Everything I Read & Loved In 2021

In 2021 I read 83 books and today I’m spilling all the cold tea on which ones made my top 10 for the year and why! (BTW it’s cold tea because I realize that this post is hella late in coming lol)

10) All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr 🎧

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Let me start by saying historical WWII fiction is not my cup of tea. My body just can’t handle the emotional trauma associated with these stories. THAT SAID, I have a few friends whom I trust to tell me when there is a book I need to save up the emotional energy to read and this was at the top of their list. And they were right, this book is hauntingly beautiful and the story is told with masterful prose. I did the audio for this one and can highly recommend it, as I definitely walked around Target crying as I listened to the ending. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

9) The Dark – Emma Haughton

Closed circle mysteries might be my favorite subgenre of all time, so I couldn’t not include this gem of a book I read in 2021 in my top 10 for the year:

“When A&E doctor Kate North arrives at the UN research station in Antarctica as the emergency replacement for the previous doctor, Jean-Luc, who died in a tragic accident while out on the ice, it seemed like the ideal way to escape her past. But then the station locks down for winter and things start to not add up and suddenly there is a dead body, twelve suspects and twenty four hours of darkness in the the most inhospitable environment on earth and they are completely cut off from the rest of the world with a killer on the loose.”

If you’ve ever read a closed circle mystery, you know how hard it is to set it up so it works, and using a remote research station in Antarctica is SUCH a good device for this one. If you are a fan of Ruth Ware I think you would LOVE this book as Emma Haughton’s writing style is incredibly similar in tone, pacing and feel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

8) A Master of Djinn – P. Djéli Clark 🎧

“Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer. So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage. Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city – or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems….”

This book felt like a combo of Harry Potter, Men In Black, Agent Carter & Indiana Jones in the best possible way. I adored reading a book set in Cairo, but not the Cairo you know, this one is a steampunk universe filled with boilerplate eunuchs, magic, ancient djinn and followers of old Egyptian Gods. If you like epic fantasy adventures and are a fan of writers like Brandon Sanderson & Jim Butcher, I think you will love this book. (Note: While there are several short novella prequels, none of them are required to read this book and the book itself is a fully self contained story) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

7) The Nothing Man – Cathrine Ryan Howard 🎧

“At the age of twelve, Eve Black was the only member of her family to survive an encounter with serial attacker the Nothing Man. Now an adult, she is obsessed with identifying the man who destroyed her life. Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle has just started reading The Nothing Man–the true-crime memoir Eve has written about her efforts to track down her family’s killer. As he turns each page, his rage grows. Because Jim’s not just interested in reading about the Nothing Man. He is the Nothing Man. Jim soon begins to realize how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won’t give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first …”

I picked this book up on a whim for free from the Audible Plus library and I am so glad I did! For starters the audiobook was superbly done (I mean really, who doesn’t want to listen to a cast of Irish voice actors read you a story?). Secondly, I loved the way the story itself was told as almost a book within a book, the mechanic worked incredibly well here. The characters were well done and fleshed out and the plotting and timing were excellent, the whole thing felt like a very fresh take on the genre. I also loved having Cork Ireland as the backdrop for the story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

6) Verity – Coleen Hoover

“Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. But when she arrives at the Crawford home ready to work, sparks start to fly between her and Jeremy and she finds an old journal that tells a very different story about who Verity was and the part she may or may not have played in her own daughter’s death.”

Ya’ll I really wish I could avoid putting this on my top 10 list because it truly feels a bit like exposing some sort of terrible guilty secret because this book was ALL KINDS OF WRONG but I sincerely COULD NOT PUT THE THING DOWN. I consumed it in one sitting. It’s messed up and very strange but so so readable lol. If you liked Gone Girl, then you might find this one highly consumable too. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

5) The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But pregnant and widowed just weeks after their wedding, with her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her late husband’s awkward cousin for company–or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure—a silent companion—that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of the estate are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition—that is until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.

I am a sucker for a good Gothic Horror story and this one ticked all the right boxes for me. Spooky old manor house in the remote countryside, check. Loads of atmosphere and mysterious goings on, check. Spooky victorian ghost story vibes, check. Switching back and forth between two timelines, one set in 1635 and the other in 1865 the story did an excellent job of moving back and forth between the two in a way that worked beautifully. I loved that this story gave me the creeps without being overtly “scary” I think even those who hate horror could handle this one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

4) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells, taken without her knowledge, became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. […] Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family, past and present, is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.”

I think as human beings, there are moments in life when veils are lifted from your eyes and you are exposed to important truths about the world that your upbringing never showed you. This book is full of those moments. From the way the scientific community as a whole has treated black individuals throughout history, to the incredibly powerful story of Henrietta Lacks herself and the impact her cells have had on the world, while she herself remains virtually unknown and buried in an unmarked grave. This is a must read book in my opinion. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

3) Fingersmith – Sarah Waters

“Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home. One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum. With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways…But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.”

I’m not going to lie, I avoided reading this book for a while because SHE THICK. THAT SAID, from the moment I started this book I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I have never been so drawn into such a big book so quickly. What makes this book really sing is the vivid imagery of 1862 England utilized by the author along with enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing right up to the last page. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, gothic stories, mysteries and physcological thrillers, I think you will love this one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

2) The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman 🎧

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves: A female cop with her first big case, A brutal murder, Welcome to… The Thursday Murder Club. In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?”

I read A LOT of murder mysteries but this one brought a smile to my face in a way that hasn’t happened in a long time. For starters, you’re going to want the audio version for this one, TRUST KADIE HERE. Not only is the audio incredibly well done, it also makes keeping track of all the different characters in the book much easier (which is a common complaint I’ve heard from those that read a physical copy of this one). What I loved about this book is that it not only had a great mystery at it’s heart, but it also had an incredible cast of unique (and hilarious) characters that brought something new and totally unique to the genre. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

1) Know My Name – Chanel Miller 🎧

You will cry if you read this book. You will be angry. You will be heartbroken, you will not be the same.

“She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time. Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words.”

Not only was this book incredibly moving, it was also impeccably written. But what made this book transcend the written word is that Chanel herself reads the book aloud for the audio recording. I cannot describe to you how powerful having her tell her own story, in her own words with her own voice was. Usually I listen to audiobooks while I clean, or work out or drive, but when I listened to Chanel tell her story I’d find myself stopping whatever I was doing so I could just sit down and listen to her talk. Be emotionally prepared for this one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Want the my thoughts on the other 73 books I read in 2021? Here’s my entire reading list along with my personal star rating for each book. Have you read any of these? Do you agree with my rating for them?

🎧 – Indicates that I listed to the audio for this story
⭐️ – Did not like, would not recommend
⭐️⭐️ – An ok read, but would probably not recommend
⭐️⭐️⭐️ – A solid fun read, my rec would depend on your interests
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – A great read, would quickly recommend to anyone
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – An emotional experience, must read book

Book TitleAuthorGenreMy Rating
Untamed 🎧Glennon DoyleMemoir⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Lost TombKent R. WeeksHistory⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Last Lecture 🎧Randy RauschMemoir⭐️💫
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage 🎧Alfred LansingHistory⭐️⭐️⭐️
You’ll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey 🎧Amber RuffinMemoir⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Eight Detectives 🎧Alex PavesiMystery⭐️⭐️⭐️
Jamaica Inn 🎧Daphne du MaurierClassics⭐️⭐️
The Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries 🎧Emily BrightwellMystery (Cozy)⭐️⭐️💫
The Mystery of Mrs. ChristieMarie BenedictHistorical Fiction⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Unfinished ClueGeorgette HeyerMystery⭐️⭐️⭐️
Clutch of Constable 🎧Ngaio MarshMystery⭐️⭐️
Behind Closed DoorsB.A. ParisSuspense/Thriller⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Sanatorium 🎧Sarah PearseMystery/Thriller⭐️⭐️
The Once and Future Witches 🎧Alix E. HarrowFantasy⭐️⭐️⭐️
Before The Coffee Gets Cold 🎧Toshikazu KawaguchiFantasy⭐️⭐️
Shadow of Night (All Souls #2)Deborah HarknessFantasy⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Perfume of the Lady in BlackLeroux GastonMystery/Classics⭐️💫
The Flight Attendant 🎧Chris BohjalianSuspense/Thriller⭐️⭐️
The Scorpion’s Tail 🎧Douglas PrestonMystery/Thriller⭐️⭐️💫
The Book of Life (All Souls #3)Deborah HarknessFantasy⭐️⭐️⭐️
Out of the Silent PlanetC.S. LewisSci-Fi/Classics⭐️⭐️
Station Eleven 🎧Emily St. John MandelSci-Fi⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga #1) 🎧Mary StewartFantasy⭐️⭐️💫
The Dry 🎧Jane HarperMystery⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Whisper Man 🎧Alex NorthMystery⭐️⭐️⭐️
The True Confessions Of Charlotte DoyleAviYA Historical Fiction⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Last Time I Lied 🎧Riley SagerSuspense /Thriller⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Force of Nature 🎧Jane HaperMystery⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Girl Before 🎧J.P. DelaneySuspense / Thriller⭐️💫
The Girl on the Train 🎧Paula HawkinsSuspense / Thriller⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Something in the Water 🎧Catherine SteadmanSuspense / Thriller⭐️⭐️⭐️
American Predator 🎧Maureen CallahanTrue Crime⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Honjin MurdersSeishi YokomizoMystery⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pieces of Her 🎧Karin SlaughterMystery / Thriller⭐️⭐️
The Circular StaircaseMary Roberts RinehartMystery / Classics⭐️⭐️
The Woman in the Window 🎧A.J. FinnSuspense / Thriller⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Lost City of Z David GrannHistory / Biography⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Family UpstairsLisa JewellSuspense / Thriller⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
In Cold BloodTruman CapoteTrue Crime⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Then She Was Gone 🎧LIsa JewellSuspense / Thriller⭐️⭐️⭐️
The MaidensAlex MichaelidesMystery / Thriller⭐️⭐️💫
Watching You 🎧Lisa JewellSuspense / Thriller⭐️⭐️💫
The Vanishing Half 🎧Brit BennettHistorical Fiction⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Chinese ShawlPatricia WentworthMystery⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Lost Apothecary 🎧Sarah PennerHistorical Fiction/Fantasy⭐️💫
The Liars Girl 🎧Catherine Ryan HowardMystery⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Feather ThiefKirk Wallace JohnsonTrue Crime⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Survive the Night 🎧Riley SagerThriller / Suspense⭐️⭐️
American Sherlock 🎧Kate Winkler DawsonBiography / History⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ready Player Two 🎧Ernest ClineSci-Fi⭐️⭐️
Mrs. Jefferies Dusts For Clues 🎧Emily BrightwellMystery (Cozy)⭐️⭐️
The Final Girl Support Group 🎧Grady HendrixHorror / Thriller⭐️⭐️
The Other Black GirlZakiya Dalila HarrisSuspense / Thriller⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Ballad of Black Tom 🎧Victor LaValleHorror⭐️⭐️⭐️
Dracula 🎧Bram StokerHorror / Classics⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Woman in Black 🎧Susan HillHorror⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Inheritance of Orquídea DivinaZoraida CórdovaFantasy⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Zig Zag Girl 🎧Elly GriffithsMystery⭐️⭐️
The Haunted HotelWilkie CollinsMystery / Classics / Horror⭐️⭐️
The Death of Jane Lawrence 🎧Caitlin StarlingGothic / Historical Fiction / Fantasy⭐️⭐️⭐️
Hell HouseRichard MathesonHorror⭐️
We Have Always Lived In The Castle 🎧Shirley JacksonHorror / Gothic / Classics⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The House Next DoorAnne Rivers SiddonsHorror⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Frankenstein 🎧Mary ShelleyHorror / Classics⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Night at the Vulcan 🎧Ngaio MarshMystery⭐️⭐️⭐️
Rock Paper Scissors 🎧Alice FeeneySuspense / Thriller⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Night She DisappearedLisa JewellMystery / Suspense / Thriller⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Survivors 🎧Jane HarperMystery⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Lost Village 🎧Camilla StenHorror / Thriller⭐️💫
Death DeservedLier Jørn HorstMystery / Crime⭐️⭐️⭐️
An Unwanted GuestShari LapenaMystery / Thriller⭐️⭐️
The Man Who Died Twice 🎧Richard OsmanMystery (Cosy)⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo 🎧Taylor Jenkins ReidHistorical Fiction / Romance⭐️⭐️⭐️

*Special thanks to my reading bestie ksbooknook for coming up with the brilliant rating system that I utilized for this post! Be sure to head over to her blog here to follow along with her reviews as well!

This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase any of the items above using the links I provided I, as the author of this list, will receive a very very small commission from the sale. While this is a great way to help support bloggers, if you are low on funds, I would highly suggest checking your local library or library apps like Libby to see if you can read any of the suggested items above for free!

One thought on “Everything I Read & Loved In 2021

  1. I’m currently reading Thursday Murder Club & I have the same complaint of keeping up with all the characters 😂. The Dark sounds really good!! I’ll definitely have to get a Colleen Hoover book…I see her a lot on booksta!

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