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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: 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: Sword and Pen (The Great Library, #5) by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Sword and Pen (The Great Library, #5) by Rachel Caine

Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Great Library (Book 5 of 5)

Genre:  Young adult, alternate history, historical fantasy, fantasy

Published: Sept 2019 by Berkley Books (US) and Allison & Busby (UK)


Much to my delight, Sword and Pen delivered a truly satisfying and emotional conclusion to The Great Library, a spectacular YA series that has earned a spot as one of my favourites.

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Book review: Spellslinger (Spellslinger, #1) by Sebastien de Castell

Book review: Spellslinger (Spellslinger, #1) by Sebastien de Castell

Cover art illustrated by: Dale Halvorsen
Interior card art illustrated by Sam Hadley

 

Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Spellslinger (Book #1 of 6)

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Fantasy

Pages: 416 pages (Hardcover edition)

Published: 4th May 2017 by Hot Key Books


Spellslinger is a highly entertaining and engrossing start to this hexalogy.

Normally when I see a promising sounding book and notice that it is YA, I immediately lower my expectations for it as I have not always had the best experience with the genre. That has steadily changed over the last few years though, as more and more YA books have surprised me. When Spellslinger quietly showed up on my radar, though, I had no such reservations. I love Sebastien de Castell’s writing that much and will give him the benefit of the doubt any day of the week, and I am thrilled to say that it did not betray my trust in the least.

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Book Review: Smoke and Iron (The Great Library, #4) by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Smoke and Iron (The Great Library, #4) by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Great Library (Book 4 of 5)

Genre:  Young adult, alternate history, historical fantasy, fantasy

Published: July 2018 by Berkley Books (US) and Allison & Busby (UK)


The best book in the series so far, Smoke and Iron gave me more than a consistently fantastic continuation in The Great Library.

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Book Review: Ash and Quill (The Great Library, #3) by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Ash and Quill (The Great Library, #3) by Rachel Caine

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Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Great Library (Book 3 of 5)

Genre:  Young adult, alternate history, historical fantasy, fantasy

Published: July 2017 by Berkley Books (US) and Allison & Busby (UK)


Immensely engaging and intense, Ash and Quill was mid-series perfection.

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Book Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library, #2) by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library, #2) by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Great Library (Book 2 of 5)

Genre:  Young adult, alternate history, historical fantasy, fantasy

Published: July 2016 by Berkley Books (US) and Allison & Busby (UK)


Another close-to-perfect read, Paper and Fire was a superb sequel in The Great Library series, one that is on track to become a favourite.

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Book Review: Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1) by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1) by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Great Library (Book 1 of 5)

Genre:  Young adult, alternate history, historical fantasy, fantasy

Published: July 2015 by Berkley Books (US) and Allison & Busby (UK)


Ink and Bone is a fantastic entry in The Great Library series that enthralled me right from the very beginning and didn’t let go.

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Book Review: The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

Book Review: The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

ARC received from publisher, Gollancz, in exchange for an honest review.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Genre: Urban fantasy, historical fantasy, young adult

Published: 24th September 2020 by Gollancz (UK) and 22nd September 2020 Katherine Tegen Books (US)


The Left-Handed Booksellers of London was an enjoyable urban fantasy romp in an alternate 1980s-London which left me wanting more from this clever and fascinating world of magical secret service booksellers.

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Book Review: Wintersong (Wintersong, #1) by S. Jae-Jones

Book Review: Wintersong (Wintersong, #1) by S. Jae-Jones


Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been in the mood for anything wintry, and this book seemed like just the thing. It’s young adult, which I’ve struggled with in the past, but I decided to give it a go anyway. I’m so glad I did, because Wintersong is a beautiful story. A retelling of the movie Labyrinth, it’s a captivating take on the Goblin King and his Underground, with music at its core.

“You are the monster I claim.”

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