Archives

Top 10 Books of 2021 (+ Book Stats)

Long time no see, blogosphere!

I’d like to blog more this summer (possibly with some book reviews coming your way every Friday? *fingers crossed that I get them written*), and since I never actually posted a wrapup of 2021’s reading . . . well, here we are at last!

Hush, I know we’re 7 months into the next year. A wizard is never late.

Before we get into a list of my top favorites, first . . . a few reading stats in the form of my new favorite thing, pie charts!

(Feel free to skip past the stats and get straight to the books!)

(I just love keeping track of stats.)

(Carry on.)

STATS

Shocking no one, I read a lot of fantasy… But the amount of modern fantasy DOES surprise me; I blame City Between and some (lovely) books I copyedited.
I apparently read a lot of things that are not technically novels…but at least slightly over half of them are! There was also a jump in graphic novels, which I hadn’t done much with before this last year.
This is one I was very curious about, because I don’t feel like I read a lot “for fun” — I’m proven wrong!
Massive jump for audiobooks last year!
This is also very interesting to me, just to see how many re-reading I do. (“Multiple times” reads were mostly books I copyedited.)

I am slightly addicted to pie-charts. XD I did these with a Google Form inspired by Kendra E. Ardnek’s book wrapups. But I’ve since learned how to use pie charts in Google Docs and have been tracking all my current reads this year in real time in a spreadsheet. So I should hopefully have some cool stats at the end of the year. ^_^

(Books I read in 2021 which I have in physical form. Top shelf on the left: books I copyedited. Top shelf on the right: re-reads. Middle shelf: general new-to-me novels. Lowest shelf: graphic novels, picture books, anthologies [including Fantastical Moments by Erudessa Gentian, which I copyedited and is small with no readable title on the side], another book with no readable spine, and nonfiction.)

Some numbers

  • 95 total things read (I hesitate to say “books” but anyway. XD)
  • 44 new-to-me novels
  • 15 comics/graphic novels
  • 14 novellas/novelettes/short stories
  • 7 re-reads
  • 4 short story collections
  • 4 non-fiction books
  • 4 picture books
  • 3 poetry or play

And now . . .

Here are the best of the best new-to-me reads I consumed in 2021!

(Gotta say, there are a lot of swords and pointed ears featured here, and I am here for it.)

TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2021

Wrought of Silver and Ravens + Wrought of Serpent and Snow (E. J. Kitchens)

This series is EVERYTHING, I tell you! I adored the first book with its Twelve Dancing Princesses story, its ancient-Greek flavor of a fantasy world, brilliant worldbuilding and magic systems, and most of all the CHARACTERS! These characters, though! I could rattle off the entire cast on a favorites list. Then the sequel was EVEN BETTER, which I didn’t think possible, and was just sheer perfection, IMO. Some of the most delightful books I’ve ever read, and I highly recommend them! The stunning writing, skillful fantasy, whimsical humor/camaraderie/dialogue of the characters, and Galen, Athdar, Breccan, Murray, Floraison, Ayrton, the magical lion cubs . . . I told you I could go on forever but I’ll stop now. πŸ˜‰ All of it is just sheer excellence and I cannot recommend these books enough!

Blood of the Seer (C. M. Banschbach)

Aaahh, this book! I adored the first book (Oath of the Outcast) and this one takes everything up a notch. It’s full of so many fabulous things like brothers, snark, much stabbiness, Celtic fantasy vibes, a band of outlaws, redemption, and several favorite characters — particularly a certain Mountain Baron, Rhys MacDuffy (don’t let him catch you saying his name, though), who’s a character I’ve dubbed my “Smol Floof of Anger Management Issues” and . . . yeah. *grinning* Rhys and his story are life! I adore him and this book, and I highly recommend this duology! Plus, there were some great twists for some side characters, especially that epilogue — OH MY WORD. I just cannot with this book. It’s SO GOOD. (Read my review here!)

In the Land of the Everliving (Stephen R. Lawhead)

I’m planning to review this second book and also the final book (In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows) of the Eirlandia trilogy soon. This series set in ancient Ireland has been a massive homecoming for me, and when I say they mean a lot to me, that’s quite an understatement. Mr. Lawhead’s writing, characters, and world together form a magnificent story, and I wanted to LIVE in these books. After reading each one, and ever since, they echo in my mind — “We’re your home,” they say. Book 3 will be going on 2022’s top reads, for sure, and book 2 was another fabulous Celtic fantasy from last year’s reads. In the Land of the Everliving was a fabulous center book of Conor mac Ardan’s trilogy in this green and magical land my heart aches for. (Review of book one.)

Sing To Me of Rain (E. B. Dawson)

This book! It’s the most delightfully whimsical tale full of all the best kind of fantastic things, from a certain fox (aahh!) to a tiny mermaid-like naiad to trees with flaming leaves to pangolins . . . It’s both deep and fun and is such a heartfelt book that had a huge impact on me. It’s like George MacDonald meets Studio Ghibli and I could just LIVE in this gorgeous setting of exotic locales with this whimsical cast of characters on a journey figurative and literal. Plus, you will never look at rain the same again. I JUST ADORE IT and it’s the best middle grade fantasy I’ve read in a couple of years, so I was extra ecstatic this last weekend to find out it won the Middle Grade Realm Award! SO deserved and I hope more people will discover this beautiful little book and experience it like I have! *all the heart eyes* (Read my review here!)

Pretense (Tara Grayce)

This one is here because Edmund and Jalissa finally get their own story in this wonderful elven/human series featuring our very own Farrendel and Essie. I adore this series and elf/steampunk world and these characters, and I was blown away by Edmund and Jalissa’s adventure full of twists and spy-shenanigans and court intrigue and secrets and ups and downs. Edmund’s been one of my favorites from the beginning, and it was amazing to get his story at last! And, of course, Farrendel and Essie are still being amazing and adorable, and the other characters are still fabulous. A favorite series, for sure. It just…it is such a comfort-read series for me!

Stolen Midsummer Bride (Tara Grayce)

I know, another Tara Grayce book, but this one was just so whimsical and delightful and it made me so happy! The magical world, the library, the semi-sentient cottage, the Door, Buddy the Talking Equine Companion (he’s a pony, but he’s marvelous), and of course our mild-mannered librarian Basil the fae who meets up with spitfire human Meg. The fae courts and Midsummer Night’s Dream twists just made it more delightful. It may not be for everyone but it was just the whimsical read I needed last spring and the hall of doors has actually helped inspire a new organizational system for my writing. The magical things like the cottage and Door made me think of House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, too!

Truesilver (DJ Edwardson)

This one I technically read in 2020 (since I copyedited it), but it hadn’t been published yet when I did my 2020 book wrapup, sooo I’m adding it to 2021’s favorite reads since it didn’t get to go in the previous year’s . . . and I simply can’t pass up including this amazing book on a top-favorites list! It’s an excellent tale and I love it so, so much! Ranger’s Apprentice meets the Wingfeather Saga, with a dash of Prydain, in this masterfully woven tale featuring a sentient sword (eep!). The bright threads of a lush, original world and the whimsy, humor, and peril at turns all twine together to tell the story of a cast of colorful characters who stole my heart. ^_^ (Read my full review here!)

Into the Heartless Wood (Joanna Ruth Meyer)

This author’s books always enchant me and this lusciously written novel was no exception! I adored the Welsh-type names and the haunting woods and dash of technology (like trains) and the heartfelt story of family (like all a certain big brother will do for his little sister), but I especially loved the heartrending love story of a tree siren girl and a cinnamon roll of a character named Owen. Owen and Seren! Be still my heart. (Okayyy, I’ll stop with the heart words! But I seriously “heart” this book…) It’s just such a rich, enthralling tale and I breathed each poetic word of this story which is like a bright star in the dark woods. Fans of Echo North or of the Maleficent movie should love this one. πŸ™‚ (Read my review here!)

ALSO. If you haven’t read it, be sure to pick up the paperback edition of Into the Heartless Wood because the paperback (which released this year) has an exclusive short story in the back which is sort of like an extended epilogue, and I just read that this month (yay for birthday giftcards), and aaaahhh it was everything my heart needed! *happy tears*

Moonscript (H. S. J. Williams)

There are two (main) reasons for this book being here and they are: ERRANCE and ELVES! I adore elf books after having grown up on The Silmarillion (I don’t even want to know how many times I read it before I was even a teen and during my teen years too), so this book makes me ALL THE HAPPY. The characters were all AMAZING and I just adored so many of them (Rendar and Coren, anyone?), and all the different locations were sooo cool. Just. Such a rich world. And then there’s Errance and I’m basically him but he’s also really, really cool, so there’s that. XD The epicness and humor and character moments and aching and darkness defeated by redemption and light were just so inspiring! I just really enjoyed it.

I feel like this was an exceptional year for my top-ten reads. ^_^ Just. Look at themmm!

FAVORITES IN NON-NOVEL CATEGORIES

My favorite . . .

(image from latest C. M. Banschbach newsletter; of course I can’t predict if it stays, but!)
  • Short Story: Birth of a Soldier (C. M. Banschbach) — This is available (at the moment, at least) on Claire’s newsletter and is an ABSOLUTELY PERFECT short story about when Rhys/the Baron was young and — MY HEART. T_T
  • Re-read: Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones) — I actually tried the audiobook, and at 2x speed I quite enjoyed it. ^_^
  • Poetry: We Are Storm and Starlight (Sarah Delena White) — I’ll read anything she writes and this was gorgeous!
  • Non-fiction: Trusting God When You’re Struggling (C. E. White) — I just really enjoyed this one. πŸ™‚
  • Graphic Novels: I can’t decide! I really enjoyed the middle grade steampunk duology City of Secrets/City of Illusion by Victoria Ying, and the superhero-dating-a-supervillain (do they know it? No, they don’t. XD) series Flying Sparks by Jon Del Arroz, and the post-apocalyptic duology Eden and The Aftermath by Skillet. They were all really different but really cool. I’m kind of new to graphic novels, so. XD (They’re all clean, as far as I remember, though there’s of course some violence in the superhero and post-apoc ones.)

Leave a comment and make my day! Have you read any of these?

Wrapup: #MarchMagics 2022

March has wended its way to the end so it’s time to see how my #MarchMagics went . . .

It was an excellent one! Books were read, re-read, and listened to, a film was watched, pictures were taken, and I even had a Howl’s-Moving-Castle-ish birthday!

(Thanks as always to Kristen at WeBeReading for hosting March Magics, a celebration of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett!)

BOOKS READ

(Yes, my new adorable otter stamps had to feature in this pic because of Going Postal.)

In my March Magics post with my TBR for the month I mentioned what I hoped to read, so . . . how did it go?

Fairly well, I’d say!

The themes for my reading this month turned out to be Moist von Lipwig for the Pratchett books, and the Magids for Diana Wynne Jones books. Two of each!

  • Going Postal (Terry Pratchett) — This was SO MUCH FUN and I will never look at stamps the same way again. Moist von Lipwig is a delightful con-artist of a hero and I really enjoyed his POV. His parts facing off against Lord Vetinari are the BEST. Their back-and-forth of wits is excellent. XD I generally had a blast with this one and I’m so glad I finally read it! Definitely a new favorite Discworld book.
  • Making Money (Terry Pratchett) — I had planned to read a different Pratchett but instead dived straight into this sequel to Going Postal because it was on audio and I wasn’t ready to leave Moist behind yet. It wasn’t quite as fun as the first one but was still mostly enjoyable, and again, all the Moist and Vetinari parts were gold, no pun intended. XD
  • Deep Secret (Diana Wynne Jones) — This was a reread which I THOROUGHLY enjoyed! It was back in 2016 that I first read this one, and it was delightful to rediscover! Multiple worlds, centaurs, a fantasy convention, and several delightful characters. I loved it so much and it was my first “for-fun” read (not counting audiobooks) in quite awhile and I just SO enjoyed getting to curl up with a wonderful book and look forward to each night of reading. ^_^ (Yes, it’s a pretty dark one in several respects, but aside from that it’s excellent!)
  • The Merlin Conspiracy (Diana Wynne Jones) — So I’m not quite sure if I’m allowed to list this one, but I’m about a third done my re-read so I guess I’ll include it. πŸ˜‰ I had no idea I’d forgotten so much of this one from my first read several years back, so I’m having a blast re-discovering it! Different worlds and Nick and Roddy and all the things. I’m looking forward to finishing this re-read soon (especially to get to the elephant and more of Romanov!!), but I did make a fair bit of progress on it!

I listened to Going Postal and Making Money in audiobook format on Scribd and had a blast! (If you’re interested, you can sign up for two free months on this audiobook subscription site through my link which gets me a free month as well.)

BOOKS NOT READ

I haven’t FINISHED The Merlin Conspiracy but I’ll do that soon. A re-read of the two Magid books (Deep Secret and The Merlin Conspiracy) has been something I’ve been meaning to do for years so I’m so pleased to have finally gotten to (most of) it!)

I also did not manage to read Feet of Clay, sadly, which was on my TBR, but I did read two Pratchett books which was my goal (even if one of them wasn’t planned) so I’ll just have to read this one another time! I do really want to read more Vimes books, for sure, but I guess this month was a Moist von Lipwig month. XD (I also need to get my hands on the third Moist book at some point.)

WATCHED

Going Postal (2010) — After I read Going Postal, I had a blast watching this TV adaption of it. (Just two 90-minute episodes which I watched on IMDB TV/my Amazon for free.) At first it seemed like a pretty good adaption, but still felt rather different than the book in tone and some of the characters/plot ended up a bit different, plus it was less funny… I definitely preferred the book BUT it was still still very well done and enjoyable, and such fun just to see it brought to life on the screen!

INSTAGRAM

I posted a few pics related to March Magics over on my Instagram this last month. Here are some.

My TBR
I posted about House of Many Ways and a book that reminds me of it because of Twinkle. XD
My Diana Wynne Jones collection!

I think I’ve finally collected all of DWJ’s books (with the exception of some short stories, plays, her first basically-unattainable novel Changeover, none of which I’ve read, and the picture book Yes, Dear, which I HAVE read from a library but haven’t collected yet).

The top shelf and beginning of the second shelf are the main collection, and the rest of the books (after the facing-out Howl book) are other editions/copies.

You can see close-ups for the titles in my Instagram post here, and you can also see a video I posted of said shelf tour here!

A Very Howl Birthday

(An English Cream Cake my sister made me for my birthday)

My sister made me a Howl-themed birthday celebration during March! Bacon (“I hope your bacon burns!” XD) and eggs for breakfast. An amazing homemade English Cream Cake because of the cream cake from Cesari’s in the book. She said the chocolate I received could stand for logs for Calcifer. It wasn’t part of the theme on purpose, but a green shamrock shake which was minty and delicious could have been for green slime (in a good way)! XD I even had a minor cold for my actual birthday (and celebrated later) so that was a very Howl thing, the parts in the book where he’s “having a head cold like a drama queen,” as his author said, being some of my favorite parts. XD So of course I had to re-read those bits for my birthday in solidarity. πŸ˜‰

Isn’t this Howl’s Moving Castle “I think we ought to live happily ever after” sticker by Beth Wangler Art amazing? I think it’s adorable! (You can find prints and stickers of this art in her shop or her Etsy!)


All in all, this March Magics was a delight and I thoroughly enjoyed the reading, listening, watching, photographing, cake-ing, and celebrating that I did for Diana Wynne Jones-y and Pratchett-y things! ^_^

In that respect, and for me at least, March was, indeed, Magical. ❀

#MarchMagics 2022 TBR

Happy March! (Well, tomorrow . . .)

Every year since discovering it, I love joining the blog event #MarchMagics (hosted by Kristen at We Be Reading) to celebrate the works of Diana Wynne Jones (one of my favorite authors!) and of Terry Pratchett.

I have a whole DWJ page here on my blog, so . . . yeah. πŸ˜‰

This March is particularly special for me, since it will mark ten years since I read my very first Diana Wynne Jones novel, Howl’s Moving Castle. Reading it specifically in March was a coincidence, too, since I wasn’t even blogging at the time, but I do find it to be excessively fitting.

Anyway, if I find the time, perhaps I shall do a Howl-type post later this month to commemorate a decade of being a Diana Wynne Jones fan. πŸ˜‰


Meanwhile! The point of this post. My TBR for March Magics this year.

Last year, I finished my final new-to-me DWJ books (aside from some possible short stories, plays, and her first book which isn’t children’s fantasy and is virtually impossible to find; ANYWAY), an accomplished but bittersweet feeling, which leaves me with just re-reads for her books. But re-reads are always a DELIGHT with her books!

So here we are in March and my TBR is . . .

  • Deep SecretRe-read. One of DWJ’s darker, more adult novels, this one was nevertheless a fascinating read and it’s one I’ve been meaning to re-read for awhile, particularly because of the world-hopping aspects. (Call it “research” for one of my own WIPs.) So I’m looking forward to this one! And I at last have a gorgeous copy of my own, so. Also, centaurs!
  • The Merlin Conspiracy Re-read. The companion novel to Deep Secret, this is the second of the “Magids” books but is extremely different than the first book. I remember finding it great fun, and loving the elephant and Romanov the enchanter and so forth. I can’t wait. *grin*
  • Feet of Clay — I’m working on Pratchett’s City Watch sub-series of the Discworld series, so this one is the next. Because I need more Vimes. XD Guards! Guards! was the first book I read of Pratchett’s, for my very first March Magics, and I read the second book last March, so this third one feels quite fitting.
  • Going Postal — Along with Guards! Guards!, I remember this one being recommended to me by Sarah Pennington (check out her fabulous blogs here and here), and I’ve been determined to read it ever since. It sounds like a blast. So I’m hoping this is the year! I actually hope to listen to it on audiobook, since Scribd has this one available!*

*Scribd is an audiobook (and ebook) subscription site which I ADORE because audiobooks let me read while getting other stuff done, and the monthly cost isn’t terrible.

If you enjoy audiobooks and haven’t checked out Scribd, you can get two free months by using my link and I’d get a free month too.

So! That’s my official March Magics TBR.

Two DWJ re-reads. Two Pratchett new reads.

Four books.


If I can get through those, I might pick up another audiobook or two on Scribd if I have more time . . . And I’ve been itching to re-read the Dalemark Quartet and the last two Chrestomanci books, so . . . those are possible followups. But I do seem to overestimate how much I’ll be able to read, so I’m keeping the official list to four, for my own sanity. *nervous laughter*

I’m QUITE excited for these two new-to-me Pratchetts and this Diana Wynne Jones double re-read. Hurrah for March Magics!


I’m also hoping to post a bit for #MarchMagics on my Instagram but haven’t planned my month out yet so here’s hoping . . .

Let me know in a comment if you’ve read any of these! And if you’re participating by reading any Diana Wynne Jones or Pratchett books this month! πŸ™‚

#MarchMagics Wrapup 2021

Just a quick wrapup post, revisiting the Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett adventures I got up to this last month for March Magics! (Hosted by WeBeReading)

READ AND WATCHED

  • A re-watch of Howl’s Moving Castle (because why not!) — The book is still my favorite, but the film is so cozy and fun and I love it too. It makes me smile, and this time was no exception. It’s also interesting watching it again now that I’ve been watching some other Ghibli films, which was not the case last year!
  • Witch’s Business (a.k.a. Wilkin’s Tooth) by Diana Wynne Jones — I guess this was her earliest children’s book? It kind of shows and was a little different but I enjoyed it, particularly the shenanigans about halfway through when I started getting used to the adventure (as usually happens. XD), and the nods to Puss in Boots which must have been a favorite of hers, since she once wrote a retelling of it and also referenced it for the finale. *grin, grin* Don’t start a revenge business — it won’t go well. XD (Particularly when there’s a mean witch trying to stop you.) Anyway, it has the signature DWJ twistiness and shenanigans and was a bit of a shorter read but I enjoyed it. Reminded me a little of Eight Days of Luke.
  • The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones — This was my last DWJ to read that I’d never read before, so it was a bittersweet moment… Some of it was creepier than I prefer, and knowing some things about her childhood made other parts rather disturbing (as I suspected they would) but the mystery was sooo interesting and I was on the edge of my seat wanting to find out what was going on. There were so many fascinating twists, which I adored discovering. The title, like I vaguely suspected, is slightly misleading. Bwahaha. And I was delighted by certain time-related things! Anyway, certainly darker than many of her books, and I can’t say I particularly recommend it (unless, like me, you’ve read pretty much all her books and are used to the strangeness and want to give it a shot), but I’m glad I finally read it. (PLUS, what was with that barrow bit near the end, which I vaguely feel was a Hexwood or Arthurian reference or something??) Some things reminded me of Fire and Hemlock, too.
  • Men At Arms by Terry Pratchett — Since Guards! Guards! was my very first Discworld novel, it was delightful to come back to this Night Watch subseries. I usually find that in Pratchetts there’s a subplot or character that I just don’t care much about, and this was no exception (plus, there was a death I didn’t see coming and like…I was a little annoyed), BUT aside from a couple of things I disliked and threads I didn’t care about, I did really enjoy this one! Vimes is amazing and Carrot and Vetinari are certainly iiinteresting and there were some fascinating goings-on! There were clever bits and hilarious bits and surprisingly epic bits, and I for some reason wasn’t expecting much so overall I had a blast. Not one to start on, but anyway. I think I missed the Night Watch! Here’s hoping I continue the series. (VIMES, though! All of the Vimes parts were gold.)

I’d say these were two of my less-favorite Diana Wynne Jones books, but I expected that as I’ve been reading the ones that interested me more, so naturally the last two I picked up would be less-favorites. But I always find things to like in a DWJ, even the scarier ones. XD

I’ve finally finished reading all her books, so I feel somewhat accomplished! (Her adult novel Changeover is practically impossible to find, and I may have missed a scattering of little things like short stories. But otherwise, I’ve read all her books now at last.)

And March is always my Pratchett month, and I was happy to get back to the Night Watch, even if it wasn’t my favorite aside from Vimes and Certain Epic Things.

And I’ll take any excuse to re-watch Howl’s Moving Castle — or to re-read the book (though I’m saving that for sometime when I need a comfort read, since I do tend to read it every year).

But look at me, complaining! *smacks self* These were all minor complaints and I did really enjoy getting the chance to read some Jones and Pratchett and overall had a blast! So yes, it was a good March Magics, overall, I’d say!

BLOG POSTS

Other March Magics posts I made this month:

INSTAGRAM

I also posted a shelfie pic of my DWJ collection over on Instagram. My current collection!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I did not find the time, in my busy March, to re-read the Magid duology (Deep Secret and The Merlin Conspiracy), which I’m sliiightly disappointed about.

Nor did I find time to finish reading Wintersmith, which I did, however, manage to at least start.

All the same, it was a lovely March Magics! I enjoyed the adventures I was able to go on. ^_^

Did you read any Diana Wynne Jones or Terry Pratchett in March? Let me know in a comment! Thanks for reading!

Top 14 (ish) Reads of 2020

In which Deborah over-uses the word “delightful” approximately 987348749 times. February’s not too late to have a 2020 bookish wrapup, right? *cough*

Of course I have to share my favorite reads of last year (in several categories . . . so, yes, there’s more than 14!), so let’s get to it!

According to my Goodreads, I read 100 books! (A few more on my personal list, but hey, unpublished etc. things don’t quite count. :P) Yes, many of them were shorter, but anyhoo.

Here are some stats:

  • 32 new-to-me novels
  • 21 novellas/quick reads
  • 12 re-reads
  • 10 short stories
  • 7 picture books
  • 6 non-fiction
  • 5 anthologies
  • 4 graphic novels/comics
  • 3 audiobooks
  • Total: 100 books

And here are the reviews I posted here last year:

TOP NEW READS OF 2020

  • Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows (Arthur Daigle) — Well, that made it to my top-five-favorite books of all time! Jayden and Dana are some of my favorite characters EVER and I’ve talked about short stories of theirs on the blog here before, but they are finally released in a novel form and I’ve now read it four times and just never get tired of it! I’m hoping to review it this week. I just can’t put into words how much I love it! Jayden’s one of my favorite characters ever (an elegant enchanter with anger management issues but a burning heart for justice) and Dana is just as marvelous (this sturdy girl is #goals) and they make an EPIC duo. The book is just SO FUNNY but also epic and the humor and world and snark all blend together to form one of my favorite books ever. Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Discworld, or Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold.
  • Winter Spell (Claire M. Banschbach) — This wintry tale is perfection and has some of my favorite characters, pair-ups, and world-building ever! Plus we have ice and water magic, different faeries, a dash of romance, an epic buddy story on the side, and Northern Lights. What is not to love? Tonya, Princess Diane, August, and of course Dorian all wrapped themselves around my heart and won’t let go. I love it so, so much!
  • In the Region of the Summer Stars (Stephen R. Lawhead) — This Celtic fantasy felt like coming home and swept me into a world of ancient Ireland that I’d been longing for without remembering that I was. It’s a marvelous adventure with warriors, horses, boats, druids, fae, and our hero Conor, all in the stunning hills and coasts of Eirlandia. It’s fantastic and I really need to finish reading the series — hopefully soon!
  • Between Floors (W.R. Gingell)note: this is book 3; starts with Between Jobs — I’ve been quite enjoying the City Between series, urban fantasy set in modern Tasmania with fae etc., and this was my favorite yet, because Athelas is my faaave! (And Zero. And just all of it.) I love the humor and the snark! Pet and her Psychos are just such fun. I’m reading them aloud with my siblings and the voices are a blast to do. *grinning*
  • Fierce Heart/War Bound/Death Wind/Elf Prince (Tara Grayce) — I’m just lumping them all together because I feel like it’s one story, Farrendel and Essie’s story, and I love iiit. (I think my favorite is War Bound, but they all go together. ;)) Farrendel is the bessst cinnamon roll elf, and I love Essie and her brothers (Edmund, though!) and all the humor and sweet romance and banter and epicness. They’re just a lot of fun (and feels)!
  • The New Emperor’s Concerto (Hazel B. West) — A fabulous swashbuckling buddy story set in futuristic London, this felt like a fun action movie and was equal parts humorous and epicly exciting. Lysander and Flynn forever! And everyone needs a Sinclair (the butler). It was so wonderfully BRITISH and I adored it. Also, all the Pratchett references.
  • Cry of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse)note: book 3; starts with Mark of the Raven — An amazing conclusion to a trilogy with books that have been on my top-favorites list each year — there’s a reason I cosplayed as Selene. πŸ˜‰ Just a really wonderful fantasy trilogy, and Selene and Damien and wyverns and the gifts/elements and THAT SCENE NEAR THE END WITH THE FLOWER, AAHH! MY HEART. I just loved how it wrapped up!
  • continued —
Between Jobs is standing in for Between Floors since I sadly don’t have a paperback of that one (yet!)
  • An Echo of the Fae (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt) — This selkie/fae, winter/summer novel is like a perfect summer day. I loved it so much! A fae summer adventure with a dash of Rapunzel, some selkie mysteries, a determined heroine in our young Echo, delightful side characters and creatures — including mini dragons! — it’s just a delight all-around and it makes me smile.
  • The Changeling Sea (Patricia A. McKillip) — I can’t even describe this book! *shrieks* It was a totally unexpected amazing book, which I picked up on a whim, and it was absolutely delightful and like an original fairy tale, all enchantments and mysterious princes and magic and the sea and a magician and a girl and a little village. Descriptions fail me but it was a lovely little book!
  • The Geppetto Codex (Kyle Robert Shultz)note: book 5; starts with The Beast of Talesend — Gareth the mild-mannered, nervous faun, and Sylvia, the hotheaded dryad, pair up to go up against terrifying puppets in 1920s fantasy Venice — and yes, it’s just as fun and wacky and thrilling and hilarious as that sounds. *grin, grin* If you haven’t tried out this Afterverse adventure yet, you’re missing out. Also, amazing prologue and epilogues which have bits of our favorites, Nick and Cordelia! *flailing*
  • Midnight for a Curse (E.J. Kitchens) — A truly delightful Beauty and the Beast novel, with humor and feels and gorgeousness, mysteries and fun characters, and a wonderful dream-aspect that I super enjoyed! Also, what would happen if the Beat didn’t actually want to be un-cursed? Bwahaha. This one was so much fun and made me happy.
  • Emberhawk (Jamie Foley) — I adored her Sentinel trilogy so I was super curious about this set in the same world at a previous time. It was fun! I loved seeing more of Felix (sly snarky fox!) and Ryon’s story and all the other characters, and the woods and adventures and the treetop city! Also, Lysander forever! (Yes, there’s a Lysander in two of my favorite books this year. It must be a Lysander year.)
  • Thief of Time (Terry Pratchett) — Probably my favorite Pratchett since Mort, Guards Guards, and The Wee Free Men. This was a fabulous conclusion to the Death series and I so enjoyed all the timey-wimey things in it and Susan and just most of it in general.
  • The Islands of Chaldea (Diana Wynne Jones) — I’ve been curious to read this one for a long time, as it’s one Diana Wynne Jones’s sister completed. I quite enjoyed it! It had a Celtic feel and a hot air balloon and yeah, fun as always! I’m nearly out of new-to-me DWJ reads, so it was a delight to read this one last March Magics. (I’ll have to do something for that this year too if I can find time.)

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Here are two books that I simply HAVE to mention, because despite not making it onto my personal top favorites, simply for personal preference reasons, they still absolutely BLEW ME AWAY and everyone must know about them. *grinning*

  • Beyond the Shadowed Earth (Joanna Ruth Meyer) — Y’all, I adore this author’s books, and I was SO impressed with this story! STUNNING and amazingly well done! A bit dark for my personal taste but I was super impressed with the character arc and loved a lot of what I got out of it. And the Silmarillion vibes near the end were a delight. Yeah, it was wow.
  • Ahab (E.B. Dawson) — Aside from a bittersweet/borderline-tragic ending which (personally) I couldn’t handle, this book is definitely one of my favorites of the year! Everything except the last couple of chapters, basically, were ABSOLUTE PERFECTION so of course I have to shout it out! Ahab and Starbuck are LIFE and this Moby Dick retelling set in space is just gorgeous and brilliant and the best aside from some sadness. XD If you can handle some sad, READ IT. IT’S SO GOOD.

BEST QUICK READS/NOVELLAS

Sometimes shorter reads and novellas don’t make it to best-of lists because they’re a little too short to pack quite the punch, which is somewhat unfair and I feel like they deserve their own category since they seem like a different category than novels… So I’m shouting out my favorite novellas/shorter books, because I read quite a few and these were the most amazing! (Not to mention fabulous if you only have a brief amount of time to consume a story.)

  • All That Glimmers (Selina J. Eckert) — An incredible modern fantasy Rumpelstiltskin story. This is one of many seasonal fairy tale retelling novellas by this author, all of which stand alone. The “Rumpelstiltskin” character in this is a mysterious fae (I love him!), and the heroine and her best friend (who has antlers!) are college students who get swept into the fae world and must heal from loss and discover fae secrets. It was just lovely. ^_^
  • Hand of Steel & The Deathhorn (Jessi L. Roberts) — These are space opera sci-fi adventures with worldbuilding/creatures I absolutely adore. I don’t read much sci-fi but this series is just the sort that I love when I do read it! Hand of Steel is about a bounty hunter (Krys) and how she comes up against space pirates including the awesome feline-like Klate (he’s my fave!). The Deathhorn tells Klate’s backstory and I love it so much. Just such a cool series!
  • Fire and Wind (Daley Downing) — Fire and Wind follows a unique character (DG — loved her!) and spans centuries, continents, and multiple fantasy creatures and it’s just a delight. It’s a spinoff from this author’s wonderful suburban fantasy series which includes Masters and Beginners, Rulers and Mages, and Healers and Warriors. I particularly love how this includes creatures and places and times from all over, from kitsunes to Anastasia/Rasputin to phoenixes to Easter Island to modern-day London or Arizona. I just love it!
  • All the Queen’s Sons (Elizabeth Kipps) — A reverse Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, this follows a shoemaker’s daughter who is trying to discover why the queen’s six sons wear out the shoes her father makes for them. It was so much fun and a marvelous new twist on my favorite fairy tale!
  • The Midnight Show (Sarah Pennington) — Another Twelve Dancing Princesses story, I loved how this was a 1920s-esque fantasy world and how the fairy tale retelling aspect blended seamlessly with being a detective story! Bastian is a great detective hero and the voice was fun and the worldbuilding was delightful. It was delicious!

BEST SHORT STORIES

  • Dawnsong (Bryn Riplinger Shutt) — THIS STORY. *clutches heart* Lyrical writing, amazing characters, funny moments, relatable struggles, a vivid setting I just want to melt into, and a story that touched my heart in all the best ways. And all in a novelette of just 15,000 words! Definitely one of my favorite short reads of the year. (Also, I adore Des, Lilias, and Artair so, so much!)
  • Shadow Light (Sarah Delena White) — This story reminded me of The Silmarillion, George MacDonald’s Day Boy and Night Girl, and a short story by Lloyd Alexander (as well as Windswept, another story by Sarah Delena White, and one of my own unpublished short stories), all in the BEST way. Like pure myth/original-fairytale. I loved it a lot!

BEST NON-FICTION

I don’t have a lot to say about these two other than that I quite enjoyed both and recommend them for creative types. ^_^

  • Adorning the Dark (Andrew Peterson)
  • Walking on Water (Madeleine L’Engle)

BEST ANTHOLOGY

  • A Very Bookish Thanksgiving (Note: This was a limited-edition anthology, but I think the novellas may be published individually later, or the anthology miiight reappear for a bit for a limited time?) — I couldn’t not give a shout-out to this lovely collection of Thanksgiving novellas inspired by works of classic fiction. A Promise of Acorns (by Kelsey Bryant; Jane-Eyre inspired) and As Long as I Belong (by Sarah Holman; Mansfield-Park inspired) were absolutely amazing stories that blew me away. I adore them. I also loved The Windles and the Lost Boy (by Rebekah Jones; Peter-Pan inspired) and the Great-Expectations inspired Grand Intentions by J. Grace Pennington about a writer! (A Fine Day Tomorrow, by Amanda Tero, inspired by Little Women, was too sad/stressful for me, but I expected that. XD So it wasn’t to my taste but those who enjoy Little Women will very likely like it — just my personal taste.) Just such a good collection. ^_^ I loved the classic-inspired aspects to them, and the Thanksgiving theme, and they were just so delightful!

BEST PICTURE BOOKS

  • The Four Donkeys (Lloyd Alexander) — The Four Donkeys was a delightful folk-tale-esque picture book by Lloyd Alexander. One of the last of his children’s books I hadn’t read yet, I got it for my birthday last year and found it full of his winsome wisdom and wry humor and delight that I always love.
  • Marigold and the Snoring King (J.D. Rempel) — I won a copy of Marigold and the Snoring King and it was so fun, original, and adorable! Next time you’re looking for an indie picture book, I recommend this one! It was fun and classic but fresh all at once. Charming. Made me smile!

There we are! I hope you enjoyed this look at my favorite books of the year, and if you stuck with the post this whole time, you deserve a virtual cupcake. *awards it to you*

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these or are any going on your TBR? What’s your favorite book you read last year?

My Diana Wynne Jones Journey (Part 2)

My Diana Wynne Jones collection so far! (Not counting a few extra copies. ;))

Way back in 2016, I posted “My Diana Wynne Jones Journey (So Far)” during a previous March Magics, and I had a ton of fun listing each book by DWJ which I’d read and some thoughts about them. (It also amuses me how some of my thoughts/favorites have changed since then. XD)

I’d say a Part 2 of such a post is long overdue (I have sixteen books to talk about!), so here we are!

Here are the DWJ books I’ve read since that post. Those first few years definitely had most of my favorites, but I’ve read some more gems since. ^_^

(Also, last time, I mentioned rereads as well, but I’ve done a fair amount of rereading DWJ these last couple of years and I’m mostly only listing the ones that are new reads this time.)

All titles link to Goodreads, in case you want to read more about them.

2016 (continued)

The Merlin Conspiracy

May 16, 2016

My original review consisted of this: “YES TO THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!! ❀ I need an elephant. AN ELEPHANT. Also Romanov. Yesssss. ACK DIANA WYNNE JONES BOOKS ARE LIFE I TELL YOU. (I may coherent a review someday.) ROMANOV.” So I must have liked it quite a lot, even if it’s a bit hazy in my memory due to how long it’s been since I read it. XD Definitely due for a reread! But it’s about Nick, who’s in Deep Secret, so that was fun. (Did you know he was slightly based on a teenaged Neil Gaiman? πŸ˜€ His not-coherent-until-breakfast-and-coffee parts, at least. XD) Also, I was reading it when I had a flu, which was appropriate, since one of the characters did too. XD

The Ogre Downstairs

August 6, 2016

This one was different but interesting, and a little more like a normal modern fantasy than I was used to reading by her. Many shenanigans and unreliable narration. XD But my favorite part was when two of the characters accidentally switched appearances and stuff ensued. XD A shorter read and kind of strange but fun!

Eight Days of Luke

December 28, 2016

Who likes Norse Myths? This fun little book by Diana Wynne Jones features some of that in some most unexpected ways! She was writing about Loki (and Thor etc.) in modern times back in 1975, before the Marvel movies were making this cool more recently. XD It’s been awhile since I read this one and I need to read it again, but I remember it being unique and really enjoying it. πŸ˜€ I liked David, and Loki is very much of a trickster! The mythology elements and characters are woven in so well, in surprising ways (DWJ is excellent at this), and there is much fire. XD Luke was just so much fun. XD

2017

Wild Robert

March 1, 2017

I wrote a review for this one awhile back but it was so much fun! It reminded me partially of The Boggart, and a little bit of Howl for some reason, and it was surprisingly short and I didn’t want it to end — it just stopped and I wanted more! Ack! But it was very cool and had so many shenanigans I loved the twists so much!

Aunt Maria

March 1, 2017

I reviewed this too, and it was really different. It built up and had some cool twists, and some of it was creepy, but it also had fun parts. And so many magical happenings and interesting characters! It’s told in first-person by Mig and it was sooo intriguing to read it as a journal of sorts. It also has one of my favorite quotes about happy endings. I love it so much and I had to make a quote graphic for it awhile back, which I’ve shared before but I have an excuse to share again. πŸ˜€

Hexwood

April 6, 2017

Another top-favorite one! And definitely requires more than one read-through. XD I re-read it for March Magics last year and it was even better the second time. It’s just a mind-blowing book, with soooo many different genres and complex twists all thrown together. I love it so much! And Mordion is my absolute favorite! Some of it’s a bit darker, and it’s terribly confusing at times until you piece together what’s happening (I kept a diagram of who was who while I read it!) but it’s just so unique and delightful. πŸ˜€ It also has out of order timey-wimey stuff, modern/sci-fi/fantasy, Arthurian elements, robots, dragons… ALL THE THINGS. Check out my review if you like. ^_^

Another of my favorite quotes. ❀

Puss in Boots

May 14, 2017

This is a rather short kid’s-book about Puss in Boots, which was fairly straightforward but a fun read. πŸ™‚ I now consider it the ultimate version of this fairy tale. XD DWJ did a good job of making it make more sense and of course her cat character was fabulous. It was fun and had a few illustrations too. Not 100% necessary to read this one but I did really enjoy it. πŸ™‚

Dogsbody

June 3, 2017

This one was sooo unique and I loved it being from the POV of a dog! And in Ireland. The mystery was really interesting. Also, the Wild Hunt! And sentient planets. *grinning* Yep, it has all sorts of things. XD Again, a bittersweet ending meant it wasn’t my faaaavorite, but there was a lot to love. But seriously, dog point of view! XD So much fun!

2018

The Game

March 6, 2018

The whole idea and the mythosphere and all the story bits were brilliant. I wish it had been longer than a novella because it was so fascinating. LOVED this one. I want to re-read it. I particularly love all the myth bits and the characters and all of it.

Yes Dear

March 18, 2018

This was a picture book! Which… again, I don’t remember that well, but I do remember reading it, on a special library trip to a library I hadn’t been to before, specifically because I knew this book was there and it was my birthday month and I wanted to read it. XD I know it was fun (people, pay attention if a child tells you something magical is happening. :P) and I was glad I read it!

The Homeward Bounders

March 12, 2018

EXTREMELY vivid and I loved parts of it, particularly the worldhopping stuff and a certain cool character! Actually, more than one… Just… bittersweet ending, and creepy parts, and I’m stark terrified of anchors now. O_O But a great narrator and WORLD HOPPINGGGG! Kinda mixed on it but there were definitely great things about it. Fascinating and intense and really interesting!

A Sudden Wild Magic

March 31, 2018

I enjoyed this one but I consider it one of her darker, stranger books. XD This one was written for adults so there was more content in this and just more disturbing, so… I figure you can give this one a miss unless you’re being thorough like I am and trying to read all her books. XD Feels a bit more scifi than some. I did enjoy parts of it though! I mostly remember the part with the guy who loved his car. XD And I think there were centaurs!

Dalemark Quartet Re-Read

Okay, I said I wasn’t going to post about re-reads in here, but it’s worth noting my epic re-read of the entire Dalemark Quartet in the second half of 2018. I loved it so much, and there were even plot threads I’d forgotten, so some of it was like discovering it the first time! DWJ is the only author who can do that to me. XD (We won’t discuss how many times I forgot and rediscovered the villain of Conrad’s Fate. XD)

2019

A Tale of Time City

January 6, 2019

Who loves timey-wimey stories? Meeee! A few of Diana Wynne Jones’s books have time stuff in them, most notably this one. The idea of Time City, a city outside time, was really cool. I read this one early last year and had a blast! A bit of sci-fi and WWII era for those who like that. (Even if I don’t usually; but I didn’t mind. XD) If you like Doctor Who you might enjoy this! Elio is the best and I NEED A BUTTER PIE!!!

Earwig and the Witch

January 20, 2019

The illustrations were actually really distracting for me on this one and I feel like I would have liked it better if it hadn’t been illustrated? That’s… weird and probably just me. XD It mostly wasn’t a super favorite but I did enjoy some of it, of course. There’s always something fun about DWJ books! Also, the cat was great. XD

That’s all I got to last year of new ones. I did a lot of re-reading DWJ throughout the rest of 2019, though, and it was so fun!

2020 (so far)

Unexpected Magic

January 8, 2020

An anthology of sci-fi and fantasy short stories. I especially loved No One (genius robot plots. XD), Little Dot (wonderful story from a cat’s point of view), and Everard’s Ride (unique novella set in historical times with some interesting twists and not quite like anything I’d read! One of the author’s earlier works). Some stories were creepy or a bit too weird — short stories are always hit or miss for me, regardless of their author, but it was a quite interesting collection! So glad I finally read this one.

The Islands of Chaldea

March 12, 2020

The latest one, which I just read this month for the first time! It was so much fun! I loved Aileen and the sprawling cast of varied characters. I loved the different islands and getting to travel across them (rather like the British Isles but still with their own twists). I loved the creatures! What fun. And I love how it all wrapped up rather well —Β  I’m quite curious where Diana’s sister Ursula picked up the story’s threads, but they worked quite well! And the little romance threads were adorable, and the twists were delightful! (Also, how about that hot air balloon?? <3) So much fun! What a delightful final work from an incredible author.


And there’s my DWJ Journey, part 2! I’ve so loved getting to discover more of her works in the last few years.

I still have a small handful left to read. (The Time of the Ghost, Witch’s Business/Wilkin’s Tooth, Stopping for a Spell… I think that’s it? Not really counting Changover since it was before her main works and so hard to find. There might be a stray short story or few.) But I’ve read most of her books — 39? I think? — and a couple other short stories.

It’s been a beautiful journey (8 years so far, as March 14 this month, which marked the 8 year anniversary of the first time I read Howl’s Moving Castle!), and the best thing about it is that I get to wander back down this road and stop to enjoy the stories and places along the way all over again.

Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading. ^_^