Moneypenny's 2021 ROOT Log

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Moneypenny's 2021 ROOT Log

1Miss_Moneypenny
dec 29, 2020, 4:10pm



Hello there and welcome to my 2021 reading log! I'm Caity, a technology director for county government in beautiful Colorado. I'm married to a lovely man who works long, intense hours as a finance manager for Toyota. Mr. M is on the road 5-6 days a week and my job is fairly fluid with workload and hours, so I've got more reading time than most. We've got a feisty French bulldog (Bibi) and a sweet kitty boy (Poptart). If I'm not with them, I've got my nose in a book! I'll read anything and everything you hand me but am most at home in the fantasy/sci-fi realm.

I originally started tracking my reading here as a way to recover from the burnout of a particularly intense graduate program but quickly discovered that this is one of the best places on the entire internet. I've been participating in the ROOTs challenge since In 2020, I wound up blowing past my goal of 50 ROOTs with a total of 82 ROOTs read!

I'm going to set my goal a little higher for 2021 though. I'm aiming to read one classic novel each month and one entry in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, so I'm thinking I can bump it up to 80 ROOTs this year.

I'm also determined to not spend a dime on books this year. Right now, I have 240 books in my collection that need to be read, some of them languishing on my shelves for years. I made it through all of 2017 without buying a single book, so I know I can do it.

Thanks for stopping by! Drop a note so I can follow along with what you're reading!

2Miss_Moneypenny
dec 29, 2020, 4:15pm

Wheel of Time Challenge

I originally finished the WoT series in 2019. I spent most of last year thinking about the sheer complexity of this series and now with the Amazon show gearing up, I'd like another pass through to really immerse myself in this world.

0. New Spring
1. The Eye of the World
2. The Great Hunt
3. The Dragon Reborn
4. The Shadow Rising
5. The Fires of Heaven
6. Lord of Chaos
7. A Crown of Swords
8. The Path of Daggers
9. Winter's Heart
10. Crossroads of Twilight
11. Knife of Dreams
12. The Gathering Storm
13. Towers of Midnight
14. A Memory of Light

3Miss_Moneypenny
dec 29, 2020, 4:19pm

Classics Challenge

In addition to finishing Wheel of Time again, I've got a list of classics that I'd like to buckle down and finish this year.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
2. The Wreath by Sigrid Undset
3. The Wife by Sigrid Undset
4. The Cross by Sigrid Undset
5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
6. Middlemarch by George Eliot
7. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
8. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
11. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
12. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

4connie53
dec 30, 2020, 6:48am

Hi Caity, glad to see you again. Happy ROOTing!

5rabbitprincess
dec 30, 2020, 8:53am

Welcome back and good luck with your various challenges! The Wheel of Time is a mighty challenge indeed :)

6Jackie_K
dec 30, 2020, 10:31am

Good to see you back again, and good luck with the no-buy challenge! I feel virtuous aiming at only getting 1 for every 2 read, no-buy would be a big struggle!

7cyderry
dec 30, 2020, 4:52pm

The Classics are the ones that drag me down. I try to read at least 4 a year - 2020 I managed 1.
{hangs her head in shame.}


Happy 2021 Reading!

8This-n-That
dec 30, 2020, 10:55pm

Wishing you good luck with your ROOTing goals.

9Miss_Moneypenny
jan 1, 1:59pm

>4 connie53: It's good to see you too Connie!

>5 rabbitprincess: It certainly is! I'm thinking it'll be easier to get through this time knowing the overall plot and trying to spot the foreshadowing and groundwork that Jordan places in each book. Fingers crossed anyway!

>6 Jackie_K: Thanks Jackie! Hopefully I can pull it off again!

>7 cyderry: The classics can be hard! I really miss the communal nature of an English lit class for guided discussion. I find that I miss a lot when I read these kinds of books by myself.

>8 This-n-That: Thank you!

10karenmarie
jan 1, 7:06pm

Hi Caity, and Happy New Year.

>1 Miss_Moneypenny: I’m thrilled to hear of a kitty named Poptart.

Good luck with reading the books off your shelves – if you’ve already done it once, it should be easy-peasy.

11MissWatson
jan 5, 8:23am

Hi Caity, have a wonderful reading year and all the best wishes for not buying any books!

12Miss_Moneypenny
jan 14, 1:06pm

Thanks everybody! Happy New year!

January



Ah, the dawn of a new year! Hopefully 2021 will be kinder to us all than 2020 was.

1. Harleen by Stjepan Sejic
This dark and disturbing look at Harley Quinn's backstory was absolutely captivating. The art is absolutely top notch complimented Harleen's descent into madness and abuse in a really chilling way.
4 stars

2. Hey Ladies! by Michelle Markowitz
I'm a sucker for a good epistolary novel and this is one of the best I've read. I wish the illustrations had been done in a different style, but the fact that Markowitz manages to make 8 separate characters completely distinguishable through email and text makes that a minor quibble. This was a totally fun and engrossing read and a really nice palette cleanser after the darkness of Harleen.
4 stars

3. Akira volume 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo
The anime of Akira is a classic, but I was shocked to find out how much is missing from the movie after only the first volume of this classic. It's hard to overstate how much of an impact Otomo and his work had on manga; reading it in 2021 and being able to pinpoint the genesis of so many different tropes is a wild ride.
4 stars

13connie53
jan 14, 2:10pm

Hi Caity! Three ROOTs down all ready! Good job.

14Miss_Moneypenny
jan 20, 3:04pm

Another week, another round of ROOT catchups!

4. Sailor Moon Eternal 7 by Naoko Takeuchi
5. Sailor Moon Eternal 8
6. Sailor Moon Eternal 9
7. Sailor Moon Eternal 10
I can't believe I finally finished it. This wraps up the last 2 arcs in Sailor Moon's story and man it was a wild ride. I absolutely loved these and am already looking forward to a long, slow reread to really pour over the beautiful artwork of each volume.
5 stars each

15Miss_Moneypenny
Redigeret: feb 10, 11:38am

February



Ah, the year just keeps getting better. February so far has brought us dental surgery for the husband, pneumonia for both my parents (who live with Mr. M and I), and a wicked streak of allergies for our poor pup. All that combined meant that I've been sitting with sick people at all hours and watching temps/symptoms. The only upside of this is I've read a bunch of books and we're only 9 days into the month.

8. My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due
My mother and I read this back in the 90s when it was first published. I found it when we were moving them in and rescued the whole series from the donate pile. Much to my surprise, this book really stood the test of time. Due was ahead of her time by about a decade with the vampire theme and it's appropriately scary and atmospheric. Love.
4 stars

9. Akira volume 2 by Katsuhiro Otomo
Another installment in the classic manga. Love.
5 stars

10. Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols
Mr. M and I are hoping to expand our family this year: my job has moved to 95% work from home indefinitely and I'm not getting any younger, so no time like the present! We already eat pretty low carb and I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in nutrition for a lay person, but this book surprised me with what I didn't know. Highly, highly recommended.
5 stars

11. It Starts With The Egg by Rebecca Fett
Another conception book and definitely one that's staying on my shelves. Fett discusses cutting edge research on how egg development happens and what supplementation is needed to optimize that development and your chances of conceiving/carrying to term. Absolutely fascinating stuff.
5 stars

16connie53
feb 11, 3:08am

Wow, Caity. You've had a lot on your plate in January. Are you okay? I hope you did not get sick too. Your reading has been excellent as far as I can see. I hope your plans for expanding the family will succeed. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

17Jackie_K
feb 11, 10:01am

Oh dear - that sounds like far too much for one family to have to cope with! I hope you're keeping better and managing OK. Echoing Connie, good luck with the plans for expansion of your family!

18karenmarie
feb 11, 1:47pm

>12 Miss_Moneypenny: I’m a sucker for a good epistolary novel, too, and am now intrigued with this one. On to the wish list it goes!

>15 Miss_Moneypenny: Not a good start to the month family health-wise. I’m sorry to hear it and hope everybody’s on the road to recovery, including the pup.

I have no willpower - $3.99 on Kindle for My Soul to Keep.

How exciting about expanding your family. Keeping my fingers crossed, too.

19Miss_Moneypenny
feb 27, 9:44pm

Thanks so much for the kind words everyone! February did in fact get crazier and I pretty much dropped off the face of the earth for everything that isn't either work or someone I'm related to.

Nevertheless, the ROOTing continued in the pockets of silence I could eke out.

12. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Well this is definitely a classic for a reason! This was so engrossing and entertaining. I absolutely loved it and can see myself re-reading this regularly.
5 stars

13. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab
Oh this book! I've been on the waitlist for it for months now and I was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype. But it did a thousand times over. This is definitely going to be in the top 10 books of 2021 for me.
5 stars

14. Akira vol 3 by Katsuhiro Otomo
15. Akira vol 4 by Katsuhiro Otomo
16. Akira vol 5 by Katsuhiro Otomo
17. Akira vol 6 by Katsuhiro Otomor
What a wild, wild ride. I'm absolutely kicking myself for not reading these sooner.
5 stars

18. Grain Brain by David Perlmutter
Managing my MS while trying to become pregnant has unearthed a voracious interest in nutrition and how it affects overall health. This was an eye opening read for both my MS and my husband's wickedly bad ADHD. Highly recommended.
4 stars

20connie53
feb 28, 3:56am

>19 Miss_Moneypenny: Thanks to your post Addie LaRue was on my soon to read pile and just moved to the top of that pile!

21Miss_Moneypenny
apr 2, 12:02am

April



Big ol' YIKES to March. I don't even have a single ROOT to report for it! Thankfully, April is starting off strong so far. Onward and upward to better things this month!

19. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
This was absolutely delightful. In an alternate history of Earth set in the 1950s, an asteroid hits off the East Coast and causes an extinction event. Man needs to get off the planet using only human computers, but can it be done? This was compelling and fascinating and I cannot wait to read the sequel.
5 stars

20. You by Caroline Kepnes
This was a reread and I had forgotten how utterly and completely creepy this book is. Highly, highly recommended if you're in the book for spooky/unsettling or unreliable narrators.
5 stars

22Caramellunacy
apr 2, 8:00am

>21 Miss_Moneypenny: I have been considering picking up The Calculating Stars - I've turned to a fair amount of hopeful sci-fi over the last year or so, and this looks great. I have read a few of Kowal's Regency fantasy titles and found them enjoyable - will have to see if the library has this one!

23rabbitprincess
apr 2, 9:38am

>21 Miss_Moneypenny: Yay! I love this series and am glad you loved this first book.

24connie53
apr 3, 6:48am

Hi Caity! Better luck with your ROOTs in April.

I loved the Addie LaRue book, so thanks to you some of my Dutch book-group have read it too.

25Miss_Moneypenny
apr 16, 2:49pm

Mid-April check in time!

21. Girls With Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier
This snappy but overly long book focuses on the mothers of 3 very different prep school senior girls who are all trying to get a coveted spot at Stanford. This had so much going for it: rich people behaving badly, difficult mother/daughter relationships, family secrets, and revenge served up nicely. The only downside is that it started to sag a little in the middle and never really picked up the slack. If this was 50-75 pages shorter, it would have been a 5 star read for me. As it is, this gets
4 stars

22. Crimson Shore by Preston and Child
Pendergast is back, this time with Constance in tow. They're solving a wine theft in a sleepy Massachusetts town and things quickly take a hard left turn into the occult and macabre. This was one of my favorite Pendergasts in a hot minute and I can't wait to see what happens next.
4 stars

23. Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes
This is the second in the Joe Goldberg series and he's off to LA to commit more stalking and murders. Kepnes dropped the second person narrative here and it mostly works. This one was less creepy than You but Joe is such a fascinating narrator that I didn't mind.
4 stars

24. Klara and the Sun by Kazu Ishiguro
I've loved everything I've read by Ishiguro and Klara was no exception. Focusing on an Artificial Friend and the human who buys her, this was a touching and meditative look at what makes a human human, friendship, and the price of technology. I didn't love it quite as much as I loved Never Let Me Go but it's close.
5 stars

25. You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes
The third Joe Goldberg book finds him in the Pacific Northwest with a new object of "affection." Kepnes brought back the second person narrative and I think Joe is a better character for it. His snark and frustration and overall personality shine a lot better in this form. This was another terrific showing and the ending had me dropping my jaw.
4 stars

26. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
I think it's clear by now that I love long, involved series. I've loved everything I've read by Seanan McGuire (and Mira Grant, her pseudonym) so it was high time to start her October Daye series. This was a pretty uneven start, though: Toby isn't very likable and I didn't understand a lot of her motivation. At the beginning of the book, she disappears under a magic spell for 14 years. When she comes back, she goes out of her way to avoid everyone she ever knew (including her daughter and partner) for....reasons? I never got a good grasp on her motivations. Characters don't have to be likable for me to be interested in reading about them, but they do have to make sense. However, the world that McGuire crafts is so spectacular that I'm willing to give it a few more books to see if Toby gets better.
3 stars

>22 Caramellunacy: Oh how terrific! Did you manage to get your hands on a copy? It's definitely going on my top ten list at the end of this year.

>23 rabbitprincess: It was truly terrific and I'm only sad it took me so long to read the first one!

>24 connie53: Hi Connie! Yay! Did they like it?

26connie53
apr 23, 2:50am

>25 Miss_Moneypenny: Yes, they did like it! A lot!

27Miss_Moneypenny
Redigeret: maj 2, 12:34pm

Wrapping up April, a couple days late!

27. Brooklyn by Colm Tobin
This lovely little gem of a novel has been sitting on my shelves since 2011 and I finally got around to reading it. What an absolute delight! There isn't a villain, there's no melodrama, just a lovely, quiet tale of a young Irish girl finding out who she is and what she wants out of life in 1950s Brooklyn. Love, love, love.
5 stars

28. Supergods by Grant Morrison
Oh yikes. The subtitle is what got me here. "What masked vigilantes, miraculous mutants, and a sun god from Smallville can teach us about being human" is a great hook right? Except that this isn't what the book was about at all. It started with an absolutely exhausting history of the big three (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) and I kept thinking that his analysis would eventually come in. Wrong again. About halfway through the book, Morrison starts telling his autobiography. The history of comics gets lost in his hagiography and his deeply, deeply deranged thinking. I started skimming, hoping that I'd find some analysis about what exactly superheroes can teach us, but found only drivel. What a missed opportunity.
One star

29. A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
The second in the October Daye series, this was a slight improvement in Toby herself but a large leap forward in the world building and in McGuire's assuredness in her secondary characters. I'm definitely interested to see where this goes.
3 stars

30. An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
Now this was excellent! McGuire finally has a good grasp on Toby and what makes her interesting and this had an incredible plot to back it up. Blind Michael and his wild hunt are snatching children and Toby has to journey to his lands to save them. There are real consequences here for all of our characters (I'm looking at you, Pendergast) and it was a total gut punch at the end. I absolutely loved this.
5 stars

31. The Obsidian Chamber by Preston and Child
The 16th Pendergast installment mostly left me cold. Pendergast is gone, Constance is kidnapped, and Diogenes is back. This was uneven and melodramatic and maybe my least favorite of these books.
2 stars

28Miss_Moneypenny
Redigeret: maj 2, 12:34pm

May



And here we are in sunny, gorgeous May! April turned out to be a lot busier than I had anticipated and it was nice to have just normal work stress instead of the "world is ending!" stress that had been our norm since 2020. Fingers crossed that May keeps staying sunny both literally and figuratively!

32. Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire
33. One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire
34. Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire
35. Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire
McGuire hit her stride in the third October Daye book and doesn't let up in the next 4. Toby has a wild mission in each (finding an old enemy, finding missing mermaids, finding a missing changeling, finding a missing princess) and while this sounds formulaic, it really isn't. Toby is growing as a character by leaps and bounds, her world is expanding rapidly and believably, and McGuire's handle on the plot and where this is all going is masterful. I can't wait to see what happens next.
4 stars each

29connie53
Redigeret: maj 4, 6:51am

>27 Miss_Moneypenny: I was reading this post and decided to see if I have any books by Colm Tóibín and or Seanan McGuire on my digital shelves and I do! I have Nora and Het testament van Maria (The touchstone goes to 'Een lange winter'', so maybe this book has two titles?) and Middlegame

I will put them on my reader. Thanks for the tips, Caity.

30Jackie_K
maj 4, 10:16am

>29 connie53: I read The Testament of Mary a few years ago - it's short, but was very good.

31connie53
maj 5, 2:42am

>30 Jackie_K: Thanks, Jackie!

32Miss_Moneypenny
Redigeret: maj 16, 11:44pm

36. The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire
37. A Red-Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire
38. Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire
39. The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire
40. Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire
41. The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire
Ok, this is officially a Seanan McGuire fan account. These books are absolutely blowing me away and have pole vaulted to being in my top 5 series of all time.
5 stars each

42. Gotham City Sirens vol 1 by Paul Dini
43. Gotham City Sirens vol 2 by Paul Dini
I originally read these when they were being released in the weekly comic form but had a much better time reading them as the combined graphic novels. Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn move in together and team up as they try to walk the straight and narrow. Good artwork, tight story, and a good time was had by all.
4 stars each

44. Desperate Measures by Katee Robert
So I recently joined TikTok for the book recommendations. This might have been ill advised as my TBR is now miles long. Somehow, the TikTok algorithm started pushing "dark romance" and this was one of the ones I kept seeing over and over. It's a reimagining of Disney's villains and this first book starts with Jafar and Jasmine. I love the concept but the plot was nonsensical. It was rushed and illogical, although my standards might be a little too high after all the Seanan McGuire I've been reading. The sex scenes were pure erotica if a little too dark for my tastes. This was interesting and I'll probably wind up reading more of the series, but I just wish Roberts had spent less time on the sex and more time on the plot.
2 stars

33Miss_Moneypenny
maj 7, 10:37pm

>29 connie53: Oh both of those sound so good! I hope you love them both!

34connie53
maj 8, 3:32am

I will let you know when I get to them.

35Miss_Moneypenny
maj 16, 11:45pm

45. A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K Hamilton
46. A Caress of Shadows by Laurell K Hamilton
47. Seduced by Moonlight by Laurell K Hamilton
48. A Stroke of Midnight by Laurell K Hamilton
49. Mistral's Kiss by Laurell K Hamilton
50. A Lick of Frost by Laurell K Hamilton
51. Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K Hamilton
Back in the early 2000s, I absolutely loved the first 6 or so of Hamilton's Anita Blake series but never got into the Merry Gentry series due to the explicit and repetitive sex scenes. Well, after finding the entire series in my mother's basement, I decided to give them a try. I wound up skipping all of the sex scenes and consequently flew through the first 7 of 9 books in a weekend. To my surprise the actual story here is pretty darn great. Hamilton is definitely a weaker writer than most and needs a tighter editor but this was a very entertaining way to spend the weekend.
3 stars each

36connie53
maj 24, 4:28am

>35 Miss_Moneypenny: Yes, she tends to write a lot of sex scenes in her books. But if you are able to skip them it are very enjoyable books.

37Miss_Moneypenny
maj 27, 3:07pm

Labor Day weekend here we go! Let's see how many more ROOTs I can get knocked out before work resumes on Tuesday.

52. Divine Misdemeanors by Laurell K Hamilton
53. A Shiver of Light by Laurell K Hamilton
Oh man. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall plot of the Merry Gentry series, but these last two absolutely wrecked it. Hamilton should have stopped at Swallowing Darkness.
1 star each

54. A Killing Frost by Seanan McGuire
And with this, I have fully caught up on the October Daye series! What a terrific book, what a terrific series. I'm so glad I stuck with it despite the "meh" first couple books.
5 stars each.

38Miss_Moneypenny
maj 27, 3:08pm

>36 connie53: Connie, you're totally right! With the exception of the last 2 Merry books, I thought the overall plot was super interesting and worth fast-forwarding through the sex.

39Miss_Moneypenny
jun 10, 2:02pm

June



And we have officially settled into summertime here in the Western Slope! Summer isn't my favorite, but I'm anticipating a lot of laying by the pool to beat the heat and for me, that means a lot of ROOTS are on deck!

55. Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Ooh I loved this. Two queens, centuries apart, and one is prophesied to save the world while the other breaks it. This is categorized as YA but it really didn't feel like it. Legrand has two fully fleshed out worlds and I found myself absolutely whipping through this to find out what happened next.
5 stars

56. Vicious by VE Schwab
I think if I had read this before the truly excellent Hench, I would have rated this 5 stars. As it is, it's still a terrific book but I connected a lot more with Hench. This is another look at superheroes from the villain's perspective and I really loved what Schwab did with the actual birth of superpowers (which has some really horrifying in-world implications).
4 stars

57. Vita Nostra by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko
I honestly don't even know what to say about this book. It was billed to me as "Russian dark academia" and I guess it was that, but it was also so much more. It was bizarre and had some profound moments of body horror and was deeply philosophical. I definitely liked it and it threw me for such a loop that it took me almost a week to pick up another book. But I don't even know how to describe it or if I would recommend it to other readers.
4 stars

58. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
This is a YA horror/fantasy novel that absolutely hit all my spots and was the perfect follow up to Vita Nostra. As children, Iris and her sisters were abducted and then returned a month later. A life full of strangeness and unsettling abilities follows, until 10 years later the oldest sister suddenly disappears. This was super creepy and unsettling without being scary and had some of the biggest YIKES body horror moments I've ever read. Sutherland manages to make each sister distinct and absolutely jump off the page (Grey in particular is absolutely haunting). My only quibble with this is the ending for Grey's character and I think I took exception to this because as the oldest sister, I too would cross any line for my siblings. Other than that, this was a near perfect read.
5 stars