You never can foresee how a reading year will go. There’s nothing that can truly predict what books will surprise you, how they will fulfill some part of you and occupy your thoughts well beyond their end. Or how they will just plain entertain and delight you.
2021 was such a roller coaster for so many, and that notion was definitely reflected in my reading. I didn’t get to nearly as many books as I hoped I would. While I participated in book clubs and reading challenges, I still don’t believe I made a dent in the books I actually owned. Despite all that, I discovered stories new and old to love, characters and worlds that will continue to shape me as a creative, and ideas that challenge my way of thinking. Some of these books, I wrote reviews for, extolling their virtues and being forgiving towards any vices. I wish I had reviewed all of them, but sometimes that’s not in the cards—so spotlighting them here feels all the more important.
But enough waxing poetic. Let’s highlight some all-star books I didn’t expect to love as much as I did because they absolutely deserve the praise.
Most Surprising Books of 2021
Unsounded by Ashley Cope
A few friends have threatened bodily harm upon me for years to finally read the webcomic Unsounded, and this year, I finally did—and became instantly obsessed. Ashley Cope’s wonderful art style and bold storytelling consumed my early months of 2021 as I raced to catch up to the ongoing series, first with the three published volumes and then continuing with the online chapters. I even wrote a fanfic for Cope’s between-chapter hiatus contest, which ended up winning based on popular vote, and I still haven’t gotten over that.
Title:The Will and the Wilds Author:Charlie N. Holmberg Genre:Adult Fantasy Version: ebook Page Count:267 Publisher:47North Synopsis:GoodReads, StoryGraph Notable Notables:Original fae lore, strong standalone fantasy, enemies-to-lovers Recommended Readers:Lovers of fairytales and trickster characters CAWPILE Rating:9.14 Rating: ★★★★★
A modern-day fairytale does exist that can sweep you away into adventure and make you sigh wistfully, and it’s The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg.
I’ve had my eye on this book for awhile, especially since a certain long-winded, so-called fae court series continued to disappointment me and fuel my hatred. Didn’t any author besides Holly Black actually know what fae are? Can’t anyone capture the sense of adventure and danger that comes with bargaining with magical creatures that exist beyond human understanding? Is enemies-to-lovers well and truly dead, with my choices being either “had an argument once”-to-lovers or animalistic alpha male rutting and mating bonds? “Nay!” said Holmberg. “I am here for you, my child.”
Greetings, all! I must again apologize for my absence of a posting schedule lately, but I’m just playing things fast and loose right now. (And honestly, my life is also being consumed by Fire Emblem: Three Houses. It’s a wonder I’m getting any reading done at all.)
I’ve been thinking about how I can spice up my posts for my most-anticipated book releases from month to month. I feel that sometimes they’re too much and get too long, but finally I’ve figured out what I can do to create more focused posts. Because obviously, I’m going to be looking forward to a ton of books no matter what, but what are going to be the ones that ultimately stick the landing for me?
That’s why I’m going to be featuring 2020 book releases that I’m predicting will nab a five-star rating from me. I wonder how accurate my instincts will be for January.