Weekly update : first week of 2021

It’s been an… interesting week.

Personal update

I’ve been super busy this week, going from one appointment to another, doing all the urgent administrative work that needs to be done before the end of January – they days go by so quickly that I worry I won’t be able to finish it all up in time.

The deadline to apply to the program I’d like to be accepted into next year is February 1st, and I haven’t heard back from one of the people I asked a recommendation from – I need three letters of recommendation, and only have 2 so far, but hopefully, I’ll be able to secure a third one before January 15th. If I don’t get an answer from the teacher I emailed on Tuesday, I’ll urgently contact someone else, and hope for the best.

On top of that, our province’s covid-related rules have just been tightened, and Montreal is now under curfew from 8 pm to 5 am every night, with every “non-essential” shop closed, and the essential ones closed at 7:30 pm to give people enough time to go home before the curfew comes into effect.

This complicates things quite a bit for us, as my partner is currently working in an essential workplace and I’m a full-time student : on the days where he’s working from home, since he’s using the only desk we have, I’ll have to find somewhere else to go study, as most of his work is confidential and we don’t have the space for me to go study in another room. Which, since everything is closed down… will be tricky. Hopefully, though, the university will keep the library open for students who really need the space to study, as we can’t really go anywhere else anymore!

I’ve also had my first appointment with a dietician this week – I’ve been trying to eat healthier and make progress on my own, but lately, I’ve come to realize that even with my best efforts, I still need to ask for some help with this. And that’s okay! There’s no shame in asking for help if you’re in a situation where you need to, whether it’s about physical or mental health. I’m incredibly lucky that my university has a partnership with a dietician / nutritionists group, which gives students a medium discount that compensates a little for the absence of insurance coverage for these services. (Which – don’t get me started on that, I could rant about it for hours. Who thought it was a good idea to exclude nutritionists from health insurance benefits??)

Blogging update

On the blog lately, I’ve written two posts : a late Bookending winter post, about 2021 reads I can’t wait for, and a reading challenges announcement!

Reading update

Progress on my Goodreads goal : 3/104

I’m trying a new format here! I’ve been doing reviews in their own separate posts, but by doing them this way, I didn’t review most of the books I read, as I just couldn’t find the time to write an entire post about them. So here are short, 1 paragraph reviews of what I read this week!

Kingsbane, by Claire Legrand

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My first book of 2021 – I ended 2020 by reading the first book in this series, and I had gotten a copy of the next novel through my local library, so I followed up immediately with it.

Where the first book was setting up the scene a lot, and teasing some dark mysteries without revealing much to the reader, this one unveils secret after secret in a captivating story filled with unexpected plot twists and heartbreaking moments. I didn’t expect the cliffhanger at the end, and I liked that more than I expected – it’s been a while since I’ve given a real chance to a fantasy series, and an even longer time since I’ve read a book ending with a cliffhanger that I was actually interested in enough to make it to the next one and find out what was happening. I’m definitely reading book 3 as soon as possible.

Find it on Goodreads here.

A sky beyond the storm, by Sabaa Tahir

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I read the first three books in this series in 2020, and enjoyed them a lot, so I have no idea why I didn’t pick up the last installment in this series as soon as it came out, in December 2020. I liked this conclusion to the story, and thought it wrapped up all the different character arcs pretty well, even if I didn’t connect with it as much as I had with the previous books. I had some issues with the ending – especially the treatment of one of the main characters. (To put it without too many spoilers : one of the characters has a power that could save their loved one… yet doesn’t use it at the end when it could be the most useful. For no apparent logical reason. Yeah, didn’t like that.)

Find it on Goodreads here.

The ever cruel kingdom, by Rin Chupeco

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another follow-up on a book I read last year, The never tilting world. I found the first one okay, but enjoyed the second one much more!

I think it had to do with the pacing of the story, and the advancement of the plot that felt like it was moving forward much better than the first book. I loved the character development in this, and the much more detailed backstories we got than the ones alluded to in book 1, which made it easier to get attached to the characters (and made it worse when they died… but I digress). The love and the romance between the main characters was also lovely (and after bingeing Bridgerton, I was in the right mood for romance!).

Find it on Goodreads here.

2021 reading and blogging challenges

Welcome back! Today’s post is brought to you by my brand new stack of books to read this January, and my ever-growing motivation to try to create better quality content for this blog, as well as tackle my endless ARC list before it gets too bad to handle. In other words : here is a post about setting challenges for myself, to keep me motivated and help me grow as a blogger and book reader this year!

2021 Discussion challenge

I don’t often sign up for challenges, as I often fear that I’ll just forget about them halfway through the year and just never complete them. Last year, however, I signed up for the Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole @ feed your fiction addiction and Shannon @ It starts at midnight, and it worked out okay for me – I ended up making less than 10 discussion posts, but still much more than what I would have written if I hadn’t signed up. The challenge motivated me to think about new discussion topics and reflect more on prompts and other people’s posts, and I really appreciated that!

Which is why, this year, I’m signing up again – but this time, I’ll be aiming for the second level of the challenge : posting between 11 and 20 discussion posts during the year, for the Creative Conversationalist level!

Discussion posts allowed in the challenge can be about anything related to books or reading, excluding wrap-ups and giveaways that don’t specifically include a detailed discussion part. If you would like to sign up too, you can check out the entire rules of the challenge and how to create your own sign-up post on Nicole’s post here, or Shannon’s post here. I’ll try to link up my discussion posts as soon as they’re out so I don’t forget to count them for the challenge this year!

Goodreads reading challenge

I’m irrationally happy seeing the Goodreads reading challenge icon now, knowing that a fellow Canadian book lover picked its color! If you don’t know her yet, check out Ariel Bissett’s booktube videos here – her channel is amazing, and she recently started a new vlogging series about her new house that looks super promising!

For my reading challenge this year, I wanted to do something more difficult than last year – mainly because I want to give all the positive energy I can to 2021, and having a high goal in something that brings me a lot of joy feels like a good plan to do so! Which is why my reading goal is currently set up for twice the amount of books I planned to read last year, so a total of 104 books.

Stay tuned to see if I can manage to keep up with these challenges all year round!

2021 reads I can’t wait for

Welcome back! Today’s post is the first Bookending Winter post of 2021… because I missed posting day and really wanted to use this prompt even if the year was over! For those of you who haven’t heard about it yet, Bookending Winter is a book blogging event run by Clo and Sam, in which different bloggers host a couple of prompts each during the month of December (Yep. I’m late.). Anyone who wants to participate can register on the announcement post, make 3 (or more) posts during the event, and link them up on the challenge spreadsheet so others can find them easily!

Today’s prompt comes from Sam @ fictionally sam ! It called for a top 10, but I went for a top 5 – not because there aren’t many new releases that look really good for 2021, but simply because I’ve been so busy reading library books and ARCs that I haven’t really gotten the time to look at the upcoming releases for this year. I’m taking notes on everybody’s 5 stars predictions, though, and I’m expecting great things from 2021 novels!

Prompt Explanation : What are your top ten most anticipated reads for next year?

Victories greater than death, by Charlie Jane Anders

A thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war with international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders at the helm in her YA debut—think Star Wars meets Doctor Who, and buckle your seatbelts.

Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.

And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.

A sci-fi novel with an awesome-looking cover and an interesting synopsis. I’ve been trying to find some fun YA sci-fi, and so far, this story seems pretty promising! I really like the concept of clones (especially the type of cloning we got in stories like Altered Carbon, for example) and the idea of the protagonist actually knowing what’s going on and why they’re “special” sounds quite refreshing!

Check it out on Goodreads here

One last stop, by Casey McQuiston

Casey McQuiston is coming out with a new YA LGBT romance! I’ve been gravitating more and more towards books with LGBT characters that don’t center the entire story on homophobia or LGBT pain, and I found this author’s previous novel to be exactly what I was looking for last year. I have good hopes for this one too, especially with such a fun synopsis!

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

Check it out on Goodreads here

See also : my review of Casey McQuiston’s previous book, Red, White and royal Blue, in Two contemporary YA novels

The ones we’re meant to find, by Joan He

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.

More sci-fi! Joan He’s Descendant of the crane was one of my favorite books of 2019, and I’m expecting great things from this one – a sci-fi mystery thriller with an amnesiac main character and the promise of a twisty plot? Yes. 100% yes.

Find it on Goodreads here.

Six crimson cranes, by Elizabeth Lim

There’s clearly a theme here – in 2021, so far, I’m trusting authors I’ve previously read from and loved stories from, and eagerly awaiting their next work. Elizabeth Lim is no exception to this, and I have a strong feeling that this one will be a five stars read, as was everything I’ve previously read from her!

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Peniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

Find it on Goodreads here.

Leviathan falls – The Expanse, book 9

It doesn’t have a synopsis on Goodreads yet, but I’m halfway through this series, so hopefully I’ll have read all of the previous books by the time this one comes out in 2021! I’m watching the TV show at the same time, so I’m a bit further in the TV show than I am in the books, but it hasn’t spoiled my enjoyment of the novels so I’m quite happy about that. (And they make excellent Christmas gifts to ask for!)

That’s it for me today – what are your most anticipated reads of 2021? If you’ve written a blog post, or an Instagram one, feel free to link it in the comments so I can check it out and add some of them to my yearly TBR!