Another Cathartic ‘Top Anticipated Reads’ List for 2021!

Guess what, I’m bringing back together my two neurons to write, yes, the astounding, the creative, the original, end-of-the-year list with some of my top most anticipated reads of the upcoming, and much craved, journey around the Sun! Though the topic of this here list is not exactly out-of-the-box thinking, it still was a lot of fun to make so I hope you enjoy it and get as fired up as I did writing it.

I’ve got amazing reads lined up for 2021, a sort of personal, go-fuck-yourself-you-shitty-spawn-of-the-deepest-circle-of-hell to 2020, and I wanted to share it with none other than YOU! These upcoming releases will most likely blow your mind so be warned and strap in your tbrs cause you’re in for a wild ride.

Obviously this is only a small (and very hopeful, as I only have ARCs of some of these and others remain a fever, slightly erotic, bookish dream) sample of what my reading year will look like. You can pry my beloved backlists from my cold dead hands, and even if you do that I’ll probably come back to haunt you as a revengeful spirit.

I also have several author requests that I’m extremely excited about, so keep your eyes off people’s butts and on the blog, please.

Here’s to a hell (but…but not literally…demons stay in your lane…) of a 2021, and if you’ve had a terrible past year, I hope you can find something to celebrate at the end. Hopefully it’ll be this entire list, or just some of the books on it, so together we can scream incoherently in perfect mutual understanding!

The Unbroken
by C L Clark

The Unbroken cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne. Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

Why I’m excited: Arms. That’s it. That’s the reason. Seriously now, the synopsis sounds amazing. I love personal explorations in my fantasy, and with Touraine’s character I get a feeling I’ll get that moral complexity I love to read so much. Stolen as a child and conditioned to become a soldier, Touraine and her loyalist soldiers are now sent back to her homeland to crush a rebellion. Then Luca, niece to the emperor who wishes to dethrone him. A war between blood and self waging against what you are taught since childhood, alongside political conspiracies, empires, and armI mean, a sapphic relationship, and you got a book I’m dying to read.

Son of the Storm
by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Son of the storm cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: A young scholar’s ambition threatens to reshape an empire determined to retain its might in this epic tale of violent conquest, buried histories, and forbidden magic.

In the thriving city of Bassa, Danso is a clever but disillusioned scholar who longs for a life beyond the rigid family and political obligations expected of the city’s elite. A way out presents itself when Lilong, a skin-changing warrior, shows up wounded in his barn. She comes from the Nameless Islands–which, according to Bassa lore, don’t exist–and neither should the mythical magic of ibor she wields. Now swept into a conspiracy far beyond his understanding, Danso will have to set out on a journey that reveals histories violently suppressed and magic only found in lore.

Why I’m excited: Suyi’s prowess in writing would probably be enough to account for wanting to read this book. I haven’t had the chance to read anything by this author but I want to get into his bibliography as soon as I’m able. When I saw the cover reveal to Son of the Storm, it immediately caught my eye (shoutout to Dan dos Santos, who’s an absolute master of the art), then I saw the blurb and it all solidified into one of my most wanted of the year. A scholar mc? Imaginative fantasy elements I’ve never read before? Mythical islands erased from records? Conspiracies?? Fuck. Yeah.

She Who Became the Sun
by Shelley Parker-Chan

She who became the sun cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: “I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

A lush, fresh literary voice merges with commercial appeal in this accomplished debut. Powerful and poetic, beautiful and brutal, She Who Became the Sun is a bold reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

Why I’m excited: As soon as I discovered She Who Became the Sun through one of the author’s tweets, I knew I had to read it. Loving reimaginings, I am an avid devotee of historical fantasy. There’s just something magical about taking records that shaped our world and society and joining them with the wonder, imagination, critical essence of fantasy. I love how historical fantasy motivates those who are more into fiction books to learn outside the pages of a book, and discover pivotal moments and figures from all cultures. The play with fate evident in the synopsis called to me; I love twists like those when it comes to the future. I can’t wait to see how Zhu achieves her greatness and what Shelley brings us.

by Zoe Hana Mikuta

gearbreakers cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose–and falling for each other–in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series.

We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead…

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer–as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

Why I’m excited: I’ll be honest, this one had me at mecha deities. Mechas have been one of my greatest selling points since Gundam and the Sentai Robo, and I haven’t looked back since nor even wanted to. They’re just cool, they’re mega freaking cool. The subtle undertones of cyberpunk in the synopsis hit all the right spots for me (plus, I’m getting a sense of enemies to something so watch me fucking plunge straight into this one head-on).

The Conductors
by Nicole Glover

The conductors cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Hetty Rhodes helped usher dozens of people north with her wits and magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband Benjy have settled in Philadelphia, solving murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch. When they find one of their friends slain in an alley, Hetty and Benjy bury the body and set off to find answers. But the secrets and intricate lies of the elites of Black Philadelphia only serve to dredge up more questions. To solve this mystery, they will have to face ugly truths all around them, including the ones about each other.

In this vibrant and original novel, Nicole Glover joins a roster of contemporary writers within fantasy, such as Victor LaValle and Zen Cho, who use speculative fiction to delve into important historical and cultural threads.

Why I’m excited: Historical fantasy has always been my bread and butter since I was a teen. Juliet Marillier jumpstarted this attraction in me, but throughout the years more authors added to my passion for this mix of genres. From the sound of this book’s synopsis, Nicole Glover is well set to give me a few more reasons to appreciate this blend. Black detectives solve murder cases ignored by the white authorities, in a post-Civil War Philadelphia, and a magic system based on constellations. Hmm YES?!

The Forever Sea
by Joshua Phillip Johnson

the forever sea cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: On the never-ending, miles-high expanse of prairie grasses known as the Forever Sea, Kindred Greyreach, hearthfire keeper and sailor aboard harvesting vessel The Errant, is just beginning to fit in with the crew of her new ship when she receives devastating news. Her grandmother–The Marchess, legendary captain and hearthfire keeper–has stepped from her vessel and disappeared into the sea.

But the note she leaves Kindred suggests this was not an act of suicide. Something waits in the depths, and the Marchess has set out to find it.

To follow in her grandmother’s footsteps, Kindred must embroil herself in conflicts bigger than she could imagine: a water war simmering below the surface of two cultures; the politics of a mythic pirate city floating beyond the edges of safe seas; battles against beasts of the deep, driven to the brink of madness; and the elusive promise of a world below the waves.

Kindred finds that she will sacrifice almost everything–ship, crew, and a life sailing in the sun–to discover the truth of the darkness that waits below the Forever Sea.

Why I’m excited: A lot of times I pick up books by one defining concept they give me. I live for worldbuilding so seeing one detail that sets a book apart from any I’ve read really sells it for me. In The Forever Sea, it was the concept of ships sailing a sea of grass. It was magical, it was inventive, and it immediately caught my interest. This sounds like a great story, with bonds at the center, an exciting adventure quest, politics, pirates, floating cities (you can pry this trope from my cold dead heart), and a magical world we get to discover with the mc. It gave me an intriguing new while adding some of my favorite elements!

Tower of Mud and Straw
by Yaroslav Barsukov

tower of mud and straw cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads


Minister Shea Ashcroft refuses the queen’s order to gas a crowd of protesters. After riots cripple the capital, he’s banished to the border to oversee the construction of the biggest anti-airship tower in history. The use of otherworldly technology makes the tower volatile and dangerous; Shea has to fight the local hierarchy to ensure the construction succeeds—and to reclaim his own life.

He must survive an assassination attempt, find love, confront the place in his memory he’d rather erase, encounter an ancient legend, travel to the origin of a species—and through it all, stay true to his own principles.

Climbing back to the top is a slippery slope, and somewhere along the way, one is bound to fall.

Why I’m excited: Idk what it is about towers but I love books that center on them. Maybe it’s the idea of a constricting space birthing an expansive journey, that mystical pull of contrasts working its magic on me. Maybe I just think towers are super cool because they reach high in the sky and humanity has a biological desire to reach for the stars. Whatever it is, Tower of Mud and Straw seems to meld that fascination of mine with some of my most favorite things: politics, blend of magic and technology, and the awe of ancient cultures.

by S B Divya

machinehood cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client is killed in front of her. It’s 2095 and people don’t usually die from violence. Humanity is entirely dependent on pills that not only help them stay alive, but allow them to compete with artificial intelligence in an increasingly competitive gig economy. Daily doses protect against designer diseases, flow enhances focus, zips and buffs enhance physical strength and speed, and juvers speed the healing process.

All that changes when Welga’s client is killed by The Machinehood, a new and mysterious terrorist group that has simultaneously attacked several major pill funders. The Machinehood operatives seem to be part human, part machine, something the world has never seen. They issue an ultimatum: stop all pill production in one week.

Global panic ensues as pill production slows and many become ill. Thousands destroy their bots in fear of a strong AI takeover. But the US government believes the Machinehood is a cover for an old enemy. One that Welga is uniquely qualified to fight.

Welga, determined to take down the Machinehood, is pulled back into intelligence work by the government that betrayed her. But who are the Machinehood and what do they really want?

A thrilling and thought-provoking novel that asks: if we won’t see machines as human, will we instead see humans as machines?

Why I’m excited: Ah, the intersections of humankind and machine, the bubbling possibilities of new forms of life, the shocking branches of the evolution of our species, and the philosophical, social, cultural, and political implications that come with technology embedding itself so profoundly within our world. I absolutely love these themes and Machinehood has them all. This is one of my most anticipated, and though I had to refrain from requesting an ARC because I was unbearably swamped at the time (*cue to me screaming at the sky in frustration*), I’m hoping to have the chance to read this one next year and discuss it with you!

Gutter Child
by Jael Richardson

gutter child cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Set in an imagined world in which the most vulnerable are forced to buy their freedom by working off their debt to society, Gutter Child uncovers a nation divided into the privileged Mainland and the policed Gutter. In this world, Elimina Dubois is one of only 100 babies taken from the Gutter and raised in the land of opportunity as part of a social experiment led by the Mainland government.

But when her Mainland mother dies, Elimina finds herself all alone, a teenager forced into an unfamiliar life of servitude, unsure of who she is and where she belongs. Elimina is sent to an academy with new rules and expectations where she befriends Gutter children who are making their own way through the Gutter System in whatever ways they know how. When Elimina’s life takes another unexpected turn, she will discover that what she needs more than anything may not be the freedom she longs for after all.

Richardson’s Gutter Child reveals one young woman’s journey through a fractured world of heartbreaking disadvantages and shocking injustices. Elimina is a modern heroine in an altered but all too recognizable reality who must find the strength within herself to forge her future and defy a system that tries to shape her destiny.

Why I’m excited: The synopsis describes this as an imagined world, but even at first glance it’s clear to see the world of Gutter Child starkly mimics (if slightly dramatizes for the sake of fiction -or not-) our own, and the possibilities that await those most vulnerable. I couldn’t pass this one up.

A Psalm of Storms and Silence
by Roseanne A Brown

a psalm of storms and silence

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Months have passed since the violent coup that upended Princess Karina’s life. She is now a fugitive racing across the desert to sanctuary in the Arkwasian Jungle, where she hopes to find allies to help her reclaim her kingdom from her adopted brother’s clutches.

Meanwhile, Malik’s illusion magic is flourishing under Farid’s tutelage, but the bonds keeping the Faceless King trapped in his mind are weakening. His quest to best the spirit once and for all leads him deep into the dark history of his own ancestors, with an unlikely ally by his side—Princess Hanane, Karina’s resurrected sister, who hides more secrets than even she realizes.

As the fabric holding Sonande together begins to tear, Malik and Karina once again find themselves on opposite sides of an ever-worsening conflict, even as their connection flares to a breaking point. And when the fate of the world hangs on a single, horrifying choice, they each must decide what they value most—a power that could transform the world, or a love that could transform their lives.

Why I’m excited: Because A Song of Wraiths and Ruin was one of the best books I’ve read this year and instantly a favorite. Rosie was kind enough to end the 1st book on a terrifying note that leaves the reader anxious about the fate of our mcs, so I’m ready to be destroyed in the final installment of the duology. Bring on the pain. If you have’t read the 1st in this West-African and North-African inspired fantasy that the author described “what would happen if Aladdin and Jasmine had to kill each other” then maybe reading my review can convince you (if that pitch already didn’t…).

Fire with Fire
by Destiny Soria

fire with fire cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

Why I’m excited: Destiny has been one of my favorite authors since I read Beneath the Citadel and fell absolutely in love with the way the author’s stories explore relationships and imaginative worlds and situations. Then I heard of Fire with Fire, which promises a complex sibling rivalry where two sisters find themselves divided on opposing sides of a magical conflict, while a hidden threat awaits in the shadows (I love hidden threats and ancient evils. I am heavily trope thirsty and I do not regret that). It sounded like Naruto but with dragons. It’s like it mimicked my soul.

Fireheart Tiger
by Aliette de Bodard

fireheart tiger cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace.

Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnetic Eldris of Ephteria, who knows exactly what she wants: romance from Thanh and much more from Thanh’s home. Eldris won’t take no for an answer, on either front. But the fire that burned down one palace is tempting Thanh with the possibility of making her own dangerous decisions.

Can Thanh find the freedom to shape her country’s fate—and her own?

Why I’m excited: Sapphic romance with political stakes, first love giving way to a second-chance romance undertone, and a mysterious fire that burned down a palace. Politics and women in love, what else can someone ask for? Well, I ask for nothing else besides the synopsis of this novella which immediately caught my attention.

The All-Consuming World
by Cassandra Khaw

the all-consuming world

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade… but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again. This band of dangerous women, half-clone and half-machine, must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all.

Cassandra Khaw’s debut novel is a page-turning exploration of humans and machines that is perfect for readers of Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.

Why I’m excited: A.I. That’s it, that’s the reason. But to develop that thought a bit more, I was super fucking intrigued by the SAPIENT AGESHIPS WHO WANT THEM DEAD, and the intersection of human and tech, the conflict between lifeforms who are so distinct but so intrinsically connected. (Almost) anything that delves into human-machine and A.I. is a must-read for me.

The Chosen and the Beautiful
by Nghi Vo

the chosen and the beautiful cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society―she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.

But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.

Why I’m excited: Shocking newsflash, I’ve never read The Great Gatsby. But the way the synopsis of this book promises to offers us a character-driven dissection of an opulent world that exotifies minorities at the same time denying them humanity (in this particular case, our mc is Asian and queer), highlighting a voice that changes everything and transports an old classic into modern contextuality. It mesmerized me. It appears to subvert a mere detail but one that is actually monumentally significant in the way the book analyzes relevant matters of (American) society. Plus, ngl, that line about “infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries” really got to me.

No Gods, No Monsters
by Cadwell Turnbull

no gods no monsters cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.

As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.

At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?

The world will soon find out.

Why I’m excited: Metaphors, who can resist them? Not me. This book promises all things social and mysterious, adding in an interesting blend of the supernatural to booth. Once again fantay sets the perfect ground for social discourse and a curious story that seems to mix magic, mayhem, mystery, and heart.

We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep
by Andrew Kelly Stewart

we shall sing a song into the deep cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Remy is a Chorister, one of the chosen few rescued from the surface world and raised to sing the Hours in a choir of young boys. Remy lives with a devoted order of monks who control the Leviathan, an aging nuclear submarine that survives in the ocean’s depths. Their secret mission: to trigger the Second Coming when the time is right, ready to unleash its final, terrible weapon.

But Remy has a secret too— she’s the only girl onboard. It is because of this secret that the sub’s dying caplain gifts her with the missile’s launch key, saying that it is her duty to keep it safe. Safety, however, is not the sub’s priority, especially when the new caplain has his own ideas about the Leviathan’s mission. Remy’s own perspective is about to shift drastically when a surface-dweller is captured during a raid, and she learns the truth about the world.

At once lyrical and page-turning, We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep is a captivating debut from newcomer author Andrew Kelly Stewart.

Why I’m excited: I discovered this book thanks to Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy’s spotlights for SciFi Month. It has one of the most intriguing, imaginative synopsis I’ve read in a while. One of the aspects that most draws me to books (and I suspect, everyone else shares this) is imagination; reading books with concepts and ideas I’ve never encountered before. Yes, I love tropes a lot, the two are not mutually exclusive. A trope can be reinvented endlessly because the only limits of an idea are imagination. So, if you have imagination, you get a book unlike any other. That’s what We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep sounds like to me and I’m very eager to see how all these concepts work together.

Black Water Sister
by Zen Cho

black water sister cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it.

Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.

Why I’m excited: I haven’t read many books set in Malaysia so I knew I wanted to pick up this one. Black Water Sister sounds like an exciting generational story that melds spirituality (I don’t normally think of ghosts as magic) with a heartwarming note of family, identity, and will. I love stories like this, so I’m bound to love this one. Plus, grandmas are awesome (personally speaking, I know we all got our diverging life experiences) and they should feature more in books!

by Alexandra Bracken

lore cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.

Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

Why I’m excited: All I could think when I read the synopsis for this book was “American Greek Gods meets John Wick”. If that’s not an exhilarating enough thought to make one decide to pick up a book, well, maybe I am doing this all wrong, but I freaking love it.

The Taking of Jake Livingston
by Ryan Douglass

The Taking of Jake Livingston cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: The Taking of Jake Livingston is a horror novel about a 16-year-old boy who can see the dead. He’s navigating life at a majority white private school when he finds himself haunted by the ghost of a school shooter. We follow Jake’s journey to mastering his powers and banishing this spirit all while navigating racism, a budding romance with a new Black student, and the fallout of his parents’ divorce.

– From an interview with the author on YA Pride

Why I’m excited: I tweeted about this in the only way that can appropriately express my excitement at knowing this book existed: 💀 Layered dark academia, queer, “I see dead people”, explorations on “troubled teens” and toxic cycles, the story of a boy “navigating life at a majority white private school when he finds himself haunted by the ghost of a school shooter”… I very much need this yesterday.

The Bone Way
by Holly J. Underhill

Cover mockup for The Bone Way, official cover to  come. Art by Kittrose
Cover mockup, official cover to come. Art by Kittrose

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: When her wife goes missing, Teagan immediately knows where Cressidae has gone. A kingdom of the dead filled with untold nightmares, the Shadow Realm is the only place that can save Teagan from a lethal poison that’s killing her slowly. It is ruled by a princess said to make powerful deals with those brave enough to find her, and Cressidae has gone to bargain for Teagan’s life. Cressidae has forgotten one very important thing: no one makes it out on their own.

Teagan is furious Cress left without her, yet she’s determined to save her. The princess of the Shadow Realm, however, doesn’t let mortals roam her territories without opposition. In this thrilling tale inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Teagan and Cressidae must face both the horrors of the Shadow Realm as well as their own past.

Why I’m excited: The short description by the publisher reading “a sapphic novella featuring a descent into the Shadow Realm, inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice” thoroughly sold me on this one (mythology aficionados, where you at?!) but reading the synopsis jumped it to my top most anticipated. A kingdom of the dead, a mission on hourglass time, and deadly deals that may cost life, all uniting to tell the tale of two women in love who will go beyond life itself to save one another. Yes. Please.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find
by Joan He

the ones we're meant to find cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those committed to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.

Why I’m excited: I loved everything about this synopsis: a bond of sisterhood resisting adversity, a mystery at the heart, AN ANDROID, and the discussion on ecology and the future of our planet, and how those speculative possibilities might translate into society. I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book from Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy for which I’m extremely grateful and I can’t wait to read it!!

Rise of the Red Hand
by Olivia Chadha

rise of the red hand cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs.

Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children.

When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction.

Why I’m excited: I read in the publisher’s tweets that Rise of the Red Hand was a mix of cyberpunk and anime, and just like that, I was hooked. Once again, technology-embedded societies really know how to draw my eye and I love all the ways they can be explored in a story. Throw in fate-defining algorithms, a cybernetic smuggler, revolutionary effervescence, South-Asian inspired worlds, and conspiracies unraveling, and the book becomes the gift that keeps on giving.

Iron Widow
by Xiran Jay Zhao

Cover mockup for Iron Widow, official cover to come
Cover mockup, official cover to come

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Under siege by monsters beyond the Great Wall like that shitty Matt Damon movie, except the monsters are Cybertronian-like sentient machines, a society that has the fashion, social customs, and beliefs of Ancient China but futuristic tech fights back by pulling a Neon Genesis Evangelion and rebuilding their very invaders into giant mecha. A boy-girl pair in their teens, because of course they have to be teens, pilot the mecha Darling in the Franxx style, except in a much more sensible position (he hugs her from behind). Under command of human pilots, these mecha take on forms inspired by East Asian myth creatures and transform like Transformers through Digimon-esque evolution lines that get more humanoid as you go on. The pilots physically embody them, so it’s more Attack on Titan than Gundam. Oh, and they blast qi attacks, so the battles honestly read like a bunch of furries engaged in a Dragon Ball Z fight, and that’s no one’s fault but mine.

Why I’m excited: Ok so, above is an unofficial blurb shared by the author on Goodreads and tbh could it be more perfect? The book is set to come out during the Fall of 2021, so there’s still no cover to bask in (and I’ll be adding the buy links later), but I love everything the book explores, from the East Asian myths, the Chinese-inspired world, THE MECHAS (did I mention how much I love mechas?), and the poly relationship which you scarcely read in SFF! It sounds absolutely amazing and a match made in heaven for every weeb out there.

The Coward
by Stephen Aryan

The coward cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: Who will take up the mantle and slay the evil in the Frozen North, saving all from death and destruction? Not Kell Kressia, he’s done his part…

Kell Kressia is a legend, a celebrity, a hero. Aged just seventeen he set out on an epic quest with a band of grizzled fighters to slay the Ice Lich and save the world, but only he returned victorious. The Lich was dead, the ice receded and the Five Kingdoms were safe.

Ten years have passed Kell lives a quiet farmer’s life, while stories about his heroism are told in every tavern across the length and breadth of the land. But now a new terror has arisen in the north. Beyond the frozen circle, north of the Frostrunner clans, something has taken up residence in the Lich’s abandoned castle. And the ice is beginning to creep south once more.

For the second time, Kell is called upon to take up his famous sword, Slayer, and battle the forces of darkness. But he has a terrible secret that nobody knows. He’s not a hero – he was just lucky. Everyone puts their faith in Kell the Legend, but he’s a coward who has no intention of risking his life for anyone…

Why I’m excited: Most, if not all, heroes are lies, stories told to inspire false beliefs. That’s the premise of The Coward and one I always find intriguing. I love reading about the demystification of idolship, the falsehood of prophets, and the realization that History is more often than not a false fact taken for granted, for comfort. This book promises an exploration of that, alongside a character journey about a flawed mc who must carry the weight of the world on his shoulders—or not. Do I like righteous characters? Yes. I like reading all sorts of people. But give me an anti-hero type that rises to no expectations but his own any day.

Winter’s Orbit
by Everina Maxwell

winter's orbit cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: 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.

Why I’m excited: I used to think I didn’t like romance but even as I thought so when reading most trad books I could find, fanfic proved me wrong. Think of it what you will, but ao3 provided some of the most original gems that got me excited about reading, with complex stories that were not shackled by momentary marketability. Sure, there’s a lot of crap too (imagination doesn’t always come hand in hand with quality), but the same goes for trad publishing. A lot of crap in the six figure digits still gets published. MY POINT BEING, I used to think I didn’t like romance, but the fact is, I didn’t like romance the way it kept being marketed.

I still don’t enjoy reading romance as a genre, because romance as a focal point for stories has never been attractive to me. But romance heavily supported by a speculative fiction basis? Fuck. Yeah. I love watching developing relationships. I love romances that take their motherfucking time developing among a world ravaged by political dissent. I love quiet slowburns among the stars, where the world takes precedence but love (in whatever form) finds its place.

And judging by all that, I’m bound to love Winter’s Orbit. I read this book was picked up after gathering quite the interest on ao3, that it featured a enemies to betrothal of convenience situation, and that it’s political sci-fi, and I couldn’t have been more sold on it if I tried.

The Library of the Dead
by T L Huchu

the library of the dead cover

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: When a child goes missing in Edinburgh’s darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She’ll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

When ghosts talk, she will listen…

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children–leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan…), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.

Why I’m excited: Zimbabwe and Scotland meet in this intriguing story that blends the love for books and bookish places, the supernatural, and the investigative, in a story that just sounds amazing. I’m very excited to see how the intercultural aspects surface, and most of all, how the dark, thrilling hunt for secrets develops.

Untitled space opera
by Maurice Broaddus

Cover mockup, official cover to come
Cover mockup, official cover to come

The Storygraph | Goodreads

Synopsis: TBA

Why I’m excited: I admit it can be taken as a disservice to other titles that I’ve added a book to this list which doesn’t even have a title or cover, much less a concise synopsis. Yet, as I saw it described as “A space opera trilogy, which was pitched as “The Expanse meets Black Panther” and explores an intergalactic Afrofuturist empire.” written by Maurice, I had all I needed to know. Sometimes a pitch rly hits the nail on the head (I’m the nail). So here I am, glued to Tor Books’ news outlets in eager anticipation of more info on this trilogy.

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Call to action: Feel free to recommend me books that you think will happily join this list, I’m always looking to lengthen my tbr!

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11 thoughts on “Another Cathartic ‘Top Anticipated Reads’ List for 2021!

Add yours

  1. That’s an excellent list! My only comfort is that I’ve already read The Conductors and currently reading The Unbroken. Otherwise, RIP my TBR.


  2. Holy Mother, I NEED to read Iron Widow haha. Thanks for bringing it up, that’s definitely now in my top 10 (11) anticipated for this year!!
    For some reason, the synopsis of The Unbroken doesn’t jump out at me, but I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks! I bet it will be great.
    Also, The Great Gatsby was an incredibly boring book so don’t feel bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I dare you to keep that top intact throughout the year :p Think what rly caught me abt The Unbroken was the North African inspired world and the exploration on the mc’s conflictions abt identity and what she has been taught. Hope to get my review out soon! I do feel better abt skipping some of the classics whenever I heard abt how lame they are, so thank you 😂


  3. This list is so expansive and wonderful! I hadn’t heard of a lot of these books yet and so many of them have now been added to my TBR. Thank you!


  4. ARGH, these all look so good, why are you doing this me??
    I had an eye on The Conductors and The Forever Sea, but The Library of the Dead is looking very tempting as well. I hope to get to A Psalm of Storms and Silence this year, as it’s the sequel to the only YA book I could really stomach. I’m excited to have the setting and magic expanded!
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I aim to please or to…annoy? :p I’m hoping we get to explore more of the world of Psalm too! With the ending of Asowar, I get a feeling we’ll have the opportunity to see more of the worl and the myth and I can’t! Wait! Thanks for reading, Rin


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