Review: The Other Black Girl

The Other Black Girl
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

Well not sure what it means that the last book I’m reading for 2021 is one that has me stumped. This book is hard to explain and has multiple genres and there are things I really liked about it and things I really didn’t. So I’m a bit all over the place about it. Glad I read it, though I do think it could have used a better editor.

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  • My favorite read of the year was: Sorrow and Bliss
  • My favorite SciFi (sortof) read of the year was: Project Hail Mary and Sea of Tranquility
  • My favorite Fantasy read of the year was: Under the Whispering Door
  • My favorite nonfiction read of the year was: Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
  • My favorite Historical Fiction read of the year was: The Magician
  • My favorite Mystery read of the year was: A Line to Kill
  • My favorite poetry read of the year was: What Kind of Woman
  • My favorite horror read of the year was: The Last House on Needless Street
  • Here are all my five-star reads for the year:
  • Sea of Tranquility
  • Three O’Clock in the Morning
  • The Color Purple
  • The Lowering Days
  • Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting
  • This Close to Okay
  • Sorrow and Bliss
  • Klara and the Sun
  • What Kind of Woman
  • Revival Season
  • The Power of Vulnerability
  • Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
  • Project Hail Mary
  • The People We Keep
  • The Last House on Needless Street
  • Once There Were Wolves
  • The Choice: Embrace the Possible
  • Under the Whispering Door
  • Fresh Paint
  • The Magician
  • Trusting the Gold: Uncovering Your Natural Goodness
  • Oh William!
  • A Million Things
  • Mixed Media Color Studio
  • A Little Hope
  • The Heart Principle
  • Unconditional Confidence
  • The Lightmaker’s Manifesto
  • Unbound
  • French Braid
  • A Line to Kill
  • Yerba Buena
  • Inward
  • Burnout
  • Lessons in Chemistry

And here are all 229 of my reads from 2021 in reverse order. You can find all the reviews here and some of my drawings with reviews on instagram here.

  1. The Other Black Girl
  2. End of the World House
  3. Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships
  4. The Girl I Was
  5. Greetings From Asbury Park
  6. Confess
  7. Sea of Tranquility
  8. Imaginable
  9. Small Things Like These
  10. A Ballad of Love and Glory
  11. The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward
  12. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?
  13. Firekeeper’s Daughter
  14. Wish You Were Here
  15. Drawn on the Way: A Guide to Capturing the Moment Through Live Sketching
  16. The Island of Missing Trees
  17. Just Haven’t Met You Yet
  18. Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home
  19. Lessons in Chemistry
  20. Beneath the Stairs
  21. Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life
  22. Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering the Happiness Within
  23. Like a House on Fire
  24. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
  25. Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
  26. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
  27. Clarity & Connection
  28. I Hope This Finds You Well
  29. The Sentence
  30. The Younger Wife
  31. Inward
  32. Always Only You (Bergman Brothers, #2)
  33. Ever After Always (Bergman Brothers, #3)
  34. The Night She Disappeared
  35. Off Season
  36. Yerba Buena
  37. The Atlas Six (The Atlas, #1)
  38. The Lincoln Highway
  39. Cackle
  40. A Line To Kill (Hawthorne and Horowitz Mystery, #3)
  41. No Cure for Being Human: And Other Truths I Need to Hear
  42. Already Enough: A Path to Self-Acceptance
  43. French Braid
  44. Out of Love
  45. The Suite Spot (Beck Sisters, #2)
  46. The Golden Couple
  47. The Selfless Act of Breathing
  48. Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement
  49. The Love Hypothesis (The Love Hypothesis, #1)
  50. The Last House on the Street
  51. Apples Never Fall
  52. The Arrangement
  53. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
  54. Take Me with You When You Go
  55. Rock Paper Scissors
  56. The Maid
  57. Heart Smart (Work For It #2)
  58. Gone By Morning
  59. The Story of You: An Enneagram Journey to Becoming Your True Self
  60. A History of Wild Places
  61. O Beautiful
  62. The Wonder Test
  63. Matrix
  64. The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy
  65. Beautiful World, Where Are You
  66. Dark Roads
  67. Unconditional Confidence: Instructions for Meeting Any Experience with Trust and Courage
  68. The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self
  69. The Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient, #3)
  70. Tin Camp Road
  71. A Little Hope
  72. Zen Wisdom for the Anxious: Simple Advice from a Zen Buddhist Monk
  73. To Sir, with Love
  74. Get Messy Art: The No-Rules, No-Judgment, No-Pressure Approach to Making Art – Create with Watercolor, Acrylics, Markers, Inks, and More
  75. Drawing Is for Everyone: Simple Lessons to Make Your Creative Practice a Daily Habit – Explore Infinite Creative Possibilities in Graphite, Colored Pencil, and Ink
  76. Mixed Media Color Studio: Explore Modern Color Theory to Create Unique Palettes and Find Your Creative Voice–Play with Acrylics, Pastels, Inks, Graphite, and More
  77. Where the Truth Lies
  78. Cloud Cuckoo Land
  79. A Million Things
  80. Dear Me
  81. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
  82. Oh William!
  83. No Hiding in Boise
  84. Jacket Weather
  85. The Break-Up Book Club
  86. Trusting the Gold: Uncovering Your Natural Goodness
  87. Nothing More Dangerous
  88. The Shimmering State
  89. Not a Happy Family
  90. All Together Now
  91. The Stepsisters
  92. For Your Own Good
  93. Listening Still
  94. The Magician
  95. Rock the Boat
  96. Eight Perfect Hours
  97. Create Beautiful: A Glam Creativity Workbook for a Vibrant Life and Home
  98. Fresh Paint: Discover Your Unique Creative Style Through 100 Small Mixed-Media Paintings
  99. Maybe This Will Help: How to Feel Better When Things Stay the Same
  100. The Five Wounds
  101. The Maidens
  102. Under the Whispering Door
  103. What a Happy Family
  104. Notes from the Burning Age
  105. The Choice: Embrace the Possible
  106. The Layover
  107. One Last Stop
  108. Hostage
  109. Who Is Maud Dixon?
  110. We Are the Brennans
  111. The Guncle
  112. Malibu Rising
  113. The Husbands
  114. Rabbits
  115. What If You & Me (Say Everything, #2)
  116. Once There Were Wolves
  117. Yoga Pant Nation (Class Mom, #3)
  118. You’re Going to Survive
  119. Razorblade Tears
  120. A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram, #2)
  121. The Last House on Needless Street
  122. Several People Are Typing
  123. Heartbreak for Hire
  124. Exit
  125. The Guide
  126. Instructions for Dancing
  127. The People We Keep
  128. Colorful
  129. If Only
  130. The 22 Murders of Madison May
  131. Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead
  132. The Road Trip
  133. Easy Crafts for the Insane: A Mostly Funny Memoir of Mental Illness and Making Things
  134. How Lucky
  135. How to Save a Life
  136. Competitive Grieving
  137. Together We Will Go
  138. Morningside Heights
  139. That Summer
  140. What You Can See from Here
  141. What Comes After
  142. Girls with Bright Futures
  143. Life’s Too Short (The Friend Zone, #3)
  144. The Last Thing He Told Me
  145. Mary Jane
  146. The Perfect Daughter
  147. People We Meet on Vacation
  148. Project Hail Mary
  149. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
  150. Early Morning Riser
  151. The Finish Line (The Ravenhood, #3)
  152. The Last Goodbye
  153. The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
  154. Exodus (The Ravenhood Duet #2)
  155. Flock (The Ravenhood, #1)
  156. One Two Three
  157. Second First Impressions
  158. When the Stars Go Dark
  159. When I Ran Away
  160. The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton
  161. Every Vow You Break
  162. Perfect on Paper
  163. The Good Sister
  164. Gold Diggers
  165. The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage
  166. Revival Season
  167. A Town Called Solace
  168. A Million Reasons Why
  169. The Intimacy Experiment (The Roommate, #2)
  170. Her Here
  171. On Hampstead Heath
  172. What Kind of Woman
  173. Everything After
  174. Only When It’s Us (Bergman Brothers, #1)
  175. Brood
  176. The Plot
  177. The Power Couple
  178. Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage
  179. Meet Me in Another Life
  180. The Kitchen Front
  181. The Soulmate Equation
  182. Infinite Country
  183. It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake
  184. Klara and the Sun
  185. Every Last Fear
  186. No One Is Talking About This
  187. Sorrow and Bliss
  188. We Run the Tides
  189. The Echo Wife
  190. The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket
  191. Faye, Faraway
  192. Finlay Donovan Is Killing It (Finlay Donovan, #1)
  193. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
  194. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
  195. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
  196. The Kindest Lie
  197. Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing
  198. Keeping a Nature Journal: Deepen Your Connection with the Natural World All Around You
  199. Switch
  200. This Close to Okay
  201. The Ex Talk
  202. The Push
  203. The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, #1)
  204. Winterkeep (Graceling Realm, #4)
  205. Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children, #6)
  206. Black Buck
  207. Love Poems for the Office
  208. Happy Habits: 50 Science-Backed Rituals to Adopt (or Stop) to Boost Health and Happiness
  209. How to Figure Out What to Do with Your Life
  210. The Anxiety and Depression Workbook: Simple, Effective CBT Techniques to Manage Moods and Feel Better Now
  211. Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles
  212. Dear Child
  213. Blacktop Wasteland
  214. The Thursday Murder Club (Thursday Murder Club, #1)
  215. Mother May I
  216. Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting
  217. The Lowering Days
  218. Good Company
  219. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
  220. The Color Purple
  221. The Lost Apothecary
  222. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
  223. Three O’Clock in the Morning
  224. Take It Back (Zara Kaleel, #1)
  225. The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett
  226. How to Fail at Flirting
  227. Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair
  228. Float Plan (Beck Sisters, #1)
  229. Enneagram Empowerment: Discover Your Personality Type and Unlock Your Potential

Review: Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships
Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I liked this sweet novel about an aunt whose nieces come to stay with her for the summer as a way to give her sister and husband to recover from the loss of their third child. It’s sweet and there’s a romance but there are also some major issues in this book around death, loss, abandonment, and belonging. All of them are explored and taken seriously but still handled lightly. It was a fun read.

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Review: The Girl I Was

The Girl I Was
The Girl I Was by Jeneva Rose
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sweet story about how it’s never too late to save yourself.

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Review: Confess

Confess by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I might have read too many Hoover stories. I can tell where they will go, I can tell what will happen and I just don’t think the characters are as well developed or complex as I wish they were. I liked the idea of confessions and the paintings but the evil characters are too evil and the good are too good.

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Review: Small Things Like These

Small Things Like These
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

really wonderful and touching short story. loved it.

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Review: Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read a lot of mixed reviews about this book and several people said the first part was very boring. I totally didn’t feel that way. I listened to this on audio and the narrator was excellent. I was recently in the Galapagos so I really enjoyed hearing about that amazing setting again and true to form I didn’t see the twist coming and Picoult took it to some interesting places. I enjoyed this one.

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Review: Sea of Tranquility

Sea of Tranquility
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is absolutely, undeniably and unequivocally one of my favorite reads of 2021! I cannot wait until it comes out so I can recommend it to people who I know will appreciate it, too. I know some will dislike this book and even as I was reading it and tried to recount the premise to my kids and husband, they thought it was reductive and done because it’s such a hard to premise to explain but they are so wrong. It is excellent.

“Everything offended Jessica, which is inevitable when you move through the world in search of offense.”

First of all, Emily St. John Mandel’s writing is exquisite. It’s quiet and descriptive and delicate and a pure joy to read. When I first started the novel, I wasn’t sure where it was going and I wasn’t sure it was going to hold my attention. But her writing was so good and her characters drew me in immediately. I felt connected to every one of them and I was rooting for them.

“( We were still thinking in terms of getting work done. The most shocking thing in retrospect was the degree to which all of us completely missed the point.)”

Bits and pieces of how the future unfolds were also interesting to me. There was just enough to make it interesting and not so much to make it totally scifi or fantasy. The parts around the pandemic were also just enough there to be relatable and interesting but not enough to be suffocating (since we’re still in this pandemic, i am not finding enjoyable to read pandemic books.)

And then there were the amazing connections, twists or whatever else you call them. I figured one out way sooner than the second one which by the time I figured it out, I was so excited by how clever it was that I actually laughed out loud. I understand that different people might go different ways on this book but, for me, it worked 100% and I loved every single minute I spent with it. I cannot stop thinking about it and smiling.

with gratitude to netgalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

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Review: Greetings From Asbury Park

Greetings From Asbury Park
Greetings From Asbury Park by Daniel H. Turtel
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“There was comfort in knowing that you could say just what you wanted and not worry about what the words meant because in the morning they would be gone and so would you.”

I did not connect with this book, no matter how much I tried. I picked it up and put it down at least twenty times in the month of December. I liked the idea of three siblings connecting through the death of their father. Two of which are from other mothers and two of which didn’t know about each other. I liked the premise but the execution didn’t work for me.

“Maybe he was really sorry and it was possible to believe that somebody had wronged you but still not really wish them to be dead. Maybe there were sort of gradations to revenge that should exist and some things you shouldn’t do.”

I found myself unable to connect with any of the characters which makes it hard to read what’s mostly a character-driven story. I found the story to be quiet but not in a peaceful way. So my attention kept drifting. I still managed to make it all the way to the end but this one will not stay with me even though parts of the writing and descriptions were really beautiful.

with gratitude to netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

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Review: End of the World House

End of the World House
End of the World House by Adrienne Celt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book totally didn’t do it for me. I didn’t really understand what the author was trying to say and I didn’t connect with any of the characters or the plot, I’m sorry to say. I am confident that others will understand more than I did and will enjoy the book more than I did.

Some of the pieces I liked were the connection of the two women and some of the work scenes and the descriptions of the world. I liked the descriptions of the Louvre and the drawings Bertie did.

This one was just not my cup of tea.

with gratitude to edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: A Ballad of Love and Glory

A Ballad of Love and Glory
A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I really enjoyed reading about a part of history I knew absolutely nothing about. This is about a nurse and an Irish deserter during the Mexican-American War. It recounts the suffering of the Mexicans and the horrible ways in which American soldiers treated the Irish (and other immigrant soldiers.)

I felt that the character development and writing could have been deeper. The subject matter was harrowing and eye opening and the history itself made the book completely worthwhile to read.

with gratitude to edelweiss and Atria Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything?Even Things that Seem Impossible Today

Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything?Even Things that Seem Impossible Today
Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything?Even Things that Seem Impossible Today by Jane McGonigal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Normalcy bias is a result of the brain’s preference for stable patterns.”

I have taken several courses by and read all the books of Jane McGonigal’s twin sister, Kelly. Even though I’d watched her TED talk, before this, I’d never read Jane McGonigal’s work and didn’t know anything about her work with Institute for the Future. When I saw this book, I thought it was remarkable and decided I wanted to learn more.

The premise of this book is about practicing ways to start imagining different potential futures. She introduces different ways to stretch your mind and many, many different scenarios of what possible futures could look like. They are far ahead enough to make most of these scenarios plausible (all are based on some type of fact or development from today) but not so far that you can’t connect to the timeframe.

“Nearly fifty years ago, psychology researchers discovered something remarkable: if you want someone to believe that a future event is likely, you just have to ask them to imagine it happening, in as much vivid detail as possible.”

She presents many different scenarios and then asks a lot of questions to help you imagine it. If this scenario were true, what would you do? There are many different areas where she encourages you to stretch your mind, your thinking and of course your imagination. Some scenarios resonated more with me than others, of course, but I found myself caught up in almost all of them. It didn’t take me long to visualize them and almost viscerally feel many of them.

“Collect and investigate “signals of change,” or real-life examples of how the world is becoming different. Let these signals spark your curiosity. Follow the trail of clues wherever it takes you.”

I loved this idea of collecting “signals of change” because it really enhances your ability and willingness to pay attention to the world. I love how she talks about the ways in which she challenges her students to come up with things that they think are absolute truths and then goes hunting for signs that those “facts” could in fact change.

This book will stretch your mind. Jane’s playful and really inspiring tone is hard not to get swept up in. It’s encouraging, motivating and a really mind-opening book to read.

with gratitude to edelweiss and Spiegel & GrauIngram for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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