The 10 Best Books/Series I've Read So Far in 2021

by - July 11, 2021


We've made it halfway through 2021, and thankfully things look a lot different this go 'round than they did last year. One thing that hasn't changed, though, is how much I've been reading. To be fair, a good bit of my reading at the beginning of the year was finishing up series that I started in 2020, and I've been re-reading a lot. But I've still discovered a lot of great books and series, and I wanted to share the best I've read so far this year.

Author: Lynda Rutledge

This story is based on the San Diego Zoo's very first giraffes and their journey across the country after arriving in NYC during the great hurricane of 1938. Woody, having somehow survived the storm, manages to get hired on to help drive the giraffes across the country. The journey takes 12 days and is fraught with danger, especially from a travelling circus that wants the giraffes for their own. This book is packed full of history and gave me a new perspective on the Dust Bowl, something I don't remember much of from history class. I got this book through Amazon's First Reads program, but I loved it so much I bought a hard copy, as well.


Author: Auryn Hadley & Kitty Cox

This is one of those series that will challenge your views on so many things. It's primarily about a hate group that's targeting women, specifically those who play video games. I really can't say it any better than I did in my original review: The women in this series are so damn strong. They've each been through hell and come out the other side still swinging. And then there are the guys - all alpha types who don't try to dull their girls' sparkle.

As in my original review, I need to include some warnings. Throughout this series you'll find a ton of trauma, including rape, extreme PTSD, violence, a transgender woman just beginning her transition, sexism, domestic violence, and unconventional relationships. The first book, especially, was difficult. I almost put it down so many times it got so heavy, but if you can make it through, this series is so worth it.


Author: Lydia Kang

I am a big Lydia Kang fan. Her writing is so brilliant. If you like mysteries, you need to add this one to your shelf.

Someone is murdering people in NYC and staging each to look as though a vampire killed the victims. When Tillie's sister Lucy is one of those victims, Tillie begins investigating. But she's got some personal demons to fight along the way, chiefly her newfound addiction to opium and her sister's fiance's unwanted advances. As I've come to expect from Kang, this book was full of great twists. I had no idea who the killer was, and the motive...woah.


Author: Colleen Hoover

Lowen, a semi-successful author, is hired to finish writing a mega successful series after the author, Verity, is gravely injured in a car crash. When she's unexpectedly evicted from her apartment, Lowen moves into Verity's family's home at the insistence of Verity's husband. While going through Verity's office to get direction for the remainder of the series, Lowen finds Verity's autobiography. She reads it to get a better understanding of Verity and uncovers some pretty terrible secrets.

I enjoyed this book a lot, but as I said in my original review, it was extremely intense. And the ending. Wow. I was not expecting it at all.


Author: Raye Wagner & Kelly St. Clare

Like the title suggests, this trilogy is fairly dark. It does have a happy ending, though, so if you can make it past the torture in book one you're good to go.

Ryn is half Drae and half Phaetyn, a heritage thought to be impossible and one she's ignorant of until she's taken prisoner by the evil King Irdelron. That unique blend of magic has everyone from the human rebellion to the Drae and Phaetyn wanting to use Ryn for their own purposes. With the help of her mate, Ryn must determine friend from foe as she fights not only for herself but all of those who have been oppressed.


Author: Brigid Kemmerer

This is my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling. Yes, even over A Court of Thorn and Roses, which I had a hard time getting into, but I digress.

Prince Rhen and his captain of the guard, Grey, are trapped inside a curse, forced to bring girl after girl to Emberfall in the hopes she'll fall in love with the prince and free them. After hundreds of seasons, Grey finds Harper, a girl with cerebral palsy who doesn't have it in her to give up. But the enchantress who cast the curse can't be trusted not to interfere and Prince Rhen may not actually be the heir to the kingdom.


Author: Kristin Harmel

I've been on a bit of a WWII kick lately, and this historical fiction hooked me from the very first chapter.

There's more to Eva, a semi-retired Florida librarian, than meets the eye. When a librarian in Germany begins reunited books stolen by the Nazis during World War II with their families, Eva gets the chance to finish the mission she began as a forger for the French Resistance - getting Jewish children safely over the border into Switzerland with new identities while preserving their given names in secret code in a religious text.


Author: Ariel Lawhon

This is another book based on real events, although the actions of the main characters are fictionalized. Judge Joe Crater is not a good person. His rise to the bench leaves him indebted to Tammany Hall and a notorious gangster. On top of that, he's cheating on his wife, blackmailing the maid, and has no idea his mistress is working for the gangster he owes. This book is a look at what could have happened leading up to his real-life disappearance.


Author: Crea Reitan

Technically, I read the Chronicles of Blood series for the first time last year, but when I started the series I believed it to be a completed tale. However, the author realized when she reached book four that she couldn't wrap everything up with just one book and decided to split the story into two seasons. I've been eagerly awaiting the second season and had to reread the first to refresh my memory.

If you couldn't tell by the titles of the first four books, this is an Alice in Wonderland retelling, although I'm using that description pretty loosely. I don't really consider this a retelling.

Mal is what's known as a fixer. She has been assigned to Wonderland and tasked with reversing whatever has turned the tale toxic. Turns out, it's somehow been infected by another fairy tale, thus turning Wonderland into Laddenworn and altering the characters' whimsical madness into something more deadly. In the first season, Mal sets her sights on ending the reign of the Bloody Queens, then tackles the rest of her lengthy to-do list in the second season, including but not limited to fixing Madness and bringing back Wonderland.

Some notes: while many of the Wonderland characters we've all come to love appear in this tale, they're all twisted, and in a surprising turn of events Mal is not a version of Alice. In fact, Alice plays little to no part in this story at all.


Author: S.M. Shade & C.M. Owens

Y'all, I laughed my way through this book. I laughed so hard at times I couldn't breathe. Then I made my best friend read it. Because this group of ladies most definitely reminded me of my core group of friends.

Henley, Kasha, and Lydia are best friends. When Lydia decides that she needs to go to her cheating ex's wedding, Henley and Kasha agree to tag along for the week-long event. Not that Kasha has much choice, though, considering the ex is her stepbrother. Kasha and Henley spend the week sabotaging the events leading up to the wedding in the most hilarious ways, some quite by accident. Suffice it to say, that nothing goes as planned, especially when two sexy distractions - Davis and Roman - enter the mix.

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