Welcome to Day 13 of Blogmas 2021! I have a different kind of Bookish Lists post today. With the holidays just over a week away, I thought I would share some of the best books from 2021 that would make perfect gifts for any reader this Christmas – more than a few of these are also on my wishlist! I hope you find atleast a few of these to be helpful with your holiday shopping!
The Bronzed Beasts (The Gilded Wolves #3) – Roshani Chokshi
The Bronzed Beasts is the finale of The Gilded Wolves trilogy, a series I would highly recommend for any fans of the genre. The adventure that started as a heist in Paris comes to a close against the backdrop of Venice a truly heartwarming and thoroughly satisfying conclusion to the series.
Iron Widow (Iron Widow #1) – Xiran Jay Zhao
Iron Widow was probably the biggest surprise of 2021 for me, because while I expected it to be a good read, I didn’t think it would be quite this good, especially considering that it is a debut novel. Iron Widow is inspired by Chinese history, particularly the life of Empress Wu, the first and only female Emperor of China. Absolutely gorgeous cover aside, this was such an epic read and unlike anything I’ve ever come across before.
Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes #1) – Elizabeth Lim
Lim’s Spin the Dawn duology set some pretty high standards to live up to, and Six Crimson Cranes managed to surpass them all. This was a fantastic read, and a fast-paced adventure. I really enjoyed this book inspired by old fairytales and folklore, and would highly recommend it to fans of both fantasy novels and retellings. This is definitely one book not to be missed this year!
Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights #2) – Chloe Gong
I’m not particularly fond of the original Romeo and Juliet, though I do appreciate from a literary standpoint, so I am always curious to pick up any retellings of it. The concept behind this book was a fascinating one and along with fantasy, the themes of colonization and Western influence also play a significant role. The setting of 1920s Shanghai was a first for me and in my opinion, this backdrop along with the whole rival gangs and star-crossed lovers concept really worked. It had just enough of the original story to be familiar, yet twisted things enough to be a fresh and intriguing read too.
You’ll Be The Death of Me – Karen M McManus
Not just this book, but any of Karen McManus’ mysteries would make for an excellent gift for any reader who enjoys mysteries. Anything Karen McManus writes is an auto add to my TBR at this point, and book after book continues to prove that decision right – this was no exception. With a suspenseful plot, fast paced narration and unexpected twists and turns, this was a thoroughly entertaining read.
As Good As Dead (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3) – Holly Jackson
As Good As Dead has been one of the most anticipated books on my TBR this year and it did not disappoint. Having absolutely loved the first two books, I expected a thrilling story, another intricate mystery to be solved, and just an all round awesome read – it was all that and more, with plenty of twists and surprising reveals too. This was definitely the darkest, most complex book of the series and everything comes full circle as Pip’s investigation leads her back to the disappearance and murder of Andie Bell.
My Contrary Mary (Mary #1) – Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton
I was so excited to hear that these three authors are back with another series of retellings, and I was looking forward to this one in particular, because not only is it a historical retelling, it takes us back into the world of E∂ians and Verities from My Lady Jane. My Contrary Mary brings us a somewhat revised version of the tale of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary is another one of those historical figures whose life was quite a sad tale with a tragic end, so unsurprisingly, I rather enjoyed this much happier, not to mention highly amusing rendition. The narration was just as wonderful as I remember, and the more contemporary voice used in the story continues to work beautifully. The very cleverly placed modern references often had me in stitches throughout this fast paced read.
The Rose Code – Kate Quinn
This story about codebreaking efforts in Bletchley Park during World War II was a thrilling dual timeline mystery and an absolutely fascinating read. Three women employed in Bletchley Park, once close friends are now enemies, torn apart by secrets and betrayal, until they meet again some years later following a desperate call for help. There was and still is a traitor among the group of codebreakers, and they must get back together to break one last code to find the evidence.
Aurora’s End (The Aurora Cycle #3) – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
Earth still stands after the intergalactic battle, thanks to Aurora stopping the superweapon. But her using her power triggered a whole other problem and has left Squad 312 scattered across space – and time. With the final battle fast approaching, they must not only figure out how to return to their own time, but also find a way to defeat the Ra’haam once and for all. Aurora’s End was a fantastic conclusion to this series and I think it’s the first sci-fi novel I’ve ever added to my best of year shelf. I’m going to miss these characters but I’m looking forward to seeing what these authors might write next. I can’t recommend this series enough!
Daughter of the Deep – Rick Riordan
The only middle grade novel on this list, Rick Riordan’s latest novel is an imaginative retelling of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. I think one of the best parts about this book is that you don’t have to read 20000 Leagues Under the Sea to understand it, and it’s still an enjoyable read. Of course, having read the original adds a whole new perspective to the book, as knowing the background of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus illustrates how Riordan has taken the story to a whole new level – and so effectively at that!
A Thousand Ships – Natalie Haynes
Stories centered around the Trojan War have always interested me, so when I first heard of this book, it was an instant addition to my TBR. I love The Iliad and The Odyssey, but it has always annoyed me that the originals never bother to focus on or give voice to the women in the story, relegating them to little more than side characters. As such, this was a very welcome and much needed addition to see this story through a perspective that is less male-dominated.
Lore – Alexandra Bracken
As punishment for a past rebellion, every seven years, nine Greek Gods are forced to descend to earth and live for seven days as mortals. During these days, the descendants of ancient heroes hunt the mortal gods, seeking to kill one of them and gain their power, immortality and eternal glory in a lethal hunt known as the Agon. Many early reviews described this as Greek mythology crossed with Hunger Games and I found it to be a very apt description. One might expect, perhaps, something along the lines of Percy Jackson, but if you’ve read many of the original myths, this depiction of the Olympians is actually much closer. Alexandra Bracken has woven a truly fascinating world with such depth and a complex, layered plot that I have to applaud, especially since this is a standalone taking place over the span of a mere seven days.
Are any of these books on your Christmas wishlist this year? Let me know in the comments below!