6 Books We Read in January ’21 | Reading Wrap-Up

With the sun shining and lots of days spent relaxing at the beach, Jan turned out to be a pretty great reading month. If you’re looking for something new to pick up, check out some of my favourite reads from the month.

Need some more inspo? Check out our reading corner for other ideas and book reviews.

This is My America by Kim Johnson 

Young adult, contemporary and fiction


Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time—her dad has only 267 days left. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy’s older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star to a “thug” on the run, accused of killing a white girl. Determined to save her brother, Tracy investigates what really happened between Jamal and Angela down at the Pike. But will Tracy and her family survive the uncovering of the skeletons of their Texas town’s racist history that still haunt the present?

My thoughts

Hands down, this has to be one of the best YA contemporaries I’ve ever read.

Discussing complex issues such as social injustice, racial profiling and incarceration, This Is My America is an emotionally charged yet thoughtful story helmed by a young girl on a mission. 

Kim Johnson has perfected the art of writing rich characters and Tracy is the perfect lead for this book. Powerful in her willingness to fight for justice, I love how self-assured she is even when she is scared for the safety of herself and her family. The whole Beaumont family adds some great depth to the book and I was entirely invested in the mystery behind her father’s and her brother’s arrests.

Highly recommend as an audiobook.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Fiction, Greek mythology and fantasy


In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

My thoughts

This just landed in my top-10 reads of all time. 

Rich in description and beautifully written, Circe is an absolute pageturner that anyone can read – no PHD in Greek mythology needed.

The biggest strength of this book is the character development.

When we first meet Circe, she is a young and naive nymph who is shunned by her family and longs to be loved. After a series of betrayals, a hardened Circe is fed by a strange mix of compassion and rage that aid her in becoming a powerful witch. 

Exiled to the island of Aeaea, the story moves from strength to strength as we discover more about the depths of Circe, the interconnected nature of other Greek myths and the power that love, heartbreak, motherhood and pain can play in your life. 

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Honestly, I’m not even sure what genre this is

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (more like 4.5 stars)

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

My thoughts

What a strange, strange book. 

I’m not entirely sure if this book is genius or not, but Piranesi is unlike anything I’ve ever read.

The characters, the setting and the rhythm of Susanna Clarke’s writing set this beautiful pace and as we follow Piranesi through his seemingly mundane tasks, a sadder and more mysterious plot begins to unfold.

I don’t think I could truly explain this book without royally f’ing it up so just know this, Piranesi is a weird, magical and wildly imaginative book that is an absolute delight to read.

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Adult fiction, romance and African lit.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (more like 4.5 stars)

Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything – arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, appeals to God. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.

Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayobami Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.


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My thoughts

Talk about the power of the female spirit! 

Set in Nigeria, Stay With Me is both beautiful and heartbreaking in its exploration of love, grief and the consequences of our actions. 

I absolutely loved the way the story flicked seamlessly between Yejide and Akin’s point of views and thought Adebayo did a fantastic job of giving them life. 

There were a couple of parts that didn’t connect for me but overall, I was completely invested in this story that is driven in equal parts by the desire of a woman and the ego of a man.

A little tip, don’t read this before bed like I did – you’ll be all in your emotions after reading this.

A Vow so Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

Young adult, fantasy and romance.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (more like 3.75 stars)

This is the final book in The Cursebreakers series. Below is a synopsis for book one because you know, spoilers. You can see all the books in the series here.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.


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My thoughts

I’ve eagerly devoured every book in this series and A Vow So Bold and Deadly is an epic conclusion to this magical ride.

The books are told from dual perspectives and follow Harper, a girl from DC living with cerebral palsy whose family is caught up in a world of violence and desperation, and Rhen, the Crowned Prince of Emberfall who has been cursed to relive the season of his eighteenth birthday over-and-over again until he finds a girl to break the curse. The crux of that curse? At the end of each season, he becomes a monster who terrorises Emberfall with disastrous personal consequences.

Throughout the series, the book becomes more about the relationships between the three main characters rather than the fantasy elements itself and while it isn’t the best series out there, I can’t deny that I flew through all three of these books.

Layla by Colleen Hoover

Adult fiction, suspense and romance

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (more like 3.5 stars)

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.


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My thoughts

I’m a big fan of Colleen Hoover’s romance books (still not over It Ends With Us) so I was really intrigued to see what her foray into the suspense/horror genre would look like.

While Layla definitely isn’t her best book, I was still really engaged with the story as a whole and managed to finish it in one-go.

The story follows Leeds and Layla, a fun-loving couple who seem to be soulmates on every level. When the couple are attacked one night in their home, Layla survives but is forever changed by the incident. Whisking her away to the B&B where they first met, Leeds begins to create an emotional connection with Willow, another guest. From here, an eerie set of events occur that lead to a stunning revelation.

What I’m planning on picking up next

next books

The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune, Adult romance, LGBT and fantasy.

A book I’m currently reading (and loving), this feels like its going to play havoc with my emotions.

The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr., Adult historical fiction and LGBT.

I’m only a couple of pages in but it is already great. More of a slow burn, this is definitely one I’ll be chipping away at rather than binging so no direct plans to finish it in Feb.

Jade War by Fonda Lee, Adult sci-fi and fantasy.

A fantasy read set in Asia, this is book two in The Green Bone Saga. Fonda Lee is a martial artist so the fight scenes in the first book, Jade War, were next level amazing.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Adult Greek mythology, LGBT and  historical fiction.

From the same author as Circe, this follows the story of Achilles as told by his lover Patroclus. This is a re-read because I loved Circe so much. 

What are you reading at the moment?

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Written by Monique Renee

Usually barefoot and deep in wanderlust mode, Mon loves binging Netflix, cuddling babies and stalking through Instagram looking for boho decor inspo and hotties with man buns. You’ll usually find her on holiday, planning a holiday or thinking about holidays.

Favourite Instagram to follow: @the_female_lead


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