As 2021 draws to a close, we at BookTrib are feeling the pangs of “auld lang syne” as we reflect on another year of showcasing amazing books from all corners of the publishing world. It’s hard for us to pick favorites, but by looking at the number of views on the various posts, we have curated this list of the most popular 25 articles on our site from 2021 (in no particular order).

Kristin Hannah’s “The Four Winds” Braves Dust Bowl in Sweeping Family Saga | Review by Jodé Millman

 At the heart of this sweeping saga of a family’s struggle to survive The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl is Elsa Wolcott. She’s a tall, awkward girl who suffered rheumatic fever as a teenager. She believed she was never beautiful, smart or strong enough to earn the love of her wealthy Texan family, so she withdrew into the world of books. At 25 years of age, Elsa boldly cuts her long hair, purchases a bolt of red silk at the General Store and fashions it into a slinky dress. The year is 1921, and she’s unaware that her rebellious acts would soon change the course of her life — and abandonment, poverty and prejudice will test her at every turn. Read on …

BookTrib Editors Predict 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards Winners | Article by Chelsea Ciccone and Judy Moreno

 Goodreads Choice Awards season is far better, in our book, than Oscar season and maybe even on par with the holiday season … maybe. Luckily, the two coincide, so no need to choose. But we do, in the tradition carried over from previous years, have to choose our predicted winners in solidarity with all the readers choosing their favorites in a valiant effort to push them to the top of the pile. What a tough, tough job. How accurate were our predictions? Read on to find out what we picked … and then go here to see what won.

Harlan Coben Mixes Art, Radical Politics, Vigilante Justice and Family Secrets in “Win” | Review by Dennis Hetzel

 If you’re a Coben fan, you might recognize the name Windsor Horne Lockwood III (or Win for short). He’s best known as the friend of sports agent Myron Bolitar, the character who drives a long string of books in Coben’s oeuvre. Win is an almost-sociopathic son of privilege whose brains, brawn and wealth make him a one-percenter who pretty much does what he pleases. In this case, Win takes center stage when a recluse is found murdered in a penthouse apartment on New York’s Upper West Side. Two noteworthy objects immediately bring the authorities to Win and his family: a hugely valuable Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase, both of which have been missing for years from the Lockwood family estate. Which, of course, makes Win a suspect. Read more …

ITW Spotlight: Dean Koontz’s Imagination Knows Few Boundaries | Review and Interview by Adam Meyer 

 After publishing more than 100 books, including countless New York Times bestsellers, Koontz is famously impossible to pin down: does he write thrillers? Yes. Horror? Yes. Science fiction? Romance? Fantasy? Yes, yes, and yes. His latest novel, The Other Emily, is both very much identifiably Koontz and yet in many ways unlike anything he’s done before. It’s a love story wrapped inside a thriller, with elements of cutting-edge science fiction and enough suspense to keep readers turning the pages well into the night. Learn more about the book and the story behind it in this article from our partner, the International Thriller Writers magazine, The Big Thrill.

“The Lost Diary of Anne Frank” Imagines the Final Days of an Extraordinary Young Girl | Review by Jim Alkon

 Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl recounts the experiences, thoughts and emotions of one adolescent girl holed up inside a secret annex with her family for two years in order to evade capture by the Nazis in Holland. Her last entry was on August 1, 1944, just a few days before the Nazis discovered the family’s hiding spot. That’s where historian and author Dr. Johnny Teague picks up with The Lost Diary of Anne Frank, a unique historical novel built upon an abundance of research. It continues Anne’s would-be diary while imprisoned by the Nazis,  how she and her fellow prisoners coped, and how she hung onto her humanity and courage to the end. Read more …

Lucinda Riley’s “The Missing Sister” Powerfully Concludes Family Saga Series | Review by BookTrib

 In the much-anticipated final installment of her Seven Sisters Series, Irish author Lucinda Riley takes readers on an epic journey to uncover the truth behind Pa Salt’s seventh adopted daughter. Like many of the books in the series, The Missing Sister is a story of love, sacrifice, redemption, loyalty and family. One year after his death, Pa’s daughters vow to visit his burial site and lay a wreath in their father’s honor — with their seventh sister by their side. But first, they have to find her. Armed with a name, location and a drawing of a diamond and emerald ring in the shape of a star, given to the seventh sister by Pa Salt, the sisters are determined to confirm their sister’s identity and finally put their curiosity to rest. Read on …

8 Novels About Women That Are Set During the Second World War | Article by Weina Dai Randel

 World War II is a period in history that still resonates with us today; it is a time that brought out the best and the worst in humanity and altered the lives of millions. Here Tall Poppy Writers presents eight historical fiction novels by talented female authors who breathe life into otherwise obscure figures buried under the dust of history. You’ll discover books about female spies, resistance fighters, pilots, and just ordinary women who find the strength to make difficult choices, books that paint a broader and more intimate picture of the roles the women took on to support — and survive — the war. Find out which books made Weina’s list.

A Post-Pandemic Murder Dredges Up Past Sins in “The Madness of Crowds” | Review by Jodé Millman

 Controversial statistician Abigail Robinson is coming to lecture at a nearby university, and Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec, has been assigned to supervise the gathering. The event should be a non-starter, but Professor Robinson is preaching the unthinkable in the pandemic’s wake, something akin to mass murder. In a land gripped by post-pandemic fear and frustration, one faction of the masses is enthusiastically embracing Robinson’s agenda. It is even gaining traction with national politicians. Others adamantly oppose Robinson’s idea, which polarizes the crowd, setting up a potential disaster at the event including a threat to the professor’s life — and deadlier things to come. Read more …

7 Novels That Explore the Lives of Women from Middle Eastern Cultures | Article by Chelsea Ciccone

 Every region of the world has its own set of trials and triumphs, and if you’re going to learn about another culture, the best place to start is by listening to those who have lived it. Gathered here are the works of novelists from all over the Middle East, offering a varied look at the experiences of women throughout the region. Traveling across the Middle East from Turkey to Saudi Arabia, even stretching back centuries to Persia and onward with those immigrating to western countries, these seven novels explore the lives of women with ties to Middle Eastern cultures. Read on for our recommendations.

Reckoning With Family History Sparks Fire in Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Latest Novel | Review by Chelsea Ciccone

 Malibu circa 1983. Nina Riva is twelve hours away from hosting the party of the decade. At one time, this annual end-of-summer bash included only Nina, her siblings and their surfer friends, but it has since grown into the premier party of the season for the rich and famous. So, despite the fact that her tennis-pro husband has publicly left her for another woman and Nina would rather steer clear of the spotlight, the party will continue as planned … for the most part, anyway. As the decade’s most epic party looms on the horizon, the past tugs at each of the siblings’ heels. With secrets, betrayals and unfiltered emotions waiting to be revealed in the chaos, this one night will alter the course of each of the Rivas’ lives forever … along with the landscape of Malibu itself. Read on …

7 YA Novels With Teens Facing Trauma Too Close to Home | Article by Judy Moreno

 We tend to see teenagers as mostly carefree, their troubles coming and going with a capriciousness that adults can look back on nostalgically. But what happens when a teen experiences something appalling, something that stays with them forever? Mental health issues, suicide, bullying, abuse, violence and sexual assault are all very real traumas that far too many young adults experience; but bringing these issues out in the open is an important step in their eradication. This list is full of books that focus on teens, and especially on teens who aren’t exactly living the perfect life. Some are darker than others, but all provide a unique perspective and lessons to be learned. Read on to discover our recommendations.

Life After Divorce: 5 Books to Help You Heal and Rebuild | Article by BookTrib

 According to the most recent U.S. census data, nearly 40 percent of marriages end in divorce. There’s one thing you need to know if you are someone going through — or recovering from — this often traumatic experience, it’s this: you are not alone. Today, there are a lot of resources available to help you heal and rebuild your life after divorce — group therapy, therapists specializing in divorce, divorce coaches and, of course, a multitude of books on the subject. Here we have gathered five for your consideration, each taking a different approach, unified by a single message: there really is life after divorce — if you are willing to build it. Check out our recommendations.

“The Reading List” Is Book Therapy for Lovers of Literature | Review by Linda Hitchcock

 In a predominantly East Indian neighborhood in suburban West London, a handwritten sign, “Save our Library,” is taped to the automatic doors of Harrow Road Library. Funding cuts have reduced the number of staff placing a greater reliance on volunteers, decreased operating hours, and limited the amount of new inventory. Yet it becomes the convergence point for the random recipients of eight scraps of paper — each containing the same curious yet inviting missive: “Just in case you need it” followed by a list of the same set of novels: To Kill a Mockingbird, Rebecca, The Kite Runner, Life of Pi, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Beloved and A Suitable Boy. As one community will soon discover, books hold amazing power — both to heal us and bind us together. Read more …

Co-Founder of Melissa & Doug Transforms Darkness Into Light in Memoir “LifeLines” | Review and Interview by Jennifer Blankfein

 Melissa Bernstein, the creative genius and co-founder of Melissa & Doug Toy Company, has bared her soul in LifeLines: An Inspirational Journey From Profound Darkness to Radiant Light. She has been struggling with existential depression and anxiety her entire life. She was denying her despair, hiding it from the world and suppressing her overwhelmingly negative feelings and thoughts that were leading her to the brink of self-destruction. Melissa opens up and shares all that she has experienced, the challenges she has faced, and her hopes for the future. Our partner BookNation by Jen had an opportunity to interview Melissa about the book, and the Q&A is well worth reading. Check it out here.

10 Independence Day Reads to Celebrate 245 Years | Article by Friends & Fiction

 The Declaration of Independence famously declares that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” And while this statement may have been heartfelt, written as it was by men who had been subjugated by a monarch who gave them little in return, it has proven very difficult to put into practice. The concepts of “equal rights” and “liberty” have been particularly challenging for us throughout our 245 years as a nation. This year, after one of the most tumultuous times in recent American history, we asked the hosts of the weekly live web show and podcast Friends & Fiction to offer us some reading suggestions as a starting point for deeper conversations about our country’s past, and our future. Find out what their recommendations were.

A Compelling Story of Survival Unfolds in “Sparks Like Stars” by Nadia Hashimi | Review and Interview by Jennifer Blankfein

 As a young Afghan girl, Sitara loses everything and everyone in her beloved country; she was the sole survivor in a government coup where all her close friends and family were murdered. With the unexpected help of a soldier assigned to kill her, she was whisked off to a safe place. Antonia (Nia), an embassy worker, and her mother, Tilly, take Sitara into their home and help her escape the country. Now in the U.S., she’s become a successful doctor, but chooses not to share stories from her childhood with anyone, which has created barriers and limitations to her ultimate happiness and trust. When someone from her past shows up in her life, old wounds open and Sitara feels a burning desire to face her history, get closure on the murder of her family and travel back home to see for herself the destruction of her Afghanistan. Read Book Nation by Jen‘s Q&A with author Nadia Hashimi here.

Jennifer Weiner Transforms Mistaken Identity Into Self-Actualization in “That Summer” | Review by Y.M. Nelson

 Diana “Daisy” Shoemaker is at a point in her life where she feels unfulfilled and maybe even neglected by a husband hung up on 20th-century gender roles, and a teenage daughter that loves her taxidermy and her Etsy store more than Daisy. Then, Daisy begins to get email invites to wonderful soirees and other elegant functions that she realizes are going to her email address by mistake — it’s only one character off from the intended recipient. When she contacts the other Diana, she finds a friend in Diana Starling, a jet-setting consultant with a New York City home base. But as their friendship grows, Daisy finds out they have a lot more in common than she first thought, including a troubled past and an unpleasant secret that connects both their families. Read more …

Is E L James’ “Freed” the Last of Fifty Shades? | Article by BookTrib

 In Freed — a novel based on a previous book, Fifty Shades Freed — Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele tie the knot … but marriage brings its own challenges. Though their passion burns hotter and deeper than ever, Ana’s defiant spirit continues to stir Christian’s darkest fears and tests his need for control. As old rivalries and resentments endanger them both, one misjudgment threatens to tear them apart. Freed joins two previous novels, Darker and Grey, to present Christian’s viewpoint of the events recounted in the original Fifty Shades trilogy. With her cycle now complete, will author E L James put the series to bed for good? Find out what James herself has to say about that.

“Our Darkest Night:” Terror and Faith in Wartime Italy | Review by Claudia Keenan

 Venice, October 1942.  As Antonina hurries across the famous piazza to the entrance to the Ghetto Novo, where Venice’s Jewish community had largely been consigned since the 16th century, she is aware of the danger that her small family faces. German occupation of Italy is inevitable, and so is the deportation by the Nazis of the few hundred Jews who inhabit the Ghetto. But it is Antonina’s father who, along with family friend and Catholic priest Father Bernardi, devises a plan of action. One year later, with a new name, Antonina will flee to safety with a young Catholic man, traveling mostly on foot to his family’s home in the countryside forty miles northwest of Venice. The couple will share a bed and feign intimacy in a marriage of convenience they must hide from the prying neighbors and the local Nazi officials. Read more …

A Universal Danger: 8 Historical Thrillers From Around the World | Article by Cameron Kimball

 As people living in the 21st century, we have thousands of stories at our fingertips. Yet we keep returning to tales of our past — the allure of historical fiction speaks to us, showing us a window into a time far before our own that still seems familiar to us. Despite the centuries between the setting and modern day, so many experiences in historical fiction are all too recognizable. Whether you lived in ancient Egypt, Tudor England or 16th century India, times of social and political unrest made the future seem uncertain. These books center stories around turmoil and high stakes — themes that stand the test of time, no matter how old the source material. We’ve selected 8 globetrotting thrillers set back in time that still feature the danger of a modern-day suspense novel. Filled with political intrigue and deadly consequences, these books are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Read our recommendations here.

The Phrase “Put Me Under” Has New Meaning in Tammy Euliano’s Thriller “Fatal Intent” | Review by K.L. Romo

Dr. Kate Downey is a skilled anesthesiologist and professor at a teaching hospital in central Florida. She knows she’s got a lot on her plate, especially with her husband, Greg, in a coma for the last year. Lord knows one thing Kate doesn’t need is a problem at work. She’d made an error after the trauma with Greg and the stillbirth of her daughter, meaning that she is already on probation; any misstep could ruin her career. The fact that two of her patients have died in the last few days is unnerving. They were minor surgeries, and the patients got through recovery fine. So what happened? Kate is determined to find out. But the more she investigates, the clearer it becomes that there’s a sinister plan in play and she’s stuck in the crosshairs. Read more …

The Books of Our Lives: A Stack of Reads for New Grads | Article by Hank Phillippi Ryan

When Hank’s grandson graduated high school and headed off to college, her first instinct was to load him up with books, to make sure that when he was ready for them they would be there. She says, “I started listing them and each one seemed so obvious to me. I will admit I didn’t want to overthink it. I wanted to put myself in a cosmic bookstore where any book I wanted could appear.” But then she started wondering what other books she might be missing. “So, I asked some pals,” she continues, ” and gorgeously, fascinatingly, not one of the people I asked mentioned any of the same books.” The combined list is more than just some new-grad gift ideas; they reflect “the books that changed our lives.” And it’s never too late to graduate to another level. Find out which books she uncovered.

Forthcoming Anna Gomez and Kristoffer Polaha Romance Makes a Big Splash in the Big Apple | Article by BookTrib

Earlier this year, the images of romance author duo Anna Gomez and Kristoffer Polaha appeared on screen in Times Square to reveal the second book in their hit series From Kona with Love. Book one, Moments Like This, debuted in March 2021, and book two, Where the Sun Rises, is slated for early 2022 from Rosewind Books. Though connected, each installment in the series can be read as a standalone. The series falls into the genre of clean romance and is best known for its lush island backdrops and emotionally complex characters. Where the Sun Rises has been gathering buzz as one of 2022’s highly anticipated reads, so much so that our readers jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the book. Find out what all the fuss is about here.

A Historian Discovers More Than Treasure in an Old Shipwreck in “Surviving Savannah” | Review by Jodé Millman

The heartbreaking tale of the opulent steamship Pulaski and the myths about its survivors have intrigued Everly Winthrop and her best friend, Moira, since they were kids growing up in Savannah, Georgia. For the past year, though, Everly has been sleepwalking through life because of Moira’s death in a hit-and-run car accident. Having been with Moira at the time it happened, she’s plagued by guilt. So when Moira’s fiancée, Oliver, the director of the River and Seas Museum of Savannah, asks her to guest-curate an exhibition about the 1883 disaster, she reluctantly agrees. Thus begins her quest to unravel the mystery of the ill-fated voyage and its 180 passengers. As her research uncovers the fateful events leading up to the wreck and the lives of those aboard, Everly also seeks to fulfill her personal mission: finding the man behind the wheel of the car that killed Moira. Read more …

7 Recent and Upcoming Romances by Black Authors You Should Check Out | Article by Y.M. Nelson

Romance novels by Black authors don’t always get the recognition they deserve. And so we asked our reviewer Y.M. to help us shine a spotlight on this diverse but often overlooked category. “About an hour after I was asked to put together a list of Black romance authors with recent and upcoming releases,” Y.M. writes, “I had about 20 names on the list. It took a couple of days to narrow them down.” Ultimately, though, she managed to make some hard decisions and the surviving recommendations are hot, hot, hot! Not only that, of course, but “engaging,” “well-crafted” and deserving of more media attention. (Did we mention they’re also steamy hot?) Check out Y.M.’s top picks.