2021 Books in Review

Way back when I was posting on this blog regularly, I would post book reviews every time I finished a book. I’ve gotten out of that habit, but I thought I would share some of the books I’ve read this year. Ones that captured my attention, enchanted me, and kept me reading to the last page. There were a few others I abandoned, but I won’t bother mentioning them.

I’m one of those people who feels like life is too short to read books you don’t like.

Are you that way?

Or do you read a book and determine to finish it whether you like it or not? I think there are two camps in this department. I’m definitely one of the people in the “abandon the bad book” department. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could give myself permission to do this – but it was so liberating when I did! Once I realized there wasn’t a “book police” who would be giving me demerits if I didn’t finish a book, I began to abandon books that I found I was carrying around but never reading, that didn’t capture my attention or imagination, or whose characters annoyed me.

So, what you will find on this list are books that I enjoyed, whose stories and characters became friends I looked forward to visiting, and who I was sad to see go when the stories were finished. They are in no particular order, except perhaps the order in which I read them.

I hope you enjoy.

The Echo Wife

by Sarah Gailey

This was a very interesting psychological thriller that kept me intrigued throughout. The characters are not particularly likable, but they are not supposed to be. Evelyn is an award-winning geneticist whose husband is having an affair with another woman. A woman who just happens to be a clone of Evelyn. Martine is everything Evelyn is not.

When Evelyn’s husband turns up dead, she and Martine are wrapped up in a situation neither of them can escape from. And what happens is as peculiar as you can imagine. As Martine and Evelyn deal with the fallout, each begins to learn more about themselves, who they are (and are not) and the repercussions of the decisions they both made when Nathan died.

Neither Evelyn nor Martine are particularly lovable. This is not a story with a typical good/bad character profile. The characters are flawed, broken, and driven each by their own needs and compulsions. While I would not want to be friends with them, they each highlight what happens when your own selfish desires are indulged without regard to consequences. Throw in the moral ethics of cloning and you’ve got an interesting story.

The Midnight Library

by Matt Haig

Where The Echo Wife was dark and somewhat hopeless, The Midnight Library is all about hope and second chances.

What if you were given a chance to see all of the potential outcomes of all of the choices you’ve made in your life? The job you didn’t take. The boyfriend (or girlfriend) you broke up with. The trip you chose to take (or not take). All of those roads not traveled… what if you could see the alternate outcome?

Nora Seed finds herself in the most horrible, no-good, bad day there ever was. And she decides there’s nothing more worth living for. As she makes this life-altering decision, she finds herself suddenly in a situation where she has the power to change her life path in ways she had never imagined. Pursue the career she gave up, embrace life in new and exciting ways.

I won’t spoil the plot for you, but I will give this one a strong recommendation for you to read. It’s all about second chances, having hope, and finding joy in your life. Well written, engaging characters and thought-provoking plot.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Another main character named Evelyn but such a different character and storyline!

Evelyn Hugo is a world-famous screen star. She’s lived a life of excess and glamour. And she’s decided to write a tell-all story about her life. Evelyn decides to commission magazine reporter Monique Grant to write her story. Monique is in the throes of a divorce and her life is in shambles. Why has Evelyn chosen her to write her biography? She has no clue. But Monique decides to go ahead with the project and soon discovers that Evelyn has many secrets to reveal.

I’m a fan of Jenkins Reid – I loved Daisy Jones and the Six – and so I was excited to start this book when I received it. The story captured me almost immediately and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The parallel storylines of both Evelyn’s past and the current relationship between Evelyn and Monique were so well done. I can’t help but wonder if Elizabeth Taylor was an inspiration for Evelyn’s character. She reminded me of that age of glamour and classic Hollywood icons.

As the book evolves and Evelyn’s story unfolds, the relationship between Monique and Evelyn grows as well. Even though I suspected the ultimate reveal at the end of the story, I still enjoyed seeing how Jenkins read wove all the elements of the story together. It was a book I was sad to close and say goodbye to the characters.

What are some books you’ve enjoyed this year?

Have you read any of these?

Stay tuned for more story synopses and recommendations from my 2021 reads coming soon!

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