I have read 77 books so far this year, with 46 of those being 2021 releases, which is over half and seems like a lot! I have ARCs and apps like Scribd to thank for that. I would love to focus more on backlist, but there are so many amazing 2021 releases that the pull to read them is just too strong.
I thought it would be fun to share some of the standouts of those 46 books. Let me tell you now, it was so hard to narrow this down!
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet came out in April and has less than 700 ratings on Goodreads. It is entirely too underrated and needs more attention! I appreciated that this was a YA romance where the conflict comes from outside forces and the couple themselves remains supportive and respectful of one another. It was interesting to see them both navigate difficult family and living situations. It is also set at a family restaurant, which is always fun for me!
Honey Girl is one of the most beautifully written books I have read so far in 2021. I think the fact that it is pitched as a romance does the book a disservice as readers will go into it expecting it to be something it is not. The romance is definitely in the background and it is more about Grace finding her voices and discovering what truly makes her happy. The romance is sweet and there are some really quotable moments, but this really is Grace’s “coming-of-age” story.
Of course I had to include Act Your Age, Eve Brown on this list! It is probably my favourite in the Brown Sisters series, with Take a Hint, Dani Brown being a close second. I loved the chemistry between Eve and Jacob, and I related to Eve the most of all the sisters. I always have so much fun with these books and I am so sad that the series is over!
I am not often a fan of fae stories, so I was so surprised by just how much I loved A Dark and Hollow Star. The characters are what made this book stand out to me and I loved all of the relationships between them. This is the great start to a new fantasy series and I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here. I also love that it is set in Toronto and that I recognized a lot of the places mentioned throughout the book!
I have never read anything quite like The Infinity Courts! It is such a unique take on Sci-Fi and there is something about Akemi Dawn Bowman’s writing that works for me. The last quarter of this book was mind-blowing! I know I will never look at my Alexa in the same way.
No one writes memoirs quite like Jenny Lawson. Broken is one of those books you have to listen to on audio if you can because Lawson narrates it and it is hilarious! She has this incredible way of talking about difficult topics in a lighthearted and relatable way.
The Good Sister is my favourite thriller of the year so far! I was not prepared to become to attached to Fern, one of our main characters. I almost didn’t want this to be a thriller because I did not want anything to happen to her. This is one of those books where things slowly build and you feel more and more tension as you are reading. I thought it was extremely compelling!
Pride and Premeditation is a YA Pride and Prejudice retelling and I had so much fun with it! I loved seeing my beloved characters in a whole new way and finding the nods to the original story. I am so thrilled that this is going to be a series and cannot wait to see what Tirzah Price does with Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park.
Kazuo Ishiguro wrote my favourite book of all time, Never Let Me Go, so I was not at all surprised that I ended up loving Klara and the Sun as much as I did. I found it had similar themes as Never Let Me Go and I love the way that Ishiguro explores ethical and moral questions around AI. There was something so bittersweet about this story.
Life’s Too Short is the third book in The Friend Zone series by Abby Jimenez. The second book, The Happy Ever After Playlist, is one of my favourite romances, but I somehow ended up loving Life’s Too Short even more! I appreciate that Jimenez does not shy away from putting her characters through it. In this book, Vanessa has lost both her mother and sister to a genetic disorder and she does not know if she too has the gene. She is also raising her other sister’s baby, which leads her to meeting her next door neighbour, Adrian. Vanessa and Adrian have so much chemistry and are so supportive of one another. I just loved it!
Pumpkin is my favourite book in the Dumplin‘ series. I adored Waylon, and I am always drawn to books that center around prom or homecoming. The romance was sweet and there are some really great side characters in here. I loved the cameos from the characters from the first two books as well. It is just such a feel good book!
I don’t know how Andy Weir does it, but Project Hail Mary was even better than The Martian, at least in my opinion. My favourite thing about this one is something I can’t talk about because I see it as a major spoiler. Just know that it has the humour and heart of The Martian, but it is next level.
I read Malibu Rising over the course of one day, and I fell in love with the characters, as I always do with Taylor Jenkins Reid! I loved the setting of this one and seeing how the relationship between the siblings has changed over the years. I grew attached to Nina and was rooting for her. The ending is as strong as it could have been, but I still liked it!
The Ones We’re Meant to Find isn’t going to be for everyone! The first half is very confusing, but it all comes together in a satisfying and genius way. You have to trust the process! This is exactly the kind of Sci-Fi that I love and I am always drawn to books about sisters.
The Darkness Outside Us really surprised me! It was way more plot-driven than I expected from the cover. There is definitely a charming romance, but the Sci-Fi elements were stellar. I loved where this story went, and if you loved Project Hail Mary as much as I did, I think you will also love The Darkness Outside Us. There is so much happening here and it’s incredible!
Blackout is officially my favourite YA anthology, which is no surprise when you look at the authors who contributed to the collection. Every single story is stellar, though Angie Thomas and Tiffany D. Jackson’s were my favourites. That is predictable though when you consider how much I adore both of them! It was fun to see how each of the stories came together in the end and the fact that they all takes place during a blackout in New York City was so fun! Also, it was just announced that the Obama’s are adapting it- how cool is that!?
I loved My Lady Jane, but I never continued on with the series because they received mixed reviews. I knew I had to read My Contrary Mary when I heard it was set in the same world as My Lady Jane and that it follows Mary Queen of Scots. I have always been fascinated by Mary and Francis and I am a HUGE fan of the show Reign. I loved all the nods to the show and all the pop culture references in general. I was not expecting Titanic to be mentioned in the story! These books are satirical, so I think they will either be something you love or you hate. It all comes down to whether the humour works for you! I cannot wait for the second book, which follows Mary Shelley!
I have loved every book I have read from Claire Fuller, and Unsettled Ground is no exception. The setting and atmosphere is amazing and I loved that we are following siblings in their 50s. This book was devastating in many ways, but I trusted Claire Fuller with it. I have loved so many of the books that have been shortlisted for The Women’s Prize, but I would be thrilled if this one won!
What is the best 2021 release you have read so far? Have you read more backlist titles or new releases? Let’s talk in the comments!