I woke up on this last day of 2021 determined to set down a list of books I read this year. The number comes to 38, although I’m fairly sure I’ve read an additional 10 – 15 I simply don’t recall. But here is the year-end round-up. As you can see, I read pretty much everything.
The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stewart Turton
Really enjoyed this book which is basically a 19th c. English manor house murder mystery with the Quantum Leap aspect of the main character jumping into different characters. Fascinating premise.
The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones (currently reading)
I think the most disturbing thing about the book is discovering how little we are taught about our own (U.S.) history. How deeply entrenched racism – and the belief that darker-skinned Americans are not quite fully human – has affected absolutely everything in this country, up to the present day.
The Actual Star by Monica Byrne
Told in 3 threads 1000 years apart, starting with the Maya and extending to a “post-Diluvian” future, this complex novel that follows the lives of 3 reincarnated beings to create a new path for humanity often trips over itself (the author did so much research on the Maya, it actually impedes understanding). I have been trying to write a multi-generational story myself for years, and was interested in how Byrne pulled this off.
Akata Warrior / Akata Witch by Ndedi Okorafor
Imagine Hogwarts in Africa, and Hermoine is the focus (as she should have been). Terrific bridge between Young Reader & YA. Looking forward to reading the finale, Akata Woman.
All In by Billie Jean King
I was a little tennis freak as a girl – right through my teens, Billy Jean King was my idol. When you read all she went through to be her authentic self, to make sure no one had to fight as hard, to trailblaze women rights, women’s sports, and women in business, fills you with pride that such an individual was part of your world.
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
Very complex multiple POV tale that takes a long while to cohere. I was actually disappointed to discover it was the start to a series.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michelle Richardson
Interesting story about a little-known genetic disorder that creates prejudice (had to look up “Blues”), poverty, misogyny and testing the human spirit.
The Boys by Ron and Clint Howard
An autobio about the young princes of American TV of the 60s and 70s. Sort of dull.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemison
Terrific premise and writing. Very enjoyable – but another book I was surprised was a series start.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Haven’t read a historical fantasy I liked as much as Mary Renault’s work. Wonderful.
Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill
Enjoyable “robot uprising while dedicated robot tries to save his human” book. I hear it will be a movie soon.
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
A curiously passive tale about a young woman who becomes involved with the Oxford English Dictionary’s origins. Words deemed unworthy of inclusion tend to be about/descriptive of women. Wanted to like this, but didn’t.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Meh. Twilight for grown-ups. I don’t believe a college professor acts like this because I know many.
The First Dai and Julia Omnibus by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook (INDIE AUTHORS)
What if Rome never collapsed, and still held its Empire clear to Britain. Fascinating world-building for this entertaining mystery series.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Very enjoyable if slow-paced read. Never goes exactly where you expect… & that’s a good thing.
The Heretic’s Apprentice – A Cadfael Mystery by Ellis Peters
I have loved the Cadfael mysteries since I saw the series on PBS with Derek Jacoby. Of course, the books are so much better and more detailed, about a monk who uses forensics in Britain’s Dark Ages.
The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Lovely tale that blends “1984” with “Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children.”
The Humility of Humans – A Penny White Mystery by Chrys Cymri (INDIE AUTHOR)
The finale of this wonderful series that blends fantasy and Christianity in ways C.S. Lewis wished he could.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuro Ishaguro
I admit that I found this puzzling – and it was not resolved until I had finished it and thought about it for some time. In some ways, a robot’s take on his earlier work, “Remains of the Day.”
Leviathan Wakes by James A. Corey
If you’ve watched The Expanse TV series, you’ve seen this complex imagining of a space-faring humanity. The series tracks the books closer than any other visual interpretation I’ve ever seen. Mostly, the books simply expand what the characters are thinking, and clarify their motivations.
The Library Book by Susan Orleans
The true story of the arson of the LA Library in the 80s. Interesting and well written. Still wondering why the publishers decided on the blah title and cover.
Me: Elton John
It’s like EJ collected all the press offices’ stories told about himself over the years. Nothing new here.
Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice (currently reading)
Having lost Anne Rice earlier this month, I wanted to read something of hers I hadn’t before. I love “Interview with the Vampire” and “Lestat,” and recommend them often. However, I found her writing degraded as she was pressed to write a series… and I can’t say this book changed my thinking.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
A nifty premise with a seriously disappointing ending.
A Necessary End by E.M. Swift-Hook (INDIE AUTHOR)
I was privileged to be a beta-reader for this excellent last book of Swift-Hook’s 9 book Fortune’s Fools series. The worldbuilding and character arcs are spectacular.
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
A Robert Heinlein space story for grown-ups. Terrific.
The Parallels by Keyla Demaers (INDIE AUTHOR)
Multi-POV aliens and humans in a complex galaxy, with competing aims. Start of a series.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Smantha Shannon
This doorstop of a fantasy is totally engrossing, and by the end, you will be clamoring for more!
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
It’s been about 30 years since the last really good tale of an alien and human becoming friends through adversity (“Enemy Mine”). Well done, and perhaps Weir’s best book to date.
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
Interesting book about his time in office. Like having Obama speak in your head.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
A young woman stumbles into New York high society and falls for a young man she assumes is society. Meanwhile, her best friend takes him over. Strangely unsatisfying.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
One of my favorite reads of the year. Part made-up Hollywood gossip, part mystery. A lot of fun.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
I wanted to like this, but it just bumbled along and then ended oddly.
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
A surprisingly good historical fantasy about London’s 1st female detective, and the ghost who wants to help.
The Three Body Problem by Cixin Lin
I admit that this book was possibly smarter than me. Set during China’s Cultural Revolution, an alien race which lives at a different rate of existence somehow creates a mental connection that is more-or-less an invasion of Earth. Hugo Award winner.
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
In which a man has to die before he discovers his true self, and love. Good, but not quite as engaging as their 1st book.
The Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Wendig’s attempt at rewriting The Stand. Probably could be edited down to half its girth, but mostly entertaining, with a terrific twist ending.
Want to read a paranormal romance about King Arthur and Merlin” Pick up your copies of my Heirs to Camelot series before the final one comes out!
The Midsummer Wife (Book 1)
The Solstice Bride (Book 2)
The Priestess of Camelot (prequel)