Nonfiction Books I Hope to Read in 2022

I never thought I would read nonfiction books outside of school….

            I saved nonfiction books on Goodreads all the time, but getting around to actually reading them was another matter. On top of that, I was super picky on what I went for. And why are so many of them so dense?

            Discovering audiobooks in 2021 changed nonfiction for me. The majority of this genre I read in 2021 were on audiobook. This made these specific books far easier, and entertaining, to read. All of a sudden, this barrier within my comfort zone was broken.

            I tried to narrow down this list. Only between the primary audiobook apps I use (Libby and Scribd), there are a lot of nonfiction books and memoirs I want to listen to. Those are:

Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons

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Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen

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Landwhale by Jes M. Baker

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Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes M. Baker

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Big Girl by Kelsey Miller

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One of the subgenres of nonfiction I discovered last year was fat-positive nonfiction. Memoirs, biographies, and anthologies by plus-size individuals accepting their bodies as well as encouraging others to do the same. These books provided insight on how society views plus-size people, and how it is reflected in media, medical fields, etc. Ever since, I’ve been itching for more. The ones listed here are what I’m most interested in at the moment. All cover basically the same topics: fatphobia, body neutrality, and society’s views on plus-size people.  

The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn

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Lady Killers by Tori Telfer

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

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The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

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Last Call by Elon Green

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Cultish by Amanda Montell

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Red Roulette by Desmond Shum

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The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

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We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper 

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I love true crime shows, so it should be no surprise I am attracted to true crime books. And yet I have read the bare minimum. All of these titles are the ones I am most hoping to get to, several of them I’ve had my eye on for years.

The Road to Jonestown is about how Jim Jones built his cult from the ground up and the mindset behind its members. Lady Killers is a collective biography of different female serial killers. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is about the author’s hunt for the Golden State Killer and how her efforts led to his capture. The Five is an in-depth biography on the women murdered by Jack the Ripper. Last Call is about a serial killer targeting members of the queer community in New York. Cultish is a study in cults. Red Roulette is about the author’s search for his missing ex-wife, whom he fears was targeted by corrupted officials in the Chinese government. The Monster of Florence is about a serial killer in Florence whose methods were scarily similar to the Zodiac Killer. We Keep the Dead Close is about the author’s investigation into a mysterious murder that took place at Harvard University years prior.

The Choice by Edith Eva Eger

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In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

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Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes

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Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

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Prior to last year, I thought memoirs extremely narcissistic. Then, I stumbled upon a few by individuals who had real stories to tell. The Choice is a memoir of the author’s experience as a ballet prodigy being forced to entertain the Nazi guards when she and her family are sent to a concentration camp. Beautiful Country is the author’s memoir on her experiences growing up an undocumented Chinese immigrant in Queens, New York. In the Dream House is a memoir about the author’s experience in an emotionally abusive relationship. What’s more, her partner was a woman and this book does a deep-dive into the dynamics in queer abusive relationships. Ordinary Hazards is a memoir written in verse, about the author’s experience growing up in poverty, in an abusive situation, and how writing helped her cope with her circumstances.

They Were Her Property by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

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The Three Mothers by Anna Malaika Tubbs

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When Women Invented Television by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong 

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The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

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When it comes to historical nonfiction, my interests are all over the place. Books about women. Books about war. Books about race and diversity. These next four books all fit into these categories in one form or another.  

They Were Her Property is about white women’s role in the slave trade and how they were often worse than their male counterparts, given slaves were often their only form of income. The Three Mothers follows the mothers of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and James Baldwin, and how their influences on their sons’ lives influenced later generations. When Women Invented Television is about women’s roles behind the scenes of Hollywood. The Splendid and the Vile is a biography of Winston Churchill during World War II.

The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell

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Thanks for Waiting by Doree Shafrir

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But You’re Still So Young by Kayleen Schafer and Lauren Fortgang

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I turned 29 on the 19th of January. I’ve reached the final year of the “sh*t, I’m almost 30!” club. The “current global situation” threw a wrench into the plans I had for my life at this point. Not to mention some other life circumstances, but I had managed to work around those (or so I thought). On top of all that, for the first time in my life, I had been hit by a major case of the “birthday blues.” I know it is a privilege to get older. But I won’t lie: there’s a sense of panic that comes with being so close to 30.

            These three particular books are appealing to what I’m currently feeling about 29. The Panic Years are about the stress on women to have children before it’s “too late.” Thanks for Waiting is the author’s memoir about being a “late bloomer,” where her life progresses later than her friends and others, but there are more benefits than she expected. But You’re Still So Young is about the changing lives of 30-year-olds and how this generation does things differently.

What genre do you specifically want to read more of in 2022?

2021 End of the Year Reading Survey

These statistics take me forever to type up…but, boy, are they satisfying to read over at the end….

 In 2020, when I posted Perpetual Page Turner’s annual end-of-the-year reading survey, I wrote it in an essay format. For me, this works better; most parts of the tag do not apply to my reading year. It, as well as my blog, has remained fairly consistent over the years.  

            Keeping this introduction as short as possible. This is going to take a while!

Basic Statistics

I read 124 books in 2021, across 20,366 pages. My average rating of 2021 was 4.2 stars, which is probably the highest it has ever been.Six of the books I read were rereads. My average page length was 164 pages. This is likely due to the fact most of what I read were picture books. The shortest book I read in 2021 was Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, a 32-page picture book I listened to on audiobook. The longest book I read in 2021 at 654 pages was The Burning God by R.F. Kuang. The most popular book I read was Matilda by Roald Dahl. The least popular book I read was The Wolf Girls by Jane Yolen. The highest rated book I read on Goodreads was Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o.

Best in Books

            When deciding what my favorite book of 2021 was, two books compete for the number one spot. The first is The Burning God by R.F. Kuang, which is the finale of a military fantasy and historical fiction trilogy I had been eager to finish last year. The second is A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson, a queer retelling of Dracula and his brides, as well as the most beautifully written book I read in 2021. The other most beautifully written book of 2021 is Shine Your Icy Crown by Amanda Lovelace. All of the passages and quotes are my favorite, to the point where I would tattoo them on my body.

The Burning God (The Poppy War, #3)
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Fortunately, not many books disappointed me in 2021. I gave only two 1-star reviews, far less than I have in several years. With that said, I was disappointed by a few books I thought I was going to love more, one of them being The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. This is a true crime nonfiction book I’d heard only good things about for years. Unfortunately, it fell flat.

            One of the most surprising reads of 2021 is My Dad’s Best Friend by Katee Robert. The fact I even read erotica at all is surprising to me. For years, I avoided the genre. While the three I read were more smut than plot, they turned out to be a lot more entertaining.

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I started a few new series in 2021 that I really enjoyed. The first favorite is Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. It was one of my first reads of 2021 and it stuck with me throughout the year. It is also my favorite cover of a book I read in 2021. The other two I read back to back: The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire and The Witch Boy graphic novel trilogy by Molly Knox Ostertag. Both I’d heard good things about and they both exceeded my expectations. In fact, two of my favorite sequels of 2021 are Down Among the Sticks and Bones from The Wayward Children series and The Hidden Witch from The Witch Boy trilogy.

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            I also read two great series enders in 2021. One was The Burning God. The other was A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir. While the latter was not necessarily perfect, it will forever sit in my feelings. The characters’ stories wrapped up and it was ultimately a satisfying ending. The same can be said for The Burning God; it was far from a happy ending, but it was also deliciously imperfect and bloody.

            2021 was the year of favorite new authors. The top three being S.T. Gibson, Seanan McGuire, and Molly Knox Ostertag. It was also filled with genres I do not typically read from, specifically nonfiction. This led me to What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon, the most thought-provoking and life-changing book of 2021.

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The most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year was definitely Sadie by Courtney Summers, as well as one I would be more likely to reread in 2022. The titular character, Sadie Hunter, is also my most memorable character of 2021. This girl is amazing and she deserves everything she wants, and then some. Besides Sadie, the other book that shocked me was Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. This one goes there with the subject matter (abduction and child sexual abuse), not shying away from how horrific such a situation is.

            There are a couple of books I can’t believe I waited until 2021 to finally read. One of those books is A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir, the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series. Or any of the books on my priority TBR pile, for that matter—most of which I still have not read. Another is The Other F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce, an anthology of essays edited by Angie Manfredi. This is the kind of book I wish I had as a teenager.

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             A new OTP or a ship I will go down with from 2021 is definitely Bree/Nick/Sel from Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. Normally, I hate love triangles, but the chemistry Bree has with both boys—not to mention Sel being bisexual—has fueled my hopes for a potential thruple in future books. Nick is also my newest fictional crush of 2021. Of course, I will forever and always die on the hill of Laia and Elias from the An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir. It is a tie between Legendborn and A Sky Beyond the Storm on what book crushed my soul. Bloodmarked, the sequel to Legendborn, is also the sequel I am most anticipating in 2022.

Legendborn (The Legendborn Cycle #1)

            My list of favorite non-romantic relationships has steadily grown and I love it. The friendship between Aster, Charlie, and Ariel from The Witch Boy trilogy by Molly Knox Ostertag warmed my heart. While I loved their friendship in the previous books, the bond between Fang Rin and Chen Kitay shown through the brightest in The Burning God.

            While I read several books by authors I have previously read from in 2021, the one that sticks out is Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Until listening to this audiobook, I hadn’t read anything by this author since college. If I hadn’t been so obsessed with my Libby app at the time, I’m not sure when I would have.

Even though I tend to read books by authors I’m familiar with, I still will read a book based solely on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure/bookstagram, etc. One of those books was Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor. I read this because it was nominee in the science fiction category in the Goodreads Choice Awards. I was also interested in reading books by this author, as well as picking up more science fiction in general. Despite it not being a favorite, I still plan on reading more by Nnedi Okorafor.

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The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire has the best world-building/most vivid setting I read this year. The worlds of these stories sucked me right in. My favorite of them is Down Among the Sticks and Bones, a Gothic world inspired by Dracula and Frankenstein. Books that put a smile on my face/were fun to read were Fangs by Sarah Andersen, Matilda by Roald Dahl, and The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain. Books that made me cry or nearly cry in 2021 were Sadie by Courtney Summers, Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, and Eat Cake Be Brave by Melissa Radke. The book that made me the most mad was Black Birds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert. And though I did not read any debuts, I did find a few hidden gems. One of those hidden gems was The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara. Lastly, the most unique book I read in 2021 is All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, a memoir about the author’s experience as growing up queer and Black.

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Blogging & Bookish Life

This is always the section of the survey I have the least answers. My favorite posts I wrote in 2021 are my Let’s Talk Bookish discussions. Trying audiobooks for the first time was the best moment of my bookish/blogging life in 2021. For years, I thought they weren’t for me. But the most challenging thing about my blogging and reading life in 2021 was lacking the mental energy to read and write. This was due to the ongoing pandemic. There was also the struggle to be creative and consistent with blog content.

Audiobooks helped with all these things, to varying degrees. Because of audiobooks, I completed the reading challenges and goals I had set for myself at the beginning of this year. I set several different Goodreads reading goals throughout 2021 and beat them. I even met some of my New Year’s reading goals and resolutions.  

            Though I like the library I currently work in, my best bookish discovery of 2021 was the local independent bookstore nearby. It has become a small little haven that has “stolen” a good chunk of my money.

Looking Ahead

2022 will be the year of backlist books. They take up the majority of my physical TBR, many of which have been there for way too long. There are several books I didn’t get to in 2021 but will be my number one priority in 2022. To name a few: Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab, Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh, A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas, Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco, and Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco.

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            With that said, there are non-debut books I am most anticipating for 2022. The two top are All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir and Unlock Your Storybook Heart by Amanda Lovelace. Both come out in March and both are by authors I adore. Of course, there are also 2022 debuts I am most anticipating. A couple I am most excited for, as well as already own, are Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan and Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly. Another I’m anticipating that comes out later this year is Being Mary Bennet by J.C. Peterson, though there are more where those came from. 2022 looks like another exciting year for new releases. 

Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology, #1)

            There are more than one thing I hope to accomplish or do in my reading/blogging life in 2022. I would love to read more than 100 books again. I would love to read more of the backlist books on my physical TBR. I would like to get back into reading big books and meet a page count over 30,000. In terms of my blog, I would like to write more book recommendations and individual book reviews. While they are not a requirement to be a book blogger, I do enjoy writing them when I have the inspiration to do so.

            This post took me a while to write, but it somehow made me all the more excited for the reading I will get to in 2022.

Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

Story of my life…there are always new releases I never got around to. 2021 had some seriously exciting releases and it was hard to pick which ten to put on this list. Not to mention all the backlist titles from 2020 and before. But more on that another time.

            The top ten 2021 releases I was excited to read but did not get to are:

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Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021. It was also one of my favorite covers I bought last year. The fact it is a Chinese reimagining of a classic fairy tale made it all the more interesting to me.

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These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan was another of my most anticipated 2021 releases I bought immediately when it came out. I do not care if it sounds similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses. I’m pretty much trash to fairy princes at this point.

Survive the Night

Survive the Night by Riley Sager was a July Book of the Month selection I absolutely thought I was going to read in 2021. I distinctly remember planning to read it as a way to get out of the reading slump I was in at the time. Then, for reasons that escape me at the moment, I did not.

Lore

Lore by Alexandra Bracken was the only book on this list I had attempted to read shortly after I bought it. I read roughly 20 pages, then set is aside. I blame it on my anxious mental state making it hard to physically read books.  

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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton was one of those books where the hype got to me just a little. That aside, I was intrigued by the concept and plan on reading it, hopefully, in 2022.

The Four Winds

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah was one of my selections for my February 2021 Book of the Month box.Even though I want to catch up on this author’s backlist, but the synopsis of this novel appeals me the most at the moment.

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Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood was one of my most anticipated releases for the entire 2021. It is a retelling of Jane Eyre set in Ethiopia and features haunted houses and exorcisms. In other words, my kind of book.

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People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry was one of my selections for my April Book of the Month box. This is my other adult romance by this author I bought and still have not read, but are what inspired me to seriously try this genre in the first place.

The Lost Apothecary

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner was one of the few books I broke a book buying ban for. It is a historical fantasy and, admittedly, another book where the hype got to me. With that said, I likely would have bought this book on my own without it.

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The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova was the only book I picked for my August 2021 Book of the Month box. And, truthfully, I chose it primarily for the cover. Then, this book received truly glowing reviews when it published a month later. I realized I made a good choice. 

What new releases had you wanted to read in 2021 but didn’t?

Let’s Talk Bookish: Do Book Buying Bans Work For You? (Round 2)

I wrote on a topic like this a few months ago. At the time, I was dealing with my book-buying addiction battling my limited shelf space. I had attempted to do yet another book buying ban and lasted three weeks before I cracked. This has happened before: I’d set myself on a book buying ban and, shortly after, I would break it.  

The longest I’ve gone without buying books is three or four months. It was spring 2019, my second semester of graduate school. I had three face to face classes, plus an internship. As a result, I had a hard time finding a part-time job through my temp agency. I had limited funds I needed to pay for bus fare, train fare, and lunch. Buying books was out of the question.

When I started my latest job, after a year of unemployment, I put myself on a book buying ban. I was loving seeing commas in my bank account again. Then, I discovered the bookstore in the town square outside of the campus…you can guess what happened next.

At this point, I’ve realized so long as I have the funds, and the urge, I will buy books. That is why, whenever someone asks the question “is it consumerism or is it me?” my response is me.

Of course, I am willing to admit consumerism might play a role. In my case, I don’t feel it is right to blame the bookish internet for my habits. I love owning books as much as I love reading them and visiting the library. I was obsessed with having my personal library even before I discovered BookTube. As soon as I got any money, it went to books. Over the years, it has steadily gotten out of hand. It really hit home this month—my birthday month, no less—when I was buying so many new books that I would have to find space for.

How do I control my spending/buying books I do not have time to read? I would have to be physically incapable to not buy books. In my case, deliberately denying myself something I want only makes it worse. In the past, I tried the “read X number of books off TBR, buy more books.” At first, it worked. Then, it didn’t. After that, I gave myself a list of books I am allowed to buy in a month, limiting to ten. But then I struggled to settle on the titles I wanted the most. There are so many books—new releases and backlist—that I want to read. I might not read them as soon as I get them, but I do plan on reading them…eventually.

When I do set a book buying ban, how long do I ban myself for? Ideally, I aim for three months, one month at the least. More often than not, though, I last no more than the one. Or, however long I take to read the library books I borrowed. If I read them at all.

On the flip side, when I really stick to a book buying ban, I go to the library more often. Obviously, that’s a good thing. Except I borrow in excess as much as buy in excess. Worse still, I do not always read all the books. Fortunately, these are free.

In short: book bans of any kind do not work for me. Or, at least, the might under the right circumstances.

Over the past year, though, I have found small ways to control my book buying habits. There are genres I would rather read from the library or listen to on audiobook. Such examples are nonfiction, middle grade, and erotica. There are books I hear about that I am interested in reading, but I’m not sure if I will like. Furthermore, I eventually learned that I do not need to own every book I enjoyed. Several books I read from the library and I liked a lot, but they are not ones I would reread.

Lastly, there are older titles that are not easily accessible through bookstores or even online. Authors whose books I’ve read and liked well enough, but not in a way I would want t spend money. Not to mention the books from a time where the young adult genre had the kind of cringe-stuff that I would not want to take up my currently limited bookshelf space. 

I always said adulting would never take away my love of reading. Reading is a form of self-care I need to hold on to. With that said, buying books is another matter. The current state of my physical book collection has driven that barb home.

Many thanks to the ladies of Let’s Talk Bookish for including another of my topics!

My Almost Favorites of 2021

Creating an almost favorites list, in addition to the usual favorite reads of the year, was inspired by Hailey in Bookland. In 2020, I had an almost favorites list because there were many books I liked, but they didn’t hit the mark. This year, I have an almost favorites list because keeping the actual favorites narrowed down was nearly impossible.

            These books, technically, are favorites, just not as much as the ones in my top fifteen. Those books are:  

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo was the first book I read in 2021. Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing is one of my favorites. However, despite giving it 5 stars, I completely forgot I had read Clap When You Land. While I will still read anything by Elizabeth Acevedo, this one did not stick out as much as her debut novel, The Poet X.

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All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson was one of the first audiobooks I listened to in 2021. It was also a memoir I’d had my eye on for a while prior to reading. I gave it 5 stars and enjoyed it for what it was, but it did not sit in my feelings like other nonfiction I had read in the year.  

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Legendborn by Tracy Deonn is the book that got me into audiobooks. Even though it was not quite a 5 star read, I think about the story and the characters often. You would think this would be on my favorites, but it was only after time away from the book did I realize how much I enjoyed it.

Legendborn (The Legendborn Cycle #1)

The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara is a biography on one of the first female animators at Disney and the mastermind behind the monster in Creature from the Black Lagoon. This is one of the few biographies I’ve read that was not only very entertaining, but humanized its subject instead of writing about the person like a construct.

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The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain is a book I gave 5 stars simply for the delightful audiobook experience. Not that it wasn’t a good story, although I am not sure I would have enjoyed as much if I had read it physically.  

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A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy short stories with exclusively African American female protagonists. I enjoyed most of the stories, however many of them had concepts I think would have done better as full-length novels.

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Black Birds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert is a young adult nonfiction, one that made me feel all sorts of things. Anger and sadness in particular. Like several other almost favorites, I wanted so badly to put it on my actual favorites list. Only there were others that just affected me in a stronger, more personal way than this one.  

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The Library Book by Susan Orlean is a nonfiction book I expected to love. I mean, as a librarian and general library lover, I should have given it 5 stars. Unfortunately, I was bored in more chapters than I was entertained. By no means did I give The Library Book a bad rating; I think I simply expected too much going in. With that said, I appreciated the author’s research into libraries and exploring her own appreciation for the institution as a whole.  

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Quiet by Susan Cain was a nonfiction book I had wanted to read since 2012 or 2013. A book about introverts was the validation I needed for my own introversion. While this book did resonate with me on my experiences, I also sometimes felt like the author was a little too hard on extroverts.  

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The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James was the fourth book I read in 2021 and one I, sadly, did not give much thought to after I read it. I distinctly remember loving the protagonist and the anxiety representation. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was also close to be 5 stars, but completely missed the mark with the antagonist’s weak motivations.

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What books missed the mark for you in 2021?

Review of A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow (Spoiler-Free)

A Spindle Splintered is the second book I read in 2022 and—spoiler alert—I loved it!

            I read it in a day as an audiobook on Scribd. The narrator was amazing; I loved the accents and voices she used for each character. I read A Spindle Splintered because I want to get back into reading more fantasy. Given it was a nominee for the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards, this book seemed like a good place to start. A Spindle Splintered being a novella is what sealed the deal, since I like to begin the new reading year with shorter books.  

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            The characters of A Spindle Splintered is what made this book for me. I adored the protagonist, Zinnia. She was sassy and likeable. She was a hot mess, but she rolled with it. She embraced her terminal illness with a sort of morbid dignity, keeping everyone, save her best friend, at arm’s length and wishing her parents would stop trying to find a cure. While this is admirable in its own way, it was clear she was holding herself back from truly living in the limited time she did have. Hence why she sees the parallels between her story and the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. She sees them both as living dead girls subject to their cursed fates.

            The primary focus of the novella is Zinnia looking for ways to fight off her “curse.” Discussions of fate is another major theme of A Spindle Splintered. Zinnia and the other Sleeping Beauty she meets, Primrose, are looking for ways to escape their respective fates. But these themes led to twists I did not see coming and showed a whole new perspective to a commonly used trope.

            Another prominent theme of A Spindle Splintered is women empowering other women or women saving other women. Female friendship—Zinnia’s friendship with her best friend Charm, as well as her growing camaraderie with Primrose—is the core of the story. The classic tropes of princesses and fairy tales are turned on their heads. Evil fairies are actually women who got the raw end of “happily ever after.” These are another of my favorite aspects of A Spindle Splintered.

            The plot of A Spindle Splintered is a blend of fantasy and contemporary. There are the classic Sleeping Beauty elements, but with a twist. The climax seemed far-fetched, yet somehow it worked. The writing sucked me right in. It was descriptive and atmospheric. In my opinion, it accurately portrayed a modern protagonist in a high fantasy world. It made the characters and situations feel more real. The writing also had on the nose, sarcastic insight on traditional fairy tales. Zinnia’s wit, her knowledge on folklore, and what she thought of the same beats playing out in the other parallel worlds were very entertaining.

Overall, I gave A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow 5 stars. Obviously, I loved this book. If you are looking for a Sleeping Beauty retelling or for a book where female friendship is the focus, I would highly recommend this novella.

Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection

January is my birthday month, so you know what that means….

            ALL THE BOOKS!

            You would think I would have calmed down after all the books I bought the last two months. My birthday coming right after the holidays only makes it worse, with the hoard of gift cards and money. Not to mention the sales that happed after Christmas. Consider this week’s Top 10 Tuesday a preview to my birthday book haul….

The Maid by Nita Prose was an add-on in January Book of the Month, even though I was intrigued by it. I will say, it was hard to settle on what to put in my box this month.

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Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez was an add-on for Book of the Month in December. I had been interested in this book, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted it at the time. Obviously, I’d made up my mind since then.  

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Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle was a graphic novel I had previously checked out from the library but did not get around to reading. I was going to check it out again, but then a snowstorm hit and I didn’t want to leave my house. Next time I was at the bookstore, I bought my own copy.

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Blake Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson was one of my selections for the January Book of the Month. I love intergenerational family stories.

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Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly was the second of my January Book of the Month picks. It was a coin toss between this one and Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins. I chose Love & Other Disasters because I want to read more queer romances.

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The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis is my final pick for my January Book of the Month box. It is also by an author I’ve wanted to read more of.

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Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan was one of the books on my Christmas wish list. I did not receive any books for Christmas, so I bought them for myself.

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Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff was one of my most anticipated releases from 2021, as well as one of the books from my Christmas wish list.

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The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee is another of the books off my Christmas wishlist I bought myself.

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The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward is one of the books I bought online for 50% off from Barnes & Noble.

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And there’s more where these came from….

Final Quarterly Wrap Up of 2021

The last quarter of 2021 made me wonder if I could ever pick a favorite. This one was interesting, to say the least.

            I gave up on creating structure in my reading from October to December. Despite the monthly TBRs, I ended up reading whatever I was in the mood for. I fell into a few little slumps, as I usually do this part of the year. There were so many books I wanted to read. I wanted to read spooky books, then I didn’t. I wanted to read Christmas books, then I wouldn’t. It was a never-ending cycle.

            In the last three months of 2021, I read 34 books: Which, I have to say, is not bad.

I read 8 books in October:

Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz audio collection (Libby audiobook)

4 stars

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Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (reread)

4 stars

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The Bear and the Moon by Matthew Burgess (Scribd e-book)

4 stars

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The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad (Libby audiobook)

4 stars

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This is the Rope by Jacqueline Woodson (Libby audiobook)

5 stars

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The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen (Scribd audiobook)

5 stars

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Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani (Scribd audiobook)

5 stars

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The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (Scribd audiobook)

3.5 stars

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In November, I read 18 books

Women and Other Monsters by Jess Zimmerman (Libby audiobook)

3.75 stars

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Black Birds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert (Scribd audiobook)

4.75 stars

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The Library Book by Susan Orlean

A TBR book read along with the Libby audiobook

4.5 stars

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When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll (library book)

NO RATING

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The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (Libby audiobook)

3 stars

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The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman (Libby audiobook)

NO RATING

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Thankful by Eileen Spinelli (Libby audiobook)

5 stars

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Miriam at the River by Jane Yolen (Libby audiobook)

4 stars

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Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (Libby audiobook)

5 stars

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And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson (Scribd audiobook)

5 stars

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Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (Scribd audiobook)

5 stars

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Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes (Libby audiobook)

4 stars

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Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie (Libby audiobook)

3.75 stars

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My Two Border Towns by David Bowles (Libby audiobook)

4 stars

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Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Libby audiobook)

5 stars

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Roanoke: The Lost Colony by Jane Yolen (library book)

4 stars

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The Mary Celeste by Jane Yolen (library book)

5 stars

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The Wolf Girls by Jane Yolen (library book)

5 stars

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In December I read 8 books

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor (Libby audiobook)

4 stars

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Madeline’s Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans (library book)

5 stars

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Madeline and the Bad Hat by Ludwig Bemelmans (library book)

4 stars

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Madeline in America and Other Holiday Tales by Ludwig Bemelmans (library book)

4 stars

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Madeline in London by Ludwig Bemelmans (library book)

4 stars

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Robbergirl by S.T. Gibson (Scribd audiobook)

4.5 stars

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Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Physical TBR book

3.5 stars

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Sadie by Courtney Summers (Scribd audiobook)

5 stars

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Even though mood reading led me to some of my favorite books in 2021, it got on my nerves this last quarter. It almost felt like I was wasting my time creating monthly TBRs. The repeated slumps didn’t help. While I still read mostly audiobooks, I did get back into reading more physical books. I also tried an e-book for the first time. I liked the experience more than I thought I would. As such, I will consider reading more e-books for shorter works, like picture books.

            The genres I read this quarter, like the previous three, were all over the place. I read mostly picture books, with nonfiction coming in at a close second. This is part of why this quarter made me want more structure in my reading, like creating reading lists of books to complete within a specific timeframe.

Lastly, I also want to diversify my reading in more ways than one. I want to read genres I do not often reach for, like middle grade and classics. I want to get back into genres I haven’t reached for in a while, like horror, mysteries, and thrillers. I want to dive deeper into the genres I discovered in 2021, like nonfiction and erotica. Finally, of course, I want to read more diverse books in general, by people of color and books with characters of different race, sexual orientation, disabilities, etc.

I have a lot of reading to do in 2022.

All the Holiday (Book Haul) Cheer

Sadly, I did not receive any books as gifts this year for Christmas….Am I a little disappointed by that? I would be lying if I said no. Truth be told, I can’t say I blame my dad or anyone else as to why they did not. I’ve bought myself a lot of books this year. Even in December, when I told myself I would not.  

            As you might expect, this is another large book haul. Let’s get to it.

Book of the Month selections

            A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw is a paranormal mystery set in a mysterious small town where several people have gone missing. The first was a psychic hired to find a lost girl. The other is a reporter investigating the closed off community and gets in way over her head.

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            The Postmistress of Paris by Meg Waite Clayton is a historical fiction novel I’m shocked I never heard of prior to finding it on Book of the Month. It is set in France of WWII, following a young woman using her position as a postmistress to help the Resistance after the Nazis invaded.

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            The Family by Naomi Krupitsky was a selection from November I was not entirely interested in at the time. Then, I followed the positive reviews surrounding its release. After that, this family drama about two daughters of a mob family became much more intriguing to me.

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Holiday Books

            So, This is Christmas by Tracy Andreen was one of the most hyped Christmas books this year. While the concept interested me—a girl showing her grumpy classmate around her hometown Christmas, Oklahoma—I will admit the cover is really what got me.

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            I’m Dreaming of a Wyatt Christmas by Tiffany Schmidt is a cutesy Christmas novel about a teen girl nannying for a wealthy family during the holiday season and bonds with the older half-brother of her charges.

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            Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva is a retelling of Charles Dickens, who is struggling with writer’s block during the holiday season. Then, he meets a young woman who gives him a new outlook on Christmas.

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            One Way or Another by Kara McDowell is a Groundhog Day inspired book set during Christmas, following a teen girl struggling to cope with her anxiety on making decisions out of fear of making the wrong one.

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            Blame it on the Mistletoe by Beth Garrod is a young adult book similar to the movie The Holiday. Two girls, one from America and the other from England, switch places during the holiday season and the change of scene helps them find what they were looking for.

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            The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo was another of the hyped Christmas YA romances of this year. It is set in an inn, where two rivals are forced to work together and, after accidentally switching phones, learn they can help each other in more ways than one.

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            All I Want for Christmas by Wendy Loggia is yet another cutesy Christmas YA romance about a girl looking for someone to kiss under the mistletoe. She thinks she’s found the perfect guy, until the one she least expects shakes up her holiday season.

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            The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox is one of the most hyped adult Christmas romances of the year. Adult twin sisters switch places to help each out of their respective messy situations during Christmas and, of course, two super-hot guys come into the picture.

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            The Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole is a book I, admittedly, bought on impulse after reading the synopsis and seeing the cover online. It is an intergenerational story, about a young woman’s friendship with an older woman and how a dress brings them together.

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            Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday is a cute royal romance about a British duke falling for an American woman while in the country for a wedding.  

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            Nick and Noel’s Christmas Playlist by Codi Hall is a friends-to-lovers story set during Christmas, on a Christmas tree farm. I didn’t need to know much more than that.

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            A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli is set in India during Diwali, where a young woman finds herself, and love, during the season.

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            A Season for Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss is a women’s fiction novel following an older woman who is trying to find a new sense of holiday cheer after reaching a crossroads in her life.

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            It Started with a Dog by Julia London follows two rivals brought together by their dogs and their competing businesses. It was the dogs that got me.

It Started with a Dog (Lucky Dog, #2)

            A Certain Appeal by Vanessa King was a book I thought was a New Year’s Eve story because of the cover. Only, turns out, it is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in a Burlesque club. I’m not mad about it, though.

A Certain Appeal

            Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis is an adult romance I’m not entirely sure if it’s set during Christmas. But I liked the idea of a couple meeting during a blizzard, then think they will never see each other again until fate intervenes.

Eight Perfect Hours

            The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss is another Christmas friends-to-lovers romance. Do I even need to explain I had an obsession with holiday romances this year?

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            Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan is the only book from this haul I managed to read during Christmas. It is set in Ireland circa 1985, during Christmas, as a man named Bill tries to expose a terrible secret the local church is hiding from the community.

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            This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens is a New Year’s Eve romance whose cover reminds me of an ice cream sundae.

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            Meet Me in London by Georgia Toffolo is an adult romance about a fashion designer agreeing to a fake-dating situation in order to help her career.

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            One Day in December by Josie Silver is a modern Christmas romance classic. Admittedly, I was wary of this book, given the element of emotional cheating. Yet, there was something about it that was so intriguing.

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            Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan follows a couple who use their bookstore to spread Christmas cheer in their small town.

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            The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan follows a young woman down on her luck and forced to stay with her estranged sister. She later takes a job at a quirky bookstore that helps her find a new lease on life in a most unexpected way.

The Christmas Bookshop

            The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer is a holiday romance following a Jewish woman with a secret career as a Christmas romance novelist. When her editor charges her to write a Hannukah romance, she reluctantly teams up with her childhood rival during the Matzah Ball to find inspiration.

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            Always, in December by Emily Stone is a women’s fiction on the sadder side, following two people brought together by grief during the holidays. And this is one of the covers I love the most of this haul.

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Used Bookstore Finds

            The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate follows three young women looking for lost family members in the post-Civil War south. Their story intersects with a modern-day teacher, who discovers their story and uses it to connect with her students.

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            Night Music by Jojo Moyes follows a widow named Isabel who inherits the derelict Spanish House from her estranged uncle and meets a man named Matt who plans on using the house for revenge.

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            The Alice Network by Kate Quinn follows two women brought together during World War I. One is a spy recruited to work in the Alice Network in France and the other is an American socialite looking for her missing cousin.

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            The Huntress by Kate Quinn is another historical thriller set during World War II about a female assassin who previously worked for the Nazis.

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            The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff is a story of friendship between three women and a female spy ring working together in France during World War II.

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            The Clockmaker’s Wife by Daisy Wood is another historical fiction novel following a clockmaker’s wife who inadvertently gets involved with helping the Resistance with her husband and his clocks.

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            The Love Letter by Lucinda Riley was previously titled The Royal Secret. It follows a reporter who stumbles upon the story of a lifetime when she discovers the lost love letters of a man connected to the nobility as well as his troubling secrets quickly coming to the surface.  

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            The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory is a well-known historical drama following Mary Boleyn, who was the mistress of King Henry IIIV before her notorious younger sister and rival, Anne.

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            Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict is a fictional account of Clementine Churchill, Winston Churchill’s wife, as she works beside her husband during World War II.

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            The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict follows a 1940s Hollywood actress hiding both her Jewish heritage and her scientific mind from a world dominated by men and still recovering from the disaster of World War II.

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            The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry is a historical novel with touches of mythology and science. A widow pursues her passion for a mysterious creature called the Essex Serpent and, as a result, questions not only her faith, but the rapid scientific advancement happening around her.

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OK…I’m done…for now….

My Top 15 Favorite Books of 2021

In 2020, I struggled to pick even five favorite books for the year. In 2021, I had a hard time narrowing that list down.

            There were so many books I read and enjoyed this year, I couldn’t keep the list to ten. My initial idea was 21 favorite books of 2021. But the ones on the tail end of that list will be in another post, my almost-favorites of 2021. (Thanks to Hailey in Bookland for that idea.) I settled on fifteen and I am satisfied with this list. Still, it was very hard to arrange these books in the order of my favorite.

            My fifteen favorite books of 2021 are:

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

The Burning God (The Poppy War, #3)

The first two books of this list were the hardest to place. I chose The Burning God as my number one favorite book of 2021 because I cannot stop thinking about this book. The plot took so many turns, not all of them good and all of them kept me on my toes. The characters have stuck with me and I think about them almost daily, despite the fact most of them are not exactly likeable. The world-building was deliciously realistic and bloody. The Burning God made me want to reread the entire series again. I swear, that never happens.   

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

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I found little fault with A Dowry of Blood. It is the most beautifully written book I read in 2021—likely one of the most beautifully written ever. I did not know how badly I needed queer vampires in a toxic polyamorous relationship until it was given to me. A Dowry of Blood is also one of the most frightening books; the situation the characters were involved in could so easily happen in real life. These vampires lived through some of the most dynamic times in history, yet the writing and the story drove home how bleak immortality can be. Especially when trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship. But the heroine and narrator, Constanza was amazing nonetheless, and she’s another character I find myself thinking about a lot.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

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Sadie was the final book I read in 2021. It is also the book that left me with the biggest book hangover I have had in a while. I listened to the audiobook and it was also, undoubtedly, my favorite of the year as well. The story of Sadie took so many twists and turns, to the point you had no idea what was going to happen next. The podcast element made it all the more thrilling. There was a real human element, too, with serious topics the author never glorified nor used for shock value. And Sadie Hunter is one of my new all-time favorite protagonists. 

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

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A Sky Beyond the Storm was another satisfying, amazing finale that made me immediately want to start the series again. While it might not have been perfect, it will forever sit in my feelings. The characters all had full arcs that wrapped up, even though not all ended happy. The entire world and characters of this series will forever be one of my favorites.

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon

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So rarely does a book make me feel so much at once. What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat covered issues so close to me and said things that resonated me. It brought to my attention what I’ve minimized throughout my life, like how I have internalized fatphobia as well as forced it onto others. This bookvalidated me as much as held a mirror up to my face. It is what encouraged me to take steps on improving my relationship with my plus-size body as well as how to deal with society when it does not. What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat is one of the few books that truly changed my life.

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani

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One of the most surprising books I read this year, I had no idea what to expect when I picked up Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales. All I knew was it was a collection of fairy tale retellings. I ended up loving it way more than I expected. I enjoyed the twists the author added to these classic fairy tales, such as turning certain tropes on their heads, making traditionally good-natured characters not as good, and brilliantly weaving in social commentary. I’m still contemplating buying a physical copy, to be able to flip through whenever I want.

Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Another of my most surprising reads of 2021, I read Notes on Grief because it was a nominee for the Biography and Memoir category of the Goodreads Choice Awards. Admittedly, my expectations were low. However, Notes on Grief blew me out of the water. She wrote an honest depiction of grief, like the guilt and the anger. There was also situations dealing with people who mean well but clearly do not know how to handle grief either. Not to mention all the other emotions associated with the loss of a parent and the domino effect of tragedy. I didn’t have the words to properly review Notes on Grief after I finished it. I had to sit in my emotions for a while.

Shine Your Icy Crown by Amanda Lovelace

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I read Shine Your Icy Crown when it came out in January or February 2021 and it immediately became my favorite of Amanda Lovelace’s works, right after To Drink Coffee with a Ghost. The female empowerment of this collection was on point. There was not a single poem in this collection I disliked. In fact, I loved them so much, I wanted to tattoo them on my body. It is rare for me to say that.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

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Besides reading The Giver and Gathering Blue for school, I had not reading anything else by Lois Lowry. Truthfully, her works were not a priority. I think I read an excerpt of Number the Stars in sixth grade, but never the whole book. Not until I happened upon the audiobook on Libby and listened to it in a single day at work. It provided too good of a distraction from the archives I was working on. The characters in Number the Stars are amazing, especially the protagonist Annmarie. Their every day courage against the Nazi occupation was inspiring. The author also did not shy away from how hard life was in Denmark during this time. At the same time, it shined a light on the strength of human resilience. Number the Stars really messed with my emotions and made me almost cry by the end.

The Other F Word edited by Angie Manfredi

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I wish so much I had The Other F Word as a teenager. Another surprising read of 2021, I read it on impulse while looking for a new audiobook to listen to. I have no idea what I was expecting when I started reading. I don’t think it was what I got: a collection of empowering essays about loving your body when society tries to convince you not to. It is the book that opened the door to help me truly feel good about my plus-size body and actively search out books to help me do so.

The Witch Boy trilogy by Molly Knox Ostertag

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I cannot properly review The Witch Boy graphic novel trilogy. All I can say it is the most wholesome thing I read in 2021. If not ever. I loved the friendship and found family. I loved the discussion surrounding gender norms and breaking of said gender norms for boys and girls. I loved the fantasy storylines and the magic systems. I loved the artwork. Basically, I found zero fault with The Witch Boy trilogy.

The Wayward Children books 1-5 by Seanan McGuire

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Despite the sixth book being one of my most disappointing reads, I enjoyed the previous installments in The Wayward Children series. I read them back to back in 2021, falling head over heels more than I expected. I loved the writing, the whimsical fantasy elements, and storytelling. The liked all the characters. I enjoyed the themes discussed and the different worlds the author created. If I had to pick an absolute favorite, it would be Down Among the Sticks and Bones, but I liked all the novellas equally.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

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Esperanza Rising is another book I read on a whim. I had read another of Pam Munoz Ryan’s books, Echo, before reading this one. I liked it, but not as much as I expected. Esperanza Rising blew away any low expectations. The characters and situations in Esperanza Rising were much more complex, more realistic. Esperanza is an unlikeable protagonist at first, but she quickly grows up. Watching her morph into the young woman she becomes by the end of the book is incredible and one of my favorite character developments I’ve read.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

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Why did I wait until 2021 to read Matilda? Admittedly, I almost didn’t put this book on this list because of the fatphobic imagery. However, I realized that some books can be forgiven for their content due to the time they were published in. While this minor detail made me uncomfortable, I overall enjoyed Matilda. I loved Matilda as a main character and her relationship with Miss Honey. I enjoyed the quiet plot, the magical realism element, and comedic relief woven in between the social commentary.

For Every One by Jason Reynolds

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Of all the audiobooks I read in 2021, For Every One is one I am most likely to buy a physical copy of. It is an essay on how, while life might not go how we planned, it is never too late to have hopes and dreams. I felt a little lost at the start of the year, with the ongoing pandemic stressing me out and threw a wrench into my plans. Because of this, among other things, it made me feel extremely frustrated. But reading For Every One reminded me it does not have to get the better of me.

What were your favorite books of 2021?