Top 10 of 2021 ~ Missy’s Picks

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This weeks theme is: Best Books I Read In 2021

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday coinsides with a post I normally do at the end of every year anyway – my favorite books of the year.

I honestly don’t know where 2021 went, just like 2020, it all passed in a blur. I ended up reading 103 books (at the time of writing, I might slip in another book or two before December 31st ends!) DNF-ing at least 10 books, I didn’t keep track, but I’m hoping to continue to DNF books that aren’t working for me.

Now, let’s see my favorite books of the year!

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow is the dark fairytale of your nightmares and I absolutely loved every second of it! When I read this in April, I knew it was going to be on my favorites list and here we are.

House of Hollow has so many unexpected twists and turns, you’ll never guess what happens next, and I was guessing until the very last page! While this is a standalone novel, the ending has a slight open ending and I wouldn’t me mad if Sutherland wrote a sequel. 

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

I went into this not knowing too much about it, and that’s how I would recommend you go into it as well. If you like music of any type, you’ll like this one. I see comparisons of Opal & Nev to Daisy Jones & The Six, and while both books do tell a fictional music history of different groups, Opal & Nev is very, very different from Daisy Jones, and the characters are nothing alike – the similarities end at the music aspect and the fact this is best listened to as an audiobook.

This story is about the music, but its also about life which includes racism and politics. There are a lot of happy joyous moments in this book, but there are more serious discussions had as well.

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Historical fiction dealing with anything music related has really been my jam in 2021, as you can see 4 books like that out of 10 on this list!

Mary Jane caught my attention when I saw it marketed as Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones and the Six – I love both of those so of course I was going to read Mary Jane! I adored this book and will be recommending it to everyone – but be warned, this is more Almost Famous and basically NOTHING like Daisy Jones.

I’ve found books I go into not knowing too much about, not knowing any hype surrounding them, has really made me enjoy the reading experience more.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

This is one everyone hyped up and multiple friends recommended to me. I was wary but I shouldn’t have been – this easily lived up to the hype and I’m so glad I picked this up this year, and I can’t believe this is a debut novel!

This book is everything I never knew I wanted. A mystery/thriller with Native American characters with contemporary Native American culture and language (Anishinaabemowin) prevalent throughout the book. This book is set in 2004, so while its not present, it’s still contemporary. This is considered “young adult” but I’d consider this on the higher end of YA, or even “new adult” – the characters are seniors in high school or in college – but this is a story everyone should read and can benefit from.

The author herself is Native American and I truly cannot think of another young adult contemporary novel about Native Americans by a Native American.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I would like to live inside of a Taylor Jenkins Reid book please and thank you. Reid has such a way with words and setting the scene, I feel like I am really THERE. Her storytelling ability is unlike anything else and I am still slowly working my way through her backlog.

Malibu Rising is about the 4 Riva siblings, set in the 1980s – I think I’ve found an era I really love and its the 70s and 80s historical fiction – especially if Taylor Jenkins Reid writes it.

Reid describes everything in such luscious detail I feel like I am actually there. From the landscape to the setting to the characters – each of the 4 Riva siblings felt like well developed characters even though we only got to know them for a short time – and I would like to know more. If I finish a book and wish there were a sequel, I always feel that says a lot – that I want to know more and wish the story continued on.

Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie

I have truly found my brand of books and it is historical fiction books set in the 60s/70s/80s eras and featuring music. It’s my brand and I love it – and I loved this book. Remember how I said I’d like to live inside Malibu Rising? I’d also like to live inside Songs in Ursa Major and befriend Jane Quinn. (Or be her groupie. Either works.) 

Sometimes you read a book and you like it, and other times you read a book and you get so lost in the world and you can’t stop thinking about it. You’re driving while listening to the audiobook and you miss your exit because you’re so entranced by the book.

That’s Songs in Ursa Major.

Fresh by Margot Wood

This book is a book I wish I had in college. It’s so real and down to earth. I had so much fun reading this book, I couldn’t stop smiling. I highly recommend it – this is a book of college life, of growing up, of friendships and how your family will always be there for you.

Elliot was the most fun I’ve had with a protagonist in a long time. This book is full of humor and had me laughing out loud from page 1 – not even kidding, this book is full of laughs. But it also has serious moments.

Elliot is proudly and openly bisexual. This book is very sex positive about having as much sex and with whoever you want to have sex with, as long as you’re doing it safely. 

The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith

Clearly my brand in 2021 is historical fiction with either music or magic, this being the latter. If you’re looking for a historical fiction witchy book set in 1911 New York City that has strong female friendships, look no further – The Witch Haven is here! I fell in love with this book from the very first chapter and I was hooked. It’s almost like….it was magic.

Three Pianos: A Memoir by Andrew McMahon

I was debating if this should be on my list or not and decided yes, it really should be. Music is such an important part of my life that has been taken away in the past two years due to the pandemic, and I miss live music. This brought a musician who I love and respect story to me in a way he might not have shared were it not for the pandemic. I’m glad this exists. Andrew McMahon’s story really stuck with me and I always look forward to when he’s touring and when I can see him perform live again – he’s one of my favorite artists.

Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

I literally finished this book on Sunday night so I don’t have a full proper review yet but this book was everything magical I had hoped for.

I’m long time fan of Rebecca Ross’s writing and this proved no differently – the way she weaves a story and creates an entire world is magical. Her world building is amazing and all her characters felt well developed. I didn’t know where this story would go and it surprised me in the best way possible – and I love when a story can do that.

It’s honestly hard to just pick 10 books when I’ve read 100+ this year, so here are some ~*~Honorable Mentions~*~:

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

This graphic novel series stole my heart this year and its one of the best! I recommend this to everyone and I look forward to the Netflix live action that will come out…eventually!

THIS IS SO SOFT I’M uwu

This is soooooo cute and so soft and pure and cute and and and.

The story is so simple and yet it works so well~ the art isn’t anything fancy but it gets the story across so clearly!

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

I started my year reading this one thanks to Illumicrate and it really won me over. I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to, its urban fantasy which I can’t say I read a lot of but I’m glad I picked up this one. I look forward to the sequel in 2022!

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious is easily one of my all time favorite series, and when I learned there would be ANOTHER BOOK after the trilogy, I was beside myself with excitement! This can technically be read as a standalone, as it is a separate murder mystery from the Truly Devious trilogy – but I would recommend reading that series first as this one assumes you already know all the characters.

I loved being back with Stevie and the gang and I will continue to read any books written with these characters. Falling back into this world feels comfortable, I had missed these characters and reading another story about them feels like coming home – not many books can do that for me.

These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan

I love a story involving faeries – I can’t say I’m well versed or know a ton about fae lore, but I enjoyed what this book told me! The pacing of this story was incredibly fast and I was eager to continue reading more. There was never a dull moment and everything felt well calculated.

There is a love triangle, there is some kissing and swooning, and rule #1 of faerie is you can’t trust anyone. We meet a great cast of characters and some very soft fae boys.

I really hate comparing books, but I’m going to compare books – I was a huge fan of The Cruel Prince series by Holly Black and this book gave me Cruel Prince vibes – but not exactly the same.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

-screams in anime- ALL OF MY OTAKU ANIME DREAMS IN NOVEL FORMAT. I feel like I’m reliving my teenage Neon Genesis Evangelion dreams. I didn’t realize this would be a series and I’m MAD at that cliffhanger ending.

This is both an enemies-to-lovers and childhood-friends-to-lovers story because its polyamorous! There is a triangle, but nobody has to pick a side – as mentioned in this book, the strongest shape is a triangle so why restrict yourself when it comes to love?

What books are on your wishlist?
Link your post below and I’ll check it out!

28 thoughts on “Top 10 of 2021 ~ Missy’s Picks

    1. It was hard to narrow it down!! I can’t wait to read volume 4 of Heartstopper soon~

      And it wasn’t a super popular book but I’m glad it came across my radar because I really enjoyed it!

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    1. Thank you! I hope you can read Firekeeper’s Daughter soon, its totally worth all the hype! And I agree, I hope 2022 brings more concerts! I’ve gone to a handful since they restarted around summer time, but not nearly as many as I went to pre-2020. And not as many bands are touring….understandably, of course. So fingers crossed for 2022~ 🙂

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    1. Yay I’m so glad to hear that! I love hearing others loved House of Hollow as much as me~ and I feel the same looking at everyones lists, I have so many books on my TBR I love seeing that others loved them and I need to bump them up to read them soon 🙂

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  1. Pingback: Most Disappointing Reads of 2021

  2. What a great list of books! I want to read like half of these. I agree about Taylor Jenkins Reid- I’ve only read one of her books but it sucked me in. I love a good book set during college as well- wish we had more of those!

    Alice Oseman is another author I want to read more of, having LOVED Radio Silence. and Maureen Johnson…

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    1. Thanks for reading! I’m happy to hear a bunch of these are on your TBR! Taylor Jenkins Reid writes such good historical fiction, her most recent ones are all my favorite.

      And likewise, I need to read more Alice Oseman, I haven’t read Radio Silence yet but its on my TBR! And highly recommend the Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson.

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    1. Thanks for checking out my list~ and yes, both of those books are fantastic! I was also skeptical about Iron Widow and it took me a little while to get into the book but once I did, it was a ton of fun and I can’t wait for the sequel!

      Liked by 1 person

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