Believe it or not, we’re already a month into 2021! How are all your New Year reading goals coming along? If they need a little nudge, might we suggest some fresh, varied titles and genres, all new to paperback this February, to jump-start your 2021 reading list? From transcendent and mythical coming-of-age tales, to sweeping historical dramas, to sinister and fast-paced thrillers, this list has a little something for everyone. So, whether it’s the familiar comfort of a quirky romance or a powerful dose of moral dilemma you’re after, look no further! There’s a title here for every type of reading list and every reader’s taste.
12 Heart-Stirring Books New in Paperback This February
Based on the true story of the socialite spy Nancy Wake, CODE NAME HÉLÈNE is a historical thriller about a woman’s journey to becoming one of the most powerful leaders of the French Resistance. Nancy, an Australian expat living in Paris in 1936, has just married when the Germans invade. Nancy’s work and attention from smuggling people across the border forces her to flee to Britain, where she begins training with Special Operations Executives. But when she returns to France on a mission, she and the ones she loves will be in more danger than ever.
When Emmie Blue was a teenager, she stood on the English Coast and released a red balloon with her name and email address attached. Lucas Moreau, a teen in France, found the note and emailed her, instigating an intense relationship. Fourteen years later, Emmie is wildly devoted to Lucas, ignoring the details of her own life: her absent father, her distant mother, and her job. But Lucas’s plans aren’t what Emmie expects, and soon Emmie will have to take a closer look at the life she’s led for years in this heartfelt and charming romp.
In this charming and poignant novel that “oozes charm and wit and speaks beautifully about friendship and love, and the differences between the two” (Laura Pearson, author of I Wanted You to Know), teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it. But fourteen years later, everything Emmie has planned is up in the air.
At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached address, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.
Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?
Filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue “beautifully captures the heartache and frustrations of carrying our teenaged selves with us wherever we go” (Anstey Harris, author of Goodbye Paris) that is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over.
Fed up with their aloof and neglectful parents, twelve uncanny and precocious children strike out from the remote lakeside mansion in which they’ve been vacationing. Eve, the leader of the group, is determined to keep the rest of the children safe as they travel through the apocalyptic and storm-swept land beyond the house. But when events from the children’s Bible begin to come to life, Eve will have to do more than she ever imagined in order to keep that promise in this darkly prophetic tale.
By bestselling and award-winning author Aravind Adiga, AMNESTY is an urgent thriller about immigration and personal responsibility. Danny, an illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka living in Australia, has spent the last three years after having his refugee status denied trying to hide behind a new identity as a cleaner. But when one of his female clients is murdered and evidence at the crime scene links her to one of Danny’s other clients, Danny is forced to decide between maintaining his invisibility and coming forward with what he knows.
An “urgent and significant book [that] speaks to our times” (The New York Times Book Review) from the bestselling, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The White Tiger and Selection Day about a young illegal immigrant who must decide whether to report crucial information about a murder—and thereby risk deportation.
Danny—formerly Dhananjaya Rajaratnam—is an illegal immigrant in Sydney, Australia, denied refugee status after he fled from Sri Lanka. Working as a cleaner, living out of a grocery storeroom, for three years he’s been trying to create a new identity for himself. And now, with his beloved vegan girlfriend, Sonja, with his hidden accent and highlights in his hair, he is as close as he has ever come to living a normal life.
But then one morning, Danny learns a female client of his has been murdered. The deed was done with a knife, at a creek he’d been to with her before; and a jacket was left at the scene, which he believes belongs to another of his clients—a doctor with whom Danny knows the woman was having an affair. Suddenly Danny is confronted with a choice: Come forward with his knowledge about the crime and risk being deported? Or say nothing, and let justice go undone? Over the course of this day, evaluating the weight of his past, his dreams for the future, and the unpredictable, often absurd reality of living invisibly and undocumented, he must wrestle with his conscience and decide if a person without rights still has responsibilities.
“Searing and inventive,” Amnesty is a timeless and universal story that succeeds at “illuminating the courage of displaced peoples and the cruelties of those who conspire against them” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
From National Book Award–winning author James McBride comes DEACON KING KONG, a powerful and raucous portrait of faith and humanity. In 1969, an eccentric church deacon locally known as Sportcoat enters a housing project in Brooklyn and shoots the project’s drug dealer. As the truth behind the shooting’s circumstances unfold, the stories of all those involved—from the witnesses and neighbors to the cops and the deacon’s church members—come to the fore. Throughout this multivalent journey, McBride reveals the ways in which we are all connected, whether we acknowledge it or not.
Vincent is a bartender at a remote luxury hotel when she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, the owner of a billion-dollar business. But after Vincent runs away for a life posing as his wife, Jonathan’s company is revealed to be nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. While the company disintegrates, destroying countless lives in its wake, Vincent disappears. In this glittering puzzle of a novel, Emily St. John Mandel weaves together the flashpoints in a life of greed, delusion, love, and yearning
A searingly funny satire, GROWN UPS tells the story of Jenny McLaine, who is facing a breakup, unemployment, her own aging body, and cohabitation with her mother. After leaving home at eighteen to become an independent millennial and feminist writer, Jenny feels as if her life is falling apart. In her quest to be all the things, she fears that her manic efforts may have actually led her to becoming nothing. But in the midst of the madness, Jenny must begin to take responsibility for who she is and discover how to be an adult.
“[E]ssential reading for our dismal times.” —The Wall Street Journal
One of Bustle’s “Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020”
PopSugar’s “26 Incredible New Books Coming Your Way This August”
Good Housekeeping’s “25 New Fall Books You Have to Read This Season”
Lit Hub’s “Most Anticipated Books of 2020”
Fleabag meets Conversations with Friends in this brutally honest, observant, original novel about a woman going through a breakup…but really having more of a breakdown.
Jenny McLaine’s life is falling apart. Her friendships are flagging. Her body has failed her. She’s just lost her column at The Foof because she isn’t the fierce voice new feminism needs. Her ex has gotten together with another woman. And worst of all: Jenny’s mother is about to move in. Having left home at eighteen to remake herself as a self-sufficient millennial, Jenny is now in her thirties and nothing is as she thought it would be. Least of all adulthood.
Told in live-wire prose, texts, emails, script dialogue, and social media messages, Grown Ups is a neurotic dramedy of 21st-century manners for the digital age. It reckons with what it means to exist in a woman’s body: to sing and dance and work and mother and sparkle and equalize and not complain and be beautiful and love your imperfections and stay strong and show your vulnerability and bake and box…
But, despite our impossible expectations of women, Emma Jane Unsworth never lets Jenny off the hook. Jenny’s life is falling apart at her own hands and whether or not she has help from her mother or her friends, Jenny is the only one who will be able to pick up the pieces and learn how to, more or less, grow up. Or will she?
At twelve years old, Edward Adler takes a flight with his older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers. When the plane crashes, Edward is the only survivor. Catapulted into global fame and devastated by his loss, Edward must learn how to live again. Meanwhile, he cannot stop feeling as if he is still in the air, surrounded by those whose lives have become irrevocably entangled with his own. DEAR EDWARD is a dazzling and insightful coming-of-age story that will appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult.
From beloved writing trio Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White comes a sweeping story of three fearless women. In 1914 France, Aurelie is shocked that her old friend Maximilian is serving as an aide for the invading Germans but finds herself growing closer to him regardless. In 1942, Daisy risks everything to help a mysterious English forger called Legrand serve the Resistance. Finally, in 1964, Babs is drawn into a journey to discover the identity of “La Fleur,” a Resistance fighter who betrayed the cause, and who shared a mysterious past with Babs’s late husband.
In a deadly storm in 1617, all the men on an isolated fishing island off the coast of Norway are killed, leaving only a community of women to inhabit the small Arctic town. Three years later, Absalom, a man known for burning witches on the northern isles, arrives on the island with his timid wife, Ursa. While Ursa and native islander Maren are drawn to each other, Absalom becomes determined to purify this land he comes to see as evil. Based on true events, THE MERCIES is a haunting story of love and obsession.
In this chilling tale of supernatural horror, a long-sunken secret is out of hiding—and out for revenge. Decades ago, in upstate New York, a small town drowned beneath the Chilewaukee reservoir, and its inhabitants were forced to relocate so that water could be provided to those who lived downstate. But when an inspector, assigned to check in on the dam, witnesses something inexplicable, it soon becomes clear that not everyone or everything may have left the underwater village. As waters begin to rise, the fate of those above the surface becomes tethered to those who remain beneath.
A supernatural force—set in motion a century ago—threatens to devastate New York City in this “terrific horror/suspense/disaster novel” that “grips from the first page” (Stephen King, #1 New York Times bestselling author).
Far upstate, in New York’s ancient forests, a drowned village lays beneath the dark, still waters of the Chilewaukee reservoir. Early in the 20th century, the town was destroyed for the greater good: bringing water to the millions living downstate. Or at least that’s what the politicians from Manhattan insisted at the time. The local families, settled there since America’s founding, were forced from their land, but some didn’t leave…
Now, a century later, the repercussions of human arrogance are finally making themselves known. An inspector assigned to oversee the dam, dangerously neglected for decades, witnesses something inexplicable. It turns out that more than the village was left behind in the waters of the Chill when it was abandoned. A dark prophecy remained, too, and the time has come for it to be fulfilled—for sacrifices must be made. And as the dark waters begin to inexorably rise, the demand for a fresh sacrifice emerges from the deep…
“A must read for fans of eerie, gripping storytelling” (Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author), The Chill is “a creepy tale of supernatural terror” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
A new story featuring Kathy Reichs’s popular character, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, A CONSPIRACY OF BONES is a dark and twisty thriller for fans and new readers alike. Temperance is recovering from recent neurosurgery that has left her suffering from nightmares and hallucinations when she begins receiving text messages with disturbing images of a faceless corpse. But with her new boss set against her, Tempe must work outside the system to find out who the victim is, why she’s being sent these images, and who could be behind it all.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs “roars back with a Temperance Brennan mystery unlike any that have come before” (Booklist, starred review) in which the forensic anthropologist must use all her skills to discover the identity of a faceless corpse and its connection to a decade-old missing child case.
It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.
An identified corpse soon turns up, only partly answering her questions.
To win answers to the others, including the man’s identity, she must go rogue, working mostly outside the system. That’s because Tempe’s new boss holds a fierce grudge against her and is determined to keep her out of the case. Tempe pushes forward anyway, even as she begins questioning her instincts. But the clues she discovers are disturbing and confusing. Was the faceless man a spy? A trafficker? A target for assassination by the government? And why was he carrying the name of a child missing for almost a decade?
With help from a number of law enforcement associates including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-quip, ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, and utilizing new cutting-edge forensic methods, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.
But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes...
“Edgy…eerie…irresistible” (Sandra Brown), A Conspiracy of Bones “was created by a master of the genre who knocks it out of the park” (David Baldacci).
Photo credit: iStock / Richard Villalon