10 Books I Didn’t Get To Last Year (But Still Want To)

Posted 18th January 2022 by Siavahda in Top Ten Tuesdays / 2 Comments


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out upcoming Top Ten themes on Jana’s blog!

This week’s prompt is ‘2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To’, and I had a few of those! Here are the 10 most urgent ones.

Flash Fire (The Extraordinaries #2) by T.J. Klune
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi

Flash Fire is the explosive sequel to The Extraordinaries by USA Today bestselling author TJ Klune!

Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams, but with new heroes arriving in Nova City it’s up to Nick and his friends to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous. Which is a lot to handle for a guy who just wants to finish his self-insert bakery AU fanfic.

The Extraordinaries was one of my favourites of 2020 – I am a terrible heathen and actually preffered it to Cerulean Sea, YES I KNOW THIS IS BLASPHEMY – but somehow I never managed to make time to sit down and read its sequel! Fail.

The Hollow Heart (Forgotten Gods, #2) by Marie Rutkoski
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists

Intrigue, romance, and magic abound in the heart-stopping conclusion to Marie Rutkoski’s Forgotten Gods duology.

At the end of The Midnight Lie, Nirrim offered up her heart to the God of Thieves in order to restore her people’s memories of their city’s history. The Half Kith who once lived imprisoned behind the city’s wall now realize that many among them are powerful. Meanwhile, the person Nirrim once loved most, Sid, has returned to her home country of Herran, where she must navigate the politics of being a rogue princess who has finally agreed to do her duty.

In the Herrani court, rumors begin to grow of a new threat rising across the sea, of magic unleashed on the world, and of a cruel, black-haired queen who can push false memories into your mind, so that you believe your dearest friends to be your enemies.

Sid doesn’t know that this queen is Nirrim, who seeks her revenge against a world that has wronged her. Can Sid save Nirrim from herself? Does Nirrim even want to be saved? As blood is shed and war begins, Sid and Nirrim find that it might not matter what they want…for the gods have their own plans.

I surprised myself by massively enjoying The Midnight Lie, and I was very annoyed at myself for taking so long to get to it! But I hesitated to pick up Hollow Heart because I felt too fragile for where it was likely to go. It’s still very high on my tbr, but I still don’t feel quite brave enough to face it…

In the Jaded Grove by Anela Deen
Genres: Fantasy

Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war. After years of conflict between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace. Hoping to secure a ceasefire, Simith arranges a meeting with the troll king—and is ambushed instead. Escape lies in the Jaded Grove, but the trees of the ancient Fae woodland aren’t what they seem, and in place of sanctuary, Simith tumbles through a doorway to another world.

Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm in Skylark, Michigan, Jessa runs into a battle between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel. Only the blood is very real. When a lone fighter falls to his attackers, Jessa intervenes. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but an act of kindness leads to consequences even a poet like her couldn’t imagine.

With their fates bound by magic, Simith and Jessa must keep the strife of his world from spilling into hers—except the war isn’t what it appears and neither are their enemies. Countless lives depend on whether they can face the truths of their pasts and untangle the web of lies around them. But grief casts long shadows, and even their deepening bond may not be enough to save them from its reach.

The description doesn’t catch my interest much, but the things I’ve heard from other readers very much does! Another one I just failed to make time for.

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth

In this thrilling story of survival and anger, a woman has her whole life turned upside down after speaking out against workplace hostility–and inadvertently becomes the leader of a cultural movement.

Eliza Bright was living the dream as an elite video game coder at Fancy Dog Games when her private life suddenly became public. But is Eliza Bright a brilliant, self-taught coder bravely calling out the toxic masculinity and chauvinism that pervades her workplace and industry? Or, is Eliza Bright a woman who needs to be destroyed to protect "the sanctity of gaming culture"? It depends on who you ask...

When Eliza reports an incident of workplace harassment that is quickly dismissed, she's forced to take her frustrations to a journalist who blasts her story across the Internet. She's fired and doxed, and becomes a rallying figure for women across America. But she's also enraged the beast that is male gamers on 4Chan and Reddit, whose collective, unreliable voice narrates our story. Soon Eliza is in the cross-hairs of the gaming community, threatened and stalked as they monitor her every move online and across New York City.

As the violent power of an angry male collective descends upon everyone in Eliza's life, it becomes increasingly difficult to know who to trust, even when she's eventually taken in and protected by an under-the-radar Collective known as the Sixsterhood. The violence moves from cyberspace to the real world, as a vicious male super-fan known only as The Ghost is determined to exact his revenge on behalf of men everywhere. We watch alongside the Sixsterhood and subreddit incels as this dramatic cat-and-mouse game plays out to reach its violent and inevitable conclusion.

This is an extraordinary, unputdownable novel that explores the dark recesses of the Internet and male rage, and the fragile line between the online world and real life. It's a thrilling story of female resilience and survival, packed with a powerful feminist message.

This is one I started reading and really loved it – but I was way too raw and fragile to deal with everything it tackles. I put it down, but not too good!

Body of Stars by Laura Maylene Walter
Genres: Fantasy

An exploration of fate and female agency in a world very similar to our own--except that the markings on women's bodies reveal the future. A piercing indictment of rape culture, a read about what happens when women are objectified and stripped of choice--and what happens when they fight back.

Celeste Morton has eagerly awaited her passage to adulthood. Like every girl, she was born with a set of childhood markings--the freckles, moles, and birthmarks on her body that foretell her future and that of those around her--and with puberty will come a new set of predictions that will solidify her fate. The possibilities are tantalizing enough to outweigh the worry that the future she dreams of won't be the one she's fated to have and the fear of her "changeling period" the time when women are nearly irresistible to men and the risk of abduction is rife.

Celeste's beloved brother, Miles, is equally anticipating her transition to adulthood. As a skilled interpreter of the future, a field that typically excludes men, Miles considers Celeste his practice ground--and the only clue to what his own future will bring. But when Celeste changes, she learns a devastating secret about Miles's fate: a secret that could destroy her family, a secret she will do anything to keep. Yet Celeste isn't the only one keeping secrets, and when the lies of brother and sister collide, it leads to a tragedy that will irrevocably change Celeste's fate, set her on a path to fight against the inherent misogyny of fortune-telling, and urge her to create a future that is truly her own.

Same again – I actually read about half of this, but I had to take a break from it. The prose is very readable and I was surprised by how well most of Body of Stars‘ worldbuilding hangs together – I was especially pleased that it makes room for nonbinary individuals, which stories with gendered magic almost always forget about or ignore! But I needed a lot of escapism last year, and Body of Stars is definitely not escapist.

The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice by Shon Faye

Trans people in Britain today have become a culture war 'issue'. Despite making up less than 1% of the country's population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarised 'debate', which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals a simple fact: that we are having the wrong conversation, a conversation in which trans people themselves are reduced to a talking point and denied a meaningful voice.

In this powerful new book, Shon Faye reclaims the idea of the 'transgender issue' to uncover the reality of what it means to be trans in a transphobic society. In doing so, she provides a compelling, wide-ranging analysis of trans lives from youth to old age, exploring work, family, housing, healthcare, the prison system, and trans participation in the LGBTQ+ and feminist communities, in contemporary Britain and beyond.

The Transgender Issue is a landmark work that signals the beginning of a new, healthier conversation about trans life. It is a manifesto for change, and a call for justice and solidarity between all marginalised people and minorities. Trans liberation, as Faye sees it, goes to the root of what our society is and what it could be; it offers the possibility of a more just, free and joyful world for all of us.

I spent the biggest chunk of my childhood in England, and even after over a decade away I can’t quite cut all ties. I’ve seen the situation there get worse and worse for trans people, and I don’t understand why or how it’s happening – or what civilians can do so help. This book is specifically about transphobia in the UK, and it’s amazingly written, but I had to put it down because it kept making me sick and furious and depressed.

I fully intend to get through the whole thing eventually. But it’s not going to be easy or quick.

Malice by Heather Walter
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists

A princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” true love is more than a simple fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.
You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster.
Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again.

Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.

I’ve heard only good things about Malice, and the premise ticks so many of my boxes – but it got shoved down my tbr by other books I considered more urgent at the time. Pfft!

Queer Square Mile by Kirsti Bohata
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Published on: 21st October 2021

This ground-breaking volume makes visible a long and diverse tradition of queer writing from Wales. Spanning genres from ghost stories and science fiction to industrial literature and surrealist modernism, these are stories of love, loss and transformation.

In these stories gender refuses to be fixed: a dashing travelling companion is not quite who he seems in the intimate darkness of a mail coach, a girl on the cusp of adulthood gamely takes her father’s place as head of the house, and an actor and patron are caught up in dangerous game-playing. In the more fantastical tales there are talking rats, flirtations with fascism, and escape from a post-virus ‘utopia’. These are stories of sexual awakening, coming out and redefining one’s place in the world.
Release and a certain heady license may be found in the distant cities of Europe or north Africa, but the stories are for the most part located in familiar Welsh settings – a schoolroom, a provincial town, a mining village, a tourist resort, a sacred island. The intensity of desire, whether overt, playful, or coded, makes this a rich and often surprising collection that reimagines what being queer and Welsh has meant in different times and places.

The first anthology of its kind in Wales, which finally sheds light on a largely hidden queer cultural history with the careful selection of over 40 short stories (1837-2018).
New translations of Kate Roberts, Mihangel Morgan, Jane Edwards, Pennar Davies and Dylan Huw make available their compelling stories for the first time to a non-Welsh speaking readership.

Previously unpublished works by writers such as Margiad Evans and Ken Etheridge appear alongside better known favourites.

This one feels very personal; I’m half-Welsh, and the last year or so I’ve been trying to connect to that part of my heritage, which I never really grew up with. So a collection of short stories that mixes Welshness with queerness, which is an even bigger part of my identity? On the one hand, I can’t wait to read this; on the other, my emotions are tangled up and I think I feel sort of… intimidated? Or worried that I won’t enjoy it? So it’s hard to open it up and just start reading!

Dust-Up at the Crater School (The Crater School, #2) by Chaz Brenchley
Genres: Sci Fi

Christmas is coming to the Crater School, so the girls must celebrate. So says the Earth calendar. But Mars does not respect school rules. Nor does the Red Planet have much respect for Earth weather. Why bother with a white Christmas when Martian weather can be far more dangerous?

Then again, perhaps this is for the best. The people most likely to arrive at the Crater School with snow on their boots are Russian spies.

Listen, I would have made it to this one if it hadn’t been published so late in the year!

Plum Duff (Greenwing & Dart Book 6) by Victoria Goddard
Genres: Fantasy

Magic is out of fashion.

Except, obviously, at Winterturn.

Winterturn in Ragnor Bella is a holiday for family, feasting, and a few religious festivities.

Jemis Greenwing and Mr. Dart are both quite ready for a quiet week or two after their adventures going to and coming home from Orio City. Jemis in particular is looking forward to the first Winterturn spent with his father since he was a child.

Then the fairy fox shows up.

Wild magic. Family secrets. Gifts from unknown admirers. Sainthood. And that's before the pageant.

SEE ABOVE! This is another that was released just in time for Yule – giving me no time to get to it before the year charged! Even though I’m absolutely DYING to jump back into Jemis’ story!

My next few months are so busy I’m not sure when I’ll get to any of these, but I hope it’ll be soon!

Which books did you not manage to read last year?

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