It’s been a pretty good reading year! My Goodreads challenge says I’ve read 104 of 80 books, so I’ve exceeded my goal. I wanted to hit some of the high points here. So, without further ado and in no particular order, some of my favorites of 2021. (Feel free to read back through the blog to see what else I’ve read this year!)
Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian
Vera Kurian’s debut novel is an intriguing take on the thriller. The fact that Chloe, the main character, was a psychopath caught my attention. Usually the protagonist is at least something of a good guy, and you wouldn’t think a psychopath would be. But I found myself liking Chloe and hoping she didn’t end up dead by the end of the book. The action kept me engaged right up to the end, and I didn’t see the twist coming.
Thief of Spring by Katherine Macdonald
Katherine Macdonald was a new author to me this year, and I have decided she writes some of the best fairy tale retellings I’ve found. Thief of Spring is a retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone, and Macdonald does a masterful job with it. Her characters may not be the ones you thought you knew, and that’s a good thing!
Pudge and Prejudice by A. K. Pittman
This was my first experience with a Jane Austen retelling. It was absolutely a joy to read! Set in small-town Texas, in the ’80s, it brought me back to my teenage years. I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, so I can’t tell you how close Pudge & Prejudice comes to the original. I can tell you I would enthusiastically recommend it for readers from junior high on up who enjoy a clean romance, a trip back in time, and a wonderfully crafted story.
The Crowns of Croswald by D. E. Night
A young lady with unexpected magical powers, whisked away to a school for magic users. Reminiscent of Harry Potter, just a little, but Ivy Lovely’s story is all her own. This was a wonderful YA fantasy read, and I’m working on the rest of the trilogy with great glee.
Deadly Business by Anita Dickason
Anita Dickason was a new author to me this year, and I am so glad I was introduced to her books! If I hadn’t had to work, I could have read Deadly Business in less than twenty-four hours. It was a humdinger of a book, with butt-kickin’ good guys and detestable bad guys and all the action you could want, with characters that weren’t just caricatures. Dickason is a twenty-two year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, and her experience shows in her writing. Want a book you can’t put down? Read hers.
Hope, Faith & a Corpse by Laura Jensen Walker
Laura Jensen Walker was a new author to me this year, and I’m so glad I found her! I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley. It was a charming read, and clearly demonstrates that Christian/clean fiction can be not only inspiring, but fun without being the least bit preachy. I hope Walker has more to come in this series.
Ink and Shadows (Secret, Book, and Scone Society # 4) by Ellery Adams
Ellery Adams is the queen of the mystery with a touch of the mystical. The Secret, Book, and Scone Society has been one of my favorite series since the start, and this, the fourth entry, does not disappoint. Adams writes characters you feel like you’d like to sit down and have dinner with, and crafts mysteries that draw you in. This was a book I was disappointed to finish, because that meant it was over!
Aftershock by Judy Melinek & T. J. Mitchell
The second in Melinek and Mitchell’s Dr. Jessie Teska series, Aftershock is a thrill ride of a police procedural, with a focus on forensics. Forensics is a fascination of mine, so I enjoy the descriptions of activity in the morgue, and the descriptions of court hearings remind of my days as a prosecutor. Jessie Teska is a character I can relate to, differences in career choices notwithstanding, and I love a suspenseful book that doesn’t give away the ending too early.
The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher
I enjoy good historical fiction, especially when it’s about an event or an era I’m not super familiar with. I knew nothing about the “moonlight schools” in the backwoods of Kentucky, designed to encourage adult literacy in the early twentieth century. This book gave me some insight into them and made me want to know more, both about the schools and about Cora Wilson Stewart, the driving force behind them.
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
A well-crafted dual-timeline story about the choices women make and the consequences those choices may have. It was delightfully gothic and mysterious, and ended on a little bit of a cliffhanger that left me wondering what was of this world and what might not be. And while I normally like to have my stories all wrapped up when I turn the last page, with this one, I was okay with imagining what might have been in the future.
Hush Little Girl (Detective Josie Quinn #11) by Lisa Regan
I read several of Lisa Regan’s Josie Quinn books this year. They’re all great. You’d think that at some point, a series might start to falter or miss the mark. Nope. Every one of these books I’ve read has been phenomenal. If you like a good thriller, just grab the first in this series and get to reading.
Under the Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse
This isn’t magical realism along the lines of Heather Webber or Sarah Addison Allen, but Valerie Fraser Luesse weaves her own kind of magic spell. This book is set in a fictional place in my home state of Louisiana, and while the setting may be fictional, the characters and events and attitudes were written very realistically. It’s a compelling picture of small-town south Louisiana, its culture, and its people. (Bonus that the author is a Baylor grad! Sic ’em Bears!)