Powder & Page’s Best Books of 2021

I’ve enjoyed looking through everyone else’s Best Of lists and decided I’d do my own version this year! The books below are listed in the order I read them and are primarily books I’ve rated 5 stars throughout the year, with a small handful of my favorite 4.5 star reads thrown in to round out the number. If you’d like to check out my full reviews, they’re all linked below!

 

The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly
Political intrigue, witches and wizards, totally unputdownable!

The Councillor by E.J. Beaton
Epic amounts of political intrigue, murder mystery, amazing main and secondary characters

Odin’s Child by Siri Pettersen
Inspired by Norse mythology, translated from Norwegian, incredible world-building, subverted my expectations

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Inspired by the civilizations of Pre-Columbian Americas, brutal first chapter, really cool magic

The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne
Viking inspired fantasy, bad-ass characters, surprisingly heartwarming found families trope

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
First contact with aliens, surprisingly heartwarming, humorous, must save humanity!

The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu
A girl who can speak to the dead, an occult library, vibrant characters, and disturbing Lovecraftian monsters

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman
Snarky, memorable main character, excellent audio narration, horrific goblins, and an uncanny blind cat

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
Satisfies those  dark academia cravings, awkward romance, epic heroism, and the threat of the graduation gauntlet full of terrifying monsters

The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley
Epic scenery, scary beasties, bad-ass characters, builds super well on the previous books set in the same world

 

Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne
Edge of your seat thriller, awesome introduction to Jessica Blackwood, borders on the supernatural

The Forever King by Ben Galley
Seriously deep lore, ultra cool magic (the mages have magical books inked onto their skin!), classic epic fantasy themes, tons of cool magical races

The Bone Ship’s Wake by RJ Barker
Incredible series finale, emotional gut punch ending, and sea dragons

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
Fun spin on the Sleeping Beauty story, incredible friendship, and girls refusing to accept ‘fate’ without a fight

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
The moody, goth vampire tome I’ve been waiting my whole life for, solid world-building, such dramatic characters

The Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick
Secret societies, vigilante heroes, TWO awesome magic systems, and the fashion is to die for. Also, PEABODY.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
Compelling mystery that feels lighthearted despite the murder, elderly folks solving murders, surprisingly humorous, excellent audiobook narration

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody
Extra dark riff on the magical tournament trope, grimdark for young adults, explores what people will do in order to survive, so much drama!

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier
Incredible standalone low fantasy book, jaw-dropping plot twists, one of the best YA books I’ve ever read

Engines of Empire by R.S. Ford
January 2022 release, fantastic world building, semi-industrialized world, political intrigue. Full review coming soon!

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow – Review

Published: October 5, 2021

Publisher: Tordotcom

Series: Fractured Fables #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 128 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:
USA Today
 bestselling author Alix E. Harrow’s A Spindle Splintered brings her patented charm to a new version of a classic story.


It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.


YOU GUYS! I have never loved a novella as much as I loved this one! It’s a little dark, a little hopeful, and has ten tons of snark. I picked it up and stayed glued to my couch for about an hour and a half while my eyeballs devoured it (such imagery!). 

Zinnia Gray has just turned twenty-one and expects any day to be her last because she’s nearing the term limit on her life. No one else who has this disease has lived past the ripe old age of twenty-one, so she’s basically set a record. In honor of her birthday, her best friend Charm throws her a Sleeping Beauty themed party replete with booze, cheap princess crowns, and an honest to god spinning wheel. Zinnia of course touches the needle and wakes up in another world with another version of Sleeping Beauty who was about to touch her own cursed spinning wheel needle. 

Zinnia and Prim, the other cursed princess, set off on a hastily put together journey to threaten/kill/maim the evil fairy who cursed Prim so she removes Prim’s curse (and hopefully Zinnia’s as well). It’s a short journey, but it works since this is a bit of a rush job anyway. Prim starts to wander off each time she sleeps in search of her fate, Zinnia can’t really ride a horse, and she’s also dying a bit more rapidly since she’s out of meds. They’re a hot mess.

Despite its short length I loved this book immensely. The characters are the most badass group of heroines fighting their fates down to their last breath and/or waking moments. There’s a sequel scheduled for release next year and I am sooooo excited to see where this story goes!

Stacking the Shelves: 5/8/21

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

Orbit Books very kindly sent me finished copies of The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne and The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan. You can check out my review of The Shadow of the Gods HERE.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
This is a teensy little novella that I mostly picked up because of that gorgeous cover and my confidence that Alix Harrow tells a good story. Oh yeah, Sleeping Beauty was always one of my favorite Disney movies, so I’m curious to see what I think of a retelling (though Maleficent turning into a glorious dragon was truly my favorite part). Thanks to Tordotcom for the eARC.

The Seventh Queen by Greta Kelly
Hands down one of my most anticipated sequels of the year after I was left in awe of the cliffhanger ending in The Frozen Crown. Totally blew me away! Many thanks to HarperVoyager for the eARC.

The Coward by Stephen Aryan
I couldn’t possibly resist a book where the lauded hero wasn’t really all that heroic, so I’m dying to see what sort of antics occur when the MC tries to get out of saving the world again. Plus, something about that cover makes me want to put it on my shelf – I hope the gold parts are all gorgeous and shiny because I might buy the paperback! Thanks to Angry Robot for the eARC.

A Desert Torn Asunder by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Well, my self control got the best of me because I wasn’t going to pick this up until I finally read the previous book in the series. But here we are. Thanks to DAW for the eARC and making succumb to temptation!

My Purchases:

I’ve had a month full of good audiobooks! I picked up Swordheart by T. Kingfisher after reading the Bibliosanctum review, which was a great choice since I loved it and am now officially a T. Kingfisher fan. I also picked up Six Wakes and The Hunting Party which are two vastly different murder mysteries. And lastly one of my most anticipated YA releases of the year, Blade of Secrets

I finally received my stunning Subterranean Press edition of Dark Age by Pierce Brown. It has several awesome interior illustrations and is such a quality (and hefty) book! The wait for book to finally arrive is usually a long one, but it was longer than usual (thanks COVID) so it’s been just over a year wait to finally receive it.