My Favourite Books of 2021: Part 2

*Contains Spoilers*

Thanks for coming back to see what my favourite books of 2021, July-December, were. I hope you enjoyed reading the first part, and I hope you find some new books to read here 😊

JULY

When Wallace Price is collected from his own funeral, he starts to believe he may actually be dead. Instead of taking him to the afterlife, he is taken to a tea shop, where he has a week in the company of the ferryman Hugo to live the life he should have lived.

TJ Klune’s writing is so spectacular I would read his shopping list if he gave it to me. It is entertaining, original, emotional, loving, difficult, thought-provoking, and simply beautiful. This is a fantasy that is so installed in real life and proves to us that it is never too late to make the life you wanted. I sure hope it gets adapted into a movie because I’ll be the first ticket in the queue.

There is a mystery to solve in the sleepy town of Lower Lockwood. It starts with the arrival of two secretive newcomers and ends with a tragic death. Try to find the culprit through text messages, emails, transcripts, and police files.

There are definite nods to Agatha Christie in this book and it thoroughly deserves all the accolades it is winning. It puts such a novel twist on the classic murder mystery genre, and Janice is an expert at hiding the truth within a number of falsehoods.

AUGUST

It’s 1914, and scientist William witnesses something that plants a seed of obsession in his mind. Can spirits really exist and be communicating with him, or is someone playing an elaborate trick on him?

This is one of the best debuts – and best books – I have ever read. The characters AJ has created feel so familiar, yet fresh and new; they feel like friends, just ones we haven’t seen for a while. Once the twists and turns start coming, they come in thick and fast and are mind blowing and mind boggling. I sure hope there’s a sequel, or more in this genre from AJ, as he has truly got under my skin and he’s here to stay.

Maid Molly is very good at her job and takes pride in herself and everything she does to ensure everything is done in an orderly fashion. But one day, she enters a hotel room to clean it, to find the wealthy occupant dead. Before she knows it, the police are investigating and she’s suspect number one. She quickly finds herself in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle.

This isn’t out until 2022 but I advise you to put it on your wishlist now. This is such a masterpiece of a novel. It’s hard to believe it’s her first book as I couldn’t find any flaws with it or anything I would change at all. Molly is such a unique and compelling character and gives us a beautiful insight into her glorious world. At its heart, this is a murder mystery, but it is so unique it is almost a genre of its own.

In a world without politics, money, power, religion and greed, artist Matthew travels on horseback across a post-technology world, guided only by random flashes of a memory, to find answers about his birth family.

This has a feel of an era long past, but also of one far in the future. It is fascinating to read. It is full of such beautiful description that you can put yourself directly in the story and experience it along with the characters. I could definitely feel a sense of C.S Lewis about it and I am counting down the days until a sequel is released.

SEPTEMBER

When Lily returns to her aunt’s manor house, she discovers that in order to inherit it, she and her estranged cousins must stay together over Christmas and take part in the annual treasure hunt. But as a snowstorm cuts them off, it becomes apparent that this innocent game has turned deadline, and that Lily is now fighting for her life.

I personally think this is better than the Agatha Christie books I’ve read – there, I said it. It’s eery and fast-paced and tentative and chilling and thrilling and surprising and keeps you guessing right up the last page.

The long-awaited memoir of BAFTA-winning, and all-round national treasure, Miriam Margolyes, covering a very eventful 80 years.

Not for everyone I understand, but I absolutely adore Miriam. She is brash and crass and rude and crude and simply marvelous. She is not afraid to say what she thinks, and she is, above all, genuine. She genuinely finds people fascinating and wants to learn about them. She can be brutal, but to me, she teaches us all to be unashamedly ourselves. She is without a doubt, brilliant.

By day, Ivy mourns the loss of her son in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy, one whose death decades ago haunts her still. Ivy is sure there is more to what happened in the fire all those years ago, and she is determined to uncover the truth, if she is ever to be free.

It might not be out until 2022, but there surely isn’t a book lover around who hasn’t heard of this book. It wasn’t like anything I expected. It is multi-layered and so clever; heartbreaking and heartwarming, it’s a real eye-opener to what we would do for love. If I’m honest, I don’t have the words to explain just how beautifully written this book is.

OCTOBER

Taste is a reflection on how much food goes hand in hand with life, filled with anecdotes about growing up, preparing for and filming big foodie films, falling in love, and teaming up with his wife over food.

I think we can all admit we love Stanley Tucci a little bit. Or not even a little bit. I love him a lot. He is a fabulous actor, director and presenter, and a superb writer. Food is a hard thing to write about because we can’t see it, smell it or taste it, but he manages to put so much passion in it that you can experience these senses just through his words. We can clearly see just how much food means to him.

Cursed by the God of Lies, Serilda has developed a talent for spinning fantastical stories. When one of her tales draws the attention of the sinister Erlking and his group of undead hunters, she finds herself swept away into a world full of ghouls and phantoms. She is forced to spin straw into gold – or killed for spreading lies.

At 500 pages, this could feel daunting, but I tell you now, I would read 1,000 pages of this book if it meant staying in its world. This is one of the most thoroughly, wonderfully described fantasy books I think I’ve read. It is never boring or over the top, but full of delicious action, perfectly written. It feels so real you often forget you’re reading a fantasy book.

NOVEMBER

Starting in 2030, a grieving archaeologist arrives in the Arctic to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter, studying long-buried secrets such as ancient viruses. Once unleased, this plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come.

This was extraordinary writing, on par with some of the greatest classics ever published. Sequoia has written in such a way that whilst each story is connected, it’s not always obvious how, but this shows that we’re all linked, connected through all time and space. This is such a compassionate and honest novel. It is a piece of art, but it feels much more than that. It is a book that reaches our hearts and sets up home.

Told from the point of view of a fictionalised version of Agatha Christie’s husband’s mistress, we explore the 11 days that Agatha went missing in 1925. Where did she go? Why did she go? Who did she go with? And what has this got to do with her husband and his lover?

It’s a fascinating outlook to use the mistress as the narrator as the other woman is often seen as untrustworthy, so why should we believe what she has to say? It is such an involved story, so exhilarating, full of love, mystery, revenge; what are we prepared to do for the ones we love?

DECEMBER

It was almost impossible to pick my favourite books of December as it was such a good reading month, but not wanting to copout at the end of the year, I’ve finally settled on my favourite reads.

Young, black American Ray McMillan loves playing the violin more than anything, and nothing will stop him from becoming a professional musician, especially now he’s got a priceless Stradivarius to call his own. But when the violin is stole, Ray will stop at nothing to get it back.

I couldn’t put this down once I’d started, it was just so gripping. Brendan doesn’t overplay the difficult subjects like racism, but instead writes them with such a sensitive touch. Ray is such a likeable main character that you will him on with every step. This book is gripping, emotional, and full of love. You can tell the passion Brendan has for classical music and it comes through with every word.

Set amid the bustle of Victorian London, an irresistible story of an ambitious young black actress, an orphan from the slums who has achieved stardom as “The Great Amazonia”, a savage African Queen – but everything she has fought for depends on hiding her own identity.

It’s hard to find the words to fully do this book justice; it is simply spellbinding. Every page is so deliciously addictive that you don’t want to leave the world Lianne has created. It is very enjoyable and entertaining, with a strong and powerful message. I guarantee this will be gracing many people’s bookshelves come 2022.

Yinka is a 30-something, Oxford-educated, British Nigerian woman with a well-paid job, good friends, and a mother who frequently prays for her to find a ‘huzband’. With a plan of action, will Yinka finally find herself a huzband? Or what if the thing she really needs to find is herself?

There’s a sense of Bridget Jones’s Diary with this book, but with extra spice. Lizzie has written a love story for the modern age. A love story between men and women, mothers and daughters, between friends, and with ourselves. It’s hard to believe this is a debut book; it is so accomplished and well-written it feels like it’s been honed by many years of experience.

SPECIAL MENTION

The whispered voices and unsettling dreams were puzzling enough, but when the visions began, Sarah’s confusion turned to fear. Though mundane, Sarah’s life is routine. But when one morning she sees a ghostly figure wave to her, he begins to decipher the mystery, to identify her unknown stalked. But with each visit, she becomes more bewildered, and her life begins to unravel, and she starts to question her own sanity.

Left unsettled from her past, Sarah is unsure what to do with her life. but one day she finds an anonymous letter containing a confusing riddle. Intrigued, she starts searching for the answer to this puzzle. Embarking on a journey that will shape the rest of her life and that of her family, she uncovers a past of which she has no knowledge, a present she must find a path through, and a future filled with intense grief and joy.

Living in the Scottish hills, John and Sarah are enjoying a peaceful life, until a news bulletin sends them on a search for a missing child. After returning him to his family, they are approached by the local press, attracting unwanted attention. But the aftermath of the media coverage changes the course of their lives together, and events are set in motion that are joyful, heart-breaking and terrifying.

I couldn’t do a wrap up of 2021 without mentioning R.V Biggs’ Sarah Macintyre trilogy. When Robert reached out on a Facebook group to see if any bloggers wanted to read his books, I volunteered. They looked unlike anything I’d ever read before and I was intrigued. Once I had started reading them, I couldn’t stop.

I think the reason I never used to gel with thrillers is I could see the ending a mile off which meant the payoff was never worth it. However, with Robert’s books, there are twists and turns on every other page and they knocked my socks off. I never expected any of them and could never work out the next step. Sarah is an instantly loveable character, and we end up loving the other characters through her. They’re all so human with all their triumphs and failures, flaws and perfections, love and grief. By being so human, Sarah’s stories are so heart wrenching, and will her on through every page. Robert has managed to write such a fabulous and unique take on the psychological thriller, but made it more than just the fantastical spiritual nature. They’re about us as humans within the world and how we interact with it.

What I don’t understand is why Robert is only being find via online book clubs, and hasn’t been snapped up by the big publishers as the next big thing. I could easily see this trilogy as a new Sunday night drama on TV.

FAVOURITE BOOK OF 2021

And the title of my favourite book of the year goes to….

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