What a year! At times it’s been great, and at other times I’ve wished for the return of 2020 (which looking back on may have been a bit melodramatic). The highlights of the year have been finishing my first year of my History degree with a surprisingly good grade, travelling to see friends for the first time since the pandemic started, landing a new job I love with people I really enjoy working with and finally being at a point with my mental health where I feel happy again. The low points have been a relationship with an actual man-child (good lord, what was I thinking?), having to serve customers who don’t believe in masks or acknowledging Britain’s colonial past and turning 23 just before 22 (Taylor’s Version) was released so I couldn’t directly relate to it.
Like I said, it’s been a year.
But with this year came so many exciting 2021 book releases! And, perhaps, at times too many book purchases by yours truly, but my materialist coping mechanism aren’t the point of this post, the point is celebrating those materialist coping mechanisms!
So today I’m compiling a list of all the 2021 releases I haven’t been able to pick up to this year, despite how badly I want to read them.
Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe
I mean, who can resit a cover as beautiful as this? This graphic novel is a retelling of the story of Persephone and Hades and their romance. Persephone was raised in the mortal realm and is a newcomer to Olympus on the promise she’ll train to become a sacred virgin, however when she attends a part with her roomate, Artemis, she meets misunderstood ruler of the Underworld Hades, and is now forced to learn how to navigate the confusing politics of Olympus whilst finding her own power. Do I really need to say more?
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
The story follows a rising social media stare as she travels to meet fans and battles to understand online culture – or ‘the portal – as the questions from it repeat: ‘are we in hell?’ ‘are well as just going to keep doing this until we die?’. In the midst of this, two texts from her mother arrive: ‘something has gone wrong’ and ‘how fast can you get here’, forcing the two worlds to collide as one is forced to navigate the great empathy of the world, and all that exists to the contrary. This is one of those bookshop table books I keep seeing and don’t pick up, despite the fact I know it has great reviews, but for some reason I’ve been cautious of it and have regretted not getting to it this year.
The Manningtree Witches by A. K. Blackmore
A book set after the civil war with England in the midst of a a great religious fervour, in a small community where women have been forced to take on more after losing most of their men to bloodshed, a strange man arrives and begins to raise questions about the independence these women enjoy, and a time of great fear follows. I’m loving books surrounding witch trails and hunts at the moment, and there also seems to be a lot in the market (so win-win really), and the synopsis reminds me of The Mercies which I enjoyed so this is definitely on my list.
The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He
Shamefully, I’ve had my eyes on this book for nearly the entirety of 2021, and I am still as of yet to pick it up and read it. It follows the story of young woman: Cee, who has been trapped an abandoned island for the last three years with no memories of her life before, other than she has a sister Kay; and Kasey, stem-prodigy in her eco-city who has a sister whose been missing after she sailed out sea three months ago, who decides to retrace her sister’s last steps. It’s a really intriguing synopsis and I was honestly sold on the idea once I saw how beautiful the cover was, plus I did enjoy He’s Descendent of the Crane.
Beasts of Prey by Ayana Grey
The first in a new YA trilogy that follows Koffi and Ekon , two teenagers of contrasting backgrounds in the once magical city of Lkossa. In one night their fates change forever as a fire ignites at the Night Zoo where Koffi works, and both are not left facing bleak futures unless they can capture the Shetani, a wild monster terrorising their city. When I was doing some searching for items for a Christmas list this year this seemed to pop up on several different ‘best of 2021 YA lists’, and that definitely captured my attention, as I’m always looking for a new, fun YA series to devour (and inevitably never finish), and this seems to fit the bill perfectly for me.
Anna K Away by Jenny Lee
This is the sequel to Anna K that I read last year and really enjoyed (read my review here), and I thought I would get a chance to pick this up before the end of the year but alas, that doesn’t seem to be on the cards for me. Following all the characters we met and loved in Anna K this book takes place over the summer and immediate fallout of the first book. Anna has been whisked away to South Korea whilst her brother and his girlfriend reconcile, Kelly and Dustin take the first tentative steps into their relationship, and bereaved Bea fleas New York for LA in the hopes of forgetting the tragedy. If this is anything like it’s predecessor I’m sure I’m going to love it, and I really wish I had had the time this year to read it and give it the love I hope it deserves.
Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
A book about two black, British young people meeting at a pub, both artists and both had won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to find their place, and now struggle to make their mark on the British landscape that can celebrate and turn against them. I haven’t heard many people online talk about this book, but I’ve seen enough from some reviews to know I want to give this 2021 debut a go.
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Now, I don’t know about the rest of you but this invaded my book twitter for weeks, and I couldn’t seem to escape it, and now I can see why. The story is a retelling of the the rise of the only female Chinese emperor: Wu Zeitan – who I’ve done a small amount of research on and sounds fascinating – and so with a premise like that how could I say no? I’ll admit, I don’t think I’ve read anything like a Chinese historical retelling with robots vs alien battles as it’s main conflict before, but I’m willing to give it a go and I’m hoping it’ll be as good as everyone makes it out to be.
What books have you guys missed out on reading this year you wish you had been able to get to?