Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! Like past years I won’t be including re-reads, sometimes my opinion of a book could change and evolve after I had read it, so some surprises may be up near the top, as well as perhaps a book or two that didn’t make my reviews on here initially due to genre limitations. But here they are, ready for a countdown! And since it’s the end of the reading year, don’t forget to enter our “Twelve Days of Christmas Giveaway”! Today I’m going to countdown my favorite reads, five to one.
5. “You Love Me” by Caroline Kepnes
Good ol’ Joe Goldberg is always going to be a literary darling for me, his adventures incredibly messed up but also super funny in the darkest way. In his third book, “You Love Me”, Caroline Kepnes sends him to the small community of Bainbridge Island, where he can lick his wounds after losing Love Quinn’s love and the right to see their son. But don’t worry, Joe hasn’t given up on love just yet, as he now has fallen for Mary Kay, the town librarian. And he will do anything to get her to love him back. I have read this book a few times this year, mostly via audiobook, as the “You” books are my insomnia listens (yeah, I know, wtf), and with each listen I found more to love about this book. Joe is still Joe, but this book brings out some pathos from his character, and while it’s not ‘growth’, per se, it’s still a way to make him interesting. Bring on book four!
4. “Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery” by Brom
This is the book that I have lovingly referred to as “Beauty and the Beast” meets “The Witch” and I stand by that summation. “Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery” by Brom is very THAT. When Abitha, a young woman living in a Puritan community, loses her husband to mysterious death, she is set to keep his land as her own. Though his brother has other thoughts. Meanwhile, a being of the forest with no memory of his past or identity suddenly awakens, with a need to feed and calls to violence being sent his way by other forest spirits. When Abitha meets this ‘Slewfoot’, as she calls him, they start to learn about each other, the positives and negatives of being outsiders, and the powers they have within themselves. I just adored this book, and make no mistake: it has plenty of moments of horror, both of the otherworldly and the very, very human kinds.
3. “The Love Hypothesis” by Ali Hazelwood
If I could just somehow translate my happy squealing about this book to review form I absolutely would, because “The Love Hypothesis” is assuredly the CUTEST BOOK I HAVE READ THIS YEAR! Possibly in the past few years, honestly! I don’t usually tout romance on the blog, but this year I made the exception for this lovely, steamy, and fun romance novel! Olive is a graduate student at Stanford who hopes to do cancer research. Adam is a wunderkind professor with a reputation for being an ass. When she impulsively kisses him to convince her best friend she’s dating someone, she is mortified. But after talking, they realize that they could both use a fake dating scenario to their advantage. You can probably guess where this is going. Ali Hazelwood makes this story not only adorable and sexy, but it also has some really well done bits involving grief, trauma, and the abusive aspects of academia. And I love it so, so much it’s now a go to read when I’m feeling down.
2. “My Heart Is A Chainsaw” by Stephen Graham Jones
I continue to bow down to Stephen Graham Jones, an author whose voice in horror is so unique and so powerful that I feel that he is helping transform the genre as a whole, while still showing his love for the roots of it at every turn. His newest novel is his best, and a love letter to slasher movies and their fans. Jade is an Indigenous teenage girl living in the smalltown of Proofrock, Idaho. And right around the time some wealthy developers have moved in to gentrify, strange murders start to happen. Jade knows all her slasher lore, and she KNOWS that a slasher killer is afoot. And when a new girl in town arrives just in time for the kills to start, Jade knows that this girl HAS to be the final girl who will stop the killer once and for all. There are fun and lively references to an entire smorgasbord of slasher movies and tropes, but it is Jade who really shines, as she is resilient, plucky, and deeply, deeply damaged in a way that makes you want to hug her and keep her safe from everything and everyone. I would go from grinning to crying as I read this book. A horror masterpiece. And it’s only the beginning as it was recently announced that Jade’s story is going to be a trilogy. Cannot wait.
1. “Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley
I knew the moment I set this down that “Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley was going to be hard pressed to be knocked from its place as my number one read of the year. The moment I started I was completely blown away by this debut YA thriller/mystery. Boulley tells the story of Daunis, a biracial teenage girl whose mother is white but whose father was Anishinaabe, and who has never really fit into either identity. When Daunis’s best friend is murdered by an ex and Daunis witnesses it, she is approached by agents from the BIA and the FBI, who want to bust open a drug ring that is affecting the community. Daunis has knowledge of Indigenous medicine and chemisty, and the government agents think that an Indigenous person is behind the drug running, so they ask her to go undercover. As she investigates, she starts to find out secrets that could change her life, and the life of her community, forever. This book….. It is so emotional, and compelling, and it is impossible to put down while also hitting all the right beats when it comes to life for Indigenous youth in America today. Read this book. It’s phenomenal.
And that completes my list for 2021! What were your favorite books this year?