Hey. How are ya’ll doing? I thought I’d ask before I got into my “Best of 2021” list because this has been another crazy year and sometimes it is nice to just do a little check-in. Even more so this year since the dumpster fire that is the current world plague shows no signs of letting up anytime soon and from what I can see on social media most of us seem to be coping but it’s getting on our last nerves. So yeah, I thought I’d just do a little check-in.
Well now that we’ve got that out of the way how about something positive? It’s that time again…the time when all the book bloggers are posting their year end, best reads of the year. I like to wait for the year to finish out before posting my list just in case a last minute read squeaks its way in. 2021 (like 2020 before it) sucked in so many ways, but for me it was still a good year for reading. As usual I enjoyed the vast majority of the books I read, and there were only a very few I didn’t. I still feel like we are experiencing that new golden age of science fiction and fantasy with so many great books to choose from both in traditional publishing or from indie/self-published authors and I hope it never ends.
So here it is, my top reads of 2021. Note, this is my list of top reads of 2021, meaning it is a list of my favorite books I read during the year, not necessarily my favorite books published in 2021. I’ve intentionally left off any #SPFBO finalists I may have already read as the competition is still undeway and the judging team I’m a part of has not posted any of our scores as of yet.
I managed to read 37 books this year (exceeding my Goodreads Challenge) and this list comprises those I rated as 4.5 Stars or 5 Stars and even includes a short story. I’ve arranged them mostly in order they were read by rating.
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Whenever I read a second book in a series I’m always a little concerned it will suffer from that dreaded sophomore slump. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a BAD book, just that it isn’t as good as the first. Often this is because it spends a lot of time serving as a bridge between books 1 and 2 and is really just developing character and narrative arcs for the big payoff in the final installment. This is nothing new to us who love to read fantasy and sci-fi series. I’d say we kind of expect it. So, when I sat down to read The Fires of Vengeance I expected a book I’d like, a book that would be entertaining, but a book that would ultimately get me from book 1 to 3 without wowing me. That isn’t what I got.
In The Fires of Vengeance, Evan Winter delivers a book that is even better than his first.
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I’m starting my fourth book of the year, and the first published by a traditional publisher. This is somewhat out of character for me. Waiting this long in the month/year to read a traditionally published book I mean. This wasn’t pre-planned really but it does feel odd. But I’m plugging ahead with a book I’ve been anxious to read since…well since I finished reading the first book in the series back in the summer of 2019.
So what am I reading? Well…it’s The Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winter!
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It’s the last day of the year which means it’s time for my Best Reads of 2019 post! I’d hoped to write one more review before the end of the year but that isn’t gonna happen. That’s fine though because I have what I need for this list already. And while I didn’t read as many books as I’d hoped this year I did read some really good ones!
2019 was another great year for speculative fiction. I’ve heard it said by many readers that we are in a new golden age of spec fic. I think that’s true. Much of that has to do with some great new authors being published by traditional publishing houses, but a lot of that has to do with the rise of really great books coming out of the self-published/indie publishing realm.
What follows below are those books I read this year (regardless of publication date) that I rated a 4.5 or 5 out of 5 stars. There were a total of eight books to make the list. Of this group there was one self-published title, and two formerly self-published titles that were picked up by a major publisher, one of which hasn’t actually been published yet but I read the ARC. I’ll start with the 4.5 group, move to the 5.0 group, and finish with my favorite book of the year. Apart from the final book there is no particular order to this list other than the two main groupings. Continue reading →