publisher): As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope. 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Rating:

Ali Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis has been EVERYWHERE (& as you’ll find out in this review, VERY deservedly so) in the second half of 2021. I’ve had a very busy start to the fall with back-to-school season, so I admittedly have been sleeping on some new anticipated releases and have been just putting them on hold from my county library. And with publishing and printing delays, new books have been taking even longer to come in. The Love Hypothesis had been especially hard to find with the supply chain shortage & Ali Hazelwood even shared on Instagram that the book was way more popular than her publisher could have imagined, which meant they need to print more copies ASAP. That all being said, between having a quiet weekend and my local Barnes & Noble finally getting The Love Hypothesis back in stock, I decided to get my hands-on the most popular & BEST contemporary romance this fall. 

I knew I was likely going to enjoy The Love Hypothesis just for its fake dating meets academia synopsis, which I had shared in my Fall 2021 Anticipated Releases post, but I recently discovered before reading that the book is loosely based on Kylo Ren & Rey from Star Wars…which made even more sense considering the male lead, Dr. Adam Carlsen, looks a lot like Adam Driver on the cover & in the book… and is also named Adam. Anyways, The Love Hypothesis follows biology Ph.D. candidate, Olive, who in hopes of convincing her best friend that she’s really over her ex so said best friend will just go for it & date him, kisses the closest guy in sight…whom happens to be young hotshot professor who’s known for d making grad students cry, Dr. Adam Carlsen. Olive is not only shocked by Carlsen going with the kiss, but even more so when the two decide to fake date to help Olive out & convince Stanford that Carlsen has no plans of leaving the university so he can keep his research funding.

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Happy 23rd Birthday to Me: 23 Favorite Books of 2021 So Far

My 23rd birthday is tomorrow & I plan on of course celebrating on the beach with a good book. It feels crazy to think that I’ve been book blogging since I was 18 aka meaning I’m coming up on my five year blog anniversary in early 2022 (!!). I also just read my 22nd birthday post from last year and it is crazy to think how much has changed – since then, I’ve graduated from grad school, had more ‘normal-life-like’ hangouts with friends & family, started & finished my first teaching job at the high school level, and will begin teaching middle school English Language Arts full time in the fall! 

To bring some birthday celebration to the blog this week, I’m going to be sharing 23 of my favorite books of 2021 so far. At the time of publishing this post, I’ve read 104 books, which is the most amount of books I’ve ever read at this point in the year. In favorites posts, I usually sharing some thoughts on the books I’ve chosen, but I’m just going to share the books by cover, since I’ve already talked about my spring favorites & my summer favorite reads will be coming in September. I’ve semi-categorized the grid by YA, contemporary romance, and contemporary reads.. and the 2 mysteries, 1 nonfiction, & 1 fantasy I have here. 

What have been some of your favorite books of 2021 so far? Have you read any of my favorites? Share in the comments!

Anticipated Releases Book Tag: 2021 Edition

I love the Anticipated Releases Book Tag because it lets me spotlight some of the books I’m the most excited for during the fall & let’s be honest, helps me somewhat selfishly get more organized for my most anticipated Fall 2021 books posts that I usually share in the second half of August.

If you love going back in time & revisiting some highly anticipated books in the past, I’ve also done the Anticipated Releases Book Tag in 2020 & 2019. The Anticipated Releases Book Tag was created by Ellyn of Allonsythornraxx.

Most Anticipated Release 

I am beyond excited for Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn. Erin Hahn, one of my favorite YA authors & author of You’d Be Mine & More Than Maybe, has been sharing so much about the book on Instagram each week. The book is quite personal and deals with questioning religion and faith. The book’s main protagonist, Meg, was raised by conservative parents & after finding out a shocking family secret, takes a gap year to meet the family she’s never known existed and meet the son of a pastor, Micah. Never Saw You Coming comes out on September 7th. 

Most Underhyped Release

I’m really looking forward to It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi. This YA romance follows Muslim American teens Kiran & Deen, who once dated in secret and then broke up when Deen ghosted Kiran & are now forced to help plan their older siblings’ wedding. It All Comes Back to You comes on September 14th, 2021. 

A Book You’ve Been Waiting On Forever 

I wasn’t necessarily waiting on it forever because it was recently announced, but I have been wishing for quite a while for an Off Campus sequel. That being said, I’m really looking forward to Elle Kennedy’s novella collection, The Legacy, which will contain novella/where are they now? stories for each couple in the Off Campus series. The Legacy comes out on September 21st. 

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag: 2021 Edition

The time has finally come for the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag. A few of my blogging friends shared this book tag dedicated to sharing some of your favorite reads and reading plans for the rest of the year, since we’re at the halfway point for the year. If you want a tiny taste of how my reading has changed over my blogging years, check out my mid-year freak out tags for 2020, 2019, & 2017.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2021: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon & People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry 

It’s probably no surprise that 1) I have more than one favorite book and 2) that they’re both contemporary romances. The Ex Talk is definitely one of my favorite enemies-to-lovers books, and I cannot get over the humor and coziness in Poppy and Alex’s relationship in People We Meet on Vacation

Some other favorites I had to share because I have no self-control as usual:

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson, Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne, We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon, & Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter 

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far: Another tie because I just can’t choose 1! If we’re talking literal sequel (aka book #2) and contemporary romance world, it’s The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan. If we’re talking new book in a multi-book series, it’s obviously A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas… I also can’t help but mention Anna K: Away by Jenny Lee

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To: Indeciveness/multi-book options always rules, including:

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary , One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston,  It’s Kind of a Cheesy Love Story by Lauren Morrill, & God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney 

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Best Books I Read: Spring 2021 Edition

I’ve been mentioning here & there that I’d be sharing a round-up of the best books I read this spring, & the time has finally come for me to share. 

You probably know that I tend to read most of my books for the year during the summer since I have time off from school & work. This will hold true for this summer (I’ve already read 7 books in June), but I read the most amount of books I ever read during spring this year. I read 37 books in total between March, April, & May. I really think it had something to do with being on a screen all day from school & work and just wanting to come home and take my eyes off my laptop AND of course reading so many amazing books. 

It may sound strange for non-readers but I’ve really embracing reading books I am 95% sure I am going to enjoy/love this year or books that I am genuinely excited to read especially this year. I’ve always been this type of reader but I am making a more conscious effort to read books that I cannot wait to pick up up vs. ones that I picked up because ‘everyone is reading them/hype.’ Since I’ve reviewed nearly every book on this list, I will be keeping my thoughts super brief & will link to the reviews. 

You Have a Match by Emma Lord – Another favorite from Emma Lord! You Have a Match met my love for The Parent Trap & more. I’m also SUPER excited for her 2022 Mamma Mia-inspired release, When You Get the Chance. Read my You Have a Match review

The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim – A really mature & diverse YA that I’m hoping more readers, who especially love travel-inspired books & Gilmore Girls will pick up, The Marvelous Mirza Girls was such a fresh take on self-growth & grief. Read my The Marvelous Mirza Girls review 

Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter – If you need something like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, you absolutely need to pick up Better Than the Movies. Think YA rom-com meets classic rom-com films meets friends-to-lovers. Read my Better Than the Movies review 

The Switch by Beth O’Leary – I’m probably one of the most late people to hop on the Beth O’Leary train, but The Switch made her one of my auto-read authors. I’m looking forward to reading The Road Trip this summer! 

Float Plan by Trish Doller – Float Plan was the perfect light meets heavy read, as Anna and Keane partner up to complete the sailing trip Anna’s fiancé had planned before his death. 

Kisses & Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau – I’m always read for a cute YA contemporary, like Kisses & Croissants .. & I’ll also always take a book that fulfills some of my wander lust, as this book takes place at ballet training program in Paris. Read my Kisses & Croissants review 

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Best Books I’ve Read So Far: January – March 2021 Edition 

Aside from reading all the amazing books, one of my other favorite things to do is talk about all the great books I’ve read. Today, I’ll be sharing my favorite books of 2021 so far, aka favorites from the books I read in January, February and March. I read a total of 30 books over the first 3 months of 2021! I’m beyond content with that amount, given my hectic IRL schedule, but I’ve really prioritized reading over anything else (sorry TV) when I do have free time. While quantity can feel rewarding, I also just genuinely enjoyed most of the books I’ve read, as there’s only been maybe a handful that I’ve felt mixed about. This amount also sets me up quite nicely for my my reading goal of at least 100 books in 2021. 

I thought about sharing a post with just my favorite books of January and February, and then saving my March faves for my spring best books… but I honestly read so many of my favorite books so far in March & I didn’t want to wait any longer to share. I’ll likely end up doing another best books post in June to discuss the best books I read in spring/April & May. 

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop – As you go through my favorites, you may start to notice that books set abroad from my native US is a theme with some of my favorite books, including Andrea Dunlop’s We Came Here to Forget. The book switches between Katie’s past as an Olympic skier and her present as a tour guide in Buenos Aires, putting together the pieces of her sister’s mysterious behavior and the downfall of her skiing career. I loved both settings and this book’s plot & mystery was really unique. 

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli – I feel like I’m cheating a tiny bit here because Kate in Waiting doesn’t come out on April 20th, but I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of Becky Albertalli’s upcoming release. This book reminded me so much of my favorite Becky Albertalli book, The Upside of Unrequited. I loved the focus on friendship & personal growth. 

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes –  Evvie Drake Starts Over screams quiet contemporary read. There was a perfect blend between light and warmness, as Evvie rents out her spare bedroom to an ex-major league baseball player hiding away from the spotlight, while dealing with heavier themes surrounding loss and grief. This book also made me want to rent a house in Maine ASAP. 

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman – If you want a fun read that screams wanderlust, look no further than The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany. Emilia accompanies her estranged aunt on a trip to Italy to help reunite her with the love of their life, while trying to override a curse placed on second-born daughters in their family. I was little hesitant going into this one because of that ‘curse,’ but the book really had nothing to do with ‘magic.’ Instead, Emilia learns how to break out her shell and the expectations set by her family…while maybe she’s not cursed to never fall in love after all… 

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas – This is likely one of the least surprising favorites on here, if you know me as the huge SJM fan that I am. Nesta and Cassian were my two favorite characters from ACOTAR even before they got their own installment, so I loved both of their journeys and relationship development in this one. ACOSF made me so much more intrigued about what SJM will be doing in the rest of the series! 

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Spring 2021 Most Anticipated Releases: YA Edition

Spring time often has so much to look forward to for me: warm weather, summertime prep, and new books! Spring and fall often compete as the best seasons for new YA releases, especially when it comes to YA contemporaries. Today I’ll be featuring the YA books I’m most looking forward to coming out this March, April, and May. 

There are a few repeats on this list from my Most Anticipated YA Books of 2021 guide – I tend to have more spring releases on my annual guide each December because we usually know more about spring releases than fall books – but I did add some more titles since then, thanks to  friends’ recommendations and fellow bloggers’ anticipated lists. 

It’s Kind of a Cheesy Love Story by Lauren Morrill | RD: March 9 | Add it on Goodreads

Combine YA contemporary with pizza and I’m already there (with a slice or two of pizza near by). Lauren Morrill’s It’s Kind of a Cheesy Love Story sounds like it is going to be so cute and fun – sixteen year old Beck starts working in the pizza parlor she was born in 16 years ago and while reluctant to start the job thanks to her local celebrity fame, finds herself way more at home at Hot n’ Crusty than she’d like to admit. 

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau | RD: April 6 | Add it on Goodreads

Since travel is still a no-go for most of us right now, the next best way to picture an adventure abroad is by reading about one of course. I’ll personally be escaping to Paris through Kisses and Croissants, as Mia spends her summer at an elite ballet training program and discovers the city with a cute French boy in tow. I think having a croissant or two by my side will be necessary as I read. 

What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka | RD: April 20 | Add it on Goodreads

I’m super excited to see Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka’s take on the enemies-to-lovers trope in What’s Not to Love. The book follows high school senior rivals, Allison & Ethan, as they compete to plan a ten year reunion, in hopes of getting a Harvard recommendation letter from their principal.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock | RD: April 20 | Add it on Goodreads

I don’t read too many anthologies or short story collections, but I am beyond excited for Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock’s Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town. Her The Smell of Other People’s Houses is one of the most beautiful and well-written books I’ve ever read, and I expect nothing less from the book connecting the stories of young people from small towns in Alaska and the American West. Read More »