Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
I read so many amazing books last year from authors I had never read before, so this post is going to be hard to narrow down, and probably have a lot of similarities from my Favorite Books of 2021 post. In fact, it’s probably going to have all the similarities.
Sorry not sorry for the double tap, because these authors are awesome!
Favorite New (to me) Authors of 2021
From the first sentence of Light From Uncommon Stars, I was hooked. Words can barely begin to describe how much I loved this book, and when Aoki dropped in on my online bookclub and dazzled me with her brilliance and wit, I just fell in love. She is amazing and wonderful, and I want to shove this book into everyone’s hands, even though I know it won’t be for everyone.
This Poison Heart was one of my absolute favorite YA reads of 2021. I adored Bayron’s writing style, the way flowers and plants were used, Briseis’ voice, her moms (so funny!), the unique take on Greek mythology, and the way the plotline just sang. I didn’t love Cinderella is Dead quite as much (I liked the beginning but it went a little ehhhh towards the end), but Bayron’s writing and her ability to twist myth and fairy tales into something new is so fucking cool.
I have a soft spot in my heart for women who write military fantasy and science fiction. Maybe it’s growing up on Tamora Pierce and Elizabeth Moon, maybe it’s the fact that grimdark military fantasy by men is just kinda blah and treats women horribly by and large. But CL Clark is amazing, this book is amazing, and I loved how well she wrapped colonialism and magic and history. together in this really fantastic and well-built world. I cannot wait for The Faithless in 2022.
Another military fantasy, this one more YA based. I would have also included another YA fantasy favorite of 2021, The Year of the Reaper, but I’ve read a couple books by Makiia Lucier already so she is not new to me! Namina Forna is, however, and it’s hard to imagine that The Gilded Ones is a debut because it’s so fucking stunning! So, so good, and it’s another one with a sequel I am dying to get my hands on.
Right from the author’s note in the beginning, I knew Bad Witch Burning was going to be a favorite. This debut novel was not an easy read, but the way Lewis writes is just so magical and captivating. The twists, the turns, the emotion and empathy seeping through each sentence. It’s good. Real good. And I can’t wait for what she does next (Monster, coming sometime this year).
I would have never picked up Activation Degradation had it not been for that intriguing Murderbot meets first contact comp. I cannot believe I hesitated on requesting this from NetGalley, and then debated on whether or not I’d actually read it, because holy shit was this good. Nothing like I expected, and yes I could see the twists and turns a little, but dammit it was good, and now I need to read her backlist titles.
I requested Winter’s Orbit because I was intrigued by the Red, White and Royal Blue meets space opera concept (although in these days, what MM novel is not compared to RWARB?). I expected fluff and angst. I did not expect writing and plotline reminiscent of the Vorkosigan series, which was more than a pleasant surprise! The nostalgia hit hard with this one, and I loved it and cannot wait for the companion novel, Ocean’s Echo (I feel like I’m saying this a lot, and fuck it, I’ll keep saying it).
Yep, How High We Go in the Dark is another book I feel like I’ve talked a lot about, and while this only just came out this month, I read it in December so it’s a 2021 favorite author for me. This was another book I hemmed and hawed over requesting, because 1) plagues and 2) ehhhh, but holy forking shirtballs was this incredible. I think this is Nagamatsu’s novel debut (he has written many short stories), and holy shit what a debut. I feel like another holy shit is in order, because holy shit.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is a deceptively short book of short stories that packs a fucking wallop. Philyaw’s way with words is gorgeous, and how she so deftly dipped and tucked and turned in these very different characters’ minds was brilliant. It’s so queer, so unexpected, and so beautifully written.
Xiran Jay Zhao
I saw Zhao’s name connected with this title, and my first thought was, huh, that sounds really similar to the person who created a YouTube channel for the sole purpose of making a scathing review of Disney’s live action Mulan, complete with receipts and fact checking. That particular level of petty and articulation is right up my alley, and I was also really loving the blurb for Iron Widow. And, lo and behold, right from the first sentence I was in love. This has energy and anger and so many fucking twists and turns and it so queer and did I mention it was angry? I loved it and I need the second book as soon as possible.