2021’s Year in Books: Part Two

As you know, I am on a journey to reach my reading goal for the year. For those who’ve just joined in, you can read part one, here; but here is the second instalment to what I’ve been flicking through. Warning, minor spoilers ahead!

Icarus and the Sun by Gabriel Picolo

Inspired by the Greek myth of Icarus, this reimagined tale focuses on the possibility that Icarus loved the Sun and what love story they were destined for.

I originally fell in love with this concept when I found some of the artwork cropping up on Twitter and Instagram and eventually found the artist, Gabriel Picolo. The artwork was beautiful and I loved the idea of Icarus in love with the sun – would that be why he dared to fly closer?

It originally started as snippets in his account and eventually blossomed to a book – one I never hesitated in supporting. I couldn’t wait, it was a romance story I was truly invested in; because I had to know all the details, how did they meet, what happened to the end, what was it like?

There is beautiful illustrations as part of this book, my personal favourite being the plants with names. The transition from screen to paper worked really well and I poured over each one with great care.

Unfortunately, the story to me seemed a little rushed in places. How they ended up together and how they ended seemed forced, and their courtship seemed over in a moment.

I know it’s a forbidden romance, but I didn’t feel that connection as I had when it was snippets online? I would have liked more details to be fleshed out for it to carry the weight needed for a story this big.

Still I did enjoy some parts of the story, it did have really beautiful and tender moments; and the images do strike a chord with me. Maybe with another book to help flesh out the details, this could be a fascinating series.

My rating: 4/5

Unsolved Murders: True Crime Cases Uncovered by Amber Hunt and Emily G. Thompson

A curious collection of unsolved murder mysteries are unpacked in this book and make you wonder if you could crack the case.

I wanted to love this book. I’m fascinated with true crime, and finding out the motive, so unsolved whodunnits have that element of drawing your own conclusions to figure out what happened. There’s something oddly curious and mysterious about them that draws you in.

It’s no wonder then that this book stood out to me; and it does offer some interesting cases, like the ‘Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?’ case of ’43. Each case has a few pages dedicated to outlining the crime, the theories put forward and any potential culprits with some (not overly gruesome) crime scene photos.

Now it’s enough to peak your interest in each case, but if you want anything more detailed, you’ll be reliant on your own research. It seems very much like a short introduction to each crime, as if you were touring a museum of true crime.

It didn’t really take you anywhere beyond that a brief encounter with each mystery; is it strange, I wanted more detail on mysteries? It felt like we barely got started on one case before moving onto another.

There also appeared to be very little consistency with the narrative of each tale, each section of a case seemed stilted and rooted into that one part. No flow connecting the story together, and every part was then summarised at the conclusion. It makes you wonder if you couldn’t have just read that instead?

Ultimately, there wasn’t a lot of information here to sink your teeth into, and without the detail, you didn’t really feel like you could engross yourself into each unsolved case. Sure, it makes it a quick read for those just getting into a true crime, but you’d honestly get more from a Netflix documentary than this book; and sadly, it would probably flow better too.

My rating: 3/5

A Touch of Darkness (Hades and Persephone Book One) by Scarlett St. Clair

Another book inspired by Greek Myth, only this time, it gets a modern and sexy twist to the tale of Hades and Persephone.

I’ll admit, I totally fall for trends, especially book related ones. I stumbled on an Instagram post about some books that were a little steamy and me, being the nosey person I am, naturally wanted to step outside my comfort zone and check it out. I fell hook, line and sinker for this.

I’d like to tell you it was worth it, but we both know I’d be lying! The plotline is very predictable. The intial meeting, her hating him eventually thawing into love; a love rival turned creep, disapproving parent/caring best friend – all helping her come through the other side as a ‘new woman’.

It’s an easy read, and to put it simply, it does what it says on the tin. It offers a fantasy, an easy to immerse one, that gives you a slow burn on the ‘romance’. I think that’s why you’re hooked till the end because it carries you through it with little effort – kind of like a welcome distraction.

I also have to give it props for taking such a myth as Hades and Persephone and their love and putting a creative spin on it; and whilst I struggled with moderning Greek myth, I can see why St Clair elected to bring it up to speed as it certainly helped sell more of the narrative.

Despite the story feeding into some common romance traps, I did still enjoy this. It was a welcomed distraction and venture in Greek myth (an area of history, I always did enjoy) with a little bit of romance; which I’ll confess, isn’t too bad in small doses.

For me, this has to be a book I’d read when I am in need of some comfort and distraction; and when I am not feeling as motivated to delve into something heavier, like true crime or fantasy. It’s a fun little happy patch for bad days; and I’d be lying if I didn’t enjoy the chemistry in this book too. So if you’re looking for a quick book fling, this is the one for you!

My rating: 3.5/5

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

A beautiful, inspiring and heartwarming collection of poems on growth and healing, that find a way to reach out and touch your soul.

I’m just gonna come right out and say it, I loved it. Each and every single poem was beautiful. It is a testament in showing beauty in being honest and vulnerable, even on a page.

There is one that speaks to me about people being like flowers, who change with each season; that piece was like poetry for the soul, as this was something I needed to hear. Time and seasons can change a person, like they can a flower.

This is what I like about this collection. Each piece seemed heartfelt and touching, and also reflections of myself in each piece. It was like I found parts of myself, pulped and bound in a book.

Alongside each piece is stunning illustrations, almost befitting of the pieces that represent. I fell head over heels in love with this book that I devoured it in one day.

If you ever need a pick me up, and some food for thought to help change your perspective on a few things – I urge you to read this book. Let this help give you some healing on the days that rain.

My rating: 5/5

Unsolved Deaths by Charles Phillips

My partner treated me to this intriguing book of mysteries after I struggled to get into my last true crime book. I was pleasantly surprised!

After reading Unsolved Murders: True Crime Cases Uncovered, I was a little skeptical about true crime books as this predecessor left a lot to be desired.

I’ll admit this now, my partner was right about this book. That I would like it for its strange tales into the macabre. He suggested I give it a try as it might be a bitter fit, and he wasn’t wrong.

It’s a bite-sized, dip your toe in the water, crime book; and what makes this book such a hit, it does what it says on the tin. Strange deaths or weird disappearances, it delivers.


The book is clear and concise with its information, which flows from start to end. There is no jumping from section to section, trying to piece a case between the lines – nor is there any repetitive. The case is laid bare and you can read your own interpretations from it.

What’s more, unlike the Unsolved Murders book, the images are clear and fit. You don’t have to peak through layers of filters, effects and images ontop of images.

This is how an introduction into true crime should be. Clear, concise and strange. It’s enough to give you a picture and a taste, whilst coaxing you to delve deeper – read between the lines and make your own decisions too. I wasn’t disappointed, I felt my questions answered and I wanted to push to find more about this topic.

This was true crime done right!

My rating: 5/5

More books inbound!

~ E

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