Sunday, December 26, 2021

2021 Books in Review

Hello! I haven’t been very good with keeping up with blogging lately or my reading goals it seems. My reading plans died a slow, miserable death. Who cares? 2021 was another crazy year, crazier than 2020 for me anyway, so I’m just happy that I got to read some good books along the way. Here’s a brief overview from some of goals and highlights for this year.


Goal: 1 Book 700+ pages

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson—AaaaAAAaaaaHHHH!!! The plot twists. I did NOT see them coming! I also scrambled to finish this book in two weeks because somebody had a hold on it, but as I was approaching the end, the hold vanished. I may have finished all 1,200 pages in 2 weeks. A new record for me. 

My eyes are bleeding (but not really). Please excuse me while I dig out my reading glasses from the abyss… 10/10 would recommend!


Goal: 2 Poetry Collections

When the Stars Wrote Back by Trista Mateer—A delightful read full of art and poetry.

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano—The book itself was humorous, though not particularly memorable. The funniest bit though, was when I was going to show the book to my sister, and her cat peed on her beanbag chair. I’m not laughing. I don’t know what you’re talking about.


Goal: 3 Novels by Indie Authors I Haven’t Read

Ahab by E.B. Dawson—After reaching the end of the book, I realized I actually had read a book by Dawson before, so this one might not count? Eh, who cares. I want to talk about it. An interesting retelling with a great twist. Moby-Dick, but in space. Space whales. I actually loved the way Dawson handled with the story. It had more touches of classical literature than I would have expected for a sci-fi novel.

Child of the Kaites by Beth Wangler—Soooo, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I thought I would. If it were pitched as a biblical-inspired book I might have enjoyed it more than a biblical retelling. As a retelling, it fell flat for me, especially since it focused less on the power of Aia (God) and more on the Aivenah (the devil).


Goal: 3 Classics by Non-American Authors

Um… I started reading Dante’s Inferno at one point…

Goal: 5 Books from the Depths of my TBR

Dune by Frank Herbert—A sci-fi classic. This one has been on my list for a while now, and I once stopped reading it a couple years ago. Since a new film adaptation was coming out, I thought I’d give it another try. Dense yet fascinating, though I didn’t care for the way it ended. I did highly enjoy the latest movie adaptation though, even if it did only cover half the book.

Where are the other four books? *shrugs*


Goal: 5 Award Winners

New Kid by Jerry Craft—Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. A delightful graphic novel that showed a different perspective of what it means to be a new kid at school. When I was younger, with my family moving around all the time, I was also the new kid more often than not.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds— Newbery Medal, Printz Award, and the Coretta Scott King Award. Heartbreaking book. I liked the style even if it was a little unconventional, but I wish the ending had a little more clarity even if I understand why it was vague.

Crossover by Kwame Alexander— Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. I really enjoyed the style of this one, but the ending through me off guard. Still a great read.

The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi—Michael L. Printz Award nominee. Such a delightful book, I went out and bought a copy as soon as I finished it. Translated from Japanese, The Beast Player explores a world with of Toda (dragons!), Royal Beasts (Pterolycus, a winged wolf), and the life of young Elin. It starts off seemingly simple and gradually grows more and more complex. I’m eager to read the sequel.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys—SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Fiction and more. This one broke my heart, but it was so informative. I didn’t enjoy this story as much as Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea, but I believe it’s equally important.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker--National Book Award Nominee for Young People's Literature. Such a sweet little book but still hard hitting. It looks innocent. It’s not. This is an animal book about the cruelties of the wild and humankind but the beauty that can still be found in both.


Goal: 1 Nonfiction Book about a Topic that Interests Me

I started reading Teach Like a Champion and The Emotional Craft of Fiction. Does those count?


Total books: 11 out 20

Ouch! Maybe I need to make my goals for 2022 more realistic… But hey! My Year in Books according to Goodreads looks pretty cool. Look at all the pretty covers!


Bonus: Novels in Verse

After attending WriteOnCon in Februrary, I resolved to read 3-5 novels in verse a week for poetry month in April!

Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath—A heartbreaking account of the Armenian genocide. Part magical realism, part historical fiction,

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo—Now I’m angry. I definitely enjoyed this book more than her first one, The Poet X. But a lot of the characters in this story just made me incredibly angry. I suppose that’s part of the point, but still. I liked the dual perspective, although once the character’s names disappeared from the top of the chapters, I had no idea who was who.

Planet Middle School by Niki Grimes—Honestly wish this one were longer and more fleshed out.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds—see Award Winners above.

Other Notable Books (guess my go-to author)

The Singing (The Books of Pellinor, book 4) by Alison Croggon

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli

Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, book 5) by Martha Wells

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (see book review)

Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Promise by Gene Luen Yang

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Descender (vols. 1-6) by Jeff Lemire

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (see book review)

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews (see book review)

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson

Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki by Mamoru Hosoda



Let’s chat! What were some of your favorite books from this year? Have you read any of the ones I did? Did you meet your reading goals?


Similar posts: 7 Books I Bought Despite the Cover, 8 Books I Bought Because of the Cover, and 2021 Reading Resolutions

Sunday, December 12, 2021

7 Books I Bought Despite the Cover

Last month I wrote about books I bought because their cover caught my eye. This month, it’s time for the opposite. Brace yourself! Here are 7 books I gave a chance despite the injustice done to their covers.

1)   Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbot

Can this poor book not get a decent cover design? The library copy I read was so colorful, and I bought this particular copy online. What’s with the format of this particular copy being so flat? Wait… hold on. I get it. Ha!

A fascinating story based in mathematics and religion. Though it’s not exactly a compelling story, it’s a fascinating discussion on multiple dimensions and the doubt often accompanied by new discoveries because they don’t follow the way things have always been done. Now that I teach math, I have an even greater appreciation for this book.

2)   The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

Another book that can’t get a decent cover. I mean, the 50th anniversary edition is decent but nothing to write home about. The copy I borrowed in college had me cringing, and my current edition is just… why? Who thought this was a good idea?

If the book hadn’t been assigned reading in one of my classes, I definitely wouldn’t have picked it up. Now I recommend it all the time. Maybe this book can get a break because it’s so popular?

3)   Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins

This one was actually a gift from a friend, and if it wasn’t, I probably never would have picked it up. But I’m so glad I did! I love this story. It’s a powerful one about empowerment, found families, and the fight against human trafficking.

But the cover hurts my eyes. I also remember when I was reading it, my dad got a glimpse of the book and asked if it was about communism. Which it’s not, but I can see where he got that idea from. Maybe I’m missing some cultural significance in the cover design and its color scheme?

4)   Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

This cover never intrigued me, but I ended up buying it without reading it first because it’s by Brandon Sanderson! There are very few authors I’ll do that with.

When I was reading the book, I would glance back at the cover to get a better feel for the setting. But for whatever reason, this cover isn’t very memorable to me. The characters are though. I wish I could meet Raoden and Sarene!

5)   Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This book actually has some pretty covers. Do you think the bookstore would have one? Haha! Nope. You get a bicycle. Anybody who hasn’t read this book want to tell me it’s about? I’ve read it, so I’ll go first. Spies. Intrigue. Female pilots who make me want to get my pilot’s license because the book was written by a female pilot! And we get a bicycle. *sigh* Forget the cover. Check out the first lines.


“I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending.”

6)   H. G. Wells: Collector’s Book of Science Fiction

Yeah, this cover is just awful. But the book was cheap, and it has a lot of classic science fiction stories, so I couldn’t pass it up.

I used to love looking at the pictures for War of the Worlds when I was a kid. I didn’t bother reading the story back then, but the idea fascinated me. Now, I’ve read the book a couple times, and it’s still the only one in the collection I’ve read, but I’ll get around to the others… someday…

7)   The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This one is another book that actually has a decent cover, but I didn’t get one of those copies because I wanted to support an indie bookstore. #shoplocal Unfortunately, my current city of residence doesn’t have many indie bookstores, so I tend to buy from Barnes & Noble. It’s not ideal, but at least it beats buying from Amazon.


There you have it! Seven good reminders not to always judge a book by its cover.


Let’s chat! Have you read any of these? What are some books you own that aren’t the prettiest but you enjoy anyway?




Similar posts: 8 Books I Bought Because of the Cover; Don’t Judge a Book By Its Author, Or Should You?; and Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Poem: Home

I haven’t been keeping up with my blog lately. I guess that comes with taking the entire summer off. Getting back into the swing of things is hard.

Anyway, poetry is still dear to my heart, so I just had to share another one with you today. I borrowed the prompt from Julia Garcia at Drops of Inspira. This one explores the concept of home. What is home?

For an army brat, home isn’t necessarily one place. It’s not where my parents are from—I never lived there. It’s not the last place I lived because that would ignore all the others. It’s not even my favorite places because that would leave out all the others that made me who I am today.

Home is… well, I think I’ll let the poem explain.

Don't forget to vote on your favorite poem from 2021!




she sits in the attic collecting dust
                                    and spiders
while my feet are itching without these callouses

how do people do it year after year?
watch the leaves turn
                                    and drop
to stare at the bare wood
that blossoms with green
rich, entrancing full of cicada song
only for the leaves to turn
                                        and drop again

all the world’s a clock—
the month striking twelve,
and I’m still here
strapping on my boots,
knotting the laces while the dog tries to eat them
—she pants—

but my heart is yearning to bound up the stairs two at a time
dust off the suitcase
and go



*bleib—German for “stay.” Since our German Shepherd, Pfeffer, I’ve been teaching our dogs German and English commands.

Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? What makes home for you?

Similar poems: Blue, Pronunciation, and Homesick