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TS’s Best Reads of 2021

TS’s Best Reads of 2021

This is my journey in books for 2021!

Hi everyone, TS here!  Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge that I’ve been inconsistent in my blogging/reviewing on Novel Notions this year.   I couldn’t find the energy or will or brain-power as I found myself in a new expanded role at work that has a challenging learning curve, and discovered that I enjoy cooking and baking (even embarked on sourdough) so much that I started spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

I did manage to meet my reading challenge of 100 books this year regardless, and it’s probably the most diverse year of reading that I’ve had in my entire life.   While fantasy remains my favourite genre for its sense of wonder, I found myself gravitating a lot towards mysteries this year, and also reading a lot more non-fiction.

I’ve decided to organise my best reads of 2021 a bit differently from prior years, somewhat thematically instead of the usual parameters and rankings.

And we’ll start with….

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Book Review: Leviathan Falls (The Expanse, #9) by James S.A. Corey

Book Review: Leviathan Falls (The Expanse, #9) by James S.A. Corey

Cover Illustration by: Daniel Dociu

Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Expanse (Book #9 of 9)

Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera

Pages: 543 pages (Kindle Edition)

Published: 26th March 2019 by Orbit


My last review of 2021 is for the conclusion to the first big space opera series of novels I’ve ever finished to its completion, and I’m glad it’s The Expanse.

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Book Review: Cytonic (Skyward, #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Cytonic (Skyward, #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson

My rating:  4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Skyward (Book 3 of 4)

Genre: Science fiction, young adult

Published: 23rd November 2021 by Gollancz (UK) and Delacorte Press (US)


No surprises, Cytonic was a superb read filled with brilliantly creative worldbuilding and compelling characterisation that I’ve always expected, and received, from Sanderson.

It all started with a novella that he wrote and submitted to a magazine way back before he was even published. That piece of work received an honourable mention at the Writers of the Future contest in 2003, and after substantial re-editing in 2008 won first place in the UPC Science Fiction Award in Spain, and was published in the Oct/Nov 2008 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction.  However, for the most of the past decade, most readers have only known Sanderson as a bestselling fantasy author as aside from a few short stories, he had not really written a science fiction series.  That is, not until Skyward came about – and it was just as fantastic as his fantasy writing. The fact that it’s YA took away nothing from his ability to spin the most incredibly engaging stories set in the most imaginative settings.

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Book Review: Blacklight Born (The Combat Codes Saga, #3) by Alexander Darwin

Book Review: Blacklight Born (The Combat Codes Saga, #3) by Alexander Darwin

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Cover art illustrated by: Felix Ortiz

Cover art designed by: STK.Kreations

Blacklight Born by Alexander Darwin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: The Combat Codes Saga (Book #3 of 3)

Genre: Science fiction, Dystopia, Martial Arts

Pages: 379 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 14th July 2021 by Insight Forge Press (Self-published)


To my own bafflement, I finally finished reading a series for the first time this year.

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Petrik’s Top 10 Books of the Year So Far (1st January-30th June 2021)

Petrik’s Top 10 Books of the Year So Far (1st January-30th June 2021)

Click here if you want to see the list of all the books I’ve read so far this year: Petrik’s Year in Books (2021)

Between 1st January 2021 until 30th June 2021, I’ve read and reviewed 51 books (25k pages).

Please read this first. There will be three rules I set in this list in order for me to give appreciation to more authors rather than having only a few authors hoarding this list. These rules allow me to highlight more authors, and at the same time, I’ll also be able to include both new and older books (many of them still need attention) that I read within this year.

  • Rereads aren’t included.
  • One book per author.
  • The books listed here are not all exclusively published this year; the list consists of the top books I read for the first time within this year. Non-2021 published books on this list will have their first date of publication included.

Do note that although there’s a rank to this list, I HIGHLY recommend every book/series listed below because I loved all of them immensely, and they received a rating of 4.5 or 5 out of 5 stars from me. Without further ado, here are the top 10 books I’ve read this year so far! (All full reviews of the books listed can be found on Novel Notions and my Goodreads page.)

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Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

ARC provided by Goodreads & the publisher—Scribner—in exchange for an honest review.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Historical fiction, Science fiction, Literary fiction

Pages: 656 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 28th September 2021 by Scribner


Cloud Cuckoo Land is more ambitious and complex than All the Light We Cannot See in every possible way.

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Book Review: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4) by Becky Chambers

Book Review: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4) by Becky Chambers

ARC received from the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Wayfarers (Book 4 of 4)

Genre: Science fiction

Published: 18th Feb 2021 by Hodder & Stoughton & 20th April 2021 by Harper Voyager


The Galaxy, and the Ground Within concludes Becky Chambers’ wonderfully charming science fiction series with another heartwarming story that is so characteristic of all the Wayfarers books.

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Book Review: The Last Watch (The Divide, #1) by J.S. Dewes

Book Review: The Last Watch (The Divide, #1) by J.S. Dewes

I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/petrikleo

ARC provided by the publisher—Tor Books—in exchange for an honest review.

The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: The Divide (Book #1 of 2)

Genre: Science fiction, space opera

Pages: 472 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 20th April 2021 by Tor Books


The Last Watch was good, but I believe it would work better as a movie than a novel.

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Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/petrikleo

ARC provided by Goodreads and the publishers—Ballantine Books, Cornerstone—in exchange for an honest review.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science fiction, Space Opera, Hard Sci-fi

Pages: 496 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 4th May 2021 by Ballantine Books (US) and Del Rey (UK)


Andy Weir is back with a new novel suitable for fans of The Martian.

“Stupid humanity. Getting in the way of my hobbies.”

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Book Review: Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine, #1) by Matthew Woodring Stover

Book Review: Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine, #1) by Matthew Woodring Stover

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Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Acts of Caine (Book #1 of 4)

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Grimdark, Grimdark science fantasy, Dystopia

Pages: 627 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 21st July 1998 by Del Rey (US) and 27th May 2013 by Orbit (UK)


It’s unbelievable that this insanely terrific story is hidden behind this horrific cover art. Heroes Die was absolutely bloody and glorious.

“Does it matter? When you tell a story loud enough and long enough, a story that plays right into people’s worst fears of betrayal, it grows its own truth.”

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