Category Archives: Marion’s Favorites

Marion’s Favorite Things from books, music, art, travel, and anything else that he really enjoys.

Marion’s Favorite Reads of 2021

Christmas has passed and 2021 is coming to a close in a few days. I have seen people starting to post their favorite books of 2021 and thought it was my time add to those posts. I’ve read 35 books this year (I’m currently finishing up The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin to make it number 35.) and I had several standouts that made it a good reading year despite of the challenges with the pandemic.  Here are my favorite books of this year (click on the link in the title to read the full review):

 

1) Wild Woman and the Blues by Denny S. Brice: A debut, historical fiction novel that captures the 1920’s Jazz Age in Chicago from a dancer’s perspective told to a young and upcoming filmmaker. Bryce does an excellent job in bringing a slice of African American life rarely brought to prose.

2) Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby: This thriller about a small town Virginia auto mechanic trying to save his business and holding onto his family by not repeating the pattern laid down by his father was engaging and thought-provoking.  I’m looking forward to reading more of Cosby’s work.

3) Planting Stories (The Life of Librarian & Storyteller Pura Belpre) by Anika Aldamuy Denise & Paola Escobar: I read this book with my 12 year old daughter, Norah and I learned about someone I had never heard of before.  Pura Belpre was the first librarian of Puerto Rican descent in the New York City Public Library and this picture book gives a brief but important look of her career.  I love the cover!

4) Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine: My 2nd favorite read of 2021.  I will admit I don’t read a lot of short story collections by a single author (that will change going forward) but these eleven stories about Latinas from Colorado were jarring, powerful, thought-provoking, and delightful to read.  This is the best short story collection I have read since Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint.  A must for serious readers.

5) The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley:    I finally read this one.  Malcolm X’s life story shows how the power of personal transformation and tragedy can exist simultaneously. This is one of the most important books I have ever read and a must for all readers.

6) An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: This novel has been a favorite on social media and book clubs around the world.  The story of a marriage that is forever changed when a husband goes to prison on false charges and comes out to restore the connection to his wife. However, the marriage is not the same and Jones lays out the dynamic that emerges.

7) Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez: This debut YA novel about an Argentinian teenage girl and her dreams to becoming a futbol star was the surprised read for me in 2021. I cared about Camila Hassan and how she navigated her life with her parents, brother, and boyfriend Diego who had followed his dream as a futbol player before she did. I enjoyed reading this one and looking to read more of her work in the future.

8) Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner: This book was the 2nd surprised read of 2021.  Stegner’s quiet and touching novel about friendship and marriage amongst two couples was a welcomed change of pace unlike anything I had read for the entire year.  The interplay between the Morgans and Langs provided an unvarnished look at human connection.

9) The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton: My favorite read of 2021.  The story an unconventional black female singer from Detroit and a white male singer-songwriter from Birmingham, England forming a musical group captured my reading attention unlike any other book all year.  The perils of the music business were on display and seemed real.  I loved reading this one!

 

All the Seas of the World by Guy Gavriel Kay

One of my favorite novelists, @guygavrielkay posted on social media recently a cover release for his latest novel, All The Seas Of The World coming in May 2022. Kay’s brand of historical fantasy is thoughtful, intelligent, and unique to fantasy literature. All The Seas of the World is set the same near Italian Renaissance of… Continue Reading

Can an all-time favorite book be reread?

Can you one of your all-time favorite books be read more than once and is still an all-time favorite? That’s the question I’ve been coming to terms with after reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler for the third time recently. Parable of the Sower is on the shortlist of my all-time favorite books… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 91: Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I love book cover art.  I was scrolling through my Goodreads page recently and noticed one of my friends add Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine to their TBR list.  The beautiful cover got my attention, and I bought book the next day. Sabrina & Corina is the debut book of Kali Fajardo-Anstine and has… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 90: Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez

“Lies have short legs.” That is the opening sentence of Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez.  Camila Hassan says this proverb and opens a window into her double life as an Argentinian high school student by day and a Futbol player known as Furia after school.  Camila has kept her secret of playing Futbol from her… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 89: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I’ve had my eye on Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work over the past several years. I downloaded her first novel, Signal to Noise, on my Kindle a couple of years ago and her fourth novel, Mexican Gothic, I have seen throughout social media recently.  Moreno-Garcia’s work has been popular for some time. Gods of Jade and Shadow… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 88: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

“And so, by circuitous and unpredictable routes, we converge toward midcontinent and meet in Madison, and are at once drawn together, braided and plaited into a friendship. It is a relationship that has no formal shape, there are no rules or obligations or bonds as in marriage or the family, it is held together by… Continue Reading

Icon #12

“Don’t forget, you’re a full-time student and a part-time superhero.” Icon told Rocket the aforementioned sentence at the beginning of Issue 12 while they were saving someone from being robbed.  Rocket has been trying to manage her life of high school student, superhero, and pending motherhood.  One of her good friends, Josie, came to school… Continue Reading