Five Star Reads of 2021

Hello, reader!

Seeming as 2022 is literally right around the corner, it seemed like a good time to reflect on my reading in 2021. Now, last year, I made a top ten list for my top reads of the year, but I found that left out a lot of books that I truly loved. So we’re doing it a little different in 2021! This year, I’m going to include all my five star reads and I’m not ranking them. I read a lot of fantastic books and I honestly don’t think I could pick a clear winner out of the bunch if I tried.

So here, in no particular order, are my favorite reads of 2021!


Adult Fantasy lead the pack

If you’ve been around the blog any amount of time, you know how much I love fantasy. It is my top genre and I don’t see that changing any time soon. So it probably comes as no surprise that most of my five star reads this year were in fantasy. I was a little surprised that adult edged out YA, though I probably shouldn’t be. I am 39 years old, after all 😂

  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse was probably my most recommended book this year. Anyone who asked for an adult SFF recommendation had me shoving this book in their faces 😂 It was such a stunning read, I couldn’t help myself! It was vivid and lush, with masterful world-building and characters that immediately captured my interest. I read this book and instantly added Rebecca Roanhorse to my auto-buy author list, it was just that good! Also, give me more epic fantasy that isn’t Europe-centric, pleeeease.
  • Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe might be another little cheat. I’ve already read the entire Webtoon series (at least what is out so far), so I knew I loved it. But there is something about reading the physical bind up of the first few chapters that made me fall in love all over again! The art is gorgeous, the story is incredible, and I can’t wait to have the other chapters in my greedy, little hands.
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune was a book that I went into with a sprinkle of trepidation. It was just so hyped! Everyone was in love with this book. Well… almost everyone. There was some controversy about where the author got his inspiration for the orphanage featured in this story. As a non-indigenous reviewer, I highly suggest you seek out reviews from the affected community. All I can say is that this was one of the most heart-warming books I have ever read and it certainly made me want to read more of T.J. Klune’s work.
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo was another hyped book that I was a little scared to pick up. All the raving gave me high expectations! Thankfully, this book not only matched, but far exceeding them. For such a short book, it certainly packed a punch! I adored the writing, the story-telling, and the characters featured in this novella. I can’t wait to continue the series!
  • Stones of Light by Zack Argyle did what not a lot of sequels can do: it far surpassed the first book! It was such a fantastic sequel that leveled up everything I loved about Voice of War! The world-building was top notch. The writing was even better than the first. And the character growth was just *chef’s kiss* There was definitely no middle-book-syndrome here and I cannot wait to see how this series ends. You can bet that the last book is high on my 2022 TBR!
  • The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang was my first five star read of 2021. Talk about starting the year on an emotional rollercoaster! This book absolutely gutted me, which could explain why I’m so nervous to pick up the last book in this trilogy 😅 I certainly want to know how Rin’s story ends, but I know it’s gonna hurt so bad… Still, this was yet another sequel that was just as good, if not better than, the first book.
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#5OnMyTBR – Planned to Read in 2021

#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!


Hello, reader!

I’m baaaack! I’ve been MIA over the recent holidays as we were travelling down to spend time with my family over Christmas. We’re still down in Georgia, but I’m feeling much better now that I’ve spent the last couple of days doing basically nothing, lol. It’s been lovely and now I’m ready to get back to blogging. And what better way than to do this week’s 5 On My TBR!

This week’s topic is a good one for the end of the year. I’ll be talking about five books I had planned to read in 2021. Now, there are a lot more than just five books from my 2021 TBR that I never picked up because of who I am as a person 😅 But I’ve narrowed it down to the top five I really wanted to get to that will be high up on my 2022 “want to read” list. Let’s jump on in!


#1. The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

That’s right. I still haven’t finished The Poppy War series. Part of this is because I just don’t want it to end! It’s so well-written and compelling that I’ve become quite attached to the characters and the story. Rin is a disaster and I want to read about her forever! The other part is I know this book is gonna hurt… Still, I’m finishing this series in 2022, no matter what!

#2. Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

I read the first page of this book a couple months ago and instantly knew I wanted to read more. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of a ton of other books at the time, so this was set aside and never revisited. That will change in 2022! This is a Jane Eyre retelling featuring a Black protagonist. It sounds incredible! I can’t wait to pick this one back up so I can lose myself in it.

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Blog Tour: Soul-Strung by Rachel Hobbs

Hello, reader!

It’s time for another magical mystery blog tour with the wonderful The Write Reads! In today’s post, I’ll be talking about the sequel to a paranormal fantasy I read and reviewed for a previous blog tour. Soul-Strung by Rachel Hobbs picks up right where Shadow-Stained left off and it is quite the whirlwind!

Now, before I jump into my stop and my review, I want to say thank you to Dave @ The Write Reads and the author for providing me with a free e-book in exchange for participation with this tour. It is, as always, much appreciated. All views written here are definitely my own!

Alright, let’s jump in, shall we?


Book Details


  • Title: Soul-Strung
  • Author: Rachel Hobbs
  • Publication date: April 13th, 2021
  • Genre: Dark Fantasy
  • Age group: Adult
  • Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, gore, blood, violence, profanity

Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads

Synopsis


“The sequel to SHADOW-STAINED, Rachel Hobbs’ pulsating debut.

BATTLEWORN RUBY is putting her darkest days behind her, and where better to start again than the bustling Callien city? Too good to be true, when the demon of her past comes crashing back into her life, the warning he carries with him leaves it in pieces. Where Drayvex goes, chaos and mayhem trail in his wake. And she’s bound to him tighter than ever before.

SCHEMING DRAYVEX has been busy: chasing the demon turned traitor from world to world, keeping furtive tabs on the girl with a piece of his soul; oh, and running a demon empire. Concerned Ruby will be discovered alive, he enlists her on a hunt for the lapis temporis, an object that can quite literally turn back time, to fix old mistakes and kill their mutual enemy in the past. He’s done playing games.

POWER-STARVED SAYDOR is on the run. Converting to his cause one underdog at a time, his eyes and ears are everywhere. You can’t kill what you can’t find, and Saydor’s covert talent is deadly. The bigger you are, the harder you fall. And he’s just getting started.

But when you’re playing for time itself, how do you know when you’ve been here before?”

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First Lines Friday #28

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?  If you want to make your own post, feel free to use or edit the banner above, and follow the rules below:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

If you’re using Twitter, don’t forget to use #FirstLinesFridays!


Hello, reader!

We’ve made it to another Friday, which means it’s time for one of my favorite bookish memes: First Lines Friday! I’m not gonna lie, the Christmas season has me all kinds of busy, so it’s nice to be able to find a moment for my little blog. Speaking of being busy, the book that I’m featuring today was sent to me by the author for review. I haven’t started it yet, but it sounds like something that would be right up my alley! It’s going to be my next read once I get my last blog tour book of 2021 (!!) read.

So let’s see if the first few lines can make me even more eager to pick this one up!


The Line(s):

“John Eamon Buckley didn’t even know his first name until he was already a young man, but such was the timbre of the wake in which he was raised. There were of course countless landmines that had been buried during his upbringing, but as far as he could remember, that was the first one to jump up and take a sizeable bite out of his reality.”


The Hints:

This is a blend of horror and fantasy that seems perfect for the winter months.

It’s about a group of friends that find out the events in their favorite book… may be real.

And it sounds like it gets real dark from there!


The Reveal:

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Book Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

Author: Holly Jackson

Genre: Thriller

Source: Bought

Content/Trigger Warnings: For a list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on BookTriggerWarnings.com

Rating: ★★★★★

Book Links:
Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads

One Sentence Synopsis

High school senior Pip decides to try and prove that a closed case in her town isn’t as straight-forward as everyone thinks.

Favorite Quote

“But sometimes remembering isn’t for yourself, sometimes you do it just to make someone else smile.

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Blog Tour: Forget Me Not by Anca Antoci

Hello, reader!

I’ve got another The Write Reads blog tour stop for you today! Today’s post is featuring a YA fantasy that features magic, vampires, and lycanthropes: Forget Me Not by Anca Antoci. This self-published novel was a fun, fantastical romp that had me hooked!

But before I get to the post, I want to thank Dave @ The Write Reads and the author for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for my participation on this tour and an honest review. It is very much appreciated! Now, let’s get into this tour post, shall we?


Book Details


  • Title: Forget Me Not
  • Author: Anca Antoci
  • Publication date: January 31st, 2020
  • Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
  • Age group: Young Adult
  • Content/Trigger Warnings: For a list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on BookTriggerWarnings.com

Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads

Synopsis


Deceiving the vampire that saved her could get her killed, but it’s a risk she’s willing to take.

When tragedy strikes, Rae makes a terrible choice and struggles with the aftermath. In the wilderness of the Tongass rainforest, she finds herself hunted by creatures of hell, monsters she never dreamed could be real.

A hidden world, an ancient race, and a secret she discovers by accident give a new meaning to her life but only if she can escape and return to civilization. If she is to survive, Rae must comply with Ari, her reluctant hero, and allow him to wipe away any memory of this realm. Knowledge is power, but is it worth dying for?

When push comes to shove, that’s when real strength emerges.

What would it take to discover what you’re made of?”

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Down the TBR Hole #20

It’s time for a new round of Down the TBR Hole! This is where I go through my Goodreads ‘Want to Read’ shelf and do a bit of cleaning up. If you want to see the full description of what this post is all about, check out my first round HERE.


Hello, reader!

We’re inching ever closer to Christmas and ya girl is feeling pretty good about it. Why? Because I actually finished Christmas shopping before the week before Christmas Eve 😂 I’m on the ball this year! Now to get back on the ball with blogging. I may have the presents purchased but I’m still feeling s t r e s s e d. And that has made me slow down on my blogging. So, in an effort to get my steam back, I figured it would be a good day for another Down the TBR Hole!

Let’s see… last round, I ended up with 652 books on my Want to Read shelf. I’m currently sitting at 656 books which isn’t bad! It may be what I started with last round, but let’s not talk about that. Alright, let’s get into it!


The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski

Look. I have SO. MANY. fantasy series on my TBR. Some I’ve started, some I want to start, and some I added because they were popular at the time. This book/series falls into that last category. Does it sound interesting? Kinda? But not enough for me to keep it around.

Verdict: Remove


Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Hahaha, I don’t even remember adding this book. And, after reading the synopsis and glancing at a few reviews, I’m not inclined to keep it around. Again… I already have so many fantasy series on my TBR. Why keep one around I’m not interested in?

Verdict: Remove


Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley

Here’s another one I have no memory of adding, lol. This is a book filled with horrific short stories which sounds delightful! It may not be spooky season anymore, but this one is definitely sticking around.

Verdict: Keep

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Blog Tour: You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

Hello, reader!

I’m very excited to bring you my blog tour stop for one of my most anticipated books of 2021: You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus! McManus is my favorite YA mystery/thriller author, so you know when The Write Reads put out a call for bloggers to participate in the tour for her newest book, I jumped at the chance. There was no way I was missing out on this one! I’m so happy I got a spot, too, because this book was incredible.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Before we get to my post, I have some thank yous to address. First, thank you to Dave @ The Write Reads and all the behind-the-scenes folks for giving me a spot on this tour and all the work they put into making them run smoothly. Second, I want to thank the publisher, Penguin, and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for my participation and an honest review. It is, as always, much appreciated!

Now, let’s get to my post!


Book Details


  • Title: You’ll Be the Death of Me
  • Author: Karen M. McManus
  • Publication date: November 30th, 2021
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Age group: Young Adult
  • Content/Trigger Warnings: For a list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on BookTriggerWarnings.com

Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads

Synopsis


From the author of One of Us Is Lying comes a brand new addictive thriller.

Ivy, Mateo and Cal used to be close – best friends back in middle school.

Now all they have in common is a bad day. So for old time’s sake they skip school together – one last time.

But when the trio spot Brian ‘Boney’ Mahoney ditching class too, they follow him – right into a murder scene.

They all have a connection to the victim. And they’re ALL hiding something.

When their day of freedom turns deadly, it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out . . .

It’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder, perfect for fans of One Of Us Is Lying and A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder. This explosive new thriller is impossible to put down.”

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Blog Tour: The Girl of Dorcha Wood by Kristin Ward

Hello, reader!

It’s my stop on another wonderful blog tour hosted by The Write Reads! For today’s tour, I’ll be talking about a young adult fantasy novel that is the first in what promises to be an action-packed series. It’s filled with magic and intrigue, with sprinklings of Celtic folklore littered throughout. If that sounds interesting to you, stick around to see what I thought about The Girl of Dorcha Woods by Kristin Ward!

But, before I get to my review, I want to thank Dave @ The Write Reads (and all the behind-the-scenes folks!), the publisher, and the author for providing me with a free e-book in exchange for an honest review and my participation in this tour. It is very much appreciated!

Alright, enough intro, let’s dive in!


Book Details


  • Title: The Girl of Dorcha Wood
  • Author: Kristin Ward
  • Publication date: April 13th, 2021
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age group: Young Adult
  • Content/Trigger Warnings: For a list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on BookTriggerWarnings.com

Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads

Synopsis


Treacherous. Evil. Dark. Dorcha Wood is all of these. And none of them.

The people of Felmore talk of Dorcha Wood in whispers, if they speak of it at all, fearing the wrath of the Cù-Sìth should their words be carried on the wind. Those murdering beasts still roam the darkness of the forest, the last remnants of the cursed Aos Sí—a race of elves long since vanished from the world. 

But to seventeen-year-old Fiadh, it is home. A haven. A forest whose secrets become known only when it chooses to reveal them. Her life is one of balance until the outside world shatters it. 

From the moment Fiadh set eyes on Gideon, the peaceful rhythm of her life was lost. As a new path unfolds, Fiadh confronts the reality of old hatreds, the consequences of things hidden, and the truth of who she really is.”

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November 2021 Wrap Up

Hello, reader!

We’ve made it to the last month of 2021, which means it’s time to wrap up my reading in November. It was a weird one, I’ll tell ya that! I found myself in a strange, slumpy mood which means I didn’t read nearly as much as I usually do. Still, I’m happy about the books I did read because I enjoyed all of them. Seriously, I didn’t read anything under four stars.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? Let’s get to the post!


Books Read


Click on the covers to be taken to the book’s Goodreads page

Book: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Rating: ★★★★

Thoughts: This was such an interesting read. It was my first time reading a graphic memoir and I really enjoyed it. It was heartbreaking and incredibly moving at times. I also enjoyed the art style. I definitely want to continue the author’s story!


Book: Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

Rating: ★★★★

Thoughts: I read this book for a blog tour run by TBR & Beyond Tours. I absolutely loved this Black mermaid tale! It had a bit of a slow start, but it certainly gripped me by the end. And the world-building was great! You can read my full review here.


Book: Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Rating: ★★★★

Thoughts: This was such an intense, short read that completely gripped me from beginning to end. I loved the writing style, the characters, and the concept. And it packed quite the emotional punch. It definitely made me want to read more from this author!

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