February Book Club Picks: Spies, Folklore, and Rap Battles

February Book Club Picks: Spies, Folklore, and Rap Battles

Roses are red, violets are blue, we’ve got book club recommendations just for you! February is here and that means it’s time for another book club meeting. We’ve rounded up some exciting new releases that your group will love. You’ll find historical fiction, magic and mythology, gripping mysteries, and more.

For even more great reads, check out our winter must-read roundup.

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

Does your book club love historical fiction? If so, look no further than The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer for your February book club meeting. This novel is based on the true story of photographer Lee Miller. Lee goes to Paris at the end of the 1920s looking for a change. She’s enjoyed success as a fashion model, and now, she wants to be on the other side of the camera. She just needs someone to teach her. Enter American surrealist Man Ray, who is intrigued by Lee’s beauty and agrees to instruct her in photography. Whether your club picks up this book for the historical fun, the art-world insight, or the romance, we know you’ll be happy you did.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

If you’re craving fantasy this month, we’d recommend diving into the first volume of Marlon James’ Dark Star trilogy. One of our must-reads of the season, Black Leopard, Red Wolf follows Leopard, a shape-shifter, and Tracker, a hunter known for his sense of smell, as they search for a boy who has been missing for three years. Along the way, Tracker begins to question who the boy is and why he’s so valuable. The book is already being compared to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, but Black Leopard, Red Wolf stands firmly on its own as an epic blend of history, folklore, and magic.

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Travel to Malaysia in the 1930s in this exciting new novel from Yangsze Choo, whose debut novel The Ghost Bride was recently picked up by Netflix. Houseboy Ren, who is 11, is on a mission: On his deathbed, his master asked him to find something he lost a long time ago. That thing happens to be his finger. Ren sets out to do this with a deadline of 49 days, knowing that if he fails he will condemn his master’s spirit to eternal unrest. Ji Lin, on the other hand, has a finger in her possession that she is eager to return. Your book club will love reading about the fate of the severed finger and soaking in the setting. Chinese folklore plays a big role in this story, and infuses the tale with a dose of magic.

An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole

Book clubs hooked on historical fiction and romance won’t want to miss the latest installment in Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series (which can be read as a standalone). Daniel Cumberland lost everything the night he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. After being rescued by the Loyal League, a network of black spies, he decides to join their cause and fight against the Confederacy. A new mission finds him paired with Janeta Sanchez, who’s secretly working as a double agent in the hopes of freeing her father from prison. Cole expertly weaves themes of trauma, recovery, and self-discovery into this engrossing tale.

Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad

Bangkok Wakes to Rain will enchant your book club with its many intertwining storylines all tied to the city of Bangkok in Thailand. Some of the stories take place in the early 20th century, others take place in or near the present. Among the characters readers will meet are Nee, a woman living in Bangkok during the student protests of the 1970s, and a jazz musician named Crazy Legs Clyde who plays for ghosts. In a starred review, Kirkus raved: “This breathtakingly lovely novel is an accomplished debut, beautifully crafted and rich with history rendered in the most human terms.” We think you and your book club will agree.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas’ debut, The Hate U Give, has been sitting on the NYT bestseller list for an impressive 100 weeks, and her sophomore novel is poised to be just as beloved. On the Come Up follows Bri, a 16-year-old aspiring rapper. As the daughter of a rap legend, she knows that music runs through her veins. When her mom loses her job and unpaid bills start to pile up, Bri realizes it’s up to her to step up to help her family. It’s an ode to hip-hop and packed with commentary on racism, sexism, and economic inequality. This is bound to be one of the most talked-about YA novels of the year from one of the genre’s brightest stars, and your book club won’t want to miss out.

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive has received a ton of buzz in advance of its publication, and it’s easy to see why. This novel brings readers into the life of a family on a road trip to Arizona. As the parents and two children drive, they listen to the radio and take in an upsetting piece of breaking news about thousands of children who are being detained or turned away at the U.S. border. The atmosphere in the car grows strained as the trip continues and the news story evolves. We especially recommend this to book clubs who enjoy talking about current events and reading stories told in unconventional ways. We’re so excited about this book that we named it one of the season’s must-read novels.

What We Buried by Kate A. Boorman

Book clubs looking for a thrill won’t want to miss this YA mystery from Kate A. Boorman. The book transports readers to Nevada where they’ll meet Jory and Liv Brewer. There’s little love between these siblings. Liv’s a former pageant queen and Jory, who has Moebius syndrome, grew up in her shadow. When their parents go missing just as Liv is about to sue them, the two put their differences aside and set off in search of them. Liv and Jory share the narration, slowly revealing secrets from their childhood and family history. The cover design is so haunting that we bet you’ll be hooked as soon as you set eyes on this one.

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