Happy [almost] New Year!
With just a few days left in 2021, I figured now’s a perfect time to do a bit of reading wrap-up. I read a lot of books this year, smashing my reading goal…something that 2020 me didn’t think was possible. It’s a super long story, but, basically, I was in a 10-year reading slump.
Now that I’ve found my groove, I’m always on the hunt for my next favorite read. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of my favorite books read in 2021!
Favorite New Author: Riley Sager
If you’ve glanced at my Instagram feed this past year, you’ve probably noticed a sudden increase in Riley Sager books popping up on my TBR list. That’s because, in March, I discovered Final Girls and immediately fell head-over-heels in love. Right away, I knew I had no choice but to read his entire library this year.
My only regret with reading all 5 of his books this year is that I’m now left waiting for his next novel, The House Across the Lake, which will release on June 21, 2022.
In case you’re curious, here’s how I’d rate Sager’s novels:
- Final Girls
- Lock Every Door
- Survive the Night
- Home Before Dark
- The Last Time I Lied
I love how fast-paced his novels are and how immediately drawn to the characters I am. I especially love how each of the main characters is different in her own way. Quincy in Final Girls is different from Emma in The Last Time I Lied, and so on and so forth. I could honestly ramble on all day, but I promise I’ll stop here. I’ll leave you with an encouragement to learn more about Sager and his books.
Book I Couldn’t Put Down: The Selection Series
Bookstagram made me read this series. Every time I opened the app, people were raving about this series. I heard this series compared to The Hunger Games trilogy, saying it was almost a royal version of this series. Right then and there I was hooked. After months of trying to ignore all the hype I heard, I finally caved, and I wasn’t disappointed. I think I read The Selection in a couple of days because I was immediately drawn to American and Maxon and couldn’t wait to see where their story went.
My only complaint with this series is that The Elite was severely lacking. It mostly set up the events in The One, which didn’t have the ending I hoped for. Despite its rushed ending, I still enjoyed reading this.
Quickest Read: Lock Every Door
It’s no surprise that one of Sager’s novels ended up on my wrap-up list. I loved all of them, but I found Lock Every Door the quickest read from this year. When I say this novel is a page-turner, I mean it’ll leave you saying, “One more chapter” with every. single. chapter.
I couldn’t get enough of this novel. And, just when I thought I had it figured out, Sager threw another curveball. I lost two nights of sleep reading this novel, and I would do it all over again. Absolutely no regrets.
Slowest Read: From Blood and Ash
From Blood and Ash is another novel that Bookstagram made me buy. Being new to fantasy, I was hesitant at first. Like with most books, I ended up caving and purchasing it, anyway. It’s possible that it was because I’m new to this genre, or maybe it’s because it didn’t quite live up to the expectations I had based on the reviews, but From Blood and Ash was, by far, the slowest read of the year.
Most books average about a 7-10 day reading period, but this novel took over a month to finish.
Favorite Character: Poppy Wright (People We Meet on Vacation)
What isn’t there to love about Poppy? She is the definition of someone living her best life. She landed her dream job, gets to travel the world, and meet amazing people every day. But, despite having what she thought would make her happy, Poppy realizes her life is missing something.
I immediately gravitated toward Poppy. Her go-get-it attitude and head-strong passion to follow her dreams is something I adore. But I also relate to her thinking that she should be happy with her life because she got everything she wanted. There are times I don’t agree with her, but overall I love Poppy and was sad when I had to say goodbye, even though I know we’ll meet again in the near future!
Favorite Couple: Tess Monroe & Luke Bennett (Coming Up Roses)
A little bit of enemies to lovers, and a little bit of rekindled romance…Coming Up Roses perfectly plays into all my favorite rom-com tropes. I loved watching the relationship between Tess and Luke evolve throughout this novel. All those little moments that made my heart flutter, hoping it would finally be the moment they got together, built up such a strong romance that I loved every second of.
I highly recommend checking this out. Better yet, this novel is part of the Bennet Brothers series!
New Genre I Loved This Year: Fantasy (A Curse So Dark and Lonely)
I never thought I’d read fantasy. But this year changed that. I read a couple of fantasy novels (mostly royal core stuff) and I had so much fun doing so! My favorite fantasy read this year was A Curse So Dark And Lonely, a Beauty and the Beast retelling that I highly recommend.
This novel also has a bit of romance, too, with a heavy enemies-to-lovers theme…something we’ve already discussed is one of my favorite.
I’m still new to this genre, so please, please, please recommend your favorite fantasy novels!
Favorite Most Hyped Novel: The Maidens
I was a bit late to the Alex Michaelides game with The Silent Patient, but I made sure The Maidens was read as soon as I got it. Despite having some difficulty at first, I absolutely loved this highly anticipated release. I loved how different it was to the ever-popular The Silent Patient, but how it also had Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the novel.
I hope in the very, very near future to read both of Michaelides’ novels back to back to pick up even more connections I may have missed the first time through.
Favorite Novel I Didn’t Hear Much About: How Lucky
Why aren’t more people talking about How Lucky? I’ve had this novel on my shelf since May and only just picked it up this week! After finishing it, I regret letting it so for so long. Daniel is such a strong character in quite a unique situation. Because he’s in a wheelchair and can’t talk because of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), his credibility is immediately ruled out when he sees a local girl kidnapped right outside his house.
But that doesn’t stop Daniel from helping save her life. Nothing stops Daniel, not even multiple trips to the hospital. A healthy mix of comedy and thriller, How Lucky was such a fun, quick read that I think people should read and talk more about.
Least Favorite Novel: Girl A
Before we get into my favorite read from 2021, let’s quickly talk about my least favorite: Girl A. This novel had such an intriguing plot: a family and their struggles during and after an abusive situation. But this novel fell short in so many ways that I almost didn’t finish it.
First, the chapters were too long for me. This might not be a big deal for some people, but to me, I found it rather frustrating. I like ending a reading session between chapters so I can easily figure out where I left off and start up again. But Girl A only had a handful of chapters, some of which were 100 pages. I had a difficult time finding a place to stop and start.
But, my biggest gripe with Girl A was the constant jump in the timeline. I found one paragraph could take place in the present time and the next takes place more than a decade ago, with no warning. I felt like I got whiplash reading this and trying to figure out where in the character’s life I’m reading about. I already have a difficult time with non-linear timelines, so having such sudden changes in year made this a big challenge for me.
But please don’t listen to just my review. I’ve heard from several people that they absolutely adored this novel and were shocked to hear I wasn’t a huge fan. I encourage you all to learn more about author Abigail Dean and this novel before making premature decisions.
My Favorite Novel: Final Girls, The Silent Patient, & If It Bleeds
Come on. Were you really expecting me to pick only one novel as my favorite? I really tried, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t choose just one. Each of these three novels left me with so many feelings that it was impossible to narrow it down to one novel.
Each made the list for its own reason:
- The Silent Patient because it lived up to the hype and recommendations everyone gave this novel. I loved this novel and will always recommend it.
- Final Girls because I was having a full conversation with this novel, running around my backyard, as I was reading this. I loved the twists and turns and how everything fell into place at the end.
- If It Bleeds because I love Stephen King. I really liked this novel, which is more like a series of short stories. My favorite, though, is easily The Life of Chuck. I could’ve read this half a dozen times in a row and never tire of it. I would, however, recommend reading The Outsiders prior to reading the self-titled short story If It Bleeds, as the two are directly connected.
Fun story: One of my favorite things to do is visit the mall on Friday nights. My local mall has two bookstores: Books a Million and Target. I know Target isn’t really a bookstore, but my local store has quite a large selection of books now. Anyway, I love going there and walking the stacks with my fiance—who isn’t as big a reader as I am—and point out the books I’ve read/want to read. I’ll give a quick synopsis of these books.
Well, on this one particular Friday, there was someone else nearby looking at books. It seemed like he wanted to read something but wasn’t super sure. He must’ve overheard me talking about If It Bleeds to my fiance and, by the time we finished my tour of the book selection, had gone over and picked that book up. I was so incredibly proud!
Needless to say, if you ever read one of the books I recommend, please let me know! I’m dying to know what other people think.
Did Your Favorite Books Make the List?
What did you read? Which books made your favorite list? Let me know in the comments!