Readers, Welcome to my blog (formerly Birds, Blooms, Books, etc). I'm entering a new decade taking on the challenge of moving from Maryland after living there 46 years and learning about my new home here in New England in the Live Free or Die state - New Hampshire. Join me as a write this new chapter of my life.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Books of 2021

 My reading slacked a bit in 2021, only 59 compared to 64 in 2020 and 79 in 2019.  I guess I have been occupied with other things to do instead of sitting down to read.  I can chalk some of that up to granddaughters calling to come over in the afternoon when I usually would sit with a cup of tea and the book I was reading to read until it was time of dinner.  

Here's the list with some comments. * are ones I'd recommend highly.

59. The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles* [A very long book but worth the read.  Set in the 1950s with lots of interesting characters with my favorite being Billy, the young brother.]

58. Lightning Strikes by Willian Kent Krueger* [Prequel to his Cork O'Connor detective series that describes the young life of Cork.]

57. A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz [Another in his series in which he is the writer describing the detective's exploits but a critical part of story too.  Not as well done as previous books.]

56. A murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

55.The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin

54. Black Coffee by Agatha Christie

53. Mrs. McGinty is Dead by Agatha Christie

52. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman* [Second in a series and an excellent read.  You'll love Joyce.]

51. Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush* [Read this for book group for November.  A bit saddening to think what we as a nation have done to our shoreline but it was educational too.]

50. The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi* [a bit predictable but still a very good book and learned a lot about India post colonial times and the art of henna.]

49. The Last Kings of Shanghai by Jonathan Kaufman [skim read interesting parts only.]

48. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

47. Nomadland by Jessica Bruder [Her article would have sufficed to tell this story.]

46. By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie

45. Tracks by Robyn Davidson [Why would anyone want to walk across the Australian desert with 4 camel?  Quite a memoir from the 70s.]

44. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria C. Murray [a very interesting read though after a bit it was somewhat tiresome.  If you've read The Vanishing Half (Bennet) or the Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (Johnson) then this is a good addition to literature of passing.]

43. Monogamy by Sue Miller [I didn't find any of these characters to have any redeeming value. I skim read this one and then skipped the book group discussion because I wouldn't have anything good to say.]

42. When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McClain* [Quite a suspenseful story of missing persons. Not until the end do you find out what happened to the main character.]

41. Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia [Interesting picture into Cuba and lives of Cuban immigrants]

40. The Searcher by Tanya French

39. Dog On It by Spencer Quinn [The dog knew the solution to the mystery long before his owner.  Too bad he couldn't talk.  Dog is the narrator of story.  Dog lovers will like this one.]

38. late Migrations by Margaret Renkl [A book group selection that was ok.]

37. The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan* [WWII setting and how women coped with loss and war rationing.]

36. Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart [Second in a series but I remember the first being a better book.]

35. How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith * [Always good reads - part of Ladies Detective Agency series.]

34. Third Girl by Agatha Christie [I've started rereading Christie mysteries because I can't find other reads.]

33. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave [Drawing a blank on this having read it awhile ago.  I do recall it was a gripping thriller.]

32. Sapphire and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather [Definitely dated.  This was a library purchase for 25 cents.  Some of it was autobiographical I think or maybe family history.]

31. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman* [Having lived in a senior retirement community for 4 years before moving north to NH I could relate to the characters in this novel.  It was written well and I'm looking forward to a sequel.]

30. The Wright Sister by Richard Maurer.[Written for your adult audience but interesting nonetheless.]

29. Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague by Maggie O'Farrell* [Hamnet is another spelling of Hamlet. Son of Shakespeare. A well written supposition into his marriage to Anne/Agnes Hathaway and their children.  I had this book on my list of books to read for sometime and came across the list recently.  I'm glad I read it. You will too.]

28. Franklin Pierce 14th President by Fern Brown [A quick read after visiting his birthplace home.]

27. Caste by Isobel Wilkerson* [A book for educating you.  I learned things that weren't taught in American History and Civics. It was eye opening to the caste system promulgated early on in our history.  It was upsetting to read and I did it slowly. Things must change in this country!]

26. Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March [A first book for this author.  It was selected for me by the local library as one of three masked books.  This was the only one of the three I read because one other I had read already and the third didn't interest me.  It took a bit to get into it but it was an interesting picture into life in British controlled India in 1800s.]

25. The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear [Another in the Maisie Dobbs series but not as good as the earlier books in my opinion.]

24. The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths [I realized when reading this that I had read another by this author which turns out is referenced in detail in this novel.  It's a bit unbelievable but I did finish it.]

23. Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger [This is one of the early thrillers in his Cork O'Connor series.  It's not as good as Sulfur Springs so I don't think I'll read any other old ones of his.]

22. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei [a graphic novel aimed at juvenile readers. It was the selection for the MD book club I was a part of for many years.  I continued to meet with them on Zoom through the pandemic lockdown but now they are meeting in person which leaves me out.  I was disappointed in this book but largely because I forgot who the audience was.]

21. Sulfur Springs by William Kent Krueger* [I don't usually go in for thrillers and this is the latest one of a series which I haven't read, but I have read others books by this other (see #3 below).  It was gripping and I liked the main character Cork O'Connor.]

20. The Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie [an adaptation of one of her plays written in novel form.]

19. And the Crow Took Their Eyes by Vicki Lane* [Written by fellow blogger and very moving story based on a real event during the Civil War and told by five narrators.  Well worth reading.]

18. Miss Austen by Gill Hornby [About the sister of Jane Austen and sacrifices she had.]

17. The Color of Air by Gail Tsukyama [Read for book discussion here in town.  Interesting period piece: Japanese community in Hawaii in the 1930s.]

16. The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles* [Another WWII story in Paris involving the real American Library but combined with story from the 1980s Montana.  This was a very good book and for once the heroine wasn't perfect.]

15. Three Ordinary Girls by Tim Brady [Non-fiction about three Dutch young women who joined the resistance during WWII.  Would have been better if written as a narrative non-fiction. I had to scan some to get to story.]

14. Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah [Too unbelievable. She got better as a writer.]

13. Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz* [If you like mysteries this is for you.  Horowitz has written lots of mysteries including TV series and does a fin job with "who dun it".]

12. The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck* [This was a self-published novel that I read for my April book club discussion.  It's gripping.  Another title could be The Education of Cora Lee.  Everyone in my group liked it.  Word is it's to be made into a movie.]

11. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah* [THis is on the best seller list for a reason.  It's a compelling tale of the Depression/Dust Bowl.  I learned a lot about what happened to those farmlands as I read the very sad story of those affected.]

10. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson [another read for my brother's book discussion.  Written in 1912 it's not clear it's fiction until you read Johnson's bio.]

9. To the Land of Long Lost Friends by Alexander McCall Smith

8. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann [a non-fiction about the murders of the Osage Indians in the 1920s and how the FBI came to solve the case.]

7. Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy Tyson [Read at my brother's request for a family book discussion.]

6. This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear [Her memoir]

5. The Light over London by Julia Kelly

    [Using a common device employed by many authors of telling two stories from two different times and interweaving them, Kelly tells a good story.  It was fairly light reading after the heavy reading of #4 above.  An enjoyable book and a freebie gift from another blogger.]

4. In the Garden of Beasts - Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson

    [If you don't know anything about the period when Hitler came to power this is a good narrative history book to read.  Using the diaries of the American ambassador William Dodd and his daughter, Martha, Larson brings that time into perspective.  It's not comfortable reading because of Hitler and his minions and for the bigotry shown among Americans towards Jews.  There are many parallels to the last 4 years here in the USA.]

3. This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger *

    [Coming of age, unrelated orphans, Depression era, wickedness, redemption are all wrapped up in this book.  I'd wished it moved a bit faster but in the end I did like the book very much.]

2. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet *

    [An incredible yet believable story of twin sisters deemed black only because of the prejudices of our history and forced choices of their parents.  As adults one chooses to be white and disappears from the other.  Believable because that's what some of the children of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings did. This is a story worth reading.]

1. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith

    [ This was a second or even third read of this book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I have a slew of these books and go back to them over the years to reread when I can't find anything else I like.]