I don’t know about you, but where I live, this month is all about Valentine (and Galentine)’s Day. Maybe I’ve just been single too long (no such thing), but I think the best date is a blanket and a good book. Books will never leave you… unlike some people.
Lucky for you and me, I compiled a list of February 2021 releases! Here are 21 books trying to woo you this month.
As a former foreign correspondent, radio journalist, and documentary maker, Gina Wilkinson’s debut is a fictional account told through the eyes of three very different women confronting the limits of friendship and forgiveness, and the strength of a mother’s love. Huda is a secretary at the Australian embassy and is scared of the secret police, mukhabarat, who watch and listen for any scrap of information that can be used against America and its allies. They are pressuring Huda to befriend Ally Wilson, the deputy ambassador’s wife. Though Huda doesn’t want to, she fears they may force her son to part of the militia. She also doesn’t realize just how dangerous Ally’s secrets are. Additionally, Huda’s past friend Rania has gone from riches to rags and is fighting to keep a roof over her and her child’s head. Their hidden pasts unravel as their stories all intersect with one another. How much are they willing to sacrifice for their family in order to keep moving forward?
Ten years ago Eline Davis’ mother disappeared after whistling at the Northern Lights right before Eli’s eyes. When the Northern Lights make an appearance for one night, Eline has no choice but to whistle at them. Crazy enough, her mother appears with snowy hair, frosty fingertips, and a hazy story of where she’s been all these years. In addition to Eli’s mother, so many strange things come too. Three shadowy princesses, narwhals in Cape Cod Bay, meteorites landing in the yard. Feeling overwhelmed, Eline pushes her mother away. So Eli’s mother disappears again—but this time, she leaves behind a note: Find me where I left you.
This young adult novel seems to be the whimsy all our 2021 reading list needs.
Color me curious by this paranormal horror novel. Ever since Eleanor was sent away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school she hasn’t spoken to her family. Her memories are a haze of odd hunting trips, her mother always soaking in a barrel of water, her grandfather’s fanged snout, and the way they all looked at her like she was the freak. When she finally goes back, they all seem ready for her since Grandma Persephone saw it in the cards. Unfortunately, Grandma Persephone can’t see all and a strange and sudden death leaves everyone reeling. Desperate to bring her family back together she calls upon Grandmere, her other grandmother. Things seem to pick up until Grandmere’s help turns into tyranny. The only way forward is for Eleanor to join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone, embrace her strange family, and most importantly herself.
Harper’s latest thriller mystery is about Kieran Elliott. His past continues to haunt him, no matter how pleasant his life seems on the surface, so when his struggling parents reach out and ask him to come home, his past threatens to undo him. The seaside community is bubbling with secrets when a body is discovered on the beach. Kieran can’t help wonder if he’ll even find normal again.
It’s February, the month of love apparently, so of course, we have a large number of teen romances to share. This is the first on the list but certainly not the last.
Ellie Nichols has decided to hide out in an entirely new country, as is a reasonable response for any teen after a public rejection by their crush. Her high school’s study abroad trip places her in England. Most students are there for the honors credit and padding on their college applications, Ellie is more concerned with her self-confidence and reputation. What could possibly help her better than a hot British boyfriend? Cue Will, gorgeous and charming, and of course British. Determined not to repeat history she makes a deal with Dev, an overachieving classmate that has never been Ellie’s friend but who seems to know how to help her hook in Will. In exchange, she’ll help him with his own crush. We get to follow Ellie on her whirlwind romance all around England as she puzzles together that maybe her perfect boyfriend isn’t so perfect for her.
My angsty teen Directioner soul is screaming for this book and I don’t care who knows it.
In this young adult fiction, Jessi Rumfield is found tangled in drama with the Cohen boys. The ones who lived right next door and had a family she always dreamed of being a part of. When Mel Cohan, the mother Jessi always wished she had is in remission, the damage of the last year is done, Rowan Cohen has left home and Luke feels nothing but resentment. Luke is convinced she’s the one to blame for everything that has gone horribly wrong. However, after college, Luke comes back home and he asks Jessi to be his fake girlfriend for the duration of Mel’s final months. Unable to resist, Jessi finds herself drawn back into the Cohen world. Though everything else has changed, Jessi still wants to be a Cohen, even if it’s a summer of pretending.
7. Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level by Laura Tremaine
This one is part guidebook, part memoir as Tremaine invites readers to discover both yourself and meaningful relationships with those around you. Openness and vulnerability are the foundation for human growth and healthy relationships, and it all starts when we share our stuff, the nitty-gritty daily details about ourselves with others. Tremaine uses her childhood stories, her complicated friendships, and fluctuating faith to approach vulnerability with a sensitivity to the important things in life. With experience as a blogger and podcast host, her storytelling is nothing less than compelling in a way that will have you reflecting back on your own life and guide you to cultivate an authentic connection with others that only comes from sharing yourself. Forget romantic love, 2021 is about self-love and platonic bonding.
Ana has just moved from Argentina to New Jersey for Junior year of high school. Being a poet and lover of words isn’t an issue, but being in a place where she can barely understand what’s going on around her and finding the right words in a new language is. Ana just wants to go home. But then she befriends Altagracia whose ability to speak both English and Spanish helps her settle in an American high school. And of course, she meets Harrison, a cute American boy in her math class and Neo, the Greek boy in her ESL class. But, maybe all these people have her becoming too American and how does she deal with her feelings for Harrison and Neo changing? While the rules for English are confusing, they may be better than the lack of rules where love is involved.
These intergenerational tales set in Florida weave womanhood, race, humanity, and the darkness lurking in all of us. the stories are about ordinary people finding themselves with their own extraordinary reckoning. From a woman recovering from a miscarriage, a friendship imbalanced by race, a teen resisting her family’s church, estrange siblings on a road trip, and more this writing is subversive, spiritual and seductive.
If there were one word for Bao Nguyen to describe himself, it would be a rock. If Linh Mai had to she’d choose the word firecracker. Despite the fact that the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds due to owning competing phở restaurants, sparks fly between the two young loves. This romantic comedy is about how two Vietnamese-American teens must navigate their relationship and their feuding family restaurants.
Determined to no longer be that closeted, shy kid who slips under the radar and is free to explore his sexuality without his parents’ disapproval, Marty arrives in London with nothing but his oboe. From the outside looking in, Marty’s life looks perfect as he successfully personifies a different persona than the one he had back home. But as time goes on, homesickness and anxiety begin to wear him down and his dreams are no closer than when she first arrived. If you enjoy books by Becky Albertalli then you will love this coming-of-age story about finding a home within the people you trust.
How much would you give to reach your dreams? Desperate for her big break in music, Denver is ecstatic when she and her best friends gain the attention of the biggest R&B star in the world, Sean “Mercury” Ellis. He offers them so many perks, but the most important being hours in the recording studio. The girls are okay with the painful sacrifices and the lies if it means they have their chance to make it big…until they aren’t. Denver starts to realize the perks were more of a trap as she struggles to keep her voice. Inspired by true events, this book explores the dreams-turned-nightmares of the music industry.
I have the first two books of this series on my hold shelf with the library and I’m ecstatic that the epic conclusion is entering the world. Caledonia Styx’s nemesis, Lir has seized control of warlord, Aric Athair’s. Caledonia is determined to win the fight for the Bullet Seas. Just as she might win, a surprise attack nips her plans in the bud. With no other option, she decides she must make a perilous alliance with a new enemy and risk her heart, her crew, and even her life to defeat Lir once and for all.
I have been a huge fan of Safia Elhillo for years so I’m beyond excited for this fiction-in-verse novel. It is about realizing that the person you’re meant to be has been staring at you in the mirror waiting. Our protagonist, Nima, doesn’t feel like anyone, not her mother or peers, understands her. The only exception is her childhood friend Haitham until Haitham is no longer an option. Nima’s life is turned upside down when she learns more about the life she could have led if her parents had named her Yasmeen. Though Yasmeen doesn’t exist, Nima feels like that other name, that other girl, may just be more real than Nima realizes.
Being a fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard enough without finding out the boy you like asked you out after asking your best friend. Charlie Vega is happy being smart, funny, creative and fat. Unfortunately, as she tries to live her life accepting her body, the world around her wants her to change: to be smaller, quieter, whiter. With her mother leaving weight loss shakes on her dresser, Charlie Vega is so happy to have Amelia as her best friend. It’s not a problem that Amelia is slim and popular, until Brian, the cute guy Charlie has struck up conversation turns out to have been interested in her best friend first. This fun and sensitive coming-of-age story is sure to be reliable as it delves into accepting our bodies, culture and parents.
We love a good love story but even Shakespeare knew the story was only made better when someone might end up dead. Logan knows Delilah better than anybody. He uses social media and watches her through a hidden camera trained on her house. This might seem “stalkerish” to some, but Logan is sure it’s more deserving of the “romantic” label. He realizes there’s still so much to discover about her when he catches Delilah killing her abusive stepfather, maybe his sweet perfect Delilah isn’t so perfect. Delilah on the other hand finally feels free. Maybe she should feel guilty but she’s over men trying to control and now Logan won’t let her forget that he saw what she did. She’s not going to sit around and be a damsel in Logan’s twisted fantasy. If he won’t let her go, she’ll make him.
This young adult is pitched to fans for Jane Austen and The Great British Baking Show so you already know I have it on hold. Liza Yang is almost perfect. She never shies away from a challenge and is smart, kind, and pretty. Unfortunately, in the eyes of her mother, compared to her older sister Jeannie, Liza is stubborn and rebellious. The only thing the pair can bond over is their love of baking.
Mrs. Yang is the owner of Houston’s popular Yin & Yang Bakery and with college just around the corner, Liza agrees to help out at the bakery’s annual junior competition to prove to her mom that she’s more than her rebellious tendencies. On the first day of the bake-off, her mother’s trick is revealed. All the other contestants are young Asian American men handpicked in mind for Liza to date. Worse enough, Liza actually finds herself attracted to one of the contents, James Wong, who is stoic and annoyingly hot. As Liza fields recipes, romance and her mother’s approval she realizes there’s no recipe for love.
Nala Roberts is ready to spend her summer at the movies and local creamery, but when she finds herself at an open mic one day, she instantly falls in love with the MC, Tye Brown. The issue though? Tye is an activist so Nala tells a few tiny lies to impress him and seem like they have more in common than they actually do. These lies start to unravel as they hang out more and more, and Nala has to learn all the ways love can be hard and that self-love is the most revolutionary of them all.
Juniper Jade’s parents have raised Juniper just outside the bounds of normal which had been fine until the worst-case scenario happens. Juniper contracts the measles and unknowingly passes the disease along, with tragic consequences. Juniper knows she is responsible and feels simultaneously helpless and furious at her parents, and herself. With the help of Nico, a boy who works at the library, she makes a game plan: it’s time to get vaccinated. When her parents refuse, she has no choice but to call upon a lawyer and prepare for battle. The only question is, is she ready to lose her family to gain autonomy? Will Jupiter get a shot at normal?
When I say I screamed reading this synopsis, I really screamed. I don’t think this novel could come out at a more apt time if it tried. This book, though fiction, can do a lot to open dialogue on a very real issue in today’s society.
This memoir is about a proudly Fat queer Arab Muslim. Randa Jarrar is “viscerally elegant” and “intimately edgy” as she writes about her cross-country road trip exploring the story of a celebrated Egyptian belly dancer’s journey across the United States in the 1940s. On this journey, she reclaims her autonomy after surviving domestic assault as a child and wife. Jarrar single-handedly schools a rest-stop racist, destroys Confederate flags in the desert, and visits the Chicago neighborhood where her immigrant parents first lived while also discussing domestic violence, single motherhood, and sexuality. I mean is this really not already on your TBR?
While I’m not a fan of books that switch from contemporary to historical settings, this book holds much promise. Josie De Clare’s life has been full of a lot of road bumps and she decides to move to an inherited secluded manor. It’s there that she finds two-hundred-year-old love letters written by an elusive novelist for someone named Josephine that seems to be a lot like her. Then the novel also goes back to 1820 where novelist Elias Roch loves a woman he can never be with. He’s cast out from society and he finds solace in writing love letters to Josephine, a quirky heroine of his imagination. Fiction and reality blur as Josie and Elias must are separated by two hundred years. Can they find love without ever really knowing one another? Honestly, this novel sounds like a classic waiting to be unleashed.
I can’t wait to read all of them, what about you? If you want some company while reading, check out The Tempest Book Club on Instagram to see what February’s pick will be (and take part in many awesome giveaways and live events with authors!). If you’re more of a lone reader and want even more book suggestions, check out our list of exciting 2021 releases.
If you want to listen to these instead, we recommend subscribing to Libro.fm, the first and only audiobook company that lets you purchase audiobooks directly from your favorite local bookstore. We have an exclusive offer for The Tempest readers: if you subscribe with our code TheTempest, you’ll get 2 audiobooks for the price of one ($14.99) with your first month of membership! Offer only valid for new members in Canada and the U.S. through this link.
Let us know which books you pick and what you’re reading this month by tagging @TheTempestBooks on Instagram so we can feature you!
Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!