2021 TBR – Hopefuls & Wishes
So it’s the new year finally, and I want to try to create a list of books I want to read in 2021. This is a new thing for me too so let’s hope I actually get through it! I don’t have any promises of actually posting them (and if I do, that’s an extra point for me).
Keep in mind that I am aware that a lot of these books came out in 2020 and earlier. For whatever reason, I didn’t get a chance to read it. Since there’s a big chance that we’re going to be stuck inside for another year (thanks, everyone, really), I think I’m more prepared for another long year of quarantine.
First, let’s talk about the books I’ve pre-ordered:
- The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner (Release Date: January 12, 2021, Paperback): There’s something about this book that I was really drawn to – was it the cover? Oh, possibly. Was it the fact it’s a sapphic story? Oh, maybe! But I also really like the trope of the love interest has to protect the client (of course, in this case, it seems that the protagonist falls in love with another bodyguard – valid and welcomed) along with the idea of a magical foe… There’s so much of what I want and what I need. I never read this author’s work before this but I slammed the pre-order button so fast that it almost made my head spin…!
- Sorrowland: A Novel by Rivers Solomon (Release Date: May 04, 2021, Hardcover): I have really been meaning to read Rivers’s books but once I read the synopsis for their newest one, well, I’ve slammed that pre-order. And hardcover too! I really want to read more Gothic stories especially written by people of color and of the LGBTQ+ community as well. And it’s a fantasy on top of that? I really cannot get enough of Gothic Fantasy stories so I’m really looking forward to this!
- A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson (Release Date: January 31, 2021, Kindle): I’m currently reading this author’s short story so I’m really interested to see how she writes this particular interesting horror story. Truth be told, there’s a lot of Dracula retellings that seem to run about the same themes so this really took me by surprise just based on the synopsis posted here. It’s certainly different than what I’m used to seeing around. I really can’t wait to get my hands on this!
- The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (Release Date: July 13, 2021, Hardcover): I love ghost stories. I want to read more from Black, especially LGBTQ+, authors. I had seen that wonderful, wonderful cover swirling around Twitter for a bit but I didn’t know what it was. I said to myself, “Whatever that book is, I will own it.” And I’m going to own it come July because I’m so excited! The plot is a very refreshing take and something I’d always wonder about (since I have an affinity for the paranormal) and this would provide an answer. I know I’ve been saying “I clicked pre-order so fast” but this time I really mean it. Sometimes I think about it for a bit to see if I’d have time to read it, but for this one? I will make time. I will carve time if it means I read this beautiful and wonderfully spooky book.
- Hello, I am a Witch and my Crush Wants me to Make a Love Potion! Volume 2 by Eiko Mutsuhana (Release Date: January 29, 2021, Kindle): So, I’ve read the first volume, thinking it’s only a one-shot when I got the email that surprise! This has a second one! Another instant preorder. I really hope that I’ll be as charmed as I was in the first volume! I mean, I understand that this type of tropey story wouldn’t appeal to certain people so I do feel excited that this was released just for me. Excitement!
- Muscles are Better Than Magic! Volume 1 by DORANEKO* (Release Date: January 5, 2021, Paperback): I’m going to admit that I cheated and read the manga of this for a little bit to mostly making sure it’s not that kind of story. And well, if it was, then it wouldn’t be here. There’s something charming about this premise and the two main characters that I’m willing to accept it in its literary format. I feel like I’m weaning myself away from manga – unless it’s in omnibus format. Maybe one day I’ll explain myself more about this but for now, I’m really looking forward to this story for sure!
* I know this is linking to the Kindle version, but once I’m hoping the paperback comes out, the page will be created. If not, well, I guess I have to do everything myself.
Whew, that’s a lot more books than I thought but let’s go ahead and talk about the light novels that I want to read in 2021 – either I own it already or I haven’t gotten it yet. I really want to read these books one day!
Just to be clear, this isn’t in any particular order. I can barely keep my thoughts in order, much less of what I want to read more or less. Regardless, I really want to read these eventually and hopefully in the near future. Also, keep in mind that these don’t include what I’m currently reading because I’m supposed to be reading those…instead of making these silly lists. In other words: don’t call me out! 🤣
- In the Land of Leadale, Volume One by Ceez: I really like the concept of this. I’ve actually always liked isekai and I do think that the genre of light novels does get a bad rep. No thanks to Sword Art Online, we have books like these around and I really want to give this one a chance. I’m honestly really easy so when you have a nice cover like this, I’m pretty much sold. I know it defeats the purpose of “Never judge a book by its cover” but the more provocative the cover is, the more whatever it is to me, then I’m going to be interested. I’m willing to take a hit and give this a chance.
- I’ll Never Set Foot in That House Again! Volume One by Milli-gram: This one is a native fantasy story although some reviews allude to having an isekai feature in it. Granted, I’ll have to be careful and approach this with caution because there is the fact the main character is abused by her mother. However, it does seem that she escapes and that’s something I’m more interested in.
- I Shall Survive Using Potions! Volume One by FUNA: Truth to be told, when the purge of light novels happened on Amazon during the summer of 2020, this title, in particular, was victim to it. However, a lot of its readers had laid claim that it wasn’t that kind of story. It is likely that Amazon randomly targetted this series because of the fact there is a smaller girl on the cover and this particular community… yeah, you have to be careful. But because of those claims, I do want to check this out. I realize it’s a slice of life so I’m not expecting much out of it.
- Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear Volume One by Kumanano: Yes, I know, another isekai in a game but this one really seems to be more of a slice of life one as well. Nothing traumatic seems to be happening – just a cute girl in a cute bear suit who’s extremely OP and she’s living her best life. Really, who could ask for more? It’s a cute simple story that, hopefully, won’t have any nasty tropes in it! Oh God, I really hope I didn’t just jinx myself…
- Sexiled: My Sexist Party Leader Kicked Me Out, So I Teamed Up With a Mythical Sorceress Volume One by Ameko Kaeruda: Another native fantasy but one with a twist! This one has been on my radar, for now, a couple of years ever since a lot of the anime fanboys got upset over it and gave it free advertising. If you peek at the reviews, you can really see how polarizing this story is and, of course, I would love to read it on my own to see for myself. Some say it’s a very good feminist take on the genre and it’s especially notable because, oh man, I could really just go off about it and I’m an outsider. I can’t imagine how Japanese anime feminists feel so I really do want to make this a focus for myself. I truly want to see for myself how it is.
- I’m in Love with the Villainess Volume One by Inori: This particular one made waves among my friends on Goodreads and they really built up a lot of hype for it. I thought this was going to be a one-shot but with the volume count there, well, maybe not. This seems to be a big thing lately where women pass away and go into their favorite otome game. Instead, they romance the villainess instead because fuck it, they’re in a new world so screw the rules.
- A Lily Blooms in Another World by Ameko Kaeruda: This is another one that was hyped up by a lot of people and it seems to be a shorter read. So why wouldn’t I read this? And it’s by the same author of Sexiled so maybe I should read this first to get a feel for their writing before diving headfirst into that book. It seems really cute and sweet so it’s something I really want to read!
- ROLL OVER AND DIE: I Will Fight for an Ordinary Life with My Love and Cursed Sword Volume One by Kiki: And yet another one that’s hyped up. 2019 and 2020 were really good years for yuri releases it seems but this one also stands out as being more violent. However, that doesn’t mean people stopped their praises and really raised this book as one of the better ones out there. It’s surprisingly long for a first volume and, again, I thought this was going to be a singular series but who knows? I just need to be in the right state of mind to really focus on this.
- JK Haru is a Sex Worker in Another World by Ko Hiratori: I know what it sounds like, what it looks like, but please stick with me long enough to understand. In this list, I’ve mentioned and listed a lot of feminist stories. Sexiled was polarizing but this one was just as polarizing if not more so. The reasons being obvious, I also had quite a hard time deciding if I should give this a fair shake. But then a thought came to me: who writes about the sex workers? There may have been allusions in isekai and it’s certainly casual for the (male) leads to use and abuse them. They’re cheap fodder to be killed or used as a backstory. This story may give them the humanization they need in the isekai genre and that’s why I want to read this. However, even though the synopsis seems to be more humorous than it lets on, I still want to check this out. But, I also hope you understand why I haven’t done so.
- Tearmoon Empire: Volume One by Nozomu Mochitsuki: The praises for this light novel has not been stopped and I really want to check this out. It’s an interesting twist – rather than have the main character come from a different world to “fix” the world, they have the princess come back to her former 12-year-old self to avoid the fate that waited for her. And it just sounds so interesting in a good way. However, I’ve been fooled way too many times with really good plots only for really stupid shit to happen. It’s very frustrating but I really want to give this a fair chance. It has potential and I really just don’t want to be disappointed again.
American Published Novels
I didn’t know how else to label this because now, finally, there’s a lot more diversity. Not just that, I’m also lazy. I really want to read more young adult and adult, but middle-grade has mixed itself in there on this list. Again, though, it’s not in any particular order. And again, there are some already on my currently-reading list… don’t call me out! I know! 🤣🤣
- Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury: I really love the concept and the determination to have it all. The cover is especially striking to me and the story really makes me want to see what these rituals are like. I do admit I really want to read more romance (or at least inklings of it) and it does feel like it’s teasing me – then again, I’m probably reading too much into it. Regardless, the story’s witchcraft got me interested and I’d love to read this as soon as I can.
- These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong: Maybe it’s because of all the marketing and tweeting she had been doing during the Pitch Wars era, but I really wanted to check this out for some time. I’ve really wanted to dip my toes into the young adult retellings of stories so, of course, I go for a Romeo and Juliet retelling. It has everything that I want and I’m really hoping to dive into this as hard as possible as soon as possible!
- These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin: I fully admit this is to fill a need of drama I thankfully never had to experience when I was a teenager – but the cover also didn’t help. It gives me some dark academic vibes and in the right way. The synopsis is written in a way where I really want to see what happened to the main character. I haven’t heard too much about this but I really want to read this one.
- Thorn by Intisar Khanani: Supposedly, this is another fairy tale retelling but I’m actually not sure what it is from. The synopsis though really grabbed my attention, as did the cover. It’s extremely provocative and I really just want this amazing sounding book in my grubby hands. Finding out who she was while trying to fix other people’s problems? Who else can’t relate to that? How is this not already on my “read” list?!
- Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega: Have I mentioned how much I love ghost stories? Because I really want to get into this! The story really does remind me of Scooby-Doo, except the late 90s version. It seems like a cute story about kids saving their town from ghosts (well, gee, look what did I just pre-order too 🤣) so this one is something I really want to check out eventually and enjoy it. I’m aiming maybe October to get the vibe more but hopefully sooner. Let’s see how this year pans out!
- Broken Wish by Julie C. Dao: The cover, the author, the story. Everything is a win for me. And yet, here we go with another retelling of a fairy tale. Even though it does take place in Germany, this short blurb makes it really easy to fall in love with it. Apparently, this will also take a look at what makes a villain a villain and possibly, redemption. I love redemption stories when done right and I just get the feeling that I’m going to be receiving a treat.
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune: I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this book. Reading the synopsis, you would think that this was a young adult or even middle grade about an older man who works with young fantasy children with a possible romance subplot. But the thing about it, you can just sense there’s something deeper that I want to read and find out. This synopsis is extremely lyrical and I just need to read the rest of the book and this is one book that I must have a physical version of. Not that Kindle versions are bad, of course, they’re not, but I honestly feel I need that vibe and feel of being whisked away.
- Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe: I also saw this book being talked about on Twitter and being compared to Kiki’s Delivery Service. So, with me being a huge weeaboo, of course, I instantly went over and added it to my list. But obviously, I never got a chance to actually get it. And I’m going to make it my mission to get it. Like the book before, I really prefer to get the hardcover version of this book because it’s the kind of book that I’d like to read in my room before bed to give me cute, witchy dreams. Also, it reminds me of a lot of my own original characters as well!
- Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron: And then we have yet another retelling except this one seems to recognize Cinderella as a person. What makes this interesting, though, this story seems to want to dig deeper into the original tale that maybe most people missed. And I love those types of stories! I always want to change the way I viewed a certain story and gain a new perspective on it. It’s all in favor to get a better appreciation for it – that’s all I ever want to do. And with a beautiful cover like that, this book certainly has my attention.
- Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar: The title, the concept, the cover, the synopsis. Everything about this book appeals to me in every way that I, again, really crave the hardcover version but I do not mind buying it twice if I enjoyed it that much but, yet again, I don’t think I could’ve given it the proper attention it deserved. But this year, I must. I have to! I absolutely have to! I want to know what happens in this story so this year: I’m going to read this and I will get the hardcover version. This cover alone is just stunning.
I know that this list seemed really long but there are really a lot more books I want to read that didn’t make the list. These books in particular are books that I will actually put more effort into reading (that isn’t already on my reading list). I’m genuinely really excited to start reading voraciously again. I don’t think we’re going to be out of the pandemic anytime soon (let’s not talk about politics because this is supposed to be a hopeful post).
2020 was a really tough year for everyone, for both similar and different reasons. While I should be focusing on writing this revision and drafting a new book, I also want to keep trying to read more books. On Goodreads, I have my challenge set only at 10 books because I do like to think I’ll be delightfully busy this year. However, reading books again has been giving me a type of joy that I never thought I would get again.
May 2021 be kind to you and you be kinder to yourself.
What books are you planning to read this year?