The last time I counted my TBR pile, it numbered in the hundreds. As in, more than 200. I figured this year was a good year to start making a dent in that pile. Now, I’m not a fast reader. So, I probably already have more books than I can read in my lifetime. And wouldn’t you know it, they keep publishing new books every year! I think it’s a neverending battle, but one I will gladly fight to the death! I read some great books this year, but these are the ones that really stood out to me. Some of them aren’t new books, by any means. But they’re ones that I will read and re-read until the covers are worn off and have to buy new ones. Without further ado, here are my top 5 picks that I read this year:
5. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
This is an oldie, but definitely a goodie. Emma Bull is seen as defining the urban fantasy genre. It was great to go back to the roots of a genre that I love so much and see where it started. And really, what more can you ask for? Like the Princess Bride, this book has it all. Epic battles, mayhem, magic, romance, and rock and roll! This was a really fun read! Great characters, a little bit of mystery, lots of adventure. Emma Bull takes the traditional fairy folk and modernizes them in an engaging story. I can’t wait to read another of her books that I’ve purchased, Bone Dance.
4. Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
This is a beautiful book about a young black girl in Portland, OR finding herself. I loved the main character Jade, and her incredible insight into the people and the world around her. She’s a collage artist, and this book is pieced together as artistically as a collage. There’s no violence in it, which was a welcome relief after the events of this year. And no one is villified. Renee is a master at showing the complicated human personality and motivations that drive our actions. This book is simply a young girl trying to find her own voice and where she fits in the world. Something I think we all can relate to.
3. Beach Read by Emily Henry
I love reading books about writers, and I love reading romances about writers even more. Again, this is a book that has it all. Comedic tension, bad decisions, the thrill of love, the grief of betrayal, sexual tension, rivalry, family secrets, and the creative struggle, and writing! It’s a completely engrossing romance about learning to forgive and let go, learning how to trust, and falling in love. All written with witty banter and heart. I burned through it in a couple of days (a record for my snail’s-pace reading speed), and I was happy-sad to put this one down when I was through with it. I loved it and didn’t want to let the characters go just yet. Pretty much how I feel about all of Emily Henry’s books.
2. A Cruel Kind of Beautiful by Michelle Hazen
Drummers talk about being in the pocket when they’re right on the beat, feeling the groove, and totally in sync with the music. Everything seems to just mesh together beautifully. As a female drummer, I’ve had the experience of being in the pocket a few times, and it’s an incredible high. I can completely relate to Jera, the main character, and her love of drumming. And this book is in the pocket. This is the first in the Sex, Love, and Rock & Roll series by Michelle Hazen. This book features beautifully crafted characters who are humanly flawed and vulnerable. A beautiful love story that is fresh and raw and exhilarating, and tackles subject matter here-to-fore avoided with empathy and dignity. I totally fell in love with Jacob, Jera’s love interest. It’s so refreshing to meet a romantic male character that is all male and yet not a misogynistic alpha-male neanderthal. I’d let him tie me up any day!
1. Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
I couldn’t talk about one of these books without wanting to talk about them all. Nevermoor is the first book in a brilliant series by Jessica Townsend. If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll love these books. They’re fantasy and steampunk at the same time, and little bit Alice in Wonderland. Morrigan Crow is a cursed child. Everybody thinks she’s the cause of everything bad that happens. And she’s cursed to die on her next birthday. Until, like Harry, she finds herself transported off to a magical new world. Unlike Harry, she’s not the Chosen One. But throughout the book she struggles with her belief that she really is what people say she is, a cursed child. It’s the imaginative story of a little girl learning to accept and believe in herself, rather than believe what people say about her. Fabulously fun characters, thrilling adventures, and a luscious twist at the end that I never saw coming. I love that! It’s not often that a book will pull me in so deeply that I’m mad when someone is unfair or unkind to a main character, and swooning with happiness when something wonderful happens. But this book gave me ALL the feels, every step of the way. My daughter and I listened to the audiobook version of it together, and she was so engrossed that she was acting out the parts as she was listening to it and begging for the next book in the series as soon as we finished it. I’m so excited to hear that there will be more in this series, and possibly even a movie in the future! Do yourself a favor and read these books!
What were your favorite books of the year? What’s on your list to read for 2021? My TBR pile fills 2 entire bookshelves. I’m a little behind, and I know there will be so many more good books out next year, too. What’s a girl to do, except pour a glass of wine and curl up with a good book?