I don’t recommend books very often, or very lightly.
In my opinion, too many people recommend books THEY love without thinking about if the person they’re recommending it to will actually enjoy it.
Now, I can’t guarantee you’ll love these books/series as much as I do.
After all, you should read what you write, right? 😉
This list is a combination of chick lit/women’s fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. So there’s a little bit of something for everyone.
I’ve also included a description of what I loved (from a personal and a technical perspective) which will help you make an informed decision about if it’s worth you checking it out, too.
Most of these books were published this year, although not all of them (to be honest, I was too lazy to double check 😅). But they’re all books I’ve read this year, and that’s what this list is about.
You’ll find affiliate links (marked with *) to download the books below the descriptions. If you purchase via the link, I’ll get a small percentage of the sale. It won’t cost you any extra, but it might buy Millie an extra Christmas present.
(The affiliate links aren’t why I created the post. This was meant to be a brief Facebook post that ended up so long it became a blog post.)
So, here are some of the books/series I’ve fallen in love with in 2021…
Good to the Last Death series – Robyn Peterman
Every time I talk about book series I love, this one comes up. Ever since I discovered it at the start of the year, I’ve been in love.
It has ghosts, romance, drama, amazing friends, and serious sarcasm. What more could you possibly want?!
There have been several times in this series I’ve thought the author has dug a hole so deep she can’t get out, only for her to find an amazing way out of it that I never saw coming. It’s really hard to surprise me these days, but she manages it.
Also, she’s one of the few authors I’ve come across who can juggle a gigantic amount of characters without them blending together.
I’ve read series before with a bunch of protagonists and they all sound about the same. That’s not the case here. Every character, regardless of their role, has a unique personality, voice, and sense of humour. And they love each other for their differences as well as their similarities.
You know me. I’m a sucker for books that have healthy relationships in. And every relationship in this series – romantic, platonic, and familial – is brilliant.
Read Good to the Last Death
Harrow Bay series – Aurelia Skye
First off, love her pen name.
This is the only other fantasy series I’ve come across that shows the points of view of multiple generations (other than my Afterlife Calls series).
Harrow Bay focuses on a forty-something daughter and sheriff, her sixty something mum, and her septuagenarian grandma.
They each have such different personalities and priorities, but they love and respect each other regardless. The daughter/main character is a workaholic. The grandmother is a free spirit, and the mother is more old-fashioned/conservative.
Read Harrow Bay
Grave Talker – Annie Anderson
I love a story that combines fantasy and crime. And this book does it fabulously.
Darby is such a fun (and sarcastic) character, but her heart is in the right place.
She’s got a misfit band of merry friends with her, all of whom are (mostly) on her side to help her. There’s some family drama, too.
I haven’t read the latest book in the series yet, but I’m excited to dive into it over Christmas.
Read Grave Talker
The Wilder books – Savannah Kade
This is one of those series that gets more emotional with every book. Savannah really explores the depths of her characters’ emotions, tugging at your heart until you can’t take any more.
It follows a band – called Wilder – as their career progresses. Each book is about a different band member and their love interest.
And each one has a different backstory that complicates their love life. It’s told from the point of view of the band member and their love interest, so you really get inside their heads.
There were times I wanted to slap some common sense into the characters, but I also understood their logic and reasoning.
It’s not very often I enjoy reading books where characters have small children (I don’t have them and I’m not great with them, so it’s hard for me to connect with), but I found that the children added depth and heart to the stories without distracting from the romance.
And OMG the last book. It almost had me in pieces. I think that’s probably my favourite one of the series. It really shows how much research she does for her books.
I interviewed her about her research process for The Writer’s Mindset, and I’m excited to share that interview in the new year. Her process is insane. (And she admits that.)
Read The Wilder books
Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams
It isn’t very often I read standalones these days, but I’m glad I read Queenie. It piqued my interest because I kept seeing people compare it to Bridget Jones’s Diary.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Bridget Jones – I find her whiny – but since it was the book that basically started the genre I write in, I accept that it’s popular and many people relate to her.
I don’t personally think Queenie is like Bridget Jones. It’s much darker, exploring topics which some people may find uncomfortable or not want to read about for whatever reason, like racism, depression, miscarriages, and more.
I do, however, think it’s important we read about these things so that we can understand what life is like for other people and help to spread the word about what isn’t ok. Not talking about these sorts of things is what helps the stigma to survive.
While it often takes a humorous or sarcastic point of view to Queenie’s struggles, this makes them more palatable to the audience without diminishing its impact or importance.
Sometimes humour is the best coping mechanism for challenging situations. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, right?
The Devil You Know – Dr Gwen Adshead and Eileen Horne
I haven’t read much nonfiction this year, but I was really excited for this one.
I always like to see both sides of a discussion, and this book gives you an uncomfortable glimpse into the inner workings of criminals.
It’s not always a comfortable read, but it’s an enticing one with statistics to reinforce her anecdotes and experiences.
Read The Devil You Know
8 Steps to Side Characters – Sacha Black
I was an ARC reader for this book, and I’m soooo glad I was. It’s bloody brilliant, containing stuff I was never taught in four years of studying creative writing at university (no, really).
Not only that, but it’s written in Sacha’s trademark wit. I read most of the book in her voice, even when my brain was half asleep.
If you’re easily offended and don’t like swear words, her stuff isn’t for you. But if you love the double entendres, penis jokes, and don’t take yourself/your writing too seriously, this book is a must-read.
I can see why she said this book wouldn’t die – there’s so much depth!
The message about how side characters should reflect your theme is going to stick with me. It’s also something I encouraged my podcast co-host Ellie to do when she was planning her first book, too.
And, because she’d read and loved Sacha’s book, she understood where I was coming from.
There’s also a snazzy workbook to go with it.
Sacha was kind enough to be one of our first interviewees on The Writer’s Mindset, and she has some serious knowledge bombs to drop. Give Sacha’s interview with The Writer’s Mindset a listen here.
Read 8 Steps to Side Characters
- Read on Amazon UK *
- Read on Amazon US *
- Read on Apple Books *
- Get the workbook on Amazon UK *
- Get the workbook on Amazon US *
- Get the workbook on Apple Books *
That’s a wrap!
It feels like I’ve read bugger all this year compared to other years, yet my Goodreads says I’ve read 41 books.
I guess it’s because this year has been weird, and I’ve dipped in and out of reading.
I also stopped for a bit while I forced myself to reread my own work. Which felt a lot like trying to put on a pair of jeans which were two sizes too small. Once I got past that hurdle, it turned out that the jeans actually looked pretty good (translation: I enjoyed rereading my own work).
I’ll probably write a blog post about rereading my own work when I’ve finished Hollywood Heartbreak, so stay tuned for that.
One of the ways I tried to force myself to get those jeans on was to stop reading anything written by other people until I was done. And that’s probably why it feels like I’ve read sweet FA this year.
It’s also just occurred to me that I definitely read more in the winter.
Looking back through my Goodreads list, I know most of them I read in the first third of the year, or over the last few weeks. The handful I read over the summer were either comfort reads or in the name of research. Food for thought.
All right. I’m babbling now. It’s time to stop.
What have been your favourite reads of 2021? I’d love to know in the comments!