TTT | Best Books I Read In 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

The end of 2021 and we’re still in a pandemic. I’m exhausted from the past two years but books have kept me somewhat sane. Here are some of my favorites from this year.

I cannot recommend this book enough! The plot was great and the characters were so compelling. I absolutely loved the twist on The Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, especially with lesbians!

Every adult should read this book and it doesn’t get enough hype. A fascinating dual tale of seventeen-year-old Will Tillman and seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase. Rowan finds a skeleton on her family’s property. 100 years earlier, Will is a misguided teen in Tulsa during the 1920s.

Another book that doesn’t get enough hype. This book is the one where you actually see the main character change and realize their own biases. Mara wants to play football after getting kicked off the basketball team, and this one choice leads to a ripple effect that Mara doesn’t want to focus on or really care about. Highly, highly recommend. It’s a fun read that also delves into topics about sexuality and gender.

Ugh, I cannot get enough of Kyoshi and Rangi’s romance! They are so stickin’ cute! This one was such a great read just like the first one. I also think this series is great, as Yee does a good job of letting those who may not be fans of the two Avatar series still understand the storylines.

First off, Claudia Rankine is an amazing writer. In this poetry/essay collection, she truly brings up topics that need to be talked about and these will be uncomfortable for white people at times. Sit with the uncomfortableness and think about what Rankine is trying to get across.

This book is such a warm and lovely gay blanket and I cannot get enough of this! Arthur and Linus are completely adorable. And I would protect all those babies with my life!!

This collection of poetry by Seema Yasmin is beautiful and thought-provoking. I know I keep saying it, but I definitely recommend this to everyone. With lines like, “She is a Muslim woman in charge of the remote control & human evolution. Eight percent of your genome is viral-we are literal cousins of ancient pathogens wretched offspring of pandemics,” it’s hard not to get lost in the beauty of her words.

Nicole Murphy goes missing, but nobody cares because when you have brown skin, brown eyes, black braids or fades nobody cares in the good ole’ US of A. Jay Murphy, Nic’s younger brother, is determined to find out what happened and find his sister alive, no matter what. This was an amazing book and definitely time as we care more when white skin, blonde eye girls go missing.

Etaf Rum takes us inside the world of conservative Arab women living in America. We are taken through the lives of Deya, who lives with her grandparents in Brooklyn and is starting to meet suitors, and her mother, Isra, who didn’t have a choice to leave Palestine for America to marry Adam. A difficult, beautiful, and complex novel that will have you truly think about the lives of Arab American women.

Again, another book that everyone needs to read. Extremely accessible and well-written that takes us through African-American voting rights in this country and how we still have a lot of work to do to make sure everyone’s vote actually counts.

Happy Reading Darlings!

Book Review | The Shadow of Kyoshi

Title: The Shadow of Kyoshi

Author: F.C. Yee

Publisher: Amulet Books

Published: 21 July 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How does Yee make me fall more in love with both Kyoshi and Rangi? It’s a mystery but these two characters have my heart forever. Also, if I could ask the gods, spirits, the Avatar themselves to find someone to love me like Rangi loves Kyoshi, that would be great. Thanks!

The second book in Avatar Kyoshi’s series and I’m surprised that I enjoyed it just as much (if not more) as the first book. We first see Kyoshi in the Earth kingdom trying to handle the gangs that have infiltrated the lower ring of Ba Sing Se. There is also an introduction to a new character Jinpa, a monk from the Southern Air Temple, who has become Kyoshi’s secretary since she visited there.

Kyoshi receives a letter from the Fire Lord asking for the Avatar’s assistance with a national matter. She aquieces, mostly because she wants to reunite with Rangi (refresher: Rangi went to the North Pole with her mom, Hei-Ran, who needed to be healed from Jianzhu). Seeing them reunite was so stickin’ adorable, but it was also great to see the first interaction between Rangi and Jinpa play out like they were old friends. They both ganged up on Kyoshi for not taking care of herself.

Yet, the Fire Nation is not the pantheon of peace that most people think. There is a coming civil war in the land and Fire Lord Zoryu needs all the help he can get to keep his country intact. Not only that but it appears that Yun is not as dead as we thought.

The content of this book really begins to highlight Kyoshi coming into her own power and having to make those difficult decisions. We see her grow and mature, just like all the other characters in the book. And of course, we have some prime Kyoshi and Rangi romance moments that I can’t help but highlight:

  • Kyoshi had gone so long without her center she almost forgot what it felt like. Rangi made her human again, balanced and whole (pg. 74)
  • Rangi tells Kyoshi before the party with the Fire Lord that Kyoshi can’t touch or kiss anywhere above Rangi’s neck because it’s a sign of disrespect. To which we have this great line of narration: “But those were Kyoshi’s favorite parts.” And I definitely like to imagine Kyoshi’s face as someone who has kicked her puppy.
  • On a whim, she picked Rangi up by the waist and whirled her around. No one was there to schold them for inappropriate touching. Rangi laughed despite herself and tried to swat at her but couldn’t reach as far. “Stop it! You’re embarrassing me!” “That’s the point!” (pgs. 156-157)
  • The word echoed with bitterness and dread in Rangi’s throat, and through it Kyoshi saw deeper into the fire of her glowing girl than she ever had before. (They then go on to discuss Rangi taking Kyoshi to visit her home). (pg. 160)
  • I can’t tell you anything for certain about the future. Only that I’ll be there with you. (Rangi to Kyoshi, pg. 328

I cannot get enough of these two! But there was more to the story. This one had political intrigue and clans vying for power that developed more of the history of the Avatar world, specifically the Fire Nation. In the end, there is the hints of the clan system soon ending and the Fire Nation being only loyal to the Fire Lord (the seeds of the power-hungry Sozin and Ozai being planted).

This book was mostly a focus on not just power and the lengths we would go to achieve power, but also a focus on revenge and how corrupt we can become when we decide our self-regard is more important than the entire world. I’m super upset that this is the last book in this series, but I’m hoping that there are more books in the future that have more spin-offs of other characters or Avatars.

Happy Reading Darlings!

TTT | Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

As most book people are aware of The Storygraph, I’m going to take this Top Ten Tuesday to discuss books that were recommended to me through the Plus feature (this is in no way sponsored by The Storygraph). The books on the left side are the ones I’ve read, and the books on the right are the ones suggested by the Storygraph Plus feature for the book on the left.

Happy Reading Darlings!