The final quarter of 2021, I gobbled up a wide variety of things. Here is my top ten, with bookshop links.
[A Phoenix First Must Burn]( https://bookshop.org/books/a-phoenix-first-must-burn-sixteen-stories-of-black-girl-magic-resistance-and-hope/9781984835659) Edited by Patrice Caldwell – One of those anthologies where my enjoyment was from like to love. All different kinds of fantasy.
[Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life]( https://bookshop.org/books/hooked-how-crafting-saved-my-life-9781538734285/9781538734285) by Sutton Foster – While for my tastes, there was less singing than I might have hoped in this memoir of a life through the crafts that kept her company in some of those big moments, it was still a really enjoyable throughline, seeing how crafting was there in the good times and the bad. Content note: Discussions of anxiety, agoraphobia, difficult family relationships.
[Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement]( https://bookshop.org/books/unbound-my-story-of-liberation-and-the-birth-of-the-me-too-movement/9781250621733) by Tarana Burke –
Content warnings of course for discussions of sexual assault. Reminder that RAINN has resources here: The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7: Telephone: 800.656.HOPE (4673) Online chat: [online.rainn.org](https://hotline.rainn.org/online) Español: [rainn.org/es](https://rainn.org/es)
This book is a fascinating reflection of Burke’s life, and also her recognition of the systems keeping folks of marginalized genders in a trap where good people follow rules and therefore assault only happens to folks who have broken rules, and the power and limits of trending on social media for something that requires incredible care to create safe spaces for emotional processing.
[Iron Widow]( https://bookshop.org/books/iron-widow/9780735269934) by Xiran Jay Chao just grabbed me with is angry vengeful main character who has a plan to fight back against this stupid unfair world that, well, goes better than anyone expected. Also there are smoochies.
[It Goes Like This](https://bookshop.org/books/it-goes-like-this/9781250767486) by Miel Moreland – I wanted to hug this book. Many of you know I love angsty band members, but what if a teen band broke big, broke up, but then had to reunite, and now there’s all the angst together in the same room! Also, the use of snippets of the tumblr fandom to sneak in a lot of the backstory was just so cleverly done.
[Hairpin Curves](https://bookshop.org/books/hairpin-curves-an-lgbtq-romance/9781335146656) by Elia Winters is also about folks reunited on a road trip, and maybe their friend break up was because there were some more than friends feelings, and maybe all this forced proximity is going to have all those feelings spilling everywhere.
[Undue Influence](https://bookshop.org/books/undue-influence-a-persuasion-retelling/9781775376828) by Jenny Holiday is a Persuasion retelling I’ve been saving for a good weekend, and finally broke into and was rewarded with a delightful version set in modern times, in upstate New York, with two guys who maybe separated and are now back in the same town and maybe all those feelings are still there.
(Yes, I am noticing a theme here. Apparently I was very much in a let’s detonate all those feelings mood.)
[The Midnight Bargain](https://bookshop.org/books/the-midnight-bargain-9781645660293/9781645660071) by C.L. Polk was just amazing. In a world with both corsets and magic, getting married means giving up your magic for a while, and so our heroine is trying to have a season that won’t embarrass her family but won’t actually result in marriage, and has been dabbling in a little demon possession to assist this goal, except what if there is a very hot, very rich guy, who is actually in love with her?
[Rise to the Sun](https://bookshop.org/books/rise-to-the-sun-9781432891688/9781338662238) by Leah Johnson – A music festival. Friends who have made an I definitely will not fall in love this weekend pact. Except what if there are two very hot people there. And for reasons they have to band together to win a prize.
[Amelia Westlake Was Never Here]( https://bookshop.org/books/amelia-westlake-was-never-here/9780316450683) by Erin Gough – was a fun rule breaker and rule abider come up with an amusing idea for a cartoon about some of the things going on about school, and they attribute it to Amelia Westlake. And then well, as they secretly plot more, they maybe also discover they have more in common than they thought. Or enough to want to kiss each other.