Spring is finally here, and with it comes a massive onslaught of new books to read. But what about the ones that got left behind? I’m here to tell you about a few gems from winter 2021 that you may have missed.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston — January 19

Amari’s brother Quinton is missing, and she can’t understand why it isn’t a bigger deal. After he’s gone for weeks, she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet. Inside are papers nominating her as an agent of the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari finds out Quinton was an agent too and the whole Bureau is looking for him. Soon Amari begins training in a world where dragons, magicians, banshees and way more are real.

A super fun middle-grade debut, Amari and the Night Brothers emphasizes friendship, perseverance and self-confidence while celebrating literal Black Girl Magic. You don’t need to be a kid to enjoy this one. In fact, I think a lot of adults would benefit from reading Amari too.

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We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen — January 26

Not to be confused with the David Bowie song or The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl sequel, We Could Be Heroes centers on a vigilante and a bank robber who meet in a memory-loss support group. While their relationship starts out rocky, the two eventually work together to uncover their memories and discover who they are, where their powers came from and why they can’t remember anything beyond two years ago.

I’m a sucker for a good superhero/villain story, and it was refreshing to read about a platonic relationship in this setting. There’s something heartwarming and endearing about friends just being friends and being themselves in a story that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha — February 2

This YA debut portrays the near-future disaster of climate change in South Asia. Members of the upper-class live in a climate-controlled biodome while everyone else must fend for themselves on the outside. The main character Ashiva works as a smuggler for the Red Hand, a rebel organization fighting the government and helping the Narrows’ poor and suffering.

Rise of the Red Hand is action-packed from start to finish and a promising start to a new series for fans of dystopia and cyberpunk.

The cover of Aliette de Bodard's "Fireheart Tiger" on a dark red background. The cover features a woman from mouth down dressed in flowing red robes and holding a cup with fire pouring out of it.

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard Tiger — February 9

Princess Thanh spent most of her childhood as a hostage to the powerful, faraway country of Ephteria. After a magical fire destroyed their royal palace, she returns home to her mother’s imperial court. She also encounters her first love, the confident and proud Princess Eldris. Thanh finds herself fighting to prevent the Ephterians from colonizing her country while confronting her feelings towards their future ruler.

The publisher describes Fireheart Tiger as “a powerful romantic fantasy that reads like The Goblin Emperor meets Howl’s Moving Castle in a pre-colonial Vietnamese-esque world.” Do you need any more motivation than that?

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna — February 9

The Gilded Ones follows Deka, a young woman from a small, patriarchal village in the country of Otera. There, when a girl turns 16, she is cut to prove the purity of her blood. If she bleeds gold, she is killed. When Deka’s blood runs gold, she’s instead offered the opportunity to fight for the emperor in an army of girls like her. As she journeys to the capital, she discovers that nothing and no one is quite what they seem to be.

This dark feminist tale is not for the faint of heart, but it is perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone and N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy.

So many new books, so little time! Have I successfully overloaded your TBR pile once again with all of these winter 2021 releases? What are your thoughts regarding the books on this list? Are there any I missed? Let us know below!

This article was originally published on 3/27/21