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Most Anticipated Reads of Early 2021

Most Anticipated Reads of Early 2021

Hunting down the new releases coming out in a year can be a daunting task. Combing through publisher catalogues, reading dozens of online articles projecting the next big reads of the year, and of course perusing goodreads lists and fellow booktube creators and bookstagram members … it’s a lot. And, of course, I take it way too seriously, I mean maybe that much research is a *titch* too much … but anyhoo here are 21 reads that I am super excited to get into my greedy hands this year.

Note that most of these titles are really for the first half of the year, as summer-late fall announcements and publication dates aren’t solidified yet. I’ve got a variety of genres on this list – general fiction, historical fiction, young adult, non-fiction, thriller, some romance, and fantasy – but check out my Anticipated Middle Grade Reads of 2021 if you’re looking for some great middle grade titles!

In no particular order (and dates subject to change, of course):

The Kitchen Front

The Kitchen Front book coverWritten by Jennifer Ryan

In stores February 23, from Ballantine Books.

Think The Great British Bake Show meets WWII home front, I’m really hoping this is light, literary fiction comfort food at its best. Set in WWII England, four different women will compete for the chance to host a new culinary radio program on the BBC, known as The Kitchen Front. For each, it will mean a great change to their world and circumstance. With included ration-friendly historical recipes and I’m sure, a bit of drama, this looks like a delightful read.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper's Daughter book coverWritten by Angeline Boulley

In stores March 2, from Henry Holt & Co.

The cover alone is enough to make me want this novel but the concept of this Indigenous story sounds equal to match it. When 18 year old Daunis Fontaine witnesses a violent act she is drawn into an undercover investigation. This girl, who has never felt at home in her culture or outside it, will use her combined knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to try and solve this crime.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Lost Apothecary

The Lost Apothecary book coverWritten by Sarah Penner

In stores March 2, from Park Row.

I was drawn to this particular book because: 1) historical fiction 2) has the word “apothecary” in the title (immediately piques my interest) and 3) a female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to women to liberate them from the men who’ve wronged them. Told in dual timeline between the 1800s and modern day where a historian will discover evidence of these murders, thusly upending her entire world, this historical fiction sounds like the right mix of history and thriller/mystery.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Wife Upstairs

The Wife Upstairs book coverWritten by Rachel Hawkins

In stores January 5, from St. Martin’s Press.

I’m not a major lover of thrillers, but this one really spoke to me with four little words: a Jane Eyre reimagining. Jane, a dog-walker in Thornfield Estates, a wealthy gated community in Birmingham, Alabama, grabs the eye of Eddie Rochester, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances. After he invites Jane into his home she quickly gets access to a glitzy, glamorous world of her dreams. But … strange noises are coming from upstairs.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

No One is Talking About This

No One is Talking About This book coverWritten by Patricia Lockwood

In stores February 16, from Riverhead Books.

Being someone who is part of the social media engine and fights the pulls & strains, highs & lows of it – this novel is greatly appealing to me. Giving off almost science fiction, post apocalyptic vibes, it is actually branded as a general fiction story that follows a popular social media titan as she tours the world meeting her fans. Suddenly convinced that she has been sucked into “a portal” where her thoughts and feelings are being controlled by the voices surrounding her – our main character begins a seemingly deep, psychological, existential exploration of herself, her thoughts, and her own individuality apart from our “scrolling-obsessed” world.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

All Girls

All Girls book coverWritten by Emily Layden

In stores February 16, from St. Martin’s Press.

Who doesn’t love a good prestigious prep school setting? When scandal strikes a New England all girls prep school and the administration tries to silence it, each student is forced to decide how they will go forward. Following nine different girls, this coming-of-age YA explores what is to discover your voice and your power in our current world that tries to diminish both.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org


Outlawed Book CoverWritten by Anna North

In stores January 5, from Bloomsbury Publishing.

This cover?! Anything blurbed with “a feminist twist” captures my attention and can I just say – there aren’t enough Western-based settings in literary fiction. Recently announced as a Reese Witherspoon book of the month pick for January 2021, this is the story of a young 17-year old new bride on the American frontier in 1894. After one year passes and Ada is still unable to conceive a child, she knows her life is in jeopardy as barren women are often hung as witches. Escaping certain death, she joins the Hole in the Wall Gang lead by Kit – a preacher turned robber – determined to create a safe haven for outcast women. Women who dare to imagine a better world for themselves amidst historical obstacles are themes I’m always interested in reading!

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Project

The Project book coverWritten by Courtney Summers

In stores February 2, from Wednesday Books.

Following up with her superb YA thriller, Sadie, Courtney Summers returns this year with another twist-filled thriller. This time tackling the world of cults. Lo Denham is a journalist who has spent six years trying to uncover the truth about the cult her sister is involved with. Known as The Unity Project, this popular cult has enthralled many members in upstate New York, but Lo is convinced there is more to this group than they are revealing. As her investigation continues, she comes in direct contact with its founder and their resulting interactions causes Lo to begin to question everything she knows about life, herself, the cult and her sister.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Winter’s Orbit

Winter's Orbit book coverWritten by Everina Maxwell

In stores February 2, from Tor Books.

Basically, I’ve seen this described as the political, science fiction twist to the popular Red, White and Royal Blue novel by Casey McQuiston. While admittedly that wasn’t my most favourite novel ever, this one really caught my attention. After Prince Taam’s death – his widower, Jainan, and his cousin, Kiem, are forced into a hurried, arranged marriage in order to keep rising hostilities between the two worlds under control. When evidence arises that Prince Taam might have been murdered, these two enemies will have to ally as they navigate court, solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war …

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Ladies of the Secret Circus

The Ladies of the Secret Circus book coverWritten by Constance Sayers

In stores March 23, from Redhook.

Romance, history, family curses, secrets, a circus setting and Paris in the 1920s … do you really need to know more? Basically this is the perfect bowl of buzzword soup for me! Another dual timeline, this story takes us to Paris 1925 where Cecile Cabot and her family run a magical circus. She is stuck in this circus world until she meets a charismatic young painter … Virginia, 2005, Lara Barnes’ life is exactly as she hoped – until her fiancé disappears on their wedding day. Her search for answers leads her to her great grandmother’s journals and the secrets of a magical circus and a dark, multi-generational familial curse.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev book coverWritten by Dawnie Walton

In stores April 20, from Simon & Schuster.

Following a fictional rock-and-roll duo from the 70’s, this novel gave me Daisy Jones and the Six vibes but with a racially charged mix. When a rival band uses a Confederate flag to promote their music, Opal’s protest costs her her career. Decades later, journalist S. Sunny Shelton sets out to chronicle the duo’s rise and fall, and their potential reunion, but when disturbing allegations come to light, she realizes there is more to Opal’s story than anyone knows.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

People We Meet on Vacation

People We Meet on Vacation book coverWritten by Emily Henry

In stores May 11, from Berkley Books.

What do I know about this one? Very little! Except that Beach Read was such a fun rom-com and this follow-up looks to be the perfect escapist read that I know I’ll be needing in the summer of 2021.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org


Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising book coverWritten by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In stores May 25, from Ballantine Books.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is a must read author for me, so of course this is on my list. Four famous siblings throw an end of summer party in Malibu, 1983. Told through multiple point of views of each of the siblings, this night of glitz, glamour, and fun will eventually turn into calamity as the familial mansion goes up in flames.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Chosen and the Beautiful

The Chosen and the Beautiful book coverWritten by Nghi Vo

In stores June 1, from Tordotcom.

Returning to the jazz age, Nghi Vo gives us an eagerly awaited The Great Gatsby retelling, with a magical twist. Jordan baker comes from a wealthy family which allows her access to the most premier parties and clubs – however being adopted, Asian, and queer keeps her on the outskirts of society as an “oddity” and most doors remain firmly closed for her. A magical, coming of age retelling through a new, modern lens, I’m really anticipating this story!

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Heart Principle

The Heart Principle book coverWritten by Helen Hoang

In stores August 17, from Berkley Books.

The last in my beloved The Kiss Quotient series, this novel has been backed off a few times and I’m crossing my fingers this will be the year it is released. Following my favourite side character, Quan, I’m really excited for this new romance novel from, in my opinion, the best contemporary romance writer there is. (Note: because this is a sequel I’m not giving a synopsis for risk of spoilers of the previous two novels).

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Ida B. the Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells

Ida B. the Queen book coverWritten by Michelle Duster

In stores January 26, from Atria Books.

In this mixed media non-fiction – combining bold graphics and primary source materials – the author (Ida B.’s great granddaughter) takes a closer look at the civil rights icon. Ida B. Wells was recently awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for her courageous anti-lynching, human rights work within the United States and around the world in the late 19th century. As we continue our work addressing the systemic racism in our society, it is important to look at the pioneers of the fight for change and a better, freer world.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology

Women and Other Monsters book coverWritten by Jess Zimmerman

In stores March 9, from Beacon Press.

This nonfiction piece combines two things I love, Mythology and the exploration into the warped view and assignment of evil to women deities and figures, written largely, of course, by men. Extending on the idea of women who step out of bounds – intellectually, emotionally, or sexually – being branded unnatural and evil, this book will look at mythos figures including Medusa, the Harpies, the Furies, and the Sphinx, as Jess Zimmerman takes us on an illuminating feminist journey through mythology. Asking the reader to reexamine their relationships with traits like hunger, anger, ugliness, and ambition, encouraging us to embrace a new image of the female hero.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job

There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job book coverWritten by Kikuko Tsumura

In stores April 20, from Bloomsbury Publishing.

This work of translated contemporary fiction has one of the most interesting sounding premisses to me: a young women enters an employment office seeking a job that is close to home, requires no reading, writing … thinking. What follows is her journey as she bounces from job to job, learning the titular message along the way … is there an “easy” job?

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Black Buck

Black Buck CoverWritten by Mateo Askaripour

In stores January 5, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

This debut novel looks to be a super cheeky, smart read following a twenty-something black man, who after convincing a CEO of a NYC tech company to change his regular coffee order, is offered a job with his firm. This great, young salesman is thrust into the white dominated world of corporate America. As he climbs the ladder, he comes up with ideas to help other people of colour enter the institution.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Witch’s Heart

The Witch's Heart book coverWritten by Genevieve Gornichec

In stores February 9, from Ace Books.

I’ve said it many times – I’m a sucker for mythology! So this fantasy/retelling of Angrboda, the witch who falls in love with the infamous trickster Loki, is right up my alley. Following Angrboda’s life after Odin orders her to be burned for failing to tell him of the future, she escapes injured and powerless to the far reaches of a remote forest, where she will meet and fall in love with Loki. Years later, Angrboda begins to recover her prophetic powers which foretells her of great danger to herself and her unusual children with Loki. Will she accept the vision or fight to make a new future?

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun book coverWritten by Kazuo Ishiguro

In stores March 2 from Knopf Publishing Group.

This will definitely be on everyone’s radar this year, as I didn’t see a list that failed to mention it. This is the first piece of work from the esteemed author since winning the Nobel Prize in literature in 2017. Klara (an Artificial Friend) who, from her spot in the store, carefully watches the world and people around her while waiting and hoping to one day be chosen by a customer. I’ve seen early reviews rave about this book and its emotional force as Ishiguro explores the question/meaning behind “what is love?”

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

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