My Top 10 Reads Of 2021! // in which i run out of words to describe these books

Ho Ho Ho! (ok my Santa imitation needs work)

Merry Christmas to all humans and elves alike! Let there be cheer! And presents! (you’ll never guess what i got! but maybe in another post) And candy! And more candy!

What better occasion than Christmas to flaunt my favourites (aka my obsessions) of this year? I read a total of 70 books in 2021, but only some of them are truly special to me. I’ve chosen the 10 books I liked the best (+ some honourable mentions of course), books that own my heart and soul, books I’ll never stop recommending till the day I die (atleast i’ll get prizes for the drama? no?)

I have also done the heart-wrenching task of actually ranking these books (believe me, it only looks easy) however I’d also like to mention that all of them have an equal place in my heart, but some more equal than the others (yes that was an Animal Farm reference). To keep the suspense rolling, we’ll go in reverse order; that means we’ll start off from number 10 all the way to number 1 (with #1 being like the best book of the year), and NOW I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T WAIT ANYMORE LET’S STA–

~ #10 The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Choksi ~

“’You and your secrets.
‘Secrets keep my hair lustrous,’ said Severin, running his hand through his curls.”

I’d been hearing about this all over the bookish community, and though I read so many mixed opinions, one thing that I found common in all the reviews was the comparison to six of crows. Obviously, I knew I had to give this a try. And I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, it was a lot like the soc duology, but it put a different twist into everything. And not to forget, the author is an indian (like me!) and believe me the desi vibes were up to the mark (“laila-majnun”? i’m dying) and of course I adored the moral greyness (is that even a word?) of the characters. The banter was *chef’s kiss* and don’t even get me started on the found family.

~ #9 Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth ~

“I dug deep down into my empathy store and found a dried-up old raisin.”

To say that this book made me laugh would be an understatement. It had me snorting and chuckling and giggling (in the most embarrassing way) and basically a lot of people around me thought I’d finally lost it so there’s that. There was Aideen, aka the best narrator ever. There was the perfectly accurate description of students in a high school. And then there was Meabh. Sweet, perfect Meabh in whom I saw so much of myself that I think the author somehow based her off my personality. But. The whole point of those graphics were to stop me from boring you to death with essays, so we stop here.

Why I picked this up: It’s no coincidence that I started reading this a couple of days after reading Anoushka’s review! I was feeling the contemporary vibes anyway, so after reading her review I was sure I needed this!

~ #8 We Are Not Free by Traci Chee ~

“Is this what life is like? People coming together and drifting apart, coming together and drifting apart, over and over until there’s no one left?”

The award for “Most Tears Of The Year” (yes I just made that up) goes to We Are Not Free by Traci Chee! 14 POVs brought out the individuality of each character beautifully, and while this was not my first Traci Chee book, it was definitely the most impactful. And I’m sure it will also leave a lasting impact on you (and those poor tissues that’ll get wet in the process)

Why I picked it up: I decided to give this a try after reading Cherelle’s review!

~ #7 Supernova by Merissa Meyer ~

“Some people were always meant to be heroes.
Just like some people were always meant to be villains.”

Superheroes. And supervillains. But not the cheesy kind, I promise.

The third and final book in the Renegades trilogy, Supernova was the best of the lot. It was filled to the brim with action and anguish and secrets and I couldn’t have hoped for a better ending.

Why I picked it up: It was because of April’s review of the Renegades trilogy that I decided to read it. (though April, I do realize that you liked the first two books better?? but anyway.)

~ #6 Sands Of Arawiya Duology by Hafsah Faizal ~

A thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the sun.

I swear there’s some sorcery involved here because Faizal straight off picked all my favourite tropes, topped it with mind-blowing writing and humour, and named the result the Sands Of Arawiya duology. That’s how good this book is.

If you’re curious about the tropes in question, we had enemies to lovers, knife to throat, slow burn and plenty of witty banter. Still need convincing? Read the epic showdown of WHTF against the hype-o-meter!

Why I picked it up: I read Cherry’s and Kaya’s reviews, and it was then I knew that I needed to read this duology!

~ #5 Aurora Cycle duology by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff ~

“He asks for nothing, this boy. No favor. No quarter. He lives every moment of his life is pain, but still, he lives it. And he stands, where others would have long ago fallen.”

Full of complex and well-developed characters, found family vibes, and cool spaceships, the Aurora Cycle duology (now a trilogy) has to be one of the best space operas I’ve ever read! And WOULD YOU LOOK AT THOSE COVERS??

Why I picked it up: Madeline convinced me to pick up this one through her constant ramblings about this series on her blog! Ashmita also recommended this to me!

~ #4 These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong ~

“You know me. Running around. Living life. Committing arson.”

Ok this was another one of those instances where I got carried away by the hype and am glad I was. Because #ownvoices historical fiction! set in asia! blood feuds! morally grey characters! badass girl and soft boy! enemies to lovers at it’s finest! and whatever else I mentioned in the graphic of course, but tell me, do you still need a reason to go bury your nose in These Violent Delights right now?

~ #3 Rule Of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo ~

“The world might crumble, but Nikolai Lantsov would be holding up the ceiling with one hand and plucking a speck of dirt from his lapel with the other when it all went to ruin”

I’ll have you know that this was the book that pushed These Violent Delights out of the top 3 at the very last moment. I finished reading the duology (but I put only rule of wolves here because i found it even better than king of scars) just yesterday evening, it doesn’t get any more last-minute than that. Also please do understand that because of the reason stated above, my feelings for this one are very fresh. So. ASJHDFHFGSJK MISS BARDUGO YOU DID IT AGAIN I LOVED THIS SO SO MUCH IT’S BRILLIANT. And did I mention I’m obsessed with Zoya and Nikolai’s characters? And the Six of Crows references were EVERYTHING.

~ #2 House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune ~

“Sometimes, he thought to himself in a house in a cerulean sea, you were able to choose the life you wanted. And if you were of the lucky sort, sometimes that life chose you back.

With dry sarcastic humour, out of the world character development and found family vibes, The House In The Cerulean Sea is in short, AWESOME. It will tug at all your heartstrings (note the use of “will”) and make you laugh and cry and then smile through watery eyes and much more including staring at the wall trying to process how a book can be so beautiful.

~ #1 Six Of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo ~

““Greed is your god, Kaz.”
He almost laughed at that. “No, Inej. Greed bows to me. It is my servant and my lever.”

At this point, I am 200% sure this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given the amount of SoC references there are in my posts. And there have also been posts specifically dedicated to this duology (apart from the review), the latest being Books I’d Use As Weapons // aka books i’d throw at jesper if i was david.
I am wholly and truly OBSESSED with everything that has to do with this duology. I don’t even have words (turns out, i do) to describe the sheer PERFECTION this duology is – it’s captivating, it’s brilliant, it’s… perfect. (yeah I’m running out of synonyms here)

Why I picked it up: Well because it is so massively hyped and everyone was raving about it. But I first came to know about it from Cherelle’s blog last year, so shout-out to her!

A quick little vote of thanks before we move one- THANK YOU Anoushka, Cherelle, April, Cherry, Kaya, Madeline and Ashmita for recommending these fantastic reads to me because it’s very likely i never would have read these without your persuasion!

I had to include an Honourable Mentions section because I am afraid of the wrath of the bookish gods even though these books couldn’t make it to my top 10 because of ~competition~, nevertheless they cannot be left out as they were also absolutely amazing books that deserve all the love they can get.

Cemetery Boys
Perfect on Paper

Soo I feel like I’m supposed to make an eloquent speech at the end of this post so here goes *ahem * GO READ ALL OF THESE BECAUSE TRUST ME, YOU NEED THESE IN YOUR LIFE OKAY?! Ok not quite the eloquence I was hoping for but it gets the point across.

How was your Christmas? Candy? Gifts?? Which were your best reads in 2021? Have you read any of mine? Thoughts?
Oh and before you go, let’s scream it together – NO MOURNERS, NO FUNERALS!!

~ Rachel

8 Diverse Books I Loved, And 8 That Are On My TBR!

Before I became a part of the bookish community, most of my reads were by straight white authors with likewise leads. Since then, I have become so much more aware due to lots of lovely people who promote diversity on their blogs/ booktube etc.

As an Asian myself, I understand how important it is for different cultures to be shown in books, and it is a different feeling altogether to feel represented. In the last couple of months, more than half of the books I’ve read recently are by Asian authors or have Asian characters so I am proud of how far I’ve come.

Diversity in books can mean a lot of things, but this list shall be focusing on books written by POC authors and/or having POC leads. In the first part of this post, I’ll be showcasing some of my favourite diverse reads with their highlights and in the second part, I’ll be listing diverse books which I’ve not read but are on my TBR!

I hope you have your Goodreads (or wherever you make your tbr list) open and ready, because we are starting now!

(the formatting is off in the Reader, kindly click here to read further!)

Cemetery Boys
💘 spirits (and a certain sweet but possessive, bad boy spirit)
💘 mexican culture
💘 themes of identity and acceptance
💘 fantasy with contemporary feel

The Girl Who Drank The Moon
💘 witchy
💘 whimsical, dreamy writing
💘 magic running wild
💘 multiple third person POVs

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon
💘 talking goldfishes and lion statues
💘 chinese folklore
💘 dragons!
💘 beautiful atmosphere and conclusion

We Hunt The Flame
💘 arabia – inspired fantasy
💘 atmospheric setting and brilliant world-building
💘 subtle found family with lots of banter
💘 morally grey characters

A Clash Of Steel
💘 set in imperial china
💘 pirates! and lost treasure!
💘 strong woman characters
💘 treasure island retelling

How We Fall Apart
💘 majority of the cast is Asian
💘 thrilling murder mystery
💘 set in an elite prep school
💘 secrets and rivalry and revenge

The Reader
💘 secret society
💘 a world where books are banned
💘 deep and meaningful writing
💘 pirate stories!

We Are Not Free
💘 set during WWII
💘 love, life and laughs amidst war
💘 14 POVs
💘 heart wrenching and impactful


Here are 8 diverse books I am yet to read, but will hopefully be picking up soon!

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1)
These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)
Jade Fire Gold
A Magic Steeped in Poison (The Book of Tea, #1)
The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)
Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology, #1)
Legendborn (The Legendborn Cycle #1)
The Bones of Ruin

Have you read any of these? Do you have any more diverse recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

~ Rachel