For the past two years, I have shared a summary of my reading list. To be honest it has become one of my favorite posts I have written. I am a passionate reader but in the past, I was very shy about sharing what I read with others. I was always teased growing up about what a weird taste in books I had, which has made me very self-conscious. For a long time, I was ashamed of what I was reading, most people in my life read memoirs and self-improvement books, I always wish I had an interest in those topics so I could participate in their many conversations about their recent reads and the new hot book. But, my interests have always drifted towards YA sci-fi and fantasy types of books.

In 2019 I decided to ignore my reservations, open up, and share my reading list from the year in case someone may share my interests and I am so glad I did. Many people in my life took that post as an opportunity to share reading suggestions, and I was delighted to have my fears contradicted.

One positive thing that came out of the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns was the opportunity to read more. With fewer social obligations I was really able to dive back into reading. I know it can be difficult to find time to get through a book, many of us have a stack of books growing every year with the best of intentions. My suggestion for anyone who struggles to find the time to read is to get an Audible subscription. I have been able to get back into reading and cruise through my stack of books because of my audible subscription. I still like to try and read the old-fashioned way so I buy my books at Half Priced Books when I can and buy the audiobooks on Audible. This way I could listen to my books on my way to and from the cabin on the weekends, running errands, or while on my elliptical, but still read the paper version on lunch breaks or at home in the evenings.

The Toll

By: Neal Shusterman

In the highly anticipated finale to the New York Times best-selling trilogy, dictators, prophets, and tensions rise. In a world that’s conquered death, will humanity finally be torn asunder by the immortal beings it created?
Citra and Rowan have disappeared. Endura is gone. It seems like nothing stands between Scythe Goddard and absolute dominion over the world scythedom. With the silence of the Thunderhead and the reverberations of the Great Resonance still shaking the earth to its core, the question remains: Is there anyone left who can stop him?
The answer lies in the Tone, the Toll, and the Thunder.

The Toll is the third and final book in The Arc of a Scythe Trilogy. I read the first two books in 2020 and started 2021 by finishing off the trilogy and I was not disappointed. I loved this unique concept of controlling death and in a way playing God, where even those trusted in protecting society can become crazed with power. The third book took me on twists and turns that had me holding on for dear life at points and I was not disappointed. This book wrapped up the trilogy in a way that left me satisfied while still leaving room to imagine that world continuing on-which as an avid reader and someone who really gets swept up in these other worlds, can be a wonderful experience and make it more manageable when saying goodbye to characters you have really grown to care for.

Buy The Toll on Amazon

How to Stop Time

By: Matt Haig

A love story across the ages – and for the ages – about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live.
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history – performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.
So Tom moves back his to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher – the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past or finally begin living in the present.
How to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.

Author Matt Haig was a new 2021 discovery for me. I found his stories unique and thought-provoking, filled with both heartache and hope. Although there are several times I want to reach into his books and shake the characters into bucking up and growing up. I did have a bit of trouble with the cowardice and what often felt like a big ol’ pity party that takes the main stage in his stories, his characters do seem to find their way in the end. I read two books by him in 2021 and look forward to discovering more of his work in 2022.

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The Duke and I – Daphne’s Story
Bridgerton Book 1

By: Julia Quinn

Simon Basset, the irresistible Duke of Hastings, has hatched a plan to keep himself free from the town’s marriage-minded society mothers. He pretends to be engaged to the lovely Daphne Bridgerton. After all, it isn’t as if the brooding rogue has any real plans to marry – though there is something about the alluring Miss Bridgerton that sets Simon’s heart beating a bit faster.
And as for Daphne, surely the clever debutante will attract some very worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable. But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, she soon forgets that their courtship is a complete sham. And now she has to do the impossible and keep herself from losing her heart and soul completely to the handsome hell-raiser who has sworn off marriage forever!

Just like the rest of the world, I got swept up in the Bridgerton craze. I have always been a fan of Austen-esque romances so I couldn’t resist when Netflix released what soon became a smash hit. My mom gave me book one (The Duke and I) of Quinn’s eight-book series for Valentine’s Day and I think I tore through it in a day or two. I was surprised how different the book was from the show, there is no queen and Daphne isn’t the prize the show makes her out to be nor is there a pregnancy scandal going on with the neighbors. In fact, I really liked the book better, a little less society drama.

I quickly ran to the store to get rest, which was no easy task as they were flying off the shelves. Eventually, I was successful and I think I made my way through each book in about a day or so, sacrificing sleep for what I kept telling myself was just one more chapter. Quinn finds a wonderful balance of romance and humor, and so perfectly captures sibling relationships that I could have believed she came from a large family of brothers in real life. Do yourself the favor and read these if you haven’t yet, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Buy The Duke and I on Amazon

The Viscount Who Loved Me – Anthony’s Story
Bridgerton Book 2

By: Julia Quinn

1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London’s most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry. And in all truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better… – Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1814
But this time the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry – he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield – the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate’s the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams.
Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands – and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister – but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself.

Book two of the Bridgerton Series did not disappoint. Just like book one we were presented with two strong characters, who may be stupid at times but have a fire and strength that many other subsequent protagonists may be lacking. Kate may be one of my favorite Bridgerton women with all of her sass and no-nonsense attitude. And the Pall Mall game is easily one of my favorite Bridgerton traditions, those scenes always leave me in stitches and wishing for more.

Buy The Viscount Who Loved Me on Amazon

An Offer From A Gentleman – Benedict’s Story
Bridgerton Book 3

By: Julia Quinn

Sophie Beckett never dreamed she’d be able to sneak into Lady Bridgerton’s famed masquerade ball – or that Prince Charming would be waiting there for her! Though the daughter of an earl, Sophie has been relegated to the role of servant by her disdainful stepmother. But now, spinning in the strong arms of the debonair and devastatingly handsome Benedict Bridgerton, she feels like royalty. Alas, she knows all enchantments must end when the clock strikes midnight.
Who was that extraordinary woman? Ever since that magical night, a radiant vision in silver has blinded Benedict to the attractions of any other – except perhaps this alluring and oddly familiar beauty dressed in housemaid’s garb whom he feels compelled to rescue from a most disagreeable situation. He has sworn to find and wed his mystery miss, but this breathtaking maid makes him weak with wanting her. Yet if he offers her his heart, will Benedict sacrifice his only chance for a fairy tale love?

Book three of the Bridgerton series is possibly my least favorite (tied with books five and six). The story was a bit unoriginal taking a very Cinderella-like approach complete with an evil stepmother and two stepsisters and a damsel needing rescuing from her position as a servant. Sophie was a little too helpless for my taste and Benedict was a real ass, but the story comes together in the end as all of Julia’s stories do (one of the reasons I like her so much), tied up in a nice little bow and a fairy tale ending.

Buy An Offer From A Gentleman on Amazon

Romancing Mister Bridgerton – Colin’s Story
Bridgerton Book 4

By: Julia Quinn

Everyone knows that Colin Bridgerton is the most charming man in London. Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend’s brother for…well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret…and fears she doesn’t know him at all.
Colin Bridgerton is tired of being thought nothing but an empty-headed charmer, tired of everyone’s preoccupation with the notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, who can’t seem to publish an edition without mentioning him in the first paragraph. But when Colin returns to London from a trip abroad he discovers nothing in his life is quite the same – especially Penelope Featherington! The girl haunting his dreams. But when he discovers that Penelope has secrets of her own, this elusive bachelor must decide…is she his biggest threat – or his promise of a happy ending?

Penelope & Colin are easily the funniest of the Bridgerton characters. The story of how these two came together is a comedy of errors, although I could have done without Colin’s temper breaking through. It was a charming experience seeing Penelope finally get her time in the sun and achieve a happy ending she most certainly deserved for her endless kindness and crusades for the underdogs of their society.

Buy Romancing Mister Bridgerton on Amazon

To Sir Phillip, with Love – Eloise’s Story
Bridgerton Book 5

By: Julia Quinn

Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he’d proposed, figuring that she’d be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except…she wasn’t. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her… and more. Did he think she was mad?
Eloise Bridgerton couldn’t marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking…and wondering…and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except…he wasn’t. Her perfect husband wouldn’t be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled…and when he kissed her…the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn’t help but wonder…could this imperfect man be perfect for her?

I found this story confusing and frustrating most of the way through. Sir Phillip was a coward who really hid from his problems and responsibilities, while Eloise made impulsive decisions because she felt left out of the love the rest of her family seemed to find. It really felt as though both characters settled for the match, although they may say they love each other I am not totally convinced by the end of the story.

Buy To Sir Phillip, with Love on Amazon

When He Was Wicked – Francesca’s Story
Bridgerton Book 6

By: Julia Quinn

“A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one’s life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London’s most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton. 
After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca’s surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere 36 hours longer – the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin. 
But that was then…. Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love…until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets….

Another frustrating story in the Bridgerton collection. Michael and Francesca spend the whole book playing a game of “I wish I could, but oh I shouldn’t”

My heart aches for Francesca throughout the majority of the book, she is put in a very difficult position and I can understand why she may be at odds with herself. But as always in Quinn’s books, love prevails and the characters finally get to their happy ending.

Buy When He Was Wicked on Amazon

It’s In His Kiss – Hyacinth’s Story
Bridgerton Book 7

By: Julia Quinn

Meet Our Hero . . .
Gareth St. Clair is in a bind. His father, who detests him, is determined to beggar the St. Clair estates and ruin his inheritance. Gareth’s sole bequest is an old family diary, which may or may not contain the secrets of his past . . . and the key to his future. The problem is—it’s written in Italian, of which Gareth speaks not a word.

Meet Our Heroine . . .
All the ton agreed: there was no one quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton. She’s fiendishly smart, devilishly outspoken, and according to Gareth, probably best in small doses. But there’s something about her—something charming and vexing—that grabs him and won’t quite let go . . .

Meet Poor Mr. Mozart . . .
Or don’t. But rest assured, he’s spinning in his grave when Gareth and Hyacinth cross paths at the annual—and annually discordant—Smythe-Smith musicale. To Hyacinth, Gareth’s every word seems a dare, and she offers to translate his diary, even though her Italian is slightly less than perfect. But as they delve into the mysterious text, they discover that the answers they seek lie not in the diary, but in each other . . . and that there is nothing as simple—or as complicated—as a single, perfect kiss.

This was a cute story very reminiscent of book one in the Bridgerton series, a young man at odds with his father and a Bridgerton daughter who is just looking for some fun and isn’t often viewed as marriage material. It was nice to see the Bridgerton stories get back on track with a light-hearted and strong-willed heroine.

Buy It’s In His Kiss on Amazon

On The Way To The Wedding – Gregory’s Story
Bridgerton Book 8

By: Julia Quinn

Unlike most men of his acquaintance, Gregory Bridgerton believes in true love. And he is convinced that when he finds the woman of his dreams, he will know in an instant that she is the one. And that is exactly what happened. Except….
She wasn’t the one. In fact, the ravishing Miss Hermione Watson is in love with another. But her best friend, the ever-practical Lady Lucinda Abernathy, wants to save Hermione from a disastrous alliance, so she offers to help Gregory win her over. But in the process, Lucy falls in love. With Gregory! Except….
Lucy is engaged. And her uncle is not inclined to let her back out of the betrothal, even once Gregory comes to his senses and realizes that it is Lucy, with her sharp wit and sunny smile, who makes his heart sing. And now, on the way to the wedding, Gregory must risk everything to ensure that when it comes time to kiss the bride, he is the only man standing at the altar….

The final book in the Bridgerton series was a great example of young love. Everything feels like the end of the world, and Gregory is convinced that he understands and feels love deeper than anyone before him only to be proven wrong and have his perception of what his heart wants flipped on him. Gregory continues his childish behavior by reacting in the irrational way of teenagers and charge ahead ignoring all reason, advise and planning to do what they think is best. Luckily for him, things do work out but he, of course, had to make an absolute mess of things on the way.

Buy On The Way To The Wedding on Amazon

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After

By: Julia Quinn

Once upon a time, a historical romance author created a family….
But not just any family. Eight brothers and sisters, assorted in-laws, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews (not to mention an overweight corgi), plus an irrepressible matriarch who’s a match for any of them…. These are the Bridgertons: less a family than a force of nature. Through eight best-selling novels, listeners laughed, cried, and fell in love. But they wanted more.
And so the listeners asked the author…
What happens next? Does Simon ever read his father’s letters? Do Francesca and Michael become parents? Who would win in a Pall Mall grudge match?
Does “The End” really have to be the end?
Now, with The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After, Julia Quinn delivers eight sexy, funny, and heartwarming “2nd Epilogues” plus a bonus story about none other than the wise and witty matriarch Violet Bridgerton herself. So get to know the Bridgertons all over again – because Happily Ever After is a whole lot of fun.

With The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After author Julia Quinn gives readers something almost every literary fan wishes for. A glimpse into their favorite character’s lives years after their last pages and one more story in a world you have grown to love. Honestly, I wish more authors would do this.

Buy The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After on Amazon

The Library at Mount Char

By: Scott Hawkins

Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for. After all, she was a normal American herself once. That was a long time ago, of course – before the time she calls “adoption day”, when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.
Father could do strange things. He could call light from the darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible. In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power. Sometimes they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God. Now Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library – and with it power over all of creation.
As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her. But can Carolyn win? She’s sure of it. What she doesn’t realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price – because in becoming a god, she’s forgotten a great deal about being human.

I would not recommend this book to anyone. All I can really say is it was weird. I think it had potential and would have made for a great series if the characters were explored a bit more and some of the plot devices were better developed. I felt as though I was coming into a sequel, feeling as though I needed a lot more backstory to better understand the point of this book. I don’t like returning books on Audible so I try not to but this one was absolutely a candidate for that service.

Buy (or don’t) The Library on Mount Char on Amazon

Harry Potter and The Order of the Pheonix
Harry Potter Book 5

By: J.K. Rowling

“Dark times have come to Hogwarts. After the Dementors’ attack on his cousin Dudley, Harry Potter knows that Voldemort will stop at nothing to find him. There are many who deny the Dark Lord’s return, but Harry is not alone: a secret order gathers at Grimmauld Place to fight against the dark forces. Harry must allow Professor Snape to teach him how to protect himself from Voldemort’s savage assaults on his mind. But they are growing stronger by the day and Harry is running out of time….

In 2020 I began re-reading the Harry Potter Series/Listening to the book to fall asleep. There is something about revisiting a favorite from your past that is completely comforting. This book was really the turning point in my relationship with the Harry Potter books. Taking on a much darker more tumultuous tone that took a lot of the joy of reading these books away from my experience. I usually stop at four or five when reading the books or watching the movies.

Buy Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix on Amazon

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter Book 6

By: J.K. Rowling

When Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive one summer night to collect Harry Potter, his wand hand is blackened and shriveled, but he does not reveal why. Secrets and suspicion are spreading through the wizarding world, and Hogwarts itself is not safe. Harry is convinced that Malfoy bears the Dark Mark: there is a Death Eater amongst them. Harry will need powerful magic and true friends as he explores Voldemort’s darkest secrets, and Dumbledore prepares him to face his destiny….”

I will never ever forget my first time reading this book. I had a reserved copy and waited in line on release day to pick up my copy with my mom and a few friends from school. The moment we got home I ran up to my room and shut the door. I barricaded myself in my room and finished the book the same day I brought it home. When I reached the end and was faced with Dumbledore’s death I opened my door and chucked the book out and down the stairs. My mother to this day loves to tell the story of hearing my scream of frustration only to turn and see the book sail through the air into the living room and hearing my door slam shut. One can easily say I was not a fan of that ending.

Buy Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on Amazon

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter Book 7

By: J.K. Rowling

As he climbs into the sidecar of Hagrid’s motorbike and takes to the skies, leaving Privet Drive for the last time, Harry Potter knows that Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters are not far behind. The protective charm that has kept Harry safe until now is broken, but he cannot keep hiding. The Dark Lord is breathing fear into everything Harry loves and to stop him Harry will have to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes. The final battle must begin – Harry must stand and face his enemy….

I finally made my way through all seven books, it’s been years since I did this. It was fun to go back and revisit the wizarding world. Im sure in a few more years I will grab these books up off the shelf, dust them off and once again immerse myself in a world that fueled my love of reading as a young person..

Buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Amazon

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter 
Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, Book 1

By: Theodora Goss

Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders – and the bigger mystery of their own origins. 
Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ deaths, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend, and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes. 
But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. 
When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.” 

I bought this book on a recommendation without reading the description, which made for an absolutely wonderful surprise with every turn of the page as new yet familiar characters made their appearances. I love the little rag-tag band the women become as they face their own monstrous pasts. A great story which I was thrilled to find out was book one of a trilogy.

Buy The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter on Amazon

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman
The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, Book 2

By: Theodora Goss

In the sequel to the critically acclaimed The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Mary Jekyll and the rest of the daughters of literature’s mad scientists embark on a madcap adventure across Europe to rescue another monstrous girl and stop the Alchemical Society’s nefarious plans once and for all.
Mary Jekyll’s life has been peaceful since she helped Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve the Whitechapel Murders. Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Mary’s sister Diana Hyde have settled into the Jekyll household in London, and although they sometimes quarrel, the members of the Athena Club get along as well as any five young women with very different personalities. At least they can always rely on Mrs. Poole.
But when Mary receives a telegram that Lucinda Van Helsing has been kidnapped, the Athena Club must travel to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rescue yet another young woman who has been subjected to horrific experimentation. Where is Lucinda, and what has Professor Van Helsing been doing to his daughter? Can Mary, Diana, Beatrice, and Justine reach her in time?
Racing against the clock to save Lucinda from certain doom, the Athena Club embarks on a madcap journey across Europe. From Paris to Vienna to Budapest, Mary and her friends must make new allies, face old enemies, and finally confront the fearsome, secretive Alchemical Society. It’s time for these monstrous gentlewomen to overcome the past and create their own destinies.

Book two was just as entertaining as the first in the series. New adventures and a lot of trouble for our characters fill the pages of this book. I haven’t gotten a chance to read book three yet but I have no doubt it will impress and excite like both its predecessors.

Buy European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman on Amazon

The Immortals
Olympus Bound Book 1

By: Jordanna Max Brodsky

“Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.
The city sleeps. Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson. She is alone – just the way she likes it. She doesn’t believe in friends, and she doesn’t speak to her family. Most of them are simply too dangerous.
In the predawn calm, Selene finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago – when her name was Artemis.”

This was another book that showed up on my audible recommended reading list. My guess is this showed up due to my many many mythology books from different cultures in my audible library.

I loved the concept of Greek gods in a modern setting. The story reminded me of the same concept of American Gods by one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman. The Immortals poses the question, what happens to Gods when they are no longer worshiped? Just like anyone else, some individuals age better than others and more gracefully.

Buy The Immortals on Amazon

Winter of the Gods
Olympus Bound Book 2

By: Jordanna Max Brodsky

Winter in New York: snow falls, lights twinkle, and a very disgruntled Selene DiSilva prowls the streets, knowing that even if she doesn’t look for trouble, it always finds her.
When a dead body is discovered sprawled atop Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue, it’s up to Selene to hunt down the perpetrators. Her ancient skills make her the only one who can track a conspiracy that threatens the very existence of the gods, Selene – once known as Artemis – among them

Book two in the Olympus Bound series was a wild ride, just hang on and enjoy the show. Winter of the Gods was a great follow-up to book one that really gears you up for one more story in the trilogy.

Buy Winter of the Gods on Amazon

Olympus Bound
Olympus Bound Book 3

By: Jordanna Max Brodsky

Summer in New York: a golden hour on the city streets, but a dark time for Selene. She’s lost her home and the man she loves.  
A cult hungry for ancient power has kidnapped her father and targeted her friends. To save them, Selene must face the past she’s been running from – a past that stretches back millennia, to when the faithful called her Huntress. Moon Goddess. Artemis.  
With the pantheon at her side, Selene must journey back to the seat of her immortal power: from the streets of Rome and the temples of Athens – to the heights of Mount Olympus itself. 

The final book in the series left me satisfied and sad all at the same time. I was so happy to see Selene’s new life begin to take shape but so sorry to see her old one fade away.

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Dead Until Dark
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #1

By: Charlaine Harris

“Vampires have officially “come out of the coffin”, and Miss Sookie can’t wait for one to come her way.
Anthony Award-winner Charlaine Harris’ New York Times and USA Today best-selling Sookie Stackhouse novels entice countless fans with an irresistible mixture of vampire romance, beguiling mystery, and old-fashioned Southern charm.”

I mixed two of my favorite three of my favorite elements vampires, romance and mystery. I felt a little tacky reading these books, which happens to be the inspiration for HBO’s True Blood. Once I got over my own personal feelings of how I would be perceived for reading these, I was really able to let go and get into reading them. As book one of thirteen I was able to approach this story with much more enthusiasm than the later books which began to feel like they were dragging on.

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Living Dead in Dallas
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #2

By: Charlaine Harris

“In the follow up to Dead Until Dark, telepathic friend of the undead (and vampire bar cocktail waitress) Sookie Stackhouse puts her newfound powers to the test. After an unfortunate incident, Sookie finds herself beholden to a group of Louisiana vampires. So she agrees to travel to Dallas with her undead boyfriend Bill and track down a missing vamp, but only if the vampires promise to let local humans go unharmed. That seems easier said than done when an upstart religious cult threatens to destroy all things vampire – including Sookie, who is quickly scheduled for sacrifice.

Buy Living Dead in Dallas on Amazon

Club Dead
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #3

By: Charlaine Harris

“There’s only one vampire Sookie Stackhouse is involved with – at least voluntarily – and that’s Bill. But recently he’s been a little distant – in another state distant. His sinister and sexy boss Eric has an idea where to find him, and next thing Sookie knows she’s off to Jackson, Mississippi, to mingle with the underworld at Club Dead. It’s a dangerous little haunt where the elusive vampire society can go to chill out and suck down some Type O – but when Sookie finally finds Bill caught in an act of serious betrayal she’s not sure whether to save him, or to sharpen some stakes. The Sookie Stackhouse books are delightful Southern Gothic supernatural mysteries, starring Sookie, the telepathic cocktail waitress, and a cast of increasingly colourful characters, including vampires, werewolves and things that really do go bump in the night.”

Buy Club Dead on Amazon

Dead to the World
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #4

By: Charlaine Harris

“Driving home from work, barmaid and telepath Sookie Stackhouse discovers vampire and area sheriff Eric on the side of the road missing his shirt, his shoes and his memories. Featuring vampires, werewolves and magic galore, Dead to the World will satisfy any listener’s craving for the supernatural.

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Dead as a Doornail
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery # 5

By: Charlaine Harris

“Because her mind-reading ability tends to spook people, most of Sookie’s friends are of the not-exactly-human variety. And now that her brother is about to transform into a were-panther for the first time, the supernatural world is suddenly a family affair. When Sookie realizes a deadly sniper is gunning down the local changelings, her feelings turn to full-blown terror. She needs to stop the assassain before the next full moon…if he doesn’t get to her first

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Definitely Dead
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #6

By: Charlaine Harris

“Wedding fever has come to Bon Temps, Louisiana! Unfortunately, buxom, blonde, beautiful, and telepathic cocktail waitress Sookie is not the bride-to-be, so she takes the opportunity to travel to New Orleans on family business. As heir to the estate of her newly dead cousin Hadley, Sookie unearths a big secret. Soon it becomes clear that more than a few people will do anything to stop Sookie from looking into Hadley’s past. Fresh, fashionable, and a little bit frightening, Definitely Dead is the best entry yet in an endlessly entertaining series.

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All Together Dead
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #7

By: Charlaine Harris

All Together Dead features more dark but frequently hilarious adventures of buxom, blonde, beautiful, and telepathic cocktail waitress Sookie, who prefers the company of vampires to that of the living.

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From Dead to Worse
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #8

By: Charlaine Harris

The eighth entry in Charlaine Harris’ New York Times best selling, Anthony Award-winning series finds Sookie reeling from an explosive attack on the previous month’s vampire summit. Many vampires were killed, including several of Sookie’s friends. But most pressing for Sookie is the unknown status of her weretiger boyfriend Quinn. Like it or not, everything is changing in the supernatural world – and Sookie is caught in the middle.

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Dead and Gone
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #9

By: Charlaine Harris

In her ninth adventure, Sookie has just tied on her cocktail waitress apron for a night’s work when a special report comes on the television. The time has come. The wereanimals have revealed themselves.
But there’s an even greater danger threatening Bon Temps. A race of unhuman beings – older, more powerful, and more secretive than vampires or werewolves – is preparing for war. And Sookie finds herself an all-too human pawn in their battle.

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Dead In the Family
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #10

By: Charlaine Harris

If you think your family relationships are complicated, think again: you haven’t seen anything like the ones in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Sookie Stackhouse is dealing with a whole host of family problems, ranging from her own kin demanding a place in her life, to her lover Eric’s vampire sire. And Sookie’s tracking down a distant relation of her ailing neighbour (and ex), vampire Bill Compton. In addition to the family issues complicating her life, the Shreveport werewolf pack has asked her for a special favour. But this favour for the wolves has dire results for Sookie, who is still recovering from the trauma of her abduction during the Fairy War.

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Dead Reckoning
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #11

By: Charlaine Harris

With her knack for being in trouble’s way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but her attention is divided when she realizes that her lover, Eric Northman, and his “child”, Pam, are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, Sookie is drawn into the plot – which is much more complicated than she knows.

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Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #12

By: Charlaine Harris

“It’s vampire politics as usual around the town of Bon Temps, but never before have they hit so close to Sookie’s heart….
Growing up with telepathic abilities, Sookie Stackhouse realized early on there were things she’d rather not know. And now that she’s an adult, she also realizes that some things that she knows about, she’d rather not see—like Eric Northman feeding off another woman. A younger one.
There’s a thing or two she’d like to say about that, but she has to keep quiet—Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), is in town. It’s the worst possible time for a human body to show up in Eric’s front yard—especially the body of the woman whose blood he just drank.
Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s set out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

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Dead Ever After
Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery #13

By: Charlaine Harris

In this 13th and final book, a murder rocks the town of Bon Temps and Sookie is arrested for the crime. After making bail, she sets out to clear her name – but her investigation only leads to more deaths.

This final book was a good way to say goodbye to the series. All of the characters you got to know in the past 13 books make an appearance of some sort, passing through to say their goodbyes to Sookie and help her close the monster chapter of her life.

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By: Stephen Fry

“Here are the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths, stylishly retold by Stephen Fry. The legendary writer, actor, and comedian breathes life into ancient tales, from Pandora’s box to Prometheus’s fire, and transforms the adventures of Zeus and the Olympians into emotionally resonant and deeply funny stories, without losing any of their original wonder. Learned notes from the author offer rich cultural context. This volume is a doorway into a captivating world.”

Stephen Fry is a wonderful storyteller, both as a voice actor and as an author. When ever I see his name tied to a story I take a special interest. This book was a lot of fun to listen to on Audible, Fry did a wonderful job breathing new life into some of my favorite Greek myths while introducing me to some new (to me) ones along the way.

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The Midnight Library

By: Matt Haig

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting blockbuster novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Who hasn’t wondered what their life would be like if we had made different decisions? The Midnight Library explores what those lives might look like. This was a beautiful and compelling story. I do have to disagree with the Washington Post’s review: “A feel-good book guaranteed to lift your spirits.”. This book never gave off any fee good vibes, and my spirits were definitely not lifted. However, this book solidified the perception of the grass always being greener on the other side and shows us how as individuals we tend to romantisize our past and the people who are no longer a part of our lives.

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Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen
Disney Villians, Book 1

By: Serena Valentino

Why exactly is the wicked Queen so nasty, particularly to Snow White? Perhaps it has something to do with the creepy-looking man in the magic mirror who’s not just some random spooky visage

A few of Serena Valentino’s books, including this one, has shown up on my reading list before. This year I decided that I wanted to try and get through all of her books back to back since I had been spending a lot of 2021 reading entire series. I started back at the beginning with Fairest of All. All of Valentino’s books in this series gives you a glimpse into the Disney Villian’s back story to help you better understand their motivation for being so bad, and let me tell you, it is often heartbreaking. Many of her books leave me wishing for something better for the villains, proving that anyone pushed past their limits can eventually snap.

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The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince 
Disney Villians, Book 2

By: Serena Valentino

A cursed prince sits alone in a secluded castle. Few have seen him, but those who claim they have say his hair is wild and nails are sharp – like a beast’s! But how did this prince, once jovial and beloved by the people, come to be a reclusive and bitter monster? And is it possible that he can ever find true love and break the curse that has been placed upon him?

This is one of Valentino’s only books with a happy ending. If you are reading the series you later find out that although all the stories are important in painting a bigger picture, this one seems to be pretty key.

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Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch
Disney Villians, Book 3

By: Serena Valentino

The tale of the sea king’s daughter Ariel is a beloved one of losing— and then finding— one’s own voice. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the mergirl wants more than her world can offer, and her father demands that she live within the confines of his domain. Her rebelliousness costs the little mermaid her voice and nearly her soul. But the power of good prevails, and Ariel emerges proud and unchanged. And yet this is only half the story. So what of Ariel’s nemesis, Ursula, the sea witch? What led to her becoming so twisted, scorned, and filled with hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account of what might have shaped the sea witch into a detestable and poor unfortunate soul.

Out of all the villain books I have read so far this book gave me such a different perception of my favorite Disney movies. I was shocked to find that the real villain was Triton all along, just proving that there a multiple sides to every story.

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Mistress of All Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy
Disney Villians, Book 4

By: Serena Valentino

The tale is told as if it’s happening once upon a dream: the lovely maiden meets her handsome prince in the woods. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the maiden finds out that she is a princess – a princess who has been cursed by a dark fairy to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into an eternal sleep. Though her three good fairies try to protect her, the princess succumbs to the curse. But the power of good endures, as her true love defeats the fire-breathing dragon and awakens the princess with true love’s first kiss. The two live happily ever after.
And yet this is only half the story. So what of the dark fairy, Maleficent? Why does she curse the innocent princess? What led to her becoming so filled with malice, anger, and hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account, pulled down from the many passed down through the ages. It is a tale of love and betrayal, of magic and reveries. It is a tale of the mistress of all evil

Looking back I feel as though Maleficent and the Grinch may have been long lost siblings. Both were bullied for looking different, namely being green and scary. Both had their hearts broken by their classmates. Both driven to great acts of destruction in the hopes of ruining others happiness. Unfortunatly for Maleficaent she doesn’t meet the same redeaming end as the Grinch.

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Mother Knows Best: A Tale of the Old Witch
Disney Villians, Book 5

By: Serena Valentino

The tale of the legendary golden flower is widely known. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the flower is coveted by an old witch to keep herself young and beautiful. And always the flower is used to save a dying queen, who then gives birth to a princess with magical hair. Not willing to lose the flower, the old witch steals the princess and locks her away in a high tower, raising her as her own. But the princess always finds out who she truly is and manages to defeat the old witch.
And yet this is only half the story. So what of the old witch, Mother Gothel? Where does she come from? And how does she come across the magical golden flower? Here is one account that recounts a version of the story that has remained untold for centuries . . . until now. It is a tale of mothers and daughters, of youth and dark magic. It is a tale of the old witch.

Poor Gothel, she did not deserve a thing that happened to her in this book. The biggest take away from this story is to be honest with those you love, and to hold others (and yourself) accountable for their actions. While proving that you need to surround yourself with people who will support you and be honest with you.

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The Odd Sisters: A Tale of Three Witches
Disney Villians, Book 6

By: Serena Valentino

Throughout the Villains series, the Odd Sisters have meddled in the lives of the Wicked Queen, The Beast, Ursula, Maleficent, and Mother Gothel, changing the course of fate for the greatest villains ever known. Now, it’s time for their reckoning.
This latest novel by the author of the wildly popular Villains series goes deeper into the lives of the twisted, diabolical Odd Sisters, finally revealing the dark truth about who they are and where they’re from. The Odd Sisters will appeal to fans who can’t get enough of the mischievous sisters, as well as draw new readers to Serena Valentino’s darkly fascinating take on the Disney Villains.

This is all the farther I got in Valentino’s Villians series before needing a break. After reading so many sad endings I decided to leave the series for a bit to find a bit more happiness in my books. I do plan on returning to the series in 2022. The only issue is that these books are so detailed and really feed into one another that it is hard to leave and come back months later.

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Small Spaces

By: Katherine Arden

After suffering a tragic loss, 11-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think – she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man”, a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. 
Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. 
Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods – bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them – the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.” 
And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.”

In 2021 I opted out of social situations for reading, luckily this was completely acceptable thanks to COVID. But with that in mind I could totally relate to Ollie and her need to escape into the pages of her books. This was a cute and easy read that was perfect for the Halloween season.

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A Cosmology of Monsters

By: Shaun Hamill

Noah Turner sees monsters.
His father saw them – and built a shrine to them with The Wandering Dark, an immersive horror experience that the whole family operates.
His practical mother has caught glimpses of terrors but refuses to believe – too focused on keeping the family from falling apart.
And his eldest sister, the dramatic and vulnerable Sydney, won’t admit to seeing anything but the beckoning glow of the spotlight…until it swallows her up.
Noah Turner sees monsters. But, unlike his family, Noah chooses to let them in….

Another recommended reading from Amazon based on my reading history, but this one really missed the mark. After reading the description provided above I was really excited for this book. However I spent most of the book confused and waiting for something to happen or get more explanation. I will say that the last line of the book was its real saving grace, leaving me with goosebumps. However, I don’t really think this would be a book I would suggest to anyone.

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Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker

By: Gregory Maguire

In this imaginative novel rooted in the rich soil of early 19th-century German Romanticism, beloved New York Times best-selling author Gregory Maguire twins an origin legend of the famous Nutcracker with the life of Drosselmeier, the toymaker who carves him.
Gregory Maguire’s novels have been called “bewitching”, “remarkable”, “extraordinary”, “engrossing”, “amazing”, and “delicious”. Having brought his legions of devoted listeners to Oz in Wicked, Wonderland in After Alice, and Dickensian London in Lost, Maguire now takes us to the Black Forest of Bavaria and Munich of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffman.
Hiddensee recreates the backstory of the Nutcracker, reimaging how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how it magically guided an ailing little girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a snowy Christmas Eve. It also brings to life the mysterious godfather Drosselmeier – the ominous, canny, one-eyed toymaker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s ballet – who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.
But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism a migrating strain of a Hellenic mystery-cult and ponders a profound question: how a person who is abused by life, short-changed, and challenged can access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless. Ultimately, Hiddensee offers a message of hope. If the compromised godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized on the eve of a winter holiday, has something precious to share.

This eas easily the worst book I read this year. But I am not a fan of Gregory Maguire, I love his subject matter and am always excited by the prospect of his stories. But, just like every other book I read of his they drag on forever with what feels like no real plan or point. Throw in some unnecessary sexual experiences that are just awkward and then finally mention the nutcraker in the last few pages. Only to glance over a dozen or so opportunities to really write something interesting. This was the only book I did return and honestly I would say maybe one of the worst books I have ever read.

You can find it on amazon if you want to try it out for yourself, but I wouldn’t bother if I were you.

This is my third year sharing my reading list and I have to say it has become the post I most look forward to sharing with you. It has been fun getting back into the reading routine, this is easily the most I have read in a long time, and I look forward to sharing my 2022 list with you next year! Do you have any suggested reading for me?

My Top 5 Reads of 2021

  1. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (Theodoa Goss)
  2. The Viscount Who Loved Me (Julia Quinn)
  3. The Toll (Neal Shusterman)
  4. The Midnight Library (Matt Haig)
  5. The Immortals (Jordanna Max Brodsky)

My Top 5 Reads of 2020

  1. Mr. Dickens and His Carol (Samantha Silva)
  2. Scythe (Neal Shusterman)
  3. Thunderhead (Neal Shusterman)
  4. The Vine Witch (Luanne G. Smith)
  5. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)

My Top 5 Reads of 2019

  1. The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)
  2. Strange Practice (Vivian Shaw)
  3. Dreadful Company (Vivian Shaw)
  4. Grave Importance (Vivian Shaw)
  5. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)