A Few Reading Firsts For 2021

For the past 2 years around this time, we’ve shared A Few Reading Firsts as a way to look back and see what books moved us (in a good and not-so-good way) at the beginning of the year. So we’re back with a 2021 edition!

a romantic setting in the bathroom
Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com


First Book Read This Year

Snow White and Rose Red, Ed McBain. I randomly came across this book when looking for something to read for the January Monthly Motif Reading Challenge. It was a solid mystery novel … not outstanding, but it’s fast paced and will keep you reading until the end. This is the story of Matthew Hope, a lawyer who takes the case of a young lady committed to a mental facility by her mother. The young lady maintains that she’s completely sane – Matthew believes her and is trying to get her out. I liked the direction of the story, and this is my 1st experience with this author and I liked how he made the characters memorable … not always likeable … but certainly memorable. I would have to say I had to stretch my belief system to imagine that Matthew could be that dumb to be so open with a client – but overall, not a bad book.

First 5-star Rating

The Gilded Ones, Namina Forna. This book did me in! First, the cover is gorgeous and I’m not sure what I was expecting but what I got was a deep, complex fantasy novel that blew me away. It’s a West African inspired story – Deka lives in a patriarchal society where girls are only allowed to do things that help prepare them to become wives and not do anything that will entice men. They go through a ritual every 15 years where they are cut to reveal if their blood runs red – if it doesn’t, then they are impure. Deka is getting ready to go through the ritual. That’s all you really need to know.
From there, the story takes on several serious issues – misogyny, abuse, trauma, and so much more, but the plot of the story moves swiftly, but in such vivid detail that left me feeling some t’ings. It’s graphic at times – but what a freaking ride! Excellent book – high recommended.

First Book That Slayed Me – Dead!

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Troubled Blood (Cormoran Strike #5), Robert Galbraith. After reading this book I just needed some quiet time because I loved it so hard! This one is now my favorite from the series. Sure – it’s long (944 pages) and probably could have been trimmed down a little – but because of the length, we really get to know each character in this book, as well as get into the suspense of the main case that they’re trying to solve. And Cormoran and Robin! The chemistry is there and to see what each one is thinking … their side of why they will or won’t get together … I just ate it up. Clearly this is going to be one of my fave reads for the year.

First Book By an Author I’ve Read Before

A House at the Bottom of the Lake, Josh Malerman. Books that I’ve read by Malerman include Bird Box, Unbury Carol and Black Mad Wheel – all of which I have enjoyed (although none of them are 5 stars). I saw this novella available on Netgalley and it sounded really interesting. Two teenagers go canoeing on the lake – first date style. They discover a hidden lake and … a house at the bottom of the lake.

Some reviews have said that A House at the Bottom of the Lake is not horror but I was creeped the fuck out every time they went exploring in that house. And they went there a lot. This is more of an atmospheric type horror … something bad could happen at any minute and I felt the anticipation building … but then there was a WTF ending. I was so disappointed!!! Malerman – you took me to the brink and then pulled back. It didn’t feel good – but I loved the buildup.

First Book That I Wish I Could Get Back the Time I Spent Reading It

Djinn City, Saad Hossain. This actually started off as a really interesting story. Set in Baghdad, it follows 10-year old boy, Indelbed, as he talks about his father’s drunken neglect, living in a derelict mansion and the contrast with the rest of his father’s family that’s really well off. Then he finds his father in a coma, learns that magic and djinns exist in the World and comedic … and sad events happen from there on out. But then the novel gets tied up in following way too many story lines – and it drags on and on … and on – and becomes less and less interesting.

And then that wtf ending – after I stuck with the damn book … I felt like throwing it away … oh wait – I was listening to the audiobook … so I just shut it off with disgust.

What are some of your reading firsts this year so far? Your favorite or least favorite book? Do you have to recover after reading a really good book – or do you just go straight on to the next?


// Comments //

  1. I think I finished Pie Academy as my first book of the year, but I haven’t made a single pie so far this year. My favorite books so far have been rereads, including All Creatures Great and Small and The Color of Magic.

    • Tanya Patrice

      Mar 12

      @Deb c’mon you have to bake a pie 🙂 And I haven’t done any re-reads yet but I’m planning it for Neverwhere by Neil Caiman one of my faves!

  2. Gilda

    Mar 12

    Definitely agree. I’ve enjoyed many of Malerman’s books, but The House at the Bottom of a Lake was a huge disappointment.

// Trackbacks & Pingbacks //

  1. […] Buffy. It’s not exactly a book tag; it’s a reading reflection post that Tanya & Kim of girlxoxo started to reflect on their reading experiences in the first couple months of a given year. […]

  2. […] We’ve been taking a look at some of our Reading Firsts of the Year for the last few years. It’s always so fun to see how we kicked things […]

  3. […] I recently saw this post on girlxoxo’s website, and it seemed like a lot of fun! I’ve added a couple of “firsts” of my own, and even though this isn’t an official tag, I encourage anyone to join in. I’m linking each book to my review, if you’re interested. Here we go! […]