Books I’ve Read So Far in 2021 Part #5

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            How is it that I am already writing the fifth installment of this series? That feels impossible. 2021 had been a whirlwind and I can’t believe it is already the end of October. As usual I am writing this post incrementally so it is the first of September when I am writing this first blurb. 

            I feel like I have read so many books this year and I really have because I haven’t just been reading cozy mysteries. I am actually reading from a To Be Read pile which is weird and exciting because it means that I am finally getting books off my shelves that have been there since college. 

I am missing one here because I lent it out and haven’t gotten it back yet!

            If you want to check out what else I have read this year, you totally can, just click on the part and it’ll take you to those posts. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 (which is really long so prepare yourself.)

            I am hoping that this list has about a dozen on it, unlike part 4 which had 17 books. That is so many books and I probably should have split it out. Maybe next year I will put a limit on the post, like if one month has over 7 it gets its own post. I don’t know if I will do that, but it was a lot to read in one sitting for one post. 

The Painted Girl by Cathy Marie Buchanan

            This is my last TBR historical fiction this year, which is crazy to think that I have finished one of my categories. It’s really exciting though. This book was a lot, I read three historical fictions in a row and that is super taxing on my brain. I need some modern in my life even just for a moment. It was good though, not my absolute favorite, but still good. Each chapter split the perspective between two sisters, which is an interesting writing device. There was a lot of drama and as one of my teaching friends put it, ‘It’s historical fiction, wait til it gets sad.’ It got sad and confusing. I love Edgar Degas, I love impressionist and post-impressionist art. I have a magnet of The Dancer on my fridge. I have been to the Art Institute in Chicago and seen his work. I thought when I bought this book it would be more about him, it really wasn’t. It was fine, I bought it in like 2014 or 2015 so my tastes have changed since then, but if you like 1880’s Paris, the ballet, a family struggle, and painting; it might be for you. 

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz 

            Alright, I liked this one. It was a little romantic, a lot of adventure, and a strong female character. I don’t think that I can ask for much more in a book. I mean really. I have had this book for at least five years and my mom read it before I did. I plan on adding the sequel to my list of books to read next year and eventually getting the third and final one as well. I liked it though, it took me a minute to get into it and then I read 40 chapters in 2 days and the last 16 on the third day. It was twists and turns and actions, betrayals, and a spark that kept me wanting to read it. If you are into steampunk and magic, I for sure would recommend this one. This is also my fourth historical thing in a row and I need a break. So here I am loving fantasy like always and ready to read the next one next year because I cannot wait to see what happens with Marsh and Elle. 

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney 

            This book blew my mind. It was so much you guys, so much. I really enjoyed it though. I wrote a whole dedicated post on it because that’s what I do for Book of The Month and I enjoy doing it that way. I know that it is kind of annoying to have to click to another blog post to read a full review, but that’s how we do it around here. It was a thriller and I am still reeling from it, everyone is crazy, there is a billion secrets, and you will not believe how everything unfolds. It’s crazy and that’s all I’m going to say about it. 

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

            It was a good story, that’s what I need say first and foremost. I liked the story, but the formatting had me having trouble reading it. There were no quotation marks and that was hard for my brain to comprehend and process. I desperately wanted to go and take a pen to it as I read to put in the marks myself. I liked the premise when I picked up the book, it sounded amazing and then I read a review online about six months after I purchased it where the person doing the review also complained about the lack of quotation marks. Again, the story was great but the formatting made it difficult to follow along at points. 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

            So good, I really enjoyed this book. I have been following the author online for a few years now and this book has been on my to be read list for a lot longer than I would like to admit. I hate that I waited so long to read it, especially since The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is the second book on my TBR for next year. I have heard so many good things about this book and I was not disappointed. I want to go out and buy the other two like tomorrow even though I don’t know when I am going to get around to reading them. I loved the story and the characters, the twists and turns of all the London’s in the story. I have seen the opening line about Kell’s coat on the internet for years now and reading that line for myself was exciting. I loved it so much, if you like fantasy, magic, and just a touch of sass this is for sure a book for you. I actually tabbed this book and I am not great at it yet, but I’m trying. 

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

            I grew up on the Disney version of this story. I grew up on the Disney versions of a lot of classical stories and this was for sure different than the Disney version. All the big things are still there and it was a good story. It was only like 160 pages long and it took me like four days to read because classical literature is dense. I say that with every classic I read. I am still working on Sherlock Holmes Volume 2 and at this point I will be lucky to finish it by the end of the year. That’s the goal folks, the end of the year. I did enjoy the book, it, like a lot of Victorian literature is tragic and a little dark. I have another retelling of Peter Pan called The Child Thief and I started reading it in high school and never finished it. I plan on reading it eventually, I promise. So, there is it another classic to tick off my list and that is so exciting at this point. 

See Something by Carol J. Perry

            I wasn’t planning on reading a cozy right now, I was planning on reading a non-fiction that I though was a fiction because I am an idiot. That will be the next on the list. I read this one because I was at my parents for a few days and needed something non-hard cover to read on the bike. I chose this one. I loved it; it was so much fun but by now everyone knows that I love a good cozy mystery. I love the Witch City Mysteries because they are just slightly magical. It’s not an overarching theme, it’s just part of Lee’s life. I don’t want to spoil anything but something in this book is a long time coming and it made me smile like and idiot for like a minute and a half last night when I finished it. I can’t wait for the next one because I love these characters, I love the series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Lee’s life. Well, all the things that will happen next in Lee’s life. 

Depraved by Harold Schechter

            First book of October, how is that possible. I bought this book years ago and I thought at the time that it was fiction; because apparently, I cannot read. I can read, that is proved by the fact that I have read like 48 books this year according to my Good Reads list. It was a really interesting story though, I love turn of the century true crime, who doesn’t like Jack the Ripper or H.H. Holmes. He was a devious and devilish sort of man. He was the devil in the White City, I know there is a book by that name as well that I want to read eventually. I think that serial killers are fascinating, let me rephrase that, I think that long dead serial killers are fascinating. It’s a true account of everything that he did from arriving near Chicago to his trial and hanging. (It’s not a spoiler, it was over 100 years ago, calm down.) It was such an interesting and diabolical story all wrapped up in the glamour and hardship of the later 19th century. Normally to me non-fiction is dry, but this book kept me turning page after page because it didn’t read like a non-fiction it read like a story and who doesn’t love a good story. 

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

            I cannot believe that this is the last in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. It was a little spicier than I am used to with this series. It was so good though, there were so many twists and turns throughout the book and it didn’t take me long to read. This series conclusion was absolutely phenomenal and I will one day read the whole thing again, yes that’s right this series deserves a re-read and I am planning on tabbing the books the second time I go through them. I loved how everything wrapped up and man this one had me on the edge of my seat for longer than I am used to with a book. After finishing Depraved this was a really good fictional telling of the horrors of H.H. Holmes and the murder castle. The imagery in this, like all the others, is very vivid and I could not have asked for a better wrap up to Audrey Rose and Thomas’s story. 

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

            Well, BoTM told me it was fantasy, it’s also romance. I wrote a whole blog post on this that will be out next month. I am not going to spend a lot of time on this here. I loved it, even though it did get a little saucy. I was laughing so hard throughout the book and it was such a cute little campy story. I really do want a shirt that says ‘Never mix vodka and witchcraft’. 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Jason Fry

            I did not grow up a Star Wars fan, it just wasn’t a part of my life. I knew about all of it of course because I was a child when the prequels came out. Truth be told I didn’t watch all of the prequels until last year or the year before. I like Star Wars and I didn’t hate the new trilogy, I liked it. I know a lot of people hated it though and that’s totally fine, that’s your opinion. I watched the movies and I like to read novelizations of movies; I always have and this was just another in the list of books that I have read that were movies first. It’s The Last Jedi which I know a lot of people hated, I know that because I am a human on the internet and that means that I get to see everyone’s opinions of everything all of the time. It’s a quick read and I enjoyed seeing a different side of what I had already seen on film. I don’t complain about many books and this was fun, it was a good retelling that gave a little more information and that’s all I can ask for. 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

            Reading this many classics this year was a mistake, like a huge one because I am not actually enjoying them. Classic literature is just not my cup of tea and I still have two more to read and Sherlock Holmes is one of them and I crave death. This is one of my best friend’s favorite books and I didn’t really like it. I liked the concept but it was just a lot. I found myself skimming it and being bored with it even though Frankenstein’s monster is such a popular character. The classic horror character is not articulate like the creature in the book so that was fun. It was sad and there was a lot of death which made it hard to read. It also had a fairly ambiguous ending and as someone who likes a conclusion that made me itch a little bit. I think this is another one of those books where if I listened to it as an audio book I would have probably been a lot more invested but just reading it didn’t do it for me. 

Idiot by Laura Clery

            I was one of many people to absolutely die laughing while watching some of her sketches on Facebook, she’s so funny and this memoir is so honest. I don’t know what it’s like to have an addiction, I have a lot of it in the family though. I read this entire book in a day because I couldn’t put it down. As someone who grew up near Chicago on the Indiana side, I understood the humor of staying in the town you grew up in. I did not, but many of my classmates did. Her humor is not for everyone, but that is how comedy works. It’s not universal, not everyone finds the same styles of humor funny, I just like funny people. If there is any sort of self-deprecating humor, that is my kind of funny. It was a good read and I will eventually read her sequel to this novel, but that will be a little ways down the road. 

A Tale of Two Cookies by Eve Calder

            I am taking a break from my TBR because it’s just two classics and I will be done but I don’t want to read A Christmas Carol until December and Sherlock Holmes the daunting size of that book has me craving death. This one though, I have had this book since it came out and I was going to read it earlier in the year, but my mom was reading it so I couldn’t and then I got busy with my TBR. I read the first two in the series back-to-back in November of last year and I could not put them down. This was another great example of that even though I had to pace myself on this one because it’s been a long week. I love Kate and the inhabitants of Coral Cay. This is a more unconventional cozy, most of the cozies have the main lead (usually female) in the room with the killer, this has much more fun endings to it, the person still gets caught, but it doesn’t involve violence. I really like that about the book, I also would love to experience Coral Cay for myself because the picture of this little community is so vivid throughout the novel and I cannot wait for the next one, I want to see how Kate gets on with everything that’s going on and I want to continue to experience this fun little beach town over and over again. 

            I kind of forgot that I needed to wrap this post up when I was finished with it. I am posting this on Halloween and I am in the middle of reading another book, which should shock no one. I’m really enjoying it, but it will be not on my TBR because the only two books left on my TBR, as I mentioned in the last blurb and two classics and I need to actually read things beyond that. I am almost done which is so hard to believe but I for sure had a goal of 45 books this year and I have read 54 so I think I have hit my goal.

            I will be back in the middle of the week with another post so until then I hope everyone has a great start to their week and Happy Halloween! 

            -MJ

Let’s keep track shall we?:

Classics:  8/10 (Alice in WonderlandTuck EverlastingThe Secret Garden, Dracula, The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 1, A Confederate Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Peter Pan, Frankenstein,)

Historical Fiction:  5/5 (The Painted Girls, The Last Days of NightThe Marlowe Papers, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, West of Sunset)

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:  5/5 (A Conspiracy of Alchemists, Dream LondonSoulless, The Starless Sea, Good Omens)

General Fiction:  5/5 (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Me Before You, All is Fair in Love and Cupcakes, Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 2/2 (Yes, Please and Scrappy Little Nobody)

Non-Fiction:  1/1 (Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire)

Thrillers (one is non-fiction because I am an idiot, but it’s still thrilling): 2/2 (I, Ripper and Depraved

Free Choice:  15/15 (Eaves of Destruction, A Wrench in the WorksShot Through the Hearth, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Premeditated Mortar, Hunting Prince Dracula, Death in Bloom, A Study in Darkness, Escaping from Houdini, The Dalek Generation, Live and Let Chai, A Grave Matter, A Darker Shade of Magic, Capturing the Devil, Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

Book of the Month (late addition): 3/6 (Half Sick of Shadows, Not A Happy Family, Rock Paper Scissors, The Ex Hex)

Extra’s (books I read during my TBR and after I finish it): 2/? (See Something, Idiot, A Tale of Two Cookies)

2 thoughts on “Books I’ve Read So Far in 2021 Part #5

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