The Best Books to Look Out For in 2021

It’s already the first day of the new year and not only should you be excited in starting a new chapter (2020 was kind of a mess, huh?) but you should also be excited about a slew of exciting new books being released this year. So get ready for your TBR pile to get bigger, because after you read these synopsis, you can’t help but adding these titles to your Goodreads account:

Girl A by Abigail Dean

Expected Publication Dates: January 21 (UK) and February 2 (US)

‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared. (Credit: HarperFiction)

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Expected Publication Date: January 21 (UK) and June 1 (US)

As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another… Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them.

But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…(Credit: Raven Books)

Where Hope Comes From : Healing poetry for the Heart, Mind and Soul by Nikita Gill

Expected Publication Date: February 18

In Where Hope Comes From: poems for a broken world, Instagram superstar and poet Nikita Gill returns to her roots with her most personal collection yet. Sharing a number of poems that she wrote when the world went into lockdown, this collection will include the phenomenal Love in the Time of Coronavirus which was shared across social media over 20,000 times, as well as her poems of strength and hope How to Be Strong and Silver Linings. This collection will be fully illustrated by Nikita with beautiful line-drawings, and moves her into an exciting new space in the market as she tackles themes such as mental health and loneliness. (Credit: Orion Publishing)

The Khan by Saima Mir

Expected publication: March 4th 2021

Be twice as good as men and four times as good as white men.

Jia Khan has always lived like this.

A successful lawyer, her London life is a long way from the grubby Northern streets she knew as a child, where her father headed up the Pakistani community and ran the local organised crime syndicate. Often his Jirga rule – the old way – was violent and bloody, but it was always justice of a kind.

But now her father, Akbar Khan, has been murdered and Jia must return to take his place. In the past, the police relied on him to maintain the fragile order of the streets. But a power struggle has broken out amongst the various communities and now, nobody is safe.

Justice needs to be restored, and Jia is about to discover that justice always comes at a price. (Credit: Oneworld Publications)

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal

Expected publication: May 13th 2021

1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.

But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell’s life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell’s story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her? And as she falls in love with Toby, can he detach himself from his past and the terrible secret that binds him to his brother? (Credit: Picador)

The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

Expected US publication: May 18th 2021

At Montverre, an ancient and elite academy hidden high in the mountains, society’s best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu—the great game—an arcane and mysterious competition that combines music, art, math, poetry, and philosophy. Léo Martin once excelled at Monteverre, but lost his passion for scholarly pursuits after a violent tragedy. He turned to politics instead, and became a rising star in the ruling party, until a small act of conscience cost him his career. Now, he has been exiled back to Monteverre, his fate uncertain.

But this rarified world of learning he once loved is not the same place Léo remembers. Once the exclusive bastion of men, Montverre is now run by a woman: Claire Dryden, also known as Magister Ludi, the head of the grand game. At first, Léo feels an odd attraction to the Magister—a mysterious, eerily familiar connection—though he’s sure they’ve never met before.

As the legendary Midsummer Game approaches—the climax of the academy’s year—long-buried secrets rise to the surface and centuries-old traditions are shockingly overturned. (Credit: William Morrow)

Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan

Expected US Publication Date: June 15th

In 1973, twenty-year-old Moll Gladney takes a morning bus from her rural home in Ireland and disappears. Bewildered and distraught, Paddy and Kit must confront an unbearable prospect: that they will never see their daughter again.

Five years later, Moll returns from London. What – and who – she brings with her will change the course of her family’s life forever. Beautiful and devastating, this exploration of loss, alienation and the redemptive power of love reaffirms Donal Ryan as one of the most talented and empathetic writers at work today.  (Credit: Penguin Books)

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue

Expected US Publication Date: July 6

At Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.

Louisa is the new, brilliant scholarship student. Finding most of the other students at the all-girls Catholic boarding school as icy and unfamiliar as the drafty mansion, she forms a fierce bond with the intense and compelling Victoria, an outlier and student provocateur.

Their close bond is soon unsettled by the young, charismatic art teacher, Mr. Lavelle—igniting tension and obsession in the cloistered world of the school. Then one day, Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear.

There is no trace of either one. It’s the unsolved mystery that captivates the whole country. Year after year, the media revisit it, and the conspiracy theories persist. Now, on the twenty-fifth anniversary, a journalist—a woman who grew up on the same street as Louisa—delves into the past to write a series of articles and uncover the truth. She finds stories of jealousy and revenge, power and class. But will she find Louisa and Mr. Lavelle, too?

Because remember—at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems. (Credit: Algonquin Books)

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam

Expected publication date: June 6 (UK) and July 13 (US)

Meet Asha Ray.

Brilliant coder and possessor of a Pi tattoo, Asha is poised to revolutionize artificial intelligence when she is reunited with her high school crush, Cyrus Jones.

Cyrus inspires Asha to write a new algorithm. Before she knows it, she’s abandoned her PhD program, they’ve exchanged vows, and gone to work at an exclusive tech incubator called Utopia.

The platform creates a sensation, with millions of users seeking personalized rituals every day. Will Cyrus and Asha’s marriage survive the pressures of sudden fame, or will she become overshadowed by the man everyone is calling the new messiah? (Credit: Scribner)

Children and Young Adult

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Expected publication: January 12th 2021

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man. (Credit: Balzer + Bray)

The Broken Raven by Joseph Elliott

Expected publication dates: January 21 (US) and February 4 (UK)

After their escape from Norveg, Agatha and Jaime return with their clan to the Isle of Skye to find that their enclave is now in the hands of the treacherous people of Raasay. They find tenuous shelter with another clan, but disaster soon strikes when the terrifying shadow creatures known as sgàilean escape their magical prison and wreak havoc across the island. Now Agatha and Jaime must call on old and new allies to fight this threat. In the meantime, a ship from Norveg sails for the court of King Edmund of Ingland, where a dangerous alliance is forming, and Sigrid, a girl with an extraordinary memory, works to free herself from the clutches of a cruel king. All three protagonists must summon their particular powers to save the island from the horde of dark creatures and foil the plans of two vengeful monarchs. (Credit: Walker Books)

The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant

Expected publication dates: January 7th (US) and February 18 (UK)

Cordelia comes from a long line of magical milliners, who weave alchemy and enchantment into every hat. In Cordelia’s world, Making – crafting items such as hats, cloaks, watches, boots and gloves from magical ingredients – is a rare and ancient skill, and only a few special Maker families remain.

When Cordelia’s father Prospero and his ship, the Jolly Bonnet, are lost at sea during a mission to collect hat ingredients, Cordelia is determined to find him. But Uncle Tiberius and Aunt Ariadne have no time to help the littlest Hatmaker, for an ancient rivalry between the Maker families is threatening to surface. Worse, someone seems to be using Maker magic to start a war.

It’s up to Cordelia to find out who, and why . . .(Credit: Norton Young Readers)

Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard

Expected Publication Date: February 23rd (US) and May 6 (UK)

Sometimes you have to leave your life behind to find your place in the world…

Peyton King has always wanted to belong. She seizes the opportunity to start over at a new school and finally finds real connections with the friends she’s always dreamed of and even an actual boyfriend!

But after flying high in her newfound happiness, Peyton comes crashing down when reality sets in and the ones she cares about let her down. Peyton’s friends can’t fix her and she can’t help them if they won’t let her. If she wants to find real, lasting happiness, Peyton will have to search somewhere else.

With nothing but her sketchpad and a backpack, she buys a one-way ticket and gets on a plane. How far will she go to change her story? (Credit: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Heartstopper: Volume Four by Alice Oseman

Expected publication date: May 13th

Charlie didn’t think Nick could ever like him back, but now they’re officially boyfriends. Charlie’s beginning to feel ready to say those three little words: I love you.

Nick’s been feeling the same, but he’s got a lot on his mind – not least coming out to his dad, and the fact that Charlie might have an eating disorder.

As summer turns to autumn and a new school year begins, Charlie and Nick are about to learn a lot about what love means. (Credit: Hodder Children’s Books)

The Crossing by Manjeet Mann

Expected Publication Date: June 3rd

Natalie’s world has turned upside down. She’s lost her mum and her brother is descending further and further into anger and violence with a far-right gang who march the streets of Dover.

Sammy has fled his home and family in Eritrea for the chance of a new life in Europe. Every step he takes is a step into the unknown – into a strange country and a hidden future.

A twist of fate brings these two teens from opposite sides of the channel together, but will their journey end in hope or despair? (Credit: Penguin UK)

Nonfiction

Men Who Hate Women: From Incels to Pickup Artists: The Truth about Extreme Misogyny and How It Affects Us All by Laura Bates

Expected US Publication Date: March 2

An explosive book examining the rise of secretive, extremist communities who despise women. In this ground-breaking investigation, Laura Bates traces the roots of misogyny across a complex spider’s web of groups extending from Men’s Rights Activists and Pick up Artists to “Men Going their Own Way” trolls and the Incel movement, in the name of which some men have committed terrorist acts. Drawing parallels with other extremist movements around the world, Bates seeks to understand what attracts men to the movement, how it grooms and radicalizes boys, how it operates, and what can be done to stop it. Most urgently of all, she traces the pathways this extreme ideology has taken from the darkest corners of the internet to emerge covertly in our mainstream media, our playgrounds, and our parliament. Going undercover online and off, Bates provides the first, comprehensive look at this hitherto under-the-radar phenomenon, including fascinating interviews with trolls, former incels, the academics studying this movement, and the men fighting back. (Credit: Sourcebooks)

Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World by Uju Asika

Bringing Up Race is an important book, for all families whatever their race or ethnicity. It’s for everyone who wants to instil a sense of open-minded inclusivity in their kids, and those who want to discuss difference instead of shying away from tough questions. Uju Asika draws on often shocking personal stories of prejudice along with opinions of experts, influencers, and fellow parents to give prescriptive advice in this invaluable guide. (Credit: Sourcebooks)

A Ghost In The Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Expected US Publication Date: June 1

A true original. In this stunningly unusual prose debut, Doireann Ni Ghriofa sculpts essay and autofiction to explore inner life and the deep connection felt between two writers centuries apart. In the 1700s, an Irish noblewoman, on discovering her husband has been murdered, drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary poem. In the present day, a young mother narrowly avoids tragedy. On encountering the poem, she becomes obsessed with its parallels with her own life, and sets out to track down the rest of the story. A devastating and timeless tale about one woman freeing her voice by reaching into the past and finding another’s. (Credit: Tramp Press)

The Woman They Could Not Silence: The Timeless Story of an Outspoken Woman and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear by Kate Moore

1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Threatened by Elizabeth’s intellect, independence, and outspokenness, her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her and makes a plan to put her back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum.

The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they’ve been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line—conveniently labeled “crazy” so their voices are ignored.

No one is willing to fight for their freedom, and disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose… (Credit: Sourcebooks)


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