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Books 2021

Books I read in 2021, organized by category and then alphabetically by author.

< < 2020    2022 > >

Non-Fiction—Memoir, Autobiography, Biography

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast (P)
This had some funny moments, and some touching ones, and a lot that hit a bit too close to home for me, having dealt with cleaning out parents’ houses and trying to get them into the right care situations.

What I Hate From A to Z, Roz Chast (P)
I liked studying the drawings for little details.

Passing for Human, Liana Finck (P)
Thought this was very clever.

Sous Chef, Michael Gibny
I keep reading books about chefs. I guess because it’s food adjacent, and I like food. This one was nicely organized and took the time to add a whole glossary of terms that might not be familiar to a read who hadn’t worked in a kitchen (or read a bunch of books about chefs).

Jew(ish): A primer, A memoir, A manual, A plea, Matt Greene
I had to read this when I saw all the one star reviews from Trump supporters. I might have gotten more out of this if I were more up on British politics but still feel reading this broadened my understanding of Jewish-ness.

Non-Fiction—Everything Else

Evicted, Matthew Desmond
This was hard to read. That the U.S. is so screwed up when it comes to housing was not a surprise but hearing the personal stories of some of those being screwed over really makes that clear in a way that statistics don’t. I’m glad the author offered some possible solutions but despair that we’ll be able to implement them given the state of politics in this country.

The Art of Skiing: Vintage Posters from the Golden Age of Winter Sport, Jenny de Gex (P)
I appreciated the words that went with all the pictures here; learned some early European ski history I hadn’t been exposed to before. Was tickled to see one of the posters we have a reproduction of in here, plus a more modern take on it.

Inheriting Clutter, Julie Hall
Given that Mr. K and I have only one living parent between us, and we’ve already cleaned out her house so are down to her assisted living apartment and one storage unit, I’m not sure why I felt compelled to read this, but I did. It made me feel good about how well my brother and I worked through my mom’s house/estate; we didn’t have any of the conflicts or problems the book describes. It also had a good reminder that it’s best to give away things while you’re still alive (if you’re not still enjoying them yourself, of course).

Ballerina , Deirdre Kelly
I recognized some of the names from my ballet period in my youth, but sure hadn’t heard many of these stories before, especially about the early eras of ballet.

Tree of Treasures, Bonnie Mackay (P)
I picked this up off the sale table in the gift shop at The Henry Ford. It’s a book I wish I’d written, with stories about some of the ornaments on the author’s Christmas tree. I have written in my journal about a few ornaments, but so many I don’t even recall their origin stories.

This is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World, Kerri Majors
I am not the target audience for this book. I can see how it would be a good resource if I were.

Because Internet
, Gretchen McCulloch
This was interesting. I’m still not sure where I’d put myself in the taxonomy of internet users the author sets out. Not quite Old Internet Person but not Full Internet Person, either. I did learn to my surprise that my use ellipses in texts marks me as old. I mean, I knew I was old, but didn’t think the ellipses were a giveaway to that.

The Deep Dark, Gregg Olsen
One of the stops on our grand tour of Idaho was the museum in Wallace, where there was a model of the Sunshine Mine that piqued my interest, so I picked up this book to read more about the mine and the tragic fire there. I appreciated the view into the Idaho Panhandle in the early 1970s. Some of the mining stuff confused me; I can see why the model was built to help the jury in the trial it was used during understand the layout. Even though I knew how the story would turn out, I was still engrossed by its unfolding in this volume.

The Library Book, Susan Orlean
It took me a while to get through this for some reason I can’t put my finger on.

Organizing Your Craft Space, Jo Packham (P)
I can’t say that I got any actionable ideas from this but I very much enjoyed peeking into other people’s craft rooms (and chuckling at what the author called “a large amount of fabric” in the quilting chapter).

Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them, Marie Webster, additional material by Rosalind Webster Perry(P)
I picked up this 1990 edition of this classic quilting book from a little free library. Given it was first published in 1915, there is definitely some problematic content (stereotypes, etc.) but overall it was an interesting read. Very light on the “how to make them” part, but there are plenty of other sources for that now.

Fiction—Romance, Erotica, Science Fiction, and Fantasy

Asking for Trouble, Tessa Bailey
The first of the “Books That Blooded Us” from Fated Mates season two that I did not like and probably would have stopped reading if not for wanting to know what happened before I listened to the podcast. Cops are hard to read about especially now. The sex/character development balance was out of whack for me, and some plot points made no sense whatsoever.

Texas! Chase, Sandra Brown (A)
I had to do this one on audio because that’s the only format my library had. I think listening to it (on normal speed) gave me too much time to ponder the hard to believe plot points and troubling behavior of some of the characters.

The Marriage Code, Brooke Burroughs
Cute romance. Liked the setting and the angst seemed realistic.

No Judgments, Meg Cabot
It seems odd to say that a novel set during a hurricane felt comforting, but it did.

No Offense, Meg Cabot
I liked No Judgments so well, I grabbed this sequel from the library as soon as I could. It was equally cozy.

Managed, Kristen Callihan
Some of this plot was ridiculous but I liked the characters so much it didn’t matter.

Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase
Worked for me. Great heroine. Angsty hero but for reasons that made sense.

The Heir Affair, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
It had been a while since I read the first book, so I’d forgotten some of what went on there that was rather important in this one. This took some turns that I didn’t expect, and like the first one, made me cry at least once. I was a bit disappointed that one of the main villians didn’t get his come uppance, but that’s how real life goes, too.

The Player, Kresley Cole
Pure fantasy, paranormal in contemporary clothing. Some content was a little difficult for me despite that.

Sweet Ruin, Kresley Cole
This book takes the series to places it hasn’t been before and makes the stage larger. I appreciated that there were still some characters and settings I was familiar with to help me integrate these new ones.

Shadow’s Claim, Kresley Cole
This world is so big I’m starting to feel overwhelmed.

Shadow’s Seduction, Kresley Cole
This was a continuation of the last book, so most of the settings felt familiar. Love that there is finally a same sex pairing. Don’t love that the author had to self-publish it.

Wicked Abyss, Kresley Cole
I’m hoping that when this series wraps up this installment will make more sense in the larger story arc.

Bet Me, Jennifer Crusie (RR)
The first chapter or so was hard for me to get through (I didn’t remember enough from my first read in 2006 to know it the discomfort of seeing a heroine so down on herself for her weight would pass. Once I got into it, I ignored the other books I was reading so I could finish this one because it was so fun and funny.

Taking the Heat, Victoria Dahl
The setting (Jackson, Wyoming) held some interest for me since I’ve spent some time there (and my town seems to be moving in that direction).

Maid for Love, Marie Force
Some stuff here seemed too good to be true but I rolled with it anyway because why not enjoy good things like happy endings.

The Secret, Julie Garwood
Another historical that probably bears little resemblance to reality but I’m okay with that.

Ransom, Julie Garwood
Surprised that secondary couple didn’t get their own book (at least I don’t think they did, as the next in the series isn’t them). Also surprised by how the sister storyline resolved.

The Bride, Julie Garwood
I have no idea how historically accurate this is to what was going on in the Scottish Highlands in medieval times but it was an enjoyable read with a sassy heroine.

Glitterland, Alexis Hall
I believed the angst. I wondered if the older hero was in good enough working order.

Waiting for the Flood, Alexis Hall
What a sweet novella.

For Real, Alexis Hall
I wish I had waited to read this installment, let some time pass between the first book’s age difference couple and this one’s as, BDSM notwithstanding, the dynamic seemed very similar. I still enjoyed it.

Waking Up With the Duke, Lorraine Heath
Liked this enough that I might need to read the first two books in this series now. I can see where the premise could be a stopper but it’s one of those you just need to shrug and say okay this is happening and we’re gonna go with it.

Indigo, Beverly Jenkins
I didn’t realize before I started reading this that it’s set in southeast Michigan, so that was a nice surprise since I know those places. Granted, I don’t know them as they were in pre-Civil War times, but still, nice. There are some disturbing events in this one that felt authentic; knowing there would be at least a happy for now ending made those easier to take.

Secrets of a Summer Night, Lisa Kleypas
Realistic for the time period? I have no idea. Enjoyed it anyway.

Then Came You, Lisa Kleypas (RR)
More re-reading here too; this time to refresh myself on the world before I read the next in the series so I’ll be able to better enjoy the Fated Mates podcast about it.

Dreaming of You, Lisa Kleypas (RR)
I remembered rather little of this book, which wasn’t bad since I got to enjoy it almost as a new read.

The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal
This is one of those books I feel like I should have been more engaged with than I was.

Devil’s Bride, Stephanie Laurens
Another enjoyable feisty heroine historical from the Fated Mates season two list.

Gentle Rouge, Johanna Lindsey
Read this one out of series order so I could listen to the Fated Mates podcast episode about it. I can see why it made the list of “books that blooded us”.

Daring and the Duke, Sarah MacLean
A fitting end to the series, and I loved the epilogue.

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Sarah MacLean
I appreciate a feisty heroine and this book has a good one.

The Arrow: A Highland Guard Novel, Monica McCarty
This is the only one of this series that I’ve read (did this based on a podcast recommendation), so maybe that’s why this felt a little flat to me. I’m also not sure I’m on board with the guardian/ward pairing.

Fashionably Dead, Robyn Peterman
Don’t remember how/when/why I put this on my Kindle. Started reading it during one of those times when I couldn’t turn on wifi lest the library police take back my overdue ebooks, so I was trolling through my “Later” collection and found it. It’s almost all first person narration, which is not my favorite, yet I was pretty sucked into it and finished it pretty quickly. I’m sure many would consider the heroine a Mary Sue but I’ve gotten less and less concerned about that sort of thing. Why shouldn’t a female heroine get to have powers and do all the things? It’s fun.

Nobody’s Baby But Mine, Susan Elizabeth Phillips
This feels like a book I shouldn’t have liked (relationship based on deception, yelling, violence) but I did like it.

Hate to Want You, Alisha Rai
This was so good. Made me cry happy tears. Definitely want to hear more about this couple.

Beauty and the Mustache, Penny Reid
Hit one of my hot buttons and used “clean” to mean tested negative for STIs. Thought the plot was going to take one turn but it didn’t go that way, so that added interest.

Born in Ice, Nora Roberts
Such a cozy romance, albeit with a glam interlude.

Long Shot, Kennedy Ryan
I’m pretty sure I put this on my TBR list due to one of the Fated Mates interstitial episodes. I didn’t remember anything about it when my hold came up at the library, so was taken aback by the challenging (for me, anyway) content.

Idlewild, Jude Sierra
Thought I’d get more of a buzz from knowing the Detroit metro area setting. Got a little tell-y for me in a few places.

Priest: A Love Story, Sierra Simone
Oof. I can see why this book upsets so many people. I was okay with it.

Three Little Mistakes, Nikki Sloane
This was one of those “not quite for me” books. The heroine was too young and too rich for me to relate. The connection between the hero and the heroine felt underdeveloped to me.

Silver in the Wood, Emily Tesh
Reading this felt like a dream: sometimes wonderful, sometimes grim.

Drowned Country, Emily Tesh
Just as good as the first book, including the surprises in the plot.

Delicious, Sherry Thomas
Stretches credulity at some points but I liked how it turned out.

Not Quite a Husband, Sherry Thomas
Not quite a sequel to the earlier Marsden book. Enjoyable nonetheless.

The Not-Outcast, Tijan
Almost gave up on this one, the very last I got through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. The female half of the first person narrator duo has some sensory processing issues that definitely come through in how she tells the story and at first that made me feel very jangly. I got through it eventually.

Dark Lover, J.R. Ward (RR)
I was way into this book around a decade ago (edit: oops, more like a decade and half). Now, not as much. There was a preview of the 19th in the series in the back of this one (do e-books have backs?) that had a line that annoyed the heck out of me. Don’t think I’ll be picking up the series again where I left off, though I might re-read the 2nd book if I come across it when I’m going through boxes of books that never got unpacked from the move, as I remember carrying that one around as a comfort read the summer my dad was dying.

The Future of Work: Compulsory, Martha Wells
A very short story from Wired magazine that I’m putting here so I’ll remember I read it. Or rather, will be reminded I read it when I look it up.

All Systems Red, Martha Wells (RR)
Artificial Condition, Martha Wells (RR)
Re-reading the series before I read the new installment. Still love Murderbot.

Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory, Martha Wells
This short that I somehow missed until now is not from Murderbot’s point of view, so that was interesting to see them from the outside.

Rouge Protocol, Martha Wells (RR)
Exit Strategy, Martha Wells (RR)
Network Effect, Martha Wells (RR)
More re-reading.

Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells
I was so excited to get a new Murderbot book that I failed to notice/realize that it’s not a continuation of the story after Network Effect … not part of The Murderbot Diaries series but listed as a Standalone Murderbot Novel in the “Also by Martha Wells” list at the back of the book. I mean, I still love Murderbot and really liked this book, but I kept hoping to see some hint of what happened to a character I liked from the last installment. Since I didn’t realize this one was set between Network Effect and Exit Strategy, I didn’t realize that character wasn’t in Murderbot’s life yet.

Fiction—Everything Else

Poorly Drawn Lines, Reza Farazmand (P)
Some of the comics (and essays) were funny. Some were poignant. One (or two) I want to get a print of and hang on my wall where I can see it every day.

The Book of Longings, Sue Monk Kidd
The power in this snuck up on me as I read.

Alphabet Weekends, Elizabeth Noble
Of the three interwoven stories here, I liked one (the most romance-y one), wished one had gone in a slightly different direction (the one with the older heroine), and did not like the third (the one that was the least resolved at the end).

Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid
Of the books I’ve read so far in 2021, this is my favorite. I wanted to hug some characters and punch others, which means they got to me.

How to Pronounce Knife, Souvankham Thammavongsa
Reading this was like looking at someone else’s photo album. The stories were interesting but I wanted more.

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