I’m waaaaay behind on writing this; I usually do it in early January, but this year seems to have got away from me so far, so I’m doing it in early February instead! Better late than never, as they say…
What was I listening to and reading in 2021? My Goodreads stats show I managed 272 books overall (just over my Reading Challenge target of 260**) which was split almost equally between print and audio – 50.5% ebook, 49.5% audio – and almost two-thirds of my reading/listening last year was ARCs/ALCs. I suspect the greater part of the other third –that wasn’t advance copies – were audiobooks as I tend to listen to more older titles than I read.
** My actual total is probably closer to 300; I listen to several books per month in my work as an audiobook proofer, but I don’t list those at Goodreads)
Of that total there are 62 5 star books, 171 4 star books – by far the biggest category – 34 3 star books, 3 2 star books and one 1 star book.
The 5 star bracket includes those titles I rate at 4.5 but round-up (which I equate to A-); the 4 star bracket (B) includes the 4.5 star grades I don’t round up (B+) and the 3.5 star ones I do round up (B-), the 3 stars are C+/C/C- and so on. Of the 62 5 star ratings, around 35 are straight A grades in terms of the story (in the case of audiobooks, sometimes a 4 star review will get bumped up because the narration is so fabulous), so the rest are A minuses or audiobooks where A and B grades combined to rate a higher overall total.
The books that made my Best of 2021 list at All About Romance:
Once again, books by Gregory Ashe topped my list of DIKs, (getting 7 in total) although there were other authors who earned top grades for more than one book that were in the running to make the final list:
I’ve come to accept that the vast majority of historical romance just doesn’t work for me any more; the vast majority of it is wallpapery to the extreme and is written with a 21st century mindset that just doesn’t suit me at best, and annoys the hell out of me at worst. That said, my Book of the Year WAS an historical romance – Sally Malcolm’s King’s Man, which was exceptional in every way, a real breath of fresh air in a genre that has largely stagnated.
Once again, if ever I was struggling to read or simply find time to read, audiobooks came to my rescue! I listened to some really good audiobooks in 2021 and discovered more new authors and narrators to look out for – although my Best Audiobooks of 2021 were almost all by familiar names. In each case I stuck to titles to which I gave at least ONE A grade – usually for the narration, and nothing lower than a B+.
My “discovery of the year” in audiobooks was narrator Darcy Stark; I chose Eden Winters’ Diversion series as one of my Best Belated Reads of 2021 (books read but not published in 2021); not only are the stories a terrific blend of clever plotting and character-driven storylines, Mr. Stark’s narration is absolutely outstanding. Listen up authors of m/m romance – he should be on your radar next time you’re looking for a narrator! Also on the Best Belated list – David R. Slayton’s White Trash Warlock and The Coincidence by Felice Stevens.
So far, for 2022, I’ve got a few “most highly anticipated” new books in my sights. Rachel Reid’s The Long Game (the long-awaited sequel to Heated Rivalry), Husband Material by Alexis Hall – I’m really looking forward to spending time with Luc and Oliver again!; C.S. Poe’s The Doctor (it’s been a long wait since that cliffie at the end of The Gangster), the final two books in Hazard and Somerset: Arrows in the Hand and, I very much hope, the final two books in the First Quarto series – seeing the Theo & Auggie cameos in Arrows is making me want to read about them again. I’m hoping Josh Lanyon’s The MovieTown Murders will be out this year (I mentioned it in my round up last year but it’s been pushed back; last I heard it’ll be out this Spring.) Jay Hogan, Annabeth Albert and Hailey Turner are all beginning new series this year, as well, so there’s lots to look forward to.
With any luck, I’ve got another good year of reading and listening ahead – I hope you have a good one, too!