Best Book of 2021 (and my other top 11 favorites)

Last year, I read a grand total of 69 books! There were two big factors in being able to read so many when I had read so little the previous year:

  1. I read more in my downtime (before bed, while waiting, etc.) instead of just messing around on my phone.
  2. I discovered that if I’m in the zone, I can read 50-100 pages in an hours. Many of the books I read this year I read in four days, but once I got on a roll, my goal was one book a week.

Now, picking a favorite from all of these great books would usually be quite a challenge. I read a LOT of winners this year, so my bullet journal really came in clutch! I made a book bracket page where I could just pick the best book each month (which was a toughy on all it’s own, believe me!) and then just compare month to month until I had narrowed down the best of the year!

And it was tricky as all get out to decide each month! But as the year went on, the bracket spoke for itself, and here were the results!

Favorite Book for January

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova (Hollow Crown Duology #1)

This book blew my breeches off! Córdova is a master of storytelling, and one of my top favorite new authors I discovered this year! Literally everything she writes is pure gold.

This book especially spoke to me because it dealt with themes that I could really relate to, and Renata was an incredible relatable character herself. I really felt seen in this story, and that’s what made it so special.

Plus, the worldbuilding is absolutely phenomenal, and the story has some of the best twists and surprises!

Favorite Book for February

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I hadn’t read Caraval until this year. I know. But this was the year of the YA Fantasy Novel for me! I had been reading a lot of thrillers for the past few years, and dove in deep with YA again this year.

When I first finished this book, I was like “okay. that was good. but I’m not sure if I need to read the rest in the series.”

And then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Thinking about the whimsical worldbuilding, about how fierce and authentic Scarlet’s character was, about the surprises, and twists, and gotchya moments.

And then I was sold. Yep. This is a winner.

Favorite Book of March

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

I am a total Hunger Games girl. So when my cousin Valerie lent me The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I didn’t know what exactly to expect, except something brilliant.

This was such a fascinating story and I couldn’t put it down, even though it’s a whopp’n thicc book. I loved getting to see earlier on in Panem history, and how the Hunger Games evolved over the course of the story.

But of course, it’s the story of a villain. His fall from the light into darkness. And that was crazy to follow. Not only was this story brililantly told, it was brave and bold in it’s telling. It didn’t shy away from shining a light on the villain, give you sympathy for him and hope for his redemption.

Favorite Book of April

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I was so surprised by this book! I thought I would enjoy it, it seemed interesting, but the twists were brilliant! It was so many things I like in a story, and reminded me of a more mature (but still clean) Gail Carson Levine book. The world building and magic were great, the storytelling spot on, and the characters were all unique and relatable in their own ways. 

I went on to read the rest of the series pretty quickly, and enjoyed it from beginning to end. I’m a sucket for political intrigue and court thrillers – if you haven’t noticed – and so this really struck gold for me.

And I just loved Jude. She was so unique and inspiring in her own right.

Favorite Book of May

Illusionary (Hollow Crown Duology #2) by Zoraida Cordova

Zoraida Cordova is a master storyteller, as I have mentioned before! In May, Illusionary was released and I bought it the first day and devoured it.

She took book two to places I never imagined this story would go, and every single character was so memorable. I live how masterfully she weaves the story, with every twist and turn, so that there is not a single hole. I loved how gently told the ending was, with such warmth and closure. The theme of trauma was handled very well, with a powerful message that you have to face your past in order to let go of it. The romance was always very well spun – she set everything up so perfectly in part one. (Although, for younger readers there are a couple “intimate scenes” although nothing graphic.)

I definitely shed a tear at the end. Loved this duology and I can’t wait read it again!

Favorite Book of June

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

I don’t even know how to begin this review but I was completely Enchanted by this book! It reminded me a lot of The Haunting of Hill House in a strange way, but I came to learn that Craig and I both have a super love of Mike Flanagan, so it’s no wonder that she is another new auto-buy author for me!

This was great story with some of the best twists I’ve read in a long time! I love ghost stories, and this one really pulled me in with the initial mystery that kept evolving and twisting as it went. The characters are all delightful to follow, and I found myself loving them, even when I know I should have been more wary. This is a book I will no doubt read again, and likely very soon at that!

Also, I will be making wishes only to have this book turned into a movie or limited series until my shooting star falls.

Favorite Book of July

Dearest Josephine by Caroline George

I get it. The hype is valid.
I don’t want to ramble so I will just say that the writing is good and authentic, but here are my two main thoughts:

1) Form: I love epistolaries so the form of this book was beautiful and I was enthralled. I love books that take advantage if the medium as this one has. The author used the emails, texts, letters, and novel chapters to weave a tale with skill and heart. This story could not be told any other way except on the page and I adore it, and respect the courage and risk necessary to accomplish it.

2) Theme: I love how simple and subtle, yet profound this book is, without being preachy.. It started as a cozy read and by the midpoint it was a spiraling story that felt more like I was holding a mirror than a book at times. How often do we get emotionally invested in things and people which are not able to return our affections? We so desire to be fully loved for who we are that we see ourselves in the stories we read. Sometimes, we long for the lives and heroes of those stories to the point of being blinded to the goodness God gives us daily, in the special ways that each of us need.
In the end, God knows how to answer our prayers in the best way – and it’s not always bringing our books to life.

It’s a great reminder to rest in God’s perfect timing and live in the present!

Favorite Book of August

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

I don’t know how to truly gather my thoughts for this incredible story but I will do my best!

Because I loved it from beginning to end. Every moment and twist and story beat and character!

This book is such an amazing exploration of selfishness vs. sacrifice, and bitterness vs. forgiveness. It illustrates with precision and skill how quick we are to accuse the wrong person, to accuse anyone, when things don’t go as we want. How we can let bitterness and selfishness take hold and rot us from the inside out. How we need to have compassion, mercy, and forgiveness for each other, because seeking revenge is an endless cycle.

Ellerie and Whitaker are such great characters to follow and written with such depth and sympathy. Love them both! And the entire Downing family really. Erin A. Craig really understands family dynamics.

Favorite Book for September

The Herbwitch’s Apprentice by Ireen Chau

I literally bought this book because the author is an artist I really admire, and because this book had a 1 star review that said it reminded them of Barbie movie…which in my opinion is a home run!

This book was absolutely delightful and I cannot recommend it enough! It made me laugh out loud, like not just smile, LAUGH, but it was made me cry which was surprising after so much laughing. It is clever and humorous, heartfelt and charming.

I can’t wait for the next story from this author!

Favorite Book of October

Between Burning Worlds (System Divine Trilogy #2) by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

It’s a little unfair to all of you that Between Burning Worlds, Book 2 in the trilogy, was even better than book 1 (which was a total masterpiece as well). How often does a series just get better and better with each book?

But this was a masterpiece! I wasn’t sure it could get better after Sky Without Stars but it definitely did!

I dare to say that, even though Les Miserables is my favorite classic, I think this series may be an improvement on the original story. I love the POVs, and all of the new characters and literally everything.

Favorite Book of November

Suns Will Rise (System Divine Trilogy #3) by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

Best book series I have read this year! I don’t even know where to begin!

I was very satisfied with the ending I think because I was anticipating so much miserable-ness, expecting the ending to be just the same as the original story, so I valued that the authors were brave enough to do something different. And I think it makes sense for these characters in this universe.
I thought I knew exactly what would happen at the end, so the fact that is was differently gave me and overwhelming feeling of relief.

Also, there are so many beautiful sentiments and lines in this series. The writing is not only masterful, but beautiful, genuine, and inspiring with truthful heart. It’s just amazing.
I can’t wait to read this series again in the future! If you love brilliant world building, beautiful writing, and authentic realistic characters, strap in! It’s a long ride but it is so worth it!

And in case you are wondering how the book fight is going, here is the total breakdown of the bracket for the year (left) and my blank bracket ready to go for 2022 (right):

If whatever I read in December beats out the System Divine trilogy, The Hollow Crown duology, and Dearest Josephine, it’ll be my favorite book of the year! Let’s see…

Favorite Book of December

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black

This book is absolutely stunning, both the story and the illustrations. I think I may love it more than the trilogy! Maybe that is a stretch, but to sit and read it in one sitting was such a delightful evening!

Plus the story was just beautiful. Getting inside Cardan’s head was a great experience, to see how his hurts shaped him and made him think he could nothing, or nothing but hatred, and then to learn that hearts can feel more powerful things than hatred or nothing at all.

Truly magnificent! I will definitely be reading this again!

And you can win your pick of one of these twelve books by entering my Newsletter Giveaway!

Subscribe to my newsletter here and find more ways to increase your odds on my Instagram giveaway post.

And The Best Book I Read This Year Is….

Suns Will Rise (System Divine trilogy) by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

One Comment Add yours

  1. kimmisk says:

    Wow! 69 books! You are an inspiration. And you’ve given me a great reading list for next year.


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