Bookish Musings: Top Ten Books/Series I Read in 2021 + Some Non-Bookish Things


Time for my last, but certainly not least, blog post of the year. My favorite books and series! (Also games and podcasts and one movie and one show, because why not!?) I guess I really don’t need to ramble here, the post will speak for itself.

So out of the roughly 150 books I read this years, here are my ten(ish, because series) favorites, in no particular order except for the last two, and some of the non-bookish things I also loved!

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen [Audiobook]

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

This was just SO FREAKING CUTE and gave me all the squishy, cutesy, butterfly feels! I felt like I was going to burst out of my skin wanting so badly for them to finally admit their feelings and be together. I loved being able to feel that feeling of a new teenage romance!

[ My Review ]

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo [Audiobook]

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

This was just dripping with sexual tension. There’s so much that’s great about this book, the sexual tension probably shouldn’t be the one thing I keep focusing on, but whew!* Seriously though, it had messy queer characters, gorgeous writing, mystery, ghosts, a hint of romance, and it stands out in my mind as being just kind of different and unique with a story and characters that didn’t quite follow the formula I’m used to, in a way that clearly worked wonderfully.

*Actually, if I can sidetrack for a moment, I think it’s that so many of the books I read are so focused on the characters having sex, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but rarely do books really build up the tension beforehand. Rarely do they treat that part with the same importance that sex itself is normally treated with. And I love me some good romantic and/or sexual tension. There’s something so delicious about that anticipation.

[ My Review ]

Mazarin Blues // Sable Dark (Hep Cats of Boise Series) by Al Hess

Mazarin Blues by Al HessSable Dark by Al Hess

This series is so unique! I love the slightly futuristic setting, the Art Deco subculture, the exploration of what it means to be human through the perspective of a sentient AI, the lgbt+ and neurodivergent rep, the mystery, the relationships, and the great characters.

[ My Review ]

Absolution by Lissa Kasey

Absolution by Lissa Kasey

This book is part of a series but focused on a previous side character as the main character this time, and it turned out to be possibly be my favorite so far. It was the vampire stuff that really made this book shine for me. I love stories that really delve into the idea of vampirism and how it might affect someone and explore different the different possibilities when it comes to vampires (as you’ll see below, since I mention this sort of thing for multiple items on this list, this was a good vampire year for me lol).

[ My Review ]

The Dichotomy of Angels by N.R. Walker [Audiobook]

The Dichotomy of Angels by N.R. Walker

I’m just gonna quote my review because it perfectly summarizes my feelings: This was so funny and cute with just the right balance of fun silliness and angsty emotion! I laughed. I frowned. I awww-ed. I felt things. And most of all, I just really wanted these two to be together because they were really cute.

[ My Review ]

Simon Snow Series by Rainbow Rowell [Audiobook]

Carry On by Rainbow RowellWayward Son by Rainbow RowellAny Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell

I loved all three of these books individually, and I loved them altogether as a series! They all had a slightly different vibe and feel to them, but they all had the same wonderful, lovable, imperfect characters whom I really cared about and felt for.

[ My Review ]

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske [Audiobook]

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

This book had it all, and all of it was wonderful. Interesting magic and mystery, lovable characters, chemistry-filled romance, incredible sex. One of those books that is just a pleasure to read (or in this case, listen to).

[ My Review ]

Fangs Vol. 1 by Billy Balibally

Fangs Vol. 1 by Billy Balibally

So far only the first book in this series is out, but it is off to a fantastic start! I loved these characters and how even just this first volume alone started to explore some of their depth and their vampire society and some of the struggles and experiences that might come with vampirism.

[ My Review ]

My #1 Favorites…

(Yes, I said #1 and then I used a plural because I couldn’t actually choose just one.)

Strangers in the Night // Friends in Low Places // Only the Good Die Young (The Hunter and the Spider Series) by E.M. Jeanmougin & Jay Wright

Strangers in the Night by E.M. Jeanmougin & Jay WrightFriends in Low Places by E.M. Jeanmougin & Jay WrightOnly the Good Die Young by E.M. Jeanmougin & Jay Wright

This series has characters who shine so brightly with so much complexity and realism, relationships that are imperfect and beautiful, and stories that are interesting and exciting. Plus there’s a werespider, which is just fun, even though I normally hate spiders! As far as I know, it’s not over yet, or at least I really hope it’s not, because I want to keep reading more books about these characters!

[ My Review ]

The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer [Audiobook]

The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

This book gets the award for affecting me the most emotionally this year. I got so much more than I was expecting with this. It’s thought-provoking, it’s heartbreaking, it’s beautiful, and it really left an impression on me. A friend bought me a copy for Christmas, and I’m happy that I can just cradle it against my chest now whenever I want 😭

[ My Review ]

Favorite Show:

Castlevania: The Art of the Animated Series - Book Cover

I barely watched any shows this year, to be honest, but I did rewatch S1-S3 and then the final S4 of Castlevania, and though S3 had some slower parts, it was a great series with a perfect ending. Also the sexiest voices of any show I’ve ever seen. My gosh, where did they find so many people with sexy voices??? (I didn’t have an image of the show, so I used the image of the art book instead, which is also fantastic and something you should check out if you like the show!)

Favorite Movie:

Listen. I just loved this. It was a movie I watched a lot as a kid, and I was afraid it wouldn’t hold up since it’d been so long since I’d seen it, but it so absolutely did hold up. Fun, sweet, and emotional, and also 100% a gay love story between a man and a dragon. (All joking aside, I fully believe it is, if nothing else, a sort of queer platonic relationship. There’s too much feeling between them for it not to be.)


Favorite Games:
Red Embrace: Hollywood // A Pet Shop After Dark

Red Embrace: Hollywood Promo Image

Red Embrace: Hollywood was such a thought-provoking visual novel for me with such in-depth, interesting, complex characters! I love how it explored the potential darker sides to vampirism and immortality and how it might affect those who’ve been turned.

[ My Review ]

Red Embrace: Hollywood Promo Image

A Pet Shop After Dark is a small game that only takes about an hour to play, but I enjoyed that hour so damn much! This is a quick, fun, slightly spooky (but not scary), and really unique sort of puzzle game with a really fun ending that made it all make sense, in a trippy sort of way.

[ Review Coming Soon ]

Favorite Podcasts:
Dungeons & Daddies // The Two Princes

Dungeons and Daddies Promo Image - Four dads standing around a car in a foreign land.

Despite the name, Dungeons & Daddies is not a BDSM podcast, it’s a D&D podcast about four dads who end up in the Forgotten Realms and have to find their sons. I chose this as my favorite podcast last year too, but what can I say, it was one of my favorites again! It’s just so hilarious that it makes me laugh out loud in every episode, and the tight, fast-paced editing keeps my attention in a way that other rpg podcasts I’ve tried don’t. Season 1 finished recently, so lucky you, you can binge the whole thing and then get started on S2!

The Two Princes Promo Image - Two young men under a wedding arch, smiling at each other.

The Two Princes is basically an audio drama, fully voice acted and editing with sound effects and all that jazz. Season 3 is even a musical with musical-quality songs! Seriously, I just listen to the soundtrack sometimes because the songs are so fun and catchy, and some of them are just pure joy in song form. Anyway, it’s about two princes of a fantasy land who are prophesied to fight to the death but fall in love instead and have to save their kingdom from various different threats. It’s super sweet, super cute, and super queer!

Check out my other end of the year posts!

Cover Characteristics: Best Book Covers from Books I Read in 2021
Bookish Musings: Top Ten Characters from Books I Read in 2021
Bookish Musings: Top Ten Books/Series I Read in 2021 + Some Non-Bookish Things


Talk to me!

Have you read any of these books, or do you want to?
What about the shows, movies, games, or podcasts?
What was your favorite book (or other media) this year?


Your Thoughts


12 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: Top Ten Books/Series I Read in 2021 + Some Non-Bookish Things

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  1. Roberta R.

    “this was a good vampire year for me lol”
    Ha! That means it was an awesome (reading) year all around! 😉

    Of course I expected Schrefer’s book to make top list LOL. It’s wonderful that you were gifted a physical, huggable copy!

    Happy new year! I hope 2022 will treat you better than 2021 did.

  2. Greg

    Al Hess caught my eye through your other post, and now I want to try his books. The art Deco vibe definitely appeals to me on these.

    Dungeons and Daddies sounds fun.

  3. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I remember seeing you enjoyed the Simon Snow series so now I really feel like I need to finish it and buy that third book. And I’m happy to see you liked A Marvellous Light because I just bought that book! I’ll try and read that next. I’m adding both podcasts to my listen list as well. Dungeons and Daddies sounds fun and I feel like someone else enjoyed The Two princes podcast so I really feel like I need to give it a listen.

  4. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I love that a favorite childhood movie actually lived up to your memories of it. That’s definitely rare! I’ve had Infinite Noise on my TBR for far too long – I need to read that one. And I also need to read the last two books of Rowell’s series!