Hi all! This year, or rather last year, I read almost 50 books, which is probably the most I’ll ever read in a year. 😆 Today I’ll be sharing my top 5 novels of 2021! However, I’ll be sharing some honourable mentions as well because I read so many amazing books this year. Also, if you’ve recapped your 2021 in any way on your blog, do share the link in the comments. I’d love to see all the lovely books you’ve read in 2021 too. Alrighty, let’s get into it!
(PS: Click on the book covers to add them to Goodreads.)
5. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
I loved loved loved Instructions for Dancing…until the ending. Unfortunately, it was too anti-climatic. However, the journey this book puts you through is incredible. The main characters are so lovable, and the writing was humorous yet heart-wrenching. Instructions for Dancing was the perfect mix of emotional yet funny, which in hindsight is an odd combination, but definitely a good one.
4. Made in Korea by Sarah Suk
Made in Korea was my first physical ARC, so it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. I also interviewed the author, you can find that post here! The banter in this book was phenomenally done, to the point where I even want to re-read it, and I never re-read! The entrepreneurial aspect was awesome too.
3. Rumaysa: A Fairytale by Radiya Hafiza
This book surprised me so much! It’s a middle-grade novel that features beautiful illustrations inspired by South Asia. (It’s not a graphic novel though, in case you were wondering. 🙂) Nevertheless, Rumaysa was amazing! The heroine was spunky, and the story was absolutely hilarious! However, it’s the important lessons of following one’s heart and helping others that really stuck with me…and also the delicious descriptions of desi food. *sigh* I’d really love a hot cup of chai and a samosa right now.
2. Once Upon an Eid by A Collection of Authors (Edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed)
Once Upon an Eid made my heart feel so full! It tells a variety of stories, all of which show diverse perspectives and traditions that happen during the month of Ramadan, and on Eid. I felt like I learnt so much about the world through this book. Overall, it was incredibly wholesome and very joyful. I highly recommend it!
1. A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier
And now, in first place I give you 🥁*drumroll please*🥁 A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier! This was one of my first reads of the year, and it was amazingly cozy. It’s essentially a mystery set in the mountains, and I loved it! From the hilarious dialogue, to the warm writing, A Castle in the Clouds is the winter read you’ve been endlessly searching GoodReads for! You can read my full review here.
Both of these books are adventure based, and are very easy reads. In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens was a sweet book with lovely writing. I definitely recommend! Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne was such a fun and enticing book that I recommend to anyone wanting to get into classical novels.
Feel free to read my interview with the author of In Deeper Waters here! I wish I could also interview Jules Verne, but sadly time travelling back to the 1800s will be a difficult feat. You can however, read my full review of Journey to the Center of the Earth here!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my favourite books of 2021. I’m grateful to have read such amazing books, and hope to expand my reading to new genres like fantasy and historical novels. What genres do you hope to read more of in 2022? Have a lovely day!
Hey everyone! I am super excited to bring you a blog tour stop of In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens! Thank Turn The Page Tours for the lovely opportunity. On today’s agenda we have an author interview, a journal spread, and a review. So grab some popcorn, and let’s get into it!
Title: In Deeper Waters
Author: F.T. Lukens
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
RELEASE DATE: April 20th, 2021
GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Historical, Fantasy, Romance
A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.
Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel. Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean. That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…
I received an advanced reader copy via Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The synopsis of In Deeper Waters sounded very promising, and I’m happy to report that the story really held up! It was easy to understand, and the world building was done incredibly well. There was no info dumping, nor was it written vaguely. The adventure was such a fun time too. I adored every minute of it!
The main characters where especially likeable. Tal was so nice and genuine. From the start I could tell I’d love him! Athlen was also very wholesome. At first, I wasn’t particularly fond of him. However, as the story progressed, I found myself absolutely adoring his character!
Moreover, the side characters where one of the best parts of the book! I love how each and every one of Tal’s siblings had their own distinct personalities. Kest was courageous and kind, much like Tal. On the other hand, Garret was spontaneous and outgoing. His sisters where also strong and resilient. Adding on to that, I really loved how In Deeper Waters contains such powerful women. From Tal’s bodyguard, to a fiery sea captain, women can do it all!
In addition, the dialogue was very heartwarming. I enjoyed reading Tal’s conversations with his siblings. They each had a special way of interacting, and it was just too cute! Athlen and Tal’s conversations where at times mysterious, and this only made me want to read more. However, the dialogue between all the characters where mostly joyous or emotional.
At first I couldn’t resonate much with the writing style. Third person writing is not my thing, but In Deeper Waters has changed my perspective on it. The writing was eccentric and fresh. It always had me at the edge of my seat! Furthermore, the talk about classism intrigued me quite a bit. It’s not something I see discussed much in historical fiction, so I’m glad it was mentioned.
The overall enjoyment level of In Deeper Waters is very high. It took a little while for me to be fully engrossed in the story, but once I got into it, the book was immensely enjoyable! All in all, this novel is an exceptionally refreshing read that’s perfect for spring! It’s the epic high fantasy you’ve been waiting for!
Age Rating: 15 and up
TW: Torture, violence, death
Final Rating: 9.5/10 or 4.75 stars
Google very much distorted the quality of the image. 😢 Nevertheless, I still hope you like it.
1. I’m so happy to be holding this interview/blog tour stop with you today, it’s lovely to have you! Do you mind telling us a bit about yourself?
F.T. Lukens: Hi! I’m FT Lukens and I’m the author of In Deeper Waters. I am a lover of sci-fi and fantasy especially comedy and romance. I also love cryptozoology and superhero movies and television shows about magic.
Saniya: That’s very cool!
2. In Deeper Waters has an absolutely stunning cover! Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration and process of creating it?
F.T. Lukens: It’s such a great cover! I was so happy when I saw the initial sketches. The artist, Sam Schechter, did a wonderful job of bringing Tal and Athlen to life in both their poses and expressions. I think there was maybe one change from the original sketch to the finished product and it was a small detail. The illustrator had captured them so perfectly from the start. Also, the colors are beautiful – the sunset on the water. It really screams fantasy romance. It’s the first illustrated cover I’ve had for a book and I adore it.
Saniya: That’s lovely! It truly is beautiful.
3. Do you have a favorite place to write? Or a specific writing routine?
F.T. Lukens: I actually don’t have a favorite place to write. I have a desk that is surrounded by art and Funko Pops and posters that I use the most often that is my creative space. Unfortunately, now that I work my day job from home, I sit at that desk for eight hours a day already. So sometimes I migrate to the couch or dining room table. As for writing routine, I write best when others are writing with me. It may sound weird, but if I have a writing partner then I achieve much more than just by writing alone. I love writing sprints. I love writing during NaNo. I love participating in a writing discord. It motivates me to see other succeeding and helps me see a project through to the finish.
Saniya: It’s so cool that you love writing with others!
4. What is the most spontaneous thing you have ever done?
F.T. Lukens: I’m not a spontaneous person. I thrive with routine and don’t like surprises, so I had to really think about this question. The best answer I could come up with is that I adopted a puppy a couple of years ago from a shelter on a whim. He was part of a litter of nine. They were born in November and were given the name of Santa’s reindeer. (His name was Prancer, but we renamed him Zuko.) I fell in love with his picture online and I sent in an adoption request and was approved. They told me he was a lab via email. When I went to pick him up… Reader, he was not a lab. He is a redbone coonhound which is definitely not a lab. He howls. He chases things. On our walks, his nose is always on the ground. He’s strong and lean and ready to run at all times. I still love him, and he’s mellowed out as he’s grown older, but wow that was a rough first year. LOL.
Saniya: Awww that sounds adorable~! I love the name Zuko too!
5. Is there a character in your new novel In Deeper Waters that you resonate with the most?
F.T. Lukens: Probably Tal. He is the fourth of five siblings and at the beginning of the novel, he’s unsure of his place in his family and in the world. I remember being that way when I was a teenager. I was the fourth of four myself and I was just hitting that awkward teenage phase while my siblings were all grown up and established, married, having kids, off at college etc. It was a weird space to be in where you feel both left behind because the people you’ve been raised with have moved on and have started creating their own lives and families, but also like you’re not ready to follow them.
6. Do you have a favorite scene in In Deeper Waters?
F.T. Lukens: I do! But it’s at the very end of the book so I don’t want to spoil it. But it was the scene that I was writing toward when developing the first draft. It was the scene that I’d come up with really very early on in the planning and writing of the book and it was both a joy and a relief when I was finally able to write it.
Saniya: I love every scene in the book, but I think I know which one you’re talking about. If I’m right, it’s my favorite one too. 🙂
7. Lastly, what is the main message you would like your readers to take away from the novel?
F.T. Lukens: I really hope that readers will just enjoy the book. I hope they can curl up with it and lose themselves in a fairy tale for a few hours and be happy. One of the main messages is about remaining kind in a world that’s not been kind to you while still standing up for yourself and your family when necessary. So I hope readers will take away some strength, and peace, and joy.
Saniya: This is such a beautiful message, I love it!
Up for grabs, we have ONE (1) physical copy and ONE (1) digital copy of In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens. This giveaway will end on April 26th at 11:59 PM CST. The physical copy will be available to win by US residents only and the digital copy will be available to win by INTL residents only. To enter, click the link below!
F.T. Lukens is the author of four young adult novels published through Interlude Press, and her book Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic was a 2017 Cybils Award finalist in YA Speculative Fiction, won the ForeWord INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award for YA Fiction, and the Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction, and it was also recently named to ALA’s 2019 Rainbow List. F.T. lives in North Carolina with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats. Visit her at FTLukens.com.
And that’s a wrap! I hope you all enjoyed this tour stop, because I had so much fun making it. Have a wonderful day, and stay safe! 💟