Favorite Books of 2021: Quarter 1
In my last blog post, I shared with you guys a walkthrough of my book planner sheets (sign up below to gain access to the sheets). One page I showed was the monthly reading wrap-up, which included a spot to write the Best Book of the Month. In today’s blog post, I want to share with you a brief book review of the best books I’ve read in quarter one.
Best Book in January: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus
Goodreads Synopsis: Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised… and curious.
Their parents are all clear on one point—not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious—and dark—their family’s past is.
The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over—and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.
My thoughts: I have loved every single book Karen McManus has done so far, and this was definitely no exception. The twists she uses are so good and she has a way of making you think you’ve got it figured out and you’ve solved the mystery, and then she throws you a curve ball. Though it’s still done in a plausible way where you still believe the story.
Also, I think her characters in here are better than in her previous books. One thing I’ve said about her books in the past is that I love her plots & the mysteries and twists in her stories, but I haven’t really cared about her characters. You could have anyone in the story and I’d still enjoy it because of the plot & mystery & the twist. However, in this book, The Cousins, I actually cared about the characters and what they were going through. I don’t think I could really tell you what the difference was this time, but I just connected with these characters a lot more and I was invested in them. Overall, I just loved this one.
Best Book in February: Wings of Ebony by J. Elle
Goodreads Synopsis: “Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.
Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.
Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.
My thoughts: This book is fast-paced and action packed and I loved every minute. The characters in here are amazing. I love Bri; she was one of my favorite characters. She’s smart and quirky, and I love her friendship with Rue. The dynamic between Rue and her father was also interesting to see because I related to a lot of it, especially the way their relationship was in the beginning and her pushing him away.
Another thing I loved was the world that’s created here and what we find out about Ghizon later on. The history and the secrets that were revealed were so fun to learn about. There were a lot of interesting twists in here, some of which I saw coming and some of which took me completely by surprise.
The other great thing about this book is it does a great job touching on serious topics such as privilege and what that looks like and how to navigate that and actually be an ally. This book was just fantastic, and I loved it.
Best Book of March: Amari & The Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
Goodreads Synopsis: Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal?
Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s old closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside, if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarves, yetis and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate.
Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids—who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean and how old is Merlin? Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson alone for Amari with signs like ‘Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it?’ If that all wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs—but Amari is given an illegal ability. As if she needed something else to make her stand out.
With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.
My thoughts: I cannot even express how much I fell in love with this book. It’s probably going to be up there with my top favorite series of all time, and this is just the first book that’s come out.
This book is another fast-paced one, and it had me hooked from page one, the very first paragraph. There was never a dull moment. Amari has such a strong voice in here. I connected with her right away, and I love her character.
I also loved her best friend, Elise. Elise is a weredragon, which I’ve never heard of before, but it sounded so cool. This was another one where I loved the female friendships in here. This book had a few characters in here that I absolutely loved, a few that I hated, and quite a few that I was suspicious of as well. I wanted to trust them, but I wasn’t sure if I could. Overall, I think the characters were really well done here.
I love the world that’s been created here, and I definitely want to see more of it. Parts of this story reminded me a little of Nevermoore, because of the trials Amari has to complete while she’s in this program. If you loved Nevermoore, you’ll probably love this as well. If you’re a fan of middle grade fantasy books, this is a must read.
So those are my favorite books of quarter one. I’m excited to see what books quarter two brings in. Leave me a comment below to let me know what books have been your favorite so far this year. Also, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter if you want to gain access to my book planner sheets. If you missed my last blog post where I walked through the book planner sheets, you can click here to check them out.
Until next time,
Happy reading & writing!