Guest post: Top books of 2021

In this guest post, Jessica Hutchby shares her favourite books of 2021.

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The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Genre: Young Adult

Description: Sixteen-year-old Starr witnesses the murder of her best friend at the hands of a white police officer.

My thoughts: This book is more needed in society right now than any other book I’ve read this year. It looks at police brutality in America and how minority communities are really treated. I loved this book because even though it is fiction, it feels very real. Starr is also an amazing main character and you feel all the emotions for her through the journey she is on.

The Captive - Deborah O’Connor

Genre: Physiological Thriller

Description: Hannah lives in the suburbs of London, with a houseguest that you one hundred percent wouldn’t want.

My thoughts: Deborah O’Connor is one of my favourite authors. I would love to write a book as brilliantly as she does. I loved the novel and literally finished it in an evening. This book has small chapters and the idea is so original and interesting. I don’t know how I would feel about being a ‘host’ and having to deal with the situation Hannah is in every day. The way Deborah writes is gripping and I can’t put into words how amazing this book was. The twist at the end was amazing and something I never saw coming.

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A Three Dog Problem (Book 2) - S. J. Bennett

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Description: This series follows Queen Elizabeth II secretly solving murders around her palaces.

My thoughts: I am a royalist through and through and I was so excited when I saw the first of these books announced. I loved reading it. Then the wonderful S. J. Bennett wrote a second book and I knew I would need it in my life. When I read it, I could honestly imagine the queen solving murders and Prince Philip exactly as he has been written about. This book is an enjoyable read and I loved following the Queen as a sleuth around Buckingham Palace.

Hate List - Jennifer Brown

Genre: Young Adult

Description: A young student in America opens fire in their school cafeteria. Valerie, despite saving the life of a student, is implicated in the shootings because of the Hate List that she and Nick, the shooter, created.

My thoughts: I feel like this is a book you shouldn’t say you enjoyed because of the storyline behind it. It made me think of Mean Girls, minus the shooting, as the Hate List, for me, is very similar to The Burn Book. This is a cleverly written book as it delves into the aftermath of the shooting than focusing on the shooting itself. The aftermath makes you angry, sad and hopeful. The book is beautifully written and you get a real grip of Valerie and exactly what she is going through.

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The Lost Apothecary - Sarah Penner

Genre: Historical Fiction

Description: This book has a running timeline between present-day London and 1791. Caroline finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, created by Nella in 1791.

My thoughts: I loved this book. The timelines worked well together and I developed a real understanding of the two main characters' stories. The novel offers a captivating view of women's history and the many secrets London keeps hidden.

Malibu Rising - Taylor Jenkin-Reid

Genre: Literary Fiction

Description: Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

My thoughts: This book made me laugh, cry, sniffle and fall in love with the four siblings. You just can’t help it, in my opinion. There is a clear time travel element in this book, running from the 1950s through to the 1980s, but without this, you wouldn’t be able to experience the emotions you really feel.

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Dear Mrs Bird (Book 1) - A. J. Pearce

Genre: General/Historical Fiction

Description: Dear Mrs. Bird is set in London during World War II and follows Emmeline Lake, a secret advice columnist.

My thoughts: This book is a nice easy read and something that you can easily pick up and enjoy. I loved meeting Emmeline and following her journey to becoming a secret advice columnist. There were moments of real heartbreak but also moments of real laughter where I caught myself smiling at the bits I was reading.

The Midnight Library - Matt Haig

Genre: Science Fiction

Description: Follow Nora as we travel through her Midnight Library on her last day on Earth.

My thoughts: I read this novel in one day. It is so beautifully written and really matched all my feelings. Matt Haig is an amazing writer and his work just fills your heart. Following Nora really made me think about my emotions and what my Midnight Library might look like.

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Dear Edward - Ann Napolitano

Genre: Literary Fiction

Description: Dear Edward asks one of life's most profound questions: What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

My thoughts: This book was inspired by the true story of Ruben Van Assouw, the sole survivor of a plane crash in 2021. The book travels backwards and forwards between what is happening in the flight and Edward’s life after the accident. The story flows smoothly and the timelines of the two stories work well together. Sometimes, when a book flicks between two different times, I struggle to follow, but not with this novel.

Olive - Emma Gannon

Genre: General Fiction

Description: This book follows the stories of four young women who are trying to sort out the dilemmas of motherhood and the impact of this experience on their friendship.

My thoughts: This book is in my top three books of all time. I didn’t know how much I needed this book until I read it. Emma Gannon is an incredible writer and really uses her platform to explore the everyday issues women face.

With many thanks to Jessica Hutchby for submitting this guest post.

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