Another year, another top 10 list! 2021 has been even more difficult than 2020, something I didn’t expect at all. Of course, with difficult years comes the inability to read as much as you like. Saying this, I did manage a respectable 53 books – significantly less than last year but I’m still proud of that number!
As always, picking out this list has been excruciatingly difficult, but I’m really happy with my choices. I did rate so many books 5 stars this year and if I could fit them all in my top 10 somehow, I definitely would! The following books have really stuck with me this year. They’re books that have kept me going, books I’ve related to in some way, books that have made me laugh and cry, and books that have taken me away from reality when I’ve needed it the most. These authors have well and truly saved me this year and I will never be able to thank them enough!
Without further ado, here’s my top books of 2021. Let’s start at number 10…
10. Of Magpies and Men – Ode Ray
This book was everything I never thought it would be, but my god, it was amazing! As potentially one of the most in-depth and involving books I’ve ever read, I was so drawn into the story, so involved with the characters and so incredibly shocked and saddened by the ending that it left me with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. The author has gone above all my expectations and delivered a debut novel with charm and wit, but at the same time, with a beautiful and dangerous story to devour too. This story has a little bit of everything for lovers of crime and mystery, to drama and romance. It really is the perfect recipe for a remarkable novel! See my full review here.
9. Where We Go From Here – Lucas Rocha
Can anyone ever write a review that showcases just how magnificent, moving and truly unforgettable this book is?! Not only is this book the perfect YA novel highlighting just how important it is to talk about HIV and how to love yourself and others fiercely, regardless of who they are, but it’s also the perfect tool for younger readers to learn more about the topic of HIV. Why isn’t this book used in education already?! The author addresses so many different topics with such care and attention, and also shows just how much further we need to go to educate about HIV. This combined with such perfect characters and storyline full of heart creates an amazing book that so many will enjoy. I’m 100% going to be reading this again! See my full review here.
8. The Whole Truth – Cara Hunter
Well, one thing was for sure upon ending this book – this author has gained one more dedicated fan! This book is one of the most impressive detective thrillers you’ll ever come across. It’s clear this author doesn’t just focus on perfecting the story, but also the overall experience for a reader. It’s full of sneaky twists, perfectly developed characters, and is so involving that I had to remind myself that these cases weren’t real life news stories. I am so eager to read the rest of this series after thoroughly enjoying The Whole Truth, and I can’t wait to catch up with these characters again! It sounds cliché, but I genuinely could not put this book down. Absolutely phenomenal! See my full review here.
7. Watch For Me – Martin Bodenham
Watch For Me has very quickly made my list of all-time favourite books; the author’s exceptional talent for a gripping story has once again left me speechless. Not only is this story addictive to read and engaging to its core, but it’s also incredibly motivating for any budding crime/thriller writer! If the idea of a psychological thriller about a female stalker sounds intriguing, I’m certain this will become one of your favourite reads of the year. Dark, twisted and intensely creepy in all the best ways! I’ve been so invested in this book, but I wasn’t surprised in the slightest; Bodenham has perfected this book just as much as his previous! An absolute masterpiece. See my full review here.
6. Lost in Translation – Audrey Davis
This was my first read of 2021, and it’s still found its way on my top 10 list! It set the bar ridiculously high. Thoroughly entertaining and as hilarious as always, but this time, Audrey has taken a much different route to her previous stories. I think this worked incredibly well and was consistent with her previous style of writing which I already adore. Each page is written beautifully as we follow Charlotte on a whirlwind of a journey she could have never predicted. I felt so strongly for so many characters in different ways, and there is never a dull moment in this one – it moved me much more than other books have in the past and I never wanted to stop reading! See my full review here.
5. First Day of My Life – Lisa Williamson
My god, if I think about this book too much, I feel like I’m going to cry (I’ll never listen to Bright Eyes’ First Day Of My Life the same ever again!) This story had a profound impact on me for a YA story which was completely unexpected, and it is genuinely one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Each of the three main characters are fantastic, and have been created with immense care and passion. The love for these three just radiates from each page, and you can tell the author has put her heart and soul into each one of them. This combined with a solid plot full of twists and turns made this book award-worthy. Thank you, Lisa, for an experience like no other. I can’t wait to re-read this one! See my full review here.
4. Two Wrongs – Rebecca Reid
Hands down, this is one of my favourite books in recent years – there is no doubt about it! Reid is one of the best writers of suspense and tension building that I’ve come across, and I couldn’t tear myself away from this book. The characters are fantastic and their lives are so complex that learning each detail is mesmerising. The plot gets deep and intense, so if you like a book that will keep you thinking and guessing constantly, this is the perfect one for you. This one has still got me thinking and would 100% recommend to lovers of suspense, thriller and even coming of age romance. I honestly can’t wait to read this one for a second time, it’s absolutely phenomenal.
3. Call Me Mummy – Tina Baker
Reading this book, I was sometimes questioning my own sanity because I LOVED just how dark and disturbing things were (who even am I?!) Prepare to be shocked, even repulsed by certain people and actions! However, without all these dark details, the story wouldn’t be as gripping and thrilling as it was. Though tough to stomach this story line, it’s a book written with incredible talent and passion, with a unique tone and fantastic character development. It’s impossible not to place yourself in the shoes of the characters and feel every emotion so deeply with those who suffer the most. An unforgettable, thought-provoking story with everything you’d want in a great thriller. One of the best I’ve read! See my full review here.
2. The Lesson – Lisa Bradley
I could write about this book forever and a day and still have amazing things to say about it! It’s such a rare treat when an author does everything right, and this book is such a prime example of that. I honestly believe this is one of the best books I’ve read, and I rarely say that! Lisa is an incredible author who knows exactly the kind of book I want to read and delivers every single time, and we’re only onto book two! I spent days daydreaming at work, nights laying in bed thinking about these characters, their motives, their secrets, their lies… The whole experience knocked me off balance, and very few authors manage to give me such an unexplainable feeling of awe when I finish a book – Lisa managed it with her debut and this feeling was twice as strong with her follow up. The Lesson will stick with me forever. I think I’m tearing up! See my full review here.
1. That Night – Gillian McAllister 👑
My last read of 2021 made it to top of the list! It’s genuinely the best book I’ve ever read. There, I said it!
I’m embarrassed to say that this book is my first read by Gillian McAllister. (I know, I know. Even though all her books have been sitting on my bookshelf for some time now!) I’d heard such amazing things about Gillian’s latest, and my god, I haven’t read something quite this good in…well, forever!
I feel like I’m just about the repeat what so many others have said before me, but this book is genuinely flawless, and I mean that with every fibre of my being. Incredible character creation and development, a plot that made me sweat and panic just as much as the characters, a brilliantly unique writing style that I don’t think can ever be topped in my eyes and an overall gripping and captivating feel from start to finish. If you love thrillers, this is a must read!! 435 pages of pure perfection. Why isn’t there a 435 star rating? This book is more than worthy of that.
Other noteworthy authors!
Just like last year, I couldn’t end this list without highlighting some brilliant authors whose books I have loved this year!
- Duncan Thompson – for scaring me half to death with your excellent horror novels.
- Jim Ody – for your perfect horror/thrillers that kept me awake at night!
- Rich Marcello – your beautiful stories will always have a place in my heart.
- Juliet Conlin – for the most vibrant, uplifting book of the year, Love, Hope.
- Rachel Burton – for getting me well into the Christmas spirit!
- Jasbinder Bilan – I’ll never forget Aarti’s magical journey.
- Patricia Morais – for rekindling my love for specific fantasy (and that is HARD to do!)
- And everyone else whose books I’ve reviewed this year! You’re all amazing authors and should be so so proud of everything you’ve achieved!
Here’s to 2022!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank every author and publisher for gifting me copies of books this year (whether I’ve read them yet or not) and to all the authors who are waiting for reviews from me. The majority of you have been so understanding of the fact that I am only human and that I can’t read any faster! If I haven’t read your book yet and you’ve submitted, please don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, because I haven’t. You’re still on my review list and I’m looking forward to reading your books, giving you my thoughts and sharing your work with the community 😊
Also a MASSIVE thank you in particular to Love Books Tours, Zooloo’s Book Tours and every publisher who has included me in blog tours this year – I’ve loved each and every one!
I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year ❤️