Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was 2021 releases I was excited to read but didn’t get to, however, I addressed that topic in my post last week. So instead of covering that, this week I will look at my favourite new-to-me authors that I discovered in 2021. This is a list I have covered for the last couple of years (make sure to check out my 2019 and 2020 versions), and it is one that I always have fun doing.
Each year I am lucky enough to read a great number of awesome novels and this often includes some that were written by authors whose work I was previously unfamiliar with. 2021 was a good example of this as there were an incredible collection of amazing novels written by authors who were completely new to me. This included some debuting authors, as well as more established writers whose work I only got around to this year. Many of these new-to-me authors produced some truly exceptional reads, some of which I consider to be some of the best books released in 2021, and I really feel the need to highlight them here. As a result, this list may feature a bit of overlap with my top books, pre-2021 books and audiobooks lists of 2021 that I have previously published on this blog.
To appear on this list, the book had to be one I read last year and be written by an author who I was unfamiliar with before 2021. If I had not read anything from this author before last year, it was eligible for this latest list, although I did exclude debut novels as I had another list prepared for them. Despite this, I ended up with a massive list of potential inclusions on this list, as it appears that I read a ton of great new authors in the last year. Despite my best efforts, I had a very hard time whittling this list down, so in the end I decided to face the inevitable and leave it as a top 20 list. While I still had to exclude several great authors whose books I really liked, I think that I came up with a good overall list that represents which authors I am really glad that I decided to try out for the first time last year.
Top Twenty List:
Well, let us start this list off with an author I read multiple books from in 2021 with William King. I was in a real Warhammer mood in 2021, and as part of the that I decided to check out the iconic Gotrek and Felix series that was initially written by King. This great series follows a deranged dwarf Slayer and his reluctant human companion as they travel around the Warhammer Fantasy world looking for a monster bad enough to give Gotrek the heroic death he desperately wants. I really love this amazing series and I ended up reading the first four of King’s Gotrek and Felix books in 2021, Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Daemonslayer and Dragonslayer, each of which were a lot of fun. I have even kept reading King’s books in 2022, having only recently read and reviewed the fifth Gotrek and Felix novel, Beastslayer. I fully intend to keep reading this series this year when I get a chance, and I reckon I will finish off King’s entire run on this series extremely soon.
The other new-to-me author who I read more than one book from in 2021 was Jeremy Robinson, an awesome author known for his over-the-top science fiction and horror books. I was initially drawn to Robinson’s interesting dark horror read, The Dark, which sets a group of protagonists against a deadly demonic invasion, and which had a brilliant story to it. I ended up enjoying it so much that I decided to check out any other books that Robinson had coming out in 2021 and that led me to his latest release, Mind Bullet, which follows a psychic assassin who finds himself being hunted by a cadre of unconventional and superpowered hitmen. I had an absolute blast reading these cool books, and the both received easy five-star ratings from me. Due to how much fun I had with these books I plan to read a hell of a lot more from Robinson this year, especially as he has some cool releases on the way.
One of the more interesting authors I checked out in 2021 was young adult author Tess Sharpe who wowed me with her cool novel, The Girls I’ve Been. This fantastic novel followed a teenage former con-artist who is forced to revert to her old ways to save herself and her friends from vicious bank robbers. Clever, compelling and deeply thrilling, I have so much love for this novel and I cannot wait to see what cool books Sharpe rights in the future.
One of the best new-to-me authors I read last year was legendary fantasy author John Gwynne. Gwynne, who has written some very highly regarded dark fantasy books in the past presented The Shadow of the Gods last year, which was the first book in his new Bloodsworn Saga series. I initially hadn’t planned to read this book but after hearing so many positive reviews about it I changed my mind and was extremely glad that I did. The Shadow of the Gods was an epic and captivating read that featured action and adventure in an awesome, Viking-inspired fantasy landscape. This was such an incredible book (with a really amazing cover) and it made me an instant fan of this author. I cannot wait to see where this series goes next, and I really need to go back and read some of Gwynne’s earlier series.
I was also lucky enough to read the fantastic historical thriller Resistance towards the end of last year written by relatively new author Mara Timon. Resistance was a sequel to Timon’s 2020 debut City of Spies and contains a great story about a female spy dropped into occupied Normandy shortly before the D-Day landings. This was an excellent spy thriller and I look forward to seeing what other cool books Timon writes in the future.
Another great new-to-me author of Warhammer fiction I read last year was the insanely talented Nate Crowley who presented his first The Twice-Dead King novel, Ruin. Ruin followed a banished Necron prince as he attempts to save his former empire from internal corruption and destructive outside forces. Breathing amazing life into essentially dead characters, this was a fantastic and intense Warhammer read that I had a great time with. I cannot wait to see how the series continues in 2022 and I will also try to read some of Crowley’s other cool Warhammer releases.
I was very excited to check out a book from Japanese thriller author Kotaro Isaka last year with Bullet Train. A translation of his 2010 novel Maria Beetle, this book featured a complex and quirky tale about several assassins trapped on the same bullet train. I had an incredible time with this book, especially as Isaka loaded it with some amazing twists and very unique characters. Thanks to the success of this book, and the cool upcoming (if somewhat whitewashed) film adaptation of Bullet Train, several of the author’s other novels are being translated and I look forward to seeing what other crazy adventures he has come up with.
Another great new author I found in 2021 was historical drama writer Kelly Rimmer whose latest book, The Warsaw Orphan, was an outstanding and powerful read. Set in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation, this book follows a group of people who attempt to save Jewish children from the Ghetto. A heartbreaking and riveting read, The Warsaw Orphan was an amazing book and I will be keeping an eye out for more of Rimmer’s stuff in the future.
One of the best books I had the pleasure to read in 2021 was Project Hail Mary, an impressive and clever science fiction novel by bestselling author Andy Weir. I have been meaning to read some of Weir’s books for years, especially after seeing the movie adaptation of The Martian, but I never got the chance. As such I was extremely keen to read his latest book when it came out last year and boy did Project Hail Mary deliver. Containing an epic and brilliant story filled with realistic science, I loved every second I spent reading this book and I honestly could not put it down. I am now a firm fan of the author and I fully intend to read the rest of Weir’s works as soon as possible.
There was no way that I couldn’t check out fantastic author Josh Reynolds this year especially after I saw that he had brought back one of my favourite Warhammer 40,000 characters, Kal Jerico. This cool new book, Sinner’s Bounty, sets the titular bounty hunter and his friends on an insane journey into the depths of their Hive City to retrieve a wanted man. Forced to contend with rival bounty hunters, monsters, mutants, and gangs, this was an amazing read and I will be checking out more of Reynolds’ Warhammer books in the future, especially if they feature Kal Jerico.
I was very lucky to grab a novel from amazing Australian author Sarah Bailey this year. Her latest book, The Housemate, was a brilliant novel that saw a disturbed reporter attempt to solve a notorious crime that had been haunting her for years. Incredibly powerful, compelling and intense, this was one of the best Australian books of 2021 and I will be very interested to see what other cool books Bailey writes in the future.
Easily one of the more entertaining books I read in 2021 was the fun and wildly addictive legal thriller by Steve Cavanagh, The Devil’s Advocate. The sixth book in his Eddie Flynn series, The Devil’s Advocate was a great novel that saw its former conman turned defence attorney protagonist attempt to stop a murderous prosecutor determined to send an innocent man to death row. I had an amazing time with this compelling and over-the-top read, and I now really want to go back and read the rest of the awesome novels in this cool series.
Another instant favourite new author I checked out last year was impressive well-established fantasy author Anthony Ryan. Ryan is another author who I have been meaning to read for a while and it turns out I have been really missing out. His latest book, The Pariah, was an excellent and compelling first entry in a great new series that follows a young scribe as he journeys around a fantasy world trying to find his purpose. An epic first book, I cannot wait to see how this series continues and I know I am going to love it.
Perhaps one of the biggest names on this list is bestselling author John Grisham, who has been at the top of the crime fiction genre for decades. Grisham is one of those massive authors whose work I have been meaning to read for a very long time but never got the chance. Well, that all changed last year when I received a copy of his latest book, The Judge’s List, which sets some clever protagonists against a dangerous serial killer who is also a sitting judge. I had an incredible time with The Judge’s List, and I am fully planning to check out the rest of Grisham’s catalogue to see what I have been missing out on.
Wow there were so many awesome new-to-me Warhammer authors I checked out last year and one of the best was Dan Abnett. Abnett has written a ton of awesome Warhammer novels over the years, but the first book of his I decided to check out was First and Only, the initial book of his iconic Gaunt’s Ghosts series. Following a regiment of Imperial Guard soldiers as they fight through a gauntlet of traitors, rivals and conspiracies, this was an outstanding novel and I cannot wait to see what happens in the rest of this impressive series.
I had a great time checking out thriller author A. W. Hammond for the first time in 2021. Hammond, who also writes under the name Alex Hammond, produced an exceptional and fun historical thriller last year with The Paris Collaborator. Set in the last days of the German occupation of Paris, this cool book follows a French investigator who is hired to find several missing men around the city. Filled with cool action, intense twists and some excellent historical moments, this was a great read and I will be keeping an eye out for more of Hammond’s novels in the future.
I am slightly cheating here by including two authors in the one entry, but as this was the first time I had read anything from either of them and they were collaborating on the same book, I think I can make an exception. These two authors were Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman, a great team of established authors who collaborated for the first time to create the amazing All of Us Villains. All of Us Villains was an excellent and entertaining young adult fantasy book that followed seven champions forced into a magical death tournament with the entire world watching. Loaded with amazing characters and brutal magic, this was an awesome book and I am extremely glad I decided to check out this intriguing team of authors last year.
I had been meaning to read something from talented Australian author Max Barry for a while, especially as he has written some great and compelling sounding science fiction reads. I finally got a chance last year when I received a copy of Barry’s latest book, The 22 Murders of Madison May. This was a cool book that saw a women attempt to stop a deranged stalker from killing every version of his obsession, actress Madison May, in the multiverse. I deeply enjoyed this complex and entertaining story and I will have to grab some more stuff from Barry in the future.
One author I have been hearing a lot of buzz around over the years is Grady Hendrix, who has written several intriguing and unique horror hybrid novels. Due to all the positive stuff I have heard about this author I decided to check out one of their books last year with their 2021 release, The Final Girl Support Group. Set in a world were the survivors of iconic slasher scenarios have formed a support group, this cool novel follows these paranoid and damaged protagonists as they attempt to survive a new monster who is determined to kill them. An impressive homage to iconic slasher films that cleverly deconstructs the genre, this was a very fun read and I am extremely glad I decided to check out Grady Hendrix last year.
The final top new-to-me author I read last year was Australian author S. R. White, who released their second novel Prisoner. This was an enjoyable and captivating Australian murder mystery novel that had a very gritty and realistic feel to it, especially in some impressive interrogation scenes. An excellent novel from a great new author I will have to read more of in the future.
Well, that’s the end of this latest Top Ten list. I think it turned out rather well and it encapsulates some of the best new authors I checked out in 2021. I look forward to reading more books from these authors in the future and I have no doubt they will produce more epic and incredible reads. Make sure to let me know which new authors you enjoyed in 2021 in the comments below and make sure to check back next week for another exciting list.