top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read in 2021

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I told you I would be back with my Best list after posting my Hit or Miss list yesterday for 2021. These books are my 5-star reads, the crème de la crème, the ones I wish more people would read if they haven’t already.

I know not everyone may agree with all the books here, and I appreciate and respect your opinion. But hopefully, if you haven’t read some of these, this will encourage you to find a new read for 2022.

Are you ready?

1. If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (review)

If you stopped by my other post yesterday, you would know I couldn’t stomach these real-life married couple’s most recent release. Yet the pleasant surprise of finding I absolutely ADORED this story loosely based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew almost makes up for it. The protagonist isn’t necessarily likable (initially), but her character development and growing attraction for THE most unlikely boy was wonderful to witness.

2. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (review) / Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson (review)

I’m sure these 2 books need no explanations. I’m a little bit later in the game with the first book, but out of the YA mystery genre, Holly Jackson is hands down the queen. I couldn’t put these down. In fact, I pulled all nighters to finish them in one sitting. Written with interview formats, investigative notes and interesting maps, I’ve heard the audiobook is like a true crime podcast. In book form, it’s a masterpiece. And the storytelling is 100% gripping, twisty and heart wrenching at the same time. You MUST read!

3. Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce (review)

Who doesn’t fancy a British boyfriend? At least, I wouldn’t mind. This cute romance story about a girl escaping everything about herself after a humiliating rejection from a boy tries to redefine who she is in order to impress the British guy who’s taken an interest in her at boarding school. Little does she know, is he really the right guy for her? I loved the romantic angst and interesting secondary characters that helped drive the story.

4. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn (review)

OMG, this really shouldn’t require any introduction, but this might just be THE #1 read of my year. Fantastically balanced between an excellently researched plot about codebreakers, mostly women, in Britain who helped decode enemy messages in WWII and a char active driven storyline of the 3 women we followed, I couldn’t put this book down even if my life depended on it. I was sucked into the past that brought the 3 women together in war, and the present day mysterious betrayal that rocked their tight knit group. I can’t rave enough about this book except that it surely is a MUST READ for anyone, even if you don’t fancy yourself a historical fiction kinda reader.

5. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (review)

While it’s literally EVERYWHERE in the book community, the hype really lives up to its name. I particularly loved this so much because I’m a scientist and experienced the life of a lab rat in school. I felt so seen by the protagonist (and the author). But even if that means nothing to you, it was still a great fake dating romance story that most definitely will pull the heartstrings as these 2 unlikely characters fall in love with one another.

6. Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross (review)

A gorgeously written tale about breaking a century long curse and a girl willing to go to great lengths to win back what was her family’s, this was an unexpected love for me that blew me away. I don’t know if it’s just that I love seeing a protagonist fall for someone who doesn’t know their true self because they’re in disguise, but this book was excellently done for this trope, and the lore surrounding the world it was set in was beautiful to slip into.

7. Lore by Alexandra Bracken (review)

Think The Hunger Games meets the Percy Jackson where the gods are being hunted so that special selected humans could become gods themselves. The premise was super intriguing, and the mystery surrounding which god could be trusted definitely made it all the more interesting to continue. It’s also a standalone fantasy, which is rare these days, but everything worked so well in this one book because of it. It’s the whole package and I just couldn’t put it down!

8. Influence by Sara Shepard and Lilia Buckingham (review)

I guess I’m in (or close to) the generation of heavy social media user so this book both felt realistic to me and also intriguing to follow the super influencers everyone else looks up to. Plus, I love a good mystery so when it changed tones that included a murder, I was only hooked even more. What dangers lurk in the glamorous lives of influencers? Find out in these pages!

9. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (review)

Disclaimer: I have read the expose released in 2019 about the author and his past that led to this publication. I don’t endorse any of that kind of atrocious behaviour, and only read this book because it was before I learned of this article. If you feel uncomfortable reading this book because of it, I fully understand.

You may have heard this title recently as it was finally released as a film featuring Amy Adams. (Don’t watch that by the way, it definitely was nowhere near as good as the book). I liked the psychological aspects of the book, focusing on an agoraphobic woman who was also a psychiatrist herself. When you don’t know who or what perspective to trust, it gets particularly thrilling to unearth surprising twists coming at every angle. I can appreciate that in this writing even if I don’t like Finn.

10. Game Changer by Neal Shusterman (review)

I have read Neal’s other books but this standalone is quite different from those types of stories. It’s a hallmark of a good writer to still create something different than his usual genre, and this piece borne out of a pandemic writing period reflected the diversity in thoughts. This novel asks one question: if your life changed just in ONE particular way, would the outcome of your future completely change as well? Would those futures be better or worse than the one you had on track for you? I love the way it makes me think and reflect, carries a good message, and is the type of book to start discussions.

So yes, this is the last TTT of 2021. It has been a wonderful year of joining TTT and I look forward to doing more next year. I hope you find something interesting to choose from for future reading in this list.

Until next time, in 2022!

27 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read in 2021”

  1. I always love seeing peoples favorite books! I’ve read Good Girls Guide To Murder but haven’t continued the series and I really need to! I loved the first one.

    Dreams Lie Beneath is on my favorite books of the year too, it was so wonderful~ I’m glad I read it before the year ended!

    Hot British Boyfriend has been on my TBR for ages – I really need to pick it up, I’m glad to see its one of your favorites.

    I’ve only read Scythe series from Neal Shusterman, but I’ve always wanted to pick up more of his works so I’ll have to check out Game Changer too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you loved Dreams Lie Beneath too! It was such a lovely, magical read and Clem was an amazing protagonist.

      I can’t wait to hear what you think of Hot British Boyfriend and Game Changer. I will note Game Changer is quite different from Scythe but it is the same kind of thought provoking message I’ve come to expect from Neal

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never knew where Dreams would take me and thats the best feeling in a book, the story being unpredictable! I thought Clem was so good, I love her!!

        I’m here for different, and I agree, the thought provoking part is what made me love Scythe so much more so than the plot, so I look forward to Game Changer!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t realize Holly Jackson’s books had such cool formatting — from cover and premise alone they didn’t seem particularly standout to me, but thanks to your blurb I am gonna have to bump A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder WAY up on my 2022 TBR. I am also newly interested in Hot British Boyfriend.

    And while it didn’t make my top 25, I had a really fun time with Influence too (it certainly exceeded my expectations), so good choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, the format is definitely interesting, but it’s more prevalent in book 1 and a bit in book 2. Definitely worth the hype surrounding it though! I hope you’ll enjoy when you get to it 😊 Hot British Boyfriend is also a lovely cute story if you’re in the mood for something like that.

      Haha and Influence isn’t for everyone but I’m glad it surpassed your expectations too. I think that’s probably why I liked it so much since it pleasantly surprised me


  3. Oops, one more thought — I didn’t realize who the authors of If I’m Being Honest were, and I’ve definitely been leery of some of their others, so this reassures me! I love the cover of this book, and I am 100% gonna have to read it this summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg yes. Their books are either hit or miss for me, I’m finding. I just liked the particular romance in If I’m Being Honest because we know she’s not the nice one and the “nerdy” loser guy she falls for isn’t so stereotypical either


  4. I read The woman in the Window, and liked it, before I heard about the author stuff too. Yikes! Good to know about the show as well, I’ll skip it…

    Lore I definitely want to read!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. #2!! I loved AGGGTM – it’s one of my favourite series and I can’t wait to see what Holly Jackson writes next. Great to see that it made your list!

    Liked by 1 person

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