Sunday, January 2, 2022

My Favorite Books Read in 2021

Would you look at this?  I'm getting to my list of favorites very early in the new year for a change.  As a reminder, these are my favorite books read for the first time in 2021.  While most of them were published for the first time last year, a couple are older books I finally got around to reading this year.

These are presented in the order I read them.  The links will send you to my full review.

Cozy/Traditional Mysteries

The Broken Spine by Dorothy St. James (Beloved Bookroom Mysteries #1)
What a great premise for this series.  A librarian is hiding physical books and checking them out to members of the community when her library goes fully digital.  And that gives her an extra motive to be investigating a murder.  The second one is already out, and I love how it evolved the characters and their relationships.

Furbidden Fatality by Deborah Blake (Catskills Pet Rescue Mysteries #1)
Another first in a series, this one features so much pet cuteness it is impossible not to love it.  The human characters also drew me in right away, and the mystery was solid.  The second is also already out, and I enjoyed it, too.

A Trail of Lies by Kylie Logan (Jazz Ramsey #3)
This series is three for three landing on my favorite books on the year list.  It's a bit more serious, bordering on the traditional side of the cozy, but the tone never gets too dark.  The complex mystery and characters make this one outstanding.

The Art of Betrayal by Connie Berry (Kate Hamilton Mysteries #3)
It has been a couple of years since the second Kate Hamilton mystery came out, so I was extra glad to see this one show up.  The small English village Kate is visiting is charming and the mystery is puzzling with a perfectly logical solution.

A Distant Grave by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Maggie D'Arcy #2)
It's hard to pull off books that change location, but this book does it perfectly, taking the action from New York to Ireland while keeping us hooked the entire time.  The third is already on my reading list for 2022.

A Time to Swill by Sherry Harris (Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon Mysteries
A ghost ship off the coast of Florida sweeps Chloe into her second mystery.  The past and the present combine wonderfully as we get to know the characters better.  I had a hard time putting this one down.

Cajun Kiss of Death by Ellen Byron (Cajun Country Mysteries #7)
This is definitely a bitter sweet entry on the list.  As always, the characters and the setting are wonderful and the mystery is great.  What makes it sad is this is the final book in the series.  But a positive is that the characters are sent out in style.  Fans of the series will be happy.

With Vics You Get Eggroll by Diane Vallere (Madison Night #3)
In my effort to at least pretend I'll catch up on Diane's books, I read several this year.  I enjoyed them all, but this was the one I loved the most.  A plot that grabbed me from the first page and great character development for the main characters and their relationships.

Mrs. Claus and the Halloween Homicide by Liz Ireland (Mrs. Claus #2)
This was almost as much fun as the first in the series.  The fantasy setting is a delight and fun for something different.  I loved watching the North Pole's take on a new to them holiday - Halloween, and the mystery was great.

Killer Research by Jenn McKinlay (Library Lover's Mysteries #12)
This series has done a fantastic job of letting the secondary characters have their own character arcs and their moments if not books to shine.  This book focuses on a character who was just a one note character in the early books and made us understand her even more.

A Plus One for Murder by Laura Bradford (Friend for Hire Mysteries #1)
The first in a promising new series from Laura Bradford filled with warmth, friendship, a few laughs, and a good mystery.  I can't wait to see where this series goes next and how the characters continue to grow.

Other Books

Just three non-cozies this year, so I am lumping them all in together.  The first is a thriller, and the second two are middle grade mysteries.

Mercy River by Glen Erik Hamilton (Van Shaw #4)
Usually, I enjoy books where a main character is home more than those where the action takes place in new surroundings.  This was definitely an exception to that rule.  In fact, I felt the new location added a sense of danger that made the thriller all the more gripping as it progressed.

Golden Gate by James Ponti (City Spies #2)
Just like with the first one, I loved this book.  The action is great, the story is fun, but the way the characters look out for each other is what really makes me love these books.  Looking forward to the third in a couple of months.

Spy School at Sea by Stuart Gibbs (Spy School #9)
Go on a cruise like you never have before.  Filled with over-the-top action, a solid plot, and characters who make us laugh.  This series is always fun, and it show no signs of losing steam.


  1. Carstairs, thank you so much! I'm thrilled to be mentioned in your list.

  2. I missed Connie Berry's thanks for adding it here!

  3. Thanks so much for including A Time to Swill with all these great books. It looks like my TBR pile grew yet again!

  4. Mark!!! Thank you! Means a ton to me. And what GREAT company!!xoxox

  5. Mark!!! Thank you! Means a ton to me. And what GREAT company!!xoxox

  6. Great list! I've read almost all the cozies and enjoyed so many of them - especially the McKinley and Ellen Byron (so sad to see that series end!). Happy 2022.

  7. I'm so glad you liked the books! Thank you so much.


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