My Favorite Reads of 2021
Updated: Jan 6
I was able to surpass my reading goal, one of the few silver linings of being stuck at home in 2021. Many of the novels I read were new, but I also caught up on some titles published in past years. Choosing one or a few favorite books is tough—how you do compare apples to oranges to chocolate cake? Instead, I picked novels that stayed with me far past the days I took to read them. You’ll see the word “love” used several times in these reviews! There’s quite a variety of genres and styles, so you’re bound to find something you’ll like no matter what your reading habits are. Here goes:
Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth
Carson finagles his friends into playing music and enters them in Battle of the Bands. Artist Magpie just moved back to the Rez from the city. They both learn a lot about John Lennon and The Beatles, relationships, and finding your voice. He had me at The Beatles, but I loved the characters and the journey they took in this novel.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
I loved Felix Ever After! Felix is afraid that being black, trans, and gay means too many marginalizations. But he still wants to fall in love. Figuring out his art portfolio, his plans for the future, his relationships, and identity leads to lots of complications. I enjoyed the characters and setting, and gained insight at the same time. Highly recommended!
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Namey Taylor
After the trifecta of her grandmother's death, a betrayal by her best friend, and her boyfriend dumping her, Cuban-American baker Lila is forced to take a "vacation" in chilly England. But she is surprised to find it's not all bad, thanks to baking, new friends, and a boy named after a constellation. A cozy, sweet young adult novel that you'll think of fondly--I loved this book!
Dating Dracula by Kinsley Adams
This contemporary rom com takes on the Dracula legend and gives it new life. I loved snarky Anna and her relationship with Vlad (not the impaler).
(Note: This is an adult romance, with mature content.)
Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price
Lizzie helps her father at his law firm and hopes to become a barrister one day. When Bingley is charged with murder, she sees her big chance to prove herself worthy of the job by solving the case. Bingley's lawyer and friend Mr. Darcy isn't so sure that's a great idea. As a huge Jane Austen fan, I loved seeing Lizzie and Darcy and the other characters. But I was able to let go of the original story and enjoy the twists that Price added. This is a fun read for adults and teens who enjoy Jane Austen and/or historical mysteries.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean is comfortable in her skin, until Private School Bo is as interested in her as she is in him. That fact and her grief for her aunt push her into signing up for the local beauty pageant. Prepare for lots of laughs and heartwarming moments! Loved this book, and now I have to catch up on reading the rest of the series!
Back Home by Dan L. Walker
Sam's older brother is home from Vietnam, but things are not back to normal. Joe is drinking and having nightmares. When Sam says he's against the war, and falls for a peacenik, life gets even more complicated. Can he reconcile with his big brother and find his own voice? Walker does a brilliant job capturing the time period and the inner life of teenage boys. Highly recommended for anyone interested in US or Alaska history and YA fans.
I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee
Loved this YA novel by Lyla Lee! Skye Shin has been told all her life that fat girls can't dance. But she can, and goes to prove it by trying out for a K-pop competition. She's not ready for all the attention she gets, especially when the famous Henry Cho takes an interest in her. This is a delightful romance including body positivity, AAPI and LGBTIA+ main characters, and lots of heart. I highly recommend it!
That Way Madness Lies: XV of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined edited by Dahlia Adler
This awesome short story collection has something for everyone, from a contemporary Merchant of Venice in high school by Dahlia Adler to a queer Much Ado About Nothing in space by A. R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy to Lindsay Smith's witchy Julius Caesar, and more. Perfect for both YA and Shakespeare fans!
Can’t afford to buy all of these? Remember your local library! If they don’t have it yet, you can request a book for them to add to the collection—just ask your librarian for details.
I just signed up with The StoryGraph to keep track of my reading. If you’d like to join me there for your own reading journey, please go to https://www.thestorygraph.com
and look for lynnlovegreen.
Wishing you a happy reading year in 2022!
1/5/22: P. S. I just realized I missed one of my favorites--the newest title from one of the best YA authors ever!
Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
Valora Luck sneaks on board the Titanic to reunite with her twin brother and convince him to join her in an audition for the Ringling Brothers. Her determination and acrobatic skills come in handy when the unthinkable happens.