My top six reads of 2021


Photo courtesy of Amazon

“A Vow so Bold and Deadly” is the final book in the “Cursebreaker” trilogy.

D'Juanna Lester, Arts Reporter

With the year coming to a close, I’ve been thinking about all of the books I’ve read this year. So far, my count is up to 97. Here is a rundown of some of my favorites from 2021. 

“A Vow So Bold and Deadly” by Brigid Kemmerer

This book is the final story in the “Cursebreaker” trilogy. With Kemmerer’s immaculate storytelling and lovable characters, this book had me in tears from start to finish. The stakes were raised as the war-driven kingdoms clashed. Getting points of view from all of my favorite characters was the best part. I can’t pick a side in the war because every character is so complex. I could write a review on this book alone! 

“Rule of Wolves” by Leigh Bardugo

This. Book. If you’ve read my previous articles, you know what a big Grishaverse fan I am. Getting to see all of my favorite characters from the previous six books interact was such a fangirl moment. When that scene happened, I had to put the book down and process. All three storylines blending together for the Endgame-esque reunion fit so well with the arcs of the characters. The open ended final scene gives me hope that we’ll get an eighth. I NEED a Brekker/Nazyalensky scene!

“This Poison Heart” by Kalynn Bayron 

The first book in this fantasy duology started off with a bang! Greek mythology? Strong, magical characters? Yes, please! Bayron has a way of writing characters that captivate you. The main character’s relationship with her parents and the theme of family make this story so memorable. It feels like so much more than a typical “mansion mystery” story. It was complex and fun. 

“Happily Ever Afters” by Elise Bryant 

This book is something I wish I had when I was younger — a Black rom-com book. It’s such a good story that touches the hearts of people who didn’t have this kind of representation growing up. It’s a book that I want to read over and over again. With complex characters, sweet chemistry and a heartfelt story with imperfect leads, it’s a book I wish everyone who likes young adult (YA) summer romance novels could read. There’s so many things to like — for once we don’t get a Mary Sue perfect lead, and it reminds me of “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.” There’s a strong connection between the main character and her family. There’s also diversity among the characters, both with race and disability. 

“Counting Down With You” by Tashie Bhuiyan 

Where to start with this one? The “fake dating” trope kicked it up to eleven? A diverse, supportive friend group? What’s not to love about this book? Not to mention the super sweet playlist that the main love interest makes for the main character! The chemistry between “good girl” Karina and her “bad boy” love interest is what makes the story so cool. It’s not this outlandish fantastical romance — it’s raw and authentic. 

“Defy the Night” by Brigid Kemmerer

Surprise, surprise, another Brigid Kemmerer book! This book is the first in her newest fantasy duology, and I’ve talked about it before in a previous article. The world building and strong characters is what sells this book, and I’d recommend it for any fantasy fan!