Alexis’ Top 10 Books of 2021

Alexis:

I say this every year, but I can’t believe this year is already over!

Thanks to graduating from grad school and staying inside because of the pandemic, I read a total of 82 books this year, an all-time record for me.

In no particular order, here are my top 10 reads of 2021.

Forestborn ⁣by Elayne Audrey Becker
Kingdom of the Cursed ⁣by Kerri Maniscalco
The Wolf and The Woodsman ⁣by Ava Reid
Defy the Night ⁣by Brigid Kemmerer
The Bone Shard Daughter ⁣by Andrea Stewart
The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart⁣
Under the Whispering Door ⁣by TJ Klune
For the Wolf ⁣by Hannah F. Whitten
Legendborn ⁣by Tracy Deonn
The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

I have some really great books lined up for 2022. There are so many new books coming out that look amazing, but I have some older series on my tbr list, too.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Review: Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop

Alexis:

I hate giving a book 2 stars, but this one just wasn’t doing it for me.

I liked the overall idea, and I enjoyed the descriptions of the food. 

However, the writing style was stiff and didn’t have any variety to it; it felt like every sentence was the same length. It was very much so “She said this. They did this.” 

I found the dialogue and characters to be the same. The dialogue sounded very unnatural, and it didn’t help that all of the characters talked the same way. There was no subtext to the dialogue; it was all, “I’m sorry Auntie. I didn’t mean it.” “That’s okay. I still love you, Vanessa.”

Besides that, there was a lot of name dropping. There’s a scene in the Louvre where Vanessa and her love interest dissect every piece of art. Vanessa constantly talks about how fancy her aunt is, and name drops designers left and right. At times, it felt overly elitist. 

The romance in the book was also pretty weird, including insta-love that just didn’t feel genuine to me. 

And finally, whenever the background characters heard one of Vanessa’s predictions, they always accepted them as truth. I found this odd. I’d be very weirded out if I heard a prediction about my life come out of a stranger’s mouth, and I expected there to be more conflict from this. 

I was hoping this book would be a nice, easy change of pace, but I just found it a little disappointing. 

VERDICT: ⭐⭐/5

Alexis’ Top 10 Books of 2020

Alexis:

Happy New Year, everyone!

I reached my goal of reading 50 books in 2020, and then I actually surpassed it by reading 51.

My top 10 books won’t be a surprise; I’ve reviewed most of them here already. However, I will include a short blurb about each one as a refresher.

Without further ado, here are my top 10 books of 2020, in no particular order!

  1. Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas

Maas is a guilty pleasure of mine. Her books have a way of wholly drawing you into her worlds, and this one was no different. Crescent City is a new adult, brash urban fantasy that follows Bryce, a half-fae. She teams together with Hunt, a fallen angel, to solve the mystery of her best friend’s murder. Craziness and romance ensue. 

  1. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

Hardinge is one of my favorite writers; she always kills it! Deeplight is a slowburn YA fantasy with deaf representation that centers around toxic friendships. It has a large dose of monstrous sea gods. It’s an imaginative, dark, and wonderfully written book. 

  1. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

While categorized as YA, I found that this West-African inspired fantasy book leaned more towards adult. I loved the writing, the intricate worldbuilding, and the plot. The plot itself is hard to explain; you’ll have to pick it up!

  1. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

While this historical fantasy starts out slow and a bit confusing, it morphs into a lyrical story about family and belonging. It’s full of other dimensions, and, you guessed it, doors. 

  1. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

This retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is dark and gothic. The story focuses on sisterhood and death/murder, with a fun dose of dancing at balls to balance it all out. 

  1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This is a coming-of-age story and a retelling of the Greek myth of Achilles and Patroclus. It follows the romantic relationship of the two characters up until the Trojan War. Miller’s writing is fantastic, and she’s a Greek mythology genius.

  1. Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

Race the Sands follows two women in the desert world of Becar, where you can ride monstrous creatures called kehoks, who are reincarnated from the worst of the worst people in a past life. The story focuses on reincarnation, determination, and carving your own path in the world, and I found it to be a refreshing fantasy read.

  1. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

This is whimsical and heartwarming, a great change of pace for adult fantasy. It follows Linus, a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, who is given an assignment to inspect an island full of magical children classified as dangerous. 

  1. The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

This YA, Welsh inspired historical fantasy follows Ryn, a gravedigger who begins to notice that the dead are rising, and teams together with a boy named Ellis. It’s a classic journey story with great characters and an enjoyable plot. I loved the fresh take on zombies, or “bone houses.” 

  1. The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez 

Finally, a contemporary romance book somehow made it onto my list! I enjoyed this book far more than I anticipated. I loved the funny, snappy dialogue, the characters, and the romance. The focus on music, and the inclusion of the playlist, only added to the story. 

Honorary re-read favorites: The Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo 

I read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom in 2018, and though I immediately classified them as some of my favorite books, I had forgotten a lot of the plot. I absolutely loved re-reading them in 2020! They’re Bardugo’s best works, in my opinion, with an intricate world and plot, and very well-drawn characters that you’ll be rooting for from the beginning (even the morally grey ones).

My 2021 reading goal is to branch out a little more outside of YA fantasy. My classes will help with this, of course (I can’t believe I’ll finish my last semester in 2021!) I also currently have Kindle Unlimited, and I’m excited to dive into some thrillers and historical fiction!

Our Favorite Books of 2019

Happy New Year’s Eve! And what a year it’s been! Anna’s highlights were starting work full time, getting married, and adopting her dog! Alexis started her MFA program, got a short story accepted for publication, and adopted her cat! 

Here are some of our favorite books of 2019:

Anna:

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

Normal People by Sally Rooney

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

The Witch Elm by Tana French

In the Woods by Tana French

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab 

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

 

Alexis:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi 

The Wildlands by Abby Geni 

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

The Book of Dreams by Nina George

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister 

Grim Lovelies by Meghan Shepherd

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

Gods of Jade & Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Florida by Lauren Groff

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

 

Here’s to a great 2020!