Hello everyone! I am thrilled to get back into the swing of doing Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
This week’s theme is all about the new releases we are excited about coming in the first half of 2021.
I feel like there are so many amazing books coming out but these are at the top of my list. With that said, this list is in no way exhaustive and I will definitely be gushing about new books every month that I cannot wait to read/own.
Wings of Ebony by J.Elle (Jan. 26th)Wings of Ebony (Wings of Ebony, #1) by J. Elle
Published by Denene Millner Books/Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on January 26, 2021
In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry--and with evil sinking its claws into humans and gods alike, she'll have to unearth the magic of her true identity to save both her worlds.
Perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Tomi Adeyemi, and The Hunger Games.
“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue's taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.
Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.
Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
I have actually already this one and absolutely adored it. The novel stars Rue, an independent but flawed protagonist who lost her mother years ago and has gone to live with her father– the catch is, her father lives in a world of magic and political intrigue– and Rue wants no part of it. The book addresses themes of racism and colonialism and I am stoked to have the author here at the end of the month for a Q&A, so stay tuned for that.
The Burning Girls by CJ Tudor (Feb. 9th)The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor
Published by Ballantine Books on February 9, 2021
An unconventional vicar moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present--and intent on keeping its dark secrets--in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C. J. Tudor.
Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.
Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. "But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known."
The more Jack and daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.
But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village's bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.
This book sounds so good, set in a dark small town where girls frequently disappear, a new pastor moves in with his daughter and is determined to unravel what has been going on. The synopsis hints at hauntings and possibly ritualistic sacrifice? Regardless, I am here for it.
Black Widows by Cate Quinn (Feb. 9th)Black Widows by Cate Quinn
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on February 9, 2021
Blake’s dead. They say his wife killed him. The question is… which one?
For fans of The Dry and The Wife Between Us comes a unique and riveting murder mystery.
Blake Nelson built a homestead on a hidden stretch of land—a raw paradise in the wilds of Utah—where he lived with his three wives:
Rachel, the first wife, obedient and doting to a fault, with a past she’d prefer to keep quiet.
Tina, the other wife, everything Rachel isn’t, straight from rehab and the Vegas strip.
And Emily, the young wife, naïve and scared, estranged from her Catholic family.
The only thing that they had in common was Blake. Until all three are accused of his murder.
When Blake is found dead under the desert sun, all three wives becomes a suspect—not only to the police, but to each other. As the investigation draws them closer, each wife must decide who can be trusted.
With stories surfacing of a notorious cult tucked away in the hills, whispers flying about a fourth wife, and evidence that can’t quite explain what had been keeping Blake busy, the three widows face a reckoning that might shatter all they know to be true.
This is another thriller that I am absolutely stoked about it. Domestic in style, the story centers around a man with multiple wives, who turns up dead. The question is, who did it and why? I am intrigued by the polygamy dynamic and will definitely be picking this one up when it comes out.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (Feb. 9th)The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1) by Namina Forna
on February 9, 2021
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity--and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki--near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be--not even Deka herself.
The Gilded Ones has an amazing premise, every year a blood ceremony is performed to determine whether women will be apart of the village or cast out. When Deka’s blood runs gold she is called away from the only life and world she has ever known. It gives me major The Grace Year vibes and Namina will be joining me for a Q&A in mid February.
Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic (Feb. 16th)Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on February 16, 2021
A darkly gripping debut novel about a teenage girl’s fierce struggle to reclaim her life from her abusive father.
Fifteen-year-old equestrian prodigy Roan Montgomery has only ever known two worlds: inside the riding arena, and outside of it. Both, for as long as she can remember, have been ruled by her father, who demands strict obedience in all areas of her life. The warped power dynamic of coach and rider extends far beyond the stables, and Roan's relationship with her father has long been inappropriate. She has been able to compartmentalize that dark aspect of her life, ruthlessly focusing on her ambitions as a rider heading for the Olympics, just as her father had done. However, her developing relationship with Will Howard, a boy her own age, broadens the scope of her vision.
At the intersection of a commercial page-turner and urgent survivor story, Dark Horses takes the searing themes of abuse and resilience in Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling and applies the compelling exploration of female strength in Room by Emma Donoghue. In much the same way that V.C. Andrews’s Flowers in the Attic transfixed a generation of readers, Susan Mihalic’s debut is set to a steady beat that will keep you turning the pages.
I have an advanced copy of this book thanks to Netgalley and the publisher and I have already read a chapter of it because I was so curious. I keep thinking about it, even as I read other books for the blog. It deserves all the trigger warnings for child abuse, domestic violence, etc… It also features an equestrian protege and, as a girl who grew up obsessed with all things horse related, I am sold
Flamefall by Rosaria Munda (March 23rd)Flamefall (The Aurelian Cycle, #2) by Rosaria Munda
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on March 23, 2021
Revolutionary flames ignite around Annie, Lee, and a brand new POV character in the second book of the Fireborne trilogy.
After fleeing the revolution and settling into the craggy cliffs of New Pythos, the Dragonlords are eager to punish their usurpers--and reclaim their city. Their first order of business was destroying the Callipolan food supply. Now they're coming for the Dragonriders.
Annie is Callipolis's new Firstrider, and while her goal has always been to protect the people, being the government's enforcer has turned her into public enemy number one.
Lee struggles to find his place after killing kin to prove himself to a leader who betrayed him. He can support Annie and the other Guardians . . . or join the radicals who look to topple the new regime.
Griff, a lowborn dragonrider who serves New Pythos, knows he has no future. And now that Julia, the Firstrider who had protected him, is dead, he is called on to sacrifice everything for the lords that oppress his people--or to forge a new path with the Callipolan Firstrider seeking his help.
With famine tearing Callipolis apart and the Pythians determined to take back what they lost, it will be up to Annie, Lee, and Griff to decide what to fight for--and who to love.
I loved Fireborne and was thrilled to have Rosaria on the blog to talk about her debut novel. I am even more excited to welcome her back for the sequel Flamefall, which promises to be just as good as the first book. If you love dragons,.you definitely want to pick up this series!
The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner (April 13th)The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner
Published by Redhook on April 13, 2021
An evocative combination of fantasy, history, and Jewish folklore, The Light of the Midnight Stars is fairytale-inspired novel from the author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood.
Deep in the Hungarian woods, the sacred magic of King Solomon lives on in his descendants. Gathering under the midnight stars, they pray, sing and perform small miracles - and none are more gifted than the great Rabbi Isaac and his three daughters. Each one is blessed with a unique talent - whether it be coaxing plants to grow, or predicting the future by reading the path of the stars.
When a fateful decision to help an outsider ends in an accusation of witchcraft, fire blazes through their village. Rabbi Isaac and his family are forced to flee, to abandon their magic and settle into a new way of life. But a dark fog is making its way across Europe and will, in the end, reach even those who thought they could run from it. Each of the sisters will have to make a choice - and change the future of their family forever.
For more from Rena Rossner, check out The Sisters of the Winter Wood.
I am always looking for fantasy novels that draw their inspiration and magic systems from underrepresented mythologies and folklores. In Rossner’s case, she draws on her Jewish roots and, as someone who minored in Modern Hebrew during my Undergrad, I absolutely adore her work. She will be visiting the blog in mid April for a Q&A.
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart (April 20th)Witches Steeped in Gold (Witches Steeped in Gold, #1) by Ciannon Smart
on April 20, 2021
Divided by their castes. United by their vengeance.
Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom—and vengeance.
Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.
Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain—except the lengths they will go to win this game.
Deadly, fierce, magnetically addictive: this Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut is a thrilling journey where dangerous magic reigns supreme and betrayal lurks beneath every word.
First of all, isn’t this cover gorgeous? It’s a Jamaican inspired fantasy featuring two witches that are forced to work together. This book seems full of black girl magic, political intrigue, and tenuous relationships. Also, this book is quite long, clocking in at nearly 600 pages. I love a good long fantasy novel.
War of Dragons by Jessica Cluess (May 1st)War of Dragons (House of Dragons, #2) by Jessica Cluess
Published by Random House Kids on May 11, 2021
The dragon throne has been claimed, but at what cost? Chaos bleeds across the fractured Empire, and the five royal houses feel the unease of destiny denied. The stunning sequel to House of Dragons, this is Three Dark Crowns meets The Breakfast Club with dragons.
The Emperor’s Trial is over. The dragon throne has been claimed—yet there is no peace to be had. For the first time in history, it is not one emperor who has taken power, but four. Although the young rulers seek to build a better world, there are many who oppose them. Tradition is broken, and so is Etrusia.
And while the empire crumbles, something dark awakens. Something that has waited centuries to unleash true calamity upon the world. Something only the emperors of Etrusia can hope to stop.
Once again, the outcasts will be challenged, but now they face a threat unlike any the world has ever seen. Because a Trial is one thing. War is something else entirely.
Housw of Dragons was one of my favorite reads of last year. It was fast paced, ruthless, and features dragons. If you didn’t know by now, I love dragons! I have high hopes that War of Dragons will be more of the same action packed story.
The Star Eater by Kerstin Hall (June 22nd)Star Eater by Kerstin Hall
Published by Tordotcom on June 22, 2021
From Nommo Award finalist Kerstin Hall comes "a layered and incisive examination of power.”—Rory Power, New York Times bestselling author of Wilder Girls
"Stunning, bloody, and everything I adore in fantasy.”—Emily Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints
She swallowed a star, and the Sisterhood called her the Eater.
Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach the gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Order’s magical bloodline horrifies her, but the Sisters of Aytrium have sworn to pay a price for the safety of their nation.
Elfreda wants out, whatever the cost.
So when a shadowy cabal approaches her with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Order, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed.
A phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power, Star Eater takes readers deep into a perilous and uncanny world where even the most powerful women are forced to choose what sacrifices they will make, so that they might have any choice at all.
This book rings so many of my wheelhouse bells: a girl trying to avoid pregnancy, a mysterious cabal/cult, and plenty of blood scenes. The Star Eater is the beginning of a new fantasy series and I cannot wait to read book one this summer– unless I get an ARC of it sooner– fingers crossed!
What About You?
What new releases are you excited for coming out in the first half of 2021? What do you think of my picks? Let me know in the comments!