Books That I Read in 2021

I cannot accept that it’s already 2022, what happened to 2021? I guess most of us felt like 2021 was gone before it even began. Last year felt like a blur to me and in between those fleeting days I somehow managed to read twenty books. Before I start my journey with books in 2022, I am sharing the books that I read last year along with a brief summary for each of them (without any spoilers). I will also mention some of my most favorite books and I hope that this post helps you find interesting books to consider reading this year.

  1. Midnight Library by Matt Haig:
    The book is about a woman named Nora Seed who finds herself in a library lingering between life and death. There are innumerable books in the library that allow Nora to undo her regrets, explore parallel lives, and choose a life which she would love to be in. Will she give up her present life and choose one that she always dreamed of? Midnight library was one of the most read books in the year 2020. There were mixed reviews about this one, I cannot say I loved it but it wasn’t bad either.
    It’s a good book and you can read my full review here, Midnight Library.

  2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik:
    Uprooted is a fantasy novel that will take you on a magical journey through a homely village, a Dragon’s cold tower, warring kingdoms, and the corrupted Wood. I recommend that you definitely read, Uprooted, if you want to escape reality and enter into a realm of fantasy. Somehow, it even feels real and believable. It’s easy to get absorbed into the story. I loved the character growth of the protagonist, Agnieszka, and the fantastic world-building.
    Loved this book and you can read my full review here: Uprooted.

  3. Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas:
    This book was more like a rom-com movie. It’s a feel-good, emotional, and inspirational kinda dreamy love story which is centered around fate. The two protagonists in this book are Jonathan Grief and Hannah Marx. Hannah fills a New Year journal for her boyfriend with a list of things to do for every single day of the year. But Hannah’s boyfriend suddenly goes missing on New Year and her Filofax planner is found by Jonathan Grief on his bicycle handle.
    Not highly recommended but good read if you are in the mood for something light and easy. You can also find my full review here: Your Perfect Year.
  1.  The Girl in the Tree by Şebnem İşigüzel:
    A very uniquely powerful story of a girl who has given up on the world and decides to live in the trees. This book is an emotional tale of a teenage girl who talks about Gezi protests in Turkey, constant war in Istanbul, bombing attacks, political realities, and violence in society. The harsh realities and the tragic events leave her with no hope of a better world. So, she runs away and climbs one of the tallest trees in Istanbul’s Gülhane Park.
    I recommend this book if you are in the mood for a uniquely interesting story about war. You can read my full review here: The Girl in the Tree.
  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama:
    Becoming is a memoir about Michelle Obama’s personal experiences from childhood to becoming the former First Lady of the United States. It’s about her journey, her successful journey, that was not just rosy but also about taking the rough with the smooth. What makes this journey so amazing is that it’s relatable and at the same time inspiring. I absolutely enjoyed reading this autobiography because it was very inspiring and that’s what leaders are supposed to do.
    Highly recommend this one and you can read my full review here: Becoming.

  2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger:
    Loved this book, it’s a classic after all! The protagonist is Holden Caulfield and the book is narrated in the voice of this sixteen-year-old boy. The character of Holden is simple yet complex, it’s kind of hopelessly attractive. The Catcher in the Rye is a book about teenage angst, alienation, rebellion, and depression. The style of writing is extremely unique and the narration is in the form of a stream of consciousness. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this classic book of literary realism and definitely recommend the literary aficionados to give it a read, if you haven’t yet!
    You can read my full review and my personal thoughts on The Catcher in the Rye here. 

  3. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
    An incredible novel that tells us about the Biafran civil war of Nigeria and how the lives of people are affected by the turbulence of war. It is a powerful and impactful story about Nigerian history that also discusses relationships and love. Half of a Yellow Sun is a book that highlights topics like postcolonial traditions, racism, and different ethnicities. Amongst all of this, love is also a prominent theme that remains in the book right till the end, even though it gets a little complicated and twisted due to the complexities of the characters and situations.
    It is a great book that I highly recommend you read if you are in the mood for a love story in a war background. You can read my full review here, Half of Yellow Sun.

  4. Phoenixville Rising by Robb Cadigan:
    Phoenixville Rising is a novel written by local author Robb Cadigan who also resides in a town named Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. It’s a fictionalized version of history that follows the story of Boo and Sketch, and the remnants of a once bustling steel town. In the absence of the steel mill jobs, the youth of the town are drawn towards petty crime and gang culture.
    You can read my full review here, Phoenixville Rising

Reedsy Books

I am super picky when it comes to books (otherwise too). Last year, I got the opportunity to write reviews for a website called Reedsy and it required me to read new books mostly by debut authors that haven’t been published yet. Some of the books that I had to review were selected not out of excitement but I did it anyway for the opportunity. I cannot say that all the books were great but some of them were good enough. Hopefully someday I will discover an excellent book on Reedsy that could become a bestseller and I would be the first one to have read it! A few of the books that I have reviewed below might not be popular at the moment but have the potential to become a best-seller with more recognition. You can also follow my links to read my full reviews on Reedsy.

9. Close Watch by Signe Christensen:

Nobody likes the feeling of being closely watched or followed but it’s terrifying to know when somebody actually breaks into your house! Close Watch is a fictional story about Amber who is constantly stalked and how she ends up feeling unsafe no matter where she goes. A good suspense novel written by Signe Christensen. You can read this book on one of those weekends when you are in a mood for some easy and quick to read thriller stories.
You can read my full review here Close Watch

10. A Season of Disruption by Jacqueline P Walker:
A Season of Disruption is a short yet impactful memoir written by Jacqueline P Walker. Life can present us with unpredictable situations for which we aren’t ready most of the time. One such event occurred in the life of an eight-year-old child and this story is about how the family faces this devastating loss. What makes this book so powerful is the determination and courage of the family during times of distress.
Read my full review here A Season of Disruption

11. Wanderer by Court Young:
This poetry book discusses the author’s journey of falling in love with a wrong guy, heartbreak, pain, hope, and finding forever love. Some of the poems are also about traveling and seasons which reflect the poet’s state of mind. There are some books that you read and then regret. This was one such poetry book that wasn’t my cup of tea. But if you are in your teens going through a breakup or if you are in a mood for something emotional, then this book is good enough. Read my full review here Wanderer

12. Midnight Light by Brian Paglinco:
This turned out to be a uniquely interesting book of poems that romanticizes the concept of death, nature, love, and redemption. Midnight Light is a combined passionate labor of love by two friends Michael Pace and Brian Paglinco. Michael weaves the rich and rhythmic poems through his writing and Brian has provided captivating photographs that frame the theme of this book. The poems are written artistically and without hesitation about certain themes that are difficult to discuss.
Read my full review here Midnight Light.

13. Happy Here and Now by Matt Tracy:
It is a self-help book that discusses situations and behaviors that we usually don’t pay attention to or tend to neglect. We are all happy in one moment and sad in the other. We are beings with so many emotions and feelings that sometimes we get carried away by them and end up losing ourselves. This book is like a guide that will train us to understand those emotions better, process them, and sometimes learn to let them go.
Read my full review here Happy Here and Now.

14. The Champion by Wayne Rajah:
The Champion is a fantasy fiction novel where the protagonist of this story is a twelve-year-old boy named Calvin with a superpower that allows him to fly. Calvin’s mother, Miss Khumalo is diagnosed with a terminal illness. When he finds out that his mother is suffering, Calvin uses his superpower and the help of his mentor, Athwall, to take his mother on a mythical journey in an attempt to save her life.
Read my full review here: The Champion.

15. Paradise Taken the Diary of Eden Flores by Omar Gonzalez:
A heart wrenching and impactful story! When the innocence of a child is tainted by the gruesome realities of the world, then paradise becomes an unattainable dream. This book is a collection of true events about a girl named Eden Flores. The author, Omar Gonzalez, captures Eden’s life experiences remarkably in this book and shares them with us in the form of stories and poems. It’s a short book that you can finish in one sitting thereby making it an easy recommendation. You can find my full review of Paradise taken here.
Read my full review here: Paradise Taken the Diary of Eden Flores.

16. Lighthouse by Christopher Parker:
This book is about a mysterious journey into a magical realm where there’s suspense, love, & of course the lighthouse. Struggling with the loss of her mother, Amy Tucker finds herself with her father following a case in the mysterious town of Seabrook. There, a chance encounter with Ryan sets in motion a chain of events. The long dormant lighthouse which is the centerpiece of the town comes alight much to the fascination and joy of the local townsfolk.
Read my full review here: Lighthouse.

17. Eli And The Mystery Of The Hallowshine Dragon by Eve Cabanel:
This is a picture book for children. It’s a fantasy story about a moon elf, Eli, who helps her friend Luna in solving a strange mystery of the enchanted forest. When Luna’s baby bunny transforms into hard rock candy, she runs to Eli for help. This transpires into a tale full of bravery, friendship, and the healing power of love. So if you want to read a story to your child, then pick this one! Kids will love the beautiful and attractive illustrations in this book. It’ll help in sparking their imagination and increasing their curiosity.
Read my full review here: Eli and the Mystery of the Hallowshine Dragon.

18. My Name is Wilma by Kirsten Bett:
My Name is Wilma is a quirky book that will take you on a journey of exploration of the world through the eyes of a cat. If you’re a cat lover, then cozy up and enjoy the ride. The story is narrated from the cat’s point of view. Wilma begins on the Dutch tulip fields where her life was rough and rugged. It is only after she meets her humans, Kirsten and Willem, does she realize how wonderfully sheltered a cat’s life can be. Sadly I was expecting the book to get better but I started losing interest and somehow managed to finish the book.
Read my full review here: My Name is Wilma

19. Eat Your Rice Cakes by Margaret Weiss:
Eat Your Rice Cakes is a self-help book for people suffering from celiac disease. Margaret Weiss takes us through her journey of diagnosis, struggles of living with the disease, and finally acceptance of her condition. This book is a great resource for other patients who have their own struggles with celiacs and also for readers who are curious about the disease.
Read my full review here: Eat Your Rice Cakes

20. Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest by Martin Boško:
This book is a collection of poems assembled by the author, Martin Boško, through one calendar year. The use of imagery, powerful expressions, and moving poems give us an insight into the inner workings of the poet’s mind. It takes you on a journey inspired by Greek mythology while also tugging on the heartstrings with feelings of love, betrayal, and longing.
Read my full review here: Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest.

Top 5 Favorites Books for 2021:

  1. Catcher in the Rye
  2. Becoming
  3. Uprooted
  4. Half of a Yellow Sun
  5. Paradise Taken the Diary of Eden Flores (Reedsy)

Happy Reading!

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

Phoenixville Rising by Robb Cadigan

#Book Review
Fiction|Love|Friendship|Redemption

Phoenixville Rising is a story that talks about how the shutting down of a steel mill affected the town and all of its people. It is a story that resonated across America before the turn of the century. Phoenixville Rising is written by local author Robb Cadigan who also resides in a town named Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. It’s a fictionalized version of history that follows the story of Boo and Sketch, and the remnants of a once-bustling steel town. In the absence of the steel mill jobs, the youth of the town are drawn towards petty crime and gang culture. Interwoven within this story is also a fictionalized recollection of an era in Phoenixville’s history. The two narratives are separated by time but connected by the same human emotions.

I enjoy reading stories about small towns in an effort to get an insight into the town. I was disappointed to find out that a few of the places mentioned in the book were not present in the real world. It would have been great if I could visit the Wishing Manor which plays a central theme in the book. This book also has themes of friendship, loyalty, love, betrayal, crime, and the everyday struggle of youth without a secure future.

If you like reading about small towns, then do give Phoenixville Rising a chance. However, if you are looking for a deep insightful story about a town on the brink of extinction, then you would be better off picking another book.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

#Book Review
Historical Fiction | War | Love | Politics

An incredible novel that tells us about the Biafran civil war of Nigeria and how the lives of people are affected by the turbulence of war. It is a powerful and impactful story about Nigerian history that also discusses relationships and love. 

The story begins with Ugwu, a simple Igbo village boy who goes to a town called Nsukka to work as a houseboy for Odenigbo. Odenigbo is a mathematics professor who can speak confidently about many intellectual topics. He is a socialist and loves discussing politics. Odenigbo is in love with a woman called Olanna who is often treated with love and respect by everyone because of her striking beauty and kindness. Olanna has a twin sister, Kaniene who is not as beautiful as Olanna but is super confident, sophisticated and handles her father’s businesses. There is another character called Richard who is from England. When he visits Nigeria as a journalist he falls in love with the country. He learns to speak the Igbo language and is so fascinated by their culture that he decides to write a book about Biafra.

The story revolves around these five characters, Ugwu, Odenigbo, Olanna, Kaniene, and Richard, and how their lives are affected due to the civil war. It discusses the characters on a deeply personal level and at the same time establishes the struggles of violence, politics, and war. Each of the characters evolves throughout the book after we get acquainted with them in the initial chapters. From vulnerability, poverty, and fear to accepting change, and being hopeful.

Half of a Yellow Sun is a story that paints a very realistic image of the Biafran civil war. As a reader I got pulled into the culture, language, and history of Biafra. It highlights topics like postcolonial traditions, racism, and different ethnicities. Amongst all of this, love is also a prominent theme that remains in the book right till the end, even though it gets a little complicated and twisted due to the complexities of the characters and situations. 

It is a remarkable book that I highly recommend you to read if you are in the mood for a love story in a war background. 

Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest by Martin Boško 

#Book Review
Poetry | Love | Emotions | Mythology

Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest is a collection of admirably written poems by Martin Boško. It takes you on a journey inspired by Greek mythology while also tugging on the heartstrings with feelings of love, betrayal, and longing.

This book is a collection of poems assembled by the author through one calendar year. The use of imagery, powerful expressions, and moving poems give us an insight into the inner workings of the poet’s mind. The author has shared some of his most intimate moments, emotions, and intentions that make each of his poems memorable. The rhyming nature of the poems was an absolute delight to read and made me want to keep going on and on for more.

When sadness comes as a raging river
I reach into my trusty quiver
To pull out the Arrow made of honey
And heal the wounds that are fresh and bloody.

– Martin Boško

The book has four sections as mentioned in the title: Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest. Even though my knowledge of Greek mythology is quite basic, I still found the poems hard-hitting and extremely pleasing to read. The poems on love capture the heart and soul of the feeling of being in love. As I progressed further, I could not help but feel like I was experiencing heartbreak along with the poet through his poetry. There were many moments where I empathized with the poet and wished for a turnaround in his life. Overall, I highly recommend Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest for all those poetry lovers who wish to be taken on a journey of imagination and emotions.

Also, read my review on Reedsy.

Wanderer by Court Young

#BookReview
Poetry|Love|Heartbreak|Hope

Wanderer is a poetry book which discusses the author’s journey of falling in love, heartbreak, pain, hope, and finding forever love. 

In this poetry book, the author Court Young shares the two most important phases of her life. The first part is about the Wolf and the second part is about the Eagle/Lion. The first part is about getting attracted to the Wolf and falling hard in love. It’s about love, lust, heartbreak, and the pain that follows.

The poems express the vulnerability, anger, confusion, and frustration that she feels towards the Wolf. Her anger is also towards herself because she had given him the power to hurt her. She goes through this emotional journey with questions of self-doubt and self-worth. Some of her poetry is also about the seasons which reflect her state of mind. This poetry book progresses slowly towards hope when she finds her Eagle/Lion. The haunting memories of her past are soon forgotten after she finds her soulmate. She realizes what she has been missing out on and understands love is all about respecting one another and making each other feel beautiful about themselves.

Most of the poems in the Wanderer are about love, desire, and pain. It’s about the turbulent times in the author’s life and how she learns to overcome these challenges. The poems are not super impressive; they felt more like the experiences of a teenager. It was also a little confusing because the author talks about the Wolf and the Eagle in the Author’s Note, but in the second part, she addresses her forever love as the Lion. The poems were not thought-provoking and lacked imagination and rhythm. However, her sweet short poems are easy to read and are great for young adults. Through her poems, she tries to inspire all those people experiencing heartbreak to get back up as there is always light at the end of the tunnel. 

Midnight Light by Brian Paglinco

#BookReview
Poetry|Love|Death|

Midnight Light romanticizes the concept of death, nature, love, and redemption making it a perfect pick for the season of Halloween!

The ideas presented in the book flirt with burial, guardian statues, left behind loved ones, and astronomical figures where the real ones include stars, lights, and night, and the unreal figures are the devil, god, and angels. A background theme that recurs in some poems deals with drugs and their intoxicating effects and how some lives are ended too early because of addiction. The combination of the words on the page along with the photographs that accompany them presents a vivid picture that guides you along a path to find your own understanding of each poem. 

The poems are written artistically and without hesitation about certain themes that are difficult to discuss. It is easy to fall into a world of imagination as you picturise each of these poems while reading them. While the poems are not very simple, they aren’t complex either, which leaves you longing for one more poem before you call it a night. 

This poetry book is a combined passionate labor of love by two friends Michael Pace and Brian Paglinco who share over thirty years of friendship. Michael weaves the rich and rhythmic poems through his writing and Brian has provided captivating photographs that frame the theme of this book which is mainly about love, death, and redemption. I lost track of time, at times, engrossed in the fascinating pictures and uniquely interesting poems which I’m certain many readers too will happen to experience while reading the Midnight Light. 

Also find my review on Reedsy.

A Lost Friend

#Short story

When I saw her for the first time, it felt like I had never seen anyone who looked so angelic. I stayed away from her, I thought pretty girls like her would not want to talk to me. We sat on the same bench in class but we never spoke to each other. Sometimes, when the lecturer dictated notes I would peek into her notebook, she would push her book towards me and smile. Even her tiniest gesture of kindness would touch my heart.

One day at a friend’s place we ended up being alone in the corner of a room. That was the first time she spoke to me and when she did, I was surprised by the speed at which she spoke. I don’t remember the conversation, all I remember is that she spoke really fast. If I had to describe her looks, then umm..she has innocent honey brown eyes, super chubby cheeks, clear soft skin, long black hair, and a sweet naughty smile. She is a beautiful girl, my girl!

We got close after the bike accident. She had fallen off the bike while riding so our group of friends had rushed to the hospital. I ran straight towards her because she was crying the loudest. She was not injured, she was just scared, really scared, and she asked me to stay by her side. Instead of feeling sorry, I found the whole situation amusing. But, it was also the first time I felt protective about her. I wanted to take care of her and keep her safe. I did not see her in college after the accident for a week. And then she was back! Her beaming smile made me feel warm and happy. I sat next to her and that’s how our friendship began. We were inseparable.

She used to talk a lot and as I mentioned earlier she talked really fast. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by her. Every day I would look forward to seeing her. The level of comfort between us was unlike anything that I had with my other friends. We understood each other, cared for each other, and had fun like no one else. We could laugh for hours, we were silly, and we loved spending time together.

I remember she would always wait for me outside the college gate. I was always a few minutes late, but she would wait for me without ever complaining, and then we would run in together. When she missed her bus, it was my turn to wait for her. I would watch her walk hurriedly towards me, fixing her flying messy hair, holding onto her college bag clumsily, and fixing her clothes angrily. She always used to be annoyed, like she hated the world, but then she would end up laughing when she finally reached me. All her worries would fade away and we would get back to cracking silly jokes. Problems in life never got serious when we had each other.

After classes, we would spend a few extra hours hanging out in college and I would take the longest route so I could walk halfway with her. Sometimes I would even go all the way to her bus stop and wait with her until her bus arrived because I lived close to the college. Sometimes we would be lost so deep in conversations that she would deliberately miss her bus so we could talk a little while longer. After reaching home, we would send each other text messages and chat until late night. Friendship with her felt more like a relationship. I am not sure what we had, it was certainly more than love. I was scared that someday I would lose her, we had gotten too emotionally attached.

When college ended, we slowly started drifting apart. She got busy looking for jobs and I got busy doing my new job. We would meet once a week, soon it became once a month, and then once in six months. We even stopped talking to each other on the phone. I tried many times to maintain the friendship but she failed to reciprocate. It was difficult for me to understand the change in her nature. There was a period of time when I was angry with her, “How could she forget me so easily?” On days when I needed my friend, she wasn’t there and that would make me sad. I waited for her, with a hope that things will go back to being how they used to be before.

Soon, I fell in love with a guy, who is now my husband. She got married and moved to another country. We completely stopped talking, we had forgotten how to be there for each other. There was one time when our paths accidentally crossed, she was with her two kids. She spoke to me briefly and I realized she was nothing like the person that I knew before and our relationship will never be the same. I lost my dearest friend and losing a best friend is worse than a breakup.

I often think about her, wonder where she is, and how she is doing. I miss her, I miss laughing with her. But over the years I’ve realized that I need to be thankful for the time that I got to spend with her, people move on and I should learn to accept that. By trying to rekindle the relationship I might lose all the sweet memories that I have been holding onto. So, I guess it’s better this way.


Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thankful for the beautiful changing colors of the fall
Red and orange leaves form a soft carpet path to walk.
Thankful for the warmth of the loved ones
Gathering together by the warm fire for long chats.
Thankful for the food and wine
Baked potatoes, stuffed turkey, and pumpkin pies.
Wish you all a happy thanksgiving
Overflowing with happiness, peace, and love.

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

The Lighthouse by Christopher Parker

#BookReview
Fiction|Mystery|Love|

This interesting story will take you on a mysterious journey into a magical realm where there’s suspense, love, & of course the lighthouse.

Struggling with the loss of her mother, Amy Tucker finds herself with her father following a case in the mysterious town of Seabrook. There, a chance encounter with Ryan sets in motion a chain of events. The long dormant lighthouse which is the centerpiece of the town comes alight much to the fascination and joy of the local townsfolk. 

Ryan, a ranch owner who also takes care of his ailing father is on the verge of financial ruin. Fate unites Ryan and Amy who look to each other to forget their woes in the festivities of the town. Their intense relationship within a short period of time culminates in a meeting of the hearts where unrevealed secrets spill out of overflowing cups. 

A series of eerie events in Seabrook leads Amy to the lighthouse where she uncovers a truth that shakes the foundations of her reality. The plot gets increasingly more layered and nuanced, brushing with themes of love, betrayal, relationships, death, and the afterlife. The enduring figure of the lighthouse is used as a metaphor for the theme of this book. Beloved yet haunted for the townsfolk, the lighthouse serves as the center stage for many pivotal moments in the story. The Lighthouse is a thrilling page turner written by debut author Christopher Parker and will keep you interested until the end. 

Also find my review on Reedsy.