Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books of the Second 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.

Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics


So I have to begin this week’s post with a quick update on last week’s and the bookish wishes to celebrate Jana’s birthday. By a miracle of coincidence, I sent out three books and received three books in return! And these are they!

A little bit of literary, a splash of YA, a dash of LGBTQIA+, a seasoning of fantasy and romance… that seems to be a fairly accurate depiction of my reading preferences, and of… well… me!

So a huge thanks to Claire @ wordywitterings, Jess @ Lady Book Dragon, and Rain City Reads for your generosity and warmth. It was a delight to come home to your generous gifts!

Moving onto this week’s topic and we are looking into the future and excitedly anticipating the release of new novels in the second half of 2021. I have fallen behind with my NetGalley and ARC reviews recently but I am back on track and returned to my 100% score briefly over the weekend before being approved for a handful more!

ARCs

A Line to Kill, Anthony Horowitz 19th August

There has never been a murder on Alderney.

It’s a tiny island, just three miles long and a mile and a half wide. The perfect location for a brand new literary festival. Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne has been invited to talk about his new book. The writer, Anthony Horowitz, travels with him.

Very soon they discover that not all is as it should be. Alderney is in turmoil over a planned power line that will cut through it, desecrating a war cemetery and turning neighbour against neighbour.

The visiting authors – including a blind medium, a French performance poet and a celebrity chef – seem to be harbouring any number of unpleasant secrets.

When the festival’s wealthy sponsor is found brutally killed, Alderney goes into lockdown and Hawthorne knows that he doesn’t have to look too far for suspects.

There’s no escape. The killer is still on the island. And there’s about to be a second death…

I enjoyed the first two in this series, The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death – although I am glad that Horowitz has bucked the trend of his titles! For me, this genre is my comfort food and that is what I crave at the moment.

Harlem Shuffle, Colson Whitehead 14th September

Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…’

To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably-priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.
Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger and bigger all the time.

See, cash is tight, especially with all those instalment plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace at the furniture store, Ray doesn’t see the need to ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweller downtown who also doesn’t ask questions.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa – the ‘Waldorf of Harlem’ – and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do, after all. Now Ray has to cater to a new clientele, one made up of shady cops on the take, vicious minions of the local crime lord, and numerous other Harlem lowlifes.
Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he starts to see the truth about who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?

I never read The Underground Railway although I have meant to for so long! Maybe I can make amends with this one!

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections,  Eva Jurczyk 25th January

Liesl Weiss long ago learned to be content working behind the scenes in the distinguished rare books department of a large university, managing details and working behind the scenes to make the head of the department look good. But when her boss has a stroke and she’s left to run things, she discovers that the library’s most prized manuscript is missing.

Liesl tries to sound the alarm and inform the police about the missing priceless book, but is told repeatedly to keep quiet, to keep the doors open and the donors happy. But then a librarian unexpectedly stops showing up to work. Liesl must investigate both disappearances, unspooling her colleagues’ pasts like the threads of a rare book binding as it becomes clear that someone in the department must be responsible for the theft. What Liesl discovers about the dusty manuscripts she has worked among for so long–and about the people who care for and revere them–shakes the very foundation on which she has built her life.

I know nothing of this book, but it is set in a library and has a mystery to solve… so on the strength of that I requested it from NetGalley. There are worse reasons!

Other Anticipated Reads

The Women of Troy, Pat Barker, August 26th

Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home as victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails.

But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended – the body of Trojan king Priam lies desecrated, unburied – and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester.

Amidst her squabbling captors, Briseis — now married to Alcimus, but carrying the child of the late Achilles — must forge alliances where she can: with young, dangerously naïve Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, and with wild-eyed Cassandra, the unheeded seer. And so begins the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous…

I adored The Silence of the Girls so I am really looking forward to the sequel… although I feel a little jaded with Greek myth re-tellings at the moment…

Case Study, Graeme Macrae Burnett, October 7th

‘I have decided to write down everything that happens, because I feel, I suppose, I may be putting myself in danger.’

London, 1965. An unworldly young woman believes that a charismatic psychotherapist, Collins Braithwaite, has driven her sister to suicide. Intent on confirming her suspicions, she assumes a false identity and presents herself to him as a client, recording her experiences in a series of notebooks. But she soon finds herself drawn into a world in which she can no longer be certain of anything. Even her own character.

In Case Study, Graeme Macrae Burnet presents these notebooks interspersed with his own biographical research into Collins Braithwaite. The result is a dazzling – and often wickedly humorous – meditation on the nature of sanity, identity and truth itself, by one of the most inventive novelists writing today.

I love Macrae’s narrative bending style – playing with the idea of found texts, false documents – in His Bloody Project and this looks like more of the same.

Bewilderment, Richard Powers, 21st September

Theo Byrne is a promising young astrobiologist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son Robin is funny, loving, and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals, and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. He is also on the verge of being expelled from third grade, for smashing his friend’s face with a metal thermos.

What can a father do, when the only solution offered to his rare and troubled boy is to put him on psychoactive drugs? What can he say when his boy comes to him wanting an explanation for a world that is clearly in love with its own destruction? The only thing for it is to take the boy to other planets, while all the while fostering his son’s desperate campaign to help save this one.

This looks like a bit of a change from The Overstory but fascinating! Cannot wait!

The Magician, Colm Tóibín, 23rd September

The Magician tells the story of Thomas Mann, whose life was filled with great acclaim and contradiction. He would find himself on the wrong side of history in the First World War, cheerleading the German army, but have a clear vision of the future in the second, anticipating the horrors of Nazism.

He would have six children and keep his homosexuality hidden; he was a man forever connected to his family and yet bore witness to the ravages of suicide. He would write some of the greatest works of European literature, and win the Nobel Prize, but would never return to the country that inspired his creativity.

The Selfless Act of Breathing, J. J. Bola, 4th November

As a charismatic teacher living in London, Michael Kabongo strives to alleviate the injustices he sees around him: for the students who long for better lives, in memory of his father’s tragic death, and to end the violent marginalization of Black men around the world.

But after a devastating loss, he decides to embark on an adventure in the land of the free—the United States of America. From Dallas to San Francisco, Michael parties with new friends, engages in fleeting romances, splurges on thrilling escapades, all with the intention of ending his life once all his savings run out.

As he makes surprising new connections and faces old prejudices in odd but exciting new settings, Michael alone must decide if his life is worth living after all…

Whilst the description of this as “Transcendent Kingdom meets A Man Called Ove ” kind of puts me off, the blurb otherwise is intriguing!

Oh William! Elizabeth Strout, 21st October


I would like to say a few things about my first husband, William.

Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read. William, she confesses, has always been a mystery to me. Another mystery is why the two have remained connected after all these years. They just are.

So Lucy is both surprised and not surprised when William asks her to join him on a trip to investigate a recently uncovered family secret – one of those secrets that rearrange everything we think we know about the people closest to us. 

Just for the title that contains that exclamation mark! Although I have yet to venture into Strout’s novels, they have gathered so much praise!

Cytonic, Brandon Sanderson, 25th November

Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary.

She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell – the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What’s more, she travelled light-years from home as a spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home. Now, the Superiority – the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life – has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa has seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant.

Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator.

So this is what happens when I begin a series… I find it hard to not complete it!

The Man Who Died Twice, Richard Osman, 16th September

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

We will end where we began, with a cosy detective novel – the follow up to the delightful Thursday Murder Club – as I said the comfort and pleasure of a Sunday evening by the tv!

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes

  • July 6: Reasons Why I Love Reading
  • July 13: Book Titles That are Questions
  • July 20: Books I Read In One Sitting (or would have if I had the time)
  • July 27: Books I’d Want With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island
  • August 3: Titles or Covers That Made Want to Read/Buy the Book
  • August 10: Secondary/Minor Characters Who Deserve More Love
  • August 17: Favourite Places to Read
  • August 24: Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time
  • August 31: Fictional Crushes

30 comments

  1. I hadn’t heard of The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections before but I like the sound of it! I also put The Women of Troy on my list this week. I know what you mean about all the Greek myth retellings, I might wait a bit to get round to it as there have been a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

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