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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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TS’s Top 20 Books Read in 2019

TS’s Top 20 Books Read in 2019

The featured image above was specifically designed by Felix Ortiz for Novel Notions’ Top 20 List.


Hello everyone!  This is the first time I’m listing my top reads for the year 2019.  Initially, I wanted to opt for Top 10 but having read 100 books and rated a lot between 4.5 and 5 stars, I felt that I would struggle to limit it to ten.  The parameters for my list are as follows:

  • Rereads don’t count
  • One book per author
  • Not limited to books which are released this year.  Those not published in 2019 will be specified.

With exception of #1, none of these are ranked.  I’ve merely listed them in the chronological order of when I’ve read them this year.  I’ve also included my favourite classic read of the year as we’ve started the Novel Notions Classic Club in July. All of these have been reviewed by me on Novel Notions and Goodreads.

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Book Review: Skyward (Skyward, #1)

Book Review: Skyward (Skyward, #1)

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

“Claim the stars.”

Have you ever loved an author so much that you’re actually afraid to read anything outside of the series by them you’ve come to adore? That’s how I feel about Brandon Sanderson. I love everything about his Cosmere, and all of the series that comprise it. From Mistborn to Stormlight, from Elantris to Warbreaker, he’s crafted some of the most unique magic systems I’ve ever witnessed, and I love that such wildly different series all tie into a bigger picture that is still being woven. Because of my deep adoration of the Cosmere, I’ve been hesitant to read Sanderson’s other works. I read the first Alcatraz book and thought it was fun and cute, but that’s as far as I’ve been able to go. His young adult works, The Reckoners trilogy and Skyward, gave me even more pause, because young adult is a genre that is very hit-or-miss for me. There are so many tropes that have been done to death in the YA genre: love triangles and a special girl who refuses to realize she’s special being among those most often used and happen to be my least favorites. Thankfully, neither of those were present in Skyward. Actually, there wasn’t any real romance. Which I found very refreshing for a young adult book.

“You find a way, and you defy them. For those of us who don’t have the courage.”

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Book Review: Starsight (Skyward, #2)

Book Review: Starsight (Skyward, #2)

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

My rating:  5 of 5 stars

Series: Skyward (Book 2 of 4)

Genre: Science fiction, young adult

Published: 26th November 2019 by Gollancz (UK) and Delacorte Press (US)


Starsight proves once again that Brandon Sanderson is a masterful storyteller across genres and age groups, and who simply excels at writing sequels. 

I’m actually at a loss as to how to start or write this review without sounding like a broken record. As far as I’m concerned, Sanderson is a genius and he has never failed to deliver a captivating story, whether he was writing adult or young adult, fantasy or science fiction. And after reading so much from him and listening to him talk at signings and interviews, I honestly believed that it comes from his passion in just wanting to tell good stories. Notwithstanding the excellent worldbuilding and fantastic magic systems he is so well-known for these were, first and foremost, stories about people.

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Book Review: Skyward (Skyward)

Book Review: Skyward (Skyward)

ARC provided by the publisher, Gollancz, in exchange for an honest review..

Skyward Gollancz

 

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Series: Skyward (Book 1 of 4)

Genre: Science fiction, young adult

Published:  November 6th 2018 by Gollancz (UK) and Delacorte Press (US).


Skyward is a fine example of a Young Adult novel.   Once again, I’m in awe of Sanderson who shows he is still at the top of his game.

This novel is another hallmark of Sanderson’s ability to spin the most incredible stories. He described the book as How to Train Your Dragon meets Top Gun and Enders Game. These references, however, would count for nothing if the execution was poor. Fortunately, and to solidify my unwavering faith in my favourite author, he excelled in his first full-length space opera novel.

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