22 Exciting Books Hitting the Shelves in January 2021 | Anticipated Reads
With 2021’s arrival comes a new Anticipated Reads post where I highlight some of the interesting books hitting bookshelves. This month we are especially blessed with lots of reading material, and I’m here to highlight 22 releases for January 2021!
I’ve posted monthly Anticipated Reads lists since March 2018, and it’s been my favorite way to keep a pulse on upcoming releases. But as my reading habits have evolved, so too will the format of Anticipated Reads on Reader Voracious. Before we dive into the new releases, I want to briefly share my approach moving forward.
- A Refreshed Format for 2021
- Books Releasing on January 5, 2021
- Books Releasing on January 12, 2021
- Books Releasing on January 19, 2021
- Books Releasing on January 26, 2021
- Let’s Chat!
📝 In case you are wondering how I manage to keep track of upcoming releases and choose the books I’m excited to highlight monthly, check out my Edelweiss 2.0 Guide!
A Refreshed Format for 2021
You’ll notice that this post is considerably longer than in the past. Consider the Reader Voracious Anticipated Reads as a list of noteworthy books coming up for publication. These posts focus on books from my preferred genres (fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller in YA & adult) but are by no means a representation of everything being published. There’s no way I will be able to get to all of these books personally, but I think my readers would be interested in them so I want to share and boost. Special attention is also given to books I haven’t seen a lot of hype, but you’ll still see some “big releases.”
Books Releasing on January 5, 2021
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One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
Age Range: YA | Genre: Contemporary | Pages: 384
ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH?
When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.
One of the good ones.
Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again.
Influence by Sara Shepard and Lilia Buckingham
Age Range: YA | Genre: Thriller & Suspense | Pages: 368
After a video she makes goes viral, everyone knows Delilah Rollins. And now that she’s in LA, Delilah’s standing on the edge of something incredible. Everything is going to change. She has no idea how much.
Jasmine Walters-Diaz grew up in the spotlight. A child star turned media darling, the posts of her in her classic Lulu C. rainbow skirt practically break the Internet. But if the world knew who Jasmine really was, her perfect life? Canceled.
Fiona Jacobs is so funny–the kind of girl for whom a crowd parts–no wonder she’s always smiling! But on the inside? The girl’s a hot mess. And when someone comes out of the shadows with a secret from her past, it’s one that won’t just embarrass Fiona: it will ruin her.
Who wouldn’t want to be Scarlet Leigh? Just look at her Instagram. Scarlet isn’t just styled to perfection: she is perfection. Scarlet has a gorgeous, famous boyfriend named Jack and there’s a whole fanbase about their ship. To everyone watching online, their lives seem perfect . . . but are they really? The sun is hot in California . . . and someone’s going to get burned.
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
Age Range: YA | Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy | Pages: 480
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.
You can read an excerpt from Lore on EW here!
Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis
Age Range: YA | Genre: Contemporary | Pages: 336
Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead…and Jerzie is her understudy.
Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea–especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless.
Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala
Age Range: YA | Genre: Contemporary | Pages: 336
Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be your most authentic self.
Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making–for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything–and everyone–else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.
Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store–or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin.
But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Thrillers & Suspense | Pages: 304
Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.
But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.
Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?
With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?
Books Releasing on January 12, 2021
The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Historical, Mystery | Pages: 408
On the case is Inspector Cutter, a detective as sharp and committed to his work as he is wryly hilarious. Gideon Bliss, a Cambridge dropout in love with one of the missing girls, stumbles into a role as Cutter’s sidekick. And clever young journalist Octavia Hillingdon sees the case as a chance to tell a story that matters—despite her employer’s preference that she stick to a women’s society column. As Inspector Cutter peels back the mystery layer by layer, he leads them all, at last, to the secrets that lie hidden at the house on Vesper Sands.
By turns smart, surprising, and impossible to put down, The House on Vesper Sands offers a glimpse into the strange undertow of late nineteenth-century London and the secrets we all hold inside us.
Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Age Range: YA | Genre: Fantasy, Retellings | Pages: 368
Pre-Order & Library Incentive
When Owen Merrick is lured into the witch’s wood, one of her tree-siren daughters, Seren, saves his life instead of ending it. Every night, he climbs over the garden wall to see her, and every night her longing to become human deepens. But a shift in the stars foretells a dangerous curse, and Seren’s quest to become human will lead them into an ancient war raging between the witch and the king who is trying to stop her.
Epic, heartbreaking, and darkly atmospheric, Into the Heartless Wood is the story of impossible love between a monstrous tree siren and a boy who lives at the edge of her wood.
Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Alpert
Age Range: YA | Genre: Fantasy | Pages: 240
Journey into the Hinterland, a brutal and beautiful world where a young woman spends a night with Death, brides are wed to a mysterious house in the trees, and an enchantress is killed twice―and still lives.
“Lush and deliciously sinister fairytales to be consumed as greedily as Turkish delight or any fairy fruit. I loved these.” ―Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
“This inventive, enchanting collection reads like the fairy tales of old, hushed stories passed woman to woman, before the Grimms came and wiped away all the blood.” ―Laura Ruby, author of Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All
“The writing is as spare and precise as poetry, connected to the darker, edgier elements of fairy-tale conventions. Albert’s rich and tightly focused collection forms the core of the mythology created in her novels, and her fans will be thrilled at this further glimpse into that world.” ―Booklist, starred review
“Stories fueled by feminist rage, the frustration of being unnderestimated, and the insatiable longing to experience more mark this collection as timely and universal.” ―SLJ
The Frozen Crown (Warrior Witch #1) by Greta Kelly
Age Range: YA | Genre: Fantasy, Epic | Pages: 384
A princess with a powerful and dangerous secret must find a way to save her country from ruthless invaders in this exciting debut fantasy, the first novel in a thrilling duology packed with heroism, treachery, magic, and war.
Askia became heir to the Frozen Crown of Seravesh because of her devotion to her people. But her realm is facing a threat she cannot defeat by sheer will alone. The mad emperor of the Roven Empire has unleashed a horde of invading soldiers to enslave her lands. For months, her warriors have waged a valiant, stealth battle, yet they cannot stop the enemy’s advancement. Running out of time, she sets sail for sun-drenched Vishir, the neighboring land to the south, to seek help from its ruler, Emperor Armaan.
A young woman raised in army camps, Askia is ill-equipped to navigate Vishir’s labyrinthine political games. Her every move sinks her deeper into court intrigues which bewilder and repel her, leaving her vulnerable not only to enemies gathering at Vishir’s gates, but to those behind the palace walls.
And in this glittering court, where secrets are worth more than gold, Askia fears that one false step will expose her true nature. For Askia is a witch gifted with magical abilities—knowledge that could destroy not only her life but her people. As her adversaries draw closer, Askia is forced to make an impossible choice—and no matter what she decides, it may not be enough to prevent Seravesh’s fall.
Books Releasing on January 19, 2021
A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson
Age Range: YA | Genre: Science Fiction | Pages: 464
When Noa closes his eyes on Earth and wakes up on a spaceship called Qriosity just as it’s about to explode, he’s pretty sure things can’t get much weirder.
Boy is he wrong.
Trapped aboard Qriosity are also DJ and Jenny, neither of whom remember how they got onboard the ship. Together, the three face all the dangers of space, along with murder, aliens, a school dance, and one really, really bad day. But none of this can prepare Noa for the biggest challenge—falling in love. And as Noa’s feelings for DJ deepen, he has to contend not just with the challenges of the present, but also with his memories of the past.
However, nothing is what it seems on Qriosity, and the truth will upend all of their lives forever.
Love is complicated enough without also trying to stay alive.
We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya #2) by Hafsah Faizal
Age Range: YA | Genre: Fantasy | Pages: 592
As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.
Lush and striking, hopeful and devastating, We Free the Stars is the masterful conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology by New York Times–bestselling author Hafsah Faizal.
Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure | Pages: 160
“She’s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.”
The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa–a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.
Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.
But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?
Hall of Smoke by by H.M. Long
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Fantasy, Epic | Pages: 432
Hessa is an Eangi: a warrior priestess of the Goddess of War, with the power to turn an enemy’s bones to dust with a scream. Banished for disobeying her goddess’s command to murder a traveller, she prays for forgiveness alone on a mountainside.
While she is gone, raiders raze her village and obliterate the Eangi priesthood. Grieving and alone, Hessa – the last Eangi – must find the traveller, atone for her weakness and secure her place with her loved ones in the High Halls. As clans from the north and legionaries from the south tear through her homeland, slaughtering everyone in their path, Hessa strives to win back her goddess’ favour.
Beset by zealot soldiers, deceitful gods, and newly-awakened demons at every turn, Hessa burns her path towards redemption and revenge. But her journey reveals a harrowing truth: the gods are dying and the High Halls of the afterlife are fading. Soon Hessa’s trust in her goddess weakens with every unheeded prayer.
Thrust into a battle between the gods of the Old World and the New, Hessa realizes there is far more on the line than securing a life beyond her own death. Bigger, older powers slumber beneath the surface of her world. And they’re about to wake up.
Books Releasing on January 26, 2021
If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Mystery, Thriller | Pages: 304
Sera loves true crime podcasts. They make her feel empowered in a world where women just like her disappear daily. She’s sure they are preparing her for something. So when Rachel, her favorite podcast host, goes missing, Sera knows it’s time to act. Rachel has always taught her to trust her instincts.
Sera follows the clues hidden in the episodes to an isolated ranch outside Rachel’s small hometown to begin her search. She’s convinced her investigation will make Rachel so proud. But the more Sera digs into this unfamiliar world, the more off things start to feel. Because Rachel is not the first woman to vanish from the ranch, and she won’t be the last…
Rachel did try to warn her.
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
Age Range: YA | Genre: Thrillers & Suspense | Pages: 368
Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up as her mother’s protégé. But when mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape.
For five years Nora’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:
#1: Her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’re all friends, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.
#2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because:
#3: Right after they enter bank, two guys start robbing it.
The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora’s something else entirely. They have no idea who they’re really holding hostage…
Don’t Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller
Age Range: YA | Genre: Ghost Stories, Mystery | Pages: 384
People say the house is cursed.
It preys on the weakest, and young women are its favorite victims.
In Louth, they’re called the Dead Girls.
All Bram wanted was to disappear—from her old life, her family’s past, and from the scandal that continues to haunt her. The only place left to go is Louth, the tiny town on the Hudson River where her uncle, James, has been renovating an old mansion.
But James is haunted by his own ghosts. Months earlier, his beloved wife died in a fire that people say was set by her daughter. The tragedy left James a shell of the man Bram knew—and destroyed half the house he’d so lovingly restored.
The manor is creepy, and so are the locals. The people of Louth don’t want outsiders like Bram in their town, and with each passing day she’s discovering that the rumors they spread are just as disturbing as the secrets they hide. Most frightening of all are the legends they tell about the Dead Girls. Girls whose lives were cut short in the very house Bram now calls home.
The terrifying reality is that the Dead Girls may have never left the manor. And if Bram looks too hard into the town’s haunted past, she might not either.
Wings of Ebony by J. Elle
Age Range: YA | Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy | Pages: 368
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
Time Travel for Love and Profit by Sarah Lariviere
Age Range: YA | Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel | Pages: 320
Fourteen-year-old Nephele used to have friends. Well, she had a friend. That friend made the adjustment to high school easily, leaving Nephele behind in the process. And as Nephele looks ahead, all she can see is three very lonely years.
Nephele is also a whip-smart lover of math and science, so she makes a plan. Step one: invent time travel. Step two: go back in time, have a do-over of 9th grade, crack the code on making friends and become beloved and popular.
Does it work? Sort of. Nephele does travel through time, but not the way she planned–she’s created a time loop, and she’s the only one looping. And she keeps looping, for ten years, always alone. Now, facing ninth grade for the tenth time, Nephele knows what to expect. Or so she thinks. She didn’t anticipate that her new teacher would be a boy from her long ago ninth grade class, now a grown man; that she would finally make a new friend, after ten years. And, she couldn’t have pictured someone like Jazz, with his deep violet eyes, goofy magic tricks and the quietly intense way he sees her. After ten freshman years, she still has a lot more to learn. But now that she’s finally figured out how to go back, has she found something worth staying for?
City of Villains Book 1 by Estelle Laure
Age Range: YA | Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy | Pages: 240
Mary Elizabeth Heart is a high school senior by day, but by night she’s an intern at the Monarch City police department. She watches with envy from behind a desk as detectives come and go, trying to contain the city’s growing crime rate. For years, tension has simmered between the city’s wealthy elite, and their plans to gentrify the decaying neighborhood called the Scar—once upon a time the epicenter of all things magic.
When the daughter of one of the city’s most powerful businessmen goes missing, Mary Elizabeth is thrilled when the Chief actually puts her on the case. But what begins as one missing person’s report soon multiplies, leading her down the rabbit hole of a city in turmoil. There she finds a girl with horns, a boyfriend with secrets, and what seems to be a sea monster lurking in a poison lake. As the mystery circles closer to home, Mary finds herself caught in the fight between those who once had magic, and those who will do anything to bring it back.
This dark and edgy YA series explores the reimagined origins of Maleficent, Ursula, Captain Hook, and other infamous Disney Villains like you’ve never seen before.
The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Dystopian | Pages: 514
The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.
As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them-and could end with them…
Dead Money by Srinath Adiga
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Dystopian | Pages: 352
They said you can’t take your money with you when you die.
What if they were wrong? Srinath Adiga’s timely satire explores the pitfalls of modern capitalism and the dangerous power of myth.
Hong Kong, 2002. A stock market trader desperate to pay off a gangster debt invents a scam: Afterlife Dollars. A product inspired by an ancient Chinese custom that allows people to buy their way into heaven.
It’s the beginning of a dizzying chain reaction that ripples in Mumbai, where one man does the unthinkable to secure his afterlife—while thousands of miles away in Amsterdam, another man races against time to stop an apocalypse. As a cast of larger-than-life characters grapple with unprecedented moral dilemmas, their choices will affect the rest of humanity.
Profound, exhilarating and full of unexpected twists, Dead Money balances intelligence and dark humour with compassion, empathy and hope. Its cleverness lies in its ability to convince us that the impossible can happen—a compelling, thought-provoking read at a time when the world stares at an uncertain future.
“A memorable premise lifts Adiga’s impressive debut. Adiga makes the central conceit work as he effectively sends up the tendency of people to believe anything.”–Publishers Weekly
The publishing industry is always focused on the new and shiny releases, typically ceasing promotion within a week of the book birthday. I hope that this list brought some new books to your attention and I hope you are able to support the ones you’re interested in!
What books coming out in November and December are you excited about? What have you read and would recommend? Let’s talk in the comments!
Let’s go on another adventure together!