Monday, December 13, 2021

What Did Women Like in 2021?

You might recall that last year I asked a few of my women friends who I know to be discerning readers, and who are well known in the mystery community, if they would share some of their favorite reads of 2020. 

It turned out to be a fun thing, as you can see right here.  

They enjoyed participating, and many of us got to add some new titles, along with some new authors, to our always growing book lists.

But not just mysteries.

We decided not to limit the books in any way.  Just some favorites we'd like to share with others.

And, with that we ended up with a wonderfully fun mix of fiction, non-fiction, children's books, crime fiction, romance, fantasy, photo books, young adult, etc etc etc.  

Nor did we stick with books published in 2020 which made it fun to see some old classics along with a few books to look forward to in 2021.

So, we're doing it again for 2021.

Most of you who read Meanderings and Muses know some, if not all, these women.  And what an amazing group they are; readers, writers, book advocates, librarians, teachers, reviewers, publicists, webmasters, bloggers who support authors and the world of books.    

You might run into any of them at any time at a book convention (when we're all able to actually start attending book conventions again).  

Consider this list of holiday recommendations our gift to you.

Marlyn Beebe is a librarian, knitter, reader, and grandmother (not necessarily in that order).  AND a blogger -  
She intensely dislikes being cold.

Adams, Sara Nisha. The Reading List. William Morrow, 3 August 2021.

Bhatia, Anisha.  The rules of arrangement.  Alcove Press, 13 July 2021.

Brenner, Jamie.  Blush.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 22 June 2021.

Dev, Sonali.  Incense & sensibility (The Rajes #3).  William Morrow, 6 July 2021.

Doller, Trish.  Float plan. St Martin’s Griffin, 2 March 2021.

Edmondson, Lauren.  Ladies of the House. Graydon House, 9 February 2021.

Fraser, Jackie.  The bookshop of second chances.  Ballantine Books, 4 May 2021.

Hawkins, Karen.  A cup of silver linings (Dove Pond #2). Gallery Books, 6 July 2021.

Kelly, Julia.  The Last Garden in England. Gallery Books, 12 January 2021.

Lalli, Sonya. Serena Singh flips the script.  Berkley, 16 February 2021.

Lackey, Mercedes.  Briarheart. Little, Brown BFYR, 5 October 2021.

Martin, Madeline.  The last bookshop in London.  Hanover Square Press, 6 April 2021.

Pearce, AJ. Yours, cheerfully (Emmy Lake chronicles #2). Scribner, 10 August 2021.

Sampson, Freya.  The last chance library.  Berkley, 31 August 2021.

Thompson, Elizabeth.  Lost in Paris.  Gallery Books, 13 April 2021.

Verant, Samantha. Sophie Valroux’s Paris stars.  Berkley, 19 October 2021.

Webber, Heather.  The Lights of Sugarberry Cove.  Forge Books, 20 July 2021.

Youngson, Anne.  The narrowboat summer.  Flatiron books, 26 January 2021

Sarah (EC) Byrne is a lawyer and dilettante from Canberra, Australia.  She has had a lot of trouble this year with the facial recognition feature on her phone

Sheerwater - Leah Swann
Slough House - Mick Herron
How To Pronounce Knife - Souvankham Thammavongsa
Memorial - Bryan Washington
These Women - Ivy Pochoda
The Thursday Murder Club - Richard Osman
A Couple of Things Before the End - Sean O'Beirne
Rodham - Curtis Sittenfeld
No One Is Talking About This - Patricia Lockwood
Empire of Pain - Patrick Radden Keeffe
Anxious People - Frederik Backman
Seven Doors - Agnes Ravatn
House of Correction - Nicci French
A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth - Daniel Mason
Gathering Dark - Candice Fox
A Line to Kill - Anthony Horowitz
Homeland Elegies - Ayad Akhtar
Consolation - Gary Disher
A Treacherous Country - K M Kruimink
Bloody Women - Helen Fitzgerald

Jen Forbus is a former teacher, former blogger, and life-long learner with a passion for animals and photography. 

I've immersed myself in non-fiction for several years now, partly due to a natural curiosity and also my desire to be as educated as possible about the causes and issues that matter to me. In addition I've reviewed children's books for Shelf Awareness and have several titles that are just amazing standouts for any aged reader.

1. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee
2. Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America's Heartland by Jonathan Metzi 
3. Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm By Robin DiAngelo
4. Learning in Public: Lessons for a Racially Divided America from My Daughter's School by Courtney E. Martin
5. After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made by Ben Rhodes
6. How Stella Learned to Talk: The Groundbreaking Story of the World's First Talking Dog by Christina Hunger 

YA/Children's Books

1. Me, Moth by Amber McBride
2. The Other Talk: Reckoning with Our White Privilege by Brendan Kiely
3. The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Eugene Yelchin
4. Killers of the Flower Moon (Adapted for Young Readers): The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

M'Lou Greene "My grandmother taught me to read at age 3, and I've never stopped!" 

I was able to enjoy reading a lot more in 2021 than I did in 2020, thank goodness.

There were a few I didn't like or didn't finish, and many which didn't make the list of "favorites."

These were all at the top!

Laura Lippman, My Life as a Villainess
Jess Lourey, Salem's Cypher
Anna Jean Mayhew, Tomorrow's Bread
K F Breene, Magical Midlife Madness
Melissa Gould, Widowish
Jess Lourey, Bloodline
Laura Lippman, Dream Girl
Elyssa Friedland, Last Summer at the Golden Hotel
S A Crosby, Blacktop Wasteland
Chuck Wendig, The Book of Accidents
Kim Michelle Richardson, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who loves to talk about what she is reading. She blogs for Kevin’s Corner ( on Mondays and her own blog Happiness Is a Book ( on Fridays.

  1. Take It Back by Kia Abdullah (2020)

  2. Body Zoo by J.D. Allen (2021)

  3. Under the Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher (2019)

  4. Odds-On Murder by Jack Dolph (1948)

  5. When I Grow Rich by Joan Fleming (1962)

  6. Death of a Showman by Mariah Fredericks (2021)

  7. The Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (2012)

  8. The Dime by Kathleen Kent (2017)

  9. Greasy Bend by Kris Lackey (2019)

  10. Doing the Devils Work by Bill Loehfelm (2016)

  11. The Judge by Steve Martini (1996)

  12. The Hallows by Victor Methos (2019)

  13. Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich (2016)

  14. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (2016)

  15. Hopjoy Was Here by Colin Watson (1962)

 Lesa Holstine is a librarian and award-winning book reviewer. While she specializes in mysteries, only half of her favorite books from 2021 fit that category. She blogs at

Lizzie & Dante by Mary Bly
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser
Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger
The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin
The Mystic's Accomplice by Mary Miley
The Killing Hills by Chris Offutt
The Becoming by Nora Roberts
Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan
Tricky by Josh Stallings

Z:\_Shared Data\Abbett\Patti's ABB Folder\IMG_2125 (1).jpg  Patti Lang is a Reader, librarian, coloring aficionado, both nerd & geek, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, feminist, transplanted Michigander.

Favorites through November 23, 2021


The Windsor Knot (Her Majesty the Queen Investigates #1)

by S.J. Bennett

The Heron's Cry (Two Rivers #2) by Ann Cleeves

A Rogue's Company (Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery #3) by Allison Montclair

Comes the War (Eddie Harkins #2) by Ed Ruggero

Murder Under Her Skin (Pentecost and Parker #2) by Stephen Spotswood


The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

Science Fiction

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers #4) by Becky Chambers


Taste: My Life through Food by Stanley Tucci

The Boys : A Memoir of Hollywood and Family

by Ron Howard and Clint Howard


Dru Ann Love is an award-winning mystery blogger at dru's book musings ( and is Fan Guest of Honor at Malice Domestic 2022


The Twelve Jays of Christmas by Donna Andrews

A Plus One For Murder by Laura Bradford

Dessert is the Bomb by Catherine Bruns

Cajun Kiss of Death by Ellen Byron

Fallen by Linda Castillo

Runner by Tracy Clark

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Murder at the Taffy Shop by Maddie Day

The Night Hawk by Elly Griffiths

Independent Bones by Carolyn Haines

Watch Her by Edwin Hill

A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

The Hiding Place by Paula Munier

A Side of Murder by Amy Pershing

Up To No Gouda by Linda Reilly (2022)

Mango, Mambo, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes

Forgotten in Death by J.D. Robb

Fogged Off by Wendall Thomas

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

Stitch, Bake, Die! by Lois Winston

Erin Mitchell is a reader who is lucky enough to get to work for authors and publishers.

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger (2021)
Where They Wait by Scott Carson (2021)
Every Cloak Rolled in Blood by James Lee Burke (2022)
Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham (2021)
56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard (2021)
Find Me by Alafair Burke (2022)
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward (2021)
The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell (2021)
A Different Dawn by Isabella Maldonado (2021)
1979 by Val McDermid (2021)
The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville (2021)
The Accomplice by Lisa Lutz (2022)
Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt (2001)
A Secret About a Secret by Peter Spiegelman (2022)
When You Are Mine by Michael Robotham (2022)

Maki Morris  is a creative director who lives in Northern California and is a published author of YA Paranormal Mystery, Blood and Brume.  She is a Certified Saké and Wine Professional and a Saké Scholar. She is currently editing her new 19th century Historical Romance novel and working on her third Saké certification.

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh
The Plea by Steve Cavanagh
Verity by Colleen Hoover
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now by Thich Nhat Hanh
Ikigai by Héctor Garcia
Let That Sh*t Go: Find Peace of Mind and Happiness in Your Everyday by Kate Petriw and Nina Purewal
Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen
The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen by Wilfred Owen

Kathy Boone Reel is a former English teacher who earned her Library of Science Masters because she loves reading and sharing reading so much.  Her blog, The Reading Room, is where she reviews the books she's read, which are 99% in the mystery/crime genre.  Kathy loves nothing better than to talk books with family, friends, and strangers on the street.

The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean (2021)

The Nighthawks by Elly Griffiths (2021)

Fogged Off by Wendall Thomas (2021)

A Gingerbread House by Catriona McPherson (2021)

State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton (2021)

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams (2021)

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell (2021)

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths (2021)

The Hollywood Spy (Maggie Hope #10) by Susan Elia MacNeal (2021)

The Playground Murders (The Detective’s Daughter #7) by Lesley Thomson (2020)

The Distant Dead (The Detective’s Daughter #8) by Lesley Thomson (2021)

Body Zoo by J.D. Allen (2021)

Shot Caller by Jen Danna (2021)

Murder in Material Gain by Anne Cleeland (2021)

Untrue Blue by Emma James (2021)

Division and Clark by Naomi Hirahara (2021)

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (2020)
The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett (2021)
Death at Greenway by Lori Rader-Day (2021)
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (2020)
The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny (2021)


LJ Roberts, a professional reviewer since 2004, reviews for multiple online mystery sites, plus Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine and Mystery Readers' Journal, and has a review site at      


Dark Sky by C.J. Box

The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves

State of Terror by Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny

Dead Ground by M.W. Craven

The Stolen Hours by Allen Eskens

The Custom House Murders by Ashley Gardner

The Drop by Dennis Lehane

Transient Dreams  by Donna Leon

Black Coral by Andrew Mayne

To the Dark by Chris Nickson

Final Out by Sheldon Siegel





Sara Weiss - High school teacher/College professor, avid reader and part time reviewer. 

I’ve been reading mostly series this year.
Nora Roberts The Awakenining and The Becoming
Naomi Novik A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate
Mercedes Lackey’s whole catalog! 
Leigh Bardugo Rule of Wolves
Andy Weir Hail Mary (Stand-alone)
JD Robb Faithless in Death and Forgotten in Death
John Sandford The Investigators
Gregg Hurwitz Orphan X series and Tim Rackley series, I read all of both! 
Dean Koontz Namless series, great on audio if you like listening. 
So many more… feel free to check out my goodreads list. 

My Turn!

I read a LOT of books this year, which you can see in the sidebar at my blog, Meanderings and Muses.  More than usual, I think. 

But these were my top favorites read in 2021. 

This was the hardest year yet to cull my list down to a number that would not seem ridiculous to some.  It leaves off many books that I loved; books I'll be recommending to friends, and that I'll be re-reading in the future.

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers
A Magical New York Christmas by Anita Hughes
An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham
Faithless in Death by J. D. Robb
Forgotten in Death by J. D. Robb
Flight Risk by Joy Castro
Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger
Lizzie and Dante by Mary Bly
Lost in Paris by Elizabeth Thompson
Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby
State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny
The Becoming by Nora Roberts
The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman 
The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova
The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny
The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen
The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan
Those Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall
When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash

And these!  They're 2022 releases - January through June, so add them to your list.
You will thank me.

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain (Releases in January 2022)
The Fashion Orphans by Randy Susan Meyers and M. J. Rose (Releases February 2022)
Songs by Hummingbird by Peter McDade (Releases in March 2022)
Lost and Found in Paris by Lian Dolan (Releases in April 2022)
Darling Girl: A Novel of Peter Pan by Liz Michalski (Releases in May 2022)
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill (Releases in June 2022)

Happy Reading!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, 
the Happiest of Holidays, 
Joy , 
and Good Cheer!

And Magic!
I hope you find magic

And may I also suggest snuggling up with Eloise!

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