My 2021 in Reading: That’s a Lot of Things, Jo

I read 198 books this year in a split of: 39 ARCs, 59 audiobooks, 85 manga volumes, 9 physical copies, 2 light novels, and 6 eBooks. As my boyfriend said, “That’s a lot of things, Jo.” It is that time of year where I want to share my favorites, so please enjoy my top 20 2021 books, top 20 books from before 2021, and, a new feature, 5 manga.

I realize that I make lists for books I’m excited for and book I want to read, and failed on both those lists. So, my lists for 2022 books is mostly about boosting others works regardless of if I personally get around to reading them. That’s just how it is when you’re employed and vastly mis-measure what kind of focus you’ll have as the year goes on. Moving also robbed me of a bunch of my focus, which should not have been as surprising as it is. On top of working full time. On top of being in a relationship and trying to participate in the communities I’m a part of.

“That’s a lot of things,” indeed, self.

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January 2021 Reading Recap

We made it through January 2021, the longest month in a while. I managed to read 18 different things, and thus, I am switching up the format of these recaps. I’m going to show a grid of each work by category with links to the reviews to read at your own leisure. Feedback appreciated.

This month’s author interview was with S.T. Gibson, to celebrate the release of her Dracula’s brides retelling, A Dowry of Blood.

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ARC Review: THE GOOD GIRLS by Claire Eliza Bartlett (2020)

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Thriller
Year Release: December 2020
Buy Links:| Unabridged Books |

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from NetGalley
Trigger warning: sexual assault, rape culture, predatory teacher, murder, suicide, substance abuse, guns

This twisty read follows the investigation for four girls. Three of them perhaps have something to do with the fourth’s murder. Secrets come out, and to protect each other and their truths, they have to stand up to a police department which doesn’t believe them and a school administration actively working against them.

Complex, evenly paced with compelling, complicated characters who are neither “good” nor “bad,” The Good Girls is a layered read that delivers a satisfying mystery and catharsis.

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My 2020 in Reading

I read 153 books this year in a 50/50 split between audiobooks and other formats. Being unemployed helped that along, didn’t do much for me in terms of my mental health. But there were so many good reads consumed and published this year, I had to make two lists. Enjoy!

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April 2020 Reading Recap


Good-bye April, the shortest month this year. I have gone through a lot of sudden changes, but there are always more books to read. I even discovered two new favorites this month, which feels exciting.

This month, I also interviewed Aleksandra Ross to celebrate the release of her debut novel, Don’t Call the Wolf and I had outlined a plan to improve my craft. I will be saving the craft reads for their own post.

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Review: WE RULE THE NIGHT by Claire Eliza Bartlett (2019)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Year Release: 2019
Source: Library audiobook

Listened to the audiobook

Revna and Linné are the unlikeliest duo to be paired up as pilot and navigator in the first all-women flight squad in the Union of the North, an alternate fantasy world not unlike mid-twentieth-century Russia.

I love how unflinchingly Bartlett depicted this fantasy land which felt so Soviet. From the factory workers, to the intense focus on secrecy, to the tip-toeing around the government, it felt uncomfortably close to what the our-world Soviet Union could have actually been like. The characters are a bit rough around the edges, and the way that the shadow government plays almost a character in itself is brilliant.

Magic and technology blends perfectly. There are more modern technologies like radios and airplanes, but there is also enough of a backdrop of two different kinds of magic to reaffirm that this is definitely a secondary-world fantasy novel. The way the two work together feels really familiar and had been integrated seamlessly. It made me so excited to read.

Finally, the shining star here were all the girls. From the privileged, to the impoverished, to those more attracted to “girly” things, to those who wanted to play like the boys, I really like how this book focused on how there’s not one right way to be a girl. They all have their worth and value to the squadron. Each of them had been well-rounded I found Linné ‘s journey particularly compelling. I do want to note that Revna uses prosthetics and this is a big part of her arc, but I am not in the right community to comment on the disability rep.

This book takes you on highs and dips into heart-wrenching lows. The depictions of the relationships between young woman are triumphant and the magic-tech makes my heart soar.