Our Favorite YA Books of 2021

It’s almost the end of the year, which means it’s time to go through our books for the year and name the top 10! Remember, these are books that were released in 2021. While technically The Cousins released in December 2020, it was our January 2021 book club pick and Goodreads included in its 2021 reader’s choice awards. 

Do you do a top books of the year list? Let us know in the comments! Maybe some of our favorites made your list too.

1. The Cousins by Karen McManus

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As one of our first reads of 2021, The Cousins did not disappoint. Karen McManus has become one of our automatic buy authors since her mysteries always keep us on the edge of our seats. Everyone in out book club enjoyed McManus’s writing style, character development and twisty plot. The Cousins follows Aubrey, Jonah and Milly Story as they meet their grandmother for the first time on a mysterious island off the coast of Massachusetts. If you like complex family dynamics and dark plot twists, this book is for you.

2. Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

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When we received an ARC for Better Than the Movies in the mail, we had no idea what to expect from debut author Lynn Painter. What we got: a hilarious romcom x comedy of errors. Liz Bauxbaum just wants to get her crush to notice her. With the help of her nemesis/neighbor Wes Bennett, Liz thinks she has a shot and starts doing what she can to seem cool. But the more time Liz spends with Wes, the more she realizes he’s not what she expected. And just maybe, Liz realizes that she never knew anything about love to begin with.

3. The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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In The Hawthorne Legacy, the exciting sequel to The Inheritance Games, Avery Grambs begins to unravel the mystery of why Tobias Hawthorne chose her as his heir. With help of the four Hawthorne brothers, Avery’s situation gets even more dangerous and the game more twisted. If you haven’t started this series yet and you enjoyed Knives Out, pick it up immediately. Also, if you’ve only read The Inheritance Games, you won’t be disappointed with how Avery’s journey continues.

4. London Prep 5: The Party by Jillian Dodd

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One thing we love about Dodd is how fast she can write books. However, we still hate waiting for more from the London Prep series. London Prep 5: The Party was exactly what we needed. It’s the day of the party at Harry Brooks’s house and Mallory is anxious to meet his horrible family for the first time. To make things more complicated, Noah and Mallory have started to reconcile, making Mallory more nervous for what will happen that night. At least she always has her best friend Mohammed to lighten the mood and keep everything fun.  While our regular readers know how much we love this series, book five is easily our favorite. We loved everything about this installment!

5. As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

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The A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series has been one of our favorite mystery series ever. While we were sad to see it end, Jackson wrapped it up nicely. After the devastating events of Good Girl, Bad Blood, Pippa Fitz-Amobi is figuring out how to move on and get ready to go to Columbia University. But things aren’t that simple. Once Pip starts receiving threats online, she knows this more than an internet stalker. After Pip solved her most recent mystery, we had no idea what was in store for her in As Good As Dead. We can say that this is definitely the darkest and most shocking book of the trilogy. If you’re in the mood for a book with a narrator obsessed with true crime, pick this one up immediately.

6. Glimpsed by G.F. Miller

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Just like Better Than the Movies, we received an ARC of Glimpsed and had no idea what to expect. However, it hooked us right away. Charity is a fairy godmother who gets “glimpses” of people’s desires. She calls these people her Cindies and helps them get their happily ever after. When her classmate Noah sees what she’s doing, he’s determined to stop her from “ruining” everyone’s lives. But when Noah needs Charity’s help to win over his crush, the two are forced the spend a lot of time together, which changes everything. Our favorite parts of the book always involved Charity and Noah in some way. We were literally LOLing for a majority of the book and can’t recommend it enough.

7. Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare

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We love everything from Clare and The Last Hours series is no different. Continuing where Chain of Gold left off, Chain of Iron follows Cordelia Carstairs, James Herondale, Matthew Fairchild and the rest of the young shadowhunters of London as they face dangerous enemies and balance relationships. The plot kept us engaged for the entire book. In true Clare fashion, she kept us guessing and emotionally exhausted. Since the book ended on a major cliffhanger, we know that the action will continue in Chain of Thorns. If you haven’t read this series yet, add it to your TBR ASAP.

8. Sunkissed by Kasie West

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Kasie West is one of favorite YA contemporary authors. We read anything she writes, that’s why we were ecstatic to get an ARC for Sunkissed. Avery is forced to spend the summer with her family at a lake resort that has no access to the internet or cell service. What she thinks will be a disaster turns into something amazing when she meets Brooks, a resort staff member who is completely off-limits. The two quickly bond over their love of music and even start working together on songs, hoping to enter a local competition. If you want something light, fluffy and beachy, West’s latest is perfect for you.

9. As If on Cue by Marisa Kanter

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Natalie Jacobsen is certain about one thing: that she and Reid Callahan will always be enemies. Unfortunately, she can’t get away from him. When the two are forced to work together on Melted, the school’s musical, Natalie is almost ready to quit. But this is something she worked so hard for, so in order to get her way, she’ll have to deal with the person she hates the most. As If on Cue is a love letter to students who participated in the arts in high school. It’s fun, creative and has a great enemies to lovers romance.

10. That Weekend by Kara Thomas

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Claire Keough plans to skip the prom and go away with her two best friends Kat Marcotte and Jesse Salpietro. Without telling their parents, the three sneak up to Kat’s parent’s house secluded in the mountains of Upstate New York. But when Claire wakes up days later, she remembers nothing. Even worse, Kat and Jesse are missing. Over the course of almost a year, Claire tries to piece together what happened that weekend and learn the secrets her former friends kept hidden. This dark story will have you guessing until the very end. That Weekend is the perfect YA book for suspense lovers.

Honorable Mentions

10 Truths and a Dare by Ashley Elston

They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman

In the Penalty Box by Lynn Rush and Kelly Anne Blount

Mazarine by Cece Louise

Westcott High 3 by Sarah Mello

Published by I'm All Booked Up YA

We write recommendations and reviews for YA books.

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