Kim McDougall

Reading Challenge Revealed!

It feels like Christmas and the New Year were months ago already. We’ve been in lockdown again, so I’ve been taking this time to edit book 5 of the Valkyrie Bestiary. I should have news on that front very soon, maybe even a release date.

I’m a bit late to the party to go over the Best of 2021 stuff, but I do love the reading challenges on Goodreads and I try to participate every year. This year, I fell short of my goal, but I did publish 4 books too, so I think I can cut myself some slack. 

What I really enjoy is going over the books I read in the last year. It’s like holding each one in my heart again, if just for the moment. I savor them. Here are my top 10 best reads for 2021. You can see that my reading tastes are all over the place. I like a little bit of everything. 

Top 10 books I read in 2021 (in no particular order because I could possibly choose a favorite)

1. Blood Heir – Ilona Andrews (Urban Fantasy)
n2. Oracle – Andrew Pyper (Thriller/horror)
n3. Hornet Flight – Ken Follet (Historical)
n4. Practical Magic – Alice Hoffman (Contemporary Fantasy)
n5. The Rowan – Anne McCaffrey (Science Fiction)
n6. Shadow Pheonix – M.J. Moores (Steampunk)
n7. Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Literary Fiction)
n8. A Plague of Giants – Kevin Hearne (Epic Fantasy)
n9. Patient Zero – Jonathon Maberry (Action/Suspense)
n10. The Fool – Val Tobin (Urban Fantasy)

I’d been waiting for Blood Heir for a long time and it didn’t disappoint. Patient Zero is a favorite, and a book I reread every other year. Maberry is a master at producing multiple points of view with distinct voices. If you like audiobooks, Ray Porter narrates it. I’d listen to him read the phonebook. So good. A Plague of Giants was a wonderful surprise. It’s epic fantasy but with a modern feel to it. Truly unique world building too. And Klara and the Sun tells the poignant tale of an AI companion to a young girl. It is so relevant to our times and so poignant that I I find myself thinking of when I can’t sleep at night. 

I’d recommend any of the books on this list. What was on your 2021 list that you like to savor? I’d love to hear about your favorite books, feel free to leave a comment below. 

And here’s a tiny snippet from Valkyrie Bestiary Book 5 (a work in progress) in case you’re missing Hunter, the pygmy kraken and his friends:

Inside, the barn was cooler than the summer afternoon. That was the amazing thing about bank barns. Built into a hillside, the earth acted as a natural air conditioner—cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter. Arriz and his boys had finished setting up. The old horse stalls had been pulled down to make room for more cages and terrariums. Hunter and my abaia eel, Buddy, had a huge aquarium that filled one entire wall. And I still had room for more cages. 
nThat meant I could bring home more critters. I felt like a kid who just been given a free pass at the toy store. 

Dekar and his younger brother, Gibus, were preparing for the evening feeding. 
nIt was my favorite time of the day. The nocturnal critters weren’t yet awake. The diurnal critters were getting sleepy. Even Jacoby, who’d been bouncing around the barn all morning, had finally curled up for a nap in a patch of sunshine. There was a hush over the room—not an expectant hush, but more of a lazy, satisfied calm. 

Gibus tugged on my sleeve. “Can I feed the octopus?” He held up a bowl of frozen crayfish. 

“Only if you don’t call him octopus. Hunter is pretty touchy about that. He’s a pygmy kraken.”

Gibus scratched his head. He had think black hair that stuck out like bristles on a broom. 

“What’s the difference?”

“It would be like someone calling you a brownie instead of a goblin.”

“Humans do that. They’re dumb.”

“It’s because they don’t know any better. When you know better, you do better. Right?”

“Right!” A grin lit his face. “So can I feed the piggy kraken?”

That was close enough. “Sure.” 

Kelpies Don’t Fly, book 5 of the Valkyrie Bestiary is coming soon. Check back here for pre-order dates.

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