Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read in 2021

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:

She assigns each Tuesday a topic and then posts her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


1. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

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Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

2. Bring on the Blessings by Beverly Jenkins

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On Bernadine Brown’s fifty-second birthday she received an unexpected gift—she caught her husband, Leo, cheating with his secretary. She was hurt—angry, too—but she didn’t cry woe is me. Nope, she hired herself a top-notch lawyer and ended up with a cool $275 million. Having been raised in the church, she knew that when much is given much is expected, so she asked God to send her a purpose.
The purpose turned out to be a town: Henry Adams, Kansas, one of the last surviving townships founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. The failing town had put itself up for sale on the Internet, so Bernadine bought it.
Trent July is the mayor, and watching the town of his birth slide into debt and foreclosure is about the hardest thing he’s ever done. When the buyer comes to town, he’s impressed by her vision, strength, and the hope she wants to offer not only to the town and its few remaining residents, but to a handful of kids in desperate need of a second chance.
Not everyone in town wants to get on board though; they don’t want change. But Bernadine and Trent, along with his first love, Lily Fontaine, are determined to preserve the town’s legacy while ushering in a new era with ties to its unique past and its promising future.

3. Elixir Project by Kary Oberbrunner

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EVERYTHING CAN BE HACKED, EVEN THE TRUTH.

Will this fact set Sienna free or plunge her into an even bigger lie?

Sienna Lewis lives in a world constantly threatened by a hacktivist group known as SWARM. After SWARM executes its deadliest attack yet, Sienna and her three college friends learn they have been chosen for the ELIXIR Project–a master plan designed to overthrow SWARM–and participation is mandatory.

As she faces the deadly challenges of the Project, Sienna confronts layers of conspiracies that force her to question everyone she trusts and everything she believes about her friends, her parents’ untimely deaths, and herself–all while staying one step ahead of SWARM. In this fast-paced, near-future thriller, will love and loyalty have time to catch up with Sienna? Or will she crack under the pressure of a future already chosen for her?

4. The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

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Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.


But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

5. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

6. Killer for Hire by Alexis Abbott

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Bruno:

I sacrificed everything for her. When I saved her from the mafia, I traded my freedom for hers. I’ve never regretted it. Never looked back. I cut her out of my life to keep her safe. She never even knew what I traded for her.

I did everything I could to protect her from the retribution of the Italian Mafia, but it wasn’t enough. They’re after her again, and all that’s standing between her and the darkest fate imaginable is me.


Serena:

It’s scary the things you can close your eyes to. Even after I was rescued from men who wanted to do the worst things to me, I went on with my life. I forgot all about the threats of the mafia, about what they forced me to do, and even the man who saved me from them.

But now, my hero has returned, and just in a nick of time. Because the mafia is coming for me, and this time, I don’t know if we’re going to get out of this alive.

7. The Last Descendant by Megan Haskell

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A woman torn between honor and survival…

Rie is only human. The high elves have made that very clear. Even training as an elite fighter isn’t enough to earn the respect she craves. Her only allies are the fierce carnivorous pixies who travel by her side, yet still she clings to the hope of one day earning her place in the Upper Realm.

When she’s attacked by assassins from the enemy Shadow Realm, Rie’s martial prowess keeps her alive…and frames her as a traitor. Facing execution at the hand of a merciless king, Rie must forsake her oaths and flee into enemy lands to prove her innocence. What she uncovers may threaten more than her honor or even her life…for war is looming in the nine faerie realms.

8. Fire and Sword by Dylan Doose

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Condemned to hang for their crimes, they’ll march instead to perish as heroes, or live as free men.

A broken nation in need of a savior – ravaged by plague, decimated by dark magic, infiltrated by a foreign evil seeking to dominate from within. Three will rise to save the beleaguered land. But will they be enough?

Three men condemned to die: Aldous Weaver, a heretic monk turned sorcerer, imprisoned for accidentally incinerating the leader of his order. Kendrick the Cold, an infamous crusader turned fugitive, is a villain who knows he can never be a hero. Theron Ward, an aristocrat with a penchant for slaughtering monsters, and a legend in his own mind.

When the kingdom of Brynth is threatened by a far greater evil, the unlikely trio must make a choice — seek to escape this land that cries for their execution, or find the true heroes within themselves. And then, armed with fire and sword, march together against the forces of darkness. But can three such disparate warriors ever prevail?

9. Ghost Detective by Scott William Carter

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After narrowly surviving a near-fatal shooting, Portland detective Myron Vale wakes with a bullet still lodged in his brain, a headache to end all headaches, and a terrible side effect that radically transforms his world for the worse: He sees ghosts. Lots of them.

By some estimates, a hundred billion people have lived and died before anyone alive today was even born. For Myron, they’re all still here. That’s not even his biggest problem. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t tell the living from the dead.

Despite this, Myron manages to piece together something of a life as a private investigator specializing in helping people on both sides of the great divide–until a stunning blonde beauty walks into his office needing help finding her husband. Myron wants no part of the case until he sees the man’s picture … and instantly his carefully reconstructed life begins to unravel.

10. Once Removed by Margaret Watson

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When Lainey becomes trapped in a burning building with her almost-divorced husband’s body, Brody rescues her just in time. And when she realizes the killer is now after her, she takes refuge at Brody’s Montana ranch.

Lainey and Brody have been fighting their attraction for years. But as the barriers between them fall, Lainey rescues Phoebe, a runaway teen, from the compound where her husband died. Now they’re forced to focus on Phoebe and an invisible threat.

Whoever murdered her husband has eyes on Lainey. Will their fragile new family survive a desperate predator? Can they protect Phoebe, identify the killer and find their happily ever after?

Author: Jolie

I love to read. My favorite genres are women's fiction, romance, psychological thrillers, fantasy, young adult, steampunk, dystopian, LGBTQIA, and paranormal. I am also a busy mom of 3 kids and 5 cats

5 thoughts

    1. It was (I didn’t write a review for it). It was such a different take on a ghost story and the characters are very memorable!!

  1. I am actually surprised that I don’t have any of these books on my TBR. I need to look at them again.

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