Top Ten Tuesday: 2021 Releases I was Excited about but didn’t Read

"Tope Ten Tuesday" in a white font mimicking handwriting on navy starry skies

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun.

This week’s prompt is one that, unsurprisingly, there are far more books than 10 that could fit this list. The end of the year always comes with me staring at my shelves and cringing at how many unreads there are. I’ve picked the books I was most excited about that I never got around to reading.

With a lot of them, the reason I didn’t read them was simply too many books and too little time. When choices had to be made this year, I often found myself favouring adult or MG over YA, hence there’s a lot more YA on this list.


1. REDEMPTOR, by Jordan Ifeuko

Book cover for REDEMPTOR: title in white on green, blue, and purple plants and animals on black

REDEMPTOR is the sequel to RAYBEARER (fittingly for this list, that was a 2020 release I didn’t get around to until 2021!) This duology is inspired by West Africa and features magic and a group of friends who are supposed to advise the Crown Prince torn by a magical compulsion on the main character.

I was only about two months out of reading RAYBEARER when REDEMPTOR released, and that just felt both too close together (for a re-read) and too far apart (to read without a re-read.) If I’d been smart, I’d have waited until both were out and binged – oh well, hindsight.

2. A PSALM OF STORMS AND SILENCE, by Roseanne A. Brown

Book cover for A PSALM OF STORMS AND SILENCE: title in white on red with two Black kids back to back

Another West African-inspired duology finale, A PSALM OF STORMS AND SILENCE is the sequel to A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUINS (and I have yet to remember the order of the two s-words, or what they are, without checking the cover! I keep thinking it must include sorrow, because it’s probably going to be a very emotional read.)

This is one that simply came out too late in the year here in the UK (release was at 6 weeks after the US), when I was already playing catch-up with books from earlier in the year and review copies. Also, it is a chonker, which I was trying to avoid with non-review copies in November as I was struggling with my mental health. Still, that means a lot of pages to sink my teeth into this year.

3. THE BONE SHIP’S WAKE, by R. J. Barker

Book cover for THE BONE SHIP'S WAKE: title in black on beige sea with yellow serpent

The finale to THE BONE SHIPS trilogy, THE BONE SHIP’S WAKE (hope I got the apostrophe right!) is going to require a re-read of the first two books! I read them between orthodontic appointments and scans in hospital back in lockdown 3.

My brain was not at all in the right place to register what was happening (I struggle with waiting rooms as they are noisy and the covid restrictions make them even less welcoming due to distancing and big warning posters!) That’s a mental association I need to kick before I feel ready to pick them up again.

4. THE WOLF DEN, by Elodie Harper

Book cover for THE WOLF DEN: title in gold on orange building with columns and a grid of black windows

THE WOLF DEN is the start of a historical trilogy about a woman in the brothels of Pompeii. I didn’t actually realise it was a trilogy when I picked this up, but I would like to get around to this ahead of the next book’s release!

The reason that I didn’t read this quite early release was that, though I have been in quite a historical/historical fantasy mood this year (about a tenth of what I’ve read), it was always for more recent eras than the Romans. Let’s hope I am back in an Ancient Greek/Roman mood next year as there are a lot of books I’d like to get around to!

5. A SPINDLE SPLINTERED, by Alix E. Harrow

Book cover for A SPINDLE SPLINTERED: title in white on blue with red thorns for a border and a black finger pricking a needle

Hello and welcome to probably the hardest to pronounce title of 2021. It is deceptively hard. It honestly could be one of those tongue-twister exercises for theatre and public speaking to help with enunciation (those two “sp” sounds are awful!)

A SPINDLE SPLINTERED is the first in a novella series where Alix E. Harrow takes fairy tales and turns them on their heads. It’s supposed dark and meme-filled (we’ll see if I get any of them!) and deeply feminist, and (as you’ve probably guessed), a Sleeping Beauty retelling.

6. OUR VIOLENT ENDS, by Chloe Gong

Book cover for OUR VIOLENT ENDS: title in gold on burning, dragon wrapped grenade on dark maroon

This (and the next book on this list) definitely were casualties of the “I just wasn’t in a YA mood.” They’re both highly anticipated series enders that simply sat on my shelves.

OUR VIOLENT ENDS is the duology finale to THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS. Combined, they retell Romeo and Juliet in 1920s Shanghai with monsters and social unrest as different gangs compete from control. Unusually for retellings, in my experience, you don’t get the entire story in one book – the first book ends about half way through the Romeo and Juliet story.

7. GIRLS OF FATE AND FURY, by Natasha Ngan

Book cover for GIRLS OF FATE AND FURY: title in white on girl with sword on red

GIRLS OF FATE ANF FURY ends of the GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE trilogy. It’s a series that tackles sexual abuse and recovery afterwards through its main protagonist, Lei, and her girlfriend Wren. And also toppling abusers from positions of power.

GIRLS OF FATE AND FURY see Lei head back to the palace where it all began to confront the demon lord. Meanwhile Wren (who is on this cover apparently) tries to get back to Lei. I’m expecting an emotionally fraught finale with a lot of heart-stopping moments.

8. THE LIAR’S KNOT, by M. A. Carrick

Book cover for THE LIAR'S KNOT: title in white on black below someone in a red and gold mask

THE LIAR’S KNOT is the sequel to THE MASK OF MIRRORS (published at the start of the year), this is a co-written book (by Marie Brenan and Alys Helms.)

I really enjoyed THE MASK OF MIRRORS, the intricate world of politics, various magic systems, and conning. Plus this book promises to have lots of interesting encounters between the characters in their various personas (almost everyone has at least one secondary identity, and a few have several!) I even got a review copy of this book, but it’s just such a chonky book that I didn’t find the time to read it.

9. JADE LEGACY, by Fonda Lee

Book cover for JADE LEGACY: title in blue above a lake

Another chonky review copy, JADE LEGACY is the finale to the JADE CITY trilogy. This is a global-spanning secondary world urban fantasy, where jade offers enhancements, and its supply is controlled by gangs (who are locked in a war.)

This trilogy is brutal, with so many twists and turns – not to mention character deaths (usually of favourites!) so I’m rather nervous to see what the final body count will be (and which of my surviving favourites will make it!)

10. LITTLE THIEVES, by Margaret Owen

Book cover for LITTLE THIEVES: title in black on white cartouche on navy with gold leaves and three figures (red and lighter blue)

The start of a new series from the author of THE MERCIFUL CROW, this book is a retelling of the goose girl in a Bavarian-esque setting. It was originally sold as a standalone, but a sequel has since been added, so I’m assuming they’ll read like independent stories but following the same characters (which makes it easier to pick up with gaps between the books.)

I really enjoyed THE MERCIFUL CROW, but still haven’t yet gotten around to THE FAITHLESS HAWK. Therefore, I decided that I should probably read that before I picked this one up!


What books did you want to read last year but didn’t?

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21 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: 2021 Releases I was Excited about but didn’t Read

    1. I am back on the long book bandwagon (given the year’s only started and I don’t need to worry about hitting goals) and hoping I can sustain it for a while as there are now a lot of long books sitting unread on my shelf!

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  1. I only just now learned that the sequel to A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUINS is out. I will have to pick up a copy. I still need to read the first. The WOLF DEN is one I really hope to read someday. I hope you enjoy A SPINDLE SPLINTERED! That one I have read and enjoyed. I hope you enjoy all of these!

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