My favourite books of 2021

I love reading, it got me through the awfulness of high school by losing myself in books! and yet I never really do it other than on holiday now I’m older. Fortunately we had a few in 2021 so here is a round up of my favourite books of the year!

They are in no particular order although I did try to sort them in the order I read them best I could.

My 2022 goal is to read a book every month, not only to read more but to help with my mental health by giving myself a break! I have joined a book club so I have to read the chosen book at least but hopefully get through a couple a month.

There are no spoilers in this post and I have linked the title for you to be able to purchase on Amazon – so please read on!

So let’s start with all the books I read in Cuba – The Other Passenger, The Strangers We Know, The Tenant, Mr Nobody and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying.


The Other Passenger – Louise Candlish

It all happens so quickly. One day you’re living the dream, commuting to work by riverbus with your charismatic neighbour Kit in the seat beside you. The next, Kit hasn’t turned up for the boat and his wife Melia has reported him missing.

When you get off at your stop, the police are waiting. Another passenger saw you and Kit arguing on the boat home the night before and the police say that you had a reason to want him dead. You protest. You and Kit are friends – ask Melia, she’ll vouch for you. And who exactly is this other passenger pointing the finger? What do they know about your lives?

No, whatever danger followed you home last night, you are innocent, totally innocent.

Aren’t you?

This was my favourite of all the books I read while I was in Cuba (yes all 5 of these above!)

I couldn’t put it down and I think I may have even read it all in one day because I just wanted to know what would happened next.

It was definitely in my top 3 favourite books of 2021.


The Strangers we know – Pip Drysdale

Imagine seeing your loving husband on a dating app. Now imagine that’s the best thing that happens to you all week …
 
When Charlie sees a man who is the spitting image of her husband Oliver on a dating app, her heart stops. Her first desperate instinct is to tell herself she must be mistaken – after all, she only caught a glimpse from a distance as her friends laughingly swiped through the men on offer.  But no matter how much she tries to push her fears aside, she can’t let it go. Because she took that photo. On their honeymoon.
 
Suddenly other signs of betrayal start to add up and so Charlie does the only thing she can think of to defend her position – she signs up to the app to catch Oliver in the act.
 
But Charlie soon discovers that infidelity is the least of her problems. Nothing is as it seems and nobody is who she thinks they are …

This was a very close 2nd place for my favourite book while in Cuba. I like books that keep me on my toes and this one certainly did that.


The Tenant – Katrine Engberg

They share a house.
And all its secrets . . .

When a young woman is discovered brutally murdered in her own apartment, with an intricate pattern of lines carved into her face, Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case.

They quickly establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her complex landlady, Esther. Esther is a budding novelist – and when Julie features as a murder victim in the still-unfinished mystery she’s writing, the link between fiction and real life grows more urgent.

But is Esther guilty or merely another victim in a far more dangerous game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the secret that links them both . . .

This was a slightly more peculiar plot, but I had guessed how it would end, but still a great read.


Mr Nobody – Catherine Steadman

The past holds its power over them . . .

He wants to remember.
She needs to forget.

A man is found barefoot and barely conscious on an empty Norfolk beach in the middle of January. He is unable to speak and without identification.

Interest in the case is sparked immediately. At the hospital they see him as a medical mystery. The press calls him Mr Nobody, and everybody wants answers.

Who is he? And what happened to him?

When neuropsychiatrist Dr Emma Lewis is asked to find out, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. It also means returning to the small town in Norfolk she was forced to leave fourteen years ago. Pushing bad memories aside, she is determined to help her new patient.

A man who doesn’t remember, and a woman who remembers too much.
He shouldn’t know anything about her.
Especially not that.

I always love books based in the UK, I do feel you get more of a connection with stories that mention places you know! This was a good mystery book and I really enjoyed it.


The Life Changing Magic of Tidying – Marie Kondo

This was a slightly more peculiar plot, but I had guessed how it would end, but still a great read.

Transform your home into a permanently clear and clutter-free space with the incredible KonMari Method. Japan’s expert declutterer and professional cleaner Marie Kondo will help you tidy your rooms once and for all with her inspirational step-by-step method.

The key to successful tidying is to tackle your home in the correct order, to keep only the things you really love and to do it all at once – and quickly. After that for the rest of your life you only need to choose what to keep and what to discard.

The KonMari Method will not just transform your space. Once you have your house in order you will find that your whole life will change. You can feel more confident, you can become more successful, and you can have the energy and motivation to create the life you want. You will also have the courage to move on from the negative aspects of your life: you can recognise and finish a bad relationship; you can stop feeling anxious; you can finally lose weight.

Marie Kondo’s method is based on a ‘once-cleaned, never-messy-again’ approach. If you think that such a thing is impossible then you should definitely read this compelling book.

I am not a tidy person, I am the definition of ‘Organised Chaos’ It may look a mess but I know where EVERYTHING is and I can even direct you to it if need be.

Weirdly I already did quite a few of the things she recommends but I also picked up lots of tips on how to do other things to help.

Although I am by no means about to become a minimalist, it is a really good read even if you think you are already pretty organised.


The Life Changing Magic of not giving a Fuck – Sarah Knight

Are you stressed out, overbooked and underwhelmed by life? Fed up with pleasing everyone else before you please yourself? Finding it hard working from home? Then it’s time to stop giving a f**k.

This irreverent and practical book explains how to rid yourself of unwanted obligations, shame, and guilt – and give your f**ks instead to people and things that make you happy. From family dramas to having a bikini body, the simple ‘NotSorry Method’ for mental decluttering will help you unleash the power of not giving a f**k and will free you to spend your time, energy and money on the things that really matter.

Reading this book was a revelation. I am a people pleaser, I know it and I can not help it. But reading this really opened my eyes to things I know I do because I worry what other people will think over my own feelings and why I shouldn’t.

I highly recommend it, it is worth reading Marie Kondo first so you understand the comedic value of the comparisons.


The Perfect Marriage – Jeneva Rose

Sarah Morgan is a successful and powerful defense attorney in Washington D.C. As a named partner at her firm, life is going exactly how she planned. The same cannot be said for her husband, Adam. He’s a struggling writer who has had little success in his career and he tires of his and Sarah’s relationship as she is constantly working. 

Out in the secluded woods, at the couple’s lake house, Adam engages in a passionate affair with Kelly Summers. But one morning everything changes. Kelly is found brutally stabbed to death and now, Sarah must take on her hardest case yet, defending her own husband, a man accused of murdering his mistress. 

I saw this advertised on Tiktok and I had to order it – never under estimate the power of Tiktok!

It is full of twists, but be warned it is a bit of a graphic novel with descriptions of crime scenes, certainly no love story and It was such a good ending, highly recommended read!

This one was also in my top 3 favourite books of 2021.


My Secret Lies with you – Faye Bird

Three close friends… Two unforgettable summers… One girl’s deepest secret…

Alys appeared last summer, and then she vanished without a trace.

Ifan fell in love with her. Hannah hated her. And Marko regrets what they did.

This summer Cait is new in town, and a girl has been reported missing. Cait needs to uncover the truth. What happened last summer? And who is Alys?

This book is probably more aimed at teens as it is an Usborne 14+ book but I still enjoyed reading it. It’s a real easy read with a good storyline. It was also pretty short so didn’t take me long to read at all.


Handle with care – Rachael Hearson

Health Visiting is one of those professions that most people think is a bit of a non-job. ‘You just sit on sofas and drink tea, don’t you? It’s not like you’re a real nurse, in hospital.’

Well, Health Visitors are real nurses, with at least three years’ training, and they are out there, on their own. No back-up team or support structures to call for help if they’re in a dicey situation. No warm lights, tea breaks spent chatting in the canteen, nobody else to ask, ‘is this okay, what do you think?’

Over 40 years working in the NHS, Rachael Hearson has been chased down an isolated stairwell by crack-fuelled drug-addicted pimps, threatened by a knife-wielding wife-beater in a hostel, unwittingly visited a brothel…

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This one was really hard hitting. It’s real life stories from an NHS health visitor based in London & Somerset.

It really resonated with me as I really did not like having dealings with health visitors so reading about it from the other point of view was really interesting.


Just My Luck – Adele Parks

It’s the stuff dreams are made of – a lottery win so big, it changes everything.

For fifteen years, Lexi and Jake have played the same six numbers with their friends, the Pearsons and the Heathcotes. Over dinner parties, fish & chip suppers and summer barbecues, they’ve discussed the important stuff – the kids, marriages, jobs and houses – and they’ve laughed off their disappointment when they failed to win anything more than a tenner.

But then, one Saturday night, the unthinkable happens. There’s a rift in the group. Someone doesn’t tell the truth. And soon after, six numbers come up which change everything forever.

Lexi and Jake have a ticket worth £18 million. And their friends are determined to claim a share of it.

This one came to Lanzarote with me, I never saw the ending coming at all.

It’s very clever and I would love to know if you guessed what was going on!


Everything I never told you – NG Celeste

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue – in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest in the family – Hannah – who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.

This was one of my Florida reads. This book was so sad and everything was so avoidable. I loved it but I most definitely cried a few times throughout.

It really makes you wonder if just one conversation could have changed the whole outcome of a situation instead of suffering in silence.


The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

Nora’s life has been going from bad to worse. Then at the stroke of midnight on her last day on earth she finds herself transported to a library. There she is given the chance to undo her regrets and try out each of the other lives she might have lived. Which raises the ultimate question: with infinite choices, what is the best way to live?

I was reading this book round the pool in Florida and it made me cry, over and over.

You might think, that isn’t much of an advert to make you want to read it but trust me, read it! If you’ve ever questioned why me? why this? why now? you will really connect with the main character It will bring you revelations about everything that’s ever happened in your life.

I am a true believer of ‘everything happens for a reason, even if that reason isn’t apparent at the time’ and this book really confirms that belief for me. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time and I think it tops the list of my favourite books of 2021

I purchased it with 2 other books which are already on my reading list and will be over on my books of 2022 post once I have finished them but I have high hopes I will love those too!


My favourite books of 2021

Looking at them all in one place I realise I did a lot more reading than I thought! I have already started on this years blog and will republish it after each book I read this year 🙂

I hope you might have just discovered your next favourite books here, Happy Reading!

ChrissyJ xxx

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