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Books I’ve Read in 2021

If you haven’t gathered yet, I read a lot. And, If you also haven’t noticed, I like to share about the books I have read, which brings us to this reoccurring blog post! Every time I finish a book, I will post a short snippet here.

SO, if you are looking for a good book, follow along with me as I read throughout 2021!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: (Fiction) Absolutely perfect. If you want a book mixed with drama, suspense, and a touching ending, look no further! There are so many wonderful things I can say about this novel. It lives up to the hype, I promise.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: (Fiction) Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think this novel lived up to expectations. Yes, it was a good story, but, in my opinion, there was too many story lines going on. It was very hard to follow sometimes and it almost seemed rushed in some places. I loved the ideas going on in this novel, I just wish Ng could have shortened the character list down. If you can handle lots of intermixing storylines, give this one a chance! Maybe you can find some greatness out of what I missed.

The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware: (Thriller) Be prepared to find a lot of Ruth Ware on my list. I read 3 of her 5 novels last year and will definitely read any new ones. Ware’s writing has you thinking you figured it out, but then tricks you at the last minute. Out of all of her novels, this is my least favorite, but still a great read.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn: (Fiction) You have to hand it to Reese Witherspoon, she can sure pick a great book! This book should be on every woman’s list of books they have to read before they die. It is a story of survival, friendship, and revenge! Quinn swoops you up and carries you through decades of fearless women. You will not be able to put this book down.

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim: (Fiction) A beautiful and touching story of cultural divide between traditional and contemporary culture. Kim uses past (mother’s POV) and present tense (daughter’s POV) to divide the story and help you figure out how Mina Lee died. I call this a fiction novel even though it handles death because, to me, it was more about family relationships rather than a “whodunit”.

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister: (Fiction) Wow, what a unique idea for a story – a story of scents. I loved every minute of this novel. You must read this one. It has been a while since I have read such a heartwarming story.

Circe by Madeline Miller: (Fiction) I am in a book club with some friends and this is one of our picks. I have always loved Greek Mythology, but other than the Odyssey, I have not heard much of Circe. After reading this novel, I would say she is one of my favorites. Miller is a phenomenal author and writes the style of book I someday hope to write. For those who love Greek Mythology or those that are just looking for a strong female novel this should be on your list.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel: (Fiction) A touching story about the transition of a young boy into a girl. Frankel writes in such a way that you feel and being to understand this delicate topic. You can tell how much research and heart went into this novel. I highly recommend.

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse: (Thriller) I was VERY excited for this one. And, unfortunately, I was mostly letdown. I was expecting a psychological thriller, but got a family squabble. Overall, still worth reading.

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda: (Thriller) After being semi-letdown by The Sanatorium, I tried this one. And I was letdown again. The “whodunit” was obvious and there was a lot of whining by the main character. I am probably being a bit harsh, but I really wanted to love this book more than I did.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke: (Crime/Investigation) It was hard to categorize this one. It is supposed to be a thriller, but to me, it was just more of a detective novel. With that being said, it was a great read. Locke talks about race, Texas, gangs, murder, and love. She brilliantly weaves all of these into a great novel.

Tribe: On Homecoming & Belonging by Sebastian Junger: (Non-Fiction) Another book club choice. To be honest, I skimmed through this one. After discussing with the other book club members, I realize how much more I could have gotten out of this book. It’s a powerful true piece with lots of research on PTSD, groups, and life.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton: (Suspense) Favorite suspense novel I have read to date, 100%!! Turton is a genius. I am very good as figuring out who the killer is, but Turton stumped me. Anyone who wants a great page turner, you MUST read this one. It reminds me a lot of an Agatha Christie novel.

One by One by Ruth Ware: (Thriller) Hands down my favorite Ware novel. I flew through this one in two days! There is so much I can say, but I don’t want to give anything away. You must read this!!

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women by Balli Kaur Jaswal: (Fiction) A great book filled with culture, healing, humor, and, of course, erotic stories. This was such a fun novel to read. There were so many facets to it that you had to keep reading.

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth: (Suspense?) It’s hard to classify this one. It’s a novel about a death, but there is so much to this one. I LOVED IT!! I bought this book on a whim at Barnes and Noble and I am so glad I did. It’s an easy to read novel that keeps you on your toes.

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut: (Classic) Yes, I am calling this a classic, because that is what it is to me. It’s so one-of-a-kind, so Vonnegut. It’s confusing and I spent more time trying to decipher what I was reading, but this is just one of those novels that everyone needs to read at some point in their lives.

The Dilemma by B.A. Paris: (Suspense) I loved this book because of what Paris chose to be the question. You know who died, but you don’t know when they die. You have to keep reading because you have to know when! When does she die? When will he tell the wife? When will the wife break? It’s great!

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell: (Thriller) I have to be honest and admit I read this book because of TikTok. I swear it was everywhere! And I am so glad it was. Jewell uses a few different POVs to tell this story and it works. You get just enough from each POV that you have it figured out at the end. I will definitely read more of her.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes: (Fiction) Moyes has been a favorite of mine thanks to her Me Before You series. I love her writing style of humor interlaced with serious topics. This novel is perfect and such an easy read. It’s a story about finding yourself and also embracing what makes you different.

50 Shades of Grey (All 3 Novels) by EL James: (Fiction/Erotica) I have read these before, but I had to reread them in anticipation of the last Grey series novel coming out in June. We all know about these books, I don’t think I have to say much. I enjoy reading them. Obviously there are many parts I am squeamish about, but I still enjoy the series.

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo: (Fiction) I absolutely loved this story. I will push it on anyone. It’s such a unique story that ties in culture, love, and a little bit of suspense. I will admit it gets confusing in places, but it’s such a hard book to put down. Who is the Night Tiger? Or more so, what is it?

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver: (Fiction) Silver is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. She is witty and brings life to her characters in a way that makes you read a 300 page novel in one day. ((YES that means I read this in one day!!!)) It’s a love story cliche about losing your loved one for, but who doesn’t love a great love story.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: (Fiction) WOW. What would you do if you had the chance to live out all of the lives you regret? Would you choose you current life with all its flaws or would you pick another one…even if that meant it was a worse life for those you loved? Such a powerful and through provoking novel. Haig is a genius. This book should be one everyone’s bookshelf.

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton: (Historical Fiction) Last year, I read the sister novel by Cleeton “Next Year in Havana”, and when I found out she had another novel about the headstrong sister, I knew I had to read this. Cleeton’s writing style allows you to learn about a fictional family who may have gone through similar issues as real families during the reign of Fidel Castro in Cuba. I highly recommend reading both of Cleeton’s novels if you are interested in historical fiction.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover: (Fiction)I can honestly say that I have never read a book so fast in my life. I think I read this in about 5 hours. This is about domestic abuse, but rather than it focusing on the abuse, it focused on the girl’s strength and self-worth. It can be hard to read for those that are triggered, but I can say that this novel is not graphic and does not go into much detail about the actual abuse. It is so much more than a novel about domestic abuse. I truly believe anyone who has a heart should read this one.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: (Fiction) As an Oprah’s book choice, I was very excited to read this one! Jones breaks this novel up using different POVs per chapter so you can get a look into each main character’s mind. This method helps the reader really feel a part of the story. It is a little slow-paced, but still worth reading.

Northern Spy by Flynn Berry: (Fiction/Suspense) As you know, I love a good suspense novel, so every time Reese adds a suspense novel to her bookclub list, I jump at the chance to read it. This novel starts out slow, but by part 2, I was HOOKED!!! I had a slow day at work, so I started this one and was done by the time I went to bed. It is a easy read (there are a lot of characters that take a second to remember their significance) but Berry does a great job with the subtle reminders. I highly recommend this novel. I would call this a mix of crime, suspense, and fiction.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: (Fiction) WOW. If I could reread a book for the first time, it would be this one. A friend recommended that I read this and now I am recommending it to everyone!!! This touches on a bit of fantasy, but if you love magic and the circus it is great. There is a love story, but not very much – there is much more to it. I highly recommend finding a comfy seat, grabbing a cup of tea, and enjoying this novel. You will not regret it!

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Fiction) Earlier in the year, we read Circe, also by Miller. I absolutely loved it, so I knew I had to read her first novel. This story focuses on Patroclus and Achilles and their possible love for each other! As a lover of Greek mythology, I was very excited to read this one. It is definitely a very possible take on their friendship – I will have to look more into this and see there is more to the story.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (Thriller) Let me start by saying this book deserves the hype. BUT, let me also say, you have to get through the first hundred and fifty pages before you get the feeling that you “cannot put the book down”. There a few great twists once you get past the character introduction of the first pages. I promise, just get through the first 150 pages and you will love this! Side note, I do not recommend the movie version (it is not as good as the book).

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (Fiction/Crime) Finally a perfect Reese book!! I flew through this book. Every page of it had me captured!!! The main character’s husband leaves a 2 word note and you spend the rest of the book working with her to find out who exactly is the man she married. I could definitely see this book being turned into a movie! This is an easy and exciting read – it’s a perfect book to read at the beach or pool.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell (Thriller) Jewell is quickly becoming one of my favorite thriller authors! There are a lot of intertwining characters that make up this story. It takes awhile to figure out how they all finally mesh together. I read this book outside in my baby pool and I could not put it down!

Paper Towns by John Green (Fiction) I have read this book (and all of John Green’s books) many times. When I am looking for a light-hearted and fun book, I will almost always go to one of his. I fly through it every time and I love it! Looking for Alaska is my favorite one by him, but I recommend this one too. The movie is pretty great too!

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (Suspense) This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a few years now. I have started to read it a few times, but the slow beginning always had me putting it down and not picking me back up. This time I stuck it out and I am glad that I did! Macmillan shows the POV through the eyes of the detective and the mother of the son who gets abducted. The two characters don’t actually interact much with each other so this separate POVs help the reader get the full emotion.

We are getting there, right?

Does anyone else ever feel like you take steps forward only to find yourself spiraling backwards? These past few months have been amazing for me (yes, despite the global pandemic). I got married to the love of my life and we bought a house together. I also started juicing and taking care of my body. I should be the happiest person in the world, right?

I am a very emotional person, I can admit that. I feel everything and react emotionally before I would ever react logically. It feels like I have more ups and downs in a day than a person has in a lifetime (a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point). I am not depressed though, by any means. In fact, I have never been happier. It just feels like I need to feel all of the other emotions instead of just the happy ones. Does that make sense?

For as far back as I can remember, I was dramatic about EVERYTHING. <– even that sentence should prove my point. So, does this need to be dramatic stem from my overly emotional side, or is it something else entirely. Did I just crave the attention that the dramatics brought? And if that is so, is that why, all these years, later, I won’t allow myself to fully be happy?

I am thinking yes..

I am also thinking how ridiculous it is that people like myself are waiting for the “other shoe to drop” instead of living in the moment and allowing yourself to experience pure happiness. It’s funny, right? That us overly dramatic people can’t stop and “smell the roses” without worrying about getting stung by a bee.

If you have read this far, and you can identify yourself with what I am saying, then please keep reading, because I want to share some secrets with you about happiness.

First of all, we are getting there. Maybe it’s baby steps or maybe it’s giants steps, but regardless of how long it takes you to get there, we are getting there.

Not every moment will be easy or will feel like progress, but every chance you give yourself to quiet your mind is getting you there. You can over-worry all you want, but it won’t matter because even though you feel like you can find a solution to every scenario you think up, life still finds a way to surprise you. And that is ok! Take it from me, a self-declared queen of overthinking, you cannot solve EVERYTHING and you do not have control over EVERYTHING.

I hate to say that because I love being in control and yet it is the times where I give up control that I have the most fun. Try it sometime.

Second, you deserve to be happy. ALWAYS. I realize that a person cannot physically be happy every second of every day, but you get my point. When you feel all of the other emotions, that’s okay, just make sure at the end of the day, you can look back at everything and still be able to tell yourself it was a good day.

I know how easy it is to “spiral”, but let’s not use that word anymore. It’s too negative. Let’s just say you are just having an off day. That’s not completely positive, but it’s easier on yourself than “spiraling out of control” sounds. Somedays, you just need to rest and that’s okay. You are still getting there, right?

Absolutely.

Thirdly, and most importantly, find yourself a hobby and fall in love with it. For me, that is reading and writing. When I am reading, I shut my mind off and only feel what the author has laid out for me on the pages. And then, when I am done reading for the day, I close my book, turn back on my brain, and feel lighter. All the things I thought were unsolvable problems are less scary.

I started my blog with the hopes that I would write about books to try and show other people how easy it is to fall in love with them. Then life happened and I broke my promise to myself about writing. I lost my hobby and with that I felt lost or incomplete. Sure, I have a damn-near perfect life, but I needed to get back to doing something for me, and friends, that is the most important thing I can stress to you.

DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF. I dare you.

Other people can make you happy, but if you can’t make yourself happy, then you are denying yourself the chance to be truly happy. I know you know this, but sometimes you just need to be reminded.

So whatever it is you love, strive to excel at it. Fall in love with it everyday and, in turn, learn to fall in love with yourself again, too.

We are getting there, right? Yes, I promise.

Comment below steps you have taken to find happiness and how you got there.