Spring 2021: New Book Releases to Revitalize, Reinvigorate and Restore
Spring 2021: New Book Releases
2020 and 2021 thus far have been challenging for many across the globe. But brighter days are ahead with spring approaching. As the sun stays with us a little bit longer each day it brings us warmer temperatures and the budding of new life in our trees and gardens. It also has brought with it some truly wonderful reads. In fact, 2021 promises to be another banner year where the bookshelves will be lined in literary gold!
BooknBrunch’s spring 2021 new book sampling of upcoming releases includes a broad selection of genres and tropes from Own Voices authors to debut authors to more well-known and loved storytellers. The selections presented explore issues related to race, identity, legacy, loss and resilience. There is a balance of light reads to gritty thrillers, historical fiction to contemporary literature and even something for those looking for professional development. While it is not exhaustive, we hope that it provides you with a healthy sampling to get you started this spring!
The Conversation by Robert Livingston ( Publication Date: February 2, 2021)
The Conversation by Robert Livingston is a book that speaks to me as a professional in Social Work and the non-profit sector. Livingston is a Harvard University professor and diversity expert who has spent his career as a social psychologist studying the science that underlies racism and bias. It taps into my desire to learn, grow and embark on an authentic journey of allyship and to find ways to ingrain these principles into my daily practice as a professional working with racialized and marginalized families, and as a human being and global citizen.
In The Conversation, Livingston shares his knowledge and experience working with non-profit and fortune 500 companies and how he has helped them move from performative allyship towards truly immersive, inclusive, intersectional and diversity-focused practices. This means moving beyond catchy statements on pretty pamphlets to real action steps in what Livingston refers to as moving from Diversity 1.0 & 2.0 (where most are stuck) towards Diversity 3
Why Read It
I am really excited to learn from Livingston and have been talking about it at every meeting, committee and opportunity I can. I encourage you to pick up The Conversation if you are looking to find ways to analyze your current practice and develop action steps in systemic, structural and meaningful ways.
The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner (Publication Date: February 2, 2021)
Have you ever come across a book that was completely unexpected?
The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner completely exceeded my expectations. It is a historical fiction novel with teeth! Filled with strong, savvy female protagonists, The Nature of Fragile Things centers around a host of secrets threatening to spill forward ultimately brought to a boiling point requiring choices to be made and bonds forged by unlikely allies.
Meissner’s novel is set around the historic and tragic earthquake in San Francisco in 1906, a natural disaster of cataclysmic proportions. Adding to this backdrop is a cast of characters led by Sophie Hocking, her new husband Martin, and his daughter Kat. Their tale begins with an unorthodox union shrouded in mysterious and suspect pasts and motives. As readers approach the fateful earthquake Sophie is visited by a woman who sets in motion a series of events that culminates with an ending quite unlike any historical fiction novel you may have come across.
Why Read It
Personally, calling it historical fiction is far too simplistic prompting my reading group to dub it historical-mystery fiction. It defies being categorized and we are better for it! Personally, I loved how this was a historical fiction with female characters with mystery elements like Agatha Christie and beloved protagonist, Miss Marple.
This propulsive ride has usurped a few of my prospective best of spring choices. What’s more, is that I feel that this book may end up as a standout for the remainder of 2021!
Infinite Country by Patricia Engel (Publication Date: February 23, 2021)
Infinite Country is the stunning 4th novel by award-winning Colombian-American author Patrica Engle. In less than 200 pages, Engle transports us to Bogota, Columbia then across the ocean to the US through the shifting points of view and narratives of one family who is separated but whose love is as expansive as the world, our Infinite Country.
Readers hear the voices of all five family members as they narrate their family’s journey. Husband and wife, Mauro and Elena, dream of a brighter future for their child, Karina, which takes them across the ocean only to be faced with the hardships of being further marginalized, lonely and culturally isolated. Their struggles are intensified as Mauro is deported, leaving a pregnant Elena and their then two young children stranded in a foreign land. The birth of the third child, Talia, requires Elena to make the difficult decision to further fracture her family by sending her infant daughter to Bogota to be with her father, Mauro. Over the course of 16 years, the family fights to remain connected, raising their children separately yet together, all the while clutching their shared dreams of reunification.
Why Read It
Infinite Country is rich in culture and Andean mythology marked by the ever-present daily realities of the undocumented in America. Engle taps into themes of structural and systemic inequity, marginalization, deportation, love and loss. Infinite Country is a heart-wrenching tale of familial connection “through the fractured prism of regret and indecision that splits them apart” yet perseveres and claws at hope despite all odds (Simon &Schuster, 2021).
It is relevant, poignant, and raw.
Winterkill by Ragnar Jonasson (Publication Date: March 1, 2021)
One of my favourite and auto-read Nordic Noir authors, Ragnar Jonasson brings us the final installment to his Dark Iceland series featuring flawed Icelandic police investigator, Ari Thor. Personally, this is one of my most anticipated reads this spring and 2021! As you may recall, I love thrillers that are dark, gritty and slow burns making Ragnar a go-to for me. They are smart, heady and gripping thrillers and the sixth and final book, Winterkill, is a riveting and perfectly propulsive conclusion to his Ari Thor Series!
In Winterkill, the body of a 19-year-old is found on the main street of Siglufjörður, Iceland, requiring Ari and the police force to track a killer despite a raging Icelandic storm that leaves the small village panicked and threatens Ari’s safety.
Why Read It
I love the unique layout of this series where book one starts at the beginning and book two at the end, leaving books three to six to fill in the gaps. This level of writer craftsmanship requires keen attention to detail, awareness for timelines, and an aptitude for keeping readers intrigued. Ragnar’s work is reminiscent of Agatha Christie while also dripping in atmosphere, suspense and clever twists loved by Nordic Noir fans.
Chilling, suffocating, arresting and completely engrossing. I suggest reading Winterkill during one of our last blasts of winter weather that are sure to come for the full effect!
Return of The Trickster by Eden Robinson (Publication date: March 2, 2021)
Return of the Trickster is the stunning conclusion to Eden Robinson’s Trickster trilogy that provides an “explosive, surprising and satisfying resolution” to Jared Martin’s journey (Penguin Random House, 2021). Jared continues to struggle between his desire to be “normal” against an unconventional upbringing including his mother’s dysfunctional parenting, being an Indigenous teen and struggling with addictions. But waking one day, dehydrated and confused, he becomes more present in the knowledge that he is calling forth a magic that adds yet another layer to Jared’s complicated life. He is the only child of his father’s 535 children who is a Trickster; a shapeshifter who is able to move through other dimensions.
Why Read It
Those around him are polarized in their loving or hating Jared for his magic, and many more are entangled in the dangers as he brings forth dark forces. The scariest of which is his own Aunt Georgina, who craves his power and calls upon her flesheating coy-wolves to hunt him and his magic down. In The Return of the Trickster, Jared must make alliances as he becomes central to a war that requires him to “kill or be killed,” which for the “universe’s sweetest Trickster” goes against the very fabric of his being – embrace mischief despite his prime desire to make “the world a kinder, safer, place” (Penguin Random House, 2021).
Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews ( Publication Date: March 2, 2021)
Who is Maud Dixon? is the debut novel by Alexandra Andrews and is a suspense novel that offers comedic moments and drama reminiscent of Melrose Place and Dallas. It’s a Thrill-rama-com!
Who is Maud Dixon? is a twisty tale of an author who writes under a pen name and the story that lies behind the anonymity and fills the spaces between the lines! It is chock full of unreliable narratives from flawed characters where desperation is a palpable pheromone and deception an appetite.
Why Read It
It was fun and quick – I read it in less than a day! It held my interest and kept me turning the pages. I totally recommend reading this engaging cat and mouse read when you have a day to indulge with Maud!
Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans (Publication Date: March 9, 2021)
I can’t presume to be able to find the words – right or even adequate – to convey the beauty of this collection. To say that this is merely a collection of poetry – I can’t. It’s so much more!
It’s poetry, prose, discourse – I feel that compartmentalizing the words bound between the covers would be like forsaking the breadth of its whole.
At times, the pieces invoked a lyrical rhythm prompting me to read aloud, pick up speed, sing, move. There are pieces where Mans creates tension that pulls your lens in sharp focus to injustice and heart-wrenching longing. Calling you in to look, listen, and sit in the uncomfortable knowing. And then just as swiftly, Mans brings forth a quiet stillness – subtle and tender – holding you close in an accountable embrace.
The genogram/connectogram at the end is brilliant! The images encapsulate relational dynamics punctuated by systemic and structural inequities framed around the psychosocial-emotional conceptualization of oneself as part of and impacted by the whole
Why Read It
Black Girl, Call Home is vivid, crisp, visceral, cathartic and healing. Quite simply, it is a journey well worth taking.
The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Publication Date: March 16, 2021)
The Firekeeper’s Daughter is the stunning debut novel by Indigenous storyteller Angeline Boulley, set in Sault Ste Marie and Sugar Island, straddling between the US and Canadian border.
It is a story of an Ojibwe community, their journey through waters steeped in systemic inequity and lateral violence due to resource scarcity, yet strong in culture and drive to not only survive but thrive. Protagonist, Daunis is born carrying the blood of 2 families, Fontaine and Firekeeper; Zhaaganaash and Anishinaabe – yet burdened by feeling she does not fully belong to either. Daunis struggles to fit in and ultimately must forge her own path and claim it for herself.
Why Read It
There is such power and knowledge in the book’s themes of acculturation, notions of pan-indignity while also honouring indignity from micro to macro levels. From the outset,readers see how Daunis and the youth in her community are grappling with identity formation, their role within their family and community, as well as a sense of belonging. Complimenting Daunis, is Jamie. Boulley crafts their connection in such a way that as Daunis imbues knowledge to the new kid and hockey prodigy, readers are brought along the journey creating an immersive reading experience.
The storytelling prose is so deeply infused with Ojibwe teachings and lessons that it feels like an offering passed by elders to readers that served to connect me further with each passage. I loved this book so much that while I had the digital copy, I also pre-ordered a physical copy!
This line-up was my hardest yet! I truly agonized over the bounty of amazing pieces and the spring sampling I chose to highlight. For more reviews on spring releases, I encourage you to check out my bookstagram @shelf_ishly_lit along with reviews found right here on BooknBrunch and The Journal!
Want to be the first to know when the next installment is live? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
Melanie Wagstaff lives with her high school sweetheart (now husband), two children, and cat. Melanie practices social work in child welfare and loves chocolate, hearty laughs, engaging discourse, and the occasional run. Melanie is a voracious reader and believes in the power of knowledge, the written word, and storytelling.
Favourite book: Eek! Just one?! Fave read for 2020: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Favourite brunch spot: My dining room table prepared by my hubby and complemented by fresh food from our local markets.