Bookish Item | 2021 Favorite Reads: 2021 Releases Edition

We’ve been quite busy with looking back at 2021 and have talked about favorite graphic novels/manga, romance, and backlist books this week. Today it’s time to talk about our favorite 2021 release. Last year was filled with amazing releases, so let’s see the books we ended up loving!


Sometimes the only downfall of reading quite a bit every year is that it’s really hard to choose favorites at the end of the year. I’m very lucky that most of the books I pick up end up being something I love. I read 102 books that were released in 2021. Out of those 102 there were 62 that I rated 4 stars and up. This isn’t an easy list to make, haha. Let’s give it a try!

15. Covet – Tracy Wolff
4 stars

If I’m honest I was shocked by how invested I got into the Crave series. Covet was another amazing ride and ended in a way that made me wanting more. Unfortunately, the fourth book was delayed, so I’ve had to wait longer. I can’t wait to continue the adventure with Grade, Hudson, Jaxon and the rest of the crew continues.

14. Six Crimson Cranes – Elizabeth Lim
4 stars

After enjoying Spin the Dawn I was excited to see this author writing another book. This story is magical, has lots of mythology, amazing characters, world-building and kept me wanting more. I was done with the book before I knew it and I’m glad we’re getting a sequel. My only complaint would be the ending felt just a tad bit rushed.

13. Sweet & Bitter Magic – Adrienne Tooley
4 stars

Sweet & Bitter Magic is another book on this list that was truly magical. Magic is definitely seen different in this world and one character sees the magical plague taking over their world. It was interesting to have some type of plague taking place with everything going on in our world. This is a standalone and the author was able to give me enough of everything to enjoy the story. It was the perfect balance of magic, adventure, and romance.

12. The Box in the Woods – Maureen Johnson
4 stars

The Box in the Woods is a part of the Truly Devious series, but takes place after all of the events in the first three books. Stevie and her friends go on a new adventure at a camp. Another great ride, but I have to say I loved the first three books just a bit more.

11. With You All the Way – Cynthia Hand
4 stars

Cynthia Hand writes emotional contemporary books that I’ve enjoyed. With You All the Way was on my most anticipated releases list for 2021 and it didn’t disappoint. The family dynamics were definitely interesting, but the biggest topic of this book was sex. Ada thinks having sex will solve all of her problems, but as the book goes on she really starts thinking about what it means if she does or doesn’t. The book is very sex positive, but shows all sides. It was so well done.

10. My Contrary Mary – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows
4,5 stars

These authors came together again to twist history all over again. Another fun ride even if it was more serious than the first trilogy I really enjoyed it. To be honest I can’t even tell three authors wrote this together. The writing is so smooth. I loved all the references to movies and other pop culture. It really was a fun read.

9. Half Sick of Shadows – Laura Sebastian
4,5 stars

Half Sick of Shadows is a re-imagining of the Arthurian myth. I ended up loving this more than I expected. It was my first retelling of the Arthurian myth and didn’t disappoint. This book was dark and definitely isn’t kind to all of the characters. I’ll definitely revisit this one.

8. A History of Wild Places – Shea Ernshaw
4,5 stars

A History of Wild Places is a book like no other. I finished reading it and I’m still having a hard time putting into words what I thought. It’s dark, nuts, dramatic, but also so addicting. I just couldn’t put it down. This may be a book I need to read all over again before I can review it.

7. Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid
5 stars

Taylor Jenkins Reid has become an auto-buy author for me. Malibu Rising was a book that proved why all over again. Books involving families always get my interest and let me tell you that the Rivas are an interesting one. A lot has happened to their family and to do the different members individually. The book leads up to a big party and things get nuts. I could easily read more books about this family.

6. Bridge of Souls – V.E. Schwab
5 stars

This is the second list V.E. Schwab has made it on to and another amazing book. Bridge of Souls is the third book in the Cassidy Blake series. Cass and her family are in New Orleans for her parents’ show and it was another amazing story. I loved how dark and creepy it was and this story had me on the edge of my seat. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the author eventually writes more books about Cass.

5. Ace of Spades – Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
5 stars

Ace of Spades is a book that I saw everywhere leading up to its release. This is a YA thriller that takes place at a private school and it was so intense. To be honest I don’t want to tell you too much about this one, because it’s truly a book you need to experience while reading. It’s definitely dark at times and not always easy to read, but it’s one I won’t forget anytime soon.

4. Instructions for Dancing – Nicola Yoon
5 stars

Nicola Yoon has written a couple of contemporary books I enjoyed, but not one that hit me in the feels like this one. Instructions for Dancing has a main character that doesn’t believe in love. Things happen and after that she sees how a couple’s romance started and how it will end when she witnesses them kissing. This is not easy at all. Especially when she starts falling in love and sees her own future. Instructions for Dancing is a very emotional and amazing book.

3. Better Than the Movies – Lynn Painter
5 stars

Lynn Painter knew how to get my attention by writing a character that loves romcoms as much as I do. There are movie quotes at the start of every chapter and quite a few movie references and movies mentioned. Liz and Wes have gained such a special place in my heart that I read this book twice in 2021.

2. How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe – Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
5 stars

How Moon Fuentez is such a special book. Our main character Moon has been through a lot in her life and sees herself as the “lesser” sister in her family. Her life is basically all about her sister’s life. When she goes on tour with her during the summer she starts doing more for herself and I loved seeing her grow. This book definitely has its darker side and made me angry at times, but how everything plays out was so worth it.

1. The Guncle – Steven Rowley
5 stars

The Guncle is a book about family, friends, love, grief, acceptance, and moving on. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Our main character Patrick (or Gay Uncle Patrick, GUP for short) lost the love of his life and a while later his best friend. His best friend was married to his brother, so the whole family is grieving. When his brother is off getting help he takes care of his niece and nephew and they have quite the adventure. While learning to take care of them and deal with their grief he starts thinking about his own. I laughed and cried while reading and I won’t forget it anytime soon.


I took a look at the books I read this year and I realised I only gave 10 2021 releases 4 stars or higher. So for this list I decided to only do a top 10. It just doesn’t feel right to put a book on a favorite list if I gave it less than 4 stars. The top 3 was really hard to decide and I’m still not completely sure about it haha. But this is what I went with so let’s jump in.

10. The 22 Murders of Madison May – Max Berry
4 stars

I immediately loved the concept of this novel. After being interested in this because of the title, the idea of travel between dual realities was what made me pick this up. I love time travel and dual realities and other concepts like that. The characters weren’t my favorite but the rest of the novel definitely made up for that. Would love to read more books like that.

9. The Accidental Apprentice – Amanda Foody
4 stars 

This was such a fun middle grade novel! It’s the first in the series and I really enjoyed the world we got see a little bit of. The characters were a lot of fun and I loved reading about their new found friendship. I definitely want to read the sequel.

8. Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir
4,5 stars

This was one of my audiobooks I listened through Audible and I loved it. I read The Martian a while ago and really enjoyed that. After hearing not so great things about Artemis, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read Project Hail Mary. But it came highly recommend and it did not disappoint. I loved the characters, the plot and some of the twists made me quite emotional!

7. All Of Us Villains – Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman
4,5 stars

This was definitely one of my highest anticipated releases and I was so happy to receive an eARC of it! I was hoping for something dark and brutal since they compared it to the Hunger Games. And while I felt like it lacked a little bit in the first half or so, it did get more brutal later on. I’m very excited for the sequel and really came to care about certain characters. There was a very dark twist I never saw coming and I loved it!

6. My Contrary Mary – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows
4,5 stars

Another highly anticipated release! I loved the Janies series by these ladies and was so excited to return to the world of My Lady Jane. This novel felt a bit more serious than the previous books somehow. There was still a lot of humor but overall it felt less light-hearted.

5. Bridge of Souls – V.E. Schwab
5 stars

Another list, another V.E. Schwab book. Victoria is one of my favorite authors so it’s not surprising the made it to the top 5. I really love this MG ghost series and I’m very sad this is the last book. Cass and Jacob are great characters and I love their friendship. This one also had another great setting!

4. Perfect on Paper – Sophie Gonzales
5 stars

I wasn’t expecting for this to be a 5 star read but wow did I love this book. It’s a YA queer contemporary and since I don’t read a lot of romance centred books (although I feel like I actually do so more and more haha) I wasn’t expecting to love it. However, this one was great! I really liked Darcy and loved what she represented. This was cute, funny and had great rep.

3. The Hawthorne Legacy – Jennifer Lynn Barnes
5 stars

Another favorite author of mine, and the sequel to one of my favorite books of last year. I was so excited to read this and it did not disappoint. These characters are so inserting and I loved the twists and turns throughout the novel. I can’t wait for the last book in the series and whatever story Jennifer comes up with next.

2. Ace of Spades – Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
5 stars

I heard a lot about Ace of Spades and everyone seemed to love this debut novel. Of course I wanted to read it as well but I don’t think I truly believed it could live up to my expectations. But I was very wrong! This was so good!! I loved the plot, was outraged at what was happening but also loved reading about these characters. You have to dive in without knowing too much, just know you’ll love it.

1. Rule of Wolves – Leigh Bardugo
5 stars

After debating for a couple of days I went with Rule of Wolves for the number one spot! Leigh Bardugo is another favorite author of mine and I adore the Grishaverse she created. One of my favorite characters in this world is one of the main characters in this duology and the other two main characters are favorites now as well haha. I adored the story and loved how it ended. Please just tell me there will be more in this world?

As you can see we both had some amazing reads last year. So here’s to hoping that 2022 has a lot of amazing books as well! What were some of your favorite 2021 releases? Any of the same ones we have? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

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