My Favorite Reads of 2021
The Camelot Rising trilogy by Kiersten White
Is this cheating? I don’t care. I LOVE Kiersten White, but especially when writing historical fantasy about kick-butt girls. I’m sure some people think Arthuriana can be boring, like how many times can you retell the same story, but I’m not one of those people (don’t ask me how many Arthuriana books I’ve read this year…). Despite all these familiar elements, this book had so many great twists and turns, I really didn’t know who to root for when! Highly recommend.
A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
Is it a Best of the Year list for me without Alix E. Harrow on it?? For such a slim story, there was so much going on here, and it was beautifully written. Sleeping Beauty retellings are also my jam, so I knew I had to pick this one up. It had everything you would expect from an Alix E. Harrow book, but faster. A must read for her fans.
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
If you loved Six of Crows and The Gilded Wolves (uh, guilty, obviously), you will love Little Thieves. The worldbuilding was phenomenal, the villains were realistically terrifying, and the magic was a delight. If you love to root for a terrible protagonist with a group of precious cinnamon roll friends, this is for you!
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
So, it turns out, I love a fake dating trope. If you were to ask me, what’s your favorite romance trope, I probably wouldn’t say fake dating! And yet here I am, year after year loving these fake dating books. I also loved Hani and Ishu’s shared Bengali-Irish community and the way they both grow and figure out what they really want to do in life. So very cute.
A former sitcom star gay uncle taking care of a precocious niece and nephew in Palm Springs??? The shenanigans – hilarious. The quips – laugh out loud funny. The growing relationship between family members – heartwarming. My only complaint was a weird conflict in the middle of the book that I could simply have done without! Give me all the frivolity of lounging by the pool with a rescued dog and a mocktail, floating on an inflatable flamingo. More, please!
Again, is it a Best of the Year list for me without Sarah MacLean on it? Everything you know and love about Sarah MacLean but So Much Punchier. No, literally. Like, secret missions, knocking people out, lots of sexy action.
Graceling: the Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds
Graceling is probably my favorite book of all time. I was so excited for this graphic novel adaptation, and it did not disappoint. It was a delight to see this story in a visual medium, and the art was simply beautiful.
Again, a fake dating trope. How did I get here?! I loved Rhiannon and Samson and the competition between their companies. I also loved the side characters and family histories, just a really fun and sexy read.
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
If you love Jane the Virgin and telenovelas, you will love this book! I loved Jasmine’s drive and ambition, and Ashton gave me just enough Rogelio De La Vega vibes to keep me invested. Very spicy.
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
This book is STUNNING. I love a graphic novel that uses specific color palettes for storytelling, and this will be my new go-to example for it. The interwoven stories of Tiến, his mother, and Vietnamese fairytales are deeply moving.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
I was so hooked by this story that I picked up an actual book to read faster than the audiobook would let me! I kind of love stories about glamorous Jazz Age ladies being thrown into spooky shenanigans (ahem, The Diviners). Noemí was perfection in this role, the house was exceptionally creepy, and the ending was not at all what I expected.
As I mentioned, I read A Lot of Arthuriana this year, so it makes sense that more than one would end up on this list. Legendborn was phenomenal. I love the way Arthuriana was reimagined as a channeling of the original Round Table members and how this plays out in an American setting. I love Bree and can’t wait to see more of her story play out as she learns her family history.