INSIDE : I have rekindled my love of reading for enjoyment. See the books I can’t put down, the best beach reads and a quick review of each of them. Check out these Best Fiction Books to Read in 2021.
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This post is updated every few months to reflect the new books I’ve read.
The summer before my first job (age 13 I believe) I recall waking up, going to our backyard and reading and reading and reading. That’s all that I remember of that summer. I got so caught up in the story line and recall feeling just what the character’s felt.
As I got older, I started reading more biographies, self-improvement books and parenting type books, but I’ve jumped back into fiction books more so because of a local book club. I have always loved reading, but it hasn’t been until the last few years that I really got back into consistent enjoyable reading. Reading not to learn, but reading to relax. It’s been lovely!
Today I am going to be sharing the best fiction books that I have been reading this year and my quick reviews of them.
If you want to see all my recent books in one place, you can check out my Amazon Book page.
Reviews on Recent Fiction Books I’ve read in 2021:
1. Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
You know when you pick up a book and from the very first page, you are just into it? Well, that’s exactly how this book has been! I have heard a few people mention it and finally decided it was time to dig into it. It follows the highs and lows of the very famous fictional actress Evelyn Hugo and the determination she has to become a famous star.
The story is told by her looking back over her life as she is having a young no-name woman write her biography… after she is dead. There are so many interesting twists and turns in this book. It also sheds light on a time when women had to follow a man’s lead and almost always take a back seat whether in film, marriage and even abuse.
I enjoyed this this book. 4 out of 5 stars The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
2. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
This was our December Book Club book. I was intrigued from the very start. The premise is Hannah’s husband of less than 2 years is missing and she can not get a hold of him. A mysterious note appears reading, “Keep her safe.” and her husband’s 16 year old daughter finds a LARGE bag of money in her school locker.
Although they have not been close in the past, Hannah and the daughter together begin to try and piece together where and WHO her husband really was. There is mystery, some fun investigation work and of course a few twists and turns along the way.
I definitely enjoyed this book, but there were a few parts that bothered me. I felt like the main character, Hannah, so easily gave up her marriage and took on the responsibility of mothering a 16 year old without even a second thought. She seemed TOO accommodating to me, ha. However, I still liked the book overall and would recommend it. 4.5 out of 5 stars The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
3. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
This was our October book club read and the overall consensus was we really liked it! I thought it was a very light-hearted mystery, not tense or scary in the slightest.
The Delaneys are well known in their community as a 100% tennis enthralled family. Stan and Joy run a famed tennis academy and all four of their now grown children were tennis stars in their own right. As Stan and Joy just began their golden years after retiring, a mystery woman shows up at their doorstep late one night beaten by her boyfriend… or so she says. They open their home to this woman and suddenly realize they not only enjoy her company but need it.
However, it’s not all that much later that Joy goes missing and the questions begin. Where and WHO is Savannah? Was Stan and Joy’s marriage really as great as it may have appeared?
This was an interesting and fun read. I enjoyed it from start to finish with a few good surprises along the way. And then WOW the very end was crazy. I would definitely suggest this book. 4.5 out of 5 stars Apples Never Fall by Laine Moriarty
4. Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
From the very start this book was quite intense. I almost feel like I need to say there is a sexual abuse trigger warning immediately starting the book. After a 14 year old girl is horribly attacked in an oil field, it seems like there is only one woman who is willing to stand up and testify on her account. It talks about the long lasting effects of a brutal crime on women in a small oil town in Texas in the 70’s.
This book was not a light easy read, but it does touch on violence and race, class and region, darkness and fear, beauty and hope. These types of stories are important to read because we as a society need to hear them and learn to be better.
It was not my typical choice read and my heart felt heavy after finishing it. Valentine by Eilzabeth Whitmore
5. We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz
Oh my heavens, this was a good book. A backpacking trip between two friends has deadly consequences in this psychological thriller. I listened to this book on Audible for my local bookclub read this month… but I’ve got to say, I almost wish I had the actual book in hand. There were numerous sections I just wanted to re-read because talk about some twists!!
Two best friends go on a far off backpacking trip and a one-night-stand lover dies. They decide the smartest choice is to get rid of the body. However, the following year when on another backpacking trip it can’t be a coincidence that someone dies again. This book will have you on the edge until the very last page. And then re-read that last page again… and again!
This book was really interesting to discuss with my bookclub. We all had so many questions it was fun to hear everyone’s different thoughts and theories. I really enjoyed this book. 5 out of 5 stars We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz
6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I randomly picked this book up in our local library and it was such a great read!
It starts with the mundane and repetitiveness that is Rachel’s life each day on the commuter train. Every day she looks out the window and imagines the lives of the people in the houses her train passes by. Imagines their lives so much, she even gives them names. She starts to notice some of their daily habits and their perfect lives start to become part of her life.
Until one day, she sees something unusual out her window… a stolen kiss. The next day her friend through the window shows up on the news – MISSING. Rachel goes to the police and things just continue to escalate from there because let’s be honest, she has a massive drinking problem and can’t be completely trusted. Or can she?
I really enjoyed this book. 4 out of 5 stars simply because it’s not exactly a light cheerful read, but a great read nonetheless. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
7.The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi
This was another book club book we read, as we had read it’s first book The Henna Artist earlier in the year. This is the first book I’ve ever listened to on Audible instead of actually reading and I found it to be so helpful.
There are numerous characters in the book and being able to listen to it, really helped keep each person separate in my mind. Also, I could listen to it while doing other tasks and I found myself wanting to just keep listening and listening.
The story picks up in 1969, nineteen years after we’ve left the characters from The Henna Artist. Lakshmi is now married and oversees the Healing Garden in Shimla. Her dear son-like figure, Malik has finished school and is an apprentice for a huge Royal Palace project, a cinema.
After the brand new cinema collapses, Malik starts digging around to find something very suspicious going on. The book follows his investigates and weaves Lakshmi and him back together again.
I enjoyed this book, but would recommend reading The Henna Artist before starting this one. 3.5 out of 5 stars. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi
8.Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
After reading The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah, I wanted to read more by her so I got Firefly Lane. I had noticed also that there is a new Netflix series on this and I wanted to read the book before I watched it. At 479 pages this is a decently big book, but I could not put it down.
The story follows two very different friends over the course of thirty years. As one could imagine there are so many ups and down in both of their lives, but their friendship always remains even while strained from time to time.
This was a tender book that really made me want to call and reconnect with every girlfriend I’ve ever had. I sobbed through the last 4-5 chapters, like couldn’t hardly read the words because the tears were flowing. I really enjoyed this book and it just confirmed that I like Kristen Hannah as an author.
This is a 5 star book in my mind if you don’t mind crying. Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah
9. The Shortest Way Home by Miriam Parker
I picked this book up at our local library on a random whim. I was looking for a quick book to bring with me to the park with my kiddos and when I read the back cover, I was hooked before the story even began. “It’s nearly impossible to describe this wonderful debut without summoning the language of wine country…” – hooked, ha.
I also loved that this book was broken into three sections and each section was described as an appetizer, main course and dessert along with it’s perfect wine pairing. I’m a foodie if you couldn’t tell, so this won me over big time.
The story is about a woman who is soon to be graduating with her graduate degree in business and heading off to a prestigious job with her boyfriend in NYC. They pass through the beautiful wine country of Sonoma, California and her entire life plan changes. She chooses herself for the first time and the story chronicles her journey of helping turn around a small vineyard with tons of potential.
I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. I really enjoyed the characters. Honestly, I was ready to move to Sonoma, open a Winery + AirBnb myself, while reading this book. I loved how the author mixed a bit of wine education into the story, too. AND I loved how the book ended, but I won’t ruin the ending. The Shortest Way Home by Miriam Parker.
10. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This was another bookclub read with my local group of ladies. It was too fun because we went to visit my sister in San Diego, CA while I read this book which is set in Malibu, California. It’s the story of 4 famous siblings who throw an EPIC party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.
Almost the entire book takes place during the 24 hours of the oldest sibling, Nina’s house party with flashbacks throughout to help fill in backstory. The story follows all four siblings as well as their parents.
At midnight the party has become completely out of control and a few short hours later the house will have gone up in flames. But before that happens, all the family secrets will come out into the open and some are accepted more easily than others.
This very book made me cry at the end, which I really wasn’t expecting. Some parts were a little PG-13, but overall it was a fun read. I also need to try surfing now! Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
11. Arsenic and Adobo (A Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery) by Mia P. Manansala
We read this book for a light-hearted murder mystery in my local book club. The group all loved it and while we discussed, we enjoyed homemade filipino food – how lucky were we!
When the main character, Lila moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup. She takes on the job of helping to save her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant. Suddenly a well known mean-hearted food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila.
The police start treating Lila like she’s the main suspect, so she decides to start conducting her own investigation. Along with her family, her coffee barista best bud, Lila takes on this twisted case.
I’d recommend this book! Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
12. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
How do I describe my thoughts on The Midnight Library? It was such an intriguing storyline. Overall, I enjoyed this book but I also found it such a unique story format that I just felt thrown off by it. The main charachter dies immediately in the book and enters into The Midnight Library where she is given an infinite number of books to choose from. Each book is a completely new life she could have lived based on different choices she made.
She was on the search for the “perfect life” or a more fulfilling life and she goes through hundreds of lives before she finds the answers she’s looking for.
I give this book a 3.5 out of 5. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it because it kept me interested… but I also found myself wanting a simpler less convoluted storyline. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.
13. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
I could not stop reading this book. Each day I would look forward to the evenings, so I could sit down and read some more. I just loved it and it was the first time I sobbed at the end of a book. Although the story is set right before the Dust Bowl takes place, I found myself feeling oddly connected to living through hardship as a nation. I felt it brought great perspective to me feeling like these past 15 months of Covid-19 quarantine living were impossible to get through.
The story starts in Texas in 1921. While farm life was difficult, most Americans are living in abundance. Elsa Wolcott gets pregnant and has to marries a man she barely knows. She lives on their family farm. Slowly, the rains stop and the winds begin… both on the farm and in her life.
Eventually she makes the difficult decision to head West to make a better life, which is so much more difficult now that the Great Depression is also in full swing. Elsa is a strong mother who will do anything to help her children during the hardest of times.
Highly Recommend this book! The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
14. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
I just finished reading The Dearly Beloved and although there were moments of beauty in watching two very different couples walk through the ups and downs of life over the course of their life… I found the book difficult to get through. We chatted about it in my local bookclub and I think I was the only one that felt this way, so take it with a grain of salt.
It was very interesting to me how each couple was so wildly different from each other and yet somehow they could overlook their vast differences in faith and personality type to love their spouse regardless. You follow along as Lily + Charles and James + Nan co-pastor in a Presbyterian Church, while each going through their various trials in life.
I give this book a 3 out of 5. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
15. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Oh, I loved this book! While I was in the middle of reading it, I did an Instagram poll to see if anyone had read it. Never have I recieved so many comments about how much people LOVED this book.
The story is set in a small town in North Carolina in 1969. A young man is found dead and the local “marsh girl” is the main suspect. Kya has lived a hard life, much of it alone in the marshlands, but despite it all is very intelligent and has a strong connection to the nature in which she lives.
As she gets older, she falls in love with two different young men, but one of them ends up dead. The story starts with her as a child and ends with an incredible twist ending as an old woman. I heard rumors they are making this book into a movie and you better believe I will be seeing it!
Highly Recommend this book. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
16. Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
If you are looking for a lighthearted easy read this book is perfect for you. Nina works in a local bookstore and LOVES trivia night. When a father she never knew existed suddenly dies. She learns she has a huge family and they all want to meet her! She will have to leave her beloved reading for a bit, talk to real people and overcome some fears to find love.
A fun easy read, recommend it. Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
17. The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
After getting out of an abusive marriage as a young bride, Lakshmi goes to Jaipur and makes a name for herself as a highly requested henna artist to upperclass wealthy women. She learns many secrets of theirs, but never says that she has a huge secret of her own.
This is a great read and you get to learn all about the culture and geography of India. The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
My bookclub just announced Alka Joshi is releasing the following book to this storyline this summer, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur. It’s on our list for July/August!
18. Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
This book goes back and forth from present day, to the past and is told by both the daughter + the mother, who have struggled all their lives to understand each other. Suddenly one day, Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, doesn’t return her calls, which begins a deep dive mystery to finds that her mother has suspiciously died.
Margot starts digging through the past and realizes how little she really knew about her mother. A wonderful read about coming to America to start fresh, falling in love and living with those consequences.
I really enjoyed this book. Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
19. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
I am not normally a thriller book fan, but this book was the perfect balance of mystery and kept me on my toes. It definitely wasn’t SCARY, which I was worried about.
One evening Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot and his wife, Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word for years. Theo, a criminal psychotherapist is determined to get her to talk and figure out the mystery of why she shot her husband.
You won’t want to put this book down, it’s so good at the end!! The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
20. Eleanor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman
I really enjoyed this light easy read. It follows the story of Eleanor Oliphant who struggles with social skills and fitting in, as she walks through coming to terms with her difficult childhood.
Everything begins to change for her when she meets Raymond who is her polar opposite, but has such a warm caring heart that he slowly begins to melt away some of her quirky personality. This book has sad aspects, but also is full of silliness and cheer.
I would recommend reading it. Eleanor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman
21. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
In the early 1700’s in a moment of desperation, Addie LaRue makes a deal to live forever… and forever cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
The books goes back and forth over centuries and numerous continents as Addie learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. But everything changes when a a young man suddenly remembers her name.
This book is over 400 pages, but once you get going… you won’t be able to put it down. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
22. Messy, Wonderful Us by Isaac Catherine
Allie finds a letter in her Grandmother’s dresser that she wasn’t supposed to find and it completely changes her entire life. She doesn’t tell anyone but her childhood best friend, Ed who joins her as she books a trip to Italy to try and figure what who is her father and what this all means.
This was a light easy read and I loved reading it. The last few chapters had me on the edge of my seat, which always makes for a fun read. I also am very ready to book a flight to Italy myself now.
I would definitely recommend this book! Messy, Wonderful Us by Isaac Catherine
23. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
This book was unsettling to me from the beginning. I think because I’m a mama to two kiddos and this book starts off by two young kiddos being kidnapped in Russia. I almost couldn’t read past the first few chapters because of that.
There are numerous characters in this book and it was helpful to keep referencing back to the front pages which listed them all. Over the course of a year, we learn how many people are connected to each other to connect the web of everyone’s lives and lead them to finding many answers!
I enjoyed this book, but often felt confused by so many people to remember. It also felt kind of dark to me.
Overall, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Check out ALL of my 2021 reads here.