Tag Archive | H.S.J. Williams

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. 😉 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. 🙂 (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. 🙂
  • 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?