Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Book Club: Best Books of 2021

Are y'all ready?  Because we are SO stinking excited about today's post.  First post of the new year and it's one that we look forward to writing ALL year long.  We read/listen to a BUNCH of books, but all throughout the year we are thinking of the ones that will make the top of our lists and today we're here to share our very favorites with you!  

But first, we need to catch up with December's books.



I started the month with The Push by Ashley Audrain.  Wow.  I found this book just really sad.  It's about motherhood, the motherly instinct that most of us feel without even trying and follows a new mother as she deals with postpartum depression, the tiredness that being a new mom brings, and a little gut feeling that develops when she thinks there just might be something wrong with her daughter. Her baby grows into a toddler then a pre-schooler and the mother's intuition that something just isn't right never goes away.  She fears her daughter is evil with the capability to do terrible things and little glimpses of her child's actions cause that thought to never go away. She thinks there might be something wrong with her for not feeling connected to her daughter until she has another baby and realizes she does have the motherly nurturing instinct after all.  Some very tragic events occur next that cause the family to fall apart and I just felt so very sad for this mom.  The book was well written and has a ton of great reviews. I just needed a little more happy. 

Since I needed a happier note I decided to give The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood a whirl.  A Ph.D student has an accidental kiss with a hot professor and next thing they know they are "fake dating" to help both of them get what they want.  There is a slow build romance that develops and they both end up falling for each other.  It's based in academia world (which I knew nothing about) so I found it interesting to learn about that dynamic, as well as, the love story that unfolded.  It was a cute rom-com type of story that built up to a few steamy romance scenes.  It was a light and easy read. 


First off, Wish You Were Here is - from start to finish - about Covid. So if that’s a trigger right now, steer clear. But it really is an amazing book with an incredible story line! Picoult's books do a great job of making you run through a gambit of emotions and Wish You Were Here does exactly that. I laughed, I cried, I was sad, I was shocked…but overall this book made me feel hopeful. It was an interesting take on Covid. A young couple living in NYC making plans to visit the Galapagos and essentially use it as a leaping ground for the next stage of life. That all comes crashing down as the world closes. This book has one big twist, that at first made me scream. I couldn’t believe it, but as I read on, realized it made the story even better. This is possibly one of my favorite reads of the year!

KWH books are always a favorite, and reading Christmas in Peachtree Bluff was the perfect way to enjoy the quiet part of the holiday season - with a little extra reading magic. The third book in this series did a good job of wrapping up everything with the Murphy girls and the drama that landed them in their beloved coastal town, but I love love love that KWH decided to let us visit with this family one more time. 

The novel is a mix of family drama, home design love and small town holiday fun, and by some Christmas miracle my family let me read this book in one sitting. 

I could not stop reading and wanted to soak up the gift that is the Murphy family. The story is such a joy from the very first page, and so recommend everyone putting this heartwarming novel in your queues to read!

When I first saw Lucky announced as the December pick for Reese Witherspoon’s book club, I was so intrigued. The story is about a girl who gets caught up doing a heist of a large amount of money. She’s on the run. On a whim she buys a lottery ticket and somehow manages to win the jackpot. The downfall, if she cashes it in, she also gets arrested. 

Sounds interesting right?!

Even though the main character was on the run for doing something wrong, you can’t help but like her and cheer her on. 

This was a quick, easy and fun read. I feel like towards the end events were a little unbelievable, or it was wrapped up too quickly, but during the holiday chaos this was a great escapist read.

Closing out 2021 reading for me was No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen. This was a twisty YA sci-fi thriller that was hard to put down. Totally not my typical genre, and at times I felt totally lost on what I just read and would have to re-read, but the mystery of it all kept me intrigued. 

Set in the desert, a teen girl returns to the military town of 29 Palms with her family for the first time in years. Reunited with old friends (and a potential love interest), things quickly turn dark with murder, memory lapses and mysterious happenings left and right. 

It was well written and fast paced, so if sci-fi is your genre (think Stranger Things meets Veronica Mars) - grab this one!



Next up for me is The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.  It sounds cute and I'm excited to get started on it! 


I had this one pre-ordered on my Audible, and am already counting down the hours until after school car pool (well...sort of). I enjoyed The Wife Upstairs by the same author, and The Reckless Girls sounds just as thrilling!


Here we go...the best books of 2021! There were so many great books published this year, and it was probably one of favorite years of reading yet. 


I get so excited thinking about what might make my top books of the year and often I know a book will be in my top three the second I finish it.  It's weird how some just stand out and stick with you.


My third favorite book this year is actually a series.  I devoured the Crave series by Tracy Wolff.  I listened to each book (CraveCrush and Covetin about two days each and just couldn't stop.  Think Harry Potter meets Twilight with a grown-up love story. It's set in a crazy fantasy world, has a love triangle romance, and just oh so good. Book two was my favorite, but they were all really good. There are actually two final books in the series coming out this year in February and May and you better believe my calendar is marked!  I can't wait to find out how this one ends. 


If I'm being completely honest I had a really hard time deciding between my top two books.  I wanted to do a tie for first because I loved both of these. Ultimately I decided to put Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren as my second favorite book of the year, but it honestly could have been my number 1.  I love books that make me feel and this one hit the mark. The connection the two main characters have is so beautiful and tragic at the same time. This book had me laughing, crying and everything in between.  

Below is my original review: 
I don't know if anyone else is like this, but after I end a really amazing book I'm always hesitant to start something else just because I don't want to be disappointed.  I asked Jen for a recommendation of something she loved recently and she gave me a doozy.  Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren took my breath away.  I've read some of her other books before and this one was TOTALLY different.  Still a love story, but with so much more to it.  The story switches back and forth between present day and the past when teenage Macy has just lost her mother and meets the boy next door at their weekend home.  Macy and Elliot quickly form a bond that cannot be explained.  At first it is just friendship and then grows into more.  He is her only friend, her best friend, the ones who helps her grieve the death of her mother and is truly her everything for years.  During the present day chapters, Macy runs into Elliot and they begin to navigate their friendship/relationship by tip-toeing around the past. Lauren keeps hinting at something that happened 11 years ago that caused them to lose contact and not speak for all of that time.  I thought I had it totally figured out and knew what was coming, but I was SO wrong. I LOVED this book because I love books that make me really feel. The characters were so well developed and it made me so emotional to hear their stories.  I cried at several parts, smiled at so many more and just really can't say enough about how good it was. I highly recommend this one!


My favorite book this year was You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley. Funnily enough, this was Jen's top book for 2020! I have told so many people about this book and it ended up as my favorite for so many reasons.  First of all, like mentioned above, I love a book that makes me feel and this one did it for me. I also love a page turner! This was one I couldn't stop listening to, so much so that I did my grocery shopping with headphones in so I didn't have to turn it off.  I also love a story with un unexpected twist.  I thought for sure I knew how this one was going to end and then, BAM, a big surprise!  Lastly, I chose this as my number one for the year just barely beating out Love and Other Words because the story was just so different!  Two people who have been dreaming about each other for years and then meet in real life?!  It just doesn't seem like it could be real, but Oakley made it feel SO very real.  

My original review: 
My last book of this month was You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley. Jen recommended this one to me and it has been on my wish-list for a while, but when I saw that she named it her favorite book of 2020 I downloaded it immediately!  You know what, it might just make my top 3 of 2021! It's about young married couple and the wife, Mia, truly loves her husband.  However, she has been having reoccurring dreams about another man for years.  She thinks it's just some weird dream coincidence until she meets him in real life and realizes that maybe the universe is showing her that the guy from her dreams is really the one she should be with.  It sounds kind of far fetched, but it was SO believable in the book. Towards the end I found myself hoping she would make a difficult decision only to then be blindsided with how these characters all ended up crossing paths and how their lives aligned. I was SOBBING in my car one afternoon listening to the end of this story and just love books that make you FEEL something.  I highly recommend this one. I also loved the narrator's voice, so if you are an audible fan, this one is great listen. 


This is going to be so tough! When I went back through to look at Goodreads, I realized I read 87 books last year. Eighty-seven! It was a great year of reading and I was exposed to a few new authors who are now favorites, and tried to reach out of my comfort zone some too. It will be no shocker that Carrie Beth's list will look similar to mine. We share and chat books often and I love love love her picks!! It was tough to top last year's choice and I'm so glad she enjoyed You Were There Too just as much as I did. 

Okay, here we go...


Surviving Savannah is one of those books that you don't want to rush through because of all the detail and how well it is written, but you do because you just can't put it down. The story is fictional, but based on a real life event that I had no idea that happened. Think Titanic meets glamorous Southern royalty. There is a ton of back story and mystery surrounding the city of Savannah and I found it fascinating that a lot of it was true. The story jumps between past and present, and there are several POV's, but each person's perspective makes the ending that much more beautiful. From start to finish I loved this one. 


The Good Girl's Guide to Murder series that you see now all over the Internet and social media. Let me tell you - totally lives up to the hype. I listened to this one early in the year, and then went back and re-read it in physical form. It's one that I told all my friends to read (or listen to), and one we talked about long after we were finished. A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is a twisty, edge of your seat true-crime podcast come to life in book form. With the most lovable main character and side kick duo ever. The final book takes a slightly darker turn than the first two, but it is crazy good how Holly Jackson wrote three books that kept you guessing the whole time (all with constant new facts and details, twists and turns that made you scream, and a large cast of characters that wasn't somehow confusing) and managed to tie it all together in one perfect bow in the end. 

Read the series. You'll thank us later. 


Y'all there was no question - this was hand's down my favorite book of 2021. Love and Other Words was the book I benchmarked all my other reads against the entire year. There was just something about the story that gave me all the feels. I went into it thinking it was going to be something different and, was pleasantly surprised to find the beautiful story that popped out from the pages. I love some Christina Lauren novels, but Love and Other Words is by far my favorite now (and one that deserves my popularity than it's gotten). This is a love story filled with friendship, heartbreak, tragedy, and hope. There was a big twist in the story that made me straight up ugly cry (sorry car pool monitors - I should've bought you copies too!), and an ending that made me cry and cheer at the same time. 

This was the book I recommended to everyone. We even sent followers book mail as a surprise because we loved it so much!

My original review of this book doesn't do it justice, but trust me when I say if you read this one you will see why it made both of our top three. 

What was your favorite book of 2021? Share with us!!

January | February | March | April | May | BEST BOOKS OF SUMMER | June | July | AugustSeptember | October |   
November |

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