9 Books That Should Be On Your Radar For 2021

Welcome to 2021! Hopefully, this year is better than the year that must not be named. We might be just coming off our vacation here at Booked All Night but that doesn’t mean I haven’t spent the last month and a half drooling over soon to be published books. So to get us started, here are some books I’m totally excited for this year.

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The Come Back by E. L. Shen

E. L. Shen’s The Comeback is a heartfelt, #OwnVoices middle-grade debut about a young girl trying to be a champ–in figure skating and in life.Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn’t concerned, however–she’s determined to glide to victory. But then a bully at school starts teasing Maxine for her Chinese heritage, leaving her stunned and speechless. And at the rink, she finds herself up against a stellar new skater named Hollie, whose grace and skill threaten to edge Maxine out of the competition. With everything she knows on uneven ice, will Maxine crash under the pressure? Or can she power her way to a comeback? Set in Lake Placid, New York, this is a spunky yet stirring middle-grade story that examines racism, female rivalry and friendship, and the enduring and universal necessity of love and support.

The Stars of Whistling Ridge by Cindy Baldwin

In this new novel from the Indies Introduce author of Where the Watermelons Grow and Beginners Welcome, an almost-thirteen-year-old with an almost-complete sentence for a name embraces her destiny to search for a forever home.

Ivy Mae Bloom, whose name is one letter away from a complete sentence, has lived her entire life on the road. Her mama is a fallen star who travels near and far to tend to the magic that underpins our world. When Ivy steals Mama’s entire supply of wish jars in the hopes of finding a forever home, a series of disasters strands the Blooms in Whistling Ridge, North Carolina, with Mama’s two star sisters. Ivy knows her wish has been granted and that Whistling Ridge is her forever home—she just needs to convince her parents to stay.

But something is draining the magic from Whistling Ridge, and the star sisters can’t stop it. With help from some new friends, Ivy stumbles across a clue in the town’s history that might explain the mysterious force threatening Whistling Ridge . . . but if the town’s magic is healed, Mama will want to move on. Ivy must choose: Can she help her mama and aunts lift Whistling Ridge’s curse—even if it means losing the only place she’s ever called home?

From award-winning author Cindy Baldwin comes an enchanting story about magic, family, and the meaning of home.

The Last Windwitch by Jennifer Adam

Fans of Shannon Hale and Kelly Barnhill will delight in this charming and richly imagined middle grade fantasy debut, featuring a wicked queen, magical animals, a henchman with a golden heart, and a small girl with a great destiny.

Many years ago, in the kingdom of Fenwood Reach, there was a powerful Windwitch who wove the seasons, keeping the land bountiful and the people happy. But then a dark magic drove her from the realm, and the world fell into chaos.

Brida is content in her small village of Oak Hollow. There, she’s plenty occupied trying to convince her fickle magic to actually do what it’s meant to in her work as a hedgewitch’s apprentice–until she accidentally catches the attention of the wicked queen.

On the run from the queen’s huntsman and her all-seeing Crow spies, Brida discovers the truth about her family, her magic, and who she is destined to be–and that she may hold the power to defeating the wicked queen and setting the kingdom right again.

The Sea in Winter by Christine Day

In this evocative and heartwarming novel for readers who loved The Thing About Jellyfish, the author of I Can Make This Promise tells the story of a Native American girl struggling to find her joy again.

It’s been a hard year for Maisie Cannon, ever since she hurt her leg and could not keep up with her ballet training and auditions.

Her blended family is loving and supportive, but Maisie knows that they just can’t understand how hopeless she feels. With everything she’s dealing with, Maisie is not excited for their family midwinter road trip along the coast, near the Makah community where her mother grew up.

But soon, Maisie’s anxieties and dark moods start to hurt as much as the pain in her knee. How can she keep pretending to be strong when on the inside she feels as roiling and cold as the ocean?

One Jar of Magic by Corey Ann Haydu

From the critically acclaimed author of Eventown comes a hopeful and empowering tale set in an enchanting world of magic and mysterious family secrets–perfect for fans of Anne Ursu, Rebecca Stead, and Wendy Mass.

Magic is like a dream. Delightful. Terrifying. Unreal.

Rose Alice Anders is Little Luck. Lucky to be born into the Anders family. Lucky to be just as special and magical as the most revered man in town–her father. The whole town has been waiting for Rose to turn twelve, when she can join them in their annual capturing of magic on New Year’s Day and become the person she was born to be.

But when that special day finally comes, Rose barely captures one tiny jar of magic. Now Rose’s dad won’t talk to her anymore and her friendships have gotten all twisted and wrong. So when Rose hears whispers that there are people who aren’t meant for magic at all, she begins to wonder if that’s who she belongs with.

Maybe if she’s away from all the magic, away from her dad telling her who she’s meant to be, who she has to be, Rose can begin to piece together what’s truly real in a world full of magic.

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

When children start to go missing in the local woods, a teen girl must face her fears and a past she can’t remember to rescue them in this atmospheric YA novel, Lost in the Never Woods from the author of Cemetery Boys.

It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into the light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road…

Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, asks for Wendy’s help to rescue the missing kids. But, in order to find them, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

Return to the beloved world of Julie Murphy’s #1 New York Times bestselling Dumplin’—now a popular Netflix feature film starring Jennifer Anistonin this fabulously joyful, final companion novel about drag, prom, and embracing your inner Queen.

Waylon Russell Brewer is a fat, openly gay boy stuck in the small West Texas town of Clover City. His plan is to bide his time until he can graduate, move to Austin with his twin sister, Clementine, and finally go Full Waylon so that he can live his Julie-the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music-Andrews truth.

So when Clementine deviates from their master plan right after Waylon gets dumped, he throws caution to the wind and creates an audition tape for his favorite TV drag show, Fiercest of Them All. What he doesn’t count on is the tape getting accidentally shared with the entire school. . . . As a result, Waylon is nominated for prom queen as a joke. Clem’s girlfriend, Hannah Perez, also receives a joke nomination for prom king.

Waylon and Hannah decide there’s only one thing to do: run—and leave high school with a bang. A very glittery bang. Along the way, Waylon discovers that there is a lot more to running for prom court than campaign posters and plastic crowns, especially when he has to spend so much time with the very cute and infuriating prom king nominee Tucker Watson.

Waylon will need to learn that the best plan for tomorrow is living for today . . . especially with the help of some fellow queens. . . .

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Rose Szabo’s thrilling debut is a dark and thrilling novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.

Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.

Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

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Published by J. M. Tuckerman

J M Tuckerman is a New Jersey-based writer, blogger, and podcast talent. Tuckerman holds a BA in Writing Arts, an MA in Writing, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She is a proud dog mom, cat mom, archer, wife, and passionate book wyrm.

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