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Emeline’s 2021 Reading Review

Favourite Books of the Year

This review is a full year late, but I’ve had it completely written since early last year. Since I’m about to start on my reading review for 2022, I thought I might as well post this.

In 2020, I finished seven published books. In 2021, I read just under forty. While I could include reviews for all of these books, that feels a bit excessive, so I’ll keep to my favourites.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi was an incredible book. It was read to me many years ago when I was in third grade, but I was sick the day the ending was read, and I’ve wanted to reread and finish it ever since. It has some pretty dark things, including death and racism, but at a level an eight-year-old can handle if not fully understand. That said, I would recommend this book to everyone. If you know someone who wants to get back into reading and likes adventure books, female protagonists, or stories on boats, True Confessions is the way to go.

Atomic Habits by James Clear is a self-help book around the idea that minor changes make a big difference. He has a blog that I had found something of a struggle to read, but his book is impeccably polished and a very easy read. The formatting of the books is also designed (I suspect) to make reviewing the book easy without rereading it.

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells is several books into the Murderbot Diaries, which I devoured in December 2020 – I highly recommend the series and found the newest addition a delight. This one changes styles to be a murder-mystery It builds on the character development of previous books, so while I think one could theoretically start here, I would recommend reading from the start with “All Systems Red”.

The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard is an incredible book, and unlike any other I’ve ever read. It’s definitely not a book for everyone – for one it’s 900 pages long – but it felt like it was written for me. The characters are retirement age, the world works on unexplained, fairly low-key fairy-tale rules, and it’s a character focused story around friendship and family. I absolutely adored this book.

The Return of Fitzroy Angursell by Victoria Goddard is the sorta sequel to The Hands of the Emperor. Most of Goddard’s books take place in the same universe, but this one starts shortly after the end of Hands of the Emperor. This one focused on the Emperor’s journey to find an heir and the return of (in)famous poet, Fitzroy Angursell. The point of view character for this book is magical, which allows for a lot of interesting things that the non-magical main character of The Hands of the Emperor didn’t care about and thus didn’t think about it. This was a fun romp of a book, and a reader could definitely start here. (I would love to hear the thoughts of someone who started here! Their experience would be so different from mine with the background of The Hands of the Emperor!)

Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland was a fascinating book. Again, unlike any other book I’ve ever read. It has themes around storytelling and government and power, but the plot is of Chant, a storyteller, making this better and worse as he tries to avoid getting in trouble for being a dark magic user (which he isn’t). There’s nearly no action, and is set almost entirely in a jail cell, so it’s impressive how much tension Rowland is able to build and maintain. It’s a very funny book even as some moderately dark stuff happens, and I would really recommend anyone who tells stories to give it a read. Also, it has some very cool world building!

Choir of Lies by Alexandra Rowland is the sequel to Conspiracy of Truths, and it knocked me on my ass. It’s a very different book in style and tone, but it still makes such a perfect sequel, I’m amazed. The themes in this book are around the economic of supply and demand, the power of orators and the written word, and how two people can both be telling the truth while disagreeing.

Full Reading List

1Network EffectMartha Wells
2If I StayGayle Forman
3Women & PowerMary Beard 
4Pooh’s Christmas AdventureEgmont
5The Truth is a Cave in the Black MountainsNeil Gaiman
6The True Confessions of Charlotte DoyleAvi
7The Little PrinceAntoine De Saint-Exupery
8From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. FrankweilerE.L. Konigsburg
9Feeling GoodDavid D. Burns
10Don’t Point That Thing at MeKyril Bonfiglioli
11Treasure IslandRobert Louis Stevenson
12Atomic HabitsJames Clear
13Confessions of a SociopathM.E. Thomas
14The Chairs are Where the People GoMisha Glouberman with Shelia Heti
15The Catcher in the RyeJ.D. Salinger
16BlinkMalcolm Gladwell
17Bone Shard DaughterAndrea Stewart
18MockingbirdKatherine Erskine
19When Panic AttacksDavid D. Burns
20Fugitive TelemetryMartha Wells
21How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleDale Carnegie
22The Three-Body ProblemCixin Liu
23An Absolutely Remarkable ThingHank Green
24The Hands of the EmperorVictoria Goddard
25The Return of Fitzroy AngursellVictoria Goddard
26Psalm for the Wild-BuiltBecky Chambers
27Petty TreasonsVictoria Goddard
28From Dictatorship to DemocracyGene Sharp
29Gideon the NinthTamsyn Muir
30Harrow the NinthTamsyn Muir
31Stargazy PieVictoria Goddard
32A Marvellous LightFreya Marske
33Hunger Pangs: True Love BitesJoy Demorra
34PiranseiSusanna Clarke
35Assignment in BrittanyHelen MacInnes
36The Tower at the Edge of the WorldVictoria Goddard
37The Art of WarSun Tzu
38Conspiracy of TruthsAlexandra Rowland
39Choir of LiesAlexandra Rowland

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