Another year in books has ended. I was not able to read much books last 2021, and I am afraid the number of books I have read keeps on dwindling down each year. I don’t often say this, but I miss my old self, the one who gets lost in a book for hours on end. Life and responsibilities keep getting in the way, on top of that the pandemic fatigue is so real. It’s like everyone is in limbo. Okay I will stop here, don’t want this to become a negative post. Without further rants, here are the best books aka books that got me through the pandemic.
1. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
I took my sweet time reading People We Meet On Vacation, I was savoring it. I was savoring the slow burn between Alex and Poppy, how everyone knows they love each other more than friends except them. Friends to lovers have been a hit or miss for me. I mostly shy away from this trope, but boy oh boy, People We Meet On Vacation made it so perfect and so good I now crave for stories like it! Emily Henry without a doubt is an exceptional writer. I am now an Emily Henry devotee haha!
A love story spanning 12 years. I love the writing style, jumping from past summers to the present one and how it all melded together into this utterly beautiful and engaging masterpiece. It has tons of layers to it, with facets of family and childhood and how all these factors contributed to the characteristics of Alex and Poppy. I commend that it isn’t one sided, like say for an instance, the guy would always woo the girl or bend over backwards to meet her wants. I think recently published romance novels is already shying away from the typical damsel in distress stories, or at least that’s what I’ve been reading lately. I love that this book made the female protagonist brave and independent, still with flaws of her own of course, but her character was painted in such a way that is relevant, relatable and definitely realistic. Alex on the other hand had issues of his own, something he dealt with ever since childhood. There was this paragraph in the book where Alex explained why he’s scared, and everything just clicked. Emily Henry portrayed her characters in a multidimensional way – they are vulnerable, yet they also have this courage within them.
This opposites attract, friends to lovers book surely has become an all-time favorite. I cried so hard towards the end, even lied to my boyfriend I would go sleep but the truth was I stayed until 2am to finish it haha. It’s not the usual light-hearted read, but it was so much deeper and emotional, without losing the charisma of a good romcom. If there’s one book you need to read before the year ends, People We Meet On Vacation is definitely it!
2. If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
Honest and raw.
If You Leave Me is deeply moving and heart wrenching. Set in the 1950s during the war, this book highlighted how circumstances force people into choices they are going to pay for in the future. A multilayered novel with perfectly fleshed out characters. If You Leave Me will have you feeling multitudes of emotions but majority of it is sadness. There is not quite like a book which put to light characters’ unhappiness like If You Leave Me. That’s the main theme in which the book revolved around – characters’ unhappiness and how they lived around and through it, each emanating from different reasons but are ultimately interrelated and when melded together resulted into a devastating end. Not the easiest read, this is not a book about hope but of despair and fleeting happiness, and sometimes that’s what we need – to be grounded, to relate to human’s pains to be able to understand our own selves. If You Leave Me never sugarcoated sufferings, nor romanticized the lives of the characters. It was honest and raw.
This book has now become a favorite. It spoke in volumes, with utterly impressive layer and unlikable characters. It had no reservations being transparent. Kim created stunning portrait of heartbreak, forbidden love, woes of a mother, whims of a child and the staggering weight of unhappiness. I have savored this book and never rush myself into finishing it. I only read it when my heart is in it and that makes the reading experience more enjoyable and worthwhile.
3. The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
Another book added to my favorites list! The Bromance Book Club has the most unique premise, and I am living for that. The book follows the story of Gavin and Thea who are in the brink of divorce. Then enters the Bromance Book Club, a book club which aims to help guys fix their relationship by adhering to the wisdom of romance books! Isn’t that the most brilliant premise? I thought so too. Nothing quite like a romance book to understand women more and how they want to be treated. Truly, if men read more romance books in their lives, we will all be living in peace and harmony, HAHA!
What I especially love about this book is the funny banters between the guys. The book is a break from the typical manly, all brooding and cold portrayal of men in books. I love the friendship between all of them, how they support each other and how they call out toxic behaviors. Ugh if only all men are like them haha. It was so much fun to read, I caught myself laughing more than I thought I would.
While I am not a super fan of second chance romance, this one definitely is an exception. I love that it tackled their backstory and how it played an important part in salvaging their marriage. I also appreciate the juxtaposition of Thea and Gavin’s story to that of Benedict and Irena’s. I love that kind of writing style – never boring and will keep you turning the pages. So if you need something fun and light but also something that doesn’t only scratch the surface, this book is definitely for you! Can’t wait to read more in this series!
4. Nightfall by Eliza Victoria
Brimming with social commentaries, Night Fall is not one to miss.
I cannot believe I only have come to discover Eliza Victoria’s works just recently, that’s on me and I vow to rectify that. Eliza Victoria’s world building is unparalleled. She was able to conjure a world in which humanity comes at a costly price. Night Fall follows a series of characters who are interrelated to one another set in a futuristic Philippines where biomodification technology are widely embraced but much like any society only the privileged and the rich get to have it, while the poor continues to be at disadvantage The existence of social hierarchy have been one of the focal point of the book. The only issue I have is the entire cohesiveness of the story, I felt like I have missed out on a lot of small details that would have made the book more engaging. The flow of the story isn’t as solid as I hoped it would be, nevertheless the whole plot and the writing style definitely made up for it.
I feel like this is a book that is best experienced as a tv series. Hello, Netflix pick up on this. It has all the quality for a great tv series. I feel like the characters will be more fleshed out that way. I have been reading reviews that Night Fall can be likened to an episode of Black Mirror, and I can see why. Night Fall has the elements of weirdness and darkness coupled with a deep analysis of modern society and the advantages and most especially disadvantages of cutting edge technology. Night Fall examines human frailties amidst progressive technological advancements. Definitely recommend this book!
5. The Brown Sisters Series by Talia Hibbert
Get A Life Chloe Brown
What a perfect read! I immediately wanted to reread it.
Isn’t it too obvious that I like it so much, from all my constant raving down to posting my just cried look on IG stories, hahah I am pretty sure I made it crystal clear how much I adoooore this book.
Get A Life, Chloe Brown follows the story of Chloe Brown, a posh plus-sized black woman with fibromyalgia who decided to put more thrill into her life by making a list of things she wants to accomplish. Now enters swoony Redford Morgan, who will help her tick items from her list. But did I mention they loathe each other in the beginning? Hahaha you know how much of a sucker I am when it comes to haters to lovers trope!
Equal parts, funny, tender and adorable, Get A Life, Chloe Brown easily made it to my fave books of all time list. There’s nothing like a book you can somehow relate to. I love that it embraces body positivity. Get A Life Chloe Brown is ultimately a celebration of bravery and taking a hold of one’s life despite devastating setbacks. The writing style was just perfect, the characters’ banters, that of between Chloe and Red, and Chloe and her sisters are just funny and amazingly well-written. I love how Talia Hibbert was able to thread on mental illness with caution and understanding, not making the characters focused on their illness but painted them in a way that they are so much more than what they carry.
Get A Life Chloe Brown’s big altercation was played right and not blown out of proportions which I appreciated alot. That freaking chapter made me bawl my eyes out. It was so elegantly written, so beautiful that I actually felt the characters’ pain. Talia Hibbert did an amazing job in threshing out the characters. It was the kind of book you never thought you needed. Don’t sleep on this book series, it might just be your next fave book! Reading a Talia Hibbert novel will surely have you craving for more!
Take A Hint Dani Brown
Sweet, swoony and steamy! Definitely a new fave!
It’s official Talia Hibbert is now a favorite author. Loving her books is just the easiest thing in the world, but I couldn’t pick which one I love more between Get A Life Chloe Brown and Take A Hint Dani Brown. Both are amazing in their own right, but have to admit Take A Hint Dani Brown is way steamier than its predecessor.
Take A Hint Dani Brown follows the story of Dani, a nerdy workaholic who is a commitment phobe who for some amazing stroke of luck fall into a fake dating hole with Zafir Ansari, a Pakistani ex-rugby player who loves reading romance novels.
Fake dating and some sort of office romance trope, it is a book sent by romance gods to give the word romantic an otherworldly meaning. What I love about Talia Hibbert’s writing is its ability to be direct to the point, no unnecessary drama or things being blown out of proportion. Characters fall in love, have a huge fight or misunderstanding, they make up, and live happily ever after — and most of the time that’s just simply what we want. I love that this book isn’t centered on gender roles, or put people in a a certain box on what they should or shouldn’t do. The characters are distinct, and without fail, Talia Hibbert effortlessly weaved a good chemistry between them. I also commend how Talia Hibbert didn’t make Zafir’s mental illness the focal point of his character — he was written so beautifully you just want one for yourself. Dani Brown’s character was confident in her skin, knows what she wants and isn’t ashamed to get it. Yes to body and sex positivity! There was no pretense on how characters were written, they are raw, real and vulnerable as they can get.
Take A Hint Dani Brown is filed under books I will reread over and over. The ultimate comfort read — sweet, swoony and steamy! It is a grand celebration of breaking free from the horrors of the past, of acknowledging its existence but no longer letting it define and consume you. Now it is my duty to shove this book to everyone’s face.
Act Your Age Eve Brown
My favorite grumpy and sunshine! This book screams cuteness overload.
It is bittersweet finishing the series. I have read all three this 2021 and it has been the most amazing reading experience. Act Your Age, Eve Brown was the perfect conclusion and I am pretty positive I am going to revisit their story more often than I think I would. *but please don’t ask me which one was my favorite*
Act Your Age, Eve Brown follows the story of Eve, a woman who for her age is a bit of here and there, cannot fully decide on what she likes for herself, and Jacob, this control freak who wanted order and won’t take anything less than perfect. Eve is the absolute cutest whilst Jacob is just adorably grumpy. So when their lives collide, is just the perfect chaos. This grumpy/sunshine trope is what I live for.
You see, what I love about Talia Hibbert’s characters are their maturity, they would have a fall out and then they would realize what they did wrong immediately thereafter. The conflict wasn’t blown out of proportions and characters do not act unnecessarily hurt just to give more to the conflict. Everything was just played right and realistic. I love characters who admit their flaws, accept them and change them. Characters who would not lose someone over pride or petty misunderstanding. Light, easy, delightful and just the best stress reliever. This is the kind of story I would always cling to.
Act Your Age Eve Brown tackled topics on child neglect and autism, but much like the first two books in the series, these topics weren’t the focal point and was added to give more depth to the characters and their back stories, which I appreciated a lot. Talia Hibbert discussed these topics in a manner that isn’t overwhelming but rather blended them well to the story. The book made sure that characters were not just defined by a single thing but a plethora of characteristics that made them who they are. Reading Act Your Age, Eve Brown is like sleeping in a bed of marshmallows, soft, fluffy and oh so sweet. I highly recommend this series!
6. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
I am equal parts in awe and unsettled. This one hits close to home.
Sometimes I curse myself for not reading blurbs, I always wanted to be surprised. And surprised I was with Station Eleven. It wasn’t what I had expected at all. All I gathered before reading it was it’s about a traveling symphony, where characters perform from one town to the next. Little did I know I am in for a huge, anxiety-inducing surprise. I wasn’t prepared for a book about a freaking pandemic. It couldn’t have come at a better (or worse) time. Reading it in the time of real pandemic sends queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was eerily resemblant to what’s happening in the world today. It was like a premonition I didn’t even want to know.
You may think I hate the book, but that’s the thing, I don’t. I can’t say I love it though, but I am still giving it full five stars. It was so different and so relevant that I had to give it the praise it truly deserves. It’s not my favorite book, but it got me glued from the very first page up until the end. Stayed late for two consecutive nights because I just simply couldn’t put it down. It will suck you in this vortex of the looming possibility of the world’s collapse. Station Eleven gives you a taste of what the world would be like, that it’s not as far-fetched as we would want to believe.
I love how all the characters are connected in some cosmic way. It was a fairly short book but it felt complete and extensive. Characters are distinct and fully fleshed out. The story has this stunning layers to it told in such elegance and precision. I feel like I haven’t read an author quite like Emily St. John Mandel. I have to admit she instantly became a favorite author. Her story-telling is engaging and captivating. All my hoarding of her books, finally paying off.
Station Eleven is the kind of book that you will still often think about in the years to come. It will hit you without preamble. And that’s what I love about books – its power to live on long after the last page had been turned. A true testament of its literary prowess. If a thought-provoking post apocalyptic novel is your thing, then Station Eleven is just the perfect book for you.
So there you have it, despite the few numbers of books I’ve read this year I found these gems. These are the ones I can definitely recommend. I love that I read what I wanted to read and didn’t put unnecessary pressure on myself. I will definitely be bringing this to 2022. Happy new year guys! May you find new fave books!