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These aren’t, in most cases, books that actually came out in 2021. (A few exceptions.) Rather, it’s a list of books I read and loved last year.

I actually stopped tracking my reading on Goodreads about halfway through the year, opting instead for a paper journal. Which, as I mentioned last time, meant that I lost track of some of the books I’d read, and when I’d read them. 

But I am intrepid, and I carried on. So here we are, with my favorite books read this year. They’re separated by sci fi, then fantasy, and then a couple of Amazon exclusive titles. 

Sci Fi Faves: 

  • Starshine by G.S. Jennsen
    • This book was a wild surprise for me. I picked up the ebook for free, as I so often do, and I found myself immediately drawn into the story. The narrative reminds me of the Expanse, only it’s set quite a bit further into the future. 
  • The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
    • You know I love a good parallel universe story. This one’s among my favorites – it digs in deep on the concept, and it’s got some great surprises. Add in a hooky love story? Yeah, I’m in. 
  • Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh
    • It’s a somber book, and rather dreamlike, but I’m always here for interstellar missions and group dynamics. 
  • Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
    • Aurora is one of those books that stayed on my mind for weeks after I read it. I still occasionally think about the journey – it’s about an intergenerational spaceship (another favorite of mine) and the scope is at once enormous and intimate. It’s the smaller moments that stay on my mind, the hope for the horizon and for the ground under our feet now. Really a gorgeous story. 

Fantasy Faves: 

  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
    • There’s a new surge of Arthurian-themed stories out there at the moment. I’m a big Arthur fan, and I’ve been disappointed by some of the other recent versions. Legendbord is a truly fresh take that takes full advantage of the implications of a modern Arthur-centered tale — and elevates the story to something altogether new.
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
    • This book is happiness wrapped in humor, with a little bit of hope to top it off. It’s fun and funny, and unlike anything else I’ve read. I’ve been saving the sequel for after the new year. Delightful. 
  • Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
    • Impossible to categorize. Listen, if you trust my recommendations at all, pick up this book without reading the cover description. It takes the “girl goes to a house” trope and just… It’s magical. 

Amazon-only (for now) 

  • The Star Kingdom Series by Lindsay Buroker (Amazon only, for now)
    • Yeah, I’m naming an entire series among my favorites. I read 7/8 of these books this year, and I loved them so much that I’m slowly collecting them in paperback. I love the “Big Bang Theory in space” feeling of it, with the nerdy, quirky main characters. And the brooding, rogue mercenary/pirate. Basically all of it. (Lindsay Buroker always brings her books out to the other stores eventually, so it won’t be Amazon-only forever.) 
  • The Bunker trilogy by Jordan Rivet
    • I’m not typically a series binger — I tend to read one book, skip to another series, then come back. But I was completely hooked on this trilogy. So exciting, with memorable characters.

About Kate Sheeran Swed

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