After a January of fresh starts, you may feel settled into your 2023 routine; however, there’s still room for something new this February! I’ve rounded up an exciting list of paperback releases for you to look forward to this month. From a historical fiction wonderland gem to a hopeful memoir of self-discovery, there’s something for every reader to enjoy!
Parenting is no easy task, but the perfection that mothers are expected to uphold in this dystopian novel is dehumanizing to Frida Liu, who feels that she is failing at every aspect of her life except for caring for the love of her life—her daughter, Harriet. However, after one bad day of single motherhood, Frida is sentenced by the state to a one-year regime at The School for Good Mothers, where any wrongdoing, no matter how small, is punishable. Juggling reform school, her cheating ex-husband, not living up to her Chinese family’s expectations, and the loss of her rights to her daughter, Frida’s sympathetic story is a larger commentary on the hardships of being a woman, person of color, and of course, a mother.
Longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel
Longlisted for the 2023 Carnegie Medal for Excellence
Shortlisted for The Center for Fiction 2022 First Novel Prize
Selected as One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2022!
In this New York Times bestseller and Today show Read with Jenna Book Club Pick, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance, in this “surreal” (People), “remarkable” (Vogue), and “infuriatingly timely” (The New York Times Book Review) debut novel.
Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.
Until Frida has a very bad day.
The state has its eye on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgement, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.
Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.
An “intense” (Oprah Daily), “captivating” (Today) page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love, The School for Good Mothers introduces, in Frida, an everywoman for the ages. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic.
George Devonshire—a dying young boy—loves The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which is why he asks his brilliant sister, Megs, to find out where Narnia came from. Megs, a scholarship student at Oxford who is hopeful about fulfilling the requests of her little brother, is able to talk to C.S. Lewis himself, but instead of answering her questions, the author imparts stories about his feelings, inspirations, and life. This is a tale about the hope a good story can bring, and when Megs tells George all she learned from Mr. Lewis, his dying wish is fulfilled in an unexpected way. Let the story of ONCE UPON A WARDROBE be a source of hope for you as well.
Robin Kirman’s THE END OF GETTING LOST will take you back to the 90s, when it was much easier to lie, evade, and deceive because cell phones were not around. Duncan and Gina are traveling Europe on their honeymoon but Gina’s head injury leaves her with hazy memories and suspicions about her new husband, specifically what he may be hiding from her. Passion leads to obsession and shock leads to scandal in this novel about the power and craziness of romance. Told from alternating points of view, it’s hard to determine who is lying . . . and if they even truly realize they are lying in the first place.
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Margaret Qualley and Paul Mescal!
A young woman and her husband travel around Europe to celebrate their first year of marriage—a year that the woman has no memory of—in this “wildly beautiful and darkly sinister” (Rosamund Lupton, New York Times bestselling author of Sister) novel of intimacy and deceit.
The year is 1996—a time before cell phones, status updates, and location tags—when you could still travel to a remote corner of the world and disappear. This is where we meet Gina and Duncan, a young couple madly in love, traveling around Europe on a romantic adventure. It’s a time both thrilling and dizzying for Gina, whose memories are hazy following a head injury—and the growing sense that the man at her side is keeping secrets from her.
Just what is Duncan hiding and how far will he go to keep their pasts at bay? As the pair hop borders across Europe, their former lives threatening to catch up with them while the truth grows more elusive, we witness how love can lead us astray, and what it means to lose oneself in love.
The End of Getting Lost is a tightrope act of deception and an elegant exploration of love and marriage—as well as our cherished illisions of both. With notes of Patricia Highsmith, Caroline Kepnes, and Lauren Groff, Robin Kirman has spun an “atmospheric, lyrical” (Susie Yang, New York Times bestselling author of White Ivy) tale of deceit, redemption, and the fight to keep love alive—no matter the costs.
For those interested in riveting historical fiction, first lady Lara Caine’s story of her past as the daughter of a Soviet official during the Cold War, told through the journalism of White House correspondent, Sofie Morse, is a page-turning espionage thriller that will take you through 40 years of time. Sofie doesn’t know why Lara wants to tell her story all of a sudden as the woman’s life has always been a mystery to the American public, but as more and more details are revealed through their interviews, Sofie only becomes more confused about Lara’s true motives and intentions. Anna Pitoniak’s OUR AMERICAN FRIEND is exciting, yet believable, and leaves you thinking about the true weight of every decision and sacrifice you make in your life.
A globe-spanning thriller of love and betrayal about a mysterious first lady with an explosive secret.
Paris, 1974. Lara Orlov and her family arrive from Moscow at the height of the Cold War, thanks to her father’s position as a diplomat. The years pass, and Lara becomes more and more enamored with the City of Lights. As a teenager in Paris, she falls deeply in love with a fellow Russian expat: the passionate, intellectual Sasha, who opens her eyes to the ills of the Soviet Union.
Decades later and across the globe, journalist Sofie Morse is taking some much-needed time off after several chaotic years covering Washington politics. But when she gets a call from the office of First Lady Lara Caine, her curiosity is piqued. Sofie, like the rest of the world, knows little about Lara—only that she was born in Soviet Russia and raised in Paris before marrying Henry Caine, the brash future president.
After decades of silence, Lara is finally ready to speak candidly about her past: about her father’s work for the KGB and about her ill-fated relationship with Sasha—which may be long in the past, but which could have explosive ramifications for the future. As Sofie begins to write Lara’s biography, she can’t help but wonder: Why is Lara revealing such sensitive information? And why now? Caught in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, both Lara and Sofie must ask themselves what really matters—and confront their own power to upend the global political order.
SANKOFA is a story of identity. Anna Bain was a daughter, wife, and mother but with the loss of her own mother, her separation from her now ex-husband, and the adulthood of her daughter creeping up, Anna does not know what to make of her life anymore. In the process of cleaning through her mother’s things, she discovers the identity of her absentee father and decides that the next step of her personal journey is to visit the African country he currently lives in. Through exploring the diaspora and her biracial identity, Anna realizes an insurmountable amount of personal growth in this novel about race, classism, and culture.
Like a character in one of her famous mystery novels, Agatha Christie disappeared for eleven days following her husband’s confessions of infidelity. THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR is a historical fiction tale diving into the affair and shocking backstory of the situation, mainly told from the mistress’s perspective. In true Agatha Christie fashion, this is not only a documentary of struggle and betrayal, but a murder mystery that begs the question: Is it truly murder if it is also justice?
Most people are terrified of randomly waking up blind one day but for NYT columnist and bestselling author, Frank Bruni, this became somewhat of a reality for him in 2017. On what seemingly had been just another regular morning, he could no longer see out of one of his eyes. THE BEAUTY OF DUSK is Bruni’s insight into what life with loss of sight looks like. However, as your other senses grow stronger when you lose control of one, Bruni began to see that his loss led to immense gain in self-growth, gratitude, and perspective. From his story, we learn that even in the face of dire adversity, you can still maintain hope and joy so long as you let that positivity into your life.
From New York Times columnist and bestselling author Frank Bruni comes “a book about vision loss that becomes testimony to human courage, a moving memoir that offers perspective, comfort, and hope” (Booklist, starred review).
One morning in late 2017, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni woke up with strangely blurred vision. He wondered at first if some goo or gunk had worked its way into his right eye. But this was no fleeting annoyance, no fixable inconvenience. Overnight, a rare stroke had cut off blood to one of his optic nerves, rendering him functionally blind in that eye—forever. And he soon learned from doctors that the same disorder could ravage his left eye, too. He could lose his sight altogether.
In this “moving and inspiring” (The Washington Post) memoir, Bruni beautifully recounts his adjustment to this daunting reality, a medical and spiritual odyssey that involved not only reappraising his own priorities but also reaching out to, and gathering wisdom from, longtime friends and new acquaintances who had navigated their own traumas and afflictions.
The result is a poignant, probing, and ultimately “a positive message, a powerful reminder that with great vulnerability also comes great reward” (Oprah Winfrey). Bruni’s world blurred in one sense, as he experienced his first real inklings that the day isn’t forever and that light inexorably fades, but sharpened in another. Confronting unexpected hardship, he felt more blessed than ever before. The Beauty of Dusk is “a wonderful book. Honest. Poetic. Uplifting.” (Lesley Stahl).
Gabriela Rose is THE recovery agent. She’s solved cases of insurance fraud, missing people, grand theft, and more, but this treasure-seeking adventure may be her toughest battle yet. Deep in the jungles of Peru, she’s on the hunt for the Ring of Solomon until she is opposed by her worst nightmare—her ex-husband, Rafer. While the two meet as enemies on the battlefield, their chemistry is as undeniable as their shared history. This fast-paced adventure will not only satisfy an itch for excitement but also witty romance as well!
“Prepare for twists, action, and one of the best books of the year” (Mystery and Suspense Magazine) with this new blockbuster series that blends wild adventure, hugely appealing characters, and pitch-perfect humor from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.
Lost something? Gabriela Rose knows how to get it back. As a recovery agent, she’s hired to seek lost treasures, stolen heirlooms, or missing assets of any kind. She’s reliable, cool under pressure, and well trained in weapons of all types. But Gabriela’s latest job isn’t for some bamboozled billionaire, it’s for her own family, whose home is going to be wiped off the map if they can’t come up with a lot of money fast.
Inspired by an old family legend, Gabriela sets off for the jungles of Peru in pursuit of the Ring of Solomon and the lost treasure of Lima. But this particular job comes with a huge problem attached to it—Gabriela’s ex-husband, Rafer. It’s Rafer who has the map that possibly points the way to the treasure, and he’s not about to let Gabriela find it without him.
Rafer is as relaxed as Gabriela is driven, and he has a lifetime’s experience getting under his ex-wife’s skin. But when they aren’t bickering about old times the two make a formidable team, and it’s going to take a team to defeat the vicious drug lord who has also been searching for the fabled ring. A drug lord who doesn’t mind leaving a large body count behind him to get it.
“A rollicking adventure and a great start to a new series” (Booklist, starred review), The Recovery Agent will have you clamoring for more and cheering for the unstoppable Gabriela Rose on every page.
Christina Lauren’s SOMETHING WILDER is equal parts erratic treasure hunt and will-they-or-won’t-they romantic whirlwind. Out in the wilderness of the Canyonlands, Lily is looking for money to buy back the ranch her absentee father sold years ago. Instead, she finds her old flame, Leo, who wants nothing more than to win her back. Puzzles, codes, and riddles, as well as silliness, wittiness, and chemistry, SOMETHING WILDER has it all!
The “reigning romance queens” (PopSugar) and New York Times bestselling authors of The Soulmate Equation and The Unhoneymooners present a charming and laugh-out-loud funny novel filled with adventure, treasure, and, of course, love.
Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness and leave him there.
Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.
But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the treasure hunt of a lifetime.
This page-turning adventure full of second chances, complicated relationships, and the breathtaking beauty of the American Southwest will take you on one wild ride.
Sometimes, simply living is the most selfless act of them all. For Michael Kabongo, who is struggling after a dramatic shift in his life, this becomes his reality. He used to be a popular teacher, changing lives in and out of the classroom, but he could not escape loss and the inkling that he should be doing more with his life. Deciding to look for change in America, Michael begins his travels with no idea about the challenges ahead—especially when he runs out of money to sustain himself. This is both a heartwarming and heartbreaking story about a man’s last adventure before he must decide what he truly wants out of his life.
A Black teacher searches for himself across the United States in this “emotive, brave” (Daily Mail, London) story for all of us who have fantasized about escaping our daily lives and starting over.
Michael Kabongo is a British Congolese teacher living in London and living the dream: he’s beloved by his students, popular with his coworkers, and adored by his proud mother who emigrated from the Congo to the UK in search of a better life.
But when he suffers a devastating loss, his life is thrown into a tailspin. As he struggles to find a way forward, memories of his fathers’ violent death, the weight of refugeehood, and an increasing sense of dread threaten everything he’s worked so hard to achieve. Longing to start over, Michael decides to spontaneously pack up and go to America, the mythical “land of the free,” where he imagines everything will be better and easier.
On this transformative journey, Michael travels everywhere from New York City to San Francisco, partying with new friends, sparking fleeting romances, and splurging on big adventures, with the intention of living the life of his dreams until the money in his bank account runs out.
“Narrated with haunting lyricism, The Selfless Act of Breathing is an intimate journey through the darkest of human impulses to the gleaming flickers of love and radical hope” (Susan Abulhawa, author of Against the Loveless World).
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