The Top 21 Books of 2021

I’m finishing up 2021 with 74 books read. I set a goal of 60 books so I could focus on some other elearning and classes that I would not count as books read, but still passed that goal. I read 110 in 2020, but I’m happy with the 74 considering some of the other things I completed this year. I’m highlighting my favorite 21 books of 2021 in this post.

I did a quick scan of my books read and made a list of favorites. As luck would have it, when I got to the end of the list, I had 21 favorites. There is no order or rank here, just 21 favorites.

21 best books of 2021

The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1)- Sarah Morganthaler 4 stars  I listened to this one via Scribd. The narrator is really good so this makes for a great audiobook. This is a cute rom-com about Graham, an Alaskan native who really dislikes tourists and Zoey, a tourist, who steals his heart. At the end of her two week vacation, they have to decide if this is a fling or the real thing. There are lots of other subplots and moving parts to the story, but all fun. All the characters are just adorable.

Mistletoe and Mr. Right ( Moose Springs, Alaska #2) Sarah Morganthaler- 5 stars I also listened to this one on Scribd. Lana Montgomery (Zoey’s friend from book 1) is a rich girl who happens to own most of the town and she is everything the town resents- money and change. However, she falls for Rick Harding, a local, and he falls for her. They have to decide if their two lifestyles will really work together in a relationship and Lana has to decide between what might cost her family money and her love for the town and best interest of Moose Springs. This is also an adorable story with some action scenes built it. So many of these characters and their stories could be developed to take this series further. 

Shipped by Angie Hockman

I listened to this on Scribd. It’s a super cute romance that forms between workaholic Henley and her coworker Graeme when they are sent on a cruise to develop new marketing ideas for their company and they are competing for a promotion at the same time. This was a fun and entertaining story. 4 stars

The Giver of the Stars by Jojo Moyes I listened to the audio version on audible. It’s been in my que for quite some time, probably back from a free trial of audible. It took me a solid month to listen to this one. I thought it was a little slow but then I got hooked. What book lover can’t like a book about books and libraries?

 A team of women deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library. The leader, Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. She is joined by Alice and three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.  This is the story of each of the women and of them together. Each one has some issue to resolve over the course of the story, particularly Alice and Margery. 4 stars

Stealing Home (Sweet Magnolias #1) by Sherryl Woods- I read parts on Kindle Unlimited and listened to parts via Scribd. Maddie Townsend lives in a small town  and has two best friends who are determined to help her move past her husband’s affair and their divorce. The three of them decide to open a spa/health club for women in their small town. In the meantime, Maddie’s children are struggling with the divorce because their father is having another child with his mistress. The oldest son, who is a star baseball player, begins to have some issues and necessary meetings between Maddie and the coach lead to more than a parent/coach relationship. Jealousy and small town rumors threaten to ruin the new spa and the coach’s career. The characters were all adorable and likable. I have now read 5 of the books in the series and the whole series is great.  4 stars.

Slightly South of Simple/ Peachtree Bluff series Kristy Woodson Harvey/ The Secret to Southern CharmThe Southern Side of Paradise

I’ve put all three books into one paragraph because I read the whole series back to back (or read and listened via Scribd). Book one left me hanging and addicted. The ending left me saying ” Oh no she didn’t” because of the cliff hanger ending so I started book two the same day I finished book one. You are not going to leave me hanging like that, lol! Ansley is a southern mother with three unique daughters that she reared in New York until her husband died in the 911 attacks. She then moved them all to Georgia to a house she inherited from her grandmother. And Ansley has secrets. It takes all three books for the secret to fully come out, but worth the wait. Each book focuses on one of the sisters and their emotional drama that brings them all back to Georgia and to their mother- one facing divorce, one with a husband missing in war and finally the youngest one trying to determine her future and true love. Lots of drama, love, family, and Southern charm in this series. I rate them all between 4 and 5 stars.

Devoted by Dean Koontz- This is my first Dean Koontz novel. I think I tried to read something of his over 25 years ago, but couldn’t get into it and don’t remember what it was.  I decided to give Koontz a try again. This is the story of Woody, an autistic boy who has never spoken, and Kip, a dog with special senses and abilities. Kip is part of a group of special dogs who can read and communicate. Kip’s owner passes away and he is drawn telepathically to Woody who is in danger from a couple of different sources. My husband makes fun of some of the thrillers I read that have crazy plot twists, yet he likes Koontz! There are a couple of stories going on here, but they all tie together well. I read and listened on Kindle Unlimited/ Audible. 4 stars

Watchers by Dean Koontz – This one has been around for a while, published in 2003. My husband reread it when I started Devoted and insisted I read it. I ended up reading his paperback copy and listening via Audible. Two creatures escape from a government lab. One is a highly intelligent dog who can read and communicate with humans and the other is a violent disfigured creature who was created for killing. The two have a telepathic link and the creature is hunting down the dog. Einstein, as he is named by Travis who discovers him in a park,  plays matchmaker and savior for Nora, a recluse, timid character burdened by her past. In another plot, there is a hired hit man killing off the doctors who worked in the lab and hunting Einstein for himself to use as a pawn. Lots of drama and action, but also a great story about the power of animals/pets in our lives. 5 stars

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

This was a fascinating read about why people say yes to request, sales, etc. Some of the principles apply and explain how some online influencers are so successful- we have a fear of missing out, we see the same items over and over and through familiarity think we need them too, social proof- others have it, do it, etc. Reciprocity- if someone does us a favor, we feel compelled to do for them, answer their request. These are just a few of the principles of persuasion Cialdini outlines. I read and listened via Scribd. 5 stars.

Angels Fall by Nora Roberts

This was my first time reading Nora Roberts. I picked this up in hardback at the thrift store in 2019 and finally read it. I really enjoyed it and it’s one of those stories that leaves you thinking about the characters long after you finish the story, even though at times some of the characters are not the most likable.

“The sole survivor of a brutal crime, Reece Gilmore seeks refuge from the terror of the past in Angel’s Fist, Wyoming, only to become an eyewitness to a possible murder, but when all evidence of the crime vanishes, no one seems to believe her, except for Brody, a gruff loner who becomes her only hope of escaping a killer.” 4 stars

The Secret in Sandcastles (Poppy Creek, #3) by Rachael Bloome

This is another series I really like. I read via Kindle and listened on Audible. This edition focuses on Penny, thrift store owner and friend of Eliza and Cassie from the first two books in the series. Colt Davis, who was Penny’s childhood enemy, has returned to town and the two of them are thrown together in a town project to write a piece about what Poppy Creek has to offer younger tourists. Can Colt pull Penny from her shell of safety and get her to try more daring adventures? Can he get her to forgive him of their childhood and win her over to his romantic interest, even though many of their outings go so wrong? 4 stars

A Borrowed Life: A Novel by Kerry Anne King

I have enjoyed every Kerry Anne King book I have read and this one doesn’t disappoint. The characters at times need a good smacking for their obstinance, but they all eventually work through their faults and fears. For years Liz was the perfect pastor’s wife. Wife to a pastor who believed in the errant approach that women were created to serve men and had no needs of their own. Liz’s husband passes away suddenly and she finds herself free to be herself again, but not with some resistance from her daughter who initially struggles to give up her learned assumptions and father’s teachings about how a woman should act. 4 stars

The Light Through the Leaves by Glendy Vanderah

I loved Where the Forest Meets the Stars by this author, so I was excited to read this one. Ellis Abbey leaves her infant daughter unattended for a few minutes after being distracted by her older twins. When she returns for the baby, she is missing. The story flips back and to between Ellis’s story and how she coped with this devastation and the affect it had on her family, and Raven, the abducted child. Raven is reared in the woods by a mentally ill woman, isolated from most of society. Ellis left her husband and twins for fear she would make their lives worse and travels around “finding herself” and overcoming addiction. Raven discovers her gifts and her differences and builds desires to fit into society. Both use the healing power of nature in their journeys to discovery. Read on Kindle Unlimited and listened via Audible. 4 stars

The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins

I listened to this one on Audible. It’s read by the author herself. Robbins outlines how to gain courage, stop procrastination, stop worrying and more with one 5 second tool. This is a very powerful and motivating read/listen. It would be worth reading again in the future. 5 stars

Carved in Bone (Body Farm, #1) by Jefferson Bass Jefferson Bass is a team of Bill Bass, the founder of the real body farm in Tennessee and Jon Jefferson. In this first book of a series, Dr. Bill Brockton is the supervisor and forensic anthropologist of the body farm (decomposition research center). Brockton finds himself in the middle of murder case that is years old at the request of a rural sheriff. The science is interesting, mixed with the mystery of the case. Some parts are choppy but overall it’s an entertaining story. I will likely read more of the series. Read/listened via Scribd 4 stars

If She Only Knew by (The Cahills #1) by Lisa Jackson This one is available to read and listen to on Kindle Unlimited and Scribd. I read and listened at Scribd. This was my first time reading Lisa Jackson’s work but won’t be my last. Marla Cahill wakes up from a coma following a car crash with no memory of who she is or who her family members are. She can’t shake the feeling she isn’t who people say she is. Even her own daughter tells her she is different now. The Cahills are all rich, greedy unlikable characters with lots of secrets but the suspense is so good you can easily ignore the selfishness. This has a quite a few twists and turns. You know from the beginning that the car accident was a murder attempt and that the family has a reason to keep “Marla” under control. The why is revealed as Marla starts to try and put her memories and life back together. 5 stars

The Woods by Harlan Coben This has been on my Kindle forever. I finally decided to read it during our camping trip. The Woods seemed appropriate for a camp fireside read. I’m glad I finally read it. Paul Copeland is a prosecuter who lost his sister twenty years ago at a camp where they were all counselors. Some of the others were found murdered but his sister and another boy were never found. The missing guy turns up as a murder victim in present day. If he has been alive all this time, perhaps Copeland’s sister is? As he begins to investigate this matter, lots of family secrets come out. Another twisty story but fun too. 5 stars

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier This was my favorite of the month. A well written psychological thriller. I didn’t see what was coming and how the parts tied together. This one starts with a mother, Marin, and son, doing holiday shopping. A “Santa” kidnaps Marin’s son and for a year there are no leads. But there are a lot of secrets between Marin and her husband Derek as they deal with their loss. Marin discovers Derek is having an affair and decides she will do something about it to avoid losing him too. This one is hard to tell without spoilers, so I’ll just say it’s a must read if you like suspense. 5 stars

Enjoy the View by Sarah Morganthaler This is book 3 in the Moose Springs Series. As best friend of Graham from book 1, Easton Lockett has been mentioned long before book 3 but this time he is the center of the story. Once actress now producer, River Lane, comes to town to film a documentary. Easton offers to help when he thinks she is stranded on the side of the road and gets roped in to helping the film crew in more ways than one. Easton is also a climbing guide and ends up being hired to help the crew hike up Mount Veil for filming. A growing attraction between River and Easton, along with an adventurous crew and a storm, only complicate things. It’s all on Easton to get them back safe and convince River she should stay in Moose Springs. 4 stars

Maybe you’ve found something for your 2022 reading list! It’s a great way to spend a year.

You may also want to check out 20 Incredible Reads in 2020 To Love.

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