2021 has ended. 2022 doesn’t feel much different, does it? The last year was weird. Everything happened so fast and all at once while at the same time it felt like nothing was happening at all. There were some big changes in my life though. After 7 years of studying I graduated with a MA in egyptology from university. I started working in a real job. As a bookseller which is both amazing and exhausting. I’m proud of myself.
I’m also happy about the books I’ve read. There were so many good ones this year and with this post I decided to kick off the yearly wrap-up posts by choosing a favourite book each month! So here comes my list of favourite monthly reads.
The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon
The Bone Season #4 | Bloomsbury | 528 pages
Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.
The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.
As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them-and could end with them.
Listen. Listen. I loved this book so much. It maybe even was my favourite book of the year! To be back with these characters in this world was everything to me. I loved the entirety of the book, even when it absolutely destroyed me and left me wailing and crying on my boyfriend’s floor. Samantha Shannon has created an incredible world with the most amazing characters. On this blog we stan Arcturus Mesarthim and Paige Mahoney and also Samantha Shannon and her fantastic writing. (review)
The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
The Poppy War #2 | Harper Voyager | 658 pages
In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.
With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.
But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.
I read The Poppy War in 2020 and liked it. It was an amazing book and I loved it but it didn’t blew me away like I thought it would. But then I picked up The Dragon Republic and that one really hit something in me. I became quickly obsessed with the whole series and its incredible characters. I am here for fantastic world building in combination with complex, morally grey characters. Ah. This book was so good, amazing, I loved it. SO MUCH!! I still think about it on a daily basis and I read it in February!
Das Mädchen und der Winterkönig by Katherine Arden
Orig. title: The Girl in the Tower | Winternight trilogy | Heyne | 480 pages
Wasja hat es geschafft: Sie hat ihr Zuhause vor dem Untergang bewahrt, indem sie einen Pakt mit Väterchen Frost einging. Doch jeder Pakt hat seinen Preis, und nun muss Wasja bitter für die Hilfe des Winterdämons bezahlen. Als Hexe verschrien, wird sie aus dem Dorf gejagt und durchstreift fortan in Männerkleidung das riesige Zarenreich. Immer an ihrer Seite ist ihr geliebter Hengst Solowej, der schneller ist als der Wind. Als Wasja eines Tages eine berühmt-berüchtigte Räuberbande in die Flucht schlägt, ruft sie der Prinz an den Hof nach Moskau, wo sie als Held gefeiert wird. Schnell wird Wasja – dank der Ratschläge des Winterdämons – zur engsten Vertrauten des Prinzen. Doch niemand am Hof darf je erfahren, dass der tapfere Kämpfer aus dem klirrend kalten Norden eigentlich eine junge Frau ist.
When I tell you The Winternight trilogy is one of my favourites. It’s beautifully written and I’m a sucker for good historical fantasy. I love the characters a lot and Wasja (Vasya?) is such a great protagonist. I loved the turns of this story, ones I didn’t always foresee and I was always hungry to read on and on. It was a gorgeous, informative read and I loved it a lot.
When people speak of “Second book syndrome” they usually mean that second books aren’t as good as the first one in a series. But for me it’s the other way around. I usually love second books the best. And The Girl in the Tower was no different. Now that I also read book 3 I can safely say that this one was my favourite in the series. (review)
Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton
Page Street | 240 pages
58,642,129. That’s how many dollars seventeen-year-old Fortuna Jane Belleweather just won in the lotto jackpot. It’s also about how many reasons she has for not coming forward to claim her prize.
Problem #1: Jane is still a minor, and if anyone discovers she bought the ticket underage, she’ll either have to forfeit the ticket, or worse . . .
Problem #2: Let her hoarder mother cash it. The last thing Jane’s mom needs is millions of dollars to buy more junk. Then . . .
Problem #3: Jane’s best friend, aspiring journalist Brandon Kim, declares on the news that he’s going to find the lucky winner. It’s one thing to keep her secret from the town — it’s another thing entirely to lie to her best friend. Especially when . . .
Problem #4: Jane’s ex-boyfriend, Holden, is suddenly back in her life, and he has big ideas about what he’d do with the prize money. As suspicion and jealousy turn neighbor against neighbor, and no good options for cashing the ticket come forward, Jane begins to wonder: Could this much money actually be a bad thing?
When I say Jamie Pacton has become one of my favourite authors and I’d read anything she writes, I’m not even joking anymore. Her first, Kit Sweetly, has been one of my 2020 favourites and Lucky Girl is definitely among my favourites in 2021. Even though it’s quite short, the story has so much depth and speaks about so many important topics. I loved Jane, the protagonist, so much. Reading about her struggles and her wants and needs made me emotional and all of those were so well written. It’s a quick read, not a light one, but definitely a hopeful one that I can’t recommend enough! (review)
Jade City by Fonda Lee
Green Bone Saga #1 | Orbit | 560 pages
The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.
The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.
When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.
Ah! Ah! Did I mention above that I love me a good world building with complex characters? Because that is definitely the case here as well. This is one of my favourite worlds with some of the best written characters I ever had the pleasure to read about. While it took some time to really get into the story, as soon as I was, I was absolutely blown away by it all. I am AMAZED by Fonda Lee’s imagination and writing skills, I am in love and I feel so much when I think about the whole series. It is so utterly fantastic, I just cannot stop thinking about it.
Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales
• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee.
• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.
• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.
However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.
Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.
Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?
This is the bisexual book of my dreams. I am just so glad this Perfect On Paper exists. I just feel so seen. Not only did I love Darcy and Brougham, I also really enjoyed all the discussions about queerness and all its different forms and what it means to different people. And the friendship themes and just… this book feels like MY book. Like it was written for me and I love it so, so much. (review)
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.
But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.
This was so much fun to read! Winter’s Orbit is the perfect mixture of romance, space and political intrigue. It has a cool plot with protagonists that I immediately developed a soft spot for. Kiem is so chaotic oh my god. I love him. And Taam is his opposite in almost everything but they just fit so well. They need to get to know each other but they really give each other time and don’t put pressure on the other. I just loved their dynamic and how they grow together. There are so many topics discussed in Winter’s Orbit that fit casually into the story. And the world is queer normative which makes it all so much better.
Cursed Love by Tanja Voosen
Von Jungs hat die 17-jährige Mia die Nase voll: Schließlich hat ihr Freund Franklin erst kürzlich mit ihr Schluss gemacht – per SMS! Doch dann begegnet sie auf der kleinen Insel Whidbee Island, wo sie den Sommer bei ihrer Tante und Cousine verbringt, Joe Dalca. Ein Blick in seine tiefen braunen Augen, und Mia fühlt sich magisch zu ihm hingezogen. Auf Joes Familie aber liegt ein uralter Fluch. Einer, der jedem Mädchen gefährlich wird, das ihm zu nahe kommt. Sind Mias Gefühle für Joe stärker als ihre Angst?
This book is only available in German but I still give you my opinion in English. This was such a sweet summery book with unexpected twists and a dash of magic. I read it in one day, on one hand because I loved the writing and on the other because I absolutely fell in love with Whidbee Island and the people there. For me, Cursed Love, was the perfect summer read and it definitely won’t be the last book by the author I read!
Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber
Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.
But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…
Once Upon a Broken Heart is gorgeously written. Garber’s writing is one of my favourites, it’s just beautiful, almost poetic at some parts and creates such a magical atmosphere. Add amazing characters and you get the joy that is this book. I was blown away by it and absolutely cannot wait for the second instalment. (review)
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.
That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.
Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.
Me? Loving books about academia? Confirmed! Especially now that I’m not part of it anymore and miss it. Pair that with a really cute romance and voilà, you get this book. I laughed and had second hand embarrasment and loved every page of it. The Love Hypothesis is such a wonderful book and absolutely worth the hype.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
War-torn Germany. Four young people. Four dark secrets.
They come from different lands but each of them is hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies … and war.
As thousands of refugees flock to the coast, desperate to escape the advancing Red Army, the paths of four young people converge. All are hoping to board the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.
Yet not all promises can be kept.
I absolutely loved this book for so many reasons! The writing. The characters. How the story didn’t euphemise war and what it does to people. Salt to the Sea made me cry and made me uncomfortable and cheer for characters I knew were about to meet yet another catastrophe. I prepared myself for it all and it wasn’t enough. This is a fantastic book that’ll absolutely rip your heart out. (review)
Miss Veronica und das Wunder der Pinguine by Hazel Prior
og. title: Away with the Penguins
Die 86-jährige Veronica McCreedy lebt entfremdet von ihrer Familie in einem großen Anwesen an der schottischen Küste. In letzter Zeit fragt sich die rüstige alte Dame oft, was sie noch mit ihrem Leben – und ihrem Vermögen – anfangen soll. Als sie eines Abends im Fernsehen eine Sendung über eine Kolonie bedrohter Adeliepinguine in der Antarktis sieht, ist Veronica zutiefst beeindruckt und fasst einen tollkühnen Plan: Sie wird den Pinguinen in der Antarktis einen Besuch abstatten. Und Veronica wird sich nicht von ihrem Vorhaben abbringen lassen, auch nicht von dem Forscherteam, bei dem sie sich einzuquartieren gedenkt…
Even though I had some trouble getting into the story, I ended up loving it so much! It’s such a heartwarming story about love and loss and family and friendship. And penguins. It’s an easy story that has a lot of potential to make you think. (German review)
And these were my favourites! Have you read any of them or plan to do so? Which ones? Can you choose a favourite for each month?
Until next time,