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Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy, #1) by Katherine Arden

Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy, #1) by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Winternight Trilogy (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy

Pages: 370 pages (Kindle Edition)

Published: 10th January 2017 by Del Rey (US) & 12th January 2017 by Del Rey (UK)


I enjoyed reading this debut. The Bear and the Nightingale is an atmospheric read with a likable main character.

Similar to Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, one of the reasons I wanted to read The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is because I want to imagine how it feels to live in the wintery season. Actually, on that note, if you love Spinning Silver, I think you should give this novel a try as well; there are a lot of similarities between the two books, though I liked Spinning Silver more. But back on point. As someone who lived in a tropical country all his life, winter, snow, or cold seasons are pretty close to being fantasy weather for me. I wanted to read a fantasy book that will make me feel this experience, and with the combination of cold air conditioners, I got what I wanted from reading The Bear and the Nightingale.

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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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Petrik’s Top 20 Books of the Year (2021)

Petrik’s Top 20 Books of the Year (2021)

This list is also available on my Booktube Channel if that’s what you preferred: https://youtu.be/wZY-JG9HUgQ

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)

It’s that time of the year again, y’all. 2021 is ending in a week. This year, I managed to read 130 books. This number includes 72 traditionally published books, 21 self-published/indie books, 37 manga volumes (I’ve read so many more manga volumes but I’ve decided to only include 37 here.)

In comparison to the previous years, whether it’s by pages count or the number of books, this is my lowest reading performance so far. There are details behind this reason, but really when it comes down to it, it’s because this is the first full year I became a Booktuber. In addition to reading and writing reviews, now I also record, edit, and upload videos to my YouTube Channel. My reading “performance” definitely suffers because of it, but not going to lie, I’m happy to make that sacrifice. As for the quality of the books I read, this is another incredible reading year, so let’s get to it immediately. As usual, I will be applying a few rules into this list:

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 20 books I’ve read in 2021! (All full reviews of the books listed can be found on Novel Notions and my Goodreads page

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Book Review: A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe, #1) by P. Djeli Clark

Book Review: A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe, #1) by P. Djeli Clark

Review copy provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Dead Djinn Universe (Book #1)

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Steampunk

Pages: 401 pages (UK Kindle edition)

Published: 11st May 2021 by Orbit (UK) and TorDotCom (US)


There’s a lot of praises for A Master of Djinn online, and I can certainly understand why.

“Rich people always have enemies. Usually, that’s how they became rich.”

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Book Review: The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Book Review: The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo


The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, Tordotcom, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was immediately intrigued when I heard that a fantasy retelling of The Great Gatsby told from Jordan Baker’s perspective was in the works. I’ve always been fascinated by The Great Gatsby, both by the characters and Fitzgerald’s writing style. It’s not the most accessible of novels, despite its brevity, but there’s something magnetic about it, much as there is that same special magnetism surrounding the title character himself. I was very interested in seeing how these characters translated in the hands of another, with magic added to the mix. The author did a pretty great job capturing the tone and feel of the original while still making the story their own.

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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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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: 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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