best of 2021 badgeIt’s coming close to Christmas and time for a year-end wrap up. I have been lucky to read some amazing books by some absolutely wonderful authors thanks to Jay’s blog, and I’m going to take advantage of my little soap box to remind you of a few that I think could use a little extra love because they’re just that good, or because I want to revisit them one more time.


The Featherbed Puzzle and Frost and Raine are two stories by K.L. Noone that are nothing but fun, fluff, love, and lovely. One is more fairy-tale based, while the other leans on mythology and the paranormal, but both involve true love that is enhanced by a deep friendship between the leads, all while having supportive and wonderful side characters. I’ve already re-read Frost and Raine and the next time my mood needs a pick-me-up, I can see myself grabbing Featherbed.

never underestimate an omegaI have always enjoyed shifter romances, but two that stood out due to their world building were Never Underestimate an Omega by Eden Winters and Slumbering Ember, the first book in the Vargr series by Meraki P. Lyhne. Both of these — while they have plots and whatnot — are more slice of life stories involving shifter packs. Both have strong-willed and compassionate characters with an emphasis on extended families, loyalty, compassion, and forgiveness. These are just two amazing books that are so well visualized with such beautiful and three-dimensional characters that I just want to force everyone who likes shifters to read them.

This year I also read some truly wonderful F/F books that ranged from fantasy to historical fiction to science fiction, and they were just so well written. Walk Between Worlds by Samara Breger, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, The Woman Who Fell Through Time by J.M. Frey, and Testament of the Stars by Alexandra Beaumont all deserve your attention. All of these books have some difficult themes dealing with mysogony, rape and assault, war, betrayal, faith, and identity and I just love them. None of the women in these books are saints, but they are all heroes.

woman who fell through time coverSpeaking of heroes and slightly darker themes … Liminality by T.J. Nichols, with its exploration and examination of gender; A Cure for Humanity by A.L. Haringrey, with its abusive relationship; and Sonata Form by Carole Cummings, which showcases the horrors of war as faced by people fighting in their own backyards are all slightly heavier reads for the holiday season, but they’re all just so strong in the writing, world building, characterization, and themes. If Santa gave me sequels for all three of these, I would be a very, very happy person.

However, Santa is bringing me something special to celebrate this year: All three of Chinese author Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s books are being officially published in English this year! Her series Scum Villain’s Self Saving System, Heaven Official’s Blessing (which has an animated series on Netflix as well as a gorgeous web comic), and the Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation (which has a live-action drama available on Netflix called “The Untamed,” a three-season cartoon, a web comic, and mobile game, among other things) are being published by Seven Seas starting this year. And Jay is going to let me review them for you! I have loved these stories for years, and now I get to share them with you. Look for the first review in January.

liminality coverSpeaking of dramas, Word of Honor — based on the novel Faraway Wanderers (Tian ya Ke) by Priest — aired this year and I loved it. Featuring two murder husbands, one of whom is a single dad to an obnoxious teenage girl, both of whom end up adopting an orphan boy. All Zhou Zhishu wants is to drink himself to death. All Wen Kexing wants is Zhou Zhishu. It’s not their fault everyone else made the mistake of getting in the way. Besides, blood washes off. (And maybe if he gets enough blood on Zhou Zhishu’s robes, Wen Kexing can get him to take them off?) It’s hilarious and stupid and I love it to no end.

Speaking of love … Dune. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it over the years. It’s one of my favorites and I will share my love with you, like it or not. This movie is amazing. It is everything I wanted from a movie version of Dune. The soundtrack is glorious. The special effects are jaw dropping. The acting is strong, and it captures the heart of the story and the characters so well. It’s wonderful and glorious and just … amazing. It’s not quite perfect, but it’s so damn close. Go see it. Please. For your sake. For mine, too, but mostly for yours. Dune is a classic for a reason, and this movie does it justice.

veiled and hallowed eve audioI would like to give a brief honorable mention to Hailey Turner’s Soulbound series, which ended this year. Hailey Turner and Gary Furlong are an amazing storytelling team, and I can’t wait to see what they both have to share with us for 2022. If you haven’t already, try the Soulbound books. If you like shifters, mythology, characters, dragons, true love, and an amazing series with an honest to gods epic ending, then the Soulbound books are meant for you.

Have a happy, safe and wonderful holiday month. See you next year!

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