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01 Jan 2022
The best books I read in 2021

Scifi/Fantasy I loved reading in 2021

  • The Scholomance (series) by Naomi Novik - Magical boarding school books, but extra horrifying and dark and well done.
  • Uhura’s Song by Janet Kagan - Easily the best Star Trek novel I’ve ever read (and I’ve read plenty), with lots of interesting linguistics/cultural nuance.
  • Black Water Sister by Zen Cho - My favorite novel of hers so far. Queer Malay Chinese girl moves back to Malaysia and gets possessed by the ghost of her grandmother.
  • Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho - Mostly a reread but this edition has a few new stories, still brilliant
  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn - An actually clever, non-boring Arthur novel!
  • The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk - Bit on the nose but really well done. When a female sorceress marries, she is literally locked in a collar that seals away her magic (because a fetus could otherwise get possessed)
  • The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri - Another very dark one, lots of burning people to death (including children), but excellent world-building.
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon - Generation ship, major class abuse issues, autistic-seeming doctor-ish protagonist. Very violent. The end a bit weak, but I really liked it until then.
  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir - I put off reading this for ages, and then liked it so much more than I thought I would! Not precisely an unreliable protagonist, but one whose perspective makes trying to understand the plot like looking through a cracked, cloudy window from a distance. Plus queer and funny!

Romance novels I loved reading in 2021

  • The Devil Comes Courting by Courtney Milan - Touches on colonialism and cross-racial adoption and brilliant female engineering
  • The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan - British Chinese regency romance, with a culinary theme and a list-making protagonist
  • Cotillion by Georgette Heyer - The doofy dandy love interest is hilariously great, not the hero we’d expect but a hero nonetheless
  • The Chai Factor by Farah Heron - Engineer protagonist, love interest is a member of the annoying barbershop quartet that moved into her family’s basement
  • Book of Love by Erin Satie - Pranks and politics
  • The Brown Sisters (series) by Talia Hibbert - Protagonists with fibromyalgia, autism
  • Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch - m/m selkie mystery romance!
  • The Lady Hellion by Joanna Shupe - Protagonist poses as a man to solve crimes, love interest grapples with agoraphobia and some sort of other panic attacks
  • How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole - Latest book in a great series full of great poc characters, this one is f/f and protagonist is somehow neurodivergent
  • The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley - Lesbian romance, heists, cryptography

Other fiction I loved reading in 2021

  • What did you eat yesterday? (series) by Fumi Yoshinaga - manga mostly about cooking with bits and pieces of cozy m/m romance in between the recipes
  • Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto - Protagonist accidentally kills her handsy date, then her mother and 3 aunts help her hide the body while running a massive indo-chinese wedding. Cute funny hijinks ensue.
  • The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf - Reread. Still really brilliant, about a girl dealing ocd or perhaps a djinn during malaysian race riots

Honorable mentions

  • A Charm of Magpies (series) by KJ Charles - Particularly charming m/m fantasy romance.
  • Saint of Steel (series) by T. Kingfisher - Solid comfort food fantasy trilogy for me this past month
  • Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid - mostly here for some really upsetting bits that stick in my head, about the importance of someone helping a child feel most loved
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stezt-Waters - cute artsy f/f romance, odd couple trope
  • The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty - last book in an enjoyable fantasy series
  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
  • Born in Fire by Nora Roberts - Romance. The love interest annoyed me, but I really liked that the protagonist is a glassblower and how lovingly her art is described

Total number of books read in 2021: 184