2021 is finally over, and I know there’s more than a few of you thrilled to see the back of 2020: Part II. 2020’s sequel. Not like we were ever going to escape from that dreaded year.
It’s been a year. COVID-19 continued its dreaded wave of destruction. I commemorated getting out of two lockdowns by getting tattooed each time. Anne Rice died and, as a not-so-secret lover of vampire media (my hot take: Dangerous Girls by R.L Stine is the best vampire novel), it was definitely not the news we needed to hear. I watched a really good Netflix TV series, Perfume, this week, and Dexter: New Blood‘s surpassed all my expectations so far. I was surprised that I enjoyed the Chris Rock Saw movie. I stopped consuming news for the most part, and my mental health has improved considerably. Probably a good thing, since Australian Prime Minister Scott “Scummo” Morrison’s trying his damndest to censor the internet under the guise of “protecting children” from “internet trolls”, which is code for “only allowing his pre-approved legacy media hacks to bleat his propaganda without any criticism whatsoever”. But enough of that.
This blog has now been running for nine years. In September 2022, I will have somehow been shouting into the void for a decade. My most-viewed blog post was a 2019 book review of Alison Britz’s Obsessed (5/5 read, amazing memoir) and my most-viewed post of this year was on whether writers really need Twitter (No, they don’t). Good on you for reading my words! Speaking of, I had a short story, Platform 1, win the Arts Assist Local Encouragement Award in the 2021 Wyndham Writing Awards. You should go and read it. I’m so grateful for winning the award and having the honour of reading the story (first—I was first to read!) for the online presentation night. It was a nice way of conquering my fear of public speaking, and I hope you enjoy reading it.
Reading wise, this year was a bit shit, but I’m not bothered. I read 11 books, which isn’t a lot, but I’m almost finished with a couple more, and thanks to the words of one of my better reads this year, I’ve learnt not to give a fuck. Besides, I’ve gotten back into the regular habit of writing just for fun. Music’s helped. Maybe it’s because of the last two years of lockdowns, but I’ve really realised the importance of music. I’ve blogged about it before, but the right song can really get me writing 6,000 words in a day without even thinking about it. Last year, my favourites were Wildflower by 5 Seconds of Summer and Infinite by Silverstein. This year, I’d definitely say The Antidote by Simple Plan, Addicted to U by Heylu, and UFO by Ocean Grove were my top tunes. I also wrote way too much to Adrenaline by Simple Creatures and Shine by Years & Years. Adrenaline is a masterpiece. I even set it as my phone ringtone. Please tell me what songs you played to death this year!
Here’s my wrap-up of what I’ve read this year, in a neat little summary:
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden. I mentioned it briefly in Red Dragon review. My first book of the year, and probably my favourite. A readable, easy to understand, haunting, memorable memoir. I don’t think I have a bad word to say about it. 5/5
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris is a compelling, interesting start to a series that inspired a lot of popular fiction, and I wasn’t disappointed. Both the protagonist and antagonist are as fascinating as the other. It has interesting conversations about physical imperfections, empathy, and mental health. I reviewed here. 4/5
Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears by Ken Wheaton, I read as research for a manuscript I was writing, which is now complete and ready for the submission grinder. It’s an immersive, enjoyable read. If you enjoy stories about people escaping from their past and a single event forcing them to reevaluate and confront those past events, with a Cajun American setting, then you’ll probably enjoy this. I reviewed here. 3.5/5
Come Closer by Sara Gran is a slow-burn possession story that’s worth the read. The main couple’s relationship isn’t developed on well, but protagonist Amanda’s slow descent into madness is worth the read. Would definitely read from Gran again. I reviewed it here. 4/5
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson is a nonfiction self-help that I took way too long to listen to. It’s a nice little book that helps you get around giving fucks about the wrong thing and helps you direct yourself into giving a fuck about the right things. I mentioned it here. 4/5
Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual was helpful for giving me ideas for a vampire romance story I’ve been working on for fun. My husband DM’s an RPG podcast with his mates, it was lying around, and suddenly I was immersed in the fascinating tales of gibbering mouthers and hags and centaurs and dragons, and a few many hours had passed. To be fair, I prefer the sound of Vampire: The Masquerade than D&D, but the manual helped open up my eyes to the creatures of fantasy and made me more open to the fantasy genre as a whole. 3/5
The Heights by Louise Candlish is a thriller that fucked me up. I mean, read it for yourself. That ending! I haven’t been so stunned by a book since I read American Psycho years ago. Most of if it’s a slow burn, and the protagonist is your typical lying unreliable psychological thriller narrator. But…the ending is worth it! I reviewed it here. 4/5
The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix is a fantasy that I surprisingly enjoyed. The narrator made the story, and Nix’s writing is addictive and readable. You just want to keep listening to see what happens to the characters. I especially loved the love interest Merlin. I reviewed it here. 3.75/5
The Store by James Patterson & Richard DiLallo was my first ever Patterson read, and it was certainly dramatic and readable. It was all smooth sailing, until the big reveal, which was a major cop-out and dropped this book down by a star. Paterson/DiLallo seemed to think it was the protagonist being smart and getting one-up on The Store, but it was just very average. 3/5
Stalking Claremont by Bret Christian is a comprehensive, chilling, haunting, stark story about a serial killer who haunted Australia for two decades. Sometimes the narration lapsed into overdramatic journalism, and I wished for less bias towards Christian’s former paper, but it was overall an emotional ride. I reviewed it here. 3.75/5
Survive the Night by Riley Sager was a surprisingly enjoyable read to end the year. I DNF’d Sager’s first book Final Girls but I absolutely loved this one. The main characters, the setting, the twists and turns, the Nirvana, it’s everything I hoped from my first Sager misread. I’m glad I gave the author another chance, even though it’s only ’cause a BookTuber I watch who loved the first one gave this one a shit review and I thought, “Well, perhaps we think in opposites?” A very decent thriller, even though I predicted the villain very early on, thanks to its employing of The Girl on the Train’s true and tested villain method. 4/5
I didn’t end up finishing Midnight Sun, but I did read 450 pages and that technically counts as a full novel. I’m also well on my way to finishing Hangman by Jack Heath, and have started The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and Brave by Rose McGowan. There’s also a ton of new books I’ve added to my physical library, and I promise you I will read through them one by one.
For 2022, though?
- Less time-wasting on YouTube and the like, more reading, whether it’s physical, ebook or audiobook
- One of my first blog posts of next year will be a book haul of what I’ve purchased thanks to the Arts Assist Award. These ones are the top of the TBR pile, specifically Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, and an ARC the nice folks at Dymocks gave me that describes itself as being like Bret Easton Ellis. Yes, please!
- This year’s been a fun writing year. I’d love to keep that up. I will keep that up. If you’re like me, you thrive on writing, function on its very essence, your fingers to the keys in pursuit of the characters and where their story will lead you.
- Publishing: I will get more of my work out there for your reading pleasure
- Finish watching Dexter: New Blood. This is an easy one to check off!
- Hopefully, no more lockdowns, otherwise I’ll be covered in tattoos, and I’m gonna run out of ideas eventually! Maybe? Hahaha!
- Not being too harsh on myself. Everyone’s working at their own pace. If the ’20s have taught us anything, the tortoise will beat the hare.
What are your goals for 2022? Onwards and upwards!