52 Book Pick Up: Episode 2021

Spoilers before we begin, it’s more than 52 books.

This post was meant to go up yesterday, as my usual year end wrap up, but I was felled first by the news of Betty White’s passing, and then by the Mother of All Migraines.

I had an excellent reading year, and the Bookstagram project that Ashley and I started for the first half of 2021 was really great for padding my booklist. I managed my goal of 50 by August, but slowed down significantly once we took a break from the Bookstagram.

Overall stats, per Goodreads (which is frankly the only reason I use goodreads anymore. I like that it gives me a page count and averages.)

Books read: 70

Pages read: 20,733

Longest Book: The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco, at 503 pages.

Shortest Book: Popular Longing by Natalie Shapero, at 65 pages.

Average book length: 296 pages

And now on to the important things: The Best Books of the Year, 2021. (Featured in purple on this cute book list I made this year)

Here we go, in order of appearance.

Root Magic by Eden Royce– The cutest, most delightful middle grade I read all year. Two siblings learn the importance of preserving family history and tradition in their own Gullah culture. Action packed, with sweet, authentic relationships between characters, a little magic and horror, but also deftly handles the realities of life and who the real monsters are.

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio- A structurally perfect, glorious love letter to Shakespeare and every privileged, messy theater kid in the world. Moody and pretentious AF and I loved every minute of it. A+ melodrama. The murder mystery is absolutely secondary, and I solved it, but it doesn’t even matter because this book is 100% character driven.

These Women by Ivy Pochoda- A nearly perfect book. Gritty and authentic, beautiful and profound. A murder brings together the narratives of six women in Los Angeles, told one after the other until they all come together. This book is a page turner that asks how many crimes go unsolved because women aren’t reliable [witnesses, victims, informants, whatever] and will stop you dead in your tracks with a truth bomb sucker punch.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune- The kindest, gentlest, most empathetic book ever. I want to give a copy to literally every kid I know, and most of the adults too. I’m not even going to waste time telling you what it’s about, just buy it and read it and love it.

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison- A book about a plague that kills off large swaths of the population and centers the violence of being a woman every day but especially during a pandemic was probably not the best choice to read in the middle of a pandemic. That said, this book is really good. Plot, characterization, pacing, everything was solid and it made me want to finish it more than my discomfort wanted me to put it down.

The Shipbuilder of Bellefaire by M. Rickert- Beautiful, haunting and melancholy. Quark has always been an odd human, and an outcast, and his whole life comes to a head when he returns home for his father’s funeral. Normally an intentionally ambiguous book with flowery prose would be a hard sell for me, but for some reason this ticked every box and I loved it. It completely captures the feeling of a small struggling town and anything or anyone who doesn’t quite conform.

Popular Longing by Natalie Shapero and Demos by Benjamin Naka-Hasebe Kingsley– Two poetry books and I am not the right person to review poetry, but they were five star books for me, especially Demos. Uniquely powerful poetry.

Notable mentions:

The Bone Witch trilogy by Rin Chupeco- The first book is an extremely slow burn, and I struggled through it. It is, however, flawless worldbuilding that absolutely pays off in the next two books. Each one is a four star, but the trilogy as a whole is a five star read.

Wendy, Darling by A. C. Wise- A Peter Pan retelling that flips the entire story on its head, and focuses on the women, told from the point of view of now grown up Wendy who must find a way to return to Neverland to save her daughter from Peter and his Shadow.

The full list, if you’re interested, or you need an author to go with the title from the chart above. If you’re not, feel free to stop here. It’s just a list of 70 books. Happy reading in 2022!

Woven in Moonlight- Isabel Ibanez

The Three Body Problem- Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu

Over the Woodward Wall- A. Deborah Baker

A Winter’s Promise- Christelle Dabos

One of the Good Ones- Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Concrete Rose- Angie Thomas

A Song of Wraith and Ruin- Roseanne A. Brown

Root Magic- Eden Royce

The Devil and the Dark Water- Stuart Turton

The Cousins- Karen M. McManus

Winter Counts- David Heska Wanbli Weiden

If We Were Villains- M. L. Rio

The Silence of Bones- June Hur

The Inheritance Games- Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Lost Apothecary- Sarah Penner

Angrynomics- Eric Lonegran and Mark Blyth

These Women- Ivy Pochoda

Nightshade- Andrea Cohen

The Next Loves- Stephane Boquet

The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save us From the Void- Jackie Wang

Popular Longing- Natalie Shapero

The House in the Cerulean Sea- T. J. Klune

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife- Meg Elison

If This is the Age We End Discovery- Rosebud Ben-Ohi

Demos- Benjamin Naka-Hasabe Kingsley

Dearly- Margaret Atwood

New Poets of Native Nations- edited by Heid E. Erdrich

Sense and Sensibility- Jane Austen

Ordinary Girls- Blair Thornburgh

Pride- Ibi Zoboi

Northanger Abbey- Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey- Val McDermid

For Darkness Shows the Stars- Diana Peterfreund

The Forest of Stolen Girls- June Hur

Hummingbird Salamander- Jeff VanDerMeer

With the Fire on High- Elizabeth Acevedo

The Cybernetic Tea Shop- Meredith Katz

The Prophets- Robert Jones Jr

Surrender Your Sons- Adam Sass

The Box in the Woods- Maureen Johnson

Wendy, Darling- A. C. Wise

Dead Dead Girls- Nekesa Afia

House of Hollow- Krystal Sutherland

Dealing in Dreams- Lilliam Rivera

Ace of Spades- Faridah Abike- lyimide

Finna- Nino Cipri

The Atrocities- Jeremy C. Shipp

The Shipbuilder of Bellefaire- M. Rickert

The Animals at Lockwood Manor- Jane Healey

Keep This To Yourself- Tom Ryan

Throwaway Girls- Andrea Contos

A Study in Charlotte- Brittany Cavallaro

When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky- Margaret Verble

Victories Greater Than Death- Charlie Jane Anders

Premeditated Myrtle- Elizabeth C. Bunce

How to Get Away with Myrtle- Elizabeth C. Bunce

Magic for Liars- Sarah Gailey

House of Salt and Sorrow- Erin A. Craig

The Bone Witch- Rin Chupeco

The Heart Forger- Rin Chupeco

The Shadowglass- Rin Chupeco

Mean- Myriam Gurba

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear- Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

All’s Well- Mona Awad

Run With the Hunted: Ctrl Alt Delete: Jennifer R. Donohue

The Annual Migration of Clouds- Premee Mohamed

The Necessity of Stars- E. Catherine Tobler

Run With the Hunted: Standard Operating Procedure- Jennifer R. Donohue

The Secret Skin- Wendy N. Wagner

And What Can We Offer You Tonight- Premee Mohamed

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