2021 Favorite Reads

It was a good year for reading. And writing. I managed to release two books instead of my normal one. Woohoo! They are…

Love Notes (a contemporary twist on the Daddy Long Legs story that readers are loving)

Of Stone and Sky (a contemporary romance with a glimpse into the Roma culture)

I didn’t break any reading record, but I did read over 80 books (if you count my own books I reread to update).

Without further ado, here are my Top 10. I also have 15 honorable mentions. I read many more excellent stories, but these are the ones that touched me most.

My Top 10 Books in 2021

  1. Book of Mormon (inspirational/inspired/self-help/motivational/spiritual)
  2. A Walk in My Shoes: Questions I’m Often Asked as a Gay Latter-day Saint (memoir/inspirational)
  3. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy)
  4. The Songbook of Benny Lament by Amy Harmon (interracial historical romance)
  5. Promised Land by Barak Obama (memoir)
  6. The Accidental Text by Becky Monson (chick lit)
  7. The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson (nonfiction)
  8. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (historical non-fiction/Civil War)
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (classic)
  10. Grant by Ron Chernow (biography)

Here is my Goodreads Year in Review link if you want to find any of these books.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Scythe series by Neal Shusterman (dystopian)
  2. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (memoir)
  3. Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes (historical fiction)
  4. Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan (historical)
  5. Silent Partner by Jennifer Peel (contemporary romance)
  6. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (contemporary fiction)
  7. All’s Fair in Love and Blood by Jennifer Peel (contemporary romance)
  8. Making the Marquess by Nicole Van (Regency/Scottish)
  9. Love the One You’re With by Jennifer Peel (contemporary romance)
  10. Love Unexpected by Jenny Proctor (contemporary romance)
  11. The Bone Elixir by Carrie Rubin (paranormal thriller)
  12. The Second Blind Son by Amy Harmon (fantasy)
  13. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (paranormal)
  14. Remembering Jamie by Nichole Van (Scottish highlands romance)
  15. Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute (self-help)

For my own curiosity, here is the breakdown of genres read:

Hope you have lots of happy reading in 2022. I plan to. 🙂

Of Daggers & Deception

This is the second book in this medieval romance series by Amanda Sowards, and WOW! It’s intense. It begins 11 years after the ending of the last book (Of Sword and Shadows) and is told from Rasheed’s POV. He was Gillen’s Moorish friend from the last book, a Muslim convert to Christianity.

Here’s a short blurb of the book:

When one of his best friends is abducted, Rasheed immediately gathers a rescue party. Joining forces with the mysterious Cecilia, the group faces pirates, old enemies, and a host of other foes. Rasheed forms a surprising connection with Cecilia, but he soon discovers that nothing is as it seems, especially when they are forced to choose between love and duty.

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True of Heart

This book by Martha Keyes really surprised me in the best of ways. I was expecting just another blah kind of Regency story (don’t get me wrong, I often love these, but they are very similar and hardly ever surprise me), but this one was unique.

It’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and was super riveting. I read it in one day (which I hardly ever do with Regency stories). This had everything I love in a romance—great characters with depth, twists and turns I didn’t see coming, and swoony romance (duh! Ha ha).

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Pre-release deal!

My next book is almost ready to release. YEA!!! Love Notes is on sale for only 99 cents through release day (Dec 6). Then it will go back up to normal price. This is the 4th book in my stand-alone series the Ruled Out Romances. You don’t have to read any of these in order, as they have different characters. It’s just an opposites-attract trope series. This is one of my favorites I’ve ever written. I hope you love it, too. Here’s the blurb:

Forget my first kiss?

Not when it goes viral.

Katie is tired of one-sided love notes. For years, she’s waited for her brother’s best friend and email pal to realize she’s grown up and has feelings for him. But no more. She’s tired of being alone.

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Red Queen – Riveting!

I have a fun, thrilling, heart-stopping dystopian-fantasy read for you today. It was suggested for my book group a couple months ago. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard was crazy intense!

Mare Barrow is a Red, meaning she has red blood. But the Silvers are the ruling elite (they have silver blood, and fantastic powers which make them stronger than the normal Reds). But when Mare discovers her own special ability, in front of the Court of the Silver King, her life changes big time. She suddenly has two Silver princes vying for her attention–Cal, the crown prince, and Maven, the second-born son, who wins her trust.

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Modern twist on The Hunchback

I try not to self-promote my own books very often here, but I haven’t given a shout-out to my own book that came out a few months ago. And it deserves a little love. So bear with me while I talk about it for a moment.

Teaser

There’s been a mistake.

She expected a raise—
Not a termination notice.

Gemma might be a bit unorthodox, but she never imagined her work ethic would be questioned. Her blunt nature, maybe. Her false identity, sure. But her excellence? How far will she go to save what’s rightly hers?

Lincoln never makes mistakes. . . until Gemma enters his life. Now, he can’t decide whether she will help him solve all his problems…or complicate them.

A promising meeting leads to a fake engagement, which sparks reluctant attraction.

Will ruse turn to romance?

It might not matter. . .
Because Gemma’s past is about to catch up to her.

Can their fragile love survive?

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Join the Amy Harmon Wagon

It is no secret that I love Amy Harmon. Her books always move me, and they are never formulaic. They are each unique, delving into new genres, new time periods, new characters…and I’m always blown away. So, maybe you should join the Amy Harmon wagon with me. Let me try to convince you with her latest book–a fantasy.

The Second Blind Son

This is the second book in the Chronicles of Saylock series, featuring Hod and Ghisla. Hod is a blind boy who has been raised in a cave by one of the temple Keepers. He has learned the power of the runes and his mentor, Arwin, wants him to return to Saylock someday to save it from wicked King Baanrud. But when Ghisla washes up on the beach by his cave, Hod nurses the poor girl back to health and comes to love her. When she sings, he can see. But his mentor says she blinds him to everything else, and sends her to the clan Leok to be given to the Temple as one of the clan’s daughters. She becomes Liis of Leok, but stays in contact with Hody through a soul rune. As time passes, it seems the fates are against them ever coming together. As their lives become entwined with Princess Alba and Bayr’s, the temple boy from book 1, life gets super interesting. And frightening.

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Don’t Miss These Historicals

I have two great historicals that I wanted to spotlight today. One is set in the 50’s-60’s during the Cold War in Post WWII Berlin and the other is set in the rural outback of Kentucky in the early 1900s. Both kept me riveted from page one to the end.

The Slow March of Light by Heather B. Moore

This story followed the life of US Army soldier Bob Inama in the early 60’s. He’s stationed in Germany and tasked to be a spy against East Germany right before the Berlin wall becomes more permanent. It also follows a fictional character’s journey (based on real events), Luisa Voigt, as she and her father move to West Berlin and she starts working for the underground in her nurse position to help desperate people escape East Berlin, including her grandmother. It’s a crazy story, and very inspirational (especially the ending). Very informative about how the aftermath in Berlin worked almost 2 decades after WWII.

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It’s been a hot while!

Wow. I didn’t realize I hadn’t posted here for so long. Forgive me. May through September whizzed by faster than a jet plane and I’m still spinning in their dust. But…I haven’t stopped reading. And I have SO MANY awesome books to shout out about (how’s that for a nice rhyme?).

First, let me shout–or maybe scream and twirl around–about Jennifer Peel’s latest (which came out several months ago). This one is the finale of her Pine Falls series…which I have loved with all my heart. The character in these are to die for…in the best of ways.

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