Hi, I'm Angi
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Reading Goals and My Most Anticipated Books for 2021


Photo by C├ęsar Viteri on Unsplash

Geez, this is becoming quite the book blog, eh? I swear I have other interests! But I books? And like most folks, I've mostly been stuck in my home this year. So #sorrynotsorry? Anyway, I thought I'd share some books that I'm REALLY excited to read next year, and also talk a bit about my reading goals for 2021.

Reading goals can be controversial at times. Some people say that they dull the joy of reading, with the goals becoming more important than the books themselves. However, for me personally, setting a reading goal each year keeps me on track and reminds me to take time out for myself to enjoy something I truly love. It also keeps me from spending too much time online. So I tend to think of my reading goals as a sort of "forced" staycation, a way to unplug and engage with ideas, and treat myself to a little indulgence each day. While it's far easier to scroll endlessly on Instagram, my heart and mind feel so much more fulfilled when I read a great story. 

This year I completed my Goodreads goal of 65 books, which I'm pretty proud of. I feel like in the past couple of years I've returned to reading in a way that I truly enjoy and appreciate. So looking ahead to next year, I'd like to set my goal to 75 books. It feels like a good number, one that challenges me to spend more time reading, but that also isn't insanely unreachable.

With that in mind, here are a few 2021 releases that I'm thoroughly excited about...

A Desolation Called Peace - Arkady Martine

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options. In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity. Their failure will guarantee millions of deaths in an endless war. Their success might prevent Teixcalaan’s destruction—and allow the empire to continue its rapacious expansion.

Or it might create something far stranger . . .

Man oh man...the first book in this series, A Memory Called Empire, was one of my absolute favorites of 2020. It was a fun and thought-provoking book that I couldn't put down. Even more astounding was that it was Martine's debut! And it won the Hugo! Not too shabby, huh? So it goes without saying that this is a 2021 release that I'm super excited about...probably the one I'm MOST excited about. Ugh, I can't wait!!!

A Master of Djinn - P. Djeli Clark
Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer. So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world fifty years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage. Alongside her Ministry colleagues and a familiar person from her past, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city—or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems…

I've mentioned this before, but Clark has become a writer whose books I pick up immediately with no hesitation. I was blown away by A Dead Djinn in Cairo and even more so by The Haunting of Tram Car 015, and this book is set in the same world. His novellas are incredible, and I'm always amazed at what he's able to accomplish in so few pages - dynamic characters, believable world-building, and a cracking story. What's even more amazing is that he manages to do this no matter what he's tackling, whether it be a parallel universe in which the Klan is comprised of actual monsters, or a Cairo that was never colonized by the British. One of my favorite new to me writers.

The Other Black Girl - Zakiya Dalila Harris

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust. Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW. It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

This book is already getting a ton of buzz, despite the fact that it's not being released until June. The premise sounds fun and dark and thrilling, and very Get Out-ish which, if you know me, is very squarely in my wheelhouse. This is a debut novel, and I'm excited to be introduced to a new writer!

The Apparition Phase - Will Maclean

Tim and Abi have always been different from their peers. Precociously bright, they spend their evenings in their parents’ attic discussing the macabre and unexplained, zealously rereading books on folklore, hauntings and the supernatural. In particular, they are obsessed with photographs of ghostly apparitions and the mix of terror and delight they provoke in their otherwise boring and safe childhoods. But when Tim and Abi decide to fake a photo of a ghost to frighten an unpopular school friend, they set in motion a deadly and terrifying chain of events that neither of them could have predicted, and are forced to confront the possibility that what began as a callous prank might well have taken on a malevolent life of its own.

Okay, so this was *technically* released in this year, but it was written by a friend of a friend, and said friend was kind enough to send me a signed copy all the way from the UK! This sounds exactly like the type of book I adore - darkly spooky, with people who are in over their heads and have the growing sense of something otherworldly taking over. There is also, apparently, a short story nested inside of the larger one, which is very House of Leaves-ish, and we all know how much I love that novel (...or do we? Short recap: I love it and it's one of my favorites of all time). So it goes without saying that I absolutely can't wait to dive in! I imagine this will be the perfect winter read with a warm blanket and cup of tea.

Star Eater - Kersten Hall

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.

If my adoration for A Memory Called Empire is any indication, I might be falling in love with "palace intrigue" novels. There's something about someone who was an outsider becoming an insider and learning terrifying things about the system into which they've been adopted that's fascinating to me. This feels like that book, and I'm here for it!

Remote Control: Nnedi Okorafor

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?

Okorafor is just incredible with anything she writes, so there's absolutely no reason I wouldn't be excited about this one! 

The Echo Wife - Sarah Gailey

Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award- winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be. And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband. Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and both Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up. Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty.

Ummm...this just sounds creepy and suuuuuper weird??? SIGN ME UP.

A Special Place for Women - Laura Hankin

For years, rumors have swirled about an exclusive, women-only social club where the elite tastemakers of NYC meet. People in the know whisper all sorts of claims: Membership dues cost $1,000 a month. Last time Rihanna was in town, she stopped by and got her aura read. The women even handpicked the city's first female mayor. But no one knows for sure. That is, until journalist Jillian Beckley decides she's going to break into the club. With her career in freefall, Jillian needs a juicy scoop, and she has a personal interest in bringing these women down. But the deeper she gets into this new world—where billionaire "girlbosses" mingle with occult-obsessed Bohemians—the more Jillian learns that bad things happen to those who dare to question the club's motives or giggle at its outlandish rituals. The select group of women who populate the club may be far more powerful than she ever imagined. And far more dangerous too.

Like I said before, I'm starting to realize my love of palace intrigue-style novels, and this is a variation on that. The description of this one gives me flashes of a book I enjoyed in 2020 - Mona Awad's very VERY strange but compulsively readable novel, Bunny. This is feeling a little more targeted at the GOOP class, but I think it'll be a fun book!

BTTM FDRS - Ezra Claytan Daniels & Ben Passmore

Once a thriving working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, the “Bottomyards” is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer named Darla and her image-obsessed friend, Cynthia, descend upon the neighborhood in search of cheap rent, they soon discover something far more seductive and sinister lurking behind the walls of their new home.

Like The Apparition Phase this is also a bit of a cheat, since it was actually released in 2019 and is available now. But I had to include it on the list, because it's described as a horror comic about gentrification AND it's set in Chicago! I learned about it through local writer Jac Jemc, whose book The Grip of It was a favorite read of mine in 2017. She's always reading something interesting that usually appeals to my tastes, and she rated this five stars, so I'm in!

And - WHEW - that's it! My most anticipated reads of 2021. What books - new or otherwise - are you looking forward to reading in 2021?