Top Ten Tuesday #348

Hi all! I hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas break (assuming that you don’t have to work between now and the New Year!) and that you all had a lovely Christmas however you spent it. My Christmas was much the same as always, just a quiet one at home with my family, eating lots of food and watching lots of TV, just the way we like it!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so I have another Top Ten Tuesday for you all, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is our annual end of year topic, so this year it’s Best Books of 2021. I have to admit, this year has been a bit of a mixed bag for me in terms of books, I have had some favourites, but by and large most of the books I’ve read this year have been 3 stars or less, so it’s going to be a slightly shorter list this year than usual, as I could only pick nine books that I’d rated highly enough to count as favourites for this year. But even though it’s been a bit of a mixed reading year, the books I’ve loved have really been standouts, so I’m excited to share them with you:

  1. Born A Crime-Trevor Noah-5 stars

I’ve not actually quite finished this yet, I still have about four hours left to read, but I know I will finish it by New Years Eve and I already know it’s going to be my favourite read of the year. This book actually wasn’t on my radar until I saw it popping up a lot on people’s Top Ten Tuesdays and they were all raving about it, and now I know why! It obviously tackles some very difficult topics (Noah’s childhood growing up in Apartheid South Africa) but given that Noah is a comedian, it’s naturally also very funny, and Noah is such a brilliantly engaging narrator that I’m having the best time listening to this book!

2. The Rose Code-Kate Quinn-4 stars

It was a tricky toss-up between where I would put this and The Alice Network, the other Quinn book I read this year, but ultimately I decided to give this one the No 2 spot because I loved the characters so much, I did love Eve in The Alice Network, but Charlie brought it slightly down for me, whereas I was engaged with Beth, Osla and Mab from the start of this one and I loved Osla and Beth’s character development so much. This was also the book which introduced me to my new favourite audiobook narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, who narrated no less than three of the audiobooks that I read this year and they are ALL on this list, in no small part due to her narration being so brilliant.

3. The Alice Network-Kate Quinn-4 stars

Like I said, it was a really tight toss-up between the two Kate Quinn books for spots 2 & 3 and The Rose Code just slightly beat this one out on the character front, but I still really did love this one! Eve Gardener is possibly one of my favourite historical heroines of all time, and her story really made this for me. I also loved learning about The Alice Network, which was a real life WWI spy network and its leader Louise De Bettignies, who I would desperately love to learn more about in the future as she sounds like she was such a firecracker of a woman!

4. I Am Malala-Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb-4 stars

Malala’s memoir about her childhood and her experiences under the Taliban is definitely one of the most powerful memoirs I’ve read in a while! I learned so much about Pakistan and its history and was so captivated by Malala’s story, that it was definitely one of the quickest audiobooks I read all year.

5. The Nobleman’s Guide To Scandal and Shipwrecks (Montague Siblings #3)-Mackenzi Lee-4 stars

My most recent read, and the final book of the Montague siblings trilogy. Both of its predecessors made my Best Books Of lists in the respective years I read them, so it’s only fitting that this one should complete the set. I fell in love with Adrian, and felt so much for his mental health struggles, which were marvellously handled by the narrative. The audiobook narrator for this one, Christian Coulson was also fabulous and really made this book for me. It was a wonderful way to wrap up the series, and that epilogue was just….perfect.

6. Olive, Mabel and Me-Andrew Cotter-4 stars

Apparently I’ve had a thing for memoirs this year? Anyway, Andrew Cotter’s book about his Labradors Olive and Mabel and how they became lockdown superstars was such a fun, engaging read and a dose of humorous stories about loveable dogs was exactly what I needed in this, the second year of our pandemic, 2021. I’m really excited to read his second book, which I think is probably going to be one of my first audios of 2022.

7. The Last Bookshop In London-Madeline Martin-3.5 stars

This was such a wonderful surprise, as it really wasn’t a book that was on my radar at all, until I came across it on someone’s Top Ten Tuesday list one week and thought it sounded right up my street. You wouldn’t necessarily think that “cosy” and “WWII story” would go together, but that’s exactly what this book was, though of course it had it’s darker moments (it is set in a war after all), it was such a lovely story about the power of resilience and community, and of course….books and it was such a wonderful little surprise for me as I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I’m super excited for Martin’s next book too now, as it’s about librarian spies in WWII which sounds amazing!

8. A Psalm of Storms and Silence (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #2)-Roseanne A. Brown-3.5 stars

Whilst I didn’t love this one quite as much as the first book in the duology, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, it was still a good read, and my love of the characters and the fantastic audiobook narration did win out over the lacklustre pacing and less than satisfying ending enough for me to still say that this was one of my favourite reads of the year. I look forward to seeing what Roseanne Brown does next!

9. The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2)-Roshani Chokshi-3.5 stars

The sequel to The Gilded Wolves didn’t quite reach the heights of the first book for me, largely due to pacing issues, but I still really, really loved the characters which makes it one of the standouts of the year for me anyway. The cliffhanger at the end of the book was infuriating and I really need to read the third one soon so I can find out how it all wraps up for Severin, Laila, Enrique, Zofia and Hypnos.

So there we go, those were my favourite books of 2021! It was quite interesting for me to see how different a bunch I had this year, as last year, more than half of my list were fantasy books, and this year, the majority were either historical fiction or memoirs, with only the two fantasy books, despite fantasy usually being my favourite genre. I don’t know if this is just a blip as I did read less this year overall, but it will be interesting to come back next year when I’ll hopefully have read more, and see if the trend remains the same. What were your favourite books this year? Have you read any of mine? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with my first Top Ten Tuesday of 2022, it’s our annual Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2022. I read basically none of the books on either of my Most Anticipated Lists for 2021, so hopefully I will do better with next years’ lists!

In the meantime, as is tradition for the end of the year, there will be a lot of tying things up on the blog this week. I’ve got one last review for 2021 to post (The Nobleman’s Guide To Scandal and Shipwrecks), which I’m hoping to get up tomorrow, my End of Year Survey and my End of Year Check In, which I’m hoping to have both up in the next few days as well so I can start fresh in 2022 with hopefully very little 2021 stuff needing to be completed in January!

52 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday #348

  1. Ellie Warren 28/12/2021 / 1:38 pm

    I love the characters in The Gilded Wolves too but I think her pacing is a little wobbly at times. I’m really glad I read the whole trilogy though and the last book is worth reading for sure.

    • iloveheartlandx 04/01/2022 / 8:22 pm

      I would definitely agree! Oh that’s good to hear πŸ™‚

  2. lindseyhabets 28/12/2021 / 2:05 pm

    Great list! I haven’t read any of these yet, but so many are on my TBR so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed them!

    • iloveheartlandx 04/01/2022 / 8:22 pm

      Thanks! I hope you enjoy them when you read them πŸ™‚

  3. Leslie 28/12/2021 / 3:54 pm

    Born A Crime is on my hold list at the library! I hope that 2022 is a much better reading year for you with many 5 star reads! ❀

  4. bitchbookshelf 28/12/2021 / 5:56 pm

    Awesome post. A few of these are on my TBR.

  5. Susan 28/12/2021 / 5:57 pm

    THE LAST BOOKSHOP IN LONDON is one I meant to read this year and just never got to. Hopefully, I’ll be able to enjoy it in the new year.

    Happy TTT!


  6. Of Pens and Swords 28/12/2021 / 7:47 pm

    I just bought The Nobleman’s Guide To Scandal and Shipwrecks today, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it. I’ve been meaning to read The Silvered Serpents for ages, but I’m mildly concerned that I might not remember enough of the first book to make sense of it.

    Here’s my TTT:

    • iloveheartlandx 04/01/2022 / 8:20 pm

      I hope you enjoy it! I highly recommend series recaps websites, they have helped me a lot before when coming back to books a while after the previous series instalment.

  7. Carol 28/12/2021 / 9:21 pm

    What a fabulous selection! I love Kate Quinn! And an excellent narrator can make all the difference! Project Hail Mary is my fav audio book this year! Ray Porter is another amazing narrator!

    • iloveheartlandx 04/01/2022 / 8:18 pm

      Thank you! I totally agree, my favourite audiobooks have definitely been the ones with the most memorable narrators.

  8. Carol 28/12/2021 / 9:22 pm

    …also… Last Bookshop in London made my best of list for 2020!

  9. 1girl2manybooks 29/12/2021 / 12:05 am

    I read the first Gilded Wolves book ages ago and I own the 2nd book but I’m going to have to re-read the first because I honestly do not remember anything about it. I want to read Trevor Noah’s book and also I Am Malala.

    • iloveheartlandx 04/01/2022 / 8:17 pm

      Ha ha I definitely know that feeling! I hope you enjoy them all πŸ™‚

  10. thebookishlibra 29/12/2021 / 2:04 am

    I’m sorry to hear your reads have been such a mixed bag this year. Hopefully 2022 will make up for it. I really loved both of those Kate Quinn books as well.

  11. Rhosymedre (@Rhosymedre) 29/12/2021 / 2:33 am

    I’m fascinated by how some of us had so many favorites that 20 slots weren’t enough, and others couldn’t quite pull 10. Here’s to a better year of reading in 2022 — but on the bright side, at least you still found some standouts! Smetimes you just gotta do the book equivalent of kissing a lotta frogs to find the prince(s).

    I still have Mabel& Oliver on my TBR, but I’m adding The Last Bookshop in London too. I’ll be back to check out your end-of-year posts!

    • iloveheartlandx 04/01/2022 / 8:15 pm

      Yeah it was definitely interesting to see the mix when visiting other people’s posts! Definitely here’s to that! Ha ha yes, I definitely did do that in 2021. I hope you enjoy both of them. Thank you πŸ™‚

  12. Louise 29/12/2021 / 4:45 pm

    Great list I’ve not read any of them yet, but a couple are on my ‘eventual TBR’ list. Happy New Year!

  13. cahughes_bookreviews 29/12/2021 / 8:31 pm

    Born A Crime and I Am Malala are two of my all time favorites! And I had a similarly mixed bag in terms of my reading this year. Great list!

  14. Rissi 29/12/2021 / 9:20 pm

    I feel like I was seeing Kate Quinn’s book EVERYWHERE for a while. Not one I’ve read, but if I remember right the cover was really pretty. May be one I’ll have to look into. Thanks a bunch for visiting Finding Wonderland this week! Hope you had the best Christmas (sounds like a relaxing one) and that 2022 is great for you. πŸ™‚

    • iloveheartlandx 04/01/2022 / 8:12 pm

      Her marketing team definitely did a great job! Yes, the cover is very pretty, a lovely yellow. I highly recommend it, it’s a really great book. No problem. Yes it always is in our house πŸ™‚

  15. Marg 01/01/2022 / 12:47 am

    I need to read The Last Bookshop this year! I have heard so many good things about it!

  16. Annemieke 02/01/2022 / 3:09 pm

    It is always fairly great when you can switch genres like that. Sometimes you just have more need of one over the other.

    • iloveheartlandx 04/01/2022 / 8:08 pm

      Yes definitely! I’ve always been fairly good at reading in a lot of different genres, which is definitely helpful when the mood is not striking me for a usual favourite.

  17. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight 03/01/2022 / 2:10 am

    I have not read any of these yet, but Trevor Noah’s is high on my list, so I am glad that you enjoyed it so much! I am also really looking forward to A Psalm of Storms and Silence, so I am glad to see it make the cut even if you didn’t love it quite as much as book one! Hopefully 2022 will bring you many more favorites!!

    • iloveheartlandx 04/01/2022 / 8:07 pm

      I hope you enjoy them both when you read them! Thank you, for you too πŸ™‚

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