Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2021

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.


I love this time of the year, looking ahead to future book releases and starting to build that delicious anticipation for them! What would make me anticipate a book? Some authors will always be an immediate draw, as will certain content, and of course from time to time the cover will catch the eye.

So, let’s do some digging and see what is coming up…

7th January 2021: The Death of Francis Bacon, Max Porter

A bold and brilliant short work by the author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers and Lanny. Madrid. Unfinished. Man Dying. A great painter lies on his deathbed. Max Porter translates into seven extraordinary written pictures the explosive final workings of the artist’s mind.

Publisher: Faber & Faber 
ISBN: 9780571366514 
Number of pages: 80 
Weight: 135 g 
Dimensions: 186 x 117 x 11 mm 
Edition: Main

Okay, so it’s only 80 pages… but 80 pages of words from Max Porter can break your heart in so many ways. The author of Grief is the Thing With Feathers and Lanny is always going to be a go-to writer!

And out this week!!!

14th January 2021: The Living Sea of Waking Dreams, Richard Flanagan

In a world of perennial fire and growing extinctions, Anna’s aged mother is dying-if her three children would just allow it. Condemned by their pity to living she increasingly escapes through her hospital window into visions of horror and delight.

When Anna’s finger vanishes and a few months later her knee disappears, Anna too feels the pull of the window. She begins to see that all around her others are similarly vanishing, but no one else notices. All Anna can do is keep her mother alive. But the window keeps opening wider, taking Anna and the reader ever deeper into a strangely beautiful novel about hope and love and orange-bellied parrots.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing 
ISBN: 2928377050252 
Number of pages: 240 
Dimensions: 216 x 138 mm

Damn, does Richard Flanagan know how to name a book to capture the interest! And the acclaim he has received for The Narrow Road to the Deep North just deepens the appeal!

4th February 2021: Last One at the Party, Bethany Clift

It’s December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended.

The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself).

But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own.

Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.

And with no one else to live for, who will she become now that she’s completely alone?

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 
ISBN: 9781529371963 
Number of pages: 368 
Dimensions: 240 x 156 mm

This feels like a bit of a wild card, but then wild cards can often be wonderful too!

16th February 2021: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, Becky Chambers

With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.

At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.

When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.

I have only read the first of The Wayfarers series, to be fair, but I did love it and whilst I doubt I’ll have caught up by February, this still feels like one to keep an eye on.

2nd March 2021: Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro

A luminous new novel from the Nobel Prize-winning author of Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the DayKlara and the Sun explores the uncharted implications of AI to human relationships and the abiding question of what it means to love.  

The novel tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

I love Ishiguro’s quiet decorous characters in extreme situations and, yes, the adjective “luminous” to describe his prose seems very apt. Without doubt, a new book from the author of The Remains of the Day or Never Let Me Go is something to anticipate.

4th March 2021: The Lamplighters, Emma Stonex

They say we’ll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets . . .

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
ISBN: 2928377051488 
Number of pages: 368 
Dimensions: 216 x 135 mm

18th March 2021: Hot Stew, Fiona Mozley

‘Did you know in Tudor times all the brothels were south of the river in Southwark and it was only much later that they moved up this way to Soho. Stews, they were called then.’ 

Pungent, steamy, insatiable Soho; the only part of London that truly never sleeps. Tourists dawdling, chancers skulking, addicts shuffling, sex workers strutting, punters prowling, businessmen striding, the homeless and the lost. Down Wardour Street, ducking onto Dean Street, sweeping into L’Escargot, darting down quiet back alleyways, skirting dumpsters and drunks, emerging on to raucous main roads, fizzing with energy and riotous with life.

On a corner, sits a large townhouse, the same as all its neighbours. But this building hosts a teeming throng of rich and poor, full from the basement right up to the roof terrace. Precious and Tabitha call the top floors their home but it’s under threat; its billionaire-owner Agatha wants to kick the women out to build expensive restaurants and luxury flats. Men like Robert, who visit the brothel, will have to go elsewhere. Those like Cheryl, who sleep in the basement, will have to find somewhere else to hide after dark. But the women won’t go quietly. Soho is their turf and they are ready for a fight.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division 
ISBN: 9781529327205 
Number of pages: 320 
Dimensions: 240 x 156 mm

Elmet was one of the books I regret not having read last year, so perhaps I can make that up with Hot Soup: it sounds like an engrossing, thrilling historical novel and reminds me of Sarah Waters.

18th March 2021: The Absolute Book, Elizabeth Knox

Taryn Cornick believes her sister Bea was deliberately run down and killed. She believes it so hard she allows a man called the Muleskinner to exact the justice Bea was denied. An eye for an eye. 

Which is when Taryn’s problems really begin. 

Because the police suspect Taryn’s involvement in the death. 

Worse, others have their eyes on Taryn – those in a faraway place who know what Taryn’s family have been carefully hiding in their vast library. The Absolute Book. 

They want it – and they want Taryn to help find it. 

For the lives of those in more than one world depend upon it . . .

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd 
ISBN: 9780241473924 
Number of pages: 400 
Dimensions: 240 x 156 mm

6th April 2021: Peaces, Helen Oyeyemi

Peaces is the story of Otto and Xavier Shin, a couple who embark on a mysterious train journey that takes them far beyond any destination they could have anticipated. As the carriages roll along they discover each is more curious and fascinating than the last, becoming embroiled in this strange train and its intrigue. Who is Ava Kapoor, the sole full-time inhabitant of the train, and what is her relationship to a man named Prem? Are they passengers or prisoners? We discover who orchestrated the journey, hurtling them all into their past for clues. This is a brilliant, wise, strange and, above all, beautiful novel.

Publisher: Faber & Faber 
ISBN: 9780571366583 
Number of pages: 320 
Dimensions: 234 x 153 mm 
Edition: Main

Oyeyemi is a vibrant disturbing writer, creating White is for Witching and Gingerbread merging magic realism, fairy tale and myth into something psychologically haunting. Love her! Also, I love a train in a book too!

6th April 2021: First Person Singular, Haruki Murakami

The eight masterly stories in this new collection are all told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator.

From nostalgic memories of youth, meditations on music, and an ardent love of baseball to dreamlike scenarios and invented jazz albums, together these stories challenge the boundaries between our minds and the exterior world.

Occasionally, a narrator who may or may not be Murakami himself is present.

Is it memoir or fiction? The reader decides.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing 
ISBN: 9781787302600 
Number of pages: 240 
Dimensions: 222 x 138 mm

Although Murakami’s short stories can sometimes be a little hit-and-miss, it is still Murakami at the end of the day!

29th April 2021: Lean Fall Stand, Jon McGregor

When an Antarctic research expedition goes wrong, the consequences are far-reaching – for the men involved and for their families back home.

Robert ‘Doc’ Wright, a veteran of Antarctic field work, holds the clues to what happened, but he is no longer able to communicate them. While Anna, his wife, navigates the sharp contours of her new life as a carer, Robert is forced to learn a whole new way to be in the world.

Award-winning novelist Jon McGregor returns with a stunning novel that mesmerizingly and tenderly unpicks the notion of heroism and explores the indomitable human impulse to tell our stories – even when words fail us. A meditation on the line between sacrifice and selfishness this is a story of the undervalued, unrecognised courage it can take just to get through the day.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers 
ISBN: 9780008204907 
Number of pages: 336 
Weight: 270 g 
Dimensions: 222 x 141 mm

I adored Reservoir 13, although that is the only book of his I have read – a glorious paean to childhood and youth and the the countryside, and the pain that a single tragic even can cause to a community. As such, I am excited by this one!

1st June 2021: One Last Stop, Casey McQuiston

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

A time travel sapphic romance? Not my usual genre at all but I did get swept away with Red, White and Royal Blue so this is probably worth a try as the sun comes out for those long dreamy days of summer which seem so far away.

17th June 2021: For the Wolf, Hannah Whitten

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose – to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods. 

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood – and her world – whole.

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group 
ISBN: 9780356516363 
Number of pages: 480 
Dimensions: 198 x 126 mm

I do have a weakness for Little Red Riding Hood tales…

So, there we have a number of book I am looking forward to, at least of those that I am aware of. Please do comment with your thoughts and any recommendation that you may have!

Again, a David Mitchell book is an event, and a thing of beauty! But the music industry is not my natural setting and again I was caught between this and another book – Daisy Jones and the Six in this case – and Daisy Jones was read first. This time, because it was nominated on a book club I was part of.

Bonus: The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch

They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.

Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich – they’re the only ones worth stealing from – but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards.

This one has been on my TBR for years. Literally years. I have heard nothing but praise for it, but so far have never quite got around to reading it! Go figure!

So, there we go: a range of books that I got in 2020 – save for the Scott Lynch – and do regret not reading during the year. Is regret the right word? Probably not to be honest: I do not regret the reading that I did do last year at all. But these are books that I would like to find time to catch up with this year – before prize season hits us again!

Pop in the comments below your thoughts on these – maybe let me know which I should read first!


January 12: Resolutions/Hopes for 2021 (bookish or not!)
January 19: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To (You could take this opportunity to tell us what’s left on your seasonal TBRs from last year. Or books you were super excited about and then you didn’t get to them.)
January 26: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020 (If you didn’t read 10 new authors, that’s fine! Just do what you can.)

24 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2021”

  1. ‘The Galaxy, and the Ground Within’ is my #1 must-read of the year. The good thing about her books is that you don’t have to read any of the others to read a new one. Sure, it helps you understand her universe more deeply, but the storyline is always unique to the book so you can just jump right in. 🙂 Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. She always focuses on different characters, although sometimes their stories do intersect a bit. ‘A Closed and Common Orbit’ features Lovelace and ‘Record of a Spaceborn Few’ features Ashby’s sister and her family, but they aren’t a continuation of the original book really.

        Liked by 1 person

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