The Best Books I Read in 2021!

Hi all! This year, or rather last year, I read almost 50 books, which is probably the most I’ll ever read in a year. 😆 Today I’ll be sharing my top 5 novels of 2021! However, I’ll be sharing some honourable mentions as well because I read so many amazing books this year. Also, if you’ve recapped your 2021 in any way on your blog, do share the link in the comments. I’d love to see all the lovely books you’ve read in 2021 too. Alrighty, let’s get into it!

(PS: Click on the book covers to add them to Goodreads.)

5. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

I loved loved loved Instructions for Dancing…until the ending. Unfortunately, it was too anti-climatic. However, the journey this book puts you through is incredible. The main characters are so lovable, and the writing was humorous yet heart-wrenching. Instructions for Dancing was the perfect mix of emotional yet funny, which in hindsight is an odd combination, but definitely a good one.

4. Made in Korea by Sarah Suk

Made in Korea | Book by Sarah Suk | Official Publisher Page | Simon &  Schuster Canada

Made in Korea was my first physical ARC, so it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. I also interviewed the author, you can find that post here! The banter in this book was phenomenally done, to the point where I even want to re-read it, and I never re-read! The entrepreneurial aspect was awesome too.

3. Rumaysa: A Fairytale by Radiya Hafiza

This book surprised me so much! It’s a middle-grade novel that features beautiful illustrations inspired by South Asia. (It’s not a graphic novel though, in case you were wondering. 🙂) Nevertheless, Rumaysa was amazing! The heroine was spunky, and the story was absolutely hilarious! However, it’s the important lessons of following one’s heart and helping others that really stuck with me…and also the delicious descriptions of desi food. *sigh* I’d really love a hot cup of chai and a samosa right now.

2. Once Upon an Eid by A Collection of Authors (Edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed)

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices : Ali, S. K.,  Saeed, Aisha, Alfageeh, Sara: Amazon.ca: Books

Once Upon an Eid made my heart feel so full! It tells a variety of stories, all of which show diverse perspectives and traditions that happen during the month of Ramadan, and on Eid. I felt like I learnt so much about the world through this book. Overall, it was incredibly wholesome and very joyful. I highly recommend it!

1. A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier

A Castle in the Clouds: Gier, Kerstin, Fursland, Romy: 9781250300195: Books  - Amazon.ca

And now, in first place I give you 🥁*drumroll please*🥁 A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier! This was one of my first reads of the year, and it was amazingly cozy. It’s essentially a mystery set in the mountains, and I loved it! From the hilarious dialogue, to the warm writing, A Castle in the Clouds is the winter read you’ve been endlessly searching GoodReads for! You can read my full review here.

Honorable Mentions

In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens

Both of these books are adventure based, and are very easy reads. In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens was a sweet book with lovely writing. I definitely recommend! Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne was such a fun and enticing book that I recommend to anyone wanting to get into classical novels.

Feel free to read my interview with the author of In Deeper Waters here! I wish I could also interview Jules Verne, but sadly time travelling back to the 1800s will be a difficult feat. You can however, read my full review of Journey to the Center of the Earth here!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my favourite books of 2021. I’m grateful to have read such amazing books, and hope to expand my reading to new genres like fantasy and historical novels. What genres do you hope to read more of in 2022? Have a lovely day!

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Author Interview With Tori Sharp!

Hey everyone! Today’s post is a special one because the lovely Tori Sharp is here to answer some of my questions. I am beyond excited to have them here with us today! Before we get into the interview, here is a bit about her debut graphic novel; Just Pretend.

Just Pretend: Sharp, Tori: 9780316538855: Books - Amazon.ca

(Synosis from goodreads)

Tori has never lived in just one world.

Since her parents’ divorce, she’s lived in both her mom’s house and her dad’s new apartment. And in both places, no matter how hard she tries, her family still treats her like a little kid. Then there’s school, where friendships old and new are starting to feel more and more out of her hands.

Thankfully, she has books-and writing. And now the stories she makes up in her head just might save her when everything else around her—friendships, school, family—is falling apart. 

Without further ado, here is the interview!

1. Hi there Tori! I’m so excited to have you here with us today. Before we begin the interview, do you mind sharing some random facts about yourself?

Tori: So nice to be here! Sure, random facts are a specialty of mine. My favorite socks have stars on them, I prefer iced coffee to hot even when it’s snowing, I can bend my thumbs down to touch my wrists, and I’ve been a swing and blues dancer for nine years. Besides being a children’s author and illustrator, I’m also an associate literary agent, and I live in Seattle, WA!

2. Congrats on debuting your first graphic novel! Just Pretend is amazing, and I can’t wait for other people to read it as well. May I ask, what inspired you to write it?

Tori: Thank you—you’re making me blush! I decided to write Just Pretend because I wanted to tell a story that sympathizes with kids whose parents are divorced, and is simultaneously a fun, sparkly romp. Almost every kid is going to know someone whose parents split up, but you don’t realize how that situation impacts every aspect of your life unless you’ve actually lived it. It’s not unusual to have divorced parents, but it can be complicated for a kid to try to express what it’s like. I hope this book will encourage kids to actually talk about it with people they trust.

Saniya: I love the message, it’s so sweet.

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3. The cover is so pretty! What was the cover design process like?

Tori: I’m incredibly happy with how the cover turned out—honestly it was the most daunting part of making the book! I feel confident drawing sequential art (like comics), but struggle sometimes with composing static illustrations. So, naturally, I started by enthusiastically staring at graphic novel covers on Pinterest. Next, I walked around my neighborhood and tried to visualize the coolest possible cover for Just Pretend. Daydreaming is a crucial, foundational step to any illustration. Then I drew a whole bunch of thumbnail sketches and showed about a dozen of my favorites to the team at my publisher, and they preferred this concept out of all the options. I think it’s perfect, and I love the fonts and the background color that the design team landed on.

Saniya: It’s so cool that you illustrated the cover yourself!

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4. If I may ask, could you please describe the storyline of Just Pretend in emojis?

Tori:

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5. Lastly, what do you hope young readers will take away from your novel?

Tori: If kids read Just Pretend and then spend some time creating something of their very own, whether that’s through writing or drawing or a fully embraced daydream, then I’d be so happy. Making things is its own kind of magic.

Saniya: That’s such a heart warming message, I love it!

About The Author

Tori Sharp is a Seattle-based author-illustrator and swing and blues dancer with a BFA in sequential art from SCAD. You can find her online at www.noveltori.com and on Twitter @noveltori. Just Pretend is her debut graphic novel.

Add Just Pretend to goodreads here!

Thank you once again Ms. Sharp for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some of my questions, and thank you all for reading! Have a fabulous day everyone!