Round Up: Top 5 books read in 2021

Hello to all my wonderful readers!
I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and the holidays are treating you well.
This is my first Round Up post for the year. I would like to highlight my favorite books of the year which honestly were 5 star reads and beyond for me!

I am listing the books in no particular order, but they really made a difference to my choice of books to read and authors to follow this year!

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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The author has done a brilliant job and the story is gripping until the very end! There are so many twists and turns that it is impossible to stop reading once you start! This book is a must read!

The Wrath of the Hellfires (Book 4 in the Vikramaditya Veeragatha series) by Shatrujeet Nath

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In conclusion, this book is worth the read as is the entire series! The Vikramaditya Veergatha proves to be a treasure trove of mystery keeping the reader guessing until the very end! The readers are in for a treat and eventually arrive at a conclusion that will satisfy everyone with strong characters fighting to save humanity against all odds!

The Last Queen by Chitra Baneerjee Divakaruni

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This book is well-researched and very well-written. The author brings to us a story that is long forgotten, but one that should be known. It shows us what a woman can do and how much she is capable of dealing with, both physically and emotionally.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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This is a wonderful story that is told in a manner that will leave the reader spellbound. The author casts a wonderful web of magic on reader that carries them along until the end. I loved reading this book and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series!

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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I am yet to post my review for this book but I thoroughly enjoyed the duology and the concept of the book. I highly recommend this series to everyone!

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Do share your best books of the year or any book recommendations for me for next year!

Book Review: Fable by Adrienne Young

About the Book:

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Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely adored this book and couldn’t put it down once I started reading it! Fable is one of the most talked about books this year and I must admit to being quite intrigued by it. So many people were reading it and talking about it and I finally decided that I had to know why. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked the book and the plot and the characters.

Fable is strong willed and with a unique set of skills that sets her apart. We follow her as she tries to navigate the island where her father left her after her mother died and their ship sank. No-one knows who she really is and she has made a promise to keep it that way. As she works for a chance to get off the island, we are given a glimpse into her life and the world around her.

With a plan to get off the island and reach her father’s place, Fable enlists the help of West and by extension his crew on the ship. This leads to a fast paced adventure filled with secrets, villains, dangers of the sea, trust issues and eventually fast friendships that mean more than anything. I would also like to mention the budding romance that adds more flavor to the plot making it worth reading.

All the characters have their own story to tell and their own agenda, but when brought together, it feels as though the story is complete. The author has a wonderful way with words painting a picture of the seas and islands that the characters visit. It is also easy to imagine the scenes as they unfold and this is the kind of story telling that reminds me of reading Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings all over again. The story is rich in detail and brings to us a new plot and world that any reader would be pulled into.

I was invested in the book and highly recommend it for all fans of fantasy fiction out there! This is worth it! I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the second book too!

Book Review: Running from the Pack by A J Connor

About the Book:

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What would you do if the wolves came for you?

A month ago, all I cared about was finding my next party, but then a werewolf bite changed me. Now I’m being hunted by the wolf queen of the south, the fate of the city hangs in the balance, and the hot guy in the local coffee shop is teaching me to fight naked (it’s a wolf thing).

Learning that there are werewolves in the world is amazing, and all I want is to find out more, but it’s hard to relax and enjoy your new body when a tyrant’s out to get your friends. Sure, I could give up on nights out to focus on mastering my powers, but what’s the point in winning if you can’t have fun along the way?

The world’s weirder than I thought, and a lot more dangerous. The question is, do I run from the danger the wolf pack presents, or is it time I learned to stand my ground?

A brand new British urban fantasy series, full of power, politics, and passion, set in the bustling streets of Leeds.

My Thoughts:

Running from the Pack is an urban fantasy fiction story set in the time where werewolves live among humans (in secret) and still thrive. The protagonist is new to the city and only wants to have fun. Little does she know how her life is going to change with just one bite. The story follows her as she discovers and navigates life as a new werewolf and establishes new relationships with people.

I found the writing to be average and the characters pretty one dimensional. I was not able to fully relate to them and the plot. However, I think that the author had a good idea and it could have been executed much better. The tensions between packs and the bonds of friendship that develop are something to note in the book.

Overall I think that this is a one time read for fans of the paranormal fantasy fiction genre. I think that it was not my cup of tea but I am sure it would still be worth reading for many readers out there!

Note: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Blitz Bus by Glen Blackwell

About the Book:

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Emmie let out a huge sob – “It’s not a film set”, she cried. She held onto Jack for a moment, then took a step back, closed her eyes and shouted – “WHERE AM I?”

When Jack and Emmie suddenly find themselves transported back to London in 1940, they find a world both familiar, yet very different. As they dodge falling bombs and over-zealous policemen, they befriend Jan – a lonely Polish refugee. Together, they must work out if the shadowy figure they keep seeing is a spy and unlock the secret of getting home again…

My Thoughts:

The Blitz Bus is a delightfully quick read targeted at middle graders that takes us into 1940 and gives us a glimpse into England during the Second World War. Even though I am outside the actual target audience, I enjoyed this book and the adventure that Jack and Emmie find themselves on. While learning about the Second World War at school, Jack finds it difficult to picture the events and life of the people in his mind. Through this book, the author brings to us some of the historical facts in a way that would be easy to visualize for children.

Imagine reading about children your age who travel back in time and experience something that they are studying about. The whole idea is unimaginable, but is enough to keep children hooked. I like how the author stuck to a few specific facts and brought to us a view of the world through the eyes of children. Jan and Stan’s stories were well portrayed and it really brings home the hardships of the time. I also enjoyed reading about how the children found a way to stay there and survive until they could find their way back.

Through the book, children can learn about the situation in England, how people lived, the night raids, bunkers and even the food situation. The book is both educational and enjoyable and I think will be a wonderful adventure for all children to go on along with the main characters! I definitely recommend this book for middle graders and for anyone who loves a good historical fiction adventure mixed with time travel!

Book Review: Ivy League Liars by Grace Costello

About the Book:

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Teddy Jones is a one-upper. We grew up across the street from each other, always competing. When I got into Brown, he got into Harvard. When I dropped out early, he went on to law school. And when I ended up in a string of bad relationships, he started dating my old high school bully.

Now we’re all grown up and my sister’s getting married. Strangely enough, Teddy and Anika never dated, and now she’s marrying the perfect man and has insisted Teddy and I share the maid-of-honor duties. I’d rather stick a fork in my eye, but here we are.

So when Teddy challenges me on bringing a suitable date to Anika’s wedding, I decide it’s my turn to be the one-upper. My date is a sexy, rich, successful Yale alumni. We met on Legacy, the exclusive dating app for Ivy Leaguers, and now we’re madly in love. And he’d be perfect, if he actually existed.

That’s right, I made the guy up! Now I have to download the app and find this man before Teddy catches me in a lie.

My Thoughts:

Ivy League Liars is a fun-filled light and quick romance read that is based on the enemies to lovers trope. Emme is forced to share maid-of-honor duties for her sister’s wedding with Teddy. Everyone always thought that there was something between Teddy and Emme’s sister, but they are just best friends. Emme and Teddy have always tried to one up the other, always at opposite ends. They try to get along for Anika’s sake, but everyone can see that it is futile (or maybe not :D)

The story follows them as Emme finds a fake boyfriend from a dating app exclusive for Ivy Leaguers and tries to show everyone a side of her life that does not exist. What follows forms the crux of the plot as things start to unravel. Tell one lie and it can be managed but continue building on it and this leads to a whole bunch of lies whose story is difficult to sustain.

This is a fun read that has just the right amount of humor and romance that readers will enjoy. I also enjoyed the banter between the characters and how the author brought out their feelings in different situations. Though I was not able to fully connect with all the characters and some situations felt a little too unreal, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it to all fans of romance!

Book Review: Granted by Kendra Thomas

About the Book:

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Sabeara Aigoviel, princess of Aveladon, wants nothing more than for her heart to glow. The Stone-Hearted power that is received at the age of eighteen is her ultimate wish. With a grim curse looming over the realm and a neighboring kingdoms conspiring plans, contentions arise. Moments of danger summon evil forces, sending Sabeara into a whirlwind of adventure, captivity, and even love.
Rescued by a handsome stranger in a brown cloak, they navigate the kingdoms to bring her safely home. When her rescuer arrives betrothed to her beloved older sister weeks later, it is all she can do to erase their memories. Will Sabeara be able to defeat the curse on the Stone-Hearted race? And will she be able to forget the memories of her epic ventures with her cloaked rescuer?

Book Review:

Granted is Book 1 in a refreshing new tale that follows Sabeara, princess of Aveladon as she navigates her life in the Kingdom and outside it. A rebel at heart and wanting nothing more than to be Stone-Hearted, Sabeara has a restless need to escape and do more than what she does inside the Castle. She wants to restore peace to the Kingdom. Her father, the King is barely there, dealing with the grief of her mother’s death and a lot of the decisions to take fall on her older sister Jasper.

I love how the sisters have a very strong bond and are supportive of each other. In this first book, we follow Sabeara’s journey as she gets kidnapped by Obscurum soldiers and is then rescued by a very handsome stranger, Mid. As they navigate their way back to Aveladon, we follow along on an adventure filled with obstacles, new friends, new enemies and a budding romance, the reader is in for a treat! Little do they know that there would be further obstacles to their romance and secrets that reveal who they are which changes a lot of things the readers initially thought they knew.

I liked the concept of the Stone-Hearted, having different kinds of powers, reading about a supposed curse and how to end it. The author has brought to us a whole new fantasy world that is well thought out. The story is rich in descriptions and character building with likeable characters who add a lot of new dimensions to the plot.

I loved this book and am definitely looking forward to reading more of this series! This is definitely worth the read!

Book Review: People of the Sun by Ben Gartner

About the Book:

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The explosive reveal about who John and Sarah really are and why they’re traveling through time, with their most gut-wrenching challenge yet. In the time of the Aztec, a scoundrel named Cortés arrives and the kids are forced to make an extremely difficult decision: If you could change history, should you?

For more twists, more danger, and more fun, read the third book in The Eye of Ra series, People of the Sun!

My Thoughts:

People of the Sun is a wonderful and epic conclusion to the Eye of Ra series. Once again the reader is pulled into an adventure with John and Sarah, this time to the time of the Aztec. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it brings more clarity to the characters and the timeline of events. The author also ensures to bring out the effects of the previous time travel experiences.

This book goes into some technical detail while talking about time travel and the concepts behind it. As readers, we are also in for a wonderful surprise with the turn of events and the decisions to be made. The book is indeed interactive, giving the reader enough information to get them thinking.

In this book, John and Sarah travel to Mexico during the time of the Aztecs. They end up in the middle of a war which shapes the course of history as we know it today. The most important question is then raised that I think is one to really think: If you could change history, should you? This was perhaps the most intriguing concept behind the book and I love how the author tackled the question. The characters find themselves in this dilemma and it was quite a learning experience for me as a reader to watch them on their journey of learning.

This is indeed quite a roller coaster adventure filled with historical facts, people from history, essential lessons, some science and a whole lot of fun! This series is definitely worth the read not just for middle graders but for every age group!

Book Review: Jesper Jinx Gets Famous (Book #8) by Marko Kitti

About the Book:

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Jesper Jinx is eleven, and probably the unluckiest person in all of Puffington Hill. Everything he touches seems to end up in sweet disaster. Hence his nickname ‘Jinx’.

Are you ready for the Puffington Hill International Children’s Book Fair? That is where Jesper and the Silly Old Scribbler are heading in this hilarious and wonderfully chaotic tale of secrets and devious revenge plots.

Can Jesper save the day with another Boredom Breaker or will a vengeful group of peace-loving animals get to him first?

 

My Thoughts:

Jesper Jinx is back and for once he is not the one making devious plans initially! Jesper Jinx Gets Famous is the 8th Book in the series that will leave the reader rolling on the floor with laughter. I loved this new book in the series as it brings a different perspective to the series with the Silly Old Scribbler narrowly escaping being caught for something he should not be doing. Oops, I cannot say more than that since I am sworn to secrecy too! 😉

The story starts off with Jesper realizing that it is once again the holidays and he can spend time working on new pranks with his nest friend Oliver. What follows next are a series of unexpected events that leave Jesper baffled. As desperate as he is to find out why everyone seems to know him, his brush with the media turns his few moments of fame into quite something else! This entire story is more engaging with the author talking to the reader directly and of course sharing secrets with us. We also have a whole lot of animals wreaking havoc or hatching a plan, I cannot say, but it is worth the wait! 😉

The book is inclusive and more evolved showing us how much the series and characters have grown. It has been an interesting journey to get here and I have enjoyed following Jesper’s adventures so far! We can always trust that he has something up his sleeve and even though we have many new heroes in this book, I think the author has brought it all together very well! The overall plot is funny and just what young readers need to have lots and lots of fun!

Once again, I highly recommend this book and of course the entire series! The books can be read by readers of all ages and serve to provide a good break from normal routines! Do give Jesper and his friends a chance. Be sure to talk to the Silly Old Scribbler if you happen to meet him! I’m sure he has something up his sleeve just like Jesper! 😉

Release Blitz: Dawn’s Desire by Shilpa Suraj

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One night of passion, a stolen moment of joy and six years of pain…

Rishi Khatri cannot forget the beautiful woman who swept into his life for one incredible night and then disappeared…with the contents of his wallet and large chunks of his heart.
Until the day, he meets Sehar again and he realises that he cannot forgive her. For, Rishi has made a cardinal mistake. He’s fallen in love with his one night stand.
Sehar Mirza’s one night of rebellion destroyed any chance of a normal future. But her heart cannot regret her choice. For in that one night, she laughed, she loved and she lost. She lived an entire lifetime.
When their paths cross again, Sehar and Rishi find their feelings for each other haven’t dimmed. All they want in life is another chance, a second chance.

But Sehar has a secret. One that will destroy their tentative happiness.

Can they learn to look beyond their past mistakes and hope for a shared future? Can Rishi forgive a betrayal so large that it leaves his already battered heart in pieces at Sehar’s feet?

Can love win? Or will loss claim their destiny for its own again?

Book Links:

Read an Excerpt from Dawn’s Desire

His home looked exactly as I’d expected it to. Meticulously curated, tastefully furnished and anally maintained.
“You live alone?” I asked, as he handed me fresh towels and herded me towards the guest bedroom.
“Did you think I had a secret wife stashed away in my cupboard or something?”
I shrugged. “Stranger things have happened.”
He came to an abrupt halt in front of me. “Really? Like what?”
I gave him what I hoped was an enigmatic smile but what was, in reality, probably more constipated.
With one last weirded-out look, he pushed the door of a room open and stepped back. “This is the guest bedroom. It has an attached toilet. If you need anything, let me know.”
With that, he was gone before I could thank him or say any of the hundred other things bubbling through me. I dropped the duffel bag I’d carried along on the beautifully made bed and took in my surroundings.
The entire room was done in shades of pastel green and cream and had a soothing effect on my otherwise frazzled nerves. My finger trailed over a summery yellow porcelain bowl on the bedside table with potpourri in it.
Who kept his home so immaculate for him? Jealousy speared through me as I took in the many feminine touches to the room. I shook it off and marched into the bathroom to wash the day’s dirt and grief off of me.
The hot spray of water from the shower boiled my skin and cleansed my soul. I took a deep breath as I wrapped my hair in a towel, changed into a comfortable pair of shorts and a t-shirt and followed my nose to the drawing room.
Rishi held out a bowl of steaming hot deliciousness. “Chicken Pad Thai okay?” he asked.
I nodded, taking the bowl from him. “Thank you.”
He gave me a brief smile before picking up his own bowl and digging in. He had a copy of the latest book by Lee Child beside him.
“How are you enjoying that?” I asked, pointing with my fork to the book.
He moved his hand in a so-so gesture saying, “Not sure if it is the book or my mood though.”
I bit my tongue. I really did. But it wagged anyway.
“Is there something wrong with your mood?” I asked.
His fork froze on the way to his mouth. “Nothing that concerns you,” he answered, quietly.
It stung but I forced myself to look serene as I dug into my dinner.
“You haven’t asked me yet,” I pushed my food around. “Why my parents threw me out of the house? Don’t you want to know?”
“I haven’t asked you about many things, Sehar.” He reached casually for the television remote and turned it on. “Why would I start now?”
This time it hurt to breathe. I sucked in a harsh gasp but it did nothing but burn its way through me.
“I tried to explain my behaviour that night to you in Goa.”
“And I told you I wasn’t interested in your explanation.” He kept his gaze on the television even as he increased the volume to drown me out.
“Rishi, I never meant to-“
The television clicked off, the silence that fell in the room as abrupt as it was complete.
He turned towards me, finally, fury burning in his gaze, his knuckles turning white from his grip on his bowl.
“Is it so hard for you to understand that I am not interested in discussing that night with you? Ever? You lied to me, you slept with me, you used me and you stole from me…whatever your so-called justifications are, Sehar…I don’t care!”
My throat locked, my apology crumbling and dying inside me.
“Are we clear?” he asked, softly.
“Crystal,” I forced out.
“Good.” He turned the television on again, letting the sound wash over us.
Silently, I ate every last bite in my bowl before walking to the kitchen to wash and stack it on the drying tray.
I stopped at the entrance to the living room and watched him eat and stare at the television as if my presence in his home made no difference to him.
We both knew better. We were both experts at pretending differently though.
“I’ll be gone in the morning,” I told the back of his head.
“You always are.” He increased the volume again until I thought the windows would shatter.
Or maybe I would.
About the Author:

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter

Book Review: When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen

About the Book:

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Two sisters who haven’t spoken for twenty years. One summer to bring a family back together.

Jayne Winters hasn’t seen her sister Charlotte since that last childhood holiday at their grandmother’s North Carolina beach house. Separated after that summer by their parents in a bitter divorce, Charlotte has never forgiven Jayne for not fighting to stay together.

So when Jayne discovers that they have both inherited the beach house, and that their grandmother’s last wish was for them to renovate it together, it feels like a miracle: one last chance to win her sister back.

At first Charlotte will barely speak to her. But slowly the memories of swimming races and storytelling in their attic bedroom looking over the sea start to break down the wall between them. With the help of photographs and letters left by their grandmother for them to find, the two women begin to restore not just the creaking mahogany staircase and the faded antique wallpaper, but their own relationship.

But then Jayne discovers that Charlotte has kept a heart-stopping secret from their past from her. Can she find it in her heart to forgive her sister and keep their grandmother’s dream of reuniting them alive—or are some wounds too big to heal?

An emotional and uplifting read about sisters, secrets and the family bonds that hold us together no matter how complicated they are, from the bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper. Fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe will love this.

My Thoughts:

When We Were Sisters is a heart-warming story that follows sisters Jayne and Charlotte as they come together to honor their Grandmother’s last wishes. As per her will, the sisters have to stay together at their grandmother’s house and work on it’s renovations. Separated from each other as a result of their parents divorce, the sisters have a lot to work through, if they give each other a chance.

I loved how this book takes you on a roller coaster of emotions with a strong focus on the bond between the sisters. The love for a sibling is one of the most basic and the author captures the yearning to connect and be a family, very well. At first reluctant, the sisters are forced to confront their feelings and try to talk to one another. As the story progresses, the reader will find out more and more about their past, the circumstances behind their parents decisions and some hidden truths which have the strength to break a person.

In the midst of all this, we see stability in Charlotte’s life, not without it’s own problems but those which  can be worked out together. Jayne deals with the beginnings of a new romance as well as the chance to finally connect with her sister and her family. As their lives mix, Jayne tries to form bonds with her nephews and bring back some light into her sister’s eyes reminiscent of their childhood.

This is a story of love, loss, summer fun and a second chance at a relationship that could help to heal old wounds and even some new ones. Secrets are never good and they have the power to destroy everything. However, I think that the strength of the characters and perseverance bring this story together with a conclusion that is tearful and full of joy. I definitely recommend this book that is filled with all kinds of emotions and is beautifully written until the end!