• Grace A. Johnson

2021 Highlights: Reviewing Favorites


I don't suppose I've made it official quite yet, but I do consider Of Blades and Thorns a book blog (among, like, fifty million other things), so when it comes down to my highlights of the past year, book reviews are among my foremost topics! (Well, that and movies/TV shows and music...but I didn't keep up with either of those last year, so...)

Y'all, I wrote at least sixty reviews last year...and probably only half of those are on Of Blades and Thorns (I post all my reviews on Goodreads, my favorite ones on my blog, and the ones I remember to on Amazon)! So, as you can imagine, picking one or two favorite reviews to share would be...crazy. Hence why I've divided this post into my first/last review, longest/shortest review, most/least popular review, most positive/negative review, etc! And, of course, a couple of my favorites - although, to be honest, I quite like them all!

 

First Review of the Year


Dreams of Savannah by Roseanna M. White. My post may not have been laid-out as well as I would’ve liked, but my foremost priority for my review of Dreams of Savannah was containing all my wacky stream-of-consciousness in a neat structure! Suffice it to say, I think I did that rather well, but I missed being able to gushing excessively! Fun fact: my review actually went live on release day!

Last Review of the Year


Never Leave Me by Jody Hedlund. Y’all...this review erred on the negative side, which was not how I wanted to end 2021. However, I tried my best to balance my negativity with some positivity, but it was just really hard to connect with this book! Fun fact: this book is one of five that released on January 4th of this year!

Most Positive Review

A Midnight Dance by Joanna Davidson Politano. Of course, I had quite a few positive reviews this past year...so picking just one was pure torture, but I eventually settled for my review of A Midnight Dance—not just because I had ZERO qualms about this book but also because my feelings for the story and characters were so strong that writing this review was more difficult than I’d expected!

Most Negative Review


After She Falls by Carmen Schober. You’ll find a lot of two-star ratings on my Goodreads, but I try to keep my negative reviews few and far between and sprinkle some happy thoughts into the ones I do write. All that said, 2021’s most negative review was mine for After She Falls. It was a book I wanted to love but simply couldn’t. I’m still open to giving Schober’s work another try when her next novel releases!

Most Popular Review


The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White. I don’t know how, but this review clocks in at over 120 views! Most of my reviews have an average of thirty, so that’s saying something, for sure!

Least Popular Review


Campus Menace by Preston Shires. This review only has about eleven views, making it my least popular in 2021 even though it was my second review!

Longest Review


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It wasn’t the gifs that made this baby the longest one of the year...it was the word count of over 3k!

Shortest Review


It may have been a long post...but the actual review of The Toymaker’s Doll by E. G. Bella was SUPER short! Only because it was a short story—not because I had fewer thoughts, of course!

Reviewing Styles I Tried


I mentioned earlier that, for my first review of 2021, I tried out a briefer, more concise reviewing style. I promptly returned to my wholly unstructured method for my review of The Dressmaker’s Secret by Kellyn Roth. I reviewed a slew of short stories by Hannah Linder in one post—something I don’t like but ended up repeating… because, once I started my three months of Kindle Unlimited, I began a four-part series of monthly mini reviews for February, March (first post & second post), and April!

And leave it to me to review an entire series in one post, like I did for the Moretti trilogy by Kristina Hall!

Back to styles, though.

Once I finished up my mini reviews, I began reviewing books as an influencer for a couple publishing companies—Bethany House and Revell—and my first review for them of Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon, introduced my next reviewing style, which I’ve more or less stuck with throughout the rest of the year!

Of course, I bend the rules sometimes and just go with it, but for the most part, this structure works and I love it!

One such moment was for my gif-full review of Pride and Prejudice, which has made it onto my list of...

My Favorite Reviews

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Partly for the gifs...but mainly because I loved examining each character, gushing about how lovely this book is, and adding my thoughts into the melting pot of opinions on this classic novel!

  • The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White. I adored this book, so of course I was happy to review it! What I love the most about this review is all the quotes I sprinkled throughout - something that I repeated in 2022's first review of the sequel, To Treasure an Heiress!

  • Cathedral by Maya Joelle. This was my second poetry collection review but only the first that I've posted on here...and not only did I love each and every poem, but I loved sharing my thoughts on them!

  • A Midnight Dance by Joanna Davidson Politano. Actually, the main reason why I love this review is because of my first few opening lines...which was also my jury review on Goodreads before I wrote the full one. They're rather poetic and they capture my thoughts quite well! Perhaps I should've just left my review at that!

  • After She Falls by Carmen Schober. Should I love such a negative review so much? I...have no idea. But I honestly enjoyed ranting and being judgmental - I mean, expressing myself. (Seriously, though, I'm so opinionated and assertive and what's worse is that I don't mind that in the least.)

  • Honestly, though, I love all my reviews (as strange as that sounds...I guess), and you can find even more of them on Goodreads (a whole 157 of them currently)!

 

Well, if anything, this post has reminded me of all the books I read in 2021 that I still haven't reviewed yet. Boy, am I behind! I do hope you'll take a peek at some of these reviews, if you haven't yet. You may just find your next favorite read!

Also, what are your thoughts on reviews that are full of rantish opinions (specifically my rantish opinions)?


Yours in spirit and script,

Grace


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