book reviews

Top 2021 #BookReviews (and #Goodreads rundown)

I love reading. I prefer to do that than watch TV, go to the gym, floss my teeth, pay bills, or wash the laundry. I review a lot of the books I read, usually received from NetGalley, the library, or an Indie efriend, but I also buy quite a few. I collect my writing book reviews here and my education ones here. When I read, I choose thrillers, historical fiction, education (for my other passion), and then anything else.

Here are my ten favorite books read in 2021 (in alphabetic order):

  1. Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman
  2. A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry
  3. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
  4. Chet and Bernie Mysteries by Spencer Quinn
  5. Gray Man series by Mark Greaney
  6. Grizzly Killer series by Lane Warenski
  7. Just Before Sunrise by Carol Balawyder
  8. Keeper Tyree by Sandra Cox
  9. The Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie
  10. Villa del Sol by Martha Reynolds

A few books that I read every year and have always loved fell off the list because they chose to go political, or woke. That’s not why I read.

I read 170 books according to Goodreads.

This included a whole lot of Indie and blogging efriend books. Any you like or have also read?


One more thing. I don’t have enough social media followers. If you would follow me, I’ll follow you back! Here’re my handles:

Twitter: @worddreams

Instagram: JacquiMurrayWriter

LinkedIn: Jacqui Murray

Writer’s Tips Newsletter

GETTR: JacquiWriter

A note about GETTR: I just joined so have almost no followers! BUT–I don’t approve followers whose focus is politics so that could explain it. Just a free exchange of writing ideas and support for your (and my) books. If that fits you, I’d love to see you over there. I’m still trying to figure out how to clean out the politics so I apologize in advance if you run into it.

Since I read about three books a week, I’m always eager for new material. What’s your favorite book from 2021?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Man vs. Nature saga, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the acclaimed Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022


118 thoughts on “Top 2021 #BookReviews (and #Goodreads rundown)

  1. Hi Jacqui – what an amazing range of books read … I’d like to read The Pleistocene Era or his other book … sometime! I just have to read more this year … and not buy – I prefer to have them available to read … so must get on and read – but mine are educational. Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You read 3.27 books a week, 1 book every 2 days in 2021, Jacqui! You still have so much time in writing, planning, blogging, interacting with comments. That’s amazing. Even though I didn’t see my children’s book “Tina” on your list, I used it as part of the sample reviews to introduce the book to my fellowship group. I sold almost 50 books for fundraising! I appreciated your review. I read some of the books on your list and will read more of them this year.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much, Jacqui! I tried to get my book to the OC Liberties. It’s not as easy as I thought. I need to get one or more reviews from major library journals, then submit the the purchase request to the OC headquarters with the reviews attached. Only large publishers can get those reviews. Another way is to get a review from LA Times Sunday review. I got frustrated from the library journals, so I’m taking a breathing break. 😄


  3. Thank you for these recommendations. I am thinking and writing about grief at the moment, as well as other dramatic change, such as sudden deracination, so ‘Villa del Sol’ by Martha Reynolds interests me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always love this yearly post of yours Jacqui. I know both you and I (and many of our blogging friends) would prefer to read than watch TV. Many of my friends ask “how do you read so much?” and underlying in the question is the thought that I don’t do much else during the day. Ha. Nothing could be further from the truth. But using the night-time hours to read instead of watch TV is a glorious way to spend our time and elevate our mind. Your reading list is much different from mine (and much larger too). But we’ve read a lot of similar Indie books, and lets count our blog reading here too. Lots of great stories and essays that improve our reading level and understanding of the human condition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read a ton of Indies–to broaden my interests and help efriends–but otherwise, I read Westerns or thrillers. So, we do have divergent interests in a way. I have to say, I’m so glad I discovered Indies and my blogging buddies because they’ve opened up an amazing world to me. Thanks for hanging around with me!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Jacqui,
    an interesting choice of books. There are three books only we have read as well, they are of the Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman. We always find it interesting to get books recommended we would otherwise never read.
    Thanks and all the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I were picking one for you, I’d pick A Wolf Called Wander. It’s Middle Grade, but one of those compelling, emotional books you will never forget. It’s based on a true story of wolf remains found a thousand miles from known habitats for wolves. How did this lonely wolf get there, so far from his pack and alone? It has received a ton of accolades, has beyond beautiful pictures to accompany text. I wish I could read it again for the first time.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I served as the travel coordinator at our local children’s author festival. We had 25 different children’s authors attend. One was Rosanne Parry, so it was fun for me to see her name on your list. I recommend Heart of a Shepherd by her.

    Thanks for reading my book by the way. Hopefully, I’ll someday have another one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Read my comment to Klausbernd above–that book is sticky. Its beauty, wisdom, insights will stay with me forever.

      Yours kept a smile on my face, constantly. Not because it was always happy stuff but because I recognized so much of my teaching world in yours. Very fun. Not the wonderful mentoring you got, though. As a tech teacher, people tended to be afraid of me! Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. When I was going to school I had a friend who knew exactly what to recommend to me: every book and every movie he recommended were an absolute delight to me. And it was interesting, because he knew what to recommend to me regardless of whether he enjoyed them himself or not.

    I’m glad you have an eFriend who is able to recommend to you books!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am so far behind on my reading list. *sigh* I wish I could go back to when I was a kid and reading 30 books a week. I tell myself, though, that what matters is that I still enjoy the reading process in the same way as I did when I was a kid.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My reading rate is more like two books a month – mostly for my Bible study groups, or WWII history, or the occasional novel. I avoid all social media with political content as almost all of that is filled with lies and hate. I read about peace, love and furry kitties … okay, sometimes I’ll read a story about a dog, but mostly it’s cats for me …

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That is an astronomical amount of books, Jacqui! I too love to read and will choose that over TV most any day. What a great list! I think I have Keeper Tyree on my Kindle, but if not, I’m headed off to purchase it! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. 170 books. Wowza, Jacqui. That’s amazing. And what fun. Thanks for sharing your favs for the year. I’ve read Sandra’s Keeper Tyree and can definitely see why it made the list. Thanks for the other recommendations too. And it was fun to see The Ferryman in the mix. Thanks! And Happy Reading!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Wow! 170 books?!?!? I remember your post about being a “whale reader” and that definitely applies. Like you, I would rather read than watch TV or do just about anything else. I read several of the books on your list (thanks for reading those of mine), and I still want to get to the Alex Delaware series. What a fabulous reading year you had!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. wow, 170 books! I thought I was doing well with 54 (I just posted my reading list and links to those I reviewed in my blog. Glad to see you read my friend, Billy Beasley’s book, “A Girl in the River.” I have “How to Read Water” on my list.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A Girl in the River–I think I found that through you. It was excellent. Has he written any others? I read books about how to evaluate the natural world because that’s what my characters do. It’s really opened my eyes to a lot of things.


  14. Reblogged this on Zero Lift-Off and commented:
    Got to love it Jacqui! You’re what they call a Die Hard or a Trooper when it comes to literary edification! Heck even though you didn’t mention it, I’m sure you prefer reading new books over clipping ya toe-nails or painting them; right? Just don’t be saying that you don’t take more interest in it over eating, at least one square meal a day! I would really get worried if you said that; because that’s Risky Business!
    Now there was a fun flick; I’m a movie buff same way you’re a reader of many books, only with me its flicks; problem is for me, they don’t make many worthy ones anymore! Some I’ve seen over a dozen times!

    Any of You Stoners Out There, You Take this Fine Lady’s Book Suggestions to Heart and Start Reading! Or you could end up like me; a flicker-kicker, as in a person who gets their kicks in one place or is that space; anyhow becoming more of a person who watches rather than jumping in and using one’s own imagination! After a while it gets hard to kick it! They should have come with a warning label saying that they could be hazardous to your health and quite habit forming!!!

    Really Got To Love It! (reading)

    Liked by 3 people

      • We sail on the same ship Jacqui! I only watch older movies now, I have a DVD and File collection with hundreds, and I mean anything from the dawn of Motion Pictures on through the Golden Age to the 70’s and 80’s are all good to decent! Then into the 90’s and early 2000’s the good stuff gets slim. I do love some made over the last 20 years but few and far between those.

        Passion of the Christ absolutely of course and then Mel’s Apocalypto. But, there are some really well made films with fine actors to be found like Seraphim Falls with Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan who are really good actors and the story is awesome being a period piece too! The Rite with Anthony Hopkins who I think is fabulous, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Notebook, In The Electric Mist, which Tommy Lee Jones did some subtle & kick ass acting and the whole southern flavor with a tricky cool musical score I’ll watch just for the music, Flags of Our Fathers, Meet Joe Black! The Manchurian Candidate with Denzel who’s work I always enjoy and met some years ago on a film set; in another Fallen he is very good too! Brave Heart which is end of the 90’s and same for Last of the Mohicans which is early 90’s but a new Director’s cut version came up so I have that to watch and that movie is beautiful with the locations, the acting and musical score it’s incredible! This last one is such a great period story around the birth of America, as I’m sure you are aware of all of these most likely, but, these are the kind of films that are worth seeing more than once.

        Who’s making epic and top shelf films like this now! I think like many things in this world growing sicker all the time, the yesteryear quality and efforts are a thing of the past with the mindset out there these days! What’s left to ruin if anything? Quality people is part of the downturn or lack thereof; and they with the times can’t help it I suppose, being a byproduct of what’s going on in culture now, or the man behind the curtain pulling so many strings!

        That Devil is the ultimate kill joy! Reminds me I will watch Fallen tonight that is about the dark force messing with people and it’s a good story.

        Thanks again for stirring my mental pot and getting me going on the films and books!
        Take care.
        God bless

        Liked by 1 person

          • Hi again Jacqui! WOW, so good you picked the one that I would have told you to watch if you haven’t seen any of those! You want to see that movie, the story and everything about it is so powerful and great entertainment like you and I want out of a good film! Great character study of these characters too! Now you got me thinking I may watch that one again tonight its been about a year since the last viewing! I always love that one and a sister of mine says exactly the same thing she loves that film, the story and the actors! She has seen it multiple times and will again; we even spoke not long ago about hanging out and watching together!

            Liked by 2 people

    • I grab every new Alex Delaware book. Luckily, NetGalley often gives me one (yay!). The Chet and Bernie–what fun books. I powered through that series in a few weeks and wished I’d read slower.


  15. Jacqui, what a fabulous collection of read books and yikes, so many! Is 170 a record for you? I’ve read some of these, many more on my Kindle patiently waiting and lovely to see my book here! Happy Reading … and yep, leave the politics etc away from the joy of this immersive and creative time!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Hi – your top ten list for 2021 is interesting and were all new to me (#3 is on my TBR list) – and whew, I hear you about the politics and woke – it can really distract and pull from essence –

    Liked by 2 people

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