At the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to read more, so I got a membership to the Book of the Month Club, joined a book discussion group, and signed up for two different reading challenges.
It has been a formidable task. But also amazing.
I have read – and loved – several books that I normally wouldn’t have given a second glance, including Matthew McConaughey’s autobiography, the first book in the Bridgertons series, a collection of essays on Basquiat’s Defacement, and the haunting The Death of Vivek Oji.
To say my selections have been eclectic is putting it mildly.
Of the twenty-three books I’ve read so far in 2021, these are only a few of my favorites:
- Rewinder by Brett Battles
This is an interesting take on time travel and I loved the moral dilemmas the characters faced. In an alternate reality, the United States doesn’t exist, but is still part of the British Empire. With caste systems and a lack of modern technology, the world the main character, Denny, lives in is somewhat bleak. Instead of working in the factory with his father as his place in society dictates, Denny’s intelligence earns him an invitation to become a Rewinder for the Upjohn Institute where he will verify personal histories. But instead of getting stuck in a library with dusty tomes, he is tasked with observing history. In person. As you can guess, decisions made create some fascinating challenges.
- Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
This trilogy is considered Young Adult, but I have always been a sucker for a good fantasy adventure. I devoured this one in a weekend. Orphaned as an infant when her kingdom of Winter was conquered, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, training to be a warrior. She’s desperately in love with her best friend and future king, Mather, and will do anything to help them return to their home. When she learns that the key to restoring their magic is within reach, she goes after it herself – but the mission doesn’t go as planned. The Winterians are forced to beg for help from another kingdom where she meets the charming Theron. Yes, it’s a teenaged love triangle, and yes, I have a favorite, and NO, I’m not ashamed of that. My only 5 star review this year.
- Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
This was a pick of my book club and I loved it. I could see it as a movie as I read, and I would love to see it made! Growing up with a single mother who struggled to keep them afloat through various cons, Nina has plans to leave that life behind with a fancy art history degree. But when her mother gets sick, she starts stealing from rich, spoiled, L.A. brats with her boyfriend, Lachlan. At the same time, heiress Vanessa’s life is thrown off course by family tragedy and she ends up becoming an internet influencer – a life she realizes is shallow and lonely. After a failed engagement, she retreats to her family’s mountain estate, Stonehaven. Nina, Vanessa, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, and the result is a delightfully twisty tale of lies, love, and revenge.
- The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty
I consumed these three novels via audiobook, and I’m so glad I did. The incomparable Soneela Nankani narrated all three novels, The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, and The Empire of Gold, and she was amazing! The story starts in Cairo, with our heroine Nahri, an orphan with no memory of her past who uses her unsurpassed talents as a con artist just to survive. When she accidentally summons an ancient djinn warrior during one of her cons, she is drawn into a world of magic, danger, and mystery. The warrior brings her to the enchanted city of Daevabad, full of strange creatures, dangerous politics – and a love she can’t have. I adored the characters and my heart broke for the horrible choices each one had to face throughout the three novels. I was satisfied with the ending, but if there’s a spin off following Darayavahoush I wouldn’t be mad…