My favorite reads of 2021 (so far)

Summer is here, I’ve got no air conditioning in my apartment, and I’m reading up a storm! I set a goal for 25 books this year for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, and I’m about to roll past that. I’m especially proud of this, considering I could barely crack open a book in 2020. It feels good to get lost in another world again. Here are my three favorite reads of 2021 so far:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I got really into Gothic tales this year. I don’t know why it took me so long, because your girl loves eerie mansions, ghosts, mist, and panicked women in long nightgowns searching dark hallways for the spirit of her lost lover. In fact, I have a Gothic horror short story coming out this October in Nocturne Magazine!

Anyway, this book takes the classic Gothic story and sets it in Mexico, as you might’ve guessed from the title. Oh, and this book. IS. JUICY. A fantastic combo of scandalous, sexy and downright creepy. Pretty much every Gothic trope is in this book, which I consider a compliment. And I love the protagonist. Noemí Taboada is a wonderfully refreshing bright spot in a gloomy world. You’ll be cheering her on the entire read.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

YA Fantasy is my jam. I mean, I even wrote my own YA fantasy book which I’m currently pitching to agents! But books in this genre tend to follow similar scenarios and tropes – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s always refreshing to find a unique book that blows you away.

And BOOM, this is that book. It took me a few chapters to get into it – it has a bit of a slow start – but once I was in…I was in. Girl, Serpent, Thorn has a great premise, is chockfull of detailed world-building based off of Indian mythology, and has a dreamy romance. Bonus points for how much the main character grows through this book. A solid growth arc is always satisfying.

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

This novella grabs you by the collar, yanks you along and doesn’t let go until you’ve finished the book. Without giving too much away, this is about three Black women fighting the Ku Klux Klan. Except the KKK aren’t just the KKK. They’re monsters who feed on hate, and our hero, Maryse Boudreaux, is intent on bringing them down with her magical sword. Oh, and she also smuggles magical whiskey with her two friends, two amazing women I wish were real people. Because they’re awesome.

If you want action, a wildly imaginative story, meaningful commentary on bigotry and racism, and characters so lovable you literally grip your Kindle out of fear for their lives, then Ring Shout is your book. It blew me away!

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