Powder & Page’s Best Books of 2021

I’ve enjoyed looking through everyone else’s Best Of lists and decided I’d do my own version this year! The books below are listed in the order I read them and are primarily books I’ve rated 5 stars throughout the year, with a small handful of my favorite 4.5 star reads thrown in to round out the number. If you’d like to check out my full reviews, they’re all linked below!

 

The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly
Political intrigue, witches and wizards, totally unputdownable!

The Councillor by E.J. Beaton
Epic amounts of political intrigue, murder mystery, amazing main and secondary characters

Odin’s Child by Siri Pettersen
Inspired by Norse mythology, translated from Norwegian, incredible world-building, subverted my expectations

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Inspired by the civilizations of Pre-Columbian Americas, brutal first chapter, really cool magic

The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne
Viking inspired fantasy, bad-ass characters, surprisingly heartwarming found families trope

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
First contact with aliens, surprisingly heartwarming, humorous, must save humanity!

The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu
A girl who can speak to the dead, an occult library, vibrant characters, and disturbing Lovecraftian monsters

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman
Snarky, memorable main character, excellent audio narration, horrific goblins, and an uncanny blind cat

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
Satisfies those  dark academia cravings, awkward romance, epic heroism, and the threat of the graduation gauntlet full of terrifying monsters

The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley
Epic scenery, scary beasties, bad-ass characters, builds super well on the previous books set in the same world

 

Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne
Edge of your seat thriller, awesome introduction to Jessica Blackwood, borders on the supernatural

The Forever King by Ben Galley
Seriously deep lore, ultra cool magic (the mages have magical books inked onto their skin!), classic epic fantasy themes, tons of cool magical races

The Bone Ship’s Wake by RJ Barker
Incredible series finale, emotional gut punch ending, and sea dragons

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
Fun spin on the Sleeping Beauty story, incredible friendship, and girls refusing to accept ‘fate’ without a fight

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
The moody, goth vampire tome I’ve been waiting my whole life for, solid world-building, such dramatic characters

The Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick
Secret societies, vigilante heroes, TWO awesome magic systems, and the fashion is to die for. Also, PEABODY.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
Compelling mystery that feels lighthearted despite the murder, elderly folks solving murders, surprisingly humorous, excellent audiobook narration

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody
Extra dark riff on the magical tournament trope, grimdark for young adults, explores what people will do in order to survive, so much drama!

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier
Incredible standalone low fantasy book, jaw-dropping plot twists, one of the best YA books I’ve ever read

Engines of Empire by R.S. Ford
January 2022 release, fantastic world building, semi-industrialized world, political intrigue. Full review coming soon!

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman – Review

Published: September 28, 2021

Publisher Pamela Dorman Books

Series: Thursday Murder Club #2

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:
It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?


I find myself pleasantly surprised that The Man Who Died Twice (despite the ominous name) was just as delightful as The Thursday Murder Club (also somewhat ominous, or at least eyebrow raising). Who would have thought that a book series about an eclectic group of elderly folks solving murders would be such an absolute hit! Our elderly folks don’t get much of a break either, seeing as how this picks up not terribly long after the events of the first book.

It starts off with Elizabeth receiving a mysterious note and then meeting up with her ex-husband Douglas who is still a spy. A good ol’ James Bond type, still a flirt in his twilight years, and still up to his same old tricks. He’s got a bit of a situation because he stole several million pounds worth of diamonds from a fellow who’s essentially a criminal broker of sorts and now the same fellow is definitely going to kill Douglas. On top of all this, Ibrahim was mugged by a couple young guys on a trip to town and he’s ended up in the hospital. Elizabeth certainly has quite a few things to take care of, so it’s a good thing she has such a tight group of pals in the Thursday Murder Club, plus Bogdan, plus DCIs Chris and Donna. It will take the whole gang to deal with the complicated tangle of a situation that has arisen because it’s not just Douglas hiding out from a criminal – the young guys who mugged Ibrahim are part of a larger crime ring that Chris and Donna are looking into as well. 

The story was quite intense, though the characters themselves move at a slower pace than I’m accustomed to – no fancy sword work, no parkour, none of the craziness that abounds in the books I usually read. What they lack in physical talent, they more than make up for with their scheming. And it’s not just Elizabeth with a talent for handling interesting situations! Joyce, Ron, and Ibrahim are all clever in their own right and that’s part of what keeps the story so interesting. You’re never quite sure who’s up to something!

The Man Who Died Twice was a brilliant read and quite frankly, I never saw the ending coming! The culminating chapters were gripping and I really didn’t want to be interrupted (listening to audiobook) because I didn’t want to accidentally miss something. Richard Osman certainly knows how to write a compelling mystery that will keep you guessing and mentally pointing fingers at like, all the characters right until the very end. This was a really fun book and can’t wait for the next one!

Currently Reading: 10/11/21

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
I was counting down the days until I got my Audible credits so I could pick this one up! I really adore the characters in these books and this one is extra exciting because we get to learn more about Elizabeth’s past adventures.

The Quicksilver Court by Melissa Caruso
Another very exciting sequel! I took this with me on vacation the week before last, but didn’t have time to check it out so I’m making up for lost time. I expect I’ll actually be finishing this one up today and I can pick up another exciting book this week.