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BOOK LIST: 2021 BOOK PRE-ORDERS

Pre-ordering is a great way to boost book sales and to help show publishers that there’s early interest in a book. This can be especially helpful for debut authors, as it can lead to further books being published from them in future. I went a bit wild recently with pre-orders (shout out to The Portal Bookshop for having some AMAZING books up for pre-order on their website), so I thought I’d round them up here and maybe tempt you to ordering them too…

Note: The illustrator credits I’ve included here are for the UK cover art – some books may have completely different covers in different countries


BOOKS I’VE ALREADY PREORDERED

SHOW US WHO YOU ARE – Elle McNicoll (Illus. Kay Wilson)

4th March 2021

When Cora’s brother drags her along to his boss’s house, she doesn’t expect to strike up a friendship with Adrien, son of the intimidating CEO of Pomegranate Technologies. As she becomes part of Adrien’s life, she is also drawn into the mysterious projects at Pomegranate. At first, she’s intrigued by them – Pomegranate is using AI to recreate real people in hologram form. As she digs deeper, however, she uncovers darker secrets… Cora knows she must unravel their plans, but can she fight to make her voice heard, whilst never losing sight of herself?

I’m so incredibly excited to read the next book from Elle McNicoll – her first book, A Kind of Spark, had me crying behind the till at work when I first read it. This is going to be an incredibly powerful book about friendship and strength, and I know I’ll be sobbing when I get to it. Fellow blogger Ocean has read it, and their thread about the book just shows how important ownvoices neurodivergent books are. I’ve pre-ordered two copies from Rocketship Bookshop for a giveaway closer to pub date so keep an eye on my socials for that!

A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR – Ashley Shuttleworth (illus. Christophe Young)

23rd February 2021

Choose your player.

The half-fae outcast, desperate for acceptance. The tempestuous Fury, exiled and hellbent on revenge. The dutiful prince, determined to earn his place. The brooding guardian, burdened by a terrible secret. Each holds a key to solving a series of ritualistic murders that threaten to expose faeries to the human world. But they cannot do it alone. To track down the killer, they will have to form a tenuous alliance, putting their differences – and conflicts – aside. Failure risks the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. And time is running out. Time to roll the dice.

Listen, I was sold on this book from the cover alone. Reading the blurb had me even more convinced that I needed it. Finding out that this book is full of LGBTQ+ characters and the author is genderfluid just had me even more desperate to read it right now! I love fae, I love brooding characters, so this is of course a perfect book for me! I pre-ordered my copy of this from Blackwells.

MEET CUTE DIARY – Emery Lee (Illus. Mariana Ramírez)

4th May 2021

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem-all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe. When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

Fake dating trope!! I think it’s such a cute trope, where it’s inevitable the two characters will fall in love, and I’m sure the same can be said for this one. Plus the cover is just adorable! This book sounds like a real beacon of joy for trans readers, and I know from a couple of friends who have read it that it’s beautiful and brilliant – you can check out Anniek’s amazing review over on their blog here. I pre-ordered a copy from The Portal Bookshop.

SWEET AND BITTER MAGIC – Adrienne Tooley (illus. Tara Phillips)

9th March 2021

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back—even for just a little while—is to steal love from others. Wren is a source—a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren—the only caretaker to her ailing father—has spent her life hiding her secret. When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father. Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two have a long, perilous journey ahead of them—that is, if they don’t kill each other first…

Another trope that I’m a huge fan of is enemies-to-lovers – and this book sounds like it’s full of those sparks shooting between the main characters. The magic in this book also sounds really interesting, and I’m a sucker for intriguing magic systems. Also the cover? Goals. I pre-ordered from The Portal Bookshop.

THE GIRL FROM THE SEA – Molly Knox Ostertag (author & illus.)

1st June 2021

Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl. Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn’t seem so stifling anymore. But Keltie has some secrets of her own. And as the girls start to fall in love, everything they’re each trying to hide will find its way to the surface…whether Morgan is ready or not.

Time for a graphic novel on my list! I don’t pre-order them often, but this one just seemed like an absolute need! I’ve read The Witch Boy that the creator had previously written and illustrated and really enjoyed it, so I can’t wait to read this mystical and cutesy book! I pre-ordered from The Portal Bookshop.

SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY – Kelly Quindlen (illus. Steffi Walthall)

20th April 2021

After an embarrassing loss to her ex-girlfriend in their first basketball game of the season, seventeen-year-old Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, Irene Abraham, head cheerleader for the Fighting Reindeer. Irene is as mean as she is beautiful, so Scottie makes a point to keep her distance. When the accident sends Irene’s car to the shop for weeks’ worth of repairs and the girls are forced to carpool, their rocky start only gets bumpier. But when an opportunity arises for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex – and climb her school’s social ladder – she bribes Irene into an elaborate fake-dating scheme that threatens to reveal some very real feelings.

Again, I have been drawn in by a pretty cover, as well as this book being so very sapphic – I don’t think I could go wrong with those two combos in a book! This rivalry sounds great too, the book seems to have both enemies-to-lovers and the fake dating trope? I’m so excited to read it! I pre-ordered from The Portal Bookshop.

CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY – Steven Salvatore (illus. Hilde Atalanta)

9th March 2021

Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother’s spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice. Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey’s tormentor and others in the school. It’s up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights – and they refuse to be silenced.

Honestly, 2021 has just been hitting it out of the park with stunning book covers! This book sounds like a tough read, but also seems like a book full of close friendships and blossoming romance, and I’ve been looking forward to it since the cover reveal. I pre-ordered from The Portal Bookshop.

AFTERLOVE – Tanya Byrne (illus. Sarah Maxwell)

22nd July 2021

Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again – the only thing that separates them is death. Car headlights.The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars. But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate. But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again …even if it means they only get a few more days together.

I’ve been looking forward to Afterlove for a VERY long time, and when the cover was released I think I squealed – the illustration is stunning! It’s great to see more UKYA authors published, and especially an author of colour with a sapphic book! I pre-ordered this one from The Portal Bookshop!

RULE OF WOLVES – Leigh Bardugo (illus. Hedi Xandt)

30th March 2021

The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible. The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost. The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart. King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall. 

Come on. COME ON!! You all knew that I’d have Leigh Bardugo’s latest book pre-ordered! I ordered from lovely indie bookshop Rocketship Books (and I have my eye on the Illumicrate edition too…), and I am so ready to read this book. At the same time, I don’t know how ready I am for this chapter of the Grishaverse to end. Although Leigh has written that there’s potential for a third Crows book, I don’t quite know how realistic that would be, and it would probably just break me…

EMPIRE OF THE VAMPIRE – Jay Kristoff (illus. Kerby Rosanes)

7th September 2021

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness. Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains. Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. 

I am a huge fan of vampires, but have a bit more of a sway towards dark, gritty vampire stories, so I was really intrigued when this one was being teased. We’ve finally got a cover too (I much prefer the UK one to the US cover), so I preordered a copy straight away from Blackwells! I’m hoping that it’s good…


BOOKS I NEED TO PRE-ORDER SOON

SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN – Shelley Parker-Chan (illus. Melissa Four)

22nd July 2021

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty plain, a seer shows two children their fates. For a family’s eighth-born son, there’s greatness. For the second daughter, nothing. In 1345, China lies restless under harsh Mongol rule. And when a bandit raid wipes out their home, the two children must somehow survive. Zhu Chongba despairs and gives in. But the girl resolves to overcome her destiny. So she takes her dead brother’s identity and begins her journey. Can Zhu escape what’s written in the stars, as rebellion sweeps the land? Or can she claim her brother’s greatness – and rise as high as she can dream?

This sounds like an incredibly detailed and well-crafted novel, and reading this article from the author has only made me feel like I want to read it immediately. It sounds powerful as well as moving, so I’m looking forward to reading this one and discovering something new.

BETWEEN PERFECT AND REAL – Ray Stoeve (illus. Susan Haejin Lee)

13th April 2021

Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian–including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now–not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self?

This is going to definitely be a powerful and tear-jerking read, and I can’t wait to see how the story will play out. I’m really excited for the amount of books with trans characters coming out this year – it’s so wonderful to see. I’ll make sure to have tissues with me when reading this debut!

HONEY GIRL – Morgan Rogers (illus. Poppy Magda)

23rd February 2021

With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that. This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her parent’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows. In New York, she’s able to ignore all the constant questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.

I absolutely love the sound of this one – a book full of the messiness of adulthood, the stumbling blocks that come with being thrust into the world, and discovering newfound freedoms. The cover is also beautiful! I’m glad to see books being published with characters that are 25+ years old – although I read and love YA a lot, I feel there’s a bit of a gap between YA books and Adult books when it comes to character age, so books like this bridge that gap a little.

THE CHOSEN AND THE BEAUTIFUL – Nghi Vo (illus. Greg Ruth)

1st June 2021

Immigrant. Socialite. Magician. Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society–she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer and Asian, a Vietnamese adoptee treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

I admit, this is most definitely a cover buy for me, because I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover. But, upon reading that this is a magical Great Gatsby reimagining with LGBTQ+ characters, my heart absolutely skipped a beat. I admit I haven’t read Gatsby, but am quite obsessed with the movie aesthetics, so I feel like this book is certain to be something I’ll love!

THIS POISON HEART – Kalynn Bayron (illus. Raymond Sebastien)

6th July 2021

Ever since she can remember, Briseis has had power over plants. Flowers bloom in her footsteps and leaves turn to face her as though she were the sun. It’s a power she and her adoptive mothers have spent her whole life trying to hide. And then Briseis inherits an old house from her birth mother and suddenly finds herself with the space and privacy to test her powers for the first time. But as Briseis starts to bring the house’s rambling garden back to life, she finds she has also inherited generations of secrets. A hidden altar to a dark goddess, a lineage of witches stretching back to ancient times, and a hidden garden overgrown with the most deadly poisonous plants on earth. And Briseis’s long-departed ancestors aren’t going to let her rest until she accepts her place as the keeper of the terrible power that lies at the heart of the Poison Garden.

After reading Cinderella is Dead last year and absolutely loving every second of it, how could I not want to pre-order this delightful book? And the cover is just stunning! I’m so thrilled that there are book retellings out and coming out now that feature Black, brown and LGBTQ+ characters, and I feel it will get a whole new generation of people loving stories they may have thought inaccessible before.

RISE TO THE SUN – Leah Johnson (illus. Alexis Francis)

6th July 2021

Three days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival. Toni is reeling in the wake of the loss of her roadie father and desperate to figure out where her life will go from here — so she’s heading back to the festival that taught her to love music in a last ditch effort to rediscover her passion

I absolutely fell in love with You Should See Me In A Crown last year, so of course I’m really excited to read another book from Leah Johnson! I also really enjoy books that are set in the space of just a few days, so it’ll be good fun to read this one – a perfect summertime read!


I hope you might have found some new books to put on your TBRs! I could have written so many more books that I want to pre-order, but there are just so many amazing books coming this year it would have been an incredibly long list if I didn’t stop! I’ve included links to some of my favourite indie bookshops if you want to pre-order these yourself!

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