My TBR List for 2021…so far

Now that I’m self-employed and working on connecting on all of my work through storytelling, I would like to immerse myself in more stories! Below is the list of books that I would like to dive into this year. Some books are debuting and some have been on the market for a minute, but in between the last parts of college and the busy nature of my last job, I wasn’t able to get to everything I wanted. Also, I view books the way I view music. Just because it came out in the past doesn’t mean you can’t be fan for it and bring attention to it.

1. Happily Ever Afters


Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader.

When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa’s stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming.

But as Tessa checks off each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about—including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She’s well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all? 

When I heard about this story, it sounded charming and relatable as a writer, especially a writer that’s anxious about sharing her work. I personally did not go to high school for an arts program, but I did participate in art camps where every student was divided into arts camps like drama, visual arts, creative writing, dance, and theater. I’m eager to dive into Tessa’s world and see how she grows over the course of the story.

2. How Long ‘Til Black Future Month


In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.

After reading the anthology, A Phoenix First Must Burn, I was eager to dive into the worlds of other black authors. So, I decided to look to N.K. Jemisin and see the variety of worlds and stories she would create in her collection.

3. Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood


Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

Sarah J. Maas’s series Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses are already sitting on my shelves, so there’s no doubt that I would dive into the start of a new series! I love how complex her worlds are and I’m excited to dive into this one where we have a modern city with mystery, magic, and magical creatures.

4. Spin the Dawn


Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh. 

This book has been on my Goodread’s list for a while and I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings/remixes. I’m particularly interested to see what kinds of challenges will be put in Maia’s path and the worldbuilding that Elizabeth Lim has created.

5. Wings of Ebony


“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

I can’t help but feel that the Rue of Wings of Ebony is like if J. Elle could pluck Hungers Games’ Rue out of her story and give her her own story in her own universe. But that’s just my feelings 🤷🏾‍♀️. Either way, Rue’s story sounds fast-paced and like there’s intrigue at every turn all under the guise of black girl magic, so I’m here for it!

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6. Remote Control


The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa­­–a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

I first read Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti in a college Afrofuturism class and I was amazed by how she took a modest word count and created such a complex, interesting world. I’ve already read Akata Witch and Akata Warrior by Okorafor, as well, which I highly recommend. I’m intrigued to see the story that she crafts for Fatima too!

7. A Chorus Rises


Teen influencer Naema Bradshaw has it all: she’s famous, privileged, has “the good hair”— and she’s an Eloko, a person who’s gifted with a song that woos anyone who hears it. Everyone loves her — well, until she’s cast as the awful person who exposed Tavia’s secret siren powers.

Now, she’s being dragged by the media. No one understands her side: not her boyfriend, not her friends, nor her Eloko community. But Naema knows the truth and is determined to build herself back up — no matter what.

When a new, flourishing segment of Naema’s online supporters start targeting black girls, however, Naema must discover the true purpose of her magical voice. 

Ok, so in full disclosure A Song Below Water is on my shelf and…I haven’t read it yet. Between creating editorial calendars and transitioning into running a business from working full-time, I just haven’t gotten to this story yet, but I love the idea of putting magic into a contemporary setting so I’m excited to see how Morrow crafts that vision between the two books and I’m interested to see how she expands the world through the character Naema.

8. Tokyo Ever After


Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

So, the tagline for this book is if you were to mix Princess Diaries with Crazy Rich Asians. These are two of my favorite things on a long list of favorite things 😁! I’m interested to dive into the world Emiko Jean has created and from the description, I believe I’ll be swept up into a charming and intriguing world, just like Izzy is when she goes to Japan.

9. The Wild Ones


Meet the Wild Ones: girls who have been hurt, abandoned, and betrayed all their lives. It all began with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother and sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escapes, she runs headlong into a boy with stars in his eyes. This boy, as battered as she is, tosses Paheli a box of stars before disappearing.

With the stars, Paheli gains access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like herself and these Wild Ones use their magic to travel the world, helping the hopeless and saving others from the fates they suffered.

Then Paheli and the Wild Ones learn that the boy who gave them the stars, Taraana, is in danger. He’s on the run from powerful forces within the world of magic. But if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that…is a fate the Wild Ones refuse to accept. Ever again.

First of all, the cover art is beautiful and I’m taking notes as I’m working on my own cover design for my book. Second, I love this notion of people who have faced hardship banding together to save themselves, as well as others all with the help of magic! I’ve been looking for a story like this for a while and I’m even working on a telling a story like this myself, so I’m interested to see how Nafiza Azad does it.

So, that’s my list…so far! What are you looking forward to reading this year?

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