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My top five books of 2021

Fiction  /   /  By Sydney Rose

If there was one slightly positive thing to come out of the pandemic, for me, it was the inspiration to read again.

In 2021 alone I knocked out 27 books, which may not seem like that much to some people, but there was a lot going on this year, so I’m proud of the number nonetheless.

Out of the number of books I’ve read this year, many were new releases, romances (I was sort of on a kick for a minute there) and almost all of them were enjoyable. Here are the top five that truly stuck out to me:

5. ‘Rule of Wolves’ by Leigh Bardugo

As the final book in the Grishaverse series consisting of Bardugo’s other works like ‘Six of Crows’ and ‘Shadow and Bone’, this book brought an end to the fantasy world I grew to love and the characters I am attached to.

For any fantasy lover, I would always recommend any book by Leigh Bardugo because within the writing there is always equal appreciation for the character arcs, as well as the plot and how it all fits into the world-building.

Lots of emotion came when finishing this series, but I’m glad it ended as it did, and I can’t rave enough about ‘Rule of Wolves.’

4. ‘Written in the Stars’ by Alexandria Bellefleur

When it comes to sapphic romance novels, I sometimes do not have the best of luck in finding a plot that is enjoyable to read or characters that are complex enough to hold my interest. But, ‘Written in the Stars’ surpassed my expectations and gave me what some other queer woman romances lack.

We see from both love interests, which helped the reader get more involved in their story. Falling in love with these characters was fairly easy as well, seeing as the two women were likable and had clear character flaws to still make them feel real.

Overall the pacing is what made this book what it was. The ending was not nearly as rushed as some other books of the same genre, and the tension-filled scenes were spaced out enough that it didn’t drag the book on.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good fake dating trope?

3. ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In 2021 I managed to read a lot of Taylor Jenkins Reid novels and fell in love with every single one of them. Although, ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ easily sticks out as my favorite.

As a reader, I have never been a big “book crier”. With this novel, though, I was bawling most of the time and was surprised the pages remained dry as I read. Something Reid does as an author is pull every single emotion out of you whether you want her to or not.

I am also typically not the type of reader who re-reads books, no matter how much I enjoyed them the first time, but ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ was an exception. 

I think the book was so good I would sometimes forget I was even reading and wasn’t actually there with the characters.

2. ‘Beach Read’ by Emily Henry

After the big romance binge I had this year in my reading material, ‘Beach Read’ is the one that takes the cake.

Likable characters? Check. Interesting side plot? Check. An almost-adult version of an academic rivals to lovers type of plot? I am basically sold. ‘Beach Read’ has become the book I recommend to other people when they are looking for a romance novel.

This novel brought something fun and light to read with everything going on this year, and I am unashamed to say I finished it in a day. Enjoying this book so much is what brought me to Emily Henry’s other novels, and I can now say I have a new favorite author to add to the list.

1. ‘If We Were Villains’ by M.L. Rio

If someone were to ask me what my current favorite book is, ‘If We Were Villains’ would be my answer.

This novel is just so different from what I typically read. It’s gritty, the characters have obvious tropes, but they all are easy to get invested in, and there are many Shakesphere references, which I am a fan of.

The entire book managed to impress me and keep me on my toes with the twists and turns it took, not to mention the ending that shook me to my core. I need everyone to read this book because I cannot stop talking about it.

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