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71 Books and Authors to Check Out in 2021!

Need a book to read in 2021? Want to find a new author to check out? Then, explore this list of 71 books and authors featured in our author spotlight series in a variety of genres.

Do you need something to read? Here are 71 books that were published in 2021 that we've featured in our author spotlight series. We've tried to break them out into specific categories with the book title, author, publisher, published date, and an elevator pitch provided by the author. 

If you want to read an interview with the author about writing and publishing the book and more general writing advice, then be sure to click on the learn more link for the book. Enjoy!

Books and Authors to Check Out in 2021

71 Books and Authors to Check Out in 2021

Fantasy Fiction

The Witch's Heart, by Genevieve Gornichec (Ace/Berkley, February 9)

Elevator Pitch: The Witch’s Heart is Norse mythology reimagined with the giantess Angrboda, a peripheral character, taking center stage. Known only as the mother of three strange children by the trickster god Loki, this novel centers around her struggles as she tries to keep her family together against impossible odds. Learn more...

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst

The Bone Maker, by Sarah Beth Durst (Harper Voyager, March 9)

Elevator Pitch: A standalone epic fantasy about bone magic, second chances, and five former heroes—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one unable to let go of the past, and one dead. Learn more...

The Reincarnationist Papers, by D. Eric Maikranz (Blackstone Publishing, May 4)

Elevator Pitch: A young man troubled by memories of past lives accidentally stumbles upon a secret society of others like him. Learn more...

Historical Fiction

Better Luck Next Time, by Julia Claiborne Johnson (Custom House, January 5)

Elevator Pitch: It's 1938 and formerly-rich college boy, Ward Bennett, drops out of school and takes a job as a pretend cowboy on a divorce ranch outside Reno to support his now-impoverished parents back home in Tennessee. Think Remains of the Day meets True Grit, with overtones of a gender-upended Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Learn more...

The Prophets, by Robert Jones, Jr. (Putnam, January 5)

Elevator Pitch: The Prophets is the story of two young men in love and enslaved on a cotton plantation in 1830s Mississippi and how that love transforms everyone around them. Learn more...

The Last Garden in England, by Julia Kelly (Gallery Books, January 12)

Elevator Pitch: From the author of the international bestseller The Light Over London and The Whispers of War comes a poignant and unforgettable tale of five women living across three different times whose lives are all connected by one very special place. In this sweeping novel reminiscent of Kate Morton’s The Lake House and Kristin Harmel’s The Room on Rue Amélie, Julia Kelly explores the unexpected connections that cross time and the special places that bring people together forever. Learn more...

The Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner (Berkley, February 2)

Elevator Pitch: A mail-order bride's world cracks wide open on the eve of the great 1906 earthquake when she finds out the San Francisco widower she married isn't who he said he was. Learn more...

The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah (St Martin's, February 2)

Elevator Pitch: An American epic set during the Great Depression. Learn more...

The Invisible Woman, by Erika Robuck (Berkley, February 9)

Elevator Pitch: The Invisible Woman is the true story of WWII Secret Agent Virginia Hall, an American woman with a prosthetic leg, whose clandestine work with the French Resistance undermines the Nazi regime, creates escape lines out of Occupied France, and helps hundreds of Free French guerrilla fighters liberate a secluded mountain region whose courageous inhabitants harbor secret residents at their peril. Learn more...

When We Were Young, by Jaclyn Goldis (Forever, February 16)

Elevator Pitch: When secrets from summers spent on the Greek island of Corfu converge with a Florida beach wedding, three generations of women must face both the love and tragedy dealt by their island—and by each other. The book spans World War II-era Greece to present-day Florida. Learn more...

When We Were Young

Surviving Savannah, by Patti Callahan (Berkley, March 9)

Elevator Pitch: The Titanic of the South—a dual timeline journey with a modern-day museum curator and shipwreck hunter uncovering what happened on the night of June 14th, 1838 when the Steamship Pulaski blew up off the coast of North Carolina with the elite of Savannah and Charleston on board. Learn more...

Sparks Like Stars, by Nadia Hashimi (William Morrow, March 2)

Elevator Pitch: When a military group executes a coup in Kabul’s presidential palace, 10-year-old Sitara is the lone survivor. Thirty years later, a shadowy figure walks into her New York City clinic and pulls her back to the memories and questions about all she loved and lost that night. Learn more...

Shadow of the Hawk, by David Gilman (Head of Zeus, April 1)

Elevator Pitch: The English King’s Master of War and his small group of men are sent to rescue the Spanish King under threat from an overwhelming force. They shelter and protect a child who is the only living witness to the young Spanish queen’s killer. Learn more...

The Women of Chateau Lafayette, by Stephanie Dray (Berkley, March 30)

Elevator Pitch: An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy. Learn more...

Courage, My Love, by Kristin Beck (Berkley, April 13)

Elevator Pitch: When the Nazi occupation of Rome begins, two courageous young women are plunged deep into the Italian resistance to fight for their freedom. Learn more...

The Kew Garden Girls by Posy Lovell

The Kew Gardens Girls, by Posy Lovell (GP Putnam's, April 20)

Elevator Pitch: In WW1, three women take on roles as gardeners at Kew in London, making lifelong friends while coping with personal tragedies, and battling for equality. Learn more...

The Woman With the Blue Star, by Pam Jenoff (Park Row, May 4)

Elevator Pitch: Inspired by actual events, The Woman with the Blue Star is the story of a young woman who is forced to live in the sewers of Krakow, Poland to survive during the Holocaust and her unlikely friendship with a girl about her own age who she spies through the sewer grate on the street above. Learn more...

Literary Fiction

The Charmed Wife, by Olga Grushin (G.P. Putnam's Sons, January 12)

Elevator Pitch: After 13 years of marriage, Cinderella wants her Prince Charming dead. This subversive exploration of our romantic expectations is set in a world where time and place, fantasy and reality interweave in surprising ways—and nothing is quite what it seems. Learn more...

Ridgerunner, by Gil Adamson (House of Anansi Press, February 2)

Elevator Pitch: November 1917. Notorious thief William Moreland, known as the Ridgerunner, is burgling mining towns and logging camps throughout the Rocky Mountains, determined to steal enough money to secure his young son’s future. But his son, Jack Boulton, enraged at his father’s actions, has other plans for his own future. Learn more...

The Bad Muslim Discount, by Syed M. Masood (Doubleday Books, February 2)

Elevator Pitch: Following two families from Pakistan and Iraq in the 1990s to San Francisco in 2016, The Bad Muslim Discount is an inclusive, comic novel about Muslim immigrants finding their way in modern America. Learn more...

Let's Get Back to the Party, by Zak Salih (Algonquin Books, February 16)

Elevator Pitch: Two estranged childhood friends reconnect as adults and struggle to find their place as gay men in a rapidly changing culture and world. Learn more...

Bedside Matters, by Richard Alther (Rare Bird Books, March 9)

Elevator Pitch: A cinematic non-linear take and frank examination of the promise of life, even at its end, Bedside Matters concern us all at one time or another as we ask the ultimate question: What matters most? Learn more...

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

Of Women and Salt, by Gabriela Garcia (Flatiron Books, March 30)

Elevator Pitch: Of Women and Salt traverses multiple countries and decades to tell the stories of six women whose lives come together in unexpected ways. Learn more...

A Blind Eye, by David Jackson Ambrose (NineStar Press, April 5)

Elevator Pitch: A picaresque novel where the “adventure” is an interior journey of the post-traumatic effects of domestic violence and capitalism. Learn more...

The Summer of Lost and Found, by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery Books, May 11)

Elevator Pitch: The Beach House series continues with The Summer of Lost and Found as Mary Alice Monroe creates a family saga about relationships, courage, nature, and life lessons as the legacy passes from one generation to the next. Learn more...

Middle Grade Fiction

Leo: Inventor Extraordinaire, by Luke Cunningham (Zondervan, April 6)

Elevator Pitch: Diary Of A Wimpy Kid crossed with a Dan Brown novel. Learn more...

Mystery/Thriller Fiction

Animal, by Munish K. Batra, M.D., FACS and Keith R.A. DeCandido (Word Fire Press, January 4)

Elevator Pitch: For 20 years, a serial killer has been traveling the globe, murdering people who harm animals. Now, an Interpol agent and two detectives are finally closing in on him—but who is the real animal, the killer or his victims? Learn more...

A Whisker in the Dark, by Leighann Dobbs (Grand Central Publishing, January 12)

Elevator Pitch: USA Today bestselling author, Leighann Dobbs, brings you a pawsitively purrfect whodunit as a treasure-hunting guest winds up dead, leaving it to Nero and Marlowe, two resident cats, to dig up the truth. Learn more...

The Strange Case of Eliza Doolittle, by Timothy Miller (Seventh Street, January 19)

Elevator Pitch: Is Eliza Doolittle really a girl of the streets transformed or has she been switched with another woman, and for what secret purpose? Sherlock Holmes investigates and comes up against a dangerous enemy he thought long dead. Learn more...

Darling Rose Gold, by Stephanie Wrobel (Berkley, January 19)

Elevator Pitch: Darling Rose Gold is the story of a young woman who, despite being poisoned by her mother for 18 years, makes a calculated decision to take her in after her prison sentence. Learn more...

Bad Habits, by Amy Gentry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, February 2)

Elevator Pitch: When poor kid Mac meets rich, perfect Gwen, she instantly sees a pathway to a better life. But when the best friends land in the same competitive graduate program and become embroiled with a pair of charismatic professors, Mac must find out just how far she’ll go to get the life she wants—and who she’s willing to get rid of along the way. Learn more...

Spoils of the Dead, by Dana Stabenow (Head of Zeus, February 4)

Elevator Pitch: Alaskan State Trooper Liam Campbell investigates the death of a young archaeologist, murdered at their own dig site. What the archaeologist claimed to have unearthed has Alaska natives, real estate developers, and oil and gas companies up in arms. Campbell will have to find the killer before the situation spirals out of control. Learn more...

The Package

The Package, by Sebastian Fitzek (Head of Zeus, February 4)

Elevator Pitch: The Package is a high-concept psychological thriller that is perfect for fans of The Chain, Adrian McKinty, and John Marrs. It follows Emma, the only survivor of a killer known in the tabloids as “The Hairdresser.” Learn more...

Nighthawking, by Russ Thomas (G.P. Putnam's Sons, February 23)

Elevator Pitch: In his quest to find a murderer, DS Adam Tyler finds himself drawn into the secretive world of the nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable … and willing to kill to keep what they find. Learn more...

Pieces of Eight, by Steve Goble (Seventh Street Books, March 16)

Elevator Pitch: Reluctant pirate Spider John finally arrives in Nantucket in search of his beloved Em and their child — only to find his dreams beyond reach and himself accused of murder. Learn more...

The Postscript Murders, by Elly Griffiths (HMH, March 4)

Elevator Pitch: Peggy Smith is a murder consultant, advising authors on ingenious ways to kill their characters. But, when Peggy is found dead, her friends find themselves involved in a real-life murder mystery. Learn more...

Red Widow, by Alma Katsu (G.P. Putnam's Sons, March 23)

Elevator Pitch: Theresa Warner lost her husband when a CIA operation in Russia went horribly wrong. She has every reason to hate Russia—so why does Lyndsey Duncan suspect she’s the traitor handing CIA assets over to Moscow? Two women agents are caught in a deadly cat-and-mouse game in Red Widow. Learn more...

A Wicked Conceit, by Anna Lee Huber (Berkley, April 6)

Elevator Pitch: Soon-to-be new parents Kiera and Sebastian Gage have been hoping for a respite from their inquiries, but murder and mayhem have a startling way of dropping into their laps. When a rash of crimes break out across Edinburgh, seemingly inspired by the play and book featuring the roguish criminal Bonnie Brock Kincaid’s heinous exploits, and the publisher is found brutally murdered—in an imitation of a scene which points the finger not only at Bonnie Brock, but also Kiera and Gage—they have no choice but to investigate. Learn more...

Just Get Home by Bridget Foley

Just Get Home, by Bridget Foley (Mira, April 13)

Elevator Pitch: When a devastating earthquake—the Big One—hits Los Angeles, two strangers are brought together by an act of violence and must help each other survive the wrecked city. Learn more...

The Secret Lives of Dentists, by W.A. Winter (Seventh Street Books, April 20)

Elevator Pitch: The murder of a pretty small-town girl and the arrest and trial of her dentist—with allegations of adultery, blackmail, and anti-Semitism—roil mid-1950s Minneapolis and lead to a shocking conclusion. Learn more...

The Dancing Girls, by M.M. Chouinard (Grand Central Publishing/Bookouture, May 11)

Elevator Pitch: When Oakhurst, Mass., police detective Jo Fournier discovers a series of women strangled and posed like dancers, she’ll have to catch a killer who uses online gaming to snare his victims. Learn more...

Romance Fiction

Meet You in the Middle, by Devon Daniels (Penguin Random House, February 2)

Elevator Pitch: Meet You in the Middle is a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy about two rival Senate staffers who fall in love across the aisle. Learn more...

Meet You in the Middle, by Devon Daniels

Scoundrel of My Heart, by Lorraine Heath (AvonBooks, March 30)

Elevator Pitch: Lord Griffith Stanwick knew as the spare he didn’t stand a chance of winning Lady Kathryn Lambert over, not when she needed to marry a man who would inherit a title. But after his father commits treason, Griff loses everything and Lady Kathryn finds herself irresistibly drawn to the dangerous man who survived London’s darkest corners. Learn more...

People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry (Berkley, May 11)

Elevator Pitch: One Day meets When Harry Met Sally in this romantic comedy about two longtime friends who take an annual summer vacation together—until one trip goes south, and they fall out. Now, two years later, travel writer Poppy is determined to win back her ex-best friend, Alex, over the course of one last trip to Palm Springs. Learn more...

Science Fiction

Threader Origins - Book One of the Quantum Empirica, by Gerald Brandt (DAW Books, January 12)

Elevator Pitch: Threader Origins is an alternate world science fantasy about a young man whose ability to manipulate quantum strings make him the unwilling hero of a war. Learn more...

Wild Sun: Unbound, by Ehsan and Shakil Ahmad (Uproar Books, February 16)

Elevator Pitch: No longer bound to a life of forced labor in the enemy’s mines, Cerrin leads a small band of escaped slaves in search of a new home in the ancient forest where she was born. But freedom is not the same as victory. And death is never far behind. Learn more...

Master of the Revels, by Nicole Galland (William Morrow, February 23)

Elevator Pitch: In this fast-paced sequel to the near-future bestseller The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., the powerful Irish witch Gráinne schemes to use time travel to reverse the evolution of all modern technology; Tristan Lyons, Melisande Stokes, and their fellow outcasts from the Department of Diachronic Operations must fight to prevent her. Learn more...

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

The End of Men, by Christina Sweeney-Baird (Putnam, April 27)

Elevator Pitch: A pandemic to which women are immune kills 90 percent of the world’s men. The End of Men follows a cast of characters around the world as they try to protect their families, find a cure, and rebuild the world. Learn more...

We Are Satellites, by Sarah Pinsker (Berkley, May 11)

Elevator Pitch: One family and the Black Mirror-esque technology that divides them. Learn more...

Short Story Collection

Universal Love, by Alexander Weinstein (Picador, January 21)

Elevator Pitch: Universal Love welcomes readers to a near-future world where our everyday technologies have fundamentally altered the possibilities and limits of how we love one another. Learn more...

Women's Fiction

Our Italian Summer, by Jennifer Probst (Berkley, January 12)

Elevator Pitch: New York Times bestselling romance author Jennifer Probst makes her women's fiction debut with Our Italian Summer, featuring three generations of Ferrari women who set out to heal the broken pieces of their lives and find themselves on a trip of a lifetime through Italy. Booklist calls it "Under the Tuscan Sun meets Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." Learn more...

Serena Singh Flips the Script

Serena Singh Flips the Script, by Sonya Lalli (Berkley, February 16)

Elevator Pitch: A woman in her mid-thirties sets out to prove to her traditional Indian parents and the aunties in her community that she does not need domestic bliss to have a happy life. Learn more...

The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano, by Donna Freitas (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, April 6)

Elevator Pitch: Rose Napolitano has never wanted children and her husband knew this, yet her marriage has come to rest on whether or not she will change her mind. The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano explore nine different versions of Rose’s life as she tries to answer this question and lives through the consequences on her marriage, career, her relationships—not to mention the maddening pressures she feels all around her about what to do. Learn more...

A Dog's Hope, by Casey Wilson (Hachette/Grand Central/Bookouture, March 30)

Elevator Pitch: A story of how unconditional love can bound into your life when you least expect it, giving you hope in the darkest of times and make you understand there are some things in life only a dog can teach you. Learn more...

Dial A for Aunties, by Jesse Q Sutanto (Berkley, April 27)

Elevator Pitch: Crazy Rich Asians meets Weekend at Bernie’s as a young wedding photographer enlists her meddlesome mother and aunts to help hide the dead body of her blind date while trying to pull off an opulent wedding for a billionaire client on the same day. Learn more...

Young Adult Fiction

Shine Until Tomorrow, by Carla Malden (Rare Bird, January 12)

Elevator Pitch: A teenage girl focused solely on her future must visit the past to learn to live—and love—in the present. Learn more...

If I Tell You the Truth, by Jasmin Kaur (HarperTeen, January 19)

Elevator Pitch: A story in verse and prose about a Punjabi mother and daughter searching for justice, truth, and themselves. Learn more...

The Sky Above Us, by Natalie Lund (Philomel Books, April 13)

Elevator Pitch: The morning after their senior year beach party, Izzy, Cass, and Janie are woken by a plane that crashes into the water before them. They learn that Izzy’s brother and his two best friends were on board and set out to discover what happened that day and why the boys were on the plane. Learn more...

Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

Better Than the Movies, by Lynn Painter (Simon & Schuster BFYR, May 4)

Elevator Pitch: Liz Buxbaum is a hopeless romantic who is convinced that fate wants her to land her childhood crush, Michael, after he moves back to town. However, the only way she can think of to get him to notice her is to work with Wes, the irritation boy next door. But the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes that Wes is not the obnoxious neighbor she always thought he was. Learn more...

Poetry

Who's Your Daddy, by Arisa White (Augury Books, March 1)

Elevator Pitch: A lyrical, genre-bending coming-of-age tale featuring a queer, Black, Guyanese American woman who, while seeking to define her own place in the world, negotiates an estranged relationship with her father. Learn more...

How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews (Storey Publishing, March 23)

Elevator Pitch: More and more people are turning to poetry as an antidote to divisiveness, negativity, anxiety, and the frenetic pace of life. How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope offers readers uplifting, deeply felt, and relatable poems by well-known poets from all walks of life and all parts of the U.S., including inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, Joy Harjo, Naomi Shihab Nye, Ross Gay, Tracy K. Smith, and many others. Learn more...

Memoir

So-Called Normal: A Memoir of Family, Depression and Resilience, by Mark Henick (HarperCollins, January 12)

Elevator Pitch: So-Called Normal is Mark Henick’s memoir about growing up in a broken home and the events that led to his near-death one night on a bridge. It is a vivid and personal account of the mental health challenges he experienced in childhood and his subsequent journey toward healing and recovery. Learn more...

To Hell With It: Of Sin and Sex, Chicken Wings, and Dante's Entirely Ridiculous, Needlessly Guilt-Inducing Inferno, by Dinty W. Moore

To Hell With It: Of Sin and Sex, Chicken Wings, and Dante's Entirely Ridiculous, Needlessly Guilt-Inducing Inferno, by Dinty W. Moore (University of Nebraska Press, March 1)

Elevator Pitch: What would the world be like if eternal damnation was not hanging constantly over our sheepish heads, stoking our self-loathing and making so many of us vaguely miserable? To Hell with It pokes fun at Dante's ambitious and somewhat bizarre poem, Divine Comedy, and explores the ways in which the poet's gruesome imagination, helped along by shady theologians, shaped western culture and made us all a little more miserable than we need to be. Learn more...

General Nonfiction

Wild Rituals: 10 Lessons Animals Can Teach Us About Connection, Community, and Ourselves, by Caitlin O'Connell (Chronicle PRISM, January 12)

Elevator Pitch: Ritual forges new connections and strengthens bonds in both human and nonhuman animals. Engaging in rituals strengthens not just our own relationships, but rekindles our connection to the natural world. Learn more...

Germs at Bay, Politics, Public Health and American Quarantine, by Charles Vidich (Praeger, January 31)

Elevator Pitch: Germs at Bay: Politics, Public Health and American Quarantine is the first-ever history of American quarantine practice revealing its remarkable successes and failures over its 400 years of use. With pandemic disease on the ascendant, how can quarantine be practiced in a democratic society where personal liberties have been given greater privilege than the need for cooperative efforts aimed at community survival? Learn more...

Appropriate: A Provocation, by Paisley Rekdal

Appropriate: A Provocation, by Paisley Rekdal (W.W. Norton, February 16)

Elevator Pitch: A timely, nuanced examination of what constitutes cultural appropriation in literature, and the costs, consequences, and benefits of artistic appropriation. Learn more...

Radiant: The Dancer, The Scientist and a Friendship Forged in Light, by Liz Heinecke (Grand Central Publishing, February 16)

Elevator Pitch: Part hidden history, part love letter to creative innovation, this is the true story of an unlikely friendship between a dancer, Loie Fuller, and a scientist, Marie Curie, brought together by an illuminating discovery. Learn more...

Not Done Yet! How Women Over 50 Regain Their Confidence and Claim Workplace Power, by Bonnie Marcus (Page Two, March 6)

Elevator Pitch: For women over fifty, this invaluable guide combines practical advice, and exercises, and no shortage of sass that will inspire readers to defy ageist limitations and own their talent, wisdom and experience. Learn more...

Just Be You: Ask Questions, Set Intentions, Be Your Special Self and More, by Mallika Chopra (Running Press Kids, March 2)

Elevator Pitch: Just Be You is the third book ins the Just Be Series for kids, 8-12 years old, that give children simple tools to understand and support social and emotional knowing, resilience, meditation, mindfulness, and self-reflection. Learn more...

Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor to Wall Street Legend, by Joshua M. Greene (Insight Editions, April 6)

Elevator Pitch: The ultimate immigrant story about a teenager who survives torture and starvation in Auschwitz to become one of the most remarkable successes in postwar America. Learn more...

Hidden History of Lake County, Ohio, by Jennifer Boresz Engelking (The History Press/Arcadia Publishing, April 19)

Elevator Pitch: Hidden History of Lake County, Ohio, explores forgotten tales of the people and places of Lake County, which borders Lake Erie, and their ties to some of our country’s most pivotal moments in history. Learn more...

*****

Fearless Writing William Kenower

If you love to write and have a story you want to tell, the only thing that can stand between you and the success you’re seeking isn’t craft, or a good agent, or enough Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but fear. Fear that you aren’t good enough, or fear the market is too crowded, or fear no one wants to hear from you. Fortunately, you can’t write while being in the flow and be afraid simultaneously. The question is whether you will write fearlessly.

Click to continue.

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