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:
- 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!