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Five of Sara's Favorite Reads of 2021 (Part 2)

by Sara Voigt (@meaningfulmadness)



Hello, friends! I can't believe we are here at the end of 2021. My first half of the year was definitely more robust than my last half in terms of reading, but I have been fortunate to read several books in the back half that I have really enjoyed.


All of us here at Unabridged have different criteria for these posts. For me, I just look at my last half of the year and pick five of the books that stuck with me. You can find my favorites for the top half of 2021 here.


So, here are (some) of my favorites for the last half of 2021.


Zakiya Dalila Harris's The Other Black Girl (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the publisher:

"A Good Morning America, Esquire, and Read with Marie Claire Book Club Pick and a People Best Book of Summer


"Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Time, TheWashington Post, Harper's Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly, Marie Claire, Bustle, BuzzFeed, Parade, Goodreads, Fortune, and BBC


"​​Urgent, propulsive, and sharp as a knife, The Other Black Girl is an electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.


"Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she's thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They've only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.


"Then the notes begin to appear on Nella's desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.


"It's hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there's a lot more at stake than just her career.


"A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist."


Why it made the list:

This smart, well-paced suspense novel kept me on the edge of my seat and gave me a lot to think about. I couldn't put it down.


Holly Jackson's A Good Girls Guide to Murder (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the publisher:

"THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING SERIES - Everyone is talking about this addictive must-read mystery with shades of Serial and Making a Murderer about an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you'll never expect.


"Everyone in Fairview knows the story.


"Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.


"But she can't shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?


"Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn't want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger."


Why it made the list:

Fast-paced, YA suspense? Yes, please. A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is an intense YA suspense book that is sure to capture even the most reluctant reader's interest. I loved the character-building and the compelling narrative.


Jean Meltzer's The Matzah Ball (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the publisher:

"Oy! to the world


"Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she's hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.


"But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah's not magical. It's not merry. It's not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel's determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy--Jacob Greenberg.


"Though Rachel and Jacob haven't seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah--and Jacob--in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze."


Why it made the list:

I loved this holiday romcom. The story of Rachel, a Jewish daughter of a well-known and respected rabbi who has a chronic illness and a love for Christmas and her up and down relationship with Jacob from summer camp delighted me in all the ways. Sign me up for anything Meltzer writes!


Danielle Walker's Food Saved Me: My Journey of Finding Health and Hope through the Power of Food (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the publisher:


"You can live a full, happy, and healthy life without ever feeling excluded or deprived.


"When doctors told Danielle Walker that food didn't cause her autoimmune disease and couldn't help control it, she set out to prove them wrong.


"Diagnosed with an extreme form of ulcerative colitis at 22, Danielle was terrified she'd never be able to eat all the wonderful, great-tasting foods she loved growing up or host warm, welcoming gatherings with family and friends. So when the medicine she was prescribed became almost as debilitating as the disease itself, Danielle took matters into her own hands, turned her kitchen into a laboratory, and set to work creating gut-healthy versions of the foods she thought she'd never be able to enjoy again. Three New York Times bestselling cookbooks later, Danielle has become a beacon of hope for millions around the world suffering from autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and chronic ailments.


"Now for the first time, with stunning transparency about the personal toll her illness took on her physically, emotionally, and spiritually, Danielle reflects on everything she's learned during her decade-long journey toward healing--including the connection between gut health and overall well-being, the development of her favorite recipes, and the keys for not simply surviving her autoimmune disease but thriving despite it. Through her resilience, Danielle tells a story that provides hope--hope that despite your ailments or hardships, you can live a full, happy, and healthy life without ever feeling excluded or deprived.


"Food saved Danielle Walker. And it can save you, too."

Why it made the list:

I have followed Danielle Walker for years. Her blog is on of my favorites. I was so excited when she released her memoir, since I have ALL of her cookbooks. I particularly loved this memoir on audio, because Danielle reads it. It is a wonderful testament to her tenacity and her drive to find beauty in complications and heartache. I highly recommend this one on audio.

Kalynn Bayron's Cinderella Is Dead (Bookshop.org)


From the publisher:

"Wholly original and captivating. - Brigid Kemmerer, New York Times bestselling author of A Curse So Dark and Lonely "Girls team up to overthrow the kingdom in this unique and powerful retelling of Cinderella from a stunning new voice that's perfect for fans of Dhonielle Clayton and Melissa Albert.


"It's 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl's display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.


"Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella's mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all--and in the process, they learn that there's more to Cinderella's story than they ever knew . . .


"This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they've been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.."

Why it made the list:

I thought this book was original and masterful. It was an amazing retelling of the standard Cinderella fare, and I was here for it.

#bookishfaves #nonfiction #contemporary #historical #realisticfiction #romance #yalit #diverselit #worldlit #memoir #suspense


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