January 2021 Novel Ideas: 22 Quick Book Reviews

January 2021 Novel Ideas: 22 Quick Lit Reviews
January 2021 Novel Ideas: 22 Quick Book Reviews 27

The first month of a new year always feels like the beginning of something special when it comes to books. We already have more books in our TBR stacks than I want to count but I cannot wait to dive in. January 2021 Novel Ideas has 22 quick book reviews to help you decide which book to read next. This year has already started with some powerful and captivating read. What is next on your TBR pile?

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Genome Odyssey and January 2021 Novel Ideas Book Reviews
January 2021 Novel Ideas: 22 Quick Book Reviews 28

Jackie’s January 2021 Novel Ideas Stack

The Prophets

The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.

Robert Jones Jr’s book is a powerful, emotional and lyrically written story about the love of two black men who are slaves and what happens when an older slave tries to admonish that love. Each chapter is centered on a new character and parts of this story recreate a mythical past in which the King is a woman and same-sex love is honored. The plot is character driven, and emotionally wrenching. At times I felt like some of the plot was lost in the lyrical language. Thank you to Putnam and Libro for my copies of this book.  4.0 stars

the wife upstairs

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

This is a Jane Eyre classic retelling featuring a southern home decor influencer! Told by both the second wife and through the diary entries of the first, this domestic thriller is perfect for year-round reading.

Kirsten was shocked, Jackie guessed a lot of it, but we both enjoyed it a great deal. Who would have thought that so many influencer books would be thrillers?

The Forgotten Kingdom

The Forgotten Kingdom by Signe Pike

I listened to this one and absolutely loved it. The names are long and when I tried to read the first book (The Lost Queen), I knew I was saying every name wrong. This second book in the series was as good as the first and I cannot wait to see how it ends. This book continues where the first finished on the brink of a war and a family separated. It was so hard to put down. 4 stars

Genome Odyssey

The Genome Odyssey: Medical Mysteries and the Incredible Quest to Solve Them by Euan Angus Ashley

Wow! I found this book completely fascinating and enlightening. It has the best of a mystery fiction while⁣
being completely true. ⁣The development of medical technology to map the human genome has so many amazing implications. From diseases of the retina and hemophilia to numerous cardiovascular diseases, discovering genetic mutations is the first step in finding more tailored and specific treatments. ⁣It book left me feeling so hopeful for medical advancements in the future. Look for this book 2/23. 4 stars

When Harry Met Minnie

When Harry Met Minnie: A True Story of Love and Friendship by Martha Teichner

This book is a remarkable true story of love and friendship that is prefect for dog lovers everywhere. It is powerful and poignant but, it had me laughing out loud. ⁣Martha and her Bull Terrier Minnie had a chance encounter with an old friend at the Union Square Farmers market. He told Martha about his friend Carol who was dying from cancer from 9/11 toxins and was trying to find someone to take her dog Harry. ⁣What follows is a fairytale of unconditional love, friendship, heartbreak. Be warned. Not all fairytales have happy endings. Perfect for fans on Lily and the Octopus and Tuesdays with Morrie. Thank you Celedon Books for my copy of this book. 4 stars

The mystery of Mrs. Christie

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

Marie Benedict is the master of bringing women back to life in her historical fiction novels. The Mystery of Mrs Christie is my favorite to date and I found it hard to put down. ⁣In December 1926, Agatha Christie went missing for 11 days. She re-emerged as mysteriously as she disappeared and more questions than answers persist. Benedict does a wonderful job of building the mystery and using her brilliant imagination and bringing us into the world of Agatha Christie. It is the perfect blend of fiction and mystery.⁣ 4 stars

You have a match

You Have a Match by Emma Lord

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, she does it to support her best friend and secret crush, Leo. She doesn’t expect to find an older sister she never knew she had. ⁣To find uncover the entire story and get to know her green juice loving, Instagram queen sister, Abby heads off to camp where her sister works. It also happens to be the same camp where Leo works as a staff chef. ⁣This Reese book club YA winter pick is a perfect YA romance with a little more depth and emotion. Thank you so much to Macmillain Audio for my copy of the book!!! 3.5 stars

waiting for the night song

Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton

Waiting for the Night Song is one of those books that has elements of mystery and suspense in a literary fiction filled with longing and nostalgia. Cadie has spent her life studying forestry and has discovered a beetle that is causing fires. ⁣
⁣Cadie’s two worlds collide when she is suddenly called back home by Daniela, childhood friend. Cadie and Daniela must face the secrets that haunt their past. ⁣This is a book about the power of friendship, nature and doing what is right. It’s perfect for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing. 3.5 stars

THe viscount who loved me

The Viscount Who Love me (#Bridgertons #2) by Julia Quinn

I watched the entire series in about a day and was having a serious hangover. That was quickly resolved by reading the next few books in the series. The best part? Reading them out of order or reading about my favorite characters doesn’t really give anything away. These books are the perfect getaway from reality. 3 stars

If you loved Bridgerton, check out our post of books just like it!

Romancing Mister Bridgerton

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (Bridgertons #4)by Julia Quinn

This book was another pick for me to get away. I skipped the third book because I wanted to see what happened with Penelope and Colin. There is nothing surprising in these books but they are completely addicting!!! 3 stars

Land of Big Numbers and January 2021 Novel Ideas
January 2021 Novel Ideas: 22 Quick Book Reviews 29

Kirsten’s Novel Ideas Stack

black buck

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

January 2021 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

Thanks to HMH Books and Libro.fm for my review copy. Black Buck was everything I thought it would be and more! At times this book reminded me of the subtle racism in Such a Fun Age but it was also reminiscent of the systemic racism in The Nickel Boys.

And then there was the whole Wolf of Wall Street portion that literally had me picturing Leo screaming on the trading room floor.⁣ This contemporary fiction was both entertaining and thought-provoking.

the queen of paris

The Queen of Paris by Pamela Binnings Ewen

I had such mixed feelings reading this biographical novel, in a good way. I hated Chanel who is a ruthless, shrewd woman who will do whatever she needs to in order to succeed, even becoming a nazi spy. I felt no sympathy for her, only disgust… and yet….

The writing drew me in. I don’t agree with Chanel’s choices, but I was intrigued by her life during the war and all she did to try to save her own skin. This pick from books about WWII is a must-read.

It was fascinating to read about regardless of my personal feelings about the heroine of the story. She’s not written to be liked, but rather to be examined and no list of books set in Paris would be complete without her.⁣

I’d recommend this fictionalized biography if you are looking to uncover the more sinister side of the renowned icon.

lanas war

Lana’s War by Anita Abriel

I loved this story and I need to sing its praises.⁣ If you love WWII Historical Fiction, this one is for you! I’ve never read a book set in the French Riviera during this time, so I found the new setting particularly intriguing.

After watching her husband get shot by an SS officer for hiding Jewish children, Lana joins the French Resistance. Lana, Guy, and Odette have stolen my heart. ⁣ I can’t recommend this one enough!

Land of Big Numbers

Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen

This short story collection is utterly captivating. Te-Ping Chen vividly showcases life in China and its nuances, political and otherwise. Some stories are straight fiction while others have a touch of magical realism. My favorite involves a new fruit that inspires strong emotions in the eater. ⁣

Each story is engaging and could lead into a book of its own. It’s a wonderful debut from a writer known for her work as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.⁣ 3.5 stars.

The Windsor Knot

The Windsor Knot by S. J. Bennett

This cozy murder mystery was an absolute treat. I loved the Queen Elizabeth is the investigator in this mystery book (the first in a series) along with her assistant, Rosie.

Together they figure out who was behind the murder at Windsor Castle during one of the Queen’s Dine-and-Stays. This pick from books about Queen Elizabeth II is perfect for fans of Maggie Hope, Maise Dobbs, and the Royal Family.


On a Wild Night by Stephanie Laurens

After bingeing Bridgerton with the rest of the world, I needed a book fix. I checked out our list of books like Bridgerton and decided to read the next in the Cynster Series by Stephanie Laurens. It did not disappoint! It was exactly the kind of historical romance I needed to read to help ease my hangover from the book series. Just be warned there are some STEAMY scenes in this novel — think Daphne and Simon’s honeymoon level steaminess. 3 stars.

a cottage by the sea

A Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware

This was my pick for our Reading Challenge. It’s a reread for me, but I’ve always loved Cornwall, so much so that we have a whole list of books set in Cornwall. This romance is part historical fiction, part contemporary romance as Blythe Barton retreats to an estate in Cornwall after her high-profile divorce.

Suddenly she can get glimpses into her ancestor’s past and the mystery of her disappearance. The winner for me is the vivid descriptions of the Cornish coastline and the creaky old manor house.

Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery

Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

The Little Beach Street Bakery #2

The continuation of Jenny Colgan’s Little Beach Street Bakery series is another hit. I loved the continuation of Polly, Huck, and Neil’s story. Polly gets fired from the bakery and needs to figure out a new business plan.

We get to catch up with all the lovable characters in the small Cornish town, see inside Polly’s new lighthouse home and have delectable bakery items described throughout. This is one of the novels about weather that use a climate event as a major plot point.

a burning

A Burning by Megha Majumbar

After a terrorist attack at a train station in India leaves a woman wrongfully accused of being a Muslim extremist, her world is turned upside down.

Two other characters’ stories intersect with hers to offer us a searing look at modern India. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m so glad I took The Uncorked Librarian’s suggestion to read it. I’ll be thinking about this debut for a while.

Full cast audiobooks really bring the book to life and this emotional story is no exception.

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I chose to read this book for Jules’s Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. Bradbury’s dystopian classic is one of the most well-known pieces of modern literature but I hadn’t read it! I don’t usually gravitate to books like this, but I’d heard so many people speak about the relevancy of this novel today. It’s so true. This book offers a grim look at our future if our society continues down the road of this technology obsession we seem to have. If you liked 1984 or The Circle, you will devour this book. 4 stars.


Beloved by Toni Morrison

HOW HAVE I NEVER READ TONI MORRISON BEFORE? I swear I thought I had read this book, but after reading The Toni Morrison Book Club, I realized I hadn’t. When my library hold finally came up for this one, I realized I was so excited to read this book about motherhood.

Morrison is easily one of the most gifted writers I’ve ever read. Beloved haunted me while I was reading it. I can’t wait to read more of her work. It is crazy to think that award-winning books can be paranormal books as well. This is the definition of a magical realism book at its finest.

Happy and You know it

Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

A funny bit of women’s fiction, this story revolves around a playgroup on the Upper East Side and their music teacher. As each of the moms in the playgroup struggle with aspects of marriage and motherhood, their guitar-playing musician has a different set of problems. The drama in this book could rival an episode of RHONY for sure, but that’s what made it so delicious! This would make the perfect beach or vacation read! 4 stars.

This time next year

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

This romance is perfect for NYE because it’s about two people born New Year’s Day minutes apart. They met later in life and become friends at a, you guessed it, NYE party. One is lucky, one not so much. Their friendship becomes something more in a natural and cute way. 3 stars.

That wraps up January 2021 Novel Ideas. What books did you read and love this month?

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