Living the good life + Fighting the good fight

2021 Favorites: Books

Y’all probably know that I like to read and I really like to talk about books with other book lovers. Is there anything better than reading a good book and then telling someone else to read it and then they love it?! Hopefully you will find something in this list that interests you and that you end up thinking is fab.

To see what else I have been reading, follow me on Goodreads.

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

I didn’t think twice about checking this book out from the library after reading the title and reading the description on the back. It fits into one of my favorite sub-genres, which is what I like to call Southern fiction.

This book tells the story of Catherine Grace, the daughter of a Georgia preacher, who wants nothing more than to escape her small town, but always finds salvation at her local Dairy Queen eating Dilly Bars. When she finally has the opportunity to leave, she is called back to her hometown when tragedy strikes. Will she ever find a place where she feels at home? And will it be in her hometown or elsewhere?

I enjoyed this story because the stakes were low, I could relate to the characters and their circumstances, the writing was clear and descriptive and I think we can all recognize and agree that a good ice cream is just what the doctor ordered.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

This book was an off-the-wall choice for me because I hardly ever read fantasy unless it is written by Father Fantasy himself, JRR Tolkien. Nonetheless, I gave it a shot and am very glad that I did.

Linus Baker, a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, lives a mundane life with little meaning when he gets a special assignment, to pay the Marsyas Island Orphanage a long visit and provide insight into whether or not the facility should stay open. Will Linus recommend that the caretaker and the six children under his care be locked away forever or will he face local and national prejudice and corruption and see the inhabitants of the orphanage as who they are, magical creatures that are worthy of freedom and love?

I truly could not put this book down and I recommend it for fantasy and fiction lovers alike.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The film adaptation of The Outsiders has been one of my favorite movies for a long time and the book has been on my list to read for about the same length of time. So, when I had a long car ride ahead of me, I decided to borrow the audiobook version and I did not regret it.

The Outsiders is the story of Ponyboy, his brothers and his friends, who are greasers that take care of themselves and are in a constant war with the socs (short for social). Follow Ponyboy and his friend, Johnny, as they learn about right and wrong.

Oftentimes, the book is better than the movie. In this instance, they are equally good, in my opinion.

The Searcher by Tana French

I will typically go through Buzzfeed listicals and other lists of the best books in a certain year or books to read if you liked a certain story and I think that is where I heard about The Searcher.

Cal Hooper, an ex-cop from Chicago, moves to the countryside of Ireland hoping for a quiet life with no stress. Instead, what he finds is a town full of gossip and a kid who is desperately looking for his brother who has disappeared. Reluctantly, Cal helps in the search, but becomes involved in the local drama, which is exactly what he did not want to do.

This book is long, but worth it.

The Silent Patient & The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

I waited for a long time for The Silent Patient to be available at my local library and binge read it quickly after I got my hands on it. And then a few months later, I did the same with Alex Michaelides’ second book, The Maidens.

The Silent Patient tells the story of Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, who is assigned to treat Alicia Berenson, a woman who was convicted of murdering her husband and has been silent since her arrest.

The Maidens is about the death of several students at Cambridge University and Mariana Andros’ search for answers as to who is responsible for their murders.

I highly recommend them both and can’t wait to read his future work. His writing is exquisite, his topics are bone-chilling and his ability to grip you with suspense is remarkable.

I welcome your recommendations, as always. Happy reading!


  1. Na

    Great choices Colleen.

  2. Colby

    I too loved “The House in the Cerulean Sea.” By the end, you felt like you were part of the family. Another book I loved this year was “How to Disappear Completely” by Ali Standish. This middle grade story is a quick read and felt like a warm hug for the young, awkward girl I once was.

    • Colleen Large

      I completely agree with your comments about “The House in the Cerulean Sea.” I fell for all those characters hard. I’ll have to add the Standish one to my list.

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