Hello bookworms!! Welcome to the last official Top 5 Tuesday of 2021!! Which means that this week’s topic is top 5 books of 2021!! Yes, we made it!! Most of us on time (me decidedly late for the majority of this month).
I was hanging out to finish work, but that happened five days ago and I haven’t stopped since. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster of family, food and presents. And I want to lie on a couch and do nothing for the remainder of my time off work. Which is five more days. I’d also like to spend some time preparing for 2022 in terms of blogging and reading and figuring out new tracking templates. Possibly even write that book haul plan post that I mention I never wrote every month of 2021. You know, set myself up properly for once.
However, before I even get started on that, I need to figure out my top 5 books of 2021.
top 5 books of 2021
Second First Impressions — Sally Thorne
Ruthie, Teddy, the Parloni sisters and Mel ticked every box I didn’t even know I had. In fact, Second First Impressions was the book that I didn’t even know that I wanted. Unlike Thorne’s earlier books, this is actually a wholesome romance story, and I loved it even more for that. Especially since a lot of the fantasy books I read this year were filled with smut. (No judgement, I also loved them ― but sometimes you just want something that is delightful and you can recommend to your mother without cringing.) Thorne’s books are always hits with me and this one was no different. I can’t wait for the next one!
Dazzle (n): Brightness that blinds someone temporarily.
Position Vacant: Two ancient old women residing at Providence Retirement Villa seek male assistant for casual exploitation and good-natured humiliation. Duties include boutique shopping, fast-food fetching, and sincerely rendered flattery. Good looks a bonus ― but we aren’t picky.
An advertisement has been placed (again!) by the wealthy and eccentric Parloni Sisters. The salary is generous and the employers are 90 years old, so how hard could the job be? Well, none have lasted longer than a week. Most boys leave in tears.
Ruthie Midona will work in Providence’s front office, and be at the Parloni’s beck and call, forever. That’s sort of her life plan. If Ruthie can run the place in her almost-retired bosses’ absence, with no hijinks/hiccups, she has a shot at becoming the new manager. She might also be able to defend her safe little world from Prescott Development, the new buyer of the prime site. Maybe after all that, she can find a cute guy to date. All she needs to do is stay serious ― and that’s what she does best.
Until, one day, someone dazzling blows into town.
Teddy Prescott devotes his life to sleeping, tattooing, and avoiding seriousness. When Teddy needs a place to crash, he makes a deal with his developer dad. Teddy can stay in one of Providence’s on-site maintenance cottages ― right next door to an unimpressed Ruthie ― but only if he works there and starts to grow up.
Ruthie knows how this sweetly selfish rich boy can earn his keep ― and be out of her hair in under a week. After all, there is a position vacant…
Perfect on Paper — Sophie Gonzales
You could probably hear me squeal all the way across the world when I heard that Sophie Gonzales ― author of Only Mostly Devastated ― was writing a queer contemporary novel about a bisexual teen girl. And the best part, it did not disappoint. I loved Perfect on Paper so much I cried. Happy tears, sad tears, frustrated tears ― this book was like looking into my soul when I was a teenager. I just really loved it.
Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off.
- Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes ― for a fee.
- Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
- Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
- Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke… who is in love with someone else.
- Does not appreciate being blackmailed.
However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89 ― out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service ― that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach ― at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.
Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.
Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?
Kingdom of the Cursed — Kerri Maniscalco
Surprisingly, this is my only fantasy pick for 2021. I know, I’m shocked too. But I just loved Emilia and Wrath so much that I had to include this book. Don’t get me wrong, Kingdom of the Wicked was also amazing ― but the banter and tension in this kicked it over the edge for me. Weirdly, I also enjoyed how much Emilia couldn’t see what was right in front of her face. This normally drives me mad, but there’s something about Emilia that made it endearing instead of frustrating. And I can’t wait for book three ― fingers crossed for a 2022 release!!
After selling her soul to become Queen of the Wicked, Emilia travels to the Seven Circles with the enigmatic Prince of Wrath, where she’s introduced to a seductive world of vice.
She vows to do whatever it takes to avenge her beloved sister, Vittoria… even if that means accepting the hand of the Prince of Pride, the king of demons.
The first rule in the court of the Wicked? Trust no one. With back-stabbing princes, luxurious palaces, mysterious party invitations, and conflicting clues about who really killed her twin, Emilia finds herself more alone than ever before. Can she even trust Wrath, her one-time ally in the mortal world… or is he keeping dangerous secrets about his true nature?
Emilia will be tested in every way as she seeks a series of magical objects that will unlock the clues of her past and the answers she craves…
Two sinful princes.
Infinite deception with a side of revenge… Welcome to Hell.
The Heart Principle — Helen Hoang
Let’s be honest ― we all knew that the final book in The Kiss Quotient trilogy was going to wreck me. I definitely cried more reading this book than any other all year. Hell, I think I cried more reading The Heart Principle than watching Spider-Man: No Way Home and Encanto combined. (I’m an emotional person, ok?!) Regardless, I loved the story even more than I thought I would. And I was fully expecting to love it. Quan and Anna’s story is one that broke my heart into a million pieces, and then glued it back together slowly, but carefully.
When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.
That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she herself has just started to understand. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.
You Deserve Each Other — Sarah Hogle
Just quietly, I’m still annoyed at myself that I didn’t buy this book as soon as I read the synopsis. Instead I put it on my wishlist, and then ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhed’ over whether or not to wait until the mass market paperback came out. Which I did. I’m annoyed mostly because I, 1000%, loved this book to the moon and back. I cried a lot while reading this book too. (This is a theme, ok?!) This book made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me want to hug the main characters until they were ok. And I can’t ask for more than that in a story.
Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.
Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.
But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.
I need to mention two others that were SO CLOSE to making this year’s top books of 2021 list. Like, it was so close I was debating on whether to just make this a top 7 books of 2021… But, I need to pull restraint somewhere.
- The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary — O’Leary confirmed, once again, why she is an auto-buy author of mine. The Road Trip was one of the best second chance romances I’ve ever read. But the best thing about O’Leary books is that it isn’t just about the romance. The stories are far more nuanced and deep than that. And I adored this one that flipped back and forth between the past and the present.
- Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo — While I do actually feel like this book could have been cut a little shorter, I absolutely adored so many books by Bardugo this year that I wanted one of them to make my list. King of Scars was probably better technically, but I loved the ending of Rule of Wolves so much that I gave my spot to it. While other books of Bardugo’s left me absolutely devastated, this one left me grinning from ear to ear by the end.
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