Best Books of 2021

Happy New Year’s Eve! Haven’t done this in a while, but decide to post the best books I read during 2021. I generally look for five things in a novel: a captivating plot, detailed world-building, relatable characters, noteworthy messages and lessons, and/or challenges one’s perspective. Based on that criteria, here are my top ten picks of the year:

#1: The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen #1)

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

#2: You Are Mine (Mine #1)


Serena knows a few simple things. She will always be owned by a warlock. She will never have freedom. She will always do what her warlock wishes, regardless of how inane, frivolous, or cruel it is. And if she doesn’t follow the rules, she will be tarnished. Spelled to be bald, inked, and barren for the rest of her life—worth less than the shadow she casts.

Then her ownership is won by a barbarian from another country. With the uncertainty that comes from belonging to a new warlock, Serena questions if being tarnished is really worse than being owned by a barbarian, and tempts fate by breaking the rules. When he looks the other way instead of punishing her, she discovers a new world. The more she ventures into the forbidden, the more she learns of love and a freedom just out of reach. Serena longs for both. But in a society where women are only ever property, hoping for more could be deadly.

#3: Flawed (Flawed #1)

You will be punished…

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

#4: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1)

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

#5: Phoenix Rising (Phoenix Series #1)

Sail. Salvage. Repeat.

For as long as Toby can remember, he and his father have sailed on the Phoenix, salvaging from the junk-filled seas to stay afloat, while keeping under the radar of the authorities. His father is, after all, a wanted man.

And now the Phoenix is on the trail of the ultimate prize, a salvage of solar panels that could mean they’ll never need to hunt for fuel again.

Ayla is second-in-command on the rival Banshee, where she’s trained her whole life to fight—just as her mother, Captain Nell, demands. Since childhood, Ayla’s been taught the Phoenix must be destroyed. And now they have the ship in their sights. And they’re desperate to have their precious intel, too.

Toby’s sick of a life at sea, and Ayla may be his only hope. Can he turn an old feud into a new alliance that will save both their skins?

Award-winning Bryony Pearce brings the high seas to life with her rousing steampunk pirate adventure that will have you craving more.

#6: Mine to Tarnish (Mine #0.5)

Katherine’s place is the same as any woman’s—on the shelf next to the dresses and bolts of cloth. When she’s sold to a warlock, life grows even bleaker. Her new owner is as old and rancid as he is cruel, driving her to do the unthinkable: run.

Nothing prepared her for being on her own. And she’s definitely unprepared for the warlocks hunting her down. But she must stay one step ahead because if caught, the best she can hope for is death.

#7: Mine to Spell (Mine #2)

Cynthia has always hidden from her father’s hexes behind her older sister. When her family gains independence unheard of for women, she’s relieved that her days of harsh punishments are over. But as her seventeenth birthday approaches—the typical age to be sold to a new master—death threats endanger her sisters. She now faces two options: run or meet society’s expectations.

For once, Cynthia isn’t going to let her older sister shield her from the problem. She’s going to prove to herself, her sisters, and society that her family isn’t a threat to their traditions. She willingly chooses to be purchased by a new master. A bold step that takes her somewhere she never thought she would go and to a man she might possibly fall in love with. With his help, she may just find a way to save her sisters while discovering how to stand up for herself. If she lives long enough.

#8: Summer’s End (Summer Solstice #1)

She wakes up in hospital, badly burned with no memory.

He’s been trained to kill her before she burns the world to ashes.

When they finally meet, will he be able to take her life now that he’s started to feel for her?

His fate is already written. The prophecy is already set… Love between them is forbidden.

#9: Mine to Fear (Mine #3)

Waverly resents being sent home to Evando just as things are getting intense in Chardonia. She can’t just sit in safety while her friends suffer under oppression and restrictions simply because they are women.

Upon returning to Chardonia, she discovers conditions have degraded faster than she thought possible, and her mere presence puts her loved ones in grave danger. When the Grand Chancellor calls for a change in laws that threatens the lives of her friends, her family, and anyone who doesn’t comply, her only option is to run, with both friend and foe.

As the stakes grow higher with each passing day, Waverly must become the leader she’s never been, or her life, and the lives of all those she cares for, will be lost.

#10: The House on 6th Street: A Short Story

A group of Halloween party-goers experience dire consequences when they take on a dare to stop at a haunted house.

Rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a teenage girl who died under tragic circumstances, the house on 6th Street has been abandoned for years. Tales of paranormal activity, nighttime screams, and the mysterious deaths of two squatters on Halloween night have scared even the neighbors away and the house sits empty and in disrepair. Ian and his college friends are headed to a party but decide to take a quick detour to see the infamous house and quickly discover that some ghosts, and some houses, are best left alone.

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