🥂 Happy New Year, readers! May your books be ever plentiful! 📚

 

So, it has been a long while since last we posted on the website, because things have been absolutely nuts. But here we are, mostly alive and definitely kicking! We are also still alive and active on our Instagram page, for which the handle is @pageandprosereviews. And in more good news, Hailey and I plan to resume our monthly buddy reads, starting with Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey.

 

2021 has come and gone, and therefore, it is the end of all annual reading challenges for that year. Hailey and I, in and excess of overachieving, made the ambitious decision to complete TWO reading challenges. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish either of the list of prompts by the end of the year, but you can see just how far we made it on the Indigo Reading Challenge here, and you can find our 52 Book Club Reading Challenge here. I have to say, we did pretty well, all things considered!

 

Nonetheless, since we did not finish our reading challenges, we must now face a Dire Consequence. And we have every intention of following through with it…as soon as we come up with a Dire Consequence for ourselves.

 

I don’t really like doing top ten lists, or “Best of the Year” lists. There are so many fantastic 2021 books that I haven’t yet read, and so I would always feel that a Best of the Year list was incomplete. Instead, here are a few 2021 books that I absolutely loved, and would whole-heartedly recommend:

 

 

  • A Memory Called Empire and A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine: Technically, only the latter part of this duology was published in 2021. However, since I am recommending the duology as a whole, it doesn’t really matter. This series tells a beautiful, brilliant, devastating story about colonialism, and identity, and humanity, and also giant space battles. If you prefer action and adventure in your science fiction, the duology has it in spades. If you prefer philosophy in your science fiction, there is plenty of that as well. Really, it is a win all around! (Science fiction)

 

  • Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, by Alexis Hall: Remember how the wholesome delightfulness of the Great British Bake-Off helped many people through the past two years? This book follows the titular Rosaline Palmer as she juggles competing on a GBBO-type show, raising her precocious daughter on her own, and navigating the various relationships in her life. Oh, and it is absolutely hilarious in a wryly British manner, so that’s a major plus as well. (Contemporary fiction)

 

  • The Witch’s Heart, Genevieve Gornichec: A beautiful, heart-breaking retelling of the Norse mythology around Ragnarok. The story follows a witch named Angrboda, who has suffered betrayal and cruelty at the hands of the Aesir, and wants nothing more than to be left alone now…but the world is not yet done with her. I was sorely disappointed with the sexism in Madeline Miller’s Circe (see my post here for more), and this book was a fantastic antidote to all of my frustrations. PS: Hailey, you should really read it! It is tailor-made for you, and it prominently features Loki! (Fantasy/Norse mythology)

 

  • Longshadow, by Olivia Atwater: The third in a trilogy of loosely connected fairy tales — as in, with literal fairies — set in an alternate history version of Regency England. The story follows a young apprentice magician named Abigail, who is determined to make her adoptive parents proud by solving a string of high-profile murder, with the help of her wits, her magic skills, and a mysterious young woman who keeps appearing in strange places. You can pick up any of these books as a standalone adventure, but I would really recommend reading all three in order, because some of the characters recur over the series. And if Studio Ghibli is looking for new source material, all three of Atwater’s Regency fairy tales would make AMAZING Ghibli movies! (Fairy tale/Alternate history)

Cover for A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Title page for A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady MartineTitle page for Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, by Alexis Hall

Title page for The Witch's Heart, by Genevieve GornichecTitle page for Longshadow by Olivia Atwater

 

 

In some book-related news: my own brilliant, talented, marvelous sister was chosen as one of the authors for for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021 anthology, and her short story is the very first one in the collection! I am so incredibly proud of her.

 

Readers, have you read any of the books listed above? And what were some of your favourite books from 2021?

 

Cover page for Madeline Miller's Circe

Hailey and I fully intended to do a buddy read and review for Madeline Miller’s Circe. Unfortunately, we hated it. After a long and cathartic ranting session, neither of us felt much like getting into it all over again in a written format. Well, it’s been some time since then, and I am ready to discuss this book in a calm and rational manner. Mostly.

 

Content Warning: this review discusses violence against women and sexual assault. We have to address these topics, as they are present within the book.

 

Circe is an amalgamation and retelling of the Greek myths around the mysterious witch-nymph Circe, famously prominent in Homer’s Odyssey. Miller follows Circe’s life from her early childhood to the end of her days, as she encounters heroes, fights monsters, and comes into her magical powers as a witch whom even the other gods fear.

 

I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open.

– Madeline Miller

Dear readers, she was exactly that dull.