Here Are The Books I’ve Enjoyed So Far in 2021

Hi friends!! I forgot/ran out of time/didn’t get around to linking up with Steph & Jana last month for the first time in YEARS so here I am sharing a large chunk of books this month!! Head over to their blogs for the rest of the Show us Your Books link up posts!!!

Here are a few books I REALLY loved lately:

This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the WorkThis Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is excellent for helping to explain a lot of the depth of anti-racism and the history of racism to older children. I haven’t read it with mine yet, but I intend to read it to them and discuss it.

Share Your Stuff. I'll Go First.: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next LevelShare Your Stuff. I’ll Go First.: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level by Laura Tremaine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you haven’t heard of the 10 Things to Tell You podcast or @laura.tremaine, you are absolutely missing out. Laura has talked for years about how to share your thoughts and stories in a way that builds a connection with others. Her voice is addictive and I’ve thought so much about SO many interesting things due to her prompts, blog posts, podcast episodes, and now through her just-released book SHARE YOUR STUFF. I’LL GO FIRST.

I received an early copy of this exceptional book from the publisher via Netgalley (thank you, Zondervan), but I also got the audiobook from Audible because I love listening to Laura read to me. LOL. In this book, she shares a lot of personal moments that have shaped who she is and how she thinks about things. She really probes some important questions and shares how you can think deeper about parts of your past and your experiences that shape who you are and allow you to connect with others on a deeper level. Guys, this is a perfect book for our current times because these connections that we have with others are strained by physical distance and lockdown measures. I’m sure we are all feeling a bit of distance even from those we know very well.

I absolutely loved this book and am delighted to be working through the companion journal and the Facebook group chat with Laura herself. These were preorder bonuses and they’ve been extended to the end of this week so I highly recommend checking them out if you plan to buy the book!! If you’re on the fence about whether a book like this is for you, I’d recommend dipping your toes in the 10 Things to Tell You podcast a bit. I am personally (and doubly because of my psychology background) an advocate for truly getting to know people, chatting, and digging deeper but I really think almost anyone could benefit from Laura’s book. PS: You should also go check out Laura’s Instagram celebrated her book release during the pandemic because her celebrations made me tear up!

The Paris SecretThe Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a few of my book friends raved about this book, it moved close to the top of my list and I finally got around to reading it and LOVING it. This historical fiction with alternating timelines about a group of women during WWII & their descendants years later was sooo excellent. The resilient and powerful characters depicted in these pages will not leave my memory any time too soon. I swooned at times, felt choked up at times, and cheered in my head at other times. This is historical fiction at its best – that’s for sure!!! I definitely recommend this one especially for fans of The Gown & The Alice Network.

There are a few excellent maneuvered twists in this book, so I don’t want to say TOO much about it.I enjoyed the narration of this audiobook immensely but I read half of it in print as well thanks to my library πŸ™‚

On top of this book being such a great experience for me, it was an absolute joy to Zoom with the author shortly after finishing! She is a sweetheart and our group was so grateful she was willing to give us some of her time to answer questions about the book and her other books too. Thank you, Natasha!!

Our Darkest NightOur Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was antsy to get my hands on this much-anticipated book! I very much enjoyed several of her previous novels and I’m leaning into historical fiction in a big way lately. I absolutely loved this book!!! I listened to most of it on audio via LibroFM and was also so delighted and thankful to receive a paperback copy in the mail from a friend as part of a gift swap πŸ™‚

This book follows two magnificent and resilient characters in Italy during World War II: Antonina, a young daughter of a Jewish doctor who is nudged into posing as a wife to Niccolo, a kind, Christian man who was training to be a priest and who is able to protect her by bringing her home to his family’s farm. Understandably, many difficulties lie ahead for these two characters and my heart wrenched at various parts of this story as events unfolded on the pages but amidst the pain and suffering, there is hope and joy to be found in this story as well. 

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

100% recommend this title to anyone who loves historical fiction with a love story and hardships of war in the plotline.  The Italy setting was refreshing after so many WWII stories I’ve read set in France and England. The story in these pages is not one often told. The supporting characters, including Nico’s family, Stella, and Father Bernardi all wormed their way right into my heart. The narration of the novel on audio was also exceptionally performed and brought the Italian accents and phrases to life in my ears. 

Ever After Always (Bergman Brothers, #3)Ever After Always by Chloe Liese
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This contemporary romance series is definitely one of the best I’ve read in years – the characters are interesting and diverse, the chemistry between the characters is well written and swoony, and I’m just a sucker for a series about a wonderful family πŸ™‚ This is the third in this series.

Freya and Aiden are mentioned quite a bit in the first two books and we know they are having some difficulties in their marriage – this plot point is explored deeply in this book. Ever After Always was such a realistic glance at what marriage is, how it evolves over time, and how mental health and outside stressors can impact even those who want to commit to a happy marriage and love their spouse deeply. This book was beautiful, quotable, and funny at times too! I smiled a lot, enjoyed the minor escape it afforded me in the form of a trip to Hawaii in the book πŸ™‚ I absolutely appreciated the research that goes into these books – Aiden has a generalized anxiety disorder and the representation of his mental health was so real.

I highly recommend this series, especially for fans of Talia Hibbert s Brown sisters books or anyone who enjoys quite a bit of depth in their contemporary romance books. πŸ™‚ thank you to @netgalley and the author for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is available in Kindle Unlimited…just FYI!!!

The Color of Our SkyThe Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When my friend Jenna put THE COLOR OF OUR SKY on my radar a couple of months ago, I knew I had to include this one in my reading life ASAP. Jenna has not yet steered me wrong in her recommendations πŸ˜‰ I’m pleased to report that I really, really, really enjoyed this captivating story that went back and forth in time a bit and held many surprises I didn’t anticipate.

This story is equal parts heartbreaking, intense, breathtaking, and hopeful. The alternative perspectives drew me right in and I loved following both sides of this story that wrapped itself up so beautifully in the end. This story, taking place in India in the 1990s/early 2000s, acutely describes how pain and class differences tore members of a family apart after several fateful decisions. These decisions shifted several lives throughout many years. The book ultimately takes a look at how pain and suffering and loss can be carried throughout a lifetime. I loved Mukta’s strength, Tara’s regret and determination, and all of the supporting characters who all had important roles in the stories of these two women. The ending of this story was lovely. I alternated between the audiobook and the paperback of this book and the narration was excellently performed. 4.5 stars

And some other good books I’d Recommend:

An Unexpected Peril (Veronica Speedwell, #6)An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s always a good day when I crack open a new segment in the adventures of Veronica Speedwell and Stoker. I absolutely adore these characters and this series is one of my favourites ever. The mystery and plot in this particular book was quite interesting and I am always a bit blown away by Deanna Raybourn’s creativity in keeping this adorable couple’s lives interesting and moving the story along in ways I could have never expected. I really enjoyed trying to figure out exactly what was going on with the Alpenwald crew and the story wrapped up in a way I was not anticipating, which is always delightfully fun as a reader. Ultimately, I will always read a new book in this series and there were a few absolutely swoony romantic moments in this book that also warmed my heart aside from the fun banter, witty characters, and fast-moving mystery plotline.

Thank you to Berkely and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. If you haven’t read this series, you should! Start with A CURIOUS BEGINNING and know that each book gets better and better, in my humble opinion πŸ™‚

How to Fail at FlirtingHow to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book started off excellently and did NOT peter off at all. 4.5 stars and one of the best contemporary romances I have read lately.

The way that Jake and Naya met and hit it off was SO swoony & excellently executed. I absolutely adored Naya’s friends. I loved the “big conflict” of interest that arose and the way it was all resolved. Their banter was so fun to read, their chemistry was completely off the charts, and their backgrounds were interesting and fun and unique.

Content warning: the deeper part of the story that related to past abuse in a relationship was handled quite well & I found the ending to be perfectly satisfying. Can’t wait to read more from this author.

You Have a MatchYou Have a Match by Emma Lord
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Emma Lord’s first book and was eager to read this one as well. I’m happy to report that I liked this one EVEN MORE. It took me a little while to see where the book was going, but eventually, I was all in with these fun, cute, interesting teenage characters and their fascinating family history. There are some minor YA romance storylines but the most compelling part of this story was the key to how Savvy and Abby are full biological sisters who never knew of each other’s existence. The way it all pans out was emotional, jaw-dropping, and tense but impossible to put down. SO good.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Wednesday Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I also read Ten Rules for Faking It, which was okay but not a favourite, as well as The Off-Limits Rule which started okay and fizzled right out. I binged Bridgerton on Netflix after Christmas and the only solution for a Bridgerton hangover was to start re-reading the books again so I got through the first one in one sitting πŸ˜‰

Currently Reading: Quiet in her Bones by Nalini Singh (comes out in a couple of weeks), The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (had to take a tiny break but over halfway and loving it), and Tilly and the Bookwanderers with the kiddos. I’m also almost done A Vow so Bold and Deadly which is very goodso far.

11 responses to “Here Are The Books I’ve Enjoyed So Far in 2021”

  1. shootingstarsmag Avatar
    shootingstarsmag

    OOh Share Your Stuff sounds super fabulous. Thanks for sharing that one. I hope you are enjoying Quiet in Her Bones. That’s on my wish list.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  2. Our Darkest Night and You Have a Match are both on my to read list. How to Fail at Flirting sounds fun too!

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  3. I added Bergman Brothers to my list already, probably because of you. Sounds like I need to get on it ASAP! I listened to a few of the 10 Things to Tell You episodes and sort of forgot about it, I need to hop back in to it and then go listen to that book! Adding How to Fail at Flirting too! I LOVED Four Winds!!!! I dont do much historical fiction, but I cant stop Kristin Hannah. Her writing is amazing. I legit sob cried at one part of Four Winds, it was so beautiful, painful, heartbreaking, depressing, and amazing.

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  4. The first book sounds great as a discussion point with kids!

    Negalley never answered my request for the newest Nalini Singh so pre-ordered it. I’m waiting on The Four Winds from the library, I don’t expect that will come in for a while!

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  5. oh, we both missed last month?! why are we such twins? lol
    i need to get to my natasha lester books that i own so that i can read that one.
    our darkest night is on my list, duh. forgot about the flirting book, will add it to my list.

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  6. I’m so excited to read the new Kristin Hannah!

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  7. I hope you love Tilly and the Book Wanderers!

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  8. Well, I’m adding all these historical fiction reads to my list! They sound SO good. I’m also loving the Bergman Brothers series thanks to your recommendation! I just finished the second book and can’t wait for the third.

    Karly
    https://www.whatkarlysaid.com

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  9. Oh I just love historical fiction and it sounds like you read a few great ones this month! Pinned.

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  10. The Bergman Brothers series sounds so good!

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  11. I’m not familiar with Laura Tremaaine, but Share Your Stuff sounds really interesting. The Color of Our Sky sounds so good and I was actually looking for books set in India recently. I’m getting ready to (maybe) start The Four Winds and am excited, but feel like I need to be ready, lol.

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