What’s In The Box!- February 2021 Predictions

Posted January 8, 2021 by stuckint in Book Subscriptions, BOTM / 1 Comment

Hello everyone and welcome back to another What’s In The Box post, where I make predictions for next month’s Book of the Month picks.

By popular demand, I am posting my guesses significantly earlier than in months past so that there is more time for all of you to research the potential titles.

Keep in mind that these are simply guesses and I could get most or all of them wrong. Be that as it may, I hope my guesses get you excited for January and bring some under the radar titles to your attention.

Contemporary Fiction

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
Published by Riverhead Books on February 16, 2021
Pages: 224

"I really admire and love this book. Patricia Lockwood is a completely singular talent and this is her best, funniest, weirdest, most affecting work yet." --Sally Rooney"A furiously original novel." --Jia Tolentino
From "a formidably gifted writer" (
The New York Times Book Review
), a book that asks: Is there life after the internet?
As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms "the portal," where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts. When existential threats--from climate change and economic precariousness to the rise of an unnamed dictator and an epidemic of loneliness--begin to loom, she posts her way deeper into the portal's void. An avalanche of images, details, and references accumulate to form a landscape that is post-sense, post-irony, post-everything. "Are we in hell?" the people of the portal ask themselves. "Are we all just going to keep doing this until we die?"
Suddenly, two texts from her mother pierce the fray: "Something has gone wrong," and "How soon can you get here?" As real life and its stakes collide with the increasingly absurd antics of the portal, the woman confronts a world that seems to contain both an abundance of proof that there is goodness, empathy, and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary.
Fragmentary and omniscient, incisive and sincere, No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature.

Patricia Lockwood’s nonfiction book Preistdaddy, was a funny and witty memoir. Lockwood’s fiction debut examines a theme that seems to be quite popular among recent Book of the Month picks- the role of social media and how it impacts our everyday lives. Not only is Lockwood a previous Book of the Month author, but her forthcoming release is blurbed by past Book of the Month authors Salley Rooney (Normal People) and Jia Tolentino (Trick Mirror). Like Priestdaddy, No One Is Talking About This features Lcokwood’s witty flair and biting social commentary. 

Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic

Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on February 16, 2021
Pages: 352

A darkly gripping debut novel about a teenage girl’s fierce struggle to reclaim her life from her abusive father.
Fifteen-year-old equestrian prodigy Roan Montgomery has only ever known two worlds: inside the riding arena, and outside of it. Both, for as long as she can remember, have been ruled by her father, who demands strict obedience in all areas of her life. The warped power dynamic of coach and rider extends far beyond the stables, and Roan's relationship with her father has long been inappropriate. She has been able to compartmentalize that dark aspect of her life, ruthlessly focusing on her ambitions as a rider heading for the Olympics, just as her father had done. However, her developing relationship with Will Howard, a boy her own age, broadens the scope of her vision.
At the intersection of a commercial page-turner and urgent survivor story, Dark Horses takes the searing themes of abuse and resilience in Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling and applies the compelling exploration of female strength in Room by Emma Donoghue. In much the same way that V.C. Andrews’s Flowers in the Attic transfixed a generation of readers, Susan Mihalic’s debut is set to a steady beat that will keep you turning the pages.

This is a dark and difficult debut novel in the vein of books like All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood and My Dark Vanessa by Mary Elizabeth Russell. While it is not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month authors it shares similar themes to previous Book of the Month title and fits in with popular themes of past Book of the Month picks:  a bleak, gritty coming of age tale (The Knockout Queen) featuring a girl who comes from an abusive home (All The Ugly and Wonderful Things), who ultimately relies on herself to claw her way to freedom (The Glass Castle). This is not an easy read, but I get the sense that Book of the Month is looking to offer darker books with heavier subject matter (i.e. The Push and The Prophets from last month). Also, I have read the first chapter of my advanced reading copy and all I will say is that you are not emotionally ready for this book.

No Heaven For Good Boys by Keisha Bush

No Heaven for Good Boys by Keisha Bush
Published by Random House on January 26, 2021
Pages: 336

Set in Senegal, this modern-day Oliver Twist is a meditation on the power of love, and the strength that can emerge when we have no other choice but to survive.Six-year-old Ibrahimah loves snatching pastries from his mother's kitchen, harvesting string beans with his father, and searching for sea glass with his sisters. But when he is approached in his rural village one day by Marabout Ahmed, a seemingly kind stranger and highly regarded teacher, the tides of his life turn forever. Ibrahimah is sent to the capital city of Dakar to join his cousin �tienne in studying the Koran under Marabout Ahmed for a year, but instead of the days of learning that Ibrahimah's parents imagine, the young boys, called Talib�, are forced to beg in the streets in order to line their teacher's pockets.
To make it back home, �tienne and Ibrahimah must help each other survive both the dangers posed by their Marabout, and the darker sides of Dakar: threats of black-market organ traders, rival packs of Talib�, and mounting student protest on the streets.
Drawn from real incidents and transporting readers between rural and urban Senegal, No Heaven for Good Boys is a tale of hope, resilience, and the affirming power of love.

While this one comes out at the end of January I still think it’s a plausible guess. No Heaven For Good Boys is another dark coming of age tale featuring young boys who are forced to beg in the streets of Dakar (the capital of the West African country of Sengal) in order to line the pockets of their allegedly esteemed teacher. It is blurbed by Ann Napolitano (Dear Edward) and seems to fit with other dark coming of age stories that Book of the Month has selected before.

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
Published by William Morrow on February 2, 2021
Pages: 336

A promise could betray you.
It’s 2008, and the rise of Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and abandoned—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.
Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. While her family is happy to see her, they remind her of the painful sacrifices to give Ruth a shot at a better future—like the comfortable middle-class life she now enjoys.
Determined, Ruth begins digging into the past. As she uncovers burning secrets her family desperately wants to hide, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. When a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, Ruth and Midnight find themselves on a collision course that could upend both their lives.
The Kindest Lie examines the heartbreaking divide between black and white communities and plumbs the emotional depths of the struggles faced by ordinary Americans in the wake of the financial crisis. Capturing the profound racial injustices and class inequalities roiling society, Nancy Johnson’s debut novel offers an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.

I have to tell you that when I read the synopsis of this book it just felt like a Book of the Month pick. The Kindest Lie is a debut, ownvoices novel that examines the disparities that exist between white and black communities., motherhood and what it means to achieve “The American Dream”. It is blurbed by a handful of well known authors, but prevalent to Book of the Month is the blurb by Ruman Alaam (Leave the World Behind). It examines issues of politics, identity, how our roots shape and color our perceptions.

Historical Fiction

Four Winds by Kristen Hannah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 2, 2021
Pages: 464

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes an epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most defining eras—the Great Depression.
Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.
In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

I almost feel like I don’t even need to include this book on this list because I think it’s almost guaranteed to be offered either as a main pick or add on. Hannah’s latest is set against the backdrop of The Great Depression and follows a independent, fierce woman who must decide whether to leave her home or head west. It kind of sounds like a modern Grapes of Wrath- which I actually enjoyed so I’m excited for this one. Hannah is a repeat author withe The Great Alone being offered as a main pick and The Nightengale as an add on.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
Published by Harper on January 26, 2021
Pages: 368

“With her trademark passion, wit, and fierce feminism, Natalie Haynes gives much-needed voice to the silenced women of the Trojan War.”—Madeline Miller, author of Circe
Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, a gorgeous retelling of the Trojan War from the perspectives of the many women involved in its causes and consequences—for fans of Madeline Miller.
This is the women’s war, just as much as it is the men’s. They have waited long enough for their turn . . .
This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of them all . . .
In the middle of the night, a woman wakes to find her beloved city engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over. Troy has fallen.
From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks, to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf, to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus, to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, these are the stories of the women whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war. 
A woman’s epic, powerfully imbued with new life, A Thousand Ships puts the women, girls and goddesses at the center of the Western world’s great tale ever told.

Every once in a while I will put a book on one of these lists because I am personally excited about it and would love to see Book of the Month include it. A Thousand Ships is one of those books for me. My MA was in Classics and so I’m always looking for fiction set in the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds. This reimagining of The Trojan War is told from the point of view of all the women who appear in the works of The Odyssey and The Aeneid. Some time ago, Book of the Month included The Silence of the Girls, which was a feminist retelling of The Iliad. It seems fitting that Book of the Month would include a feminist retelling that encompasses the other two pillars of Greek and Latin epic. It should be noted that this one is blurbed by Madeline Miller, author of the popular Book of the Month pick Circe.

Literary Fiction

How The One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
on February 2, 2021
Pages: 288

A debut novel in the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, from a brilliant Caribbean writer, set in Barbados, about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called "paradise."
In Baxter Beach, Barbados, moneyed ex-pats clash with the locals who often end up serving them: braiding their hair, minding their children, and selling them drugs. Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma whose thwarted burglary of one of the Baxter Beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences. A gunshot no one was meant to witness. A new mother whose baby is found lifeless on the beach. A woman torn between two worlds and incapacitated by grief. And two men driven by desperation and greed who attempt a crime that will risk their freedom -- and their lives.

Rumor has it that is a popular title for celebrity book clubs this February. How The One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is an ownvoices novel set in Barbados that explores the lives of not only the impoverished natives, but the elite upper class. What makes this an incredibly viable option as a Book of the Month pick is the mystery at it’s center and how the author uses this mystery to probe the lives of these diverse families- I would compare it to books like Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Miracle Creek by Angie Kim in terms of it’s character study and social commentary.

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue
on March 9, 2021

From the celebrated author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers, comes a sweeping, wrenching story about the collision of a small African village and an America oil company.
"We should have known the end was near."
So begins Imbolo Mbue’s powerful second novel, How Beautiful We Were. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company.
Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of clean-up and financial reparations to the villagers are made—and ignored. The country’s government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interest. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. Their struggle would last for decades and come at a steep price.
Told through the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community’s determination to hold onto its ancestral land and a young woman’s willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people’s freedom.
"The unforgettable story of a community on the wrong end of Western greed, How Beautiful We Were will enthrall you, appall you, and show you what is possible when a few people stand up and say this is not right. A masterful novel by a spellbinding writer engaged with the most urgent questions of our day.”—David Ebershoff, bestselling author of The Danish Girl

Mbue’s debut took the bookish world by storm and her second novel holds similar promise. How Beautiful We Were follows the families living in a fictional African village ravaged by the consequences of an oil company, determined to make a profit at any cost. While the book doesn’t come out until the beginning of March I think this is one title we might get early. I definitely think this novel is perfect for those who loved past Book of the Month picks such as The Death of Vivek Oji and The Girl With The Louding Voice.

Landslide by Susan Connely

Landslide by Susan Conley
Published by Knopf Publishing Group on February 2, 2021
Pages: 288

A gorgeous, jewel of a novel about a mother caring for her two sons while everything else—her marriage and the fishing industry her New England community relies on—threatens to crumble around her

After a fishing accident leaves her husband hospitalized across the border in Canada, Jill is left to look after her two teenage boys—"the wolves"—alone. Nothing comes easy in their remote corner of Maine: money is tight, her son Sam is getting into more trouble by the day, and Jill begins to suspect her marriage isn't as stable as she once believed. As one disaster gives way to the next, she begins to think that it's not enough to be a caring wife and mother anymore—not enough to show up when needed, nudge her boys in the right direction, believe everything will be okay. But how to protect this life she loves, this household, this family?
With remarkable poise and startling beauty, Landslide ushers us into a modern household where, for a family at odds, Instagram posts, sex-positivity talks, and old fishing tales mingle to become a kind of love language. It is a stunning portrait of a family, as compelling as it is moving, and raises the question of how to remain devoted when the eye of the storm closes in.

I discovered this one only a few days ago. As a librarian, I get a lot of promotional mail for upcoming books, including magazines dedicated to upcoming releases. Well Landslide had a half page spread and initially piqued my interest because it’s blurbed by Lily King (author of Writers and Lovers). Like so many Book of the Month picks before it, Landslide deals with the intricacies of family in an unforgiving environment- think The Great Alone. Landslide also examines the challenges of motherhood and marriage and what it means to be successful at both.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel
Published by Avid Reader Press on February 23, 2021
Pages: 208

For readers of Valeria Luiselli and Edwidge Danticat, an urgent and lyrical novel about a Colombian family fractured by deportation, offering an intimate perspective on an experience that so many have endured—and are enduring right now.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Colombia is a country devastated by half a century of violence. Elena and Mauro are teenagers when they meet, their blooming love an antidote to the mounting brutality of life in Bogotá. Once their first daughter is born, and facing grim economic prospects, they set their sights on the United States.
They travel to Houston and send wages back to Elena’s mother, all the while weighing whether to risk overstaying their tourist visas or to return to Bogotá. As their family expands, and they move again and again, their decision to ignore their exit dates plunges the young family into the precariousness of undocumented status, the threat of discovery menacing a life already strained. When Mauro is deported, Elena, now tasked with caring for their three small children, makes a difficult choice that will ease her burdens but splinter the family even further.
Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Patricia Engel, herself the daughter of Colombian immigrants and a dual citizen, gives voice to Mauro and Elena, as well as their children, Karina, Nando, and Talia—each one navigating a divided existence, weighing their allegiance to the past, the future, to one another, and to themselves. Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality for the undocumented in America, Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family—for whom every triumph is stitched with regret and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.

This one was making its rounds recently in some Book of the Month groups as an alternative to a certain novel Book of the Month featured at the beginning of the year. It’s hard to believe that was the beginning of the year, but I digress. Infinite Country is told in two timelines, one of a teenage girl being held in a detention center, and the second follows the romance between her parents in their adolescence. It’s a tale that spans decades and is a beautiful, heart wrenching story of immigration, family, and what it means to belong. The novel is blurbed by Lauren Geoff (Fates and Furies) and Lisa Ko (The Leavers).


Black Widows by Cate Quinn

Black Widows by Cate Quinn
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on February 9, 2021
Pages: 432

Blake’s dead. They say his wife killed him. The question is… which one?
For fans of The Dry and The Wife Between Us comes a unique and riveting murder mystery.
Blake Nelson built a homestead on a hidden stretch of land—a raw paradise in the wilds of Utah—where he lived with his three wives:
Rachel, the first wife, obedient and doting to a fault, with a past she’d prefer to keep quiet.
Tina, the other wife, everything Rachel isn’t, straight from rehab and the Vegas strip.
And Emily, the young wife, naïve and scared, estranged from her Catholic family.
The only thing that they had in common was Blake. Until all three are accused of his murder.
When Blake is found dead under the desert sun, all three wives becomes a suspect—not only to the police, but to each other. As the investigation draws them closer, each wife must decide who can be trusted.
With stories surfacing of a notorious cult tucked away in the hills, whispers flying about a fourth wife, and evidence that can’t quite explain what had been keeping Blake busy, the three widows face a reckoning that might shatter all they know to be true.

I know I had this one on my last last month but I still think it has potential as a pick. Especially because it comes out the first week in February. Its synopsis seems reminiscent of The Wives (which I largely enjoyed except perhaps maybe the ending). It’s a murder mystery set around a polygamous family where the husband has been murdered and the question is: which wife did it? It is blurbed by Araminta Hall (Our Kind of Cruelty) and Julie Clark (The Last Flight).

All Girls by Emily Layden

All Girls by Emily Layden
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 16, 2021
Pages: 320

A keenly perceptive coming-of-age novel, All Girls captures one year at a prestigious New England prep school, as nine young women navigate their ambitions, friendships, and fears against the backdrop of a scandal the administration wants silenced.
But as the months unfold, and the school's efforts to control the ensuing crisis fall short, these extraordinary girls are forced to discover their voices, and their power. A tender and unflinching portrait of modern adolescence told through the shifting perspectives of an unforgettable cast of female students, All Girls explores what it means to grow up in a place that promises you the world––when the world still isn't yours for the taking.

Set at a prestigious New England boarding school the book follows nine girls who come forward about a scandal that the adminstration seeks to cover up. All Girls strikes me as a fantastic complament to the nonfiction Book of the Month pick, Notes On A Silencing. Another solid title contributing to the conversation around the me too movement, this dark coming of age takes is blurbed by past Book of the Month authors Taylor Jenkins Reid and Therese Ann Fowler (A Good Neighborhood).

The Burning Girls by CJ Tudor

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor
Published by Ballantine Books on February 9, 2021
Pages: 304

An unconventional vicar moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present--and intent on keeping its dark secrets--in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C. J. Tudor.
Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.
Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. "But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known."
The more Jack and daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.
But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village's bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.

I love books about cults and would love to see The Burning Girls as a pick. The Chalk Man by Tudor was featured a few Decembers ago so it’s not too out there to hope for it. the Burning Girls has also been blurbed by past Book of the Month authors Aimee Molloy and Alex Michaelides. It follows a priest who moves into a small town where girls have disappeared, potentially victims of ritualistic sacrifice? We shall see! What’s certain is that this thriller leans into some horror elements in a similar way as The Sundown Motel by Simone St. James and The Whisper Man by Alex North.

Nonfiction/Short Stories

Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 by Ibram X. Kendi, Keisha N. Blain
Published by One World on February 2, 2021
Pages: 528

An epoch-defining history of African America, the first to appear in a generation, Four Hundred Souls is a chronological account of four hundred years of Black America as told by ninety of America's leading Black writers.
Curated by Ibram X. Kendi, author of the number one bestseller How To Be an Antiracist, and fellow historian Keisha N. Blain, Four Hundred Souls begins with the arrival of twenty enslaved Ndongo people on the shores of the British colony in mainland America in 1619, the year before the arrival of the Mayflower.
In eighty chronological chapters, the book charts the tragic and triumphant four-hundred-year history of Black American experience in a choral work of exceptional power and beauty.
Contributors include some of the best-known scholars, writers, historians, journalists, lawyers, poets and activists of contemporary America who together bring to vivid life countless new facets to the drama of slavery and resistance, segregation and survival, migration and self-discovery, cultural oppression and world-changing artistic, literary and musical creativity. In these pages are dozens of extraordinary lives and personalities, rescued from the archives and restored to their rightful place in America's narrative, as well as the ghosts of millions more.
Four Hundred Souls is an essential work of story-telling and reclamation that redefines America and changes our notion of how history is written.

There are a couple books on this list that I have included because I think people should be aware of them and Four Hundred Souls is one of those books. It is a collection of essays which chronicles the black experience in America from 1619 to the present. It is a moving compilation and while it’s not blurbed by any previous Book of the Month authors, it shares similarities with other nonfiction titles such as What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker by Damon Young and Caste by Isabelle Wilkerson.

Milk Blood Heat by Daniel Moniz

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz
Published by Grove/Atlantic on February 2, 2021
Pages: 208

Set among the cities and suburbs of Florida, each story in Milk Blood Heat delves into the ordinary worlds of young girls, women, and men who find themselves confronted by extraordinary moments of violent personal reckoning. These intimate portraits of people and relationships scour and soothe and blast a light on the nature of family, faith, forgiveness, consumption, and what we may, or may not, owe one another.
A thirteen-year-old meditates on her sadness and the difference between herself and her white best friend when an unexpected tragedy occurs; a woman recovering from a miscarriage finds herself unable to let go of her daughter—whose body parts she sees throughout her daily life; a teenager resists her family’s church and is accused of courting the devil; servers at a supper club cater to the insatiable cravings of their wealthy clientele; and two estranged siblings take a road-trip with their father’s ashes and are forced to face the troubling reality of how he continues to shape them.
Wise and subversive, spiritual and seductive, Milk Blood Heat forms an ouroboros of stories that bewitch with their truth.

I wanted to include at least one short story collection on this list and Milk Blood Heat fits really well with other books mentioned. The essays of Milk Blood Heat are united by the setting of Florida and recount the experiences of individuals wrestling who all face some kind of reckoning including a thirteen years old black girl who wrestles with the reality of unequal treatment between her and her white best friend. These stories are moving, raw and gritty and should be on every reader’s bookshelf. This collection is blurbed by past Book of the Month authors: Lauren Geoff (Dates and Furies) and Raven Leilani (Luster).


Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Published by Park Row on February 23, 2021
Pages: 352

A refreshingly timely and relatable debut novel about a young woman whose life plans fall apart when she meets her wife.
With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.
In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.

Book of the Month is all about diverse romances- and so am I. Consequently, I refuse to make this list and not include Honey Girl. It features a burnt out twenty eight year old who just completed her PhD and is feeling lost trying to enter the job market- kind of feels like all of us after 2020 doesn’t it? This ownvoices debut novel features a fake relationship- well marriage- queer rep, and is set in New York City. Honey Girl also deals with hard questions of discovering one’s identity, familial expectation and a f/f romance. It is also blurbed by Jasmine Guillory (The Proposal) and Christina Lauren (In A Holidaze).

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai

First Comes Like (Modern Love, #3) by Alisha Rai
Published by Avon on February 16, 2021
Pages: 432

The author of The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral returns with a story about finding love in all the wrong inboxes...
Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.
There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.
The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…
When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life? 

I am actually surprised that Alisha Rai hasn’t been picked by Book of the Month before. She is one of the leading BIPOC romance authors writing today and the premises of her books sound fun and interesting. Rai’s latest novel features a social media influencer who is just too busy and successful for romance- kind of sounds like One To Watch just a little bit. Her male counterpart is the son of a Bollywood soap opera star and the story ultimately entails the fake dating trope- a popular choice in past Book of the Month picks like The Dating Plan by Sara Desai. This rom-com is also blurbed by Christina Lauren and Jasmine Guillory.

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon, Sandhya Menon
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on February 2, 2021
Pages: 336

Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endings…these are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the “Google Translate for failing relationships.”
High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast cars…these are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.” It’s wildly successful—and anathema to Annika’s life philosophy.
Which wouldn’t be a problem if they’d gone their separate ways after that summer fling in Las Vegas, never to see each other again. Unfortunately for Annika, Hudson’s moving not just into her office building, but into the office right next to hers. And he’ll be competing at the prestigious EPIC investment pitch contest: A contest Annika needs to win if she wants to keep Make Up afloat. As if it’s not bad enough seeing his irritatingly perfect face on magazine covers when her own business is failing. As if knowing he stole her idea and twisted it into something vile—and monumentally more successful—didn’t already make her stomach churn.
As the two rival app developers clash again and again—and again—Annika finds herself drawn into Hudson Craft’s fast-paced, high velocity, utterly shallow world. Only, from up close, he doesn’t seem all that shallow. Could it be that everything she thought about Hudson is completely wrong? Could the creator of Break Up teach her what true love’s really about?

This is another title that I speculated might be a January pick, but also still has a chance to be a February selection. The primary clue is that Lily Menon is a pseudonym for YA author Sandyha Menon, the author of the previous Book of the Month Pick: There’s Something About Sweetie. This is Menon’s adult romance debut. It is also another forced proximity romance featuring the enemies to lovers trope. This one is set in the competitive world of tech and apps. Competent characters are thrown together and forced to realize that maybe, they have more in common than they thought. It is blurbed by Red White & Royal Blue author Casey McQuiston.

Sci Fi/Fantasy

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichece

The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
Published by Ace Books on February 9, 2021
Pages: 368

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.
Angrboda's story begins where most witches' tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.
Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin's all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.
With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she's foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.

Predictions aside, the cover of this novel is gorgeous. This fantasy novel reimagines Norse mythology and every once in a while Book of the Month will offer a fantasy that puts a refreshing spin on some lore or a classic fairytale- think Circe by Madeline Miller and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. It is also blurbed by past Book of the Month author Emily A. Duncan (Wicked Saints).

Young Adult

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give, #0) by Angie Thomas
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 12, 2021
Pages: 320

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.
If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.
Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.
Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.
Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.
When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can't just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

The latest from Angie Thomas is a prequel to her beloved first novel, The Hate U Give. I thought that perhaps the book would be available early from Book of the Month, but it appears that if we are going to get it at all, it will be in February. I am not as confident about this one as I am in other books on this list, this ownvoices YA contemporary would be a solid pick for February.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1) by Namina Forna
on February 9, 2021

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity--and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki--near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be--not even Deka herself.

This is another title that I simply wanted to bring to your attention. This YA fantasy kind of sounds like The Grace Year meets Black Panther. I have read a couple chapters and the story and writing are incredibly immersive. It shares similar themes of other Book of the Month YA selections like Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal and Ashlords by Scott Reintgen. Whether it’s available through Book of the Month or not, you don’t want to miss it!

What About You?

What do you think of my predictions? If any of these are picks what will you be adding to your box? Let me know in the comments!

One response to “What’s In The Box!- February 2021 Predictions

  1. Emily

    If even half of these picks are correct, my box is going to be FULL in February. (Or at least my library holds will be.)

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