my favorite books of 2021!

a 2021 overview.

Hello, friends!

It is finally that time of the year again: 2021 is coming to an end and I can finally share with you my favorite books I read all year.

2021 was a pretty good reading year for me; certainly better than 2020. While I still had just a handful of 5 star reads, most books that I read were positive experiences and I felt myself venturing out of my comfort zone more often this year. I will be sharing my 2022 reading goals in a future post, but that’s definitely one thing I’ll for sure want to keep in the new year.

MOST EPIC SERIES FINALE

I actually did finish a couple series this year, but Tower of Nero was probably one of the best series finales I’ve read in years. It was definitely a bittersweet goodbye to the Percy Jackson universe, and it made me shed more than a few tears.

IMG_8729 4This conclusion obviously wraps up Apollo’s journey and we learn, once in for all, if he’ll be able to conclude his mission on Earth and return to be a God, or if he will perish. I stand by the fact that, while the plot is interesting, and seeing other characters from the Riordanverse throughout this series definitely brings a sense of warmth and nostalgia, the true reason why this series rocks is because of Apollo.

His growth, from the self-absorbed and arrogant god of the first book to the selfless, loving human of the last is… Remarkable. Beautiful. Moving. All the possible adjectives. I love his dynamic with Meg the most and their friendship is so adorable and real. They definitely push each other to be their best selves, while also having this sibling-like banter that is hilarious to read.

Like I said, approaching the end of the Percy Jackson universe (or at least the stories by Rick Riordan, as Mark Oshiro recently shared he’ll be writing a Nico&Will adventure soon!) was a pretty emotional ride, and I already feel the urge to re-read all books immediately.

BEST ADULT ROMANCE

IMG_8346Boyfriend Material could also get the title for funniest book I read all year, because it certainly would get that prize too. This is a fake-dating romance, perfect for fans of Bridget Jones, as it follows the hot-mess-express Luc who has to find a respectable boyfriend to help him repair his reputation.

Luc and Oliver had such a great dynamic. I loved how we start out the book seeing Luc as this really messy and flawed character, and while his growth is undeniable, it was interesting seeing how Oliver also wasn’t this flawless protagonist either.

The dialogues in this book are laugh-out-loud funny and the side characters were just as great. I do think you need to have a certain type of humor in order to really enjoy this one, and if you’re hyper sensitive (and does not take well veganism jokes lol), then it might not be for you, but I think Alexis Hall really was able to get in my mind and write the type of banter I love to read the most. I’d definitely consider reading more by them!

YA TROPES ARE VALID

IMG_8361I know that when it comes to tropes in YA fiction, people definitely feel some type of way. I am a believer that it’s more down to the execution than to the tropes itself, and I think She Drives Me Crazy is a perfect example of clichés done well.

In this one, we follow Scottie, who wants to make her ex girlfriend jealous by paying her own nemesis to date her. Sounds just like a teen-com you’ve probably watched before and, yet, this book is so much more than that. It is entertaining from beginning to end, doesn’t shy away from addressing homophobia and sexism, but remains a positive and light-hearted read, and has supportive and amazing side-characters all-around.

I loved the discussions this book had: the importance of being okay with yourself first, before getting into a new relationship; that effort and commitment are what make someone an athlete, more than what sport they play; and that you can always count on the people who love you the most to be brutally honest, but also to see you for who you truly are.

While this was filled with clichés, it was never boring and too predictable. I loved the characters Kelly Quindlen creates and will for sure be re-reading this one for years to come.

BEST RE-READ

Hi, hello, yes, you are looking right now at one of my favorite books to exist. Nice to meet you.

IMG_1749I read Only Mostly for the first time last year and I enjoyed it a lot, but it was a bit overshadowed by my read of Call It What You Want, that consumed all my thoughts back in 2020. The distance between that and my re-read, this March, was just what I needed, as this one quickly became a favorite as soon as I finished it. (As soon as I got to the jacket scene tbh).

Only Mostly Devastated is a gay Grease re-telling, which is pretty much all you need to know. I love the Grease references, the overdramatic narration (seriously, Ollie is such a relatable main), the secret romance, the fleshed out side characters, the refreshing and unique family dynamics… I could go on and on.

I’m pretty sure this will be one of those books that I will re-read without a fault every year, because it puts me in such a good mood everytime.

BY A FAVORITE AUTHOR

This is me putting Gayle Forman as the author that never fails as if just last year one of her books wasn’t in my most disappointing reads of the year list. It’s fine. I can tell that was just a fluke.

IMG_1747When I learned that Gayle Forman was writing a new book, I immediately added to my TBR, as I am a huge fan of her If I Stay and Just One Day duologies. This one follows Aaron, whose parents owe a failing bookstore, and who has just made a deal to sell it behind their backs. This book focuses a lot in the importance of community, which was incredibly heart-warming to read, especially after a year like 2020 when we really faced the hardships of being away from our own communities.

We Are Inevitable isn’t as angsty as some other works by this author – in fact, it’s pretty funny and I found myself laughing out loud with the audiobook multiple times -, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold an impact. I was surprised by the phenomenal character development, the great friendships Aaron makes, the sweet romance, the book and music references and that cameo at the end that made me legit shed a tear or two.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

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This one entails as a surprise because I had no idea I was getting an arc of this book. I didn’t sing up for any book tours, obviously I can’t use Netgalley as an international reviewer and I didn’t participate in any giveaways either. Yet, one day, when I opened up my e-mail, there it was! And I am SO glad I had the opportunity to read Fifteen Hundred Miles.

Jonny Garza Villa was amazing in balancing a story with its hardship moments, but overall still deliver a story that was light-hearted, warm and hopeful. I loved the dynamic between Jules and his friend group, as well as sister and grandparents, and their found family antics were so lovely to read about.

When I got to the end of this book and realized I was going to have to say goodbye to these characters, I flat out teared up. I had grown so attached to them and had really loved seeing an entire all-latinx cast being so great, supportive and hilarious together.

It was also my first time reading about a long distance relationship and I really loved how the author made that so cinematic. I hope to see more by this author in the future!

FAVORITE NEW RELEASE

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Ace of Spades was a 2021 release that I found to be absolutely deserving of all the hype. Following the only two black characters in this prep school who both become victims of this anonymous gossip account called The Aces, this book delivers a fantastic twist in the “dark-academia trope”.

While dark academia is mostly known for being predominantly white – white characters and white authors – Ace of Spades showed how much the creepy, uncomfortable and unsettling atmosphere of these novels is sometimes inherent to the academic experience of people of color.

I really loved both protagonists, because even though they were so different, the author still managed to write both perspectives well enough and in a balanced way where I never wanted to be reading more from one or the other. I felt very intensely about everything – like the way I was screaming at Jamie’s character and had to actually pause the audiobook for a second to gasp out loud, lol – and it was a really great reading experience too.

BEST WRITTEN

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As a huge Nic Stone fan, it is honestly hard to say she has one specific book that outdoes all the others. But Dear Justyce was absolutely just that.

This book follows Quan, who we know from the first book, as he writes letters to Justyce – protagonist in Dear Martin – from prison. I loved this novel’s message on the human need of a support system and to have someone who believes in you, in order for you to believe in yourself too.

I think it was also so interesting how the author developed Quan’s mental health issues and how that would bleed into the narration too. Quan deals with a lot of anxiety and PTSD and, unlike a lot of fantasy novels, where the authors make it so the characters’ trauma make them act older, here we see an authentic perspective of Quan holding on to childhood memories exactly because of his trauma.

Overall, this one made me tear up quite a lot and I do believe it’s Nic Stone’s best to date.

DESERVING OF MORE HYPE

IMG_9894I swear to God, I may have put The Great Unknowable End in at least three separate TBRs throughout the year before finally committing and reading it. And I am so glad I did, as this book turned out to be one of those I still think about to this day.

This one is set in the 1970s and we follow two perspectives – Galliard, who lives in a hippie commune and Stella, whose brother moved to the commune and whose family hasn’t been the same since. This book also has some magical realism elements, with events such as a gigantic countdown to nobody-knows-what and pink lightning striking their town.

I don’t consider this book to be perfect, as I found numerous progression issues with it. But the story is so easy to get involved in, the characters so fantastic and the setting so unique, it was one that I struggled to get over. I felt the urge to re-read the book as soon as I finished it, which hardly ever happens.

This book has one of the most intense and unique protagonist’s developments I’ve ever read. The characters we start out reading about are nothing like the ones we finish the book with, and I absolutely loved that.

BEST BOOK OF 2021

IMG_1751I did talk *a lot* about this book in my blog, so I don’t think it comes as a surprise it is my favorite book of the year. Funnily enough, this was the first 5-stars I gave in the year, and nothing was able to top it.

Concrete Rose is such an interesting book. A prequel to The Hate U Give, this one follows Maverick, Starr’s dad, as a seventeen-year-old teen dad trying to figure out life. I loved following Mave, as he’s an easily relatable and charismatic character, who’s really just doing his best. I think the title of this book is so fitting, as Maverick really is a rose blossoming from the concrete – a guy trying to work in a world that thrives on his failure.

While in THUG, we see Starr being divided between her predominantly-white school and her predominantly-black neighborhood, Maverick’s life revolves 100% around Garden Heights and I love the sense of community in this book. The side characters: Dre, Mr. Wyatt, Lisa, Mave’s mom, they were all amazing and added so much to the story.

This book is quite different from The Hate U Give, but I think the perspective it gives on race and what is it like being a black man in America was refreshing and great to read about. It is also EXTREMELY funny, which was pretty awesome too.

What was the best book you read in 2021? Your biggest surprise? Did you re-read at all this year, and if you did, was there one re-read that was the best you did all year? Let’s chat in the comments!

5 comentários sobre “my favorite books of 2021!

  1. I loved seeing your favorite books of the year 💕 I also loved The Tower of Nero and I cannot believe that we’ll get a Nico & Will book next year!! 🥰 I definitely plan on reading Boyfriend Material and Concrete Rose in 2022, happy to hear that you loved them so much 😊 Also very curious about We are Inevitable, as I also loved If I Stay and Just One Day 💗

    Curtir

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