In 2021, I tried to post every day. I ended up falling into a brief hiatus from October through December when I was lucky to move into my dream studio apartment in Manhattan. However, I did still manage to post fairly consistently for most of the year. Here are the ten most popular posts I wrote in the second half of the year, just as a brief recap before I share annual totals!
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10. The Bachelor Duke by Cecilia Rene Review
What I really liked about The Bachelor Duke was that it was mostly a happy story. In the very last fifty pages, there’s a climactic, dramatic arc, but most of the story is about the blissful romance between Remington and Livie. Remington has his guard up about marriage due to a troubled past, but he quickly moves past his hesitations when he falls in love with Livie. There are many romantic and a few steamy scenes between the two, and I liked that for the most part, their story was a positive one. So often in romance novels, there’s a lot of angst. I liked that this one was mostly low on the inner turmoil and heavy on the love story!
9. Love and Friendship by Jane Austen Review
It is important to have some knowledge of the types of novels Austen read growing up. She would have been exposed to the romanticism movement, where love stories and tragedies often focused heavily on the emotions of one narrator. These books were also full of women fainting and swooning. Austen lampoons this in Love and Friendship, a series of letters from Laura to her friend’s daughter. Laura reflects on the fantastical events of her young adulthood, which jump from one extreme scene to the next, much like a fairy tale.
8. Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal Review
I love how frank Unmarriageable is about women’s sexuality and body positivity. Sherry’s main reasons for marrying are the same as Charlotte’s, but she’s honest about how a big part of that desire to marry is to have sex. She’s 41 and expected to stay virginal unless she weds. Qitty, one of the sisters, is constantly teased for being overweight, and essentially creates a body positivity movement. Additionally, the Wickham character, Wickaam, in this one is 100 times more villainous. Ugh, I absolutely loathed him! I can’t spoil too much, but Juju’s subplot centering on him deals with some sensitive issues in a gentle, feminist way.
7. The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan Review
The book starts off with Bex and Nick on a sort of incognito honeymoon after the fallout of the scandal that followed their wedding – readers of Book 1 will have an idea what this is. But duty eventually calls, and they must return to London. Throughout the course of the book, the couple and their friends struggle through the first few years of their marriage, all while maintaining a deep love for one another and ultimately a wonderful sense of teamwork. The couple hits a rough patch towards the halfway point of the novel, but is able to unite together and move forward. Bex and Nick are truly #relationshipgoals. They struggle with communication, as seen in Book 1 and the first half of Book 2, but by the end really have grown as a couple, even more so than they did in the first book.
6. Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliot Review
Wow, what a lovely story! The fantasy adventure is whimsical but also an emotional journey for Jax. I especially loved the characters of Jax and Ma. What’s so great about Dragons in a Bag is that it’s a fun fantasy story that allows more children to see themselves represented in the genre. Every children’s modern fantasy novel I read growing up (so, not a fairy tale, but combining real world elements with magic) was about white British children. I love that this book features a cast of children (and adults) of color in an American urban setting. It’s also important that this book deals with real world topics in a sensitive way – for example, Jax and his mother’s housing insecurity.
5. Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read in 2021
This week’s theme is Best Books I Read in 2021. There are still a few days left in the year, so I suppose something could completely blow my mind between now and then… But here at the 10 that are the frontrunners so far! (Note: I am not counting rereads for this particular post.)
4. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas Review
Yadriel is such a lovable character, but Julian really stole the show for me. He’s an absolute gift. His passionate nature, complete care and adoration for his loved ones, and constant misunderstanding of common sayings is sweet and hilarious. He is my favorite fictional character I’ve read so far this year.
3. A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore Review
This was just such a gorgeous read. In addition to the awesome romance and explosive erotica, there’s this fabulously feminist main plot, beautiful portrayals of friendships between women, and cameos from historical figures. I also must note that our hero is queer, which I don’t see a lot of in man/woman romances. I really loved the representation. Tristan is totally my latest book boyfriend.
2. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover Review
Every now and then you read a book that sweeps you under like a wave in the ocean. For me, a book like that needs romance, strong characters, tough topics (handled well), and a great plot. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover was just that. This book made me laugh and cry. It made me want to throw my Kindle across the room at times, but only because I loved the narrator so much and wanted the best for her. And after it stomped on my heart, it put it all back together again. This was my first CoHo read, and she may have made a devout fan out of me already.
1. Verity by Colleen Hoover Review
Verity is creepy, disturbing, and gripping. I will note that the erotic scenes may take some readers by surprise, but I enjoyed them. They only added to the conflicting emotions and sensations Lowen is experiencing. Of course, there’s a few final twists, and though I figured out some, others took me by surprise. I’m left wondering if everything is how it seemed in the epilogue, or whether Verity was really and truly playing the long game with her readers, husband, and even Lowen.
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