Best Reads of 2021: My Top 5 ✨

Hello there!

Time to jump into a quick time travel trip back to 2021 because I’m (finally) here with my top reads of last year 😊 I read some great books and it was pretty difficult to prune the list into the very best 5, but I managed! First I’ll present to you these lovelies and then jump into why I loved these so much (and a bit about why you should read them too).

Your Top Books 2021 (presented similarly to Spotify wrapped in a pretty graphic, the graphic by Julie (Struck by Stories)). #1 Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim, published by Hodder & Stoughton on July 6th 2021. #2 Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden, published by Canongate Books on January 28th 2021. #3 Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, published by Grove Press on June 12th 2019. #4 A Psalm for the Wild-built by Becky Chambers, published by Tor on July 13th 2021. #5 The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, published by Delacorte Press on February 9th 2021

A huge thank you to Julie @ Struck by Stories for making available this gorgeous graphic for listing top books 2021! You can check it out here.

Let’s dive in to this list!

Read More »

Challenging myself to read ✨EVERYTHING✨ in 2022: My Plans for Out of Your Comfort Zone Reading Challenge

Hello there!

I posted my reading challenges for 2022 at the beginning of January, but already a couple weeks later I’m back, desperate to add just one more challenge in there. I came across the Out of Your Comfort Zone Reading Challenge by the amazing Caro @ bookcheshirecat, and the challenge looks so fun that I cannot not take part!

I’m a keen fantasy reader, but I would like to broaden my horizons to ward off reading slumps and keep me engaged. So the challenge is perfect for me! (also Caro made such CUTE graphics and badges and everything that it would be a crime not to take part) In this post I’ll outline which genres I want to expand on and what I hope to achieve during 2022 for the challenge!

Out of your comfort zone banner (2022 reading challenge). A pink wood background with an illustration of a cat wrapped in a blanket. Text says:  #OOCZ2022. Reading more adventurously, hosted by Bookcheshirecat

You can find the announcement post right here: Out of Your Comfort Zone 2022 Reading Challenge Announcement by Caro @ bookcheshirecat Find all the graphics, banners, challenges, tips and tricks there, in addition to a sign up form!

Let’s get into it!

Read More »

February TBR: Blackathon

Hello there! Happy February and happy Black history month!

February is the time for Blackathon! The readathon runs for the entire month, and the idea is to simply read books by Black authors. The challenge is hosted by the wonderful Jesse @ Bowties and Books and cohosted by Starlah @ starlahenjoys, Shane @ luxuriousblu, Fadwa @ wordwoonders, Arri @ boriqueerreads, Nina @ the_wandering_reader, Anna @ never_withouta_book, and Chanelle @ chanelletime. Check out the readathon Twitter here to get all the deets.

Blackathon banner that says "blackathon. A Black history month inspired readathon"
Picture by the organisers of blackathon. I don’t own this picture. Link here.

I’m really excited for this round of Blackathon, especially because there is also a competition aspect! Teams of different genres (lit/contemporary, thriller/horror, romance, and sff) compete over which group reads the most pages in their team’s genre. As a fantasy buff, I have predictably landed myself in the SFF group. Here are the SFF group challenges:

Picture of the Team SFF challenges. Text says: "Team sff, hosts: starlahenjoys & boriqueerreads 1. A book that explored the duality of loyalty/betrayal. 2. A book with Trans spectrum representation 3. Read a book between 312 and 387 pages 4. Group book: Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden
Picture of Team SFF challenge prompts. Image by the organisers of blackathon, I don’t own this image, link here.

In addition to teams, Blackathon will also host a 24 hour readathon on 12th-13th February, and the organisers also have a bunch of fun challenges, reading sprints and watchalongs planned!

Only books that are scifi or fantasy will be added to my group’s total page count, so I’ll try to prioritise reading sff — but I think I won’t be able to resist picking up some other ones too!

Read More »

2022 Reading Resolutions & a TBR of 5* Predictions ✨

Happy 2022! I hope the year has gotten to a great start for you (and if it hasn’t, I hope it changes gears to something great right now!).

I love the New Year because it feels like it offers a fresh chance to try something new. Today I’m going through everything that I hope to achieve by reading in 2022! (and a sneaky check-in on how I did with 2021 resolutions as well!)

Similarly to 2021, I decided to set a couple reading resolutions and a yearly TBR for 2022. Let’s get into it!

Read More »

ARC review: The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

the cover of The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown (title in the middle with a picture of a key, surrounded by a layout of a house)

The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

I received an advance reader copy for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author! Receiving a free copy has in no way influenced my opinions on the book.

Expected publication date: January 13th 2022

Historical fiction, mystery

304 pages

Goodreads page

Buddy read with the amazing Stephen from Stephen Writes

I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unfurling out of an upper window and a hectic orange light cascading across the terrace.

By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose death decades ago haunts her still.

For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

I requested The Key in the Lock in no time after I saw it being advertised for fans of The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. I adored both of these books, and so I expected The Key in the Lock to provide a rich atmospheric tale with eerie twists. Although my hopes were pretty high to begin with, The Key in the Lock also seems to intentionally build up the readers’ expectations at the beginning of the book. The characters tip toe around a great mystery and something monstrous that happened in the past. Unfortunately, I felt that the Key in the Lock suffered badly from both the comparison to books by Elizabeth Macneal and Jessie Burton, and from the hype in the beginning of the book. In the end, the revelations don’t live up to the hype, and I couldn’t sense why anyone would compare The Key in the Lock to the Doll Factory or the Miniaturist.

The tale seemed very interesting to begin with, partly because the characters felt odd in a very curious way. I was certain that a lot of red herrings and Easter eggs were hidden in the narrative, and I couldn’t wait to find out why the characters behaved in certain ways. Sadly, the hints and tips and twists never appeared. The characters felt odd and distant, which made it difficult to root for them. I also couldn’t understand their reasoning at times, the main character, Ivy, being the greatest mystery of all.

The story is told in dual timelines that touch on both the mysterious events in 1888 and the first world war in 1918. I usually like time jumps such as this, but here it felt like the separate timelines took away from the story. The narrative jumps around, and the earlier timeline felt much more engaging throughout the book. I sometimes audibly groaned when a new chapter begun in 1918 rather than 1888. The timelines also discount some of the tragic events, making them seem less important and inconsequential for the story.

In addition to the separate timelines, I was confused by occasional changes in the writing style. While most of the narrative was typical of a novel, one of the chapters made it seem like Ivy was actually writing the story in a diary or letter format. This didn’t make any sense in the context of the previous narrative, and I feel that it was an odd choice from the author.

Regardless of my issues with The Key in the Lock, I must say that it was a delightfully quick book to read. The chapters were short and engaging which made the book whizz by. Also – I had a particularly great experience reading this (although the book was far from a favourite) because I buddy read it with Stephen @ Stephen Writes 😊 I loved our discussions of the sections and we came up with some crazy twists (that sadly didn’t come to fruition haha)

I also enjoyed the setting and timing of the events. The book is mostly set around Christmas in both timelines, which made it a great read in December. Not exactly a festive book – but nice to pick up around winter!

Overall, I think The Key in the Lock would make a great quick-read when you are looking for an intriguing mystery. Although the book doesn’t provide the depth that I wish it had, it is a good one to pick up and read in one or two sittings – just don’t go in with too high hopes!

picture of my rating: 2.5/5 stars
2.5/5 stars

Are you planning to read The Key in the Lock? Although it wasn’t for me, I’m sure that many readers will fall in love with it. Most of all, it would make a really good rainy day read (or even better, a snowy day read!).

Thank you so much for reading!

- Pauliina

November Wrap-up & December TBR: Trying to hit all of my yearly goals 💪

Hello there!

Hope you have had the loveliest beginning to December! I’m over the moon that we are in the Christmas (and my birthday!) -month now, and I’m ready for all things Christmas ☺️🎅

Today I’m going over all the books I read in November (which was way more than I expected!), and what I’m hoping to get to in December. Throughout these last two months of 2021 my goal is to crush my yearly reading goals. If you missed my recent look into how I’m doing with my goals and resolutions so far, check out the post here.

Without further a do – let’s get into it!

A gif of a stack of books, a ribbon and christmas ornaments appear and make the stack into a christmas tree
Read More »

2021 Reading Resolutions Check: Am I completing my reading challenges?

Hello there!

In November I have been taking part in Destiny @ The Howling Libraries Devour Your TBR reading challenge, Remember November, in which the idea is to read books that were part of yearly challenges and pick up books that have been waiting for a long time. This challenge got me excited to check on the challenges that I’m doing in 2021 and whether I’m on route to hit them!

GIF of a woman dancing and saying 'be the goal, do the goal, become the goal'
Read More »

Everything I read in September 2021: Magical readathon and Becca’s Bookoplathon wrap-up ✨

Hello there!

My reading has been a bit slow over the summer of 2021, but in September I got a great reading spike! I was excited about the fall vibes, readathons, and my upcoming holiday which made me really excited about picking up books ✨ I’m actually currently writing this in the middle of the woods in Finland, surrounded by fall leaves. Just look at this beautiful place:

Let’s get into the September stats!

Read More »

WWW Wednesday: 11th August 2021

Hello! Happy Wednesday!

It has been a bit since I did a WWW Wednesday post, but couldn’t resist taking it up today! It’s a cozy, rainy day in Edinburgh and I’m dreaming of a day filled with reading.

I love the WWW Wednesday posts because somehow they make Wednesdays feel like a celebration 🥳 But let’s talk about the current reads! WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. The idea is to share your current reads, a recent read and what you plan to read next! Short and sweet, let’s get into it!

text saying 'it is wednesday' with confetti
Read More »