It's that time of year again... the doldrums between Christmas and New Year (which I heard someone describe the other day as 'Betwixtmas') when no one really knows what day of the week it is, and people start making plans for self-improvement as if such tasks can only be undertaken in January.
Don't get me wrong, I love making lists. I love setting goals. Most importantly, I love planning my reading year and looking at publishers' websites and blogs and vlogs and whatnot so that I can make myself a list of the most anticipated books for the coming year. I've done just that, and today I thought I would share some of my excitement with you!
This one is out in about a week, so if it takes your fancy, get on the phone to your local bookseller and place your pre-orders, folks. I met Polly at a writers' group at my local library, and was very excited to learn she had a book coming out with Simon and Schuster, particularly after listening to her read a sample from another book she has in progress. Fast paced, sassy thrillers are perfect for long summer days by the pool, so I'm very excited to be making this book my first read of 2021. This one explores a toxic friendship with a potentially murderous twist, and was (I believe) the winner of an international unpublished manuscript award run by Polly's now-agent.
Those of you who have been following this blog for a long time may know that I have a minor fascination with Bletchley Park codebreaking during the Second World War and have at various times tried to write a novel about it. Alas, I feel I must actually go there and do site based research to accomplish such a task, so for now, reading about it in a book by the author of The Alice Network (which remains one of my favourite books to date) will have to suffice. I think this is out in May.
Every time I think that I won't bother with Samantha Shannon's Bone Season series anymore, I read her work again and remember how refreshing and original these dystopian/ fantasy novels are. I just read The Song Rising, and even though I didn't exactly remember what had happened in the first two books, I still really enjoyed this mashup of genres immensely.
It's based on a true story and concerns scandal in the court of James I. For some reason I enjoy any history involving Kings and Queens and I very much look forward to time-travelling to a new era with a new author.
Laura Purcell is the spooky queen of my heart and I have read all of her work so far except for the sadly out of print novels she wrote about the Georgian era (I think, as I said, they are out of print.) This one is about a silhouette artist in the Victorian era who discovers that her subjects are being murdered so it's got a Victorian sensation vibe to it. I'll be reading it soon so make sure to check out the AU review if you want to read what I thought of it.
I've seen this series through from the beginning and have really loved thinking of Henry the Eighth's six wives as more than just his victims. I read two of the books in 2020 and while the Katherine Howard one told the story much as you think you know it, the Anna of Kleve one was dare I say a bit shocking? Also, I will always credit Alison Weir's novel about Anne Boleyn with her transformation of the doomed queen from a bit of a hussy to a feminist icon in my eyes. Can't wait to see how Weir makes Katharine Parr, whom I think of as Henry's beleaguered nursemaid, into a bit of a heroine.
I don't know a lot about this, other than that it's a WWII spy novel by one of the co-founders of Kill Your Darlings magazine. I am hoping it will have echoes of Lara Prescott's The Secrets We Kept...
Described as The Secret History (something I really must get to reading) meets The Alice Network, what really draws me in about this book is that it seems to centre around record keeping and research. As someone who will qualify as a librarian in about a month, I'm intrigued but not surprised that such characters might become protagonists in a thriller.
I'd be lying if I said the cover wasn't a factor here. This one centres on the gold rush in New Zealand, around 1866, and it's a newish era in history for me to explore. A love story which gives me slight Luminaries vibes, and by an author I have been meaning to read for some time, I feel like Sarah Maine might be a favourite author I just haven't read yet.
A patron at the library actually recommended Pulley's writing to me this year, and I'm excited to start with her latest one, The Kingdoms, which is described as alternative history for fans of David Mitchell.
I feel excited about a new novel by Elizabeth MacNeal in the same way I imagine I usually do about a new Jessie Burton. If you have not read The Doll Factory, and you liked The Miniaturist, that's my recommendation to you. Also, fun fact, MacNeal is a very talented potter and makes adorable mugs and vases. You should follow her on Instagram. This book is, funnily enough, also set in 1866 and follows a girl named Nell and a travelling Victorian circus.
I only learned this one was coming out today, and it's another alternate history, but this time it's 20th Century history that has been rewritten. Edward the VIII is King, and a woman named Rose is working at the Ministry of Culture, rewriting classic works of literature. It sounds like it could either be great or a disaster and I look forward to finding out which.
In the vein of something like Circe or A Thousand Ships, Ariadne is a retelling of the story of Theseus and the Minotaur with its female character brought to the fore and given a little bit of autonomy. Hooray!
I always like to feature some WA writers, and this list just skims the surface of what amazingness Fremantle Press are promising for 2021. Midalia returns to longform fiction with her second novel, which if The Art of Persuasion is anything to go by, will be heartwarming, intelligent, witty and wise; The Last Bookshop by Emma Young speaks to my broken bookseller heart; and Eye of a Rook is Freo Press's first foray in historical fiction in a while, looking at hysteria and femininity in 1860s London. The eagle-eyed among you may notice this was on my list last year but the publication date for the book was moved thanks to recent worldwide events...
So there we have it! My reading list for the year. I wonder how many I'll actually get through?
As I may have already said in another post, I've found in most years that the best books I read are often library books, so I am going to try to source as many of these through my local library as I can, and then purchase my own copies of anything that really sticks with me. (This resolution will probably last until.... maybe February?)
How many of these books are also on your wishlist? Let me know in the comments.
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