Books I’ve Read So Far in 2021 #6: The Final Countdown

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Yes, I do want everyone to start singing the song that corresponds with the title of this blog post. I cannot believe that 2021 is coming to a close, I am starting this post at the beginning of November with my first book after I finished my part five post. 

            If you want to see what else I have read this year, you totally can, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5. I will be doing one post a month next year because some of those posts were super long and I want to have less lengthy posts next year. I am trying and it’s going to be a lot, I am already planning blog posts for next year, so here we are. 

            This one is super long! I mean it’s really long and I’m sorry. I was not planning on reading like 14 books in December, but here we are and I am sorry.

            This might contain spoilers so if you want to read the book skip the blurb. 

            I bought a bunch of extra Book of The Month books because I have a book problem, it’s an expensive hobby, but it’s a lot better than other hobbies that I could be into.

            Like the last post in this series, I am hoping for about a dozen books (I was wrong and I am sorry!) on here and that will include the last two classics I have to read this year and that is the end of my TBR which is really cool, I just have to read them. 

Circe by Madeline Miller (4/5)

            Well, I read it in just a few days, I really enjoyed the book as a whole. Who doesn’t love Greek myths? I read The Odyssey in high school so hearing about a character that had a hand in that myth. It was easy to read and I spent a lot of time turning page after page because I couldn’t put it down. This was the Book of The Month book of the year in 2018 and this is one of those books that I have been seeing in Barnes and Noble for years and have been thinking about reading it. I am glad I did; Circe is such a multi-dimensional character and I loved how her story was told. If you like Greek myths, some feminism, magic, monsters, and some crazy situations; this is for sure the book for you. 

No Good Tea Goes Unpunished by Bree Baker (4/5)

            This is the second in the Seaside Café cozy mystery series and I didn’t need to start a new series this year but I read the first on in a day and I read well over half of this and finished it the day that I am writing this blurb. I love the characters of Charm and (spoiler alert) the two killers have been ladies, which I feel like for cozies and real life, not as common and I loved it. I have a character now that I really don’t like, but we aren’t supposed to like him. We don’t root for him, at least I don’t. I cannot wait to read the next one and I probably will before the end of the month. I have my Book of the Month book and another book or two to read first before diving back into Everly’s world. Seriously, this book was so fun and I cannot tell you how much I am loving this series so far. 

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker (4.3/5)

            I wrote a whole post on this. It was really good and I cannot wait to read the second one, there were a lot of twists and turns with some really amazing and vivid imagery. If you want to read the actual post about it you totally can because it’s already posted so if you want to know more about this book then I suggest you click on the link here and go over and read that one! 

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (5/5)

            I read it in two days, I could not put it down. I know that this book made it’s rounds on TikTok but I picked it up because I have read the other series that Kerri Maniscalco wrote which was Stalking Jack the Ripper, I read the entire series this year because it was also amazing. This one was vivid and amazing. Wrath and Emilia make such a great team and the ending made me want to keep reading so I will be going to Barnes and Noble tomorrow and picking it up because I really want to read it. I love stories with family, magic, a curse, and the sometimes blurring lines between light and dark. It pulled me in from about chapter two and I could not put it down. I read half of the book yesterday and the other half today. Lots of blood mentioned and murders so if you aren’t cool with that, I would skip this one, but honestly, I wouldn’t skip it, it’s amazing. Apparently the second book is spicy and I don’t know how I feel about it but with the plot of this one, I want to read it. 

Tide and Punishment by Bree Baker (4/5)

            This is exactly why I chose to do a TBR this year because otherwise it would be a lot of cozies, and while I love cozies, I can go through them in two days if I have the time read. Spoiler alert, another lady killer. That I kind of predicted when I started this because of the pattern from the last two. I love Charm, I also really love cozies so there is no shock that I love a small town with a fun heroine who has a really close family. I also love Hallmark movies so it should shock no one. I am already excited to read the next one and that will be shortly, I just want to read some cozies because I haven’t gotten to read many this year because of my TBR. I am still doing a TBR next year and cozies will be threaded through the list as well as at the end because I will have the time with no real plan on reading or a list to go on. I cannot wait to read the next one and see where it goes from where this one left off. 

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides (3/5)

            I am going to preface this with not every book is meant for everybody and that is totally cool. This book was fine, I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. I felt like I was reading about three different books at the same time. There are a lot of what felt like throw away moments, and holy mother of plot twists Batman. I don’t think I mean that in a good way either. Like I did not see the ending coming, well I kind of did I made a joke early (super spoiler) what if her dead husband was the murderer and I wasn’t super off. It was a lot, I cannot describe how much of a lot that it is, it was a really interesting premise of making someone feel like they are insane, it just wasn’t one of my favorites and that is totally okay. I have read 60 books this year, I am allowed to not be head over heels for all of them. I am also pretty new to reading thrillers for fun and again, not every book is for everybody. What I like and dislike are very different from what other people like and dislike and we can all agree that books are great, but there are books that are out there that may wow us while other people dislike them and vice versa. It’s okay, this one was just not for me in my current life stage and in my current reading and genre habits, and that is okay. 

A Call for Kelp by Bree Baker (4/5)

            Can y’all tell I am pretty much finished with mt TBR for the year, look I found all the cozies. I was not planning on opening up this document for the second day in a row, but here we are. I read this in one day (I’m on Thanksgiving break, so I have the time.) It was really good; I love the story and the characters and the very near-death experiences that Everly finds herself getting into. This one was really good and (spoiler alert!) the killer in this one was not a woman which I was cool with. This one for sure did keep me guessing the whole time I was reading it and I am a sucker for a good relationship. I love the built relationship of Everly and Grady, it’s so much fun. Seriously, read the whole book in one day and I need to stop doing that, but here we are anyway. I’m also now rooting for the person that I didn’t want to root for when he was introduced in the second of the series (No Good Tea Goes Unpunished) I like him now that he is not a potential suitor. I am reading at least another book or two before I read the next one in this series because if I don’t, I will read four books this week and I just don’t want to. Seriously amazing series though, if you like cozies I would for sure give this one a try. 

Last Summer at The Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland (3.6/5)

            Another Book of the Month add-on because I have a problem. I liked this one. It’s all about family and how secrets can rip a family apart. It reminded me of Not a Happy Familybut with less murder. I read it in a day and a half because I just needed a second full day of reading during my Thanksgiving Break. It was fun and it was a good story, it took me some time to get into it but when I did, I couldn’t put it down. There are so many tangled relationships and family drama that is evident throughout that it felt like I was watching a movie and I for sure would watch this movie. I wish the dog was in it more though, he felt like an afterthought and that was a little weird. I completely forgot for a while that he was even a character in the story and then he disappeared? I’m not really sure maybe I missed something but it was a fun what a lot of people call a beach read.  

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (4.9/5)

            This is the second in the Darker Shade of Magic series, I loved it so much. I read it in like four days, I think. I know that’s not super quick but I have read enough books this year that I wanted to actually savor reading a longer book instead of blowing through another one. This one was amazing, I loved the Element Games, the dynamics shifting, and all of the characters that were featured. I cannot wait to read the next one, and it is on my TBR for next year so that’s really exciting. I love the characters and I will be reading a few V.E. Schwab books next year including A Conjuring of Light and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. There were so many twists and turns in this book and it left me on a cliff hanger, I have had so many cliff hangers this year and all I want to do is read the next one; like right now. I am not going to read it right now because I want to space out my reading. If you want to see what I thought about A Darker Shade of Magic, you totally can. Also, I still want Kell’s coat, I think that was such a cool idea.

Closely Harbored Secrets by Bree Baker (4.3/5)

            Seriously, I told y’all that there would be a bunch of cozies throughout the end of the year, and there sure are. I literally just ordered two more because I have a problem. Some people love romance, I love a good cozy mystery. This one was amazing; I figured the killer out in this one most of the way through the book because I binged like 250 pages in one day. Again, I have a problem. Everly and Grady are probably one of my top five cozy mystery couples. They are amazing and this book really showed that they are meant to be, no spoilers. I loved the little add ins of the ghosts and the unraveling of a centuries old story. It was so good; I could not put it down and I found myself smiling through most of the book even though for a certain part I wanted to throw it against a wall because I was upset with a certain turn of events. I cannot wait to read the next one and then have to wait until April for the follow up. I really do hope that this series is nowhere near completion because I need some Sun, Sand, and Tea in my life. 

Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco (5/5)

            I am going to preface this one with, I should have tabbed both of the ones in this series, when I do my re-read I will, because there were lines in this one that had me rolling with laughter and I want to go back and read them over and over again. This was a little spicy, I will not lie about that but I could not put it down. I cannot wait for the final installment in the trilogy with the cliffhanger this book left it on. I loved all the princes and all of the crazy twists and turns in this book. I read it in like three days just because I have to be a person. This one is one of my top books of the year because it was just so good. I would suggest this series to anyone and everyone, the imagery is amazing, the characters are amazing and sarcastic and I love them, and the world building it is amazing. This for sure is a lot of moral grey area and it’s so fun. I laughed so much while reading this and I really do regret tabbing this book; next time. I rarely re-read books but some of the books I have read this year for sure deserve a re-read in the future. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (3.5/5)

            I love pretty much every retelling of this story and I finally read it. Half of the Christmas movies that I own are retellings of this quintessential Christmas novel. I read the whole thing in like an hour. It was only like 68 pages for the Dover Thrift edition so it was not a hard read. I don’t know how it’s taken me this long to read it because it’s one of those things that is so much a part of our popular culture that I have no idea how I haven’t read it before now even though I have heard the story over and over again in cartoons, in TV shows, and in films. 

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint (3.5/5)

            This book was good, this is the second Greek mythos-based novel that is in this specific post since I started it with Circe. It was not my favorite book ever; it was good though. It got sad and I will for sure say if you are averse to mentions of suicide or the death of children, maybe don’t. It was a quick read when I actually got into it. I don’t really have much to say about it, it made me a little sad and a little confused and then there was some weird stuff. 

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox (3.5/5)

            Do you want to read a Hallmark movie? This is for sure the book for you. I wrote a whole post on it that will be out at the beginning of January so if you want to know my more in-depth details on it, go read it over there. I have read 68 books this year so far and they can’t all be my favorites. 

The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 2 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (3/5)

            I skimmed it; I feel bad about that but reading ten classics in a year was as mistake especially when two of them were over 600 pages. I love Sherlock Holmes but like I said with the first one; I should have read it as an audiobook. I will probably do that eventually, just listen to it because I think I would enjoy it so much more. It was a good book, but it was just long and I couldn’t find the strength in myself to read it completely all the way through. I skimmed and I hate skimming books because each novel deserves your complete attention. It’s Sherlock Holmes and the character and stories are amazing, but reading it was hard and I just couldn’t get interested and gripped by it like I do with most of the books I read. It is a masterwork of fiction, that is no lie, it just was difficult to get through. 

Partners in Line by Bree Baker (4/5)

            This one was really good, I for sure had moments where I wanted to throw it across a room because of Everly and Grady, I love them but I got mad a little throughout this one. I cannot wait for the next one to come out because I need to know what happens next. I loved this whole story and I honestly didn’t guess the killer until it was revealed and I love a cozy mystery where I am guessing until it’s all over. I love how her relationship with Wyatt has changed and progressed through this series because when he showed up, I hated him. This book shocked me at a certain point that I don’t want to spoil so I am not going to say it but I was upset. This one was a lot, it was a good a lot but it was a lot. 

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (5/5)

            I read it in pretty much one sitting, like I only took breaks to go to the bathroom, let the dogs I am dog sitting out, and eat; I could not put it down. This was one of those books that blew up and I could have gotten it for a Book of The Month in September, I got it as an add-on this month. I regret, whole-heartedly regret not reading it sooner. I found my new favorite funny book quote in this book and that is, ‘carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man’ I laughed so much while reading this book and it does get a touch spicy, but I could not put it down. It was fun and pretty much every other page through at least the first half of the book had me closing it so I could laugh silently or like a dog squeaky toy. I love a good grumpy and sunshine trope relationship and this one, it was so fun and so good. I loved the characters and just everything about it, it hooked me from the first page and didn’t let me go until I closed the book. 

The Falcon Always Wings Twice by Donna Andrews (4/5)

            I have been waiting to read this one because my Barnes and Noble just never got it, shame on them. The Love Hypothesis gave me a little bit of a book hangover so it took me like three days to read this one. It was good, I love all the characters in Meg’s world since I have been reading this series since like 2016. I have all of them that are out at the moment if they are out in paperback because you know that your girl like paperback more than hard cover if I can manage it. I loved the ren faire and I honestly didn’t figure out who the killer was until like a chapter before it was revealed, I had my suspicions but other than that, no idea. I hopefully will get the next one read before the end of the year as well because that’s just who I am as a person. The next book I am reading it a BookTok favorite so pray for me. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (5/5)

            Well, I am way behind the times on this one but BookTok introduced it to me and here we are. I read most of it in a day, I just didn’t have the motivation to read and then it got good and I know why everyone loves Rhys. It is totally worth the hype with a very Beauty and The Beast feel mixed in with a mad queen and ridiculousness throughout. I could not put it down once I got into it and I feel like all of my favorite books this year have been fantasy. I have always loved fantasy and from everything I have seen on TikTok about this book I am for sure in for a rollercoaster. It took a while for me to get into it but when I did, man, I read from chapter 15 (pg 131) to the end of the book. So many twists and turns and so much going on, I cannot wait to crack into the second one at some point in the new year. I probably won’t wait to read it and that just means that the free choices on my TBR might be a little out of order. 

Gift of The Magpie by Donna Andrews (4.3/5)

            This one had a happy ending! I was so happy. Normally you don’t like the people who dies, I loved this book, it was so good and so happy. I love a good Christmas cozy mystery. I love meg and her cast of characters; I have been reading the books for years so it’s like a weird extended family and I love them. This one was back in Caerphilly and I missed the townsfolk that I have learned to love so much since I started reading the series. It’s number like 30 in the series and finding the earlier ones is hard if you want a physical copy, but it’s so worth reading like all of them because I love the characters and let’s be honest Spike, he steals the show constantly. I remember reading the first one and not knowing exactly what was going on, and now these characters are so familiar to me and they are all amazing. I read this one in one day and I am hoping to get like three more books read by the end of the year. 

In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren (4/5)

            It was cute, it was a Hallmark movie meets Groundhog Day, I read it all in one day. It was a super quick read but I wanted to keep reading it so I did. This was book 75 this year and I really rather enjoyed it, I was not sure if I was going to, but I love a good romantic comedy and this was a lot. I like the mechanic that she was reliving the same day or week over and over again trying to find happiness. It was really fast paced and so fun. The Epilogue, like the one in The Holiday Swap probably could have been left out, but that’s just me. I like a good wrap up but I also like the unknown when it comes to books, letting the reader make their own conclusions. It was a really cute book though. 

Petals and Poison by Jess Dylan (3.5/5)

            I read the first one earlier in the year and I honestly can’t remember much of it. It was a fun little book but the ending left me meh, it was kind of anticlimactic and that’s a little odd for a cozy mystery. I like the development of the characters and this is only the second book in the series. I know that the next one comes out next year and I’ll read it because I like the characters and the story. This one was fine, it was absolutely fine. 

Absence of Mallets by Kate Carlisle (4/5)

            I bookended the year with two of her books! That’s so weird and exciting. I love Shannon and I found myself really enjoying this ninth installment of her series. She’s a lady carpenter and that is so important because girls can build stuff too. I seriously have walked through a Home Depot and a Lowe’s and had guys ask me if I know what I am looking for and I just want to do the Ron Swanson thing from Parks and Rec when he says “I know more than you” sometimes. I loved the story and I still hate Whitney, this one had a lot of subterfuge but I figured out the killer kind of early on, so either I am getting better at picking out the killer or this one was a fluke. It was good though, a nice short read for my final book of 2021.

            Can y’all tell by this post that I am 100% a mood reader? I read what I want to, that is 98% the reason that I have decided I have to do a TBR every year because otherwise I would not read any of the books I own. I would just read what I want and that means buying more books. While I will still buy all sorts of books (thanks BookTok) I need to stick to at least part of a list. I need to go through the books that I own and unhaul the ones I don’t want.

            Speaking of unhauling, I normally don’t, normally I keep every book I read. This year because I read so many and I know that I will never crack them open again I am just going to get rid of them. I am not going to tell y’all which books I am unhauling but there are about eight from this year. I am not saying them because for some people those might be their favorite books and my favorite books might be ones they hate. We are all allowed to like and dislike books and stuff without hatred or malice, I promise. We all like what we like and that’s okay. 

            As I did last year, here is a picture of all the books I read this year except four, one that is my mother’s and is at her house, and three that I read at school. This is my Book Stack and I couldn’t put it in one pile without it falling over, so two piles this year. Spoiler alert about a minute after I took this picture the stack on the right fell over and half of it ended up on the windowsill behind it which was funny. 

            By the time that this post comes out, I had to move some things around so it’s the beginning of January, Happy 2022! I am hopefully halfway or completely done with my first book of the year. 

            I am hoping to hit 70 books again in 2022 but I am not holding myself to that goal, my TBR is at 50 so my GoodReads goal will start at 50 as well because then I can just go up from there. In like July of 2021 I told my mom I had another 20 books on my TBR and she questioned if I could do it (my mother reads a lot more than I do) and I took that as a challenge so I read almost 40 more. 

            Alright, I think that’s enough because this post is super-duper long and that is part of the reason that I am doing monthly next year not bi-monthly. Too much. I will be back later in the week with another post so until then, I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy!

            -MJ 

Let’s keep track shall we?:

Classics:  10/10 (Alice in WonderlandTuck EverlastingThe Secret Garden, Dracula, The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 1, A Confederate Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Peter Pan, Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol, The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 2)

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): 6/6 (Half Sick of Shadows, Not A Happy Family, Rock Paper Scissors, The Ex Hex, The Keeper of Night, The Holiday Swap)

Extra’s (books I read during my TBR and after I finish it): 21/21 (how?) (See Something, Idiot, A Tale of Two Cookies, Circe, No Good Tea Goes Unpunished, Kingdom of the Wicked, Tide and Punishment, The Maidens, A Call for Kelp, A Gathering of Shadows, Closely Harbored Secrets, Kingdom of the Cursed, Ariadne, Partners in Lime, The Love Hypothesis, The Falcon Always Wings Twice, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Gift of the Magpie, In A Holidaze, Petals and Poison, Absence of Mallets)

3 thoughts on “Books I’ve Read So Far in 2021 #6: The Final Countdown

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