Spotlight: Caitlyn’s Favorite Reads of 2021 So Far

As the end of June comes and July begins (what on earth, please — how is it July 1st tomorrow?) I thought it would be a great time to talk about some of my favorites reads of 2021 so far! It was definitely difficult to pick only a few favorite reads as I’ve already read so many amazing books. In fact, out of the 85 books that I’ve read this year, I’ve rated 74 between 4 and 5 stars. Ultimately, when deciding on my favorites, I went with the books that I continue to think about long after I’ve finished them. 

I have done my best to list all trigger warnings that I can think of from my own personal notes, other reviews, and from websites like Book Trigger Warnings and Trigger Warning Database. That being said, there may be things that I have forgotten and if so I apologize! If you’ve read any of these books and notice that I’m missing some triggers, please please let me know so that I can update the trigger lists!

Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way by Caseen Gaines

As a theatre fan, I’m always excited to read books about theatre. It doesn’t matter if it’s about performers, writers/composers, directors, crew members – whatever, if it’s about theatre I’ll read it. While of course I know of the musical Shuffle Along, I had absolutely no idea about how the show was created or how it changed theatre at the time. Footnotes was so educational and I think it is a must read for any theatre fan. 

Trigger Warnings: Racism, mention of lynching (chapter 1), mentions of shooting (chapter 1), mentions of death (chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5), mentions of Blackface, slavery, mentions of whipping (chapter 2), mentions of physical abuse, use of the n word, mentioned death of a parent (cancer, chapter 3), mentions of the military and war, mentions of hanging (chapter 3, chapter 5), stabbing (on page, chapter 5), mentions of alcohol and drinking, mentions of adultery, mentions of sexual assault (chapter 8), colorism, mentions of mental illness (chapter 10), mentions of surgery 

The triumphant story of how an all-Black Broadway cast and crew changed musical theatre–and the world–forever.

This musical introduced Black excellence to the Great White Way. Broadway was forever changed and we, who stand on the shoulders of our brilliant ancestors, are charged with the very often elusive task of carrying that torch into our present.–Billy Porter, Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning actor

If Hamilton, Rent, or West Side Story captured your heart, you’ll love this in-depth look into the rise of the 1921 Broadway hit, Shuffle Along, the first all-Black musical to succeed on Broadway. No one was sure if America was ready for a show featuring nuanced, thoughtful portrayals of Black characters–and the potential fallout was terrifying. But from the first jazzy, syncopated beats of composers Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, New York audiences fell head over heels.

Footnotes is the story of how Sissle and Blake, along with comedians Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles, overcame poverty, racism, and violence to harness the energy of the Harlem Renaissance and produce a runaway Broadway hit that launched the careers of many of the twentieth century’s most beloved Black performers. Born in the shadow of slavery and establishing their careers at a time of increasing demands for racial justice and representation for people of color, they broke down innumerable barriers between Black and white communities at a crucial point in our history.

Author and pop culture expert Caseen Gaines leads readers through the glitz and glamour of New York City during the Roaring Twenties to reveal the revolutionary impact one show had on generations of Americans, and how its legacy continues to resonate today.

Links for Footnotes: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

I had read an ARC of Dial A for Aunties back in January, and I could not put it down! I read it in one sitting and immediately began telling all my friends that they needed to read this book. Dial A for Aunties is laugh out loud funny and one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a really long time. I absolutely love Jesse’s writing and will definitely be reading anything and everything she writes in the future. You can check out Mary’s review here.

Trigger Warnings: Death of family members (prologue), slut-shaming (chapter 1), sex, car crash (on page, not graphic – chapters 4 & 5), death, minor injuries, murder, drinking, recreational drug use (unknowingly – drugging), racism, being held at gunpoint, descriptions of dead bodies

A hilariously quirky novel that is equal parts murder mystery, rom-com, and a celebration of mothers and daughters as well as a deep dive into Chinese-Indonesian culture, by debut author Jesse Q. Sutanto.

1 (accidental) murder

2 thousand wedding guests

3 (maybe) cursed generations

4 meddling Asian aunties to the rescue!

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is accidentally shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working, at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for their family wedding business—“Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream cake flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?

Story Locale: Southern California

Links for Dial A for Aunties: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | Indiebound

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is the book that I needed as a teenager. 5 pages in and I was already crying; I just felt so seen by Charlie and her story. I absolutely loved this book and am so thankful to Crystal for writing it. You can read my full review here.

Trigger Warnings: Fatphobia, mentioned death of a parent, mentions of sex, underage drinking (chapter 13), racism, a strained relationship with a parent, diet culture, emotional abuse + manipulation

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.

Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.

Links for Fat Chance, Charlie Vega: Goodreads | TheStorygraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound

The Ex-Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Fake-exes enemies to lovers is something that can be so personal. I stayed up all night reading this book and while I was tired the next day, I literally have zero regrets. 10/10 would do it again. I loved everything about this book. 

Trigger Warnings: Death of a parent, depictions of grief and loss, misogyny

Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sparkling romantic comedy debut.

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

Links for The Ex-Talk: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Know My Name is the most powerful book I have read in recent memory. Even now, months after having read it, I’m having a difficult time putting all of my thoughts into words. I had decided to read the book via audiobook as it’s narrated by Chanel herself and while some parts were very difficult to get through, I think that was the best way for me to read it. Chanel’s strength and honesty is inspiring and I have so much respect for her. 

Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault / rape, dating violence, suicidal thoughts, body hatred, mental illness

She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.

Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways–there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.

Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic.

Links for Know My Name: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow feels like being wrapped up in a big hug, while wearing your Taylor Swift cardigan and drinking a cup of your favorite tea. Simply put, it’s comforting. This book made me think of my grandmother so much, and I could definitely relate to Lila’s grief over losing her grandmother. You can check out Mary’s review here.

Trigger Warnings: Grandparental death, grief, food (very descriptive), early onset dementia 

For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

Links for A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow:  Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound

A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen

I love Pride and Prejudice and read pretty much every retelling that I can get my hands on. A Taste for Love is absolutely my favorite of the retellings I’ve read. This book was just so cute! I read it in one sitting and honestly didn’t want it to end. The characterization was done so well and I absolutely loved the Great British Baking Show aspect to the story! You can read my full review here.

Trigger Warnings: Cheating (not mcs), discussions of eating disorders (not graphic, chapter 11), mentions of a car crash (not graphic, chapter 24), mentions of underage drinking and rehab (not graphic, chapter 24), a somewhat strained relationship with a parent

To her friends, high school senior Liza Yang is nearly perfect. Smart, kind, and pretty, she dreams big and never shies away from a challenge. But to her mom, Liza is anything but. Compared to her older sister Jeannie, Liza is stubborn, rebellious, and worst of all, determined to push back against all of Mrs. Yang’s traditional values, especially when it comes to dating.

The one thing mother and daughter do agree on is their love of baking. Mrs. Yang is the owner of Houston’s popular Yin & Yang Bakery. With college just around the corner, Liza agrees to help out at the bakery’s annual junior competition to prove to her mom that she’s more than her rebellious tendencies once and for all. But when Liza arrives on the first day of the bake-off, she realizes there’s a catch: all of the contestants are young Asian American men her mother has handpicked for Liza to date.

The bachelorette situation Liza has found herself in is made even worse when she happens to be grudgingly attracted to one of the contestants; the stoic, impenetrable, annoyingly hot James Wong. As she battles against her feelings for James, and for her mother’s approval, Liza begins to realize there’s no tried and true recipe for love.

Links for A Taste For Love: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

We all know that I’m obsessed with These Violent Delights (you can check out my review of it here), and Our Violent Ends had been at the top of my TBR right after I finished TVD. When I saw I freaked out when I was approved for an ARC of OVE I mean I freaked out. I had very high expectations and it did not disappoint. I read it back in April and I am still reeling! I can’t wait until it’s released in November so that I can freak out over it with everyone.

Trigger Warnings: Blood, violence, gore, death, murder (including mass murder), alcohol consumption, parental abuse, war themes

Shanghai is under siege in this captivating and searingly romantic sequel to These Violent Delights, which New York Times bestselling author Natasha Ngan calls “deliciously dark.”

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.

Links for Our Violent Ends: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow was so creepy in the absolute best way. The writing was so vivid and detailed; it read like a Grimm fairytale which I loved. The mystery was revealed in such a clever way and it flowed seamlessly. I’ll definitely be reading this book many times. You can read my full review here.

Trigger Warnings: Blood and mentions of blood, physical violence, police and mentions of police, stalking, smoking, occult, attempted murder, mentions of kidnapping, knives, guns & gunfire, mentions of drugs, mentions of alcoholism, insects, mentions of mental illness and hospitalization, manipulation, mentions of bullying (prologue), mentioned death of a parent (chapter 1), mentioned death of family members (car accident, chapter 1), mentions of still born child birth (chapter 1), catcalling (chapter 1, chapter 2), mentions of sexual assault (chapter 2, chapter 15 – on page), harry potter mention (chapter 3), mentions of underage drinking (chapter 3), mentioned suicide (chapter 7, chapter 15), description of suicide, (chapter 14), detailed description of a dead body (chapter 8), fire (chapter 8), murder (on page)

Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats.

Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.

As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children.

The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.

Links for House of Hollow: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

The Other Side of Perfect is a stunning debut novel. Ballet, while beautiful, has many dark sides to it which are now being more openly discussed. This book explores what it means to love something and acknowledge all of its flaws and problems. I loved reading Alina’s journey of self discovery and growth. If this is an indication of works to come, Mariko Turk will quickly establish herself as one of my autobuy authors. You can read my full review here.

Trigger Warnings: Severe injury (broken leg), racism, strained relationship with a parent, discussions of toxic masculinity, bullying

Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but then a terrifying fall shatters her leg — and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it.

After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected — namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive castmate she just might be falling for.

But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she experienced in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet — something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else?

Touching, romantic, and peppered with humor, this debut novel explores the tenuousness of perfectionism, the possibilities of change, and the importance of raising your voice.

Links to The Other Side of Perfect: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson

I always find Morgan Matson’s books to be so comforting and fun, and Take Me Home Tonight did not disappoint! I loved Kat and Stevie’s wild and crazy adventure in New York City, it reminded me of venturing around the city with my best friend and made me smile the entire time. You can read my full review here

Trigger Warnings: Divorce, absentee parenting, knife (chapter 9), attempted mugging (chapter 11), guns (multiple “back in connecticut” chapters), mentioned death of a parent (chapter 18), mentions of underage drinking (chapter 21, chapter 28), gun fire (“back in canada” chapter), mentions of the fbi and cia (multiple “back in connecticut”/”back in canada” chapters)

Two girls. One night. Zero phones.

Kat and Stevie—best friends, theater kids, polar opposites—have snuck away from the suburbs to spend a night in New York City. They have it all planned out. They’ll see a play, eat at the city’s hottest restaurant, and have the best. Night. Ever. What could go wrong?

Well. Kind of a lot?

They’re barely off the train before they’re dealing with destroyed phones, family drama, and unexpected Pomeranians. Over the next few hours, they’ll have to grapple with old flames, terrible theater, and unhelpful cab drivers. But there are also cute boys to kiss, parties to crash, dry cleaning to deliver (don’t ask), and the world’s best museum to explore.

Over the course of a wild night in the city that never sleeps, both Kat and Stevie will get a wake-up call about their friendship, their choices…and finally discover what they really want for their future.

That is, assuming they can make it to Grand Central before the clock strikes midnight.

Links for Take Me Home Tonight: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After falling in love with TJR’s writing through The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six, I was so eager to get my hands on a copy of Malibu Rising. From start to finish, I loved this book. I love stories that take place all in one night and I thought that TJR told the story masterfully. You can read Cossette’s review here.

Trigger Warnings: Abandonment, adoption, alcoholism, death of a parent, drowning, drugs, fire, estranged father, infidelity, stroke 

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud–because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own–including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Links for Malibu Rising: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound 

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé 

Ace of Spades had been one of my most anticipated reads of 2021, and it did not disappoint! I mean how could I not want to read a dark academia book that was described as having Gossip Girl vibes? That’s exactly up my alley. I was so excited to see a dark academia story centered around people of color, as the genre is severely lacking in that aspect. This book shook me to my very core and I have not stopped thinking about it since I read it. You can read Cossette’s review here!

Trigger Warnings: Racism, Homophobia, Bullying, Blood, Alcohol consumption, Car accident, Racist slurs, Stalking, Emotional abuse, Panic attacks/disorders, Outing of queer characters, Suicide ideation , Suicide attempt, Death of parent, Gun violence, Murder, Toxic Relationship, Sexism, Forced institutionalisation, Drug use, Police encounter/involvement, Incarceration, Mentions of death penalty, Revenge porn 

Gossip Girl meets Get Out in Ace of Spades, a YA contemporary thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé about two students, Devon & Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

With heart-pounding suspense and relevant social commentary comes a high-octane thriller from debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé.

Links for Ace of Spades: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

We love a good cozy mystery! Arsenic and Adobo had everything I love in a book. A strong female protagonist, a story centered around family and a good mystery. But my absolute favorite thing about this book was how it made me feel connected to my Filipino heritage in a way that no other book has. It reminded me of my childhood spent with my grandmother and our extended family and for that I am so grateful. I’m also really looking forward to the second book in the series. You can read my full review here

Trigger Warnings: Murder, death, poisoning, evidence planting, police intimidation, police encounters, drug use, fatphobia, racism, physical assault, hospitals, domestic violence (implied), discussion of food

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

Links for Arsenic and Adobo: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

This book was honestly incredible. It was fast paced and completely intriguing. From the start the book throws you into the action and it doesn’t stop until the very last page. I had heard so many great things about this book and it exceeded all of my expectations. I’ll definitely be reading it again! You can read my full review here

Trigger Warnings: Guns and mentions of guns, mention of fire, being held at gun point, shooting (chapter 2), blood and mentions of blood, mentions of a car accident (chapter 3), mentions of prison (chapter 2, chapter 14), alcohol and mentions of underage drinking, robbery, con artists, references to and mentions of domestic abuse, mentions of mensuration (chapter 14, chapter 43), mentions of chronic illness – endometriosis (chapter 14), mentions of mutilation (chapter 28), mentions of vomit, mentions of recreational drug use (weed), mentions of murder, knives, mentions of rape and molestation (chapter 36, chapter 41), stabbing (chapter 38, chapter 41), chocking (chapter 38), homemade bomb, mentions of teen pregnancy and abortion (chapter 49) – you can also view the triggers warnings directly from the author here (which I would recommend just in case I accidentally left anything out)

A deliciously commercial YA page-turner about the daughter of a con artist who is taken hostage in a bank heist.

Nora O’Malley is a lot of things. A sister. An ex. A secret girlfriend. Kind of crooked, but reformed… somewhat.

Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up her mother’s protege. But when mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape.

For five years she’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:

#1: her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’ve all been inseparable for months, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.

#2: The morning after, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised together. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly.

Because #3: right after they get in the bank, two guys start robbing it.

But they have no idea who they’re really holding hostage.

The robbers are trouble. Nora’s something else entirely.

Links for The Girls I’ve Been: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

Have you read any of these books? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments! I’d love to know your favorite reads of the year so far.

9 thoughts on “Spotlight: Caitlyn’s Favorite Reads of 2021 So Far

  1. so many of the books over here are super high on my tbr, so i’m glad you enjoyed them!! i’m especially excited for our violent ends omg!! i also loved the other side of perfect, the girls i’ve been, and ace of spades, so i’m glad you did too! lovely post!! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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