Since my initial 2021 book review post (“Everything I’ve Read So Far in 2021“), I’ve knocked 25 more off my to-be-read list, so I was long overdue for a part two.
To keep this post manageable for both me and you, dear reader, I’ve kept it to about half that and plan on posting a part three before the year’s end. Stay tuned!
Let me know if you’ve read any of these and if you agree or disagree with my rating—I loveeee a good book discussion!
Happy reading, friends!
The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner, 4.5/5
Cults intrigue me. A lot. So, I knew this tell-all by a woman that was raised in a religious, polygamist community in rural Mexico—and one of her father’s forty-two children—would capture my interest. It’s heartbreaking, eye-opening, and honestly a bit hair-raising.
The Cops Are Robbers: A Convicted Cop’s True Story of Police Corruption by Gerald W. Clemente, 2.5/5
The tale itself gets a much higher rating, but I have to judge based on the book. I borrowed it from my dad, who grew up in Medford, Massachusetts—the site of the infamous bank robbery detailed in this book. It never ceases to amaze me how corrupt the police force was at that time. If you like The Town, this is worth a read.
Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe by Laura Lynne Jackson, 4/5
I generally think of myself as a pretty logical, fact-based individual. But I admittedly love astrology and the occasional psychic visit. If you’re a non-believer in the power of the universe and the ability to communicate with those that have passed, this book will convert you. (A few weeks after using the tools the psychic medium author gives, I even got a sign from my late grandfather!)
Verity by Colleen Hoover, 4.5/5
Holllly moly. This one is not for the faint of heart. “Dark” is an understatement. Describing the plot isn’t even helpful, because the book jacket did not prepare me for any of it. That being said, if you like a thriller and make sure to lock your doors while reading, you’ll love this one.
Room by Emma Donoghue, 4/5
I’m only a decade late on this one, but it’s a prime example of “better late than never.” While the story itself—a young boy and his mother trapped in a tiny room against their will—is worthwhile in itself, the most unique part of this is that it’s narrated in the five-year-old’s voice. The author was inspired by several true stories, which makes it even eerier.
How Will I Know You? by Jessica Treadway, 3.5/5
An unexplained murder in a small suburb is always a promising start for a novel. This one is told from the alternating perspectives of several different members of the otherwise sleepy town as they try to figure out how a high schooler ended up dead—and reveal their own secrets in the process.
All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth, 3/5
Ok, have you gotten the gist that I love creepy mysteries by now? In this novel, a student at an elite New England prep school begins questioning the circumstances surrounding her mother’s disappearance from her life a decade before. Whenever you put over-the-top wealth and secret societies together, it’s bound to be interesting.
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson, 3.5/5
The MVP of narrative nonfiction, Erik Larson doesn’t disappoint in his retelling of the experience of America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany. William Dodd brings his wife and two adult children with him to Berlin, where they must decide between a life of privilege at the expense of others or a life of persecution and the truth.
Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell, 3/5
It’s the nineties in London and a young woman finally has her freedom after years of caring for her ailing grandmother. As she lives out her dreams of being a city slicker, she also pieces together her grandmother’s young adulthood of the same city in the 1920s. While slow at times, this one is worth sticking with.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, 3.5/5
It’s not often that a book comes along in 1813 and remains popular in 2021. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that it took me—a former English major and current writer—until now to read it. While the language can be challenging to decipher at times, the writing is beautiful, and the story somehow remains relevant today.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood, 4.5/5
While not a thriller, this one is certainly disturbing—but in the most intriguing way possible. It centers on an eight-year-old girl—the daughter of a meth dealer and an addict—who must take on an adult role, and the unlikely (read: extremely problematic) love story that blossoms along the way.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, 4/5
When the golden boy of a small fishing village is found dead, the finger is pointed at the odd loner girl that lives off the land down by the marsh. However, there’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to her—if only anyone would take the time to get to know her. This is one of those that, admittedly, doesn’t sound super intriguing, but I’m among a large portion of people that loved it.
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, 4/5
It felt like everyone my age had read this one. When I finally got to it, it didn’t disappoint. The protagonist, a young NYC career woman with a seemingly perfect life, wakes up five years in the future…with a very different life than the one she had painstakingly planned out. I felt like this spoke to my late-twenties, early-thirties soul.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston, 2.5/5
I had high hopes for this for two reasons. One, it’s written by the same author as Red, White, and Royal Blue, and, two, it had the bright yellow emblem of my subway line on the cover. Unfortunately, the author took this one a little far in an unexpectedly fantastical direction. It’s a quick, easy read, but won’t be winning any awards in my book. Pun intended.